Monday, July 25, 2011

Life, Love and Running

Haven't written in a while, because I'm still really in recovery and not racing. I lost the spreadsheet where I was tracking my running last month. ugh! I know I should have a backup or log my runs online, but the online logs are too freakin' complicated and I never PLAN to get a virus on my computer. Actually, I'm not sure it was a virus, my McAfee didn't find anything. Just got a weird error message on three of the spreadsheets I use regularly and one of them was my beloved running log. However, I'm one running streak number 4 and it is 26 days strong. I'm still running everyday for 2-8 miles and maintaining 20-25 miles per week.

To quote The Cure it's "Hot, Hot, Hot"! Not a revelation since it's July and I live in the South. Some say this year is worse than others, but hot is hot and the heat index is just a conspiracy made up by the government to get us to agree to raise the debt ceiling. Just kidding! I'm really glad I took this year off from distance. I have little to no motivation these days to start my runs. Once I'm out there I'm glad I started, but I'm also glad to finish after 3-4 miles. Tonight I start back on the track. I'm aiming to do another race this fall, but I haven't picked it out yet. I'm going to Maggie Valley for a long weekend in September and I may look for something in that direction. Or maybe this will be the year that I finally get my Wooly Worm Woad Wace shirt!

The condo is getting close to ready for the market. The ugly, ugly housing market! But it's looking really nice and 'must see' will be a fitting description by the fall. Adam is getting ready for the Steamtown Marathon in October and I'm looking forward to the trip.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On the Road Again

My apologies if I've just given you an ear worm.

So after a little more than 4 weeks of "rest" I'm back on the road. I missed a lot of beautiful, cool running days and now I'm running in the heat an humidity. I started back Tuesday, June 7th with a short, slow 1.5 mile run. I felt great and of course, I stretched before and after. I've run everyday since for about 1.5-4 miles. Stretching every day is part of my new routine. My knee hasn't been an issue, but I am feeling a lot of strange feelings in my Achilles in both legs.

What concerns me is back in April when I had a bad sinus infection, my Allergist prescribed me Levaquin, an antibiotic that is really effective in curing sinus infections. I took it without first reviewing the side effects. Something you should NEVER do. After experiencing some of the minor side effects of the medication, I looked up the drug online and found this:

"Fluoroquinolones, including LEVAQUIN®, are associated with an increased risk of tendon rupture or swelling of the tendon (tendinitis) in all ages. This risk is higher if you are over 60 years of age, are taking steroids (corticosteroid drugs), or if you have kidney, heart, or lung transplants.

  • Tendon rupture can happen while you are taking LEVAQUIN® or up to several months after you have finished taking it. Call your healthcare professional right away at the first sign of tendon pain, swelling, or inflammation

  • Get medical help right away if you hear or feel a snap or pop, have severe pain, rapid or immediate bruising after an accident, or are unable to use the affected area

  • Stop taking LEVAQUIN® until tendinitis or tendon rupture have been ruled out by your healthcare provider and avoid exercise and using the affected area"

So naturally I'm concerned about what I'm feeling when I run. So far there is no pain, just an acute awareness that my tendons are there and working. This is also a lesson to review all side effects of the medication prescribed BEFORE taking them. My doctor is aware that I'm a runner and shouldn't have prescribed this. It has to be on me to research the side effects of the medication he prescribes. The "up to several months after" is quite vague, I wish they could be more specific.

I currently consider myself in recovery and so I haven't planned any races. I'd like to regain more strength before racing again. In the meantime, I'm enjoying running again.

Running streak 3 is at 7 days and counting.

I've run 120 days this year and a total of 426 miles.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What I Learned at Biker Week: We're Not So Different

My parents own one of those timeshare deals where you use points to get vacation rentals. My Dad always invites my sisters and I to join. I usually go for part of the week. Last October, my Dad asked Adam and I when we could join them in the Spring and he'd book at that time. We said mid-May. By the time my Dad booked, a place in Garden City, SC was the only place available for the week. Adam and I agreed to drive down Wednesday and stay until Saturday when my parents left.

Garden City is just South of Myrtle Beach and mid-May is biker week in Myrtle Beach and the surrounding area. I'm not from MB and I'm not into motorcycles so the thought that we could be at the beach at the same time as the Hell's Angels never entered my mind. It wasn't until my Dad sent me an email that Tuesday letting us know about the weather and saying "it's biker week, so it's really loud" that I realized I'd be getting a cultural lesson on my mini vacation this year.

The car ride to the beach was uneventful (not a complaint) and we arrived late Wednesday night. The condo was maybe a quarter of a mile from the famous Garden City Pier. The fishing pier is the largest attraction in Garden City. At the pier, in addition to fishing, the pier has an arcade, two bars and great "people watching." One of the bars is just outside the tackle shop and another is at the end of the pier. Each bar features live entertainment from bands to karaoke. It's a must see while in Garden City.

The first morning that we were there, we got up early (by vacation standards) to do our exercise for the day. Adam enjoyed a nice cool run while I had to walk because I'm still recovering from quad tendinitis. My Dad decided to walk with me and we headed out south of the condo to walk in a small neighborhood. It was on this walk, I got my first glimpse of "biker week." We passed several parked motorcycles and their leather-clad owners waking up and greeting their fellow riders. Some were already on their bikes revving their engines to announce their presence. Or is it a mating call? We heard, for 3 blocks mind you, a man heaving over the balcony of a rented house. I don't know why he couldn't do that inside. I noticed, though, that there weren't as many bikers as I'd thought that there would be. I think most of them stay in Myrtle Beach and that the ones near us were older and more tame. There's no Hooters restaurant in Garden City which also could account for the small numbers.

The bikers weren't the most interesting people that we saw this trip, however. Adam, my Dad and I spent some time at the end of the fishing pier. There we talked to a man who was missing several teeth and had a tattoo across his chest that read "DO NOT RESUSCITATE." And then there was the guy from Isreal working at the Slick Track place who was wearing a white t-shirt that read in big black letters "And For My Next Trick I'll Need A Condom and a Volunteer."

Adam and I did try the Slick Track place. It was not a slick track. I think at one point it was, but it needs to be repaved. The carts were old and not in great shape. However, it was only $5 and we got to ride just the two of us for about 9 minutes. A bargain.

As Adam, my Dad and I were leaving the track and heading back to the condo, my Dad made a comment that really made me think. He said "As far as I can tell, all the bikers do is ride around, drink beer and buy (cycle) paraphernelia." My first thought and what I said was "Well, all we runners do when we go for a running weekend is run, drink beer and buy running paraphernelia."

Then I started thinking about all of the people that I've run into over the years while I was running a race in another city. Imagine a person who finds themself in Boston or Chicago on the weekend of the marathon having no clue that 40,000 runners will be their clogging streets and Italian restaurants. Someone with no knowledge of running races. What impression did we leave on them? I thought about the guy in Nashville that I shared a cab to the airport with. He was Australian and when he asked me where I was heading and I said Charlotte, NC, he didn't know where that was. And by 'didn't know where that was,' I mean North Carolina. I was his first and probably last encounter he'd ever have with a person from North Carolina. I thought about the European guys that stopped my friend Jody and I on a street in Asheville, NC to ask us about the Asheville half marathon that was finishing close by. They wanted to know how far a half marathon is, in kilometers. We couldn't tell them the answer. It's roughly 21.1km, just in case you get asked.

New races are created every year and old ones are gaining popularity. We book flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and arrive en masse to run, drink and buy running paraphernalia. Sure we pay taxes and help boost the local economy, but is every person living in the area on board with that? This week is a big week in Charlotte for NASCAR and it's fans. Statistics prove that this is a great boost to the Charlotte economy every year, but how many complaints from residents have you heard? I don't want people to feel this way about runners. I'm setting a goal to be more respectful of the citizens of the places that I visit and more knowledgeable of Charlotte. I plan to be more polite and empathetic to a bewildered person who stumbles upon a finish area full of sweaty, smelly, dry fit-clad runners, when they were hoping to ride their seqway through Grant Park. Runners think that runners are the nicest people in the world. We shouldn't keep that to ourselves.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

GHB and Fog

So my running streak ended at 99 days and picked up 15 days later. Streak 2 ended at 14 days, but more on that in a minute.

This past Saturday I ran the GBS 5K. GBS stands for Guillain-Barré syndrome. GBS is a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. A friend of mine contracted the disorder a few years back and became involved in organizing the GBS 5K, which started about 5 years ago. Saturday was my 3rd time running the race. It's a small race so the first two times I ran it I placed in my age group.

I told Adam when I signed up for the race. I told him that he should sign up because he'd have a good shot at winning it. Adam is fast enough that winning a 5K is actually a reachable goal. Adam, like a lot of people had never heard of GBS. He asked me the week of the race "you have that GHB race this weekend, right?" I laughed so hard!

Adam didn't sign up and instead got up early and ran 14 miles. I got up and hour before I wanted to leave and started my race morning routine which is just waking up early and getting my butt out of bed. I hate mornings. I peaked out to check the weather. It was foggy which is my favorite type of running weather! When Adam came back I asked him how cool was his run in the fog? He agreed it was pretty cool. Adam quickly showered and got ready to go with me to watch the race. The fog had started to lift by the time we headed to the race, which was only about 7 miles away in the southpark area of Charlotte.

We parked about half a mile from the race and headed towards packet pickup. The DJ already had the music cranked and there were volunteers still prepping the finish area. I found packet pick-up easily and got my bib and t-shirt. This race, like many races, sends a virtual goodie bag by email instead of giving you a bag with race brochures, coupons and other crap you'll never use. I am a huge fan of this concept.

It was about 45 minutes before the race start and I should have been stretching and warming up. Since I had only run the 2 weeks leading up to this race and those runs were shorter than a 5K, I knew placing wasn't a possibility. So instead I looked around for other runners I knew. I didn't know of anyone who had planned to run, but was happy to run into Mike and his family. Mike moved to Charlotte from Pennsylvania a few years ago and started running with us on Wednesday night. His wife and their 3 kids stayed in PA until the house sold and when they got to Charlotte, Mike disappeared. He reappeared a few weeks ago and was at the race Saturday to support his wife by watching the kids while she ran. We chatted a while and then all headed to the start line.

This year they were chip timing the start. I was really happy about this. Adam looked around at the competition and said that he should have signed up. He asked me how fast I expected to finish and I said I'd be happy to break 26 minutes, but considering how the past couple of weeks had gone, I'd settle for breaking 27 minutes.

The race director called the runners to the start line. Victims of GBS often make a full recovery with no lasting effects, but after a long, slow healing process. Victims who have to go on a respirator within the first day of coming down with the illness, usually have some residual disability or effect. This is why the race's slogan is "Running for those who can't." Another thing I love about this race. Many people at that race are running their first 5K and they don't always seed correctly. Case in point was an overweight lady standing about 2 rows off the line who was wearing spandex capri pants and long sleeves under a short sleeve shirt in 55* weather. I'll give her this, it was workout wear and God love her, she was out here!

The race started without a fanfare (which is also a personal favorite). The race starts on Colony road and continues down until turning left onto Ferncliff. The first year that I ran this race, I ran a 7:42 in the first mile fueled by a combination of downhill, adrenaline and the misplacement of the 'Mile 1' sign. This year it was just over 8 minutes with the sign correctly placed. Starting at Ferncliff we started climbing about a mile and a half of hills. There are only 2 steep ones with the rest being slow inclines. The race winds through neighborhood streets behind Southpark Mall and runs up Morrison which is the finish line for the Southpark Racefest races and the Southpark 8K. Once you get up Morrison, you turn left onto Sharon and it flattens out to the finish. I hadn't run the race in 2 years and didn't remember the course, though I knew it wasn't fast. I overheard a guy, before the race, telling a kid (possibly his son or he was the kid's coach) about the course flattening out at Sharon and his comment stayed with me the whole race.

I passed the lady in the capris within the first quarter of a mile and got passed by several people. I felt like I was walking while everyone else was in a race car. However at the turn onto Ferncliff and the first steep hill, I passed a few people and a few kids who were already walking. At the top of the hill is the Mile 1 marker and then there were several turns and some nice rolling hills until we took another left and had to go up the second steep hill. At that point, I thought "I don't remember this course at all!" When we turned onto Morrison for the last mile and I realized we had to run through and beyond the finishes for the Southpark Racefest races, it posed quite a mental challenge. But I came back to that man telling the kid 'when you get to Sharon it flattens out and you can kick it in.' Telling myself that helped me up the long slow incline and then the short, rather insulting hill up to Sharon. When I made the turn, I fixed my shallow breathing with three short blasts out and a long inhale and then did my best to kick it in. At the 3 mile marker, I checked my watch 25:43. I knew 26 was out of range, but I also knew I'd beat 27. At the turn back into the shopping center to finish, Adam was standing on the curb and cheered me on. I gave a wave or a thumbs up, who can remember at the end of a 5K? I finished at 26:38, 5th in my age group and 80 overall.

During the first mile, I had recognized a man that I don't know but I've seen at races before. He's tall and runs completely straight backed, on the front of his feet with his toes turned out about 30* in each direction and he has a small stride. His calf muscles are well-defined. He was ahead of me the whole race. I tried watching his feet and taking as many steps as he did, trying to figure out how he could stay ahead of me with such bad form. He finished about 30 seconds ahead of me.

When I finished, Adam told me that the winner had run a 18:42 and was "some kid." He was disappointed that he didn't run it, because he could have beat that time. Laughing I said, "You need to listen to me, I know how to cherry pick a race." Adam introduced me to a guy he knew that he'd been talking to while waiting for me to finish. While they continued to talk, I checked out the finish area tables. Earth Fare was there and provided the fruit. I grabbed a couple of Chic-Fil-A chicken minis for Adam and some Starbucks coffee for me. After seeing that I didn't place, we headed back to the car by walking past the finish line and out of the shopping center. There we saw the capri pants lady slowly jogging to the finish. We cheered for her. She had a satisfied look on her face and I was relieved to see that she was in a good mood.

After the race, my left knee hurt again. I was able to do a short run on Sunday but I had to take Monday off and won't run again until the pain is gone. There's no sign of swelling and I find that taking Aleve really helps. So I don't think it's time to go to a doctor. I found this site: I believe I have "Quad Tendonitis." I plan to do the recommended stretches a couple of times a day. This course of action makes sense to me as stretching is a weak point. I do yoga, but haven't had time recently to be consistent. After doing the stretches this morning, my knee feels a lot better.

I don't have another race planned until I can get the knee issue figured out. Hopefully it isn't long.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I Haven't Run in 9 Days. Am I Still a Runner?

So as my knee was healing, the pollen count in Charlotte was rising and by the time I could run again, my asthma and allergies were in full swing. Every. Spring. So I haven't run in 9 days and I don't know what to do with all this extra time. My physical ability is severely limited. Just getting up and walking into another room makes me winded and sometimes dizzy. I've done some yoga, but not as much as I'd like to be able to do. I was continuing to lift, but that is now out of the question. I did get a nice antibiotic from the doctor and I'm taking my Mucinex D as directed, but until the pollen count is reduced to normal levels I'm stuck with all this extra time. It's worse on the weekends. Saturday morning, Adam and I headed to the finish line for the Southpark Racefest Half and 10K. It was raining and storms were expected, but the lightning had held off. The rain had reduced the pollen count so I felt ok going out with out a mask or oxygen tank. Unfortunately, the race started at 7:30am when I'd thought it started at 8am. We missed most of our friends' finishes. We ran into some of our friends and got to hang out before heading back inside. Sunday the pollen levels returned and I was more sick than I had been all week. I was really hoping to back to running at least on the treadmill by Monday, but it's looking like another week will go by without running. It's crazy to be so lost without exercise!

Monday, April 11, 2011

...and on the 100th day I rested.

Back in February, when I thought I'd be in Boston the weekend of the Southpark Racefest, I signed up for the Elizabeth 8K. I did this race a few years ago and I remembered the course being beautiful. I didn't remember it having rolling hills and I didn't remember how long an 8K is.

Saturday morning I woke up at 5:50am to start getting ready. Adam had agreed to take care of a friend's pets while he was out of town so we had to tend to them before heading to the race. I put on my race ready shorts, my Sharksbite singlet, my Herculisa socks and tried to wake up. After tending to the dogs and the cat, we headed to the race. We found a parking space right at the finish line in a lot where only one other car was parked, then walked to the Community Center to get my packet.

WE SAW ELVIS!!! Well, we saw a guy dressed as Elvis. He was the same guy who'd been dressed as Cupid at the Cupid's Cup 5K in February. He was outside the Community Center entertaining the few people who were standing around.

I got my packet and was pleased to see that they've started giving out tech shirts. We headed back to the car. Adam is still recovering and was there to do a run in the area during the race. He stretched and took off. I went in search of the three friends, Mindi, Jay and C.A., that I knew were running the race. I found Mindi, Jay found me and I didn't see C.A. until after the race. Mindi is married to a friend of mine from college. She recently started running to lose weight after having her fourth child. This was the second race she was running since high school. She had signed up on my recommendation. She was in a great mood and said she may try and pace with me in the beginning. I told her that my legs were tired and I didn't know how I was going to do. We seeded our selves about 5 feet behind the start line and chatted before the start.

I had run a short 2 mile route the night before the race on very tired legs. I hoped Saturday I'd be in better shape. Nope. Still very tired legs. But I pushed along. Mile 1 contained 8 turns taking us on mostly residential streets lined with houses and old apartment buildings. It was beautiful. Mindi was right with me during this mile. I was energized by the crowd and carried along with their momentum. Into mile 2 the streets began to get longer and there are fewer turns. I spotted Kathy Seavers ahead of me. Kathy Seavers and her husband Larry are an institution in Charlotte's running scene. At 65 Kathy is an "oncology nurse who has posted age-group wins at several recent local races..." (Theoden Janes' blog) I've seen her at almost every race I've run in Charlotte and over time, my times have caught up to hers. Of course, she's slowed down some over the years. She and her husband are very nice people and in addition to seeing them at races, I've seen them at The Neighborhood Theatre enjoying a concert. I'm not their only fan, though. To quote Scott Dvorak at the 2006 Dilworth 8K awards ceremony "Who doesn't love the Seavers?" I made it a goal in this race to pass her. At the water stop close to the mile 2 marker, I caught up to her. Shortly after the water stop, I did. But then I had to hold her off. Which wasn't easy.

At about 2 1/2 miles I saw Larry Seavers and made it a goal to pass him. I crept towards him and was gaining ground when just after the 3rd mile marker the course turned onto Dotger Ave and headed up the largest hill on the course. After the hill, we continued climbing for about half a mile as we looped around Deacon/Emerson/5th streets. I noticed Larry taking peeks over his shoulder. I would get closer, but then fall behind him. The course began to descend at the turn back onto Dotger Ave and then flattened with the turn onto Kenmore Ave. I passed Larry and as I did, he said "Go Sharksbite!" in labored speech. "Oh" I said in equally labored speech. "Go Lary Seavers!" I added.

Having passed Larry I now had to work to stay ahead of him. We soon passed the 4th mile marker and I began wondering "How long is an 8K again?" Math and running don't mix. I knew a 5K was 3.1 miles and that we were passed that, "so if 1K=.71 miles, then we have..." Actually 1K = .62 miles. I really should have looked it up before the race. I did know that an 8K is less than 5 miles so I knew we had less than a mile to go. I also knew that Greenway Ave was one of the last streets of the course. So shortly after turning to go up Cameron Ave I saw "eenw" on a street sign and new the end was near. We turned onto Greenway Ave and then finished on Park Dr.

I finished with a chip time of 41:28(8:24/mile pace) 138th place overall and 4th in my age group. Larry Seavers was 4 spots behind me with a time of 41:48 and Kathy finished at place 159 with a time of 42:40. So I beat people more than 20 years my senior. But they're fast, so it was a tough victory.

Adam was cheering at the finish and was surprised at my fast finish. I joined him in time to cheer for Mindi and C.A. who finished neck and neck. C.A. finished 166th with a chip time of 42:18 and Mindi finished 167th with a chip time of 42:29. Jay, who was wearing a knee brace at the start, finished 331st at a chip time of 48:39.

Speaking of knee issues. At some point in the race, my left knee started hurting. I think with my legs really tired, I either locked out my knee or hyper-extended it when landing. After the race, it really bothered me, but not as bad as it did Sunday morning. I took 2 Aleve before yoga and made the sad and hard decision to not run on Sunday. I decided it wasn't worth the risk of further damaging or seriously injuring my knee. So the first running streak of 2011, ended at 99 days. My goal is to run as many days as I can this year, so my goal is still in play. My knee isn't swollen and it only hurts when I put pressure on it, so I don't believe it is a serious injury. Today, Monday, it is significantly better. I can still feel little twinges of pain, so I plan to take today off too. This was a hard decision, but I know it is the right one. Better end the streak than end running period.

Current Stats:
Total Days Run: 99
Longest Running Streak: 99 Days
Longest run: 8 miles
Longest week: 32.6 miles
Shortest run: 1 mile
Shortest week: 20.6 miles
Number of races run: 5
Total Miles Run: 374.35
Next Race: GBS 5K

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cooper 2011

The Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC kicks off the Spring for many area runners. This year it fell on the first weekend of April. When I've gone in the past I've stayed on the Isle of Palms (IOP) just outside of Charleston. This year I stayed with Adam, his brother Todd and wife Ellyne in Shem Creek. Shem Creek is in Mt. Pleasant between Charleston and IOP and is close to the start of the race.

We all took Friday off and headed out mid-day to drive the 3 hours to Charleston. We arrived at the hotel, checked in, changed in the room and went in search of food and drinks. It was probably the chilliest weekend I've ever experienced in Charleston. It was cooler than it had been in October! The official temperature was around 50-60*, but the wind was dropping the temperature by at least 10 degrees. I hadn't packed correctly but I was still determined to spend time outside. After dinner and a trip to Firehouse Subs to get Todd his traditional pre-race dinner, Adam and I went up to the Shark Fin Bar which was next to our hotel.

The bar was on the second floor of Vickeries restaurant and outdoors, open on 2 sides. Luckily they had propane heaters and we found one to huddle under once the sun went down. The actual bar was shaped like a shark fin that's laying on it's side. It was a small place and the bar took up a lot of room. There were about a dozen people there. The views of the sunset and water were gorgeous! After a couple of beers we headed back to the room.

I hate the actual CRBR race! It's crowded, people don't seed well and you end up walking more than you want to. Then you get into a slam packed Charleston where you have to wait in line for everything you want to do. So I go for the after parties (at the Windjammer and Red's) and not for the race. Adam is still recovering from a severe calf muscle strain and wasn't running the race either. But he and Ellyne woke up, before Todd (the only person among us running the race)to get ready and drive over the bridge into Charleston prior to the bridge closing to traffic for the race.

I slept in until about 7:30am when Todd came back to the room for one last pit stop. I wished him well and then got up and dressed in my running clothes, at my Kashi bar, watched TV and watched the race leaders cross the Shem Creek bridge from the room's balcony. Around 8:30, I ventured out to the end of the hotel's drive way. This year the race directors finally added wave starts. Each wave was released every 3 minutes. I was watching runners in probably the 8:30-9:00 min/mile pace group. I saw my friends Steve, Kate and Kai run past but no one else that I know.

Some people wear costumes for this race. I gave Adam my camera to take pictures of Todd's finish, so I don't have pictures of the costumes I saw, but you can use your imagination. I saw two guys dressed like 'Reno 911' police officers. I saw 4 guys dressed like 'Bay Watch' lifeguards. Two of them had fake boobs. I saw two of the 'Seven Dwarfs.' I saw one bride and groom. I saw one 'blue man' and a lot of people in funny hats, pink boas and other outfits that I can't describe.

Todd is fast enough to start pretty close to the line and managed a 37:13, which wasn't a personal best, but I think it was pretty great.

Meanwhile, I finally cut across some walkers and started my run in the neighborhood across Coleman Blvd from the hotel. I had mapped my run online before leaving for the trip and had an 8-mile route planned. I had never run in the area before and wasn't sure what to expect. The neighborhood across from the hotel was full of well-kept, mostly brick homes. The neighborhood was probably built in the 60s-70s and the homes were landscaped with beautiful azaleas that were in full bloom. There were also magnolia and oak trees around. I was only in this neighborhood for about 2 miles. The last 6 were run in the neighborhood on the other side of Shem Creek from our hotel. It was a gorgeous quaint version of Charleston. Old (or old-looking) plantation homes on the water and other beautiful homes surrounding them. The streets were lined with shade trees and the whole area was flat.

When I finished, back at the hotel, they were cleaning up the continental breakfast items. I managed to grab a chocolate, glazed donut and half of a sesame bagel before going back to the room to shower. I had a missed call from Adam and when I called him back, he told me they were heading back to the room. He had said that they would be in Charleston most of the afternoon, but by 10:30am, they'd had lunch and were ready to come back.

After they got back I was hungry for lunch. Ellyne was ready for a nap. Adam, Todd and I walked across Shem Creek bridge to Red's. Red's is by far the most popular bar in Shem Creek and it was packed. So we went next door and I got a shrimp po-boy and a beer from RB's. RB's is really delicious and is on the water at Shem Creek. We sat upstairs outside and shivered every time the wind blew! After lunch, we headed over to Half Moon Outfitters. It's similar to an REI, but much smaller. Adam was impressed with the huge Rainbo flip-flop on the wall.

After our shopping adventure, we grabbed Ellyne and headed over to the Windjammer on IOP. It wasn't as packed as I've seen it in the past. It was 2 or 3 by the time we got there, so maybe the crowd had left. We ran into a lot of people that we know from Charlotte, Karin, Mike, Vincent, Jim, Wendy and Joey. We had a great time catching up and hearing how people did. The sun was shining and it got nice and warm on the back deck. Todd and Ellyne caught a ride in Charleston with friends while Adam and I stayed on the island. We then walked over to ACME Cantina for dinner and the NCAA Tournament games.

Sunday morning Adam and I ran a 3 mile loop around Patriot's Point. After a little shopping and lunch, we headed home. I snapped the picture below of the bridge on our way out of town. I think I have everyone, or Adam, talked into the Savannah Bridge Run in December. I haven't done that race in a couple of years and would love to go back.

Current Stats:

Total Days Run: 95

Longest run: 8 miles

Longest week: 32.6 miles

Shortest run: 1 mile

Shortest week: 20.6 miles

Number of races run: 4

Total Miles Run: 360.15

Next Race: Elizabeth 8K

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sharks and Angels

I log my running weeks from Saturday to Friday and started Saturday of the Corporate Cup race with a great 8 mile run. I planned a route that put me on Morehead Street where the half marathon racers would run their last, long leg of the race. I felt pretty good. It was a great route and a beautiful day. I started my run at 7am and didn't get to see many of the race finishers while running. After my run, Adam, Jody, Bryan and I all stood along Morehead cheering runners before going into Dilworth Bar & Grill for brunch to celebrate Adam's birthday. I had missed most of the people I expected to see, but still got to cheer on a few friends. Several people set PRs that day because it was such great running weather.

The next day my body told me that it was time to dial it back. I had run a total of 30+ miles the past two weeks which was more than I'd run in a long time. I didn't run more than 1.6 miles the next 4 days.

That Thursday was St. Patty's Day. There were a couple of themed runs that night, but I decided to go to the reprisal of the old Sharksbite Thursday night run hosted by Eimear and Charlotte Running Company. I'd only run the course a few times and remembered it being pretty tough. I sent information about the run to a couple of my friends who I know from Sharksbite. Karen responded that she was in and forwarded it to some of our other running friends. Karen, Joanna, Collin, Chloe and Gibson all came out to the run the 4.4 mile course. We signed in and included an estimated completion time. I put down 45 minutes because I wasn't expecting to do well after 4 days of only running a mile.

We started the run and I felt great. I was definitely going to beat my estimated time. Then within the first mile I stepped in a dip in the road and nearly went down. In my effort to avoid falling, I probably pulled every muscle from the hips down. Even though I didn't hurt, I did feel my muscles strain. I knew I was going to be sore and that this would probably be my last good run for a while. So I decided to make it a good run and ran it like a race. It's a gorgeous course through the area in Dilworth behind Freedom Park. There's also a number of rolling hills and one pretty big one. When I finished at a time of 41 minutes and some seconds (can't remember), I felt strong and thought that the course was easier than I'd remembered. I've been looking for a new Thursday run since Meetup moved to Philosopher's Stone. I think this run is a much better option and Eimear did a great job making it a special run.

The next day I was pretty sore. I went out for a 3 1/2 mile run after work to try to shake it out. The following day was the Angel's 5K. Adam was helping to organize the race and his brother, his dad and I were signed up to run. I woke up around 7:10 and started getting ready. It was going to be a warm day so I planned to wear shorts and my Sharksbite singlet. Running Thursday night had made me a little nostalgic for the old team uniform. Adam had left earlier to go help set up the race so I was left with his simple directions to North Meck High School and the start of the race.

Adam graduated from North Meck and I graduated from Myers Park. In high school, I didn't play sports and only attended games when we played our big rivals: Providence and South Meck. I had no idea what North Meck looked like and half expected it to be a red, wooden, A-frame building with a wood burning stove in the middle like in Little House on the Prairie. But it wasn't that much different from Myers Park. One large, main building made of brick surrounded by several smaller buildings with a baseball field and football field in the back.

I found the correct parking lot and walked to packet pickup. When I didn't see Adam by registration, I went back to my jeep to put my stuff up and put my bib and timing...well we'll just call it a device. What do you call those strips on the bibs that they use instead of chips now? While in my car I saw Adam's parents pull up and park. Adam's dad was running the race as his first 5K. I finished in the jeep and headed back to the registration/start/finish area where I saw Adam's parents along with his brother Todd and his wife Ellyne. Adam walked up with extra pins for everyone. They'd only given us 2 pins. I don't know why they would skimp on the pins! I was feeling pretty sore, but after saying hello to everyone I decided to run a little to try to get loose. I probably run a half mile. I was less than motivated.

We lined up at the start and Adam got to be the one to start the race using the siren on a bull horn. He kept the start short, explaining that we would hear ready, set, siren and we'd be off. It was actually ready, set, pause, siren, and then we were off and running. The first mile wasn't too bad. I was pretty sore, but mostly I noticed that my stomach felt sick. I used to feel this same feeling because I was nervous about being timed when I first started running races. I don't think I was nervous this race, I just think I'm conditioned to feel this way now for every 5K!

Adam's friend and fellow alum, David, ran up from behind me and said hello just before we finished mile 1. We chatted a bit until he pointed out the first big hill in front of us. It looked awful! But it turned out to be steep but short. David passed me on it. I still can't seem to keep my pace on hills! But I really can't complain since I haven't been doing hill repeats. I missed the first mile marker and I didn't know my pace until the mile 2 marker. At that point I was running about an 8:21 pace. Right into mile 3 I heard a loud breather behind me. I breathe pretty loud, so I really shouldn't complain, but his breathing was in a pattern and contained a chant sounding something like 'oh yeah', 'oh yeah', 'oh yeah.' Finally he passed me and I decided not to try and catch up. Mile 3 was flat with the last 3/10s of a mile of the race on a side walk between the buildings and the fields followed by a sharp left turn into a parking lot to finish under the inflatable arch. Adam's mom saw me just before the left turn and cheered while telling Adam who was closer to the finish that I was coming.

I finished with a time of 26:14, which is about average for me but was good enough for 2nd in my age group. The total turnout for the race was under 200 people. Todd won the race in a time of 18:13. After getting some water, coffee and chatting with Adam's mom, I ran back to find Adam's dad. To my surprise he and Todd were running up the sidewalk only a tenth of a mile from the finish. I cheered for him and he had a big grin on his face. He finished in just over 34 minutes. Ellyne and her sister Emily were behind and I found them and ran along side them towards the finish.

Overall it was a great race and I would recommend it for next year. My next race is the Elizabeth 8K, which I'm really looking forward to. Currently I'm pretty sore, but running through it. I don't think it's anything that a good massage or a lot of yoga wouldn't cure.

Current Stats:
Total Days Run: 81
Longest run: 8 miles
Longest week: 32.6 miles
Shortest run: 1 mile
Shortest week: 20.6 miles
Number of races run: 4
Total Miles Run: 304.99

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Practice? We're talking practice."

My long run on Saturday was supposed to be 8 miles. I quit at 6.78 miles (someone had a Garmin). I met a nice size group of running friends at the Cluck 'n Cup (say that 10 times fast!) at 8:30am to run. The group has been running together for a couple of years now and they have several loops of varying distances from this location that they run. A girl I've been running with on the Wednesday night runs who goes by C.A. joined us.

During the first loop, C.A. and I stayed right behind the three fastest girls. It was a great route through Dilworth that included some of the Greenways in the area. I never run these Greenways because if you're alone, it's pretty scary.

I felt great during the first loop. We stopped at CNC to get water and decide how far we wanted to go next. I wanted to get in at least 8 miles. We started out again with most people deciding to run 8. After a mile and a half, I started feeling weird, like my blood sugar had dropped. I had eaten most of a Pro Max bar, but maybe it wasn't enough. I split from the group and headed back to CNC. Steph and Collin had already grabbed a table for the group so I joined them. Sometimes I think the best part of my Saturday runs is the coffee afterwards!!

My Sunday run was much better. It was a rainy day and Adam wanted to spend some time together, so I skipped my usual Yoga class and instead guided Adam through a typical yoga routine. I say 'guided' he says I told him what to do.

His doctor had told him to start doing yoga so he put up with my instruction. Grunting as he went peppering the poses with an 'oh', 'oh my God' and 'are you serious?' After 35 minutes he wanted to stop. To be fair the first 35 minutes are the hardest. It included the warrior series, chair posture, standing sequences and balance poses. I told him he had to finish, but that it would get easier. We finished a couple more standing poses and then moved to the floor exercises. He made it through the rest of the routine. His favorite pose was Savasana (everyone's favorite!)

But we both felt great afterwards. Yoga is like giving yourself a massage.

When we spotted a break in the rain, we dressed out and started running. He showed me a .8 mile loop in his neighborhood before he took off for a long run. I finished 3.2 miles before it started raining steadily and I decided it wasn't fun anymore.

But if the weekend's runs weren't great, my speed workout on Monday evening more than made up for it. I met Molly at the track and we started our warm up of 1.5 miles. On the way back to the track we saw Jody, who yelled out for us to get started without her. We waited on her anyway, while doing some stretching. My 5K training plan called for 12 x 400m with a 15 second rest in between. This was the third week in a row for 12 x 400m, but previous rest times were longer. Molly was doing a ladder and said she'd run with me as we matched up. My workout was a tough workout, but I really enjoyed it. It went by quickly. My fastest lap was a 1:46, which was my last lap. I ran another 1:47 lap, a couple of 1:49 laps, several 1:50s and the slowest lap was a 1:53 (the first lap). My goal had been 1:50, so I was pretty happy with my results.

My Stats for 2011 so far:

Races run: 3

Miles run: 255.58

Number of days run in a row: 66

Longest Mileage Week: 32.6miles

Shortest Mileage Week: 23.3miles

Next race is in 2 weeks: Angels 5K

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Mundane

So, post-purging my junk, I'm in a much better place emotionally and mentally. I think there is a direct correlation between a cluttered home and a cluttered mind! My running streak is 60 days strong and my 'make the bed everyday' goal is in tack as well. I give myself a 'B' for keeping my place neat. Currently there are dishes in the sink and clean clothes that need to be folded. So yeah, I'm still lazy.

My next race is a 5K in Huntersville on March 19th. It's the Angel's 5K and it's the inaugural running of the race. There's another race the same day that is part of the Run for Your Life series, so it will likely be a small race which is my preference. Adam is involved with the planning of this race as well as the Angels of '97 organization that created the race. The organization was started after the North Mecklenburg High School's graduating class of 1997 lost 5 students due to illness or car accidents. The organization raises money for scholarships for students in the North Mecklenburg County area. They organize an annual golf tournament, spaghetti dinner and now a 5K.

After that I plan on doing the Elizabeth 8K on April 9th. It may be my longest race this year!

I saw this car while eating at Jason's Deli in Pineville with
my mom. Not sure if it's pink for Mary Kay or breast cancer
awareness. I love pink, but no on cars!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Goal!

After watching The Biggest Loser this week and seeing Bob demonstrate his 'Scorpion Flip', I knew what I had to do. I HAVE to learn, own and rename this new move!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Purge-a-Palooza 2011

This weekend was a three day weekend and I took it as an opportunity to de-clutter my space. I've lived here for almost 12 years and I've acquired alot of crap during that time. There are some areas that I haven't spent much time cleaning in all 12 years like the attic, closets and cabinets. I started with those this weekend.
During this 'Great Clean' I discovered many things. I've been several different people in the last 12 years and one of them acquired these:

WTH? I thought my attic was creepy, now I know it is!

Going through closets and storage containers I found relics from my past and my past lives. I discovered pictures of old boyfriends that I kept for some reason or another. They weren't necessarily significant relationships, but I couldn't seem to throw out their pictures...until now. I found small picture portfolios that were carried in purses or wallets at some point. They were full of people that I've lost touch with but at one point they were important enough for me to carry them around in my purse. I don't have any pictures in my current purse or wallet. I don't even have a picture holder in my wallet. When did they stop including those in wallets? I wonder if I had children if I'd have their pictures in my purse. They used to sell pictures in 'wallet size' what do they call that size now? Small, 2x2? Do they make lockets anymore?! I took the pictures out and threw out the holders but kept most of the pictures. (None of them of old boyfriends) I guess I put alot of value on pictures and memories.

I found bib numbers from some of the first races that I ran. I found an award for making the Dean's list my first semester of college (it never happened again). I found keys I'd lost. I found paper work and warranties for items I purged in previous clean house events. I threw out old cotton shirts from races that weren't memorable or had crappy designs. I ditched anything I thought I could live without and found new or cleaner spaces for items that made the cut. In the end I realized that if my place burned down or was flooded out tomorrow, I shouldn't replace even half of the crap that I kept!

I'm not completely finished but I've managed to fill 12 garbage bags for donation to the National Kidney Foundation and I've filled my gargage bin. Getting really close to being able to put this place on the market and I'm getting excited about it. It's time for a new space.

P.S. Running streak is at 52 days with no end in sight!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cupid's Cup 5K

I've been thinking a lot about when I first started running. When I first started running I ran almost everyday, only short distances and when I wanted. I followed no training plan and didn't think about how to improve my running or what I ate and needed to eat to run. Ahhh, the good ol' days!

I'm somewhat running like that now except that I am trying to improve my form and my speed. While running the Cupid's Cup 5K this weekend I thought about how much my goals for races have changed since I first started running. Before my first 5K, my first race, I set a time goal for myself. Not a place goal for overall, for my age group or to beat anyone. I didn't know about placing or what it meant and I knew I wasn't a natural with a chance to place. But as time went on and I ran more races I started setting what I thought were realistic but challenging goals.
  1. Beat anyone wearing a costume.
  2. Beat anyone wearing the cotton t-shirt that came free with the race entry.
  3. Beat all kids under 12 years of age.
  4. Beat people with a bigger butt than mine.

This weekend during the Cupid's Cup 5K I thought about these goals. It was a big race so placing, even in my age group wasn't unrealistic. I also haven't really trained so I didn't set high expectations for this race. I'm just getting back into track workouts, I've only done 1 hill workout and haven't done any tempo runs. My time goal was 1) under 30 minutes if I was having a bad day, 2) under 27 if it was a decent day and 3) under 25 if it was a stellar day. I ran a 25:55, which I was pretty happy about.

Towards the end of the race, I thought about my other 4 goals. I don't think I was being fair when I set them.

  1. Beat anyone wearing a costume - Costumes can be fun and wearing one doesn't mean you're not fast. In my running club, members wear costumes all the time and they kick my butt! I didn't see a lot of costumes at CC 5K so not sure if anyone dressed up beat me. But if someone dressed as cupid and carrying a bow and arrows can run a fast 5K, I have to give them credit.
  2. Beat anyone wearing the cotton t-shirt that came with the race entry - I've learned this doesn't necessarily mean they're not taking the race seriously. They may be really close to the cause, they may be a sponsor, they may have a natural ability they weren't aware of. And didn't Lance Armstrong run his first marathon in a cotton t-shirt? For the CC 5K, the shirts were UGLY! I didn't see anyone wearing them and I don't blame them! So this was a win for me, this day.
  3. Beat all kids under 12 - Kids are annoying to run near. They run fast, then stop and walk, then speed up and pass you again, then stop and walk. It's annoying. They also drag their feet and whine and complain. Mostly I just don't want to lose to someone who's running a 3.1 mile fartlek! But a fartlek is an accepted running practice so who am I to judge? I got beat by a few smokin' fast kids but none that were around me!
  4. Beat people with a bigger butt than mine - I really shouldn't judge, but shouldn't I be faster than them?! I realized when I couldn't pass a few Kardashian-esk runners close to the end of the race that there may be something to their butt. Maybe it's fuel packed! Maybe it's loaded with energy and carbs and is something akin to a jet engine. The was not a win for me this race.

These goals may be petty and judgmental, but they are good motivators! I pushed pretty hard this weekend and managed a pretty good finish. I plan to use it as a base and plan to beat it by the end of the year. I've pulled some track workouts geared towards 5Ks off of and will start working on it next week. I'll pepper in some hill repeats and tempo runs. But mostly I'm going to run when I want, what I want and just enjoy being a runner.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Staying Vertical

Staying vertical has two meanings for this blog post. One, it was my overall goal for the Uwharrie 8 Mile and two, is my fighting a possible cold and not wanting to lay down and let it win.

Uwharrie was warmer this year than in years past. I think the temperature at the 8-mile, 9am start was in the high 30s, which is about twice what it has been the years I've run it. I was completely over dressed! I wore my warmest tights, my thickest running shirt and arm warmers underneath. Hat, gloves and a running jacket. I knew the running jacket was over the top and had planned to tie it around my waste if needed. I took it off within the first two miles. Then the gloves and then the arm warmers which were harder to manage than I'd thought they'd be.

Last year, my friends and I debated going because the trail had been compromised by ice/snow storms. This year we didn't even think twice though it has been very rainy. Last year we were pleasantly surprised to find the trail in good shape. This year the trail was soft, muddy and scary! I walked/hiked most of the first couple of miles. Even in the flatter sections that I've been able to run in the past! This trail is pretty rocky, rooty and covered in leaves on a good day. This day everything was glistening from the morning rain and the trail looked like a hard fall waiting for a victim. Part of my caution was because I know how much it hurts to fall and what a long recovery would mean. I was also tired and not sure I wasn't catching a cold. Running even short distances was getting me out of breath and I really didn't feel like myself.

My friend Jody and I usually run this race together. We spend the 8 miles catching up and laughing. This year, she was having a good year and I wasn't. For the most part, I kept in her sight, but the last mile, she took off and I finished about 5 minutes behind her. After walking/hiking the first couple of miles up what one runner near me called 'bat man's right ear' I ran down hill to the first aid stop at mile 2. This was the first real running stretch of the day. At this point I was leading about three ladies running behind me. The one running behind me (for about 5 miles), was a heavy breather and it sounded like I was being chased by Darth Vader. Though I offered to let her, Vader would not pass. Soon after the stop I saw a woman standing on the side of the trail. Vader yelled out "Big foot!" but used a girly, 'just kidding' type voice to cushion the blow of what would usually be considered an insult. I couldn't help thinking that this is why girls shouldn't do nicknames. Or at least they shouldn't do nicknames that have to be cushioned. Big foot giggled and said it was more fun to run with the group and fell in line with Vader and crew.

Vader started me wondering why we refer to 'Darth Vader' by his last name. It's not like there were multiple Darths in space. Like there was Darth Vader of the Death Star and Darth Smith of the Lively Star. There was only one Darth, yet we say 'Vader' and not 'Darth.' This lead to thinking about Eddie Izzard, the comedian who did a joke about the "Death Star Cantina" and who ran something like 60 marathons in 60 days for charity. There were many other random thoughts after this that helped me forget about Vader's annoying heavy breathing.

As I was saying, the trail had many muddy parts and I decided to walk those sections. Often you would see where people had slipped and it let you know to be more cautious. The mud was ankle deep in some sections and wide in some sections. Staying vertical became my mantra. There was only one time that I tripped and almost went down. I was able to hold myself up by bending way over causing a pulled hamstring. Luckily it wasn't bad enough to keep me from finishing. In the last mile I was obviously getting tired as I slipped more and turned ankles more. I remember from previous years that I rolled ankles a lot more during this race so I knew I hadn't run enough of the trail this year. At this point we were climbing back up or over 'bat man's left ear' as Vader's crew put it. I finished in my slowest time yet for this course, but being that I was tired and completely over dressed, I'm okay with it!

At the finish, I was handed my finisher's pottery. In year's past this has been something akin to a pottery metal with the Uwharrie symbol pressed into it. The winners received bigger pottery items like vases, bowls, plates, etc. This year all finisher's recieved a small pottery cup.

I found my friends after the race and we all agreed that the trail was awful and that it had been better last year. My friend Scott was at the finish as a spectator this year. A pulled calf muscle kept him from doing the 20 mile race so he was running support for a group of friends. He gave us a ride back to our car so that we wouldn't have to wait on the shuttle. This race is a point-to-point race and the shuttle system is pretty organized but it was nice to get a ride back with no waiting.

After changing at the outpost where we'd parked, Jody, Karen, Chloe and I went into downtown Albemarle to have lunch at a place called 'Off the Square.' Chloe had found this place online and we'd all okayed the menu the day before. The atmosphere was great with nice artwork along one wall. The opposite wall had exposed brick and the ceiling was made of the old style tile that you see in many old buildings. It was very ornate. I got the quiche of the day and the cheese grits. It was delicious! The service was a bit slow, but we all agreed we'd love to go back.

When I finally got home it was close to 4pm. I took a nap, but still ended up crashing at 8pm and sleeping for 13 hours! I felt wiped out! When I woke up I felt like I had a weird hangover and I was a bit worried that my daily running streak was in jeopardy. I managed to make it to the J for the early 10am yoga class and managed to run a mile on the upstairs track (1/12 of a mile long). The streak is alive and is 39 days long! It wasn't until much later that day and several caffeinated drinks later that I felt somewhat normal. Still monitoring myself for cold symptoms and still staying vertical!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Nice Day in the South in January

What I love about living in the South is that mid-Winter you get a reprieve from the cold weather in the form of a random 60-80* day. This past weekend was our reprieve with highs in the 50s and low 60s. While Saturday morning was still freezing, Sunday was perfect short sleeve/shorts running weather.

Saturday after a short run in the morning, Adam and I headed to Salisbury and arrived in time to see the ending of the Winter Flight 8K at Catawba College. We ran into a few friends who were running or supporting other runners. I ran this race in 2005 and remember the course containing rolling hills and from the feedback from the finishers, that hasn't changed. What has changed is their timing method. I remember they used chips in 2005, but this year, it was all manual. A volunteer was writing down the times as the runners finished along with bib numbers. Finishing runners were handed an index card with a number on it. The number was their finishing place. Then another volunteer grabbed the tag off the bottom of their bib. Other volunteers matched the bib numbers and times to the runner's name and other information. When this system was invented and put in place, I imagine there were only 50-100 runners in a big race. It's amazing how the sport has grown and what industries it has spawned.

The small expo inside the school's gymnasium was nice and I was lucky enough to find last year's model of my running shoe, in my size, for $60. I never get lucky and find shoes I can wear at expos! We didn't stay for the awards and left to have lunch and head back to Charlotte. We hung out with friends celebrating birthdays for FOUR people, which I guess means that April is a popular month for gettin' busy. Sunday was my usual yoga followed by a short run and then lunch with mom. A nice quiet way to end the weekend.

Off the topic, I'm on a small quest to find a great vegetarian burger. I've tried many and at present Boca burgers are my favorite. If you know of one that I should try, please let me know. I'll keep you posted on my quest.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Short Distance Running

26 Days and counting! I've run a minimum of 1 mile for the past 26 days. But my maximum run has been only 8 miles. Can I still call myself a runner if my longest run is "only 8 miles?!" Am I considered a "recreational runner" and not a "real runner" because I'm not training for a marathon and have no plan to train for a marathon? What is the opposite of an Ultra Runner?! Am I less passionate about running because I'm only running 1-8 miles?! I can remember thinking, during a taper period in my marathon training, that 3 miles wasn't worth getting dressed and sweaty over. Now I'll lace up and bundle up against the cold for one mile!

But after that mile, I feel wonderful! I've run every day for 26 days and I can't tell you when I've ever done that. I feel great after every run and I can't say that I've felt great after every long run I've ever done. It's nice not feeling pressured to get in miles and it feels good to just run what I want to run on any given day. Even if it's "just a mile."

With that said, I still want to improve my running and increase my speed. I plan to start back doing track workouts next week. I searched the Internet for ideas on 5K-10K track workouts as I've never done track workouts unless I was following a plan and training for a marathon. It looks short and awesome! I'm looking forward to gearing more workouts towards shorter distances. I'd also like to add back some hill repeats. Maybe I'll try out some 'fartlek.' Not sure what my actual time goal will be. I plan to run the Cupid's Cup 5K to see where I am before I set any time goals.

The weekend before the Cupid's Cup race, I'm running the Uwharrie 8 Mile race through the Uwharrie National Forest. This race is limited to a very small number of people and closes really fast, so I feel honored to be running it for my 4th time. I've actually signed up every year since 2005, but missed a couple of years due to illness. It's probably my favorite race and I'm really looking forward to it! Even though it really is an ass kicker!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Charleston Riverfront Race Festival

What a weekend!

We got a late start and didn't leave Charlotte until after 7:30pm on Friday, which put us at the hotel around 11:30pm. I was exhausted but still had a hard time getting to sleep. The morning of the race I was tired, but had agreed to drive my friend Jen to the start of the 10K in North Charleston so skipping the race was not an option. Jen wasn't registered and was really there to vacation and hang with friends, but wanted to get some exercise. She's faster than I am, but wasn't in the mood to race (neither was I) so we decided to run together. We found each other in the lobby quickly and had no issues getting to the start of the race. It was pretty much a straight shot from the hotel in downtown Charleston to the Navy Yard in N. Charleston. We traveled along part of the route for the half marathon and both remarked about how ugly the course was and how glad we were that we weren't running the half! Adam was running the half, which started a 1/2 mile from the hotel and didn't have to drive to N. Charleston. (All races end at the same finish line in N. Charleston)

I picked up my packet without issue and headed back to the car to try and stay warm. The forecast for the weekend showed lows in the high 30s when I packed for the trip. When we woke up the temperature was reportedly 23* and I hadn't packed running tights! It was still in the high 20s at the start and I was in shorts, two long sleeve shirts, gloves and a hat. Jen was in shorts as well. We started the race so cold that we couldn't feel our knees or feet. It took well over a mile to get warmed up enough to feel my feet. For the first four miles, I felt pretty good. We were running at a good pace and I knew I was pushing it, but it didn't feel like that was an issue. Into mile 5 I started feeling really hungry and tired. I had eaten a Greens bar before the race and it may have had too much sugar, which would explain my hunger. I like to have a half of a bagel with almond butter before I run, but without a refrigerator in the hotel room, I couldn't bring the almond butter on the trip.

The course was pretty flat with maybe one small hill. The scenery was still pretty industrial, but there was a cute older "main street' type section that reminded me of a western movie. It had been on the half course last year as well. There were some strange sections where there were run down houses across from nice, newly constructed homes. I've never understood why people would live in a nice house with a shack across the street. The last 3 miles were the most interesting and were run on the Navy base and a through park. I managed to finish the race at a time of 59:08, which is pretty good considering I walked some in the last 2 miles and I really haven't been training. I was really glad that Jen was there to run with me and push me along. Jen and I went to the car where I quickly changed into warmer clothes and then we headed back to the finish line to find our friends. We found our friends who'd done the 10K pretty quickly as they had finished before us. They'd all done really well and had enjoyed the flat 10K.

Charlotte friends' 10K results:

KAREN GUELDNER 51:28 (placed in her age group!)
STEPHANIE SHERIDAN 58:54 (passed us at mile marker 6)
MEGAN LANDERS 1:01:14 (first 10K!!!)

Adam ran the half and I got to watch him finish. He had run a 1:21 at the Thunder Road half in Charlotte in December. I had asked him how he thought he'd do at this flat half in Charleston and he said he thought he'd run 1:20. I thought that was modest considering how hilly TR was and how flat Charleston is. He finished at 1:19:30 something and was 15th overall. I was so happy for him and he felt pretty good, too. He found us after he finished and asked me about how the packet pickup was and the start of our race. Apparently there was a great deal of confusion at the start line for the half marathon.

We ran into more friends and many of them set personal records at the race. They seemed to be in good spirits and had forgotten the confusion at the beginning. A PR fixes everything!

Charlotte friends' Half Marathon Results:
KATHY RINK 1:32:27
SEAN WELSH 1:43:39

Charlotte friends' Marathon Results:
BEVIN JETT 3:48:32

The post-race festivities were under a tent near the finish line. There was beer and warm shrimp & grits. The shrimp & grits were awful! The year before they'd been delicious with a little spice to them. This year they had some kind of gravy that was pretty bland. I ate the shrimp and tossed the rest. I didn't get a beer because we had plans to go to the Windjammer later and I knew I'd be enjoying a few there. Adam and Jody found their checked bags and we hung out around the stage area to listen to The Blue Dogs play and wait for the race results and awards for the half marathon. I had forgotten to pack my watch, so I'm not sure how much time actually passed before they finally posted the half marathon results, but it was really ridiculous. Then they posted the times in no logical order so it took some time to find Adam's placement results. It turned out that he was FIFTH in his age group! We were sure he had placed and it was a shock when he didn't.

Jody rode back with us because her car was parked at the start line, around the corner from our hotel. We got into the car and drove out of the parking lot towards downtown Charleston. The street was a wide four laned road, but it dead ended at the Navy yard behind us and there were only a few side streets off of it. We were all talking when suddenly a car pulls quickly along side us and then in front of us and barely misses rear-ending another car. I quickly looked at the rear view mirror, thinking that I may be in the way of faster traffic, and saw three police cars behind me obviously pursuing the crazy driver ahead of me. I quickly got in the right lane and stopped to let a parade of 6 police cars pass. My passengers realized what was happening and reacted. "We almost became a statistic!" I said. Jody said "You pulled over fast! I don't think I would have reacted that fast." Jen was texting the event to her boyfriend who was back at the hotel. Adam said "I've always wanted to see a high speed chase!" Later I found his reaction hilarious. We didn't see the chase again after that and I haven't found anything online about it.

The rest of the day we spent with friends having lunch at ACME Cantina with Julie and her family and then drinking at the Windjammer on Isle of Palms. We met up with most of our other running friends including the group we'd run with for the Hood to Coast race. The Hood to Coast teammates were staying at a house across from The Windjammer and we walked over to check out their digs. After watching the Steelers win a playoff game, we headed back to our hotel in Charleston. It was restaurant week and we took advantage of the dinner deal at Tsunami (sushi) with Jen and her boyfriend Mark. It was delicious. It turns out that Mark went to Gardner Webb, like Adam. It was not a late night as we were exhausted from such a long day.

The next day we weren't in a hurry to leave because we both had Monday off. We ran together in the morning through downtown Charleston. We ran at my pace, of course! We passed a firehouse that contained old fire engines and then the Charleston Museum, which we decided we had to go see what it was about. After showering, checking out, eating breakfast and doing some shopping, we walked down to the museum and paid the admission fee.

It was a great idea! Charleston has so much history, which isn't a surprise. I knew that a lot of battles took place during the civil war in Charleston. There was a lot of memorabilia along this vein. The clothing, the mortars, the guns, etc. What surprised me was that in the late 1800s there was a cooking fire that burned all the way across the lower part of the peninsula. It burned almost 600 houses, 5 churches and several businesses. It must have been an amazing and scary thing to see. Several years after the fire there was a year of earthquakes. A couple of devastating earthquakes followed by several, increasingly smaller quakes spanning a year's time. No building was unaffected. I never knew that any place had had a year of quakes and I'm surprised it happened in Charleston.

To sum up the race and the collective thoughts on it; the festival is a great idea, the courses are flat and fast, but the organization needs some work. There's potential there and though the course isn't scenic, it can be excused because it's flat. Charleston is still a favorite destination.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year, New Plan

I never seem to find time to blog anymore. I'm usually rushing right out the door after work or I'm so sick of being in front of the computer that I can't stomach another moment.

The New Year's resolutions that I set for 2010 went mostly unaccomplished. I did manage to see two plays and complete that one resolution. Didn't read 10 books, think the final tally was 6. Didn't visit the Evening Muse once last year, didn't even put together a budget to stick to, I'm still in my condo (no 'For Sale' sign) and I only completed one marathon for the year, not two.

So this year, I've resolved to not make resolutions. Which means I'll probably accomplish something this year! I did make one running goal and that is to see how many days this year I can log at least one mile. I know I won't make it the year due to seasonal allergies, but so far I'm on a 10 day streak. I've overcome a couple of obstacles to keep the streak going. The first was that I forgot my running tights so that I could run after yoga and had to run inside on the treadmill in my yoga outfit. My chosen outfit for yoga that day was the Kermit the Frog pajama capri's, my sister gave me, with a white shirt, you can just imagine what that looked like on the treadmill. Luckily it's the J and no one cares what you wear there. The next obstacle is snow/sleet, which is still around today. I managed to make it to the gym to run 3 miles on the treadmill. Today as there is ice accompanying the snow, but I hope to make it out to the gym again. The shortest run has been a mile, while the longest has been 8 miles.

I'm a bit burned out on distance. However, I'm enjoying the shorter distances so I know I'm not burned out on running all together. I have no marathons or halves planned this year. I think the longest races this year will be 10Ks. This weekend will be my first 10K of the year at the Charleston Riverfront Racefestival in North Charleston. I'm looking forward to it. This week in Charlotte, the temperature won't be more than the low 30s so I'm really looking forward to the low 50s promised in Charleston. I haven't planned any other races yet, though there are several 5Ks on my radar.

Accompanying this new love of shorter distances is a renewed love of yoga. Sometime in December, I got really into going to yoga classes and really out of going to swim. The colder than normal temperatures in Charlotte have a lot to do with that. Something about putting my face into cold water when it's 28-32* outside just doesn't appeal. I'm not sure where this renewed interest in yoga has come from, but it's very compatible with the goal of running as many days as possible. I took my first yoga class at Central Piedmont Community College in 2005 and it's been something I've enjoyed on and off since. I've been going only once a week pretty regularly for about 3 years, which is when I could fit it in around everything else. Lately, the J has increased it's classes and I've been attending more often.

Work is as hectic as ever and I should get back to that. I'll follow with a recap of this weekend's 10K through N. Charleston.