A Different Type of Thanksgiving

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A gorgeous sunset on Hilton Head Island by the lighthouse

I had the opportunity to do something different this Thanksgiving which was a relief but at the same time, a little stressful.  For many years my family would travel to my husband’s family as a Thanksgiving tradition.  The past couple of years I’ve spend it in Keystone, CO with my parents, my children (or some of them at least), and my fur boys. This year my parents were driving to Hilton Head Island, SC to visit my brother and his family and had invited my eldest son and to fly in later and join them.  Well, my son didn’t want to lose out on work money (I don’t blame him! As a server in an incredibly busy restaurant, it would make sense to earn beaucoup $!) and, unbeknownst to me, his father had asked him over for the holiday since he already had his brother and sister . He had accepted, not knowing that I hadn’t made any plans as I refused to leave him alone on Thanksgiving Day. Hmm, communication problems?! Yep, I believe so! Argh. ..  Well, now that these other plans were in place, that now meant that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving.

Parents to the rescue! I still managed to book a flight and although my heart hurt being away from my children and things that they had to deal with by being with their dad, I got to visit with my brother and his family in a state they’ve called their home for four years that I’d never seen before, run in a 10K race with a new PR, run on the beach, see some humongous alligators, and make some new memories. I was certainly blessed to have had this opportunity!

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Thanksgiving Day Race – 5K and 10K participants!

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Mandatory beach run selfie! If I hadn’t have been on a time crunch, I’d have been out there for HOURS!

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Group shot on the beach following our Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful day!

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My brother and I – we’re only a year and 17 days apart and were very close growing up. Not so much now 😦

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Easily 12-14 feet long. Gulp! Glad they were on the other side of the water!

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My new beau (ha!ha!) – and my Dad photobombing in the background (he was actually keeping the nutcracker’s mouth closed!). I love Christmas lights. . .

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Isn’t this a beautiful walkway to the beach? 

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My Dad and I – one last look at the beach before I headed home. 

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Turkey Trottin’ 2016

Last year when I ran this race I called it The Longest 10 Mile Race EVER and swore I’d never run it again. It wasn’t even an option this summer either, when I was comparing races with my new running buddies until I heard that they had changed the location and the route and since it was during yet another one of my training cycles, I thought, “Why not?” And if I was one of the first 2,000 runners registered, I’d get a free turkey. And who couldn’t use a turkey? (Okay, so maybe that’s not the best reason since my daughter is a vegetarian! Oh, and I still have last year’s in the freezer.) I’m glad I did.

So, prefacing the race was more family/teenage drama. I woke up the morning of the race sick to my stomach, with a thought racing through my head that I hadn’t in the slightest entertained.  I mean, I TRUSTED my daughter, yet why would this thought not go away? Something wasn’t right. Hmm, before the race I confirmed what I knew to already be true.  After the race, I double-confirmed it. Great thoughts to run on, trust me. Grrrr. . . .

We were all lined up in the chute for a good 20 minutes before they told us that we could go back inside due to a delay. Well, I’ll tell you that the real feel temperature was 25 degrees that morning, and standing around waiting for the horn to go off for that long wasn’t the most pleasant. It took a while for my toes to thaw out for I’m sure those guys in tank tops and shorts were feeling it much worse than I was!  Turned out there was a high risk situation somewhere in the area that may  have impeded our safety. Thanks to the race directors for keeping us all safe!

Going into a race there’s always many variables that you usually don’t have any control over.  Weather is one of them, particularly the Kansas wind.  Fortunately, even though the past few days had been gale force winds, it had died down significantly for the race. Yes, it was cold, but at least the sun was supposed to come out. I had a goal for this race knowing that my past two races were 1:32 and 1:31 so I was hoping for around 1:30.  I’d been training well and as long as my IT band didn’t act up again, I felt confident that I would meet it. Due to shuffling back inside and out to the starting line, I lost my fellow runner buddies but I figured I’d meet them on the course somewhere (I only saw them in passing in the last mile:(). All the waiting and the cold even made my MP3 player die before I hit the first mile.  I don’t always run with music, though, so I knew I would overcome yet another challenge this morning. One of these days I should record all of the thoughts that go through my head when I’m running a race.  It’s actually quite comical!

It was a beautiful course with nicely placed water stations that I took of advantage of. I managed to maintain a fairly consistent pace and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:27:18, nearly a 4 minute PR! Yep, I was a happy camper!

Now I’ll need a new goal if I run it again next year.  I haven’t signed up for any other races yet, either, so I’ll need to figure out what’s next! I find having a race on the calendar definitely holds me accountable, as well as running with my group.  I’m going to have to up my mileage a little, too, if I’m wanting to finish 2016 with my goal of 1,000 miles!

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Why do all of my race pictures make me look like I’m dying?  Maybe the photographer should hold up a sign saying “Smile!” as I wasn’t expecting pictures!

Prairie Fire 2016 – My 2nd Full Marathon!

Wow, have I been excited about this upcoming race! I trained hard this summer with a Fleet Feet running group that took my running to an entirely new level.  I looked forward to TNT (Tuesday Night Track) and even made it to a few of the Joggers & Lagers on Thursdays!

One weekend on a 19-mile long run, my knee started giving me issues at 17 1/2 miles. Really? I’d already done 17 1/2 miles and now I’m having issues?! I hadn’t done anything weird, just running on a gradual incline with other runners toward the next traffic light. Hmmm. A slight discomfort on my outer right knee and before long, it had gotten to the point that I couldn’t even walk on it. I limped/walked/jogged back to the store and spent the rest of the afternoon icing it and taking it very easy. That Monday, I headed to a recommended sports Dr. who confirmed it was my IT band. Thinking I had caught it early enough, I was good to go and didn’t have any issues, even after a subsequent 21+ mile run! Whew! I still had a few weeks until race day so . . . .

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Some of the M2 group after our course preview day of 21+ miles. It was foggy that morning and we were drenched!

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Here we go! At the Expo the day before the race. Super excited!

Prairie Fire Race morning brought fabulous temperatures with clouds and little wind. I couldn’t wait! I lined up with my some of my regular running buddies, targeting a 4:12 goal (my PR was 4:42 but I know I had trained much better this time around!).  We were doing great and I was keeping pace until about mile 12 and the knee twinges came back. By mile 13 I was back in the same boat I had been several weeks earlier. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? I seriously could have just curled up into a fetal position at the side of the road and CRIED, I was that upset! But, a quitter I am not, so I plodded on, alternately walking/jogging/running.  I still had over 13 miles to go!

Running is most definitely a mental sport.  When the rest of my group had continued on without me and then another one of my friends had passed me by, my mind was spiraling out of control. I had to be my own cheerleader to continue on so I put in my earbuds, focused on each step, and vehemently told myself that I had no choice but to finish this race.  And by doing so, hopefully I didn’t do any permanent damage to my body (cross fingers). With my Garmin as my guide to keeping my time in check (I did NOT want to be any slower than 4:42, God willing!), I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:40:17. A PR! I headed for my parents, whom I had spotted on the bridge awaiting my arrival. I was also lucky to find my Dr. who had a tent set up so he could work wonders on my dumb IT band.

My official stats from the website: 

Place Bib# Name City/state S Ag Pace Div/Tot Time
===== =====
301 624 Deb                            44    10:42 15/36 4:40:17

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Even though by this point my knee was in agony, I made sure I semi smiled for a somewhat decent race picture. I must have known that the next ones wouldn’t good!

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My running pal, Brittany, and I. We trained well together. She had an awesome race, finishing at 4:12 and tying for first place in her age group!

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My not-so-pretty finish picture. The exhaustion and agony was REAL, people!

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My 2 medals and my Finisher tech shirt

I took a week and a half off from running, which was brutal. When you’re so used to this as your stress release and you’re unable to do it, you can go crazy. The leaves were starting to change and the temperatures were perfect, which was a tease. Then again, I had to put a brace on my knee to help control the pain and I couldn’t even walk properly, never mind run! 

What now?  Well, I’m a 2nd time marathoner, which is a pretty cool thing.  I have since signed up for the winter training session to help with accountability to enjoy more time with the people I’ve met who enjoy running as much as I do. I have signed up for a 1/4 Half Marathon race next weekend (6.55 miles – a 1st for me – and didn’t want to overdo it) and the Turkey Trot 10-miler in November.  The goal for the winter training session is a 1/2 marathon on New Year’s Day, one I’ve run in the past, although at this point I’m not yet sure if I’ll actually be running that race or not.

And what about another marathon? Well, I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not sure if my body is meant to run those lengths of distances. That being said, though, if I can run 1/2 that distance with such an awesome time, and with the proper training, of course, then why not?

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My SF 1/2 Marathon

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A couple of months ago when my parents and I were discussing vacation plans for the summer, we decided to visit San Francisco.  After having secured our lodging and flights, which were rapidly being booked from under us, we glanced at what was going on in the city the days that we were going to be there.  Lo and behold, there was the San Francisco Marathon taking place on July 31st!  Most people would be like “Who wants to run a race on their vacation?” but me? Sign me up! I did linger a little too long, however, and missed out on the first 1/2 marathon sign up which took us over the Golden Gate Bridge.  I wasn’t ready for the full marathon yet so I signed up for the 2nd 1/2 marathon.

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The countdown was on! 

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Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion

I made it to the expo on Friday when we were visiting Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Located in Fort Mason, the sign proudly announcing that ALL races were sold out and building was packed with vendors. I could have spent hours there! I didn’t, though, and quickly got my packet, asked about transportation from the hotel to the start line/shuttle and headed out to meet the rest of the family who were hanging out at a local Starbucks.

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Obligatory selfie!

The morning of the race arrived with a temperature of 56 degrees (lovely!). After hardly sleeping – excitement! – I headed down to the lobby to walk the dark streets of Union Square heading to the shuttle bus pick-up.  I must say that I am sometimes geographically challenged.  I knew I had to walk down Market Street which would then meet up with the road that the shuttle buses are on.  Of course I turned the wrong direction!  I met up with a gal from Central California named Irene who was also heading to the race. Once we got turned around in the right direction, we joined the incredibly long line for the shuttles. I was thankful I had left early enough that we didn’t miss the transportation access!

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This line stretched around 2 blocks and was constantly growing!

Finally on the bus, we breathed a sigh of relief, thinking it wouldn’t be too long and we’ll make it to the start line.  Except the shuttle bus driver didn’t know where he was going and we were his first route to take to the start.  Are you kidding me?????  We took the scenic route where we could hear the drivers’ conversation with dispatch about where he could and couldn’t go (road closures due to the race) Panic started to set in when I overheard dispatch say, “Why are you making a left there?” Breathe. I had no control over it. Let it go. *Gulp*

We eventually made it to the start line where due to being late I missed Wave 3’s start and had to settle for the next one.  That’s after making a mad dash to port-a-potties (no TP :() and checking in my sweatshirt. What a frenzied way to start a race!

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The 2nd Half Starting Line!

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In the starting shoot – crazy hair already! It was a bit humid.

The race got started and I was trying to find my pace.  It was a crowded start at the edge of Golden Gate Park with the usual people cutting in front of you and narrowing of the course so my time wasn’t a good starting time.  The course itself was very interesting with hills up and down.  I was impressed with the numerous water/electrolyte/medical stops located throughout the course (10 in my 13.1 miles!) and was grateful for port-a-potties when I had to make an emergency visit after mile 7 (my first potty stop EVER during a race. Hope not to repeat that again!).  I had a goal of a 2 hour time (my PR is 1:55) but didn’t want to put on too much pressure racing on a strange course in a strange city with hills that can’t be replicated in Kansas. Even by losing time to potty, I finished with 1:58:11 only my Garmin says that I ran 13.29 miles instead. I had walked many, many miles the previous two days sightseeing San Francisco so my legs weren’t as fresh as they could have been either. I was pleased with my time, though, and gave it all I had, which is all I could have done!

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At the finish sporting my new medal!

The results came in and they sent me this awesome run-down as to how my performance compared with others.  Not too shabby!

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I couldn’t have asked for a better day for my race and who knows if I’ll have the opportunity to run this race again.  It was a great way to see the city in a different way and something I’d never done before – racing with over 27,000 strangers! Something I never thought to have put on my bucket list but an achievement none-the-less. Now back to my marathon training schedule!

 

Fellow Pavement Pounders

Remember how I told you that when I trained for my last marathon that I wouldn’t go through that training solo again?  I wrote about it here.

I can’t tell you how incredibly excited I am about my new running group.  SERIOUSLY. I look forward to Tuesday Night Track, Thursday Night Fun Runs with the Joggers and Lagers, and, of course, my M2 S2F (Start to Finish) fellow long-run partners on Saturday mornings. This group provides motivation, accountability, and absolutely unbelievable support.  I even rejoined Facebook, but only to be a member of this group!

This group high-5’s you even if your hands are sweaty from a run. They don’t mind how bad you smell from running in 90+ degrees weather on a hot July evening and then sitting down for a drink at a local brewhouse. They don’t care if your running clothes don’t match or if your shorts look like you’ve wet your pants from sweating.  This group praises your abilities (or sometimes inabilities, depending on the day!) of just getting out there and running and doing your best. They wonder where you are if you don’t show up to training. If you drop back to take pictures or are having hydration issues, they drop back with you to be sure that you’re okay and safe. We’re training together for a common goal, to complete the Prairie Fire Marathon in October. We are growing stronger with each run, not only with our bodies, but building relationships with fellow pavement pounders who are just as crazy about running.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  

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Day 1 Time Trial Marathon Group – June 11. Photo by Karlee from Fleet Feet Wichita

My 6th 1/2 Marathon

Wow, I had no idea that I run so many until I was looking through my book that I record my races in!  What an exciting journey!

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This was my last long run, battling the wind (see the flags?). I knew I had to run in these conditions, albeit tempting to hit the treadmill with HGTV instead, as you never know what the Kansas conditions on race day will be!

Prairie Fire Marathon Race day was dry and a little overcast.  I was actually thinking I should have worn something different as the temperatures were quite chilly, about 45 degrees. I wore shorts and a t-shirt and had a hoodie until that last minute when I checked it into the Gear Check tent.  I had a goal in mind, sub 2 hour and hopefully a PR.  I had trained well and felt as prepared as I could have been. There were more than 2,400 participants in this race series. Pretty impressive!

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A kind stranger took this picture for me in front of the official PFM backdrop. I don’t look too shabby considering how tired I was!

To make a long story short, I ran well and gave it everything I had.  I had a great first half of the race but working through a side stitch about mile 7, I began to struggle.  My time slowed, but not too much, until I got it under control.  I did walk through most of the water stops as I didn’t want to struggle with dehydration.  It didn’t really slow my time down too much, either.  There was a wind that gave me some grief but fortunately I had trained on this part of the course after school so I knew how to handle it.  The miles went by quickly and I focused on enjoying the race, my form, people watching, and keeping my head clear of negative stuff.  I had my MP3 player on random so I didn’t know what was coming up next, a bonus for this race. The last couple of miles were very tough, and when I crossed the finish line, I literally had absolutely NOTHING left.  The good news?  I still managed to squeak out a PR by 1 minute 15 seconds!

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The official results – 361st place in which I placed 15th out of 109 women in my age group. There were 1,362 participants in the half marathon!

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One of my official finishing pics. Hey, I’m still smiling!

So, what’s next? I signed up for the Back 2 Back Challenge, so I’ll be running my 2nd FULL marathon on October 9th.  I’m going to join a running group to help me with this training and to meet some new friends.  I took a week off from running to let me legs recover, although I wasn’t very sore at all, which I believe shows that my training was adequate. Today I ran an easy 3.15 miles to get back into the swing of things.  It was wonderful!

Gotta Get a New Pair of Shoes

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A few of my running shoes over the years

The nice thing about running is that you don’t need a whole lot of expensive equipment.  A pair of shorts, a t-shirt, some shoes … you’re good to go, right?!  I’ve found out over the years that shoes are the most important part.  I would never spend over $100 on a pair of shoes but now it’s no big deal. I’m usually a Saucony girl, too!

So I had bought another new pair of Saucony Ride‘s about a year ago but this pair seemed to deteriorate really quickly. I rubbed a hole in the back of the left foot that left me with a gaping blister the size of a quarter. No big deal with a little duct tape and it was back to normal. Until I rubbed through that.  Yesterday I ran a simple 3-miler and took off my shoe on my cool-down to avoid further rubbing. Geesh. Not good when I’m training for a 1/2 marathon in early May and another marathon in October!

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I went to my local Go Run/Fleet Feet store where apparently the warm weather invoked many others for new shoes.  After trying on a few pairs, I settled on a new pair of Asics Cumulus 17 and used my  10% off coupon (makes a difference with $120 shoes!).  This morning I headed out for my long run (6 miles) and my feet felt they were in heaven.  And no blisters 🙂