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