A Race & Weekend Report: Madison Mini Marathon

First, the stats.

Date:  August 20, 2016
Lifetime half:  Number 23
State:  Wisconsin – Number 13

I had been cussing myself for months for signing up for this one.  WHO in their RIGHT MIND signs up for an August race?  haha  “Just do it,” they said.  “It won’t be as hot or humid up here in August,” they said.  Yeah well, I still had to run here in the south in the summer to attempt to train for that day.  And we all know by now how I tend to slack in the summer.  I thought maybe having a late summer race on the calendar would prevent that.  NOPE.  It just means that I went into yet another race untrained.  lol  But this event was much more about a weekend with friends in a new state than it was any stupid ol’ number on a clock, so I consider it a success anyway.

My trip started out the Friday morning before the race.  It was supposed to have been right at a 9-hour drive and I had plans to make a pit stop in Rockford IL to meet some of my long-time internet friends for lunch.  They would be joining me the next day in Madison anyway, but I wanted to make the most of the time I had that weekend.  And this way I got to meet their hubbies and furbabies too!  It was a great kickoff to the weekend–Shelly, Julia, their husbands Brian and Trey, and I went to a local vegan restaurant/brewery I’d heard them both talk about before, so that was my restaurant of choice that afternoon.  If you get the chance to check out Pig Minds Brewing Co., do it.  Good food, great beer. I was all about their HappiDaze (a bluberry California golden ale).  It did indeed make me very happy.  After Shelly got me sufficiently buzzed, she took me home and took advantage of me.  LOL She’s a jewelry designer and she took me to her jewelry-makin’ room.  I left there with so many pretties!  I look at her web site frequently, but photos just don’t ever do jewelry justice.  Check out www.lavorodesigns.com to see her work and trust me when I say it’s even more awesome in person.

After hanging out with Shelly and her sweet furbabies for a couple more hours, it was time to head to Madison if I was going to make it to the expo in time.  It was only a short walk from my hotel.  It was your typical big race expo with all of the typical things.  I did get a good giggle out of one thing that happened…when I arrived at the hotel I realized that I had forgotten to pack a pair of socks for my post-race tour d’Madison.  And upon walking into the expo, the first thing I saw was a sign for free socks.  hahaha  I found it rather serendipitous.  I was in and out of the expo in no time flat.  One of the perks of going in its last hour.  I had nothing else to do that evening so I just strolled around downtown a bit in the area between the expo and my hotel.  It was really a beautiful evening.

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But as beautiful as that evening was, I still didn’t know what the next day was going to bring.  I had been stalking the weather like a mad woman all week because of the threat of severe storms.  The race director started sending out weather updates mid-week, and as of the time I pulled out of my driveway on Friday morning, I still didn’t even know if the race would be happening.  They said that they would make the call based on the conditions at the start time whether to go ahead as planned, delay, or cancel the event.  Honestly, had I not already had hotel reservations and plans with my friends, I may not have taken the chance and just taken my loss on my entry fee.  I had also forgotten to bring an umbrella, which I knew I’d need after the race with my friends if it was raining, so while I was out walking around after the expo I ducked into a Walgreens and bought an umbrella and one of those $2 poncho thingies for the race itself.  I also knew I should probably eat something even though I really wasn’t hungry given our late lunch that afternoon, but I grabbed a veggie sub and made my way back to the Doubletree and turned in for the evening.

When I awoke the next morning, it was to the sound of light rain, but a quick glance at weather.com told me that it looked like the threat of severe weather was going to miss us.  I got ready, grabbed my poncho, and hoped for the best.

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By the time I got to the start area, it was raining pretty steadily so I was glad I had my poncho, but by the time we actually started I had already taken it off.  It was down to just barely a drizzle and that thing was making me sweat like CRAZY.  It still looked like the sky cold open up at any minute, so I hung onto it just in case I needed it mid-race.  Spoiler:  I didn’t.

As I’ve mentioned, this race was solely for fun.  I still had a full day ahead of me afterwards as well as a long drive home the next morning, so I didn’t push it one bit.  My only regret is not stopping to take pictures.  However, if I had, my timing would have been off and I wouldn’t have been at the right place at the right time on the course to have met my new friend Wendy.  I ran up behind her somewhere around mile 5ish.  She had on a police unity tour bike shirt.  I asked her about that, and the rest is history.  lol  We ran (and walked) the rest of the race together talking about mostly races, traveling, and beer.  As it turns out, she’s an ambassador for the Asheville Half Marathon, and we now have a date to do that one together in March.  THIS, people.  THIS is why I love running so much!

My time was 2:30-something.  I could look it up to tell you an exact number, but I don’t even care enough to do that right now.  LOL  Wendy and I hung out at the landing at the finish long enough to get our free beer and parted ways as we both had plans to meet up with friends, but not before we got our selfie for The Facebook.

8-20-2016 - Pam & Wendy at Madison Mini
Nothing like sweating and being drizzled on for 13.1 miles to make for a glamorous post-race selfie.

And here are some other random photos from the finish area.  It was really a cool little spot.

So I made my way back to the hotel and was just finishing getting ready when Shelly and Julia made it in from Rockford.  They have another friend, Marie, that lives in Madison, so after FOREVER … lol… Julia and Mr. T finally got us to her house.  They fed me a spectacular post-race lunch of tacos and beer.  I can’t remember the name of the taco joint, but it was amazing, and they had this beer.  It, too, made me happy.

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Know what else made me happy?  I didn’t need that umbrella I bought the night before.  It turned out to be an absolutely glorious, sunshiny (and even COOL later in the afternoon!) day.  We walked, we shopped, we took silly photos, we had coffee, we laughed… a LOT.  It was just the weekend escape that I’ve been needing!  Love these girls so hard!

In the evening, they dropped me back at the hotel.  They had to get back on the road home, and I needed to get a good night’s sleep.  I was whooped and needed to get up really early to start my long drive to get home at a decent hour.

So just a few final thoughts about the race before I wrap this up.  It’s really a great one.  It’s big enough that you don’t feel like you’re running alone, but small enough that you’re not tripping over each other.  You have some AMAZING scenery throughout the course as you run past the lake and through the arboretum.  The aid stations are aplenty and the finish line well organized.  I definitely recommend this one to anyone considering it!

Next up… California!  Cloverdale Half on 10/23/16!

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A Very Belated Race Report: 2016 Garmin Half Marathon

Now this will be a true test of my memory, seeing that this race was ooooohhhh 102 DAYS AGO.  Haha!

Maybe one of these days I’ll be back in the mood to actually give a shit about my race times, but now is not that time.  I mentioned a few posts ago that I had really been focusing on strength training, and while that most DEFINITELY has helped with short-distance speed (like 400s), it hasn’t done my long distance times any favors.  But again, I’m perfectly okay with that.  I’m feeling more balanced and happier than ever with regard to fitness.  I’m enjoying it and staying injury free, and that is ALL that matters!

I made the solo 8-hour drive (closer to 9 if you count my pit stops) to Olathe, KS, the Friday before the race.  It was the picture perfect day for a road trip.  I’m talkin’ the sunroof back, windows down, hard rock blaring kind of perfect.  I made my way straight to the conference center and I’ll admit I was kind of surprised.  I had it in my head that this was a much bigger town and a much bigger race than it really is.  (I also had it in my mind that Kansas would be flat too, so that goes to show how much homework I put into this race, but we’ll get to that!)

After my long day on the road I was famished, so I pulled up the handy-dandy Zomato app and found a groovy little pizza joint very convenient to both the conference center and to my AirBnB for the night.  I’ve always had awesome luck with just randomly picking a restaurant off that app, and I’m still batting 1.000.  Old Shawnee Pizza was THE BOMB.  After I polished off an ENTIRE pizza and a couple of beers (does this girl know how to fuel for a race or what?) I headed to my home for the night.  Since I’m doing so much traveling for races in my attempt to run 50 in 50, I’m trying really hard to do it on the cheap, so I went through AirBnB.  This was my second experience with them and it was an awesome one.  I stayed with Brigette, and I would highly recommend her to anyone traveling to Olathe for this race.  FABULOUS hostess!  (BTW, I have a referral code for $30 off your first AirBnB reservation if you’ve never used them before.  If you want it, just ask!)

I turned in really early that night and woke up feeling pretty good.  I felt like I stood a chance at running a halfway decent race.  Bahahahaha…

I made my way back to the area of the conference center and got parked.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning.

4-16-2016 - Kansas sunrise

I had quite a bit of time to kill.  The race information made it sound like parking would be horrific to impossible if you didn’t arrive at dark-thirty, so I did, only to park immediately and camp out in my car for an hour.  After what felt like forever, we finally got started.  It didn’t take me long to realize, “Hmmm…. Kansas isn’t as flat as I thought it would be.” lol  What I didn’t realize when I registered is that this Kansas race is damn near a Missouri race.  It’s 13.1 miles of constant hills.  Add that to the heat and the sun and I faded pretty quickly.  I just rolled with it.  Could I have pushed myself?  Yup.  Could I have made myself unhappy out there and felt like shit when I finished and had a miserable long drive home?  Yup.  But I didn’t.  I stopped.  I texted people.  I took pictures.  I had a good time!

4-16-2016 - Garmin Half, Olathe KS
Does this look flat to you?!
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Lots of people were in costume, but this was the best I saw!

I crossed the line in 2:26 something and didn’t care one bit.  I grabbed a banana (the only plant-based option at the finish) and some water and hopped in line.  There was a massage therapist and a chiropractor there giving free massages and adjustments.  Hell yeah!  I was long overdue for an adjustment anyway, and I’d had a bit of a kink in my left lower back for a couple of weeks prior and that long drive the day before kind of aggravated it.  She massaged the crap out of a big knot I had just above my hip bone and had me good to go for the ride home.

4-16-2016 - Garmin Half, Olathe KS 4
Quads on point

I went back to my host’s house long enough to hose off and hit the road, and several uneventful (boring) hours later I was back home.

There wasn’t much to speak of in the way of swag, but I dig the shirt (fits well and reminds me of Wicked).  The medal was cute.  And I ALWAYS appreciate a good reusable shopping bag.

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The medal was pretty good sized and pretty heavy, and my husband feared it would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Or the medal that broke the sheet rock.  haha  He insisted I upgrade my medal hanger.  I have to admit it.  It looks a lot better.  I love it.

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Before. Haha you can’t even tell there’s a medal hanger under there.
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After. Isn’t it beautiful!

 

So there we have it.  Another state down, bringing me to 12.  Next up, Madison Mini on 8/20!  And, seriously, if I ever mention running another August half marathon EVER AGAIN, please kick me hard in the nether regions.

 

TOTR: The Best Thing About Running | Six Races, One Report

Good morning and Happy Tuesday, my lovies!  I’m linking up today with MCM Mama and a couple of her cohorts for Tuesday on the Run… which is SUPER convenient for me since I already had this running-related post mostly written.  haha  Today’s topic is “The Best Part About Running.”  I shared an Instagram post a couple of weeks ago on this very thing, and since I have very little overlap between this blog and my IG, I’m using it again.  Recycled content FTW!!!!

While I was running my most recent half marathon last month, somewhere I believe around mile 4, we came out into an opening in the wildlife preserve we were running through, and the view over the water was just breathtaking. In that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks at just how infinitely grateful I am to have found this life. Let me explain a little bit… I’ve hated my body for most of my life. I hated it when I was a kid and teenager because it was fat. Then when I lost weight in my 20s I still hated it because it bore the physical reminders that it was once fat, and I knew it had the potential to be fat again. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food, subsisting on Slim Fast and lettuce to stay thin. It’s only been in the last 10 years or so that I’ve learned to truly appreciate how strong and healthy I am (yes, even when I’ve allowed the scale to creep back up at times). And since switching to a plant based diet a few years ago, I LOVE food (REAL FOOD) instead of resenting it for having calories! Thanks to running and living an active lifestyle, I’ve been so many places and done so many things I wouldn’t have otherwise. Experiences that are priceless. I’ve explored 13.1 miles (and 26.2 a couple of times!) of some amazing places on foot, up close and personal, in a way that driving through just can’t compare. I’ve hiked into the Grand Canyon and to the top of the Manitou Incline–experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything! And the friends I’ve made literally all over the country!  Fitness has given me back tenfold what I’ve put into it, and I can’t wait to see what adventures are still to come!

And now to catch you up on some of those 13.1 adventures I mentioned…here ya go!  Six races, one report!

#1 – September 5, 2015.  The Tortoise and the Hare – Canton, Georgia (State #8):  This was by far THE HARDEST race I’ve ever run.  Marathons included.  It was also by far THE SLOWEST half I’ve ever run, coming in at 3:09:45.  But ya know what?  It was also by far THE MOST FUN race I’ve ever run!  It was 100% trail.  It was my first trail race, but it definitely will not be my last!  There were hills (oh so many hills), roots, rocks, streams, mud, and it was September in Georgia, so it was effing HOT!!!  But it was also beautiful.  I tried a couple of times to take my phone out and take pictures, but it was impossible.  My hands were so wet from sweat that my phone wouldn’t even acknowledge that I was touching the screen when I would try to swipe or tap, and I didn’t have a single square inch of dry clothes on my body with which to dry my hands.  So pics from the start and the finish are all I have of this lovely but grueling course.

9-5-2015 - Tortoise & The Hare start line
At the start.  We started and finished in this clearing.
9-5-2015 - Tortoise & The Hare Half Marathon in Canton, GA
Over three hours later…
9-5-2015 - Tortoise & The Hare finish
Proudly sporting my tortoise medal.  (It was a super cute medal.  The middle of it spins.  There’s a tortoise on one side, a hare on the other)
9-5-2015 - Post first trail run
I got muddy, so I’m officially a trail runner now!

This race kind of happened on accident.  One of our favorite comedians, Jim Jefferies, was in Atlanta that weekend, and when we were thinking about buying tickets to that, I searched for nearby races to see if killing two birds with one stone could be a possibility.  When I found this one only half an hour or so away, it was a done deal!  After the race, a shower, and a short nap, we drove into ATL for dinner, drinks, and the show.

9-5-2015 - Jim Jefferies

9-5-2015 - Jim Jefferies 2
He is fucking HILARIOUS but definitely not for the faint of heart or easily offended.

#2 – September 13, 2015, Guardian Angels Virtual Half Marathon.  I don’t know that I should even include this one here, but I’m gonna.  I signed up for this virtual race because it was for benefit of a group that helps combat veterans with getting service dogs, and of course I donated the extra few bucks to get the medal.  Because if you’re gonna run that far, it’s my belief that you should damn sure get a medal for it.  The only drawback was that there wasn’t someone waiting for me at the end of my driveway to put it over my head when I finished that day.  But here are some adorable pictures of my pups modeling it when it came in the mail a couple of weeks later.  You’re welcome, internet.

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9-25-2015 - Harley

9-25-2015 - Bella 2

9-25-2015 - Bella“Paint me like one of your French Bulldogs”

#3 – October 4, 2015, Key Biscayne Half Marathon in Key Biscayne, Florida (State #9):  Like the Georgia race, this one happened to coincide with another trip, too.  We had already planned a vacation to Pompano Beach, FL, and a few weeks beforehand I searched for races.  This one was an hour away the day after we got there.  SOLD!  It was hot AF and I was eaten alive by mosquitoes since it was still dark at packet pickup that morning, but I loved it.  The view over the bay at sunrise was just amazing.  Races like this really make me appreciate this whole “running just for fun” thing.  It’s nice to just be able to take in the surroundings without worrying about pace or PRs!   I ran the whole thing just like I’d been running all my summer long runs and was perfectly okay with the 2:25:56 finish time.

#4 – November 7, 2015, Monumental Half in Indianapolis, Indiana (State #10):  I have a friend that lives in Indianapolis that has been trying to get me to come and run the 500 Festival Mini Marathon for ages, but it’s in May and there’s ALWAYS a conflict with either a vacation or a graduation or a birthday, so I’ve never been able to make it happen (and already knew it wasn’t going to happen again in 2016!), so I gave up on that idea and went with the Monumental Half instead.  I’m not sorry at all.  It was a great race.  And despite my time of 2:22, I had a great race that day as well.  Six of those minutes were spent standing in line for a portapotty around mile 4.  That’s really my only complaint for the race at all.  It realllly needed more portapotties.  So while 2:16 isn’t a spectacular time for me, for where I was at fitness wise, I was happy with it.  And BONUS I finally got my picture with Bart at the expo!

11-6-2015 - Pam & Bart Yasso

11-7-2015 - Indianapolis Monumental Half 7

#5 – December 5, 2015, St. Jude Half in Memphis, TN.  This one is just kind of tradition now.  I’ve run it the last four years that it was held (it was cancelled due to an ice storm a couple of years ago) and will continue to run it every year.  Based on some of my tempo runs in the weeks leading up to this race, I thought I might possibly just MAYBE be able to eek out a PR at this race.  Nope.  Didn’t happen.  Although I did shave a few more minutes off of my Indy time and come in at 2:12:54, still 5 minutes off my PR.  They changed the course this year, and IMO it was MUCH more challenging.  It seemed hillier to me, but maybe that’s my lack of hill training talking.  Again, no pics during the race, except the proof I swiped.

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12-5-2015 - St. Jude Half Marathon

12-5-2015 - St. Jude half finish
A perfect, sunny day in Memphis, TN.  Finishers’ area inside Autozone Park.

#6 – February 13, 2016 – Fly with the Eagles in Marion, Illinois (State #11):  This was one of those surprises that don’t come along very often.  I chose it solely based on two things:  price and proximity.  Marion is only two hours away from where I live in Northwest Tennessee.  Pair that short drive time with the 9:00 a.m. gun time and the fact that they allowed race day packet pickup and you have yourself a hotel-less race.  Since I’m shooting for a half in all 50 states, I’m taking every opportunity I can to travel on the cheap!  Also?  The registration was $30.  Yes.  THIRTY DOLLARS.  So I honestly went into this race not expecting much.  I didn’t even really read any reviews on it.  I read just enough to make sure there was a finisher’s medal because that’s one of my self-imposed stipulations on selecting a race for a state.  Yes, I am totally shallow like that.  I was SHOCKED by this race.  Guys, it was SO well organized.  The volunteers were awesome and many, the aid stations abundant, the course beautiful, and the finish line well stocked.  This race also went down in the books as my coldest one to date.  At the finish, the temp was 14 with a windchill of 8, so the hot soup that the volunteers had waiting for us at the finish was a very much appreciated bonus.  (And the fact that they even had a separate soup for us plant-based folks?  BE STILL MY HEART!)  I found out after the race that the finisher’s hoodie is this race’s claim to fame.  It IS pretty great!  I love getting something other than an ugly t-shirt.  Oh!  And the race photographer uploaded all of the photos for us to grab FOR FREE!!!!  Seriously.  All this for $30.  I have a feeling this one will also become a yearly tradition.  It’s a gem for sure.

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And that’s a wrap!  Six races and four states, bringing my total up to 21 HMs in 11 states.  Next up–Garmin Half Marathon in Olathe, Kansas, on April 16!

Where do I even begin?

And just like that **SNAP!**, in the blink of an eye, seven months has gone by.  My last post was August 16, 2015.  What the hell?  I hadn’t PLANNED on a hiatus.  I had no reason for one…I wasn’t burned out.  I wasn’t any more busy than usual.  I wasn’t off somewhere sulking in a corner.  I don’t know WHAT happened, really.  But I’ve missed it!  For weeks I’ve been meaning to get back here and dust the cobwebs off this old thing.  I’ve even come to the page a couple of times and asked myself the title of this post.  I sat here with my fingers hovering over the home row, ready to pound out a post and drew a big, fat blank.  I did it just now, too, but this time I just decided to roll with it.  I feel like so much has happened in the last seven months, but to keep this one post from getting insanely long, I’ll do you a solid and break them down into shorter posts.   Haha  Maybe one for each topic.  But in short, since I talked to you last I have…

  • Run six half-marathons in four new states.  If things had gone according to plan, I actually would have been in the car traveling to the next one right this very moment, but due to some conflicts I decided to forego this one.  My next one will be the Garmin Marathon in Olathe, Kansas on 4/16.  (*currently accepting applications for suitable travel partners  haha)
  • Gotten very serious about cross- and strength-training.  I’ve been saying for EVER that I knew I needed to do it, but I finally did it.  And now I kick myself every day for not doing it years ago.  I have never felt better or stronger, and if you’ll allow me a moment of vanity, I’ll admit that I don’t think I’ve ever looked better either.
  • Taken an awesome vacation to Florida.  We go to the panhandle of Florida as sort of a farewell-to-summer getaway almost every year, but last year we mixed it up a bit and went to South Florida where epic shit ensued.
  • Got a new tattoo.
  • Carried out a stakeout and trap, resulting in the newest addition to our family.  I now have a new feline brother.
  • Nursed my girl Bella through her third (yes, THIRD) knee surgery.  She’s three and a half weeks post ACL repair now, after already having undergone two surgeries in the past for a torn ACL and meniscus in the OTHER hind leg.

And well I guess that’s about it!  haha  It sure seemed like more before I started writing it out.  That’ll give me a starting place for posting anyway!  Also, when I logged into Blogger, I had approximately 4 million unread posts.  There’s no way I could make my way through all of them, so I cringed and hit the “Mark All as Read” button.  So if I’ve missed any huge news on YOUR blog, please catch me up!!!!!

Weekend Recap, an Injury Update (x 2), and a Plan!!!

And let me just say…what a FABULOUS weekend it was!  It flew by, of course, but, hey, what else is new?  It didn’t start off all that awesome since I had to work Saturday morning, but FOR ONCE the weather cooperated.  It was cloudy and misty and just generally shitty out until right at closing time at 11:00 (we’re only open half-days on Saturdays).  With the click of the lock, the skies cleared and the sun came out in all its glory, and this ol’ girl couldn’t get home and get outside fast enough.  I had an itch that only an outdoors run was going to scratch.  It’s been miserably hot this week–like oppressively, unbearably hot–so I had been avoiding the outdoors every chance I got.  But when the sun came out Saturday, it was a cool 80 degrees with humidity only in the 60% range–a regular old cold front.  I usually prefer it to be cloudy and much, much cooler for a run, but my mood had been in the shitter this week, and the sunshine was just what my soul needed.

Running the country roads.  Just me and the soybeans.
Running the country roads. Just me and the soybeans.

After I finished, I went back in, leashed up the pups and headed back out for a walk with them.  They were hankering for a nice long walk, too.  They don’t like being outside any more than I do when the heat index is 105+, so they were suffering from a pretty severe case of cabin fever.  Judging from Bella’s expression, I’d say they rather enjoyed themselves.

"I'm so happy.  But I'm so tired.  But I'm so happy.  And tired."
“I’m so happy. But I’m so tired. But I’m so happy. And tired.”

D and I had ourselves a little date night Saturday night.  Some people tell me when you don’t have kids EVERY night is date night, but whatever.  Maybe.  Maybe I should be more specific and say we took showers and put on non-flannel, non-tech gear, non-pajama clothes and left the house.  For months, I’ve been counting down the days for Ted 2 to open, so we went to see that.  The show didn’t start till 9:50(!!!  What are we, 18?!), so we went to Jasmine, my favorite (read: the only) local Thai joint to eat and hang out a while.  I was in hog heaven with my vegetarian sushi roll and the Cards/Cubs game on in the bar.  I briefly considered having a drink or five while killing time but then I thought better of it because HELLO!  9:50!!!  I’m usually holding down my side of the bed (read: the middle) by 9:50.  So I stuck to water and somehow managed to stay awake through the entire thing.  It was really funny.  Not as funny as the first one, but still pretty damn funny.  And then I fell asleep on the 30-minute drive home.  I party so hard.

Sunday morning I was awakened by snoring, and just before I kicked D I realized it was coming from the foot of the bed.

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He has just started doing this.  He’s totally called my “no dogs on the bed” bluff.

I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I got up and started the coffee and just enjoyed the quiet morning.  I read, I caught up on some blogs, partook in a little online retail therapy… all while intentionally staying far, far away from the land of Facebook.  Social media largely contributed to my rotten mood the last few days.

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This is really funny, but in all seriousness… ENOUGH ALREADY!

Part of that little online shopping trip included planning a weekend getaway for me and D!  One of our favorite comedians, Jim Jefferies, will be in Atlanta in September, soooo….

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HELLS YEAH!

Once those tickets were procured, I thought to myself, “Hmmmmm……..I wonder if there would happen to be any races nearby that weekend.”  A quick little click to halfmarathons.net  told me that INDEED THERE IS!  The Tortoise and the Hare Half Marathon is in Canton, just outside of Atlanta, that same morning!

tortoise hare

I love the description of the race.  It sounds so fun!  And the scenery!   It’ll be my first trail half, my first race back after my hip/leg injury, and state #9!  I’m just downright giddy over the whole trip. D was skeptical when I told him I’d found a half just a little over two months away, but like I told him, I’m not out to prove anything.  I will wear my Tortoise title proudly that day.  I’m no stranger to running half-marathons half-assed trained.  What’s once more?!

With the excitement of planning that trip fresh on my brain (and the caffeine from my homemade iced coffees fresh in my veins), I threw on some clothes and headed out the front door for a run equally as glorious as yesterday’s.  After finishing that I did a little yard and house cleaning, laid out for a while, then dragged out the dogs’ pool.  Seriously, nothing makes me happier than seeing my furry kids happy.

7-21-2013 - Bella in kiddie pool 5

7-21-2013 - Harley shaking off

I wrapped up my day with an awesome shopping trip to Kroger ($0.99 organic kale and $0.50 organic red grapefruit–score!) and a terrible movie.  The Boy Next Door–UGH.  I had a feeling it would be horrible, and it exceeded my expectations.  I only got it because everything I wanted to see was gone from the Redbox at Kroger and I had a code for a free rental, so I took a chance on it.

Now just a little bit of an injury update…When I last posted I was miserable with some sort of issue with my abs a week after a killer core workout during CrossFit.  Now, three days later, things have gotten SO much better!  But not before they got worse.  The swelling peaked the next day but then has gradually been going down.  I’m almost back to normal now as far as the swelling goes.  They’re still awfully weak though.  I went from being able to hold almost a 3-minute plank a couple of weeks ago to not even being able to support myself to do a single pushup when I tried today.  I jacked something up real good, but whatever it was seems to be on the mend, so I’m holding off on calling in any professionals.  And as for the more chronic issue, I think it’s finally safe to say that the iliopsoas injury is behind me.  HALLELUJAH!!!   I’m continuing to do the things my physical therapist taught me, and I’ll go back to see her at the first twinge or hint of recurrence to stay on top of things, but for now, ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO, BITCHES!!!!

Join the Weekend Update link-up here!

Race Weekend Recap: Mercedes Half Marathon 2015

Location:  Birmingham, AL
State #8
Half Marathon #15
Time:  2:14:41
Pace:  10:17

Thanks to my bitchy hip, I hadn’t run the 8 days preceding this race.  After two visits to the chiropractor and a lot of quality time with my foam roller, a softball (because the foam roller just didn’t hurt quite bad enough!), and an ice pack, I was almost back to normal although not quite at 100%.  But since I was assured that it’s just tightness and inflammation and that nothing is torn nor in danger of being torn, I wanted to give it a shot.

When I registered for this Sunday race, I already knew that I was going to have to work for a couple of hours Saturday morning, but I thought, “No big deal!  I’ll be out of there by 10, home and packed and gone by 12, and at the expo well before it closes at 6!”  Well that’s what I get for making plans.  haha We had two rounds of severe winter weather come through last week, and the roads were positively treacherous on Saturday, the worst they’d been all week. The highways and roads in town were clear, but I work in the delivery industry, and those roads only account for a small percentage of the roads traveled by my employees every day.  Usually when I’m going to be out of pocket, I let my people know to call a manager at a neighboring office if there’s an emergency, but I just couldn’t do that Saturday.  I couldn’t leave knowing my employees were out on those dangerous roads, and I couldn’t put the burden of worrying about them on any of my co-managers as they all had their own people to worry about.  But anyway, back to the point… it was nearly 5:00 by the time I got out of the office, filled my gas tank, grabbed a pizza to heat up for supper in the hotel room later, and got on the road.  The drive down was miserable.  I hate driving under three conditions:  at night, when it’s raining, and when I’m sleepy.  Well I had the perfect trifecta going for me Saturday making it a looooong 4-1/2 hours.  I had called ahead earlier that afternoon to the expo to let them know I wouldn’t make it in time for packet pickup, so they sent my goody bag and bib over to the host hotel where I could pick it up when I got to town.  I was super bummed about not making it down earlier because I had made plans to meet Holly from HoHo Runs at the expo!  So I drove straight to the Sheraton, was in and out with goody bag in-hand in less than two minutes, and back on the road to Homewood (where I’d booked a hotel just outside of Birmingham to save a few bucks!)  I had JUST gotten back on the interstate when traffic came to a dead halt.  All I saw were blue lights and tail lights.  I was was so ready to just eat and go to bed, and there I was, 10 minutes from the hotel, stuck in traffic.  Well one of those things I could take care of.  I reached into the back seat and grabbed my pizza.  Cold pizza for the win!  Thankfully, traffic cleared within just a few minutes.  I finally got to my room about a quarter till 10.  After a quick text to Holly letting her know I’d arrived and arranging our morning meetup plans, I crashed and burned.

Holly was also staying in Homewood at a hotel just right across the street from mine, and she very graciously offered to drive us downtown to the start.  She picked me up at 6:00 on the dot and we made our way downtown.  Parking was a breeze, so we had plenty of time to mill around before the 7:03 start.

FullSizeRender3

Right after this picture was taken, the rain started.  It was never a heavy rain, but steady enough that we were pretty well soaked before the start.

We lined up between the 9:00 and 10:00 min/mile pacers.  I was planning on shooting for 10:00 miles, but once we started moving I settled into a 9:30ish pace and felt fantastic. There really wasn’t much to look at on the course, but I was never bored with it like at Mississippi Blues last month.  Even with the soggy weather, there were lots of people out spectating and lots of groups had come out and set up their own aid stations with gummy bears, bananas, orange slices, etc.  This was hands-down the most well-supported course I’ve ever been on.  The race itself had probably 8 or so stations (3 of which had GU), and there were probably at least that many extra ones tossed in.  It made them quick and easy to get through.

At the 10K mark, my time was 58:15, a 9:33 pace.  I was pretty excited to see that number because at the race that holds my current HM PR (2:07:24) my 10K split was 59:45.  But very shortly after that, things went downhill.  I wish I could blame it on my hip, but I can’t.  I didn’t even feel a twinge until around mile 10.  The same thing happened that happened at St. Jude in December.  I just reached a point where I was DONE.  Like flipping a switch, running all of a sudden got a LOT harder!  It could have been a lot of things really, (lack of sleep the last few weeks, dehydration, hills, stress, humidity) but none of the excuses matter.  It just wasn’t my day.  Not only did I not get that PR, I didn’t even meet the “B” goal of averaging under 10:00.  Matter of fact, my time was a minute and a half slower than last month.  I can’t lie and say I’m not disappointed, but I’m not beating myself up.  I still got to go to a new place and run a great race and turn a blogger buddy into a real-life buddy!  haha  And my race photos don’t even suck!

2-22-2015 - Mercedes Marathon 2

2-22-2015 - Mercedes Marathon

2-22-2015 - Mercedes Marathon 3

2-22-2015 - Mercedes Marathon finish

I would definitely recommend this race to anyone thinking about doing it.  It was reasonably priced, well supported, easy to get to, had fantastic post-race festivities, and I loved the shirt and medal.  And we even got a finisher’s beach towel!

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2015-02-22 17.00.59

I’d love to say I’ll be back to this race, but the truth is, I’ve got a lot more states to do before I start doubling back and repeating states!  haha  Maybe in 2025…

Updates on Running and Other Related Stuffs

  • I’m really working on getting my mileage back up.  Last week I ran 13 miles Monday, 6 on Wednesday, 8 Saturday, and 6 Sunday for a total of 33 miles.  Which is my highest weekly mileage in… well shit I don’t even know how long!  It’s been a LONG time.  As of right now I’m 18.7 miles away from hitting 100 miles for January.  First time hitting that number since December 2012!
  • I know from past experience that when my mileage gets this high I had better start doing some cross-training or my ass will be injured and sidelined.  So in the last week I’ve dusted off the ol’ spin bike and started doing the Jillian Michaels Shred workouts.  It still amazes me how little you use your glutes while running.  GAAAHHHAH my ass is sore!

2015-01-27 11.35.03

  • I have ulterior motives for adding in the extra workouts too.  I gotta shed some fat, y’all.  I was really working on getting my body fat percentage down early last summer and then things got crazy when D’s mom went from battling cancer to being terminal.  I put on several pounds by the time she passed away.  I’ve taken them back off for the most part, but now I need to pick up where I left off last summer.  It was mostly out of sheer vanity until Tiina stole this from Runners World and posted it on her blog a few days ago.

Running-weight

I WANT THOSE TWO MINUTES!!!!

  • To aid with this, I’ve started food journaling again.  I’m using MyFitnessPal.  I fucking hate food journaling, but it’s effective.
  • I’ve been curious for a while now, and I’ve finally taken the plunge.  I ordered some Hokas.  I’ve strayed from my Brooks Ghosts a few times and have always come crawling back, but I haven’t talked to a single person who didn’t like them, so I’m giving them a chance.
  • I am starting to form a real game plan toward completing a half marathon in every state.  It’s stressing me out.  I’m not a patient person, so the fact that I haven’t registered for 43 half-marathons over the next 6 months is a total win.  I’ve got a few picked out between now and June and have been researching potential contenders for several states, but it’s killing me that I can’t do them all RIGHTFUCKINGNOW!
  • I’ve always thought that people that run full marathons “for fun” were a little bit unhinged, but I think I’m becoming those people.  There’s a girl here in town that’s running a local marathon in March and I’ve kind of committed to running her remaining long runs with her.  She asked me recently if I was gonna run the marathon.  I guess it’d kinda be silly NOT to, right?  It’s super tiny and won’t sell out or anything, so I won’t register in advance, but there’s a very good possibility that I’ll be running a marathon “for fun” in less than two months.

Race Recap: Mississippi Blues Half Marathon

Half Marathon #14
State #7
Time 2:13:19
Pace 10:11

Even before I decided to give this whole “50 half marathons in 50 states” thing a whirl, I had registered for what would be my 7th state–Mississippi Blues. It was within driving distance; it was on my birthday; and I had just heard great things about it, so why the hell not?!  The hubs doesn’t usually come with me to races, but since this was my birthday weekend, I didn’t give him an out this time.  He and I both worked until lunch Friday and then headed out on the 5-hr drive to Jackson, MS.  We drove straight to the convention center for packet pickup, and we were in and out of there in just a few minutes.  We arrived at about 6:30, so I wasn’t expecting to find the expo still set up because the web site said the expo ended at 6:00 but that packet pickup would be available until 9:00.  But there were still LOTS of people coming in, so I guess the vendors decided not to pack it up as long as people were coming in.  I made a quick round through the expo but didn’t buy anything even though it was pretty hard not to go wild at the Gypsy Runner booth.  So much cuteness!!!

We were staying at the Marriott, which was just a few blocks from the expo, and on the way there we saw where the start line was set up for the next morning.  It was super close to the hotel, so I was pretty stoked about that.  It was CRAZY cold, and I wasn’t looking forward to walking a long way to the start.  I knew it was supposed to be pretty close to the hotel, but I didn’t realize exactly how close it was.  I’m usually more frugal when booking hotels for races and stay a little ways out where it’s cheaper, but I splurged a bit on this one since it was my birthday and all.  🙂

So we got all checked in and the first thing we noticed when we walked in the room was how cold it was in there!  The heat was set to 73, but it couldn’t have been over 60 degrees in there.  We assumed that they hadn’t had the heat on in the room long and just cranked it up and called in a pizza for delivery because we just really didn’t feel like getting back out.  When the room still hadn’t warmed up by the time we were ready to go to bed, I called the desk and complained about the room being so cold.  Turns out they knew that was a problem for that room and a few others as we were directly over the parking garage.  They said they try not to put people in those rooms when it’s that cold, but they were sold out that night, and since we were some of the later people checking in, we were among the lucky ones.  They brought us a space heater and extra blankets and even knocked $50 off our bill for the night without me even asking!  Awesome customer service.  Anyway, that space heater made all the difference in the world.  I thawed out and was asleep by 9:30 with my alarm clock set for 5:30 to give me plenty of time to get awake and functioning before the 7:00 start.

We headed down to the lobby shortly after 6:30 but stood around chatting and prolonging heading out into the cold (starting temp was 23 and felt like 18).  About 6:45 we started the short walk to the start line.  As soon as I walked outside I noticed how quiet it was.  I kind of panicked at first thinking I had missed it or we were farther away than I thought, but I looked around at all the other runners around me and thought we surely didn’t all make the same mistake.  I guess I’m just spoiled to a lively race start.  I don’t think I’ve EVER been to a race that didn’t have a band or piped-in music or SOMETHING at the start.  There was absolutely nothing here.  A guy played the national anthem on the electric guitar, but that was it.  Just an emcee on the megaphone announcing how many minutes to start every so often.

2015-01-10 06.49.05

I seeded myself around the 4:20 full marathon pacer and moved to the edge of the corral so I could hang with D until the start.  When it was almost time, I handed my coat over to him and he headed back up to the room to go back to bed.  Yeah, races just aren’t his thing.  haha

There was absolutely NO energy to the start at all.  And that set the tone for the entire race.  Before I bash it too much, let me start by saying that it was very organized and the volunteers were great.  They were very friendly and helpful and just the fact that they were out there braving the cold for us was very much appreciated.  They were amazing and I thanked every one I saw.  But the race itself?  The race kind of sucked, y’all.  It was just…boring.  There was exactly one band playing on the 13.1-mile course.  The course was extremely challenging with constant hills, but that’s not why I wouldn’t do it again.  I don’t mind a challenging course.  I enjoy it actually.  But there just wasn’t anything to look at.  Several miles of it were right by the interstate, for Christ’s sake.  There was virtually no spectatorship.  I get that it was cold, but I’ve run cold races before where there were tons more spectators than this.  When we came up on the college campus I thought, “Yes!  This will liven it up a bit!”  Not a soul in sight.  I was so disappointed!  The other races I’ve done that have gone through a campus, that’s been the liveliest part!  At Murray State, I think every frat boy on campus was out there acting a fool.  I know all of this stuff is just personal preference.  I know there are a lot of people that take running more seriously than I do that think these things aren’t important (and think people like me who enjoy these things shouldn’t be taking up space on “their” course), but that’s just my subjective take on it.  I’ve run small races before too and was fine with it because I knew ahead of time that it was a small race with no frills and extras.  I guess in my mind I just had this event built up to be more than what it was.  It certainly seems to me like it was advertised that way.  Like I said… subjective.

Now the objective… This was a super challenging course!  Although I do prefer a hillier, rolling course over a pancake-flat one I was kind of over the hills by the later miles of this one.  I only have 11 miles worth of data from my Garmin because my dumb ass forgot to turn it on when we walked out of the hotel.  It was only when I took my coat off right before the start and saw my watch on my wrist that I remembered.  Of course it didn’t find a signal before the start.  When it finally found a satellite, I could see the Mile 2 marker ahead, so I just hit the start button when I reached that marker.  Since I didn’t have a watch for the first couple of miles I just tried to concentrate on not letting myself start out too fast.  I have a tendency to do that–especially when I’m cold!  I did a pretty good job of pacing myself I guess because I never really bonked.  I did get tired of the hills and started walking parts of them toward the end.  I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt not to expect a PR at this race, but I was kind of hoping for a second best.  As I watched my time during the race I knew that was possible but it was going to be close because I didn’t know my time from the first two miles.  At mile 12 I decided to give it what I had left.  Lucky for me there were no major hills during that last mile.  haha  When I crossed the finish line, my watch said 1:53 something, but I still didn’t know my time or if I’d hit my goal of second-best.  I was hoping for anything below 2:13:20, which was my time from the Shamrock Half back in 2012, but I’d have to wait to find out.

I found D right out of the finisher’s chute.  I really didn’t even realized I’d walked out of the finisher’s area until I was out of it.  When I crossed the line, I was handed my medal and a bottle of water and was offered a space blanket, and I kept walking to where I thought the food would be.  But there WAS none.  That was where I found D.  I asked him if I missed the food, and he said he hadn’t seen any.  I looked around to ask another runner where to get whatever they were eating, but… NO ONE had anything.  There was nothing!  I’ve run $15 5Ks that at least had fucking bananas and Oreos at the end.  Again, I guess those are just my personal expectations.  I didn’t read anything that promised finish line refreshments, so my disappointment was unfounded.  I just kind of assumed there would be something because I’ve never been to a half marathon where there wasn’t.  Another major strike against this race in my mind.  Had I known, I’d have brought something to MS with me to make a protein shake.  As it were, we walked back to the hotel and I ducked into the hotel restaurant and asked if I could just buy a banana.  They graciously just gave me three… I think probaby just to keep me from coming in and sitting down. haha

Aside from the awesome volunteers, I have to say the only thing I liked about this race was the medal.  Yes, I’m that shallow runner.  Bling size matters.

2015-01-10 17.51.04When the results were posted in the afternoon, I found out that I have a new second-best time by ONE WHOLE SECOND!  hahaha

2015-01-10 19.42.48Closing thoughts:  Did I enjoy myself?  Yeah, I did.  It was a great quick trip away with D, and we just don’t get that much anymore since we bought the business last year.  I gave a solid effort on a difficult course and I’m happy with the results.  Would I recommend this race to anyone else?  No.  Not by a long shot.  If big races are your thing, you’ll be disappointed.  If small races are your thing, you may enjoy this one, but you’ll pay more for registration than what it’s worth.

Race Recap: Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon

This race came dangerously close to being The One That Didn’t Happen.  The plan was that I was going to work until lunch Friday, and then someone from another office (since I’ve recently lost my only help in mine) was going to come and relieve me that afternoon and Saturday for the race.  Thursday afternoon, only minutes before leaving work for the day, I got a phone call that my relief’s relief person had a family emergency and couldn’t fill in for her to allow her to come to my office.  I thought I was screwed.  But things actually worked out, as they RARELY do in my profession, and I was still able to make it.  I had to work all day Friday, and only made it to the expo by the skin of my teeth, but I made it, and that’s all that matters.

I got out of the office at 4:45, filled up my gas tank, and hit the road.  I thought that would give me plenty of time, but after stopping at Olive Garden to pick up a to-go order I’d called in and then having to slow down to a crawl on the interstate because of the torrential rain, I was pushing it tighter than I liked.  When I got downtown to the Cook Convention Center for packet pickup, the traffic was nuts.  I finally found a parking spot a few blocks away and hustled to the center.  I grabbed my shirt and went to the Hero’s section where I was given my bib and a $25 coupon (for meeting my $500 fundraising goal!) for St Jude merchandise.  JUST as I was walking into the merch area, they came over the speaker and announced that the expo would be closing in five minutes.  Talk about coming down to the wire.  I didn’t really plan on buying anything, but since I had the $25 coupon I looked around anyway.  I ended up grabbing this running beanie and a new 13.1 sticker for my truck (since I’ve lost all my running magnets) with a balance due of $0.13.

2014-12-07 09.09.55

Then I made my way to my hotel.  Because I’d waited too long to make a hotel reservation, all the decently priced ones downtown were booked up.  And because I’m too fucking cheap to pay $200 for one night just to have a pillow to lay my head on for a few hours before a race, I booked a room about 10 miles out of the downtown area.  It was a little Days Inn out by Graceland.  For $60 I wasn’t expecting much, but it had really good reviews, so I took a chance.  When I pulled up, it was so cute.  It was all decked out in Elvis paraphernalia and had the guitar-shaped pool and everything.  It was cheap, it was clean, it was quiet, the bed was soooooo comfy, and the staff was super friendly and helpful.  The lady at the front desk was even tracking down safety pins for me at 10:00 that night because I’d lost mine somewhere between the expo and my hotel room.  Great customer service.  I’d highly recommend this hotel to anyone.  When I told the front desk of my plans the next morning and asked for a late checkout so I could come back for a shower, she told me that 12:00 was the latest she could offer me without charging an extra half-day’s rate.  (Which I made with a whopping 4 minutes to spare!  haha)

So anyway, after I got checked in, I heated up my pasta I’d picked up on the way in (I had done that because I knew I wouldn’t make it in time for the Hero pasta party, and I just REALLY didn’t give a shit about walking around downtown in the rain trying to find some dinner after the expo.) and laid out all of my stuff for the next morning.  That was when I realized I had lost my safety pins for my bib.  Thank goodness Days Inn is prepared for us unprepared folks and had little sewing kits for free!

2014-12-05 21.20.50

So with a bib safety secured to my singlet, I laid down for the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a while.  No snoring husband, no dogs waking me up needing to go outside, no cat yelling at me demanding breakfast or help up on the bed (Cat, I bought you some pet stairs–use them!)  I went to sleep, slept soundly, and didn’t wake up till the next morning.  I had my alarm set for 6, but I was awakened by a text message at 5:33 wishing me luck.  I laid there for a while perusing Facebook and Instagram and then got up and had some coffee and my standard race morning breakfast of a Clif bar.  I left the hotel right at 7 to allow myself plenty of time to get downtown, find a parking place, and get to my corral without being rushed.  It went perfectly and I was in my corral by 7:45.

I didn’t have much of a plan for the race.  I knew I wasn’t PR ready, but I thought surely I could keep it under a 10:00 pace, giving me a second best time.  But for whatever reason, and I haven’t figured that reason out yet, it wasn’t in the cards.  For the first 6 miles or so, I was running in the 9:30s and feeling GREAT!  I was thinking that maybe I COULD beat my old PR of 2:07 (9:44 pace).  But then around mile 7, I completely bonked.  I mean like flipping a damn switch.  I went from “WHEEEEE RUNNING!!!!!” to “WTF just happened?” in the course of a mile.  Maybe it was because the rush of downtown and Beale St. and running through the St. Jude campus was over?  Maybe I had expended more energy running into the wind than I’d thought?  Maybe I just fucking suck at running?  But I still thought if I could keep a decent pace I could still keep the finish time under 2:10.  Then by mile 9, my average pace had creeped up to 10:02.  I knew I wasn’t getting it back, so I just said, “Fuck it.  It will be what it will be.”  So I just ran (and walked) and enjoyed the crowd and the scenery and just appreciated the fact that I got to be there when only 24 hours before I didn’t think it was gonna happen.

12-6-2014 - St. Jude finisher's photo
Come on, photographer… Would a “Hey, fix your shirt” have killed you? 😛

I crossed the finish line in AutoZone Park in 2:17:29.  I’m really disappointed in that time.  There just isn’t any reason for it.  I’ve run 5 half marathons faster than that before, and I was no better prepared for any of those (except the PR one, which I ran during marathon training) than I was this one.  But whatever.  I’m disappointed but not bitter about it.  It’s hard to be bitter about taking part in such a wonderful day for such a wonderful cause.  I love this race so much, and I’m already looking forward to my fourth running of St. Jude next December.

2014-12-06 17.36.49
Half marathon #13 done.

RnR St. Louis Race Weekend Recap – Day 3 – RACE DAY!

If you missed Days 1 & 2, go catch up here.  I’ll wait…

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s pick up where I left off.  IT’S RACE DAY!!!!  Start time was 7:00, so we had set our alarms for 6:00 with plans to leave the room about 6:45.  We were only a few blocks from the start, and it was chip timed, so none of us really cared to stand around in the corrals forever before the start.  As we were walking up, still several blocks away, we heard the gun but still didn’t bother to get in any hurry.  We still stopped to get pre-race pictures before jumping in the corral.

2014-10-19 07.02.30
Me, Kim, and Trisha. We hadn’t found Tiina yet.
10-19-2014 - Pam & Tiina before RnR St. Louis
FOUND HER!

Kim snapped this photo from the start line.  The race banner, the sunrise, the arch in the background… best race photo ever.

IMG_4986

And just a couple minutes later, we were crossing the start line.  I had absolutely no plans or goals for this race whatsoever except to ENJOY IT!  I hadn’t run more than 8 miles since March, so the only thing I had in mind was to keep it slow and steady so I didn’t blow up halfway through.  I did a pretty good job of that.  I felt really good all the way through, other than being pretty hot.  It was in the 40s at the start and in the 50s by the finish, which I usually wear shorts to run in, but that day I had on tights.  I ran pretty steadily until I hit the 10-mile mark and then I started walking up some of the hills, of which there were plenty.  That’s one of the things I love about this course.  It’s constant rollers.  I have learned that I by far prefer a rolling course to a flat one.  I seriously just love this race.  I crossed the line in 2:21:35.  Out of my 12 half marathons, that puts this one right in the middle time-wise.  Given that this one was run solely for fun I’m TOTALLY cool with that.

10-19-2014 - Pam crossing finish line

10-19-2014 - RnR St. Louis finisher's photo

It’s fun to think that a few years ago I ran a 2:21 fully trained and felt tanked at the end and now it’s my “fun run” time after a full day on my feet and climbing up and through and over shit at the playground…excuse me–“museum.”  And I remember a day when running 10+ miles would put me back in bed for a nap before lunch.  haha  Okay, maybe that’s not a good point because I totally would have taken a nap Sunday if I’d had time.  But instead we all headed back to the hotel for quick showers because we had tickets to go up into the Gateway Arch at noon!  We thought we were leaving in plenty of time, but a complicated checkout at the hotel, lots of traffic because of the Rams/Seahawks game, a walking detour because of construction at the Arch, and a long security line made us a few minutes late.  Thankfully they let us go on up anyway.

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View of the stadium from the top of the Arch.

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River view looking out the opposite side.

And just some more photos from the park grounds…

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One of my favorite pictures from the weekend, taken by some random kid Kim picked out of a crowd.  haha

And with that, our weekend was a wrap.  Kim and Trisha had a plane to catch, and I needed to get on the road home, so we dropped Tiina back at her car where she’d parked close to the start line that morning, and we headed back to the airport.

I had an AMAZING time with these ladies, and I cannot wait to do it again!!!!!