Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in pictures

Just for fun I took a picture of everything I got at races in 2013. This is only what was included with my entries, not the few pint glasses I bought or the Strength shirt I bought at Indy.

That's 15 medals
2 jackets
14 shirts
5 posters
3 buttons
a beer mug
a hat
a cooler
and a plaque

Favorite shirts: Chicago, Legend, Cincy (I won't wear it to work out because I don't want it to get stained!)
Favorite medal? I can't possibly pick just one! The Detroit ones are always great, the Flying Pig is really nice, Lansing is great. Aesthetically Chicago is nothing special, but I loved the race, so it gets bonus points for that. I like the sparkly green martian head. I can't possibly pick!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas gifts for runners

It's funny. Christmas was the first time Bill and I gave each other gifts and they were all about running :) I want to support his foray into running and he wants to support my habit. I knew months ago that I wanted to get him a gps watch. I knew if he chose his own, he would spend months researching different watches, trying them on, reading reviews, and wouldn't get one. So I fast forwarded all the legwork and got him a Garmin 10. It doesn't have a heart rate monitor, but has two features I really like - you can preset a run-walk pattern and it'll beep when you need to change, and you can preset your pace and it'll tell you when you're going too fast or too slow.

I have running pants but I don't like them because they're too short, both in the legs and over my stomach, so he went to Athleta and bought me a pair of tall running pants, and a pink running shirt. It has a floral pattern on the shoulders and sides, so it actually looks like a woman's shirt (unlike my blue one that i got from the men's dept...). The shirt is tall as well, so the sleeves are long enough!!!!! Whee!!!! The forecast is looking to be upper 30s tomorrow, so I'll try out everything then. He also paid my entry fee into the Toledo and Detroit marathons :)

Something else I was given - not for Christmas, but because I work with a nice woman - is a pair of Christmas Story sleep pants. I told her about the race and the "major award." Then the next time I saw her, she had a pair of pants that had been her daughter's. They're super cute, but too small and too short. They're a child size medium - anyone want them? Ho Ho Ho :D

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bucket List #19 - Done!

When I travel, I like to have one definite agenda point that I absolutely have to see. The rest is more flexible and allows for time to see things I didn't know about ahead of time. Sometimes it works really well (seeing the Red Bull air races in Budapest), other times it's a dismal failure (missing the free Placido Domingo concert in Madrid).

When I was invited to London and Paris this spring, I had a definite destination for each. In London, it was standing on the Prime Meridian. In Paris I had to take a day trip to the Normandy region to see Omaha Beach and the American military cemetery. I had tried to make this trip on my last trip to Paris in 2007, but couldn't find anything the day before I wanted to depart. Oops!

In anticipation of the trip, I took Stephen Ambrose's D-Day and read it through the first half of the trip. I had studied the invasion in grad school, but that was several years ago and I wanted to refresh my knowledge. I could have guided us on a private tour, but I wasn't so sure about driving in France, so we booked a half day trip with Viator that would provide us a small group of 8-10 people, an English speaking guide, and transportation to each of the sites.

We booked an afternoon tour that we met in Bayeux. Neither Bill nor I knew anything about the town, but I felt adventurous so I booked us on the first train from Paris that got us to Bayeux around 9 am and we spent the morning there.

We met up with Mags our tour guide who first took us to Point-du-Hoc, where the Army Rangers scaled the cliffs on D-Day. Many of the bunkers and pill boxes had been destroyed, either during the invasion, or after. A few remained, however, as did all the divots in the ground. Mags explained that the land had been given to the United States with the expectation that it would not be changed. It's not American land in the same sense that an embassy is, but more like a national park.

Monument commemorating the Rangers where President Reagan spoke in 1984

The next stop was Omaha Beach, the primary site of the American invasion. The tour we booked was the American version, so she took us to the American sites, knowing there wasn't enough time to visit everything. If I went back, I would figure out the car situation and spend several days visiting all the different sites and museums.

There were two monuments - for the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the invasion. The invasion stretched from the shore line, across the street now in place, and up the hill. We were there at high tide, so the invasion was so much further due to landing at low tide.

After leaving the beach, Mags took us on a quick detour to an overlook of Omaha Beach. We saw a tree in the field, that was actually the cover for a German bunker. Of course I went inside. It was a cold damp room with nothing to see inside. The vantage point, however, gave Germans a panoramic view of the entire beach.

The final stop was the American cemetery that also overlooked the beach, where over 9,000 soldiers are buried. The military offered to ship home the remains they could identify, and 60 percent of the families wanted the bodies returned, so the number buried in Normandy isn't even half of the dead whose bodies were recovered.

We were there at the end of the day to see the American flag taken down while "Taps" played.

Bill and I both enjoyed the day immensely. He thought the amount of history and commentary Mags provided was excellent. As a history student, I wanted tons more information, and unfortunately I could identify parts of her narrative that weren't entirely accurate, but I kept my mouth shut and enjoyed the day. I told Bill to go back to Paris and leave me in Bayeux for the rest of our trip :) I felt like we saw the main parts, yet there was still so much more to see and do. I could have foregone Paris altogether and spent six days traveling throughout the Normandy region. 2014 is the 70th anniversary and part of me wants to go back!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A big decision

I have a different approach to racing for 2014. Rather than do a lot of half-@ss races, I'm going to focus on ONE quality (faster) finish. I'm going to train hard and run my legs to half dead. I'm not going to "save" any energy for the next race. The race was selected months ago as the Flying Pig in Cincinnati.

At least that was the plan. Then I thought about it some more. I really really like the Glass City marathon in Toledo. I've done both races so I have the luxury of knowing the courses, and Toledo's course is a much faster one than Cincy. It's extremely flat and downhill, compared with the constant hills of Cincy. Not to mention I'm doing the "4-way challenge" again, so I'll be racing 9.3 miles on Saturday before the Sunday full marathon.

It just makes sense to do Toledo again this year, knowing a flat course is tons more conducive to a major PR than is a hilly, more crowded course.

I had considered the Martian because it's so close to home, but both times I've done it, the weather has been abysmal and completely not worth it. I might do the half this year, only if the weather is good!!! I thought it would be fun to do Louisville on my birthday, but I'll wait on that as well. Toledo is the goal this spring. See you at the finish line!!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Running is not an option :(

It's Saturday, which is long run day. Saturday has been long run day since late 2009. I'm healthy and not recovering from a race, not resting for a race tomorrow, yet it's a no run day :( It snowed several inches this morning, the roads are a total mess, the sidewalks are covered in snow and I don't have reliable transportation to drive to the gym, assuming I'd even want to go out on the snow covered unsalted messy roads. I shoveled twice, but that worked my back and cramped my hands, and did nothing for my heart or lungs. I sure hope it's better tomorrow because I don't like unrunning when I want to :(

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Goodies in the mail

November was a great month for receiving goodies in the mail :)

The Flying Pig marathon had a deal at the Chicago expo that if you registered then, you'd get a free t-shirt. I like the piggy design and it's the one definite marathon on my spring schedule, so I had my credit card in hand to sign up. The wi-fi wasn't working, however, so I wasn't able to register then. The woman working the booth said to email her if I had any problems getting the free shirt when I registered. It took several emails, but this little piggie came home.... Runners could pick the shirt color - I went for red.

The medal I received at the Indianapolis Monumental marathon was damaged, so Blake and Heather quickly sent a replacement upon my email requesting one. Most people wouldn't notice the damage, but I paid good money and dragged myself through misery to get it, and I look at my medals no fewer than 38 times a day, so I wanted an undamaged one. The damaged one will be donated to Medals for Mettle next time I see them at an expo. The medal is fine and they replace the ribbon anyway, so I don't feel bad about donating a damaged ribbon.

The next package was a surprise from Disney and goes a long way toward explaining why the race was so expensive. They sent a really cute box, seriously the box is my favorite part. Inside is a personalized booklet and a flash drive. So far as I can tell, its only contents are a link to the Disney website, so I deleted it and I have a new flash drive that lights up green when plugged in :) 

The same day I received the Disney box, I received my surprise box from Nita for winning her contest of who ran the most miles on a treadmill and survived to post it on her blog. All I knew was that she had goodies from the New York marathon so the actual contents were a surprise :) 
She sent orange sunglasses, an orange massager, chapstick, a carabiner, Chomps, Chia seeds, Vega sport mix and a pair of thunder sticks that I promptly gave to Bill to use at a future race - they can't be any worse than the cowbell he picked up at the Chicago expo!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Christmas Story "race" review

I received my goodies over a week ago for the Christmas Story House run and finally did the "race" today. The actual race in Cleveland is this Saturday, but the forecast here is a brisk 23 degrees, compared with the mid-40s we had today. It was nasty cloudy and twilight lasted for three hours, but if there was a day to run outside in the foreseeable future, this was it.

I put together quite an outfit for the race - shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt, wool knee socks, gloves and a wool hat. I looked like a dork, especially with my reflective vest, but temperature wise, it was the perfect choice. I had two thoughts for approaching this race - either try to break 1 hour, or run the entire way without walking.

I know the walking thing is ALL in my head, and it seemed the better option today. Hal always say to start slowly enough that you can maintain that pace the entire race. He also says it's better to go faster at the end, than it is to fall apart at the end due to going out too fast. Huh, what do you know? Both ideas were great in practice today!

I didn't concern myself with my time or my pace and I wore my watch only for distance. One mile, two miles, they kept passing easily and without pain. Around mile 4, I was on Rosedale, which is my favorite street for running and I started picking up the pace.

I finished all 6.2 miles without walking a single step. Wheeeee!!!! Success!!! Equally great - I negative split the "race," so the second half was considerably faster than the first half. I could have kept going indefinitely, but it was dark and I had things to do after.

The race organizers posted that they have leg lamp knee socks for sale. Me thinks I might make a small purchase to commemorate the awesomeness of no-walking and negative splitting a 10k. Certainly not my greatest "race" ever, but I'm happy with what I managed. Dare I say it? It was EASY!!! Now I need to go faster next time and make it harder :D

Monday, December 2, 2013

Buying a lottery ticket

When I got to school this morning, one of the secretaries said the New York marathon lottery opened today. I'm obviously nowhere near the qualifying times, but she said it doesn't matter - the lottery is for everyone. All along I though the lottery was conducted only from those entries who meet the time criteria, but they're actually two different systems. Some people get in based on qualifying time, others get in on the lottery. Still more get in via charity spots, but I don't like asking people for money, and I certainly don't have enough myself to make the required donation, so I never pursue that route.

Well, this was big news. Today only it was $5 to enter the lottery, tomorrow through March it's $11. I  kinda feel like I'm throwing away the $5, but at the same time, I managed to get in to Chicago. Why couldn't I get lucky twice? 26 people will be chosen tomorrow, the rest have to wait until March. Fingers crossed! I know if I somehow win the drawing, it'll be a big expensive hassle of a weekend, but like Chicago, if I get in, I'll be there without a second thought.