Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 in Review

Gap is for the Columbia City jacket that still hasn't arrived :(
Counting my races this year isn't so obvious. For example, I did the Goofy "race and a half" challenge, then I did the "5-way" challenge in Cincinnati. Does a challenge count as one event, or is each race counted separately? Since it's my blog, it's my decision :) and every time I crossed the finish line counts as a race. Having said that, I finished 18 races in 2014, which breaks down as five marathons, six half marathons, one 10K, one 4-miler, three 5Ks and two 1-milers. It was the first year where the number of halfs exceeded the fulls.

By month:

January - 46.4 miles
Races - Goofy race and a half challenge (half marathon, full marathon)

February - 77.32 miles
Races - none

March - 95.13 miles
Races - Rock CF half *PR

April - 85.51 miles
Races - Twinkie 5k *PR
            Martian half
            Toledo marathon

May - 63.57 miles
Races - Cincinnati 1-mile *PR
            Cincinnati 10k *PR
            Cincinnati 5k
            Cincinnati marathon

June - 89.72 miles
Races - Dexter - Ann Arbor half

July - 99.86 miles
Races - Electric bolt 5K *2nd place
            Ann Arbor 1-mile *PR

August - 146.47 miles
Races - none

September - 119.49 miles
Races - Western Maryland half

October - 103.68 miles
Races - Chicago marathon *PR
             Detroit  marathon

November - 72.04 miles
Races - Columbia City half
             Milford Gobbler Gallop 4-mile

December - 43.33 miles
Races - none

Now a few superlatives:

Best shirt - Cincinnati 1 mile, and Martian half. They both fit really well and are super cute designs that perfectly reflect the themes of the races. Honorable mention to the Electric Bolt 5k because I like ringer shirts.
Best race organization - Rock CF half

Best value for the cost - Cincinnati Flying Pig

Best medal - Disney

Best post-race food - tie between Electric Bolt 5k - Homemade cookies!!! and Columbia City half - homemade soup!!!

Best course - Chicago (flattest course ever!!!)

Best customer service - Cincinnati (immediate answers to questions, quickly swapped my shirt by mail for a different size)

Most fun - Chicago

Best on-course entertainment - Cincinnati marathon

Best overall race: Chicago (obviously!!!! Despite the hideous shirt, lack of communication from the race, and exorbitant cost. One can't put a price on 1.7+ million spectators!!!!)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 was a good year

Last January, I made a list of five things I planned to accomplish in the year, things that would be a little difficult, yet completely manageable if I tried. One was related to finances - accomplished that one in June, one was about my weight - got within 1 pound a few times *shrug* I like steak, I like cookies...

The other three were all about running. Can you tell where my priorities lie? :)
Goal #1 - run a marathon PR. I wasn't realistically expecting it in the spring after the winter we'd had, so once I got the acceptance from Chicago, everything focused on that race. All summer long, my plan was to PR at Chicago, then retire.* Did it!

Goal #2 - Run a half PR. Nailed it! First try! I PRed by almost 11 minutes at the Rock CF half. I later did the Martian half, the DXAA half and the Columbia City half, each of which got one minute slower...

Goal #3 - Run a 10k under 1 hour. The only 10k I had scheduled for the year was in Cincinnati as part of the "5-way" challenge. I ran a 58 something - 58:23? - and didn't run another 10k all year.

Not a goal, but a bonus was a 5k PR. Again, it was at the first race of the year, the Twinkie run. I did two more 5Ks - Cincinnati, which was an hour after the 10k and I didn't try all that hard, and the Lightning Bolt, where I got 2nd place and a pint glass.

Another unplanned bonus was running a PR in the mile - twice! At Cincinnati I ran a 7:52, then slashed it down at 7:10 in Ann Arbor in July.

I set a PR this year for every distance I race. Awesome!

It was a good year :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sick sick sick

So far I've run a whopping 28.97 miles in December. That's about half of a normal week when I'm fully immersed with the Hansons program. I'm not actively training, just maintaining a little, and I've been sick all. month. long.

I woke up on November 30 with a sore throat, which is always the first sign that a cold is coming. The cold lasted about a week, then the drainage problem was mostly gone, but the hacking cough at night remained. The next day it started all over again with another sore throat and kept happening for the entire month.

I'm so sick of it.

I've gotten to the point that I run when it's sunny. I can't wait until I feel well, because that hasn't happened since before Thanksgiving. I don't feel any better after a run, but I don't feel worse either, so I force myself to get it done. If I keep my gaze steady and don't keep looking up or down, the wooziness doesn't seem to bother me...

It's mid-40s today, but now that I'm ready to run, it's raining. I don't start training until next week, so I guess this is another non-run day. So sick of it all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This weather is killing my running! grrr

According to the calendar, it's still fall. Go outside though, and anyone will say it's winter, and it's killing my running!!! I haven't run since Monday because the average temperature has been about 28 degrees, with an average windchill of 19. There has been NO sun all week and it's killing me! I have no motivation or desire whatsoever to run. I just can't get excited about going outside in the cold nasty gross weather, yet I want no part of the TM either. So rather than choose between two bad options, I'm just not running right now. The forecast says it should be in the upper 30s this weekend and sunny, but they also forecast sun for today, and they've proven themselves to be incompetent lying pieces of stuff once again >:(

If I were actively training, it would be different because I get in the mindset that I HAVE to do the prescribed run, regardless of whether or not I want to. My maintenance plan between Chicago and training for the Pig has been 3-4 times a week, usually around a 5k, sometimes a little more, but never less. With this gross weather, I come home from work, lock the doors, put on my PJs and don't leave until the next day. grrr I HATE this weather!!!!!!!

The worst part is that I KNOW how ridiculous I'm being. A 5k takes less than 30 minutes, or about 2% of my entire day. I always feel better after a run, but I still can't bring myself to do it! Then I get cranky with myself because I can't woman up and get it done. If it were sunny, I could totally handle the cold, but this dark at 3:30 pm nonsense is ruining everything.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The shoe shopping scavenger hunt

Merry Christmas to me
After I found eight pairs of Mizuno 13s for about $60 each, I have it in my head that I should always be able to find running shoes for around that price. I can't fathom paying the sticker price of $129 for one pair that will last about six months, so after I tried out my new Mizuno 18s and determined them satisfactory, I began scouring Amazon, Zappos, etc. for a price I was willing to pay.

The week after Thanksgiving, Amazon had them for $111.06 each, and
clothing purchases over $100 were eligible for a 30% discount, which brought them down to $77.74 each. Then I used my credit card points to subtract $19.90 total. Amazon doesn't charge sales tax in Michigan, and I spent enough to get free shipping. Final price: $69.79 each. Nice :)

I opened my last pair of 13s in October, and along with the pair of 18s I bought at the Ann Arbor Running Company, I have four good pairs of shoes, so I'm set until spring 2017. I'll keep looking though because the 18s are pretty much the most comfortable running shoes I've ever worn. And they're so pretty!!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A runner's Christmas tree

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree.... the weight of the medals actually broke the tree stand...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New race - instant PR Gobble gobble

Just for fun, I signed up for the Gobbler Gallop in Milford on Saturday, to finish downtown before the parade. There was a 1-mile and a 4-mile. The 1-miler is primarily designed for kids and I wasn't sure of my ability to beat my 7:10 PR in the cold with possible snow on the ground. Besides, it might have felt like a hollow victory if I beat a bunch of 7 and 8 year old kids. My nephew and brother were doing it though, so I ran with them for a little bit as a warm up for the 4-miler.

Some people don't like to be posted online :)
It was cold. It was really hilly and it was cold. Thankfully it was sunny! My goals were to break 36 minutes and to finish in the top 8 of my age group. My finishing time was a 35:27, although my watch said I ran 3.85 miles. Brother stayed to see my race and he said the first fifteen or so runners were routed wrong and they ran closer to 5 miles. Oops

There were seventeen runners in my age group and I finished number 4! Whee!!! I've only finished better once (at the Electric Bolt 5k). In some ways, 4th is the cruelest position to finish because turkey medals were given to the top three and I was so close! Not really though - I was 3 minutes+ off of the 3rd place finisher. I saw a woman in the last block or two and thought she might be in my age group, so I should probably pass her. I did, and she was. I beat 5th place by 4 seconds.

Later on, it was still sunny and 40+ degrees. Why couldn't we have run after the parade??? Ah well, cute shirt - tech with no sponsor logos, nice race. I'll probably be back next year :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Will run for bling...

This year Bill ran the Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5k in Ann Arbor and I volunteered. It was insanely cold and really hilly and I was quite happy to NOT be running :) Besides, in exchange for my time, I received a $35 voucher off a future Running Fit race. That was the plan again for this year.

At least it was until Randy sent his weekly email and shared a pic of the bling for runners in 2015. Yep, I'll do it just because I like the goodies :) Although it's in early March so it'll be either 20 degrees and snowing, or 70 and cloudy...

Friday, November 14, 2014

What's next? Part 2

After finishing the half at Columbia City last week, after the few minutes it took to drink a hot chai latte at BrewHa! and take a scalding hot shower at the Y, I had already decided on my next goal. I've finished 9 half marathons (granted two of them were done without any consideration of finishing time) and it seems like time to break 2 hours.

It'll take an average of 9:09. I can run this speed, but it's difficult, so I generally don't push it, because I'm basically lazy about running out of my comfort zone. Yet if I'm going to break 2 hours, I need to get used to discomfort. I got used to running 10:30s for 3 hours, so I know I'm capable of doing difficult things and it's time to woman up and make it happen!

I have the good sense to add in a little time cushion for water, wind, etc., so both runs this week my goal was to finish the last mile under 9:00. The first run I did 3 decent miles, then one sub-9. The second run I did one mile sub-10 as a warm up then two miles sub-9. The plan is to keep increasing the duration I'm running sub-9 until I can do the whole half as such.

The PR demolishing is set for the Rock CF half on Grosse Ile in March. It's where I ran a massive PR last spring, and I like the medal. Besides my friends Ethel and Bill will wave to me from their porch. Who doesn't love that?

Emily is raising $ to send running shoes to CF patients. Check out her video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2J5NEkukqM&feature=youtu.be
She reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Bill and I had a vacation-like day in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago - breakfast at Nick's House of Pancakes, a little window shopping, a little real shopping, burgers at Knight's. Obv all my purchases were running related :)

The socks aren't wool, and they aren't super compressed or padded in the feet, so I won't wear them for full marathons, but they're fun for shorter races. If it's not obvious, they're sloths, dinosaurs, and Starry Night. There was a pair I really liked that said F$%^ this S*#+ but alas they weren't knee socks. The message alone was perfect for so many races lol

The shoes... I'm still drooling over how pretty they are!!!!! They're Mizuno Rider 18s, so I skipped right from 13 to 18. I tried them on the treadmill in the store (shout out to Ann Arbor Running Company!) then immediately wore them outside on my next run. I had to make sure they will be an adequate replacement for my beloved gray 13s, so I can continually scour every website for a deal even close to when I bought 8 pairs of model 13 for around $50 each. I check Amazon for the right price ummm every day :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans (half) marathon

I've done the Veterans marathon in Columbia City, Indiana, twice. The first time I ran a PR that held for almost 2 years. The second time was miserable and no part of me wanted to finish that darn second loop of the course! This year I knew it was half or nothing. Besides, I had already run a marathon PR - what else did I need to prove?

The forecast was cold but dry and my half PR was in similar circumstances, so I registered on Wednesday and Bill and I set off after work on Friday.

Saturday morning was cold and gray, but luckily I've perfected my cold weather race outfit. We ran into his friends at the start, but I didn't see Mad Dog. Something nice about how small CC is, was that we didn't even leave the hotel until 7:40, for an 8:00 start and we still had a few minutes to wait.

The organizers counted down from 10 and we heard a tiny pop and we all kind of looked around, confused, then a few seconds later, BOOM!!!! went the cannon and we started.

My plan was to run consistent 9:45s to set a half PR. That strategy worked for about 4 miles then it got a little slower. It was cold, it was windy, I hadn't slept great, blah blah blah. Some days you PR, and somedays you're happy with a solid finish.

"Puke zone" ewww
Toward the end I was counting down the minutes until hot soup and coffee! At mile 12.9 a woman in pink materialized out of nowhere and I couldn't shake her off my shoulder! Then I saw Bill at the end of the road, right in front of the courthouse and knew it was only 3 very short blocks around the building and I would be done!

There was a woman in a Crohn's and Colitis team shirt who I had seen several times and she was one block ahead of me. She was all that stood between the finish line and me so I dug in, if only to beat her. She held on, but I had the good position on the inside of the last turn and I edged her out. Our times were 0.7 seconds apart.

Doing the half was absolutely the right decision for me. No part of me wanted to go back on the course for a second lap, especially after I felt a few rain drops. I was so happy to sit down with a warm bowl of chili and be done! I finally saw Mad Dog as he started his second lap and I jogged a few paces with him. He said he was doing the full as a taper run for his 100-mile run next Saturday. Amazing!!!!

When it was all said and done, I finished in 2:12:37, also known as my fastest half on the CC course, by over three minutes. I finished 21/41 in my age group, which is right about where I expected. Most halfs I'm right in the middle. It's 3:50 over my PR, and I'm not stressed about it one bit. In fact, I'm quite happy because I have ZERO race plans until March, and anything I do will certainly be far less than a half :D

Here's my medal. The volunteer gave me the full medal. I immediately said I had run the half, but he said they didn't have enough half medals. I wonder if it was consolation for not receiving my jacket, or if it was random. The jackets are great and something wonderful about the race is that they're placing a second jacket order and will mail them when available. It's my own fault for registering so late, but a great move on their part. Most races would have said "Sorry, you registered too late. No jacket for you!" CC said in an email, even before packet pickup, "Our bad! DON'T WORRY - we will get your jacket to you! At some point after the race, we will have the jackets available for pickup, or available for shipping if that is more convenient." Their willingness to make the jackets happen for us procrastinators pretty much guarantees I'll be back in 2015 because I like the swag and I like the people organizing the race.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What's next?

I put a lot of thought into my running plans for the immediate future. What seemed perfectly reasonable was to run Cincinnati, because it's my absolute favorite spring race, then.... nothing. Maybe a few halfs, but a solid season off.

Then I wrote my recap of the Chicago marathon and I really really want to do it again!!!! Every single person who heard me say I'm retiring didn't believe me. They all said I'd change my mind in a few weeks. They were right. The day after the Detroit marathon, I wore my race shirt to work and another teacher - who has done five marathons - asked "You didn't run again, did you??" I finally admitted the truth: "I have a little bit of a problem with entering too many races."

Back in the lottery, back in the waiting game. Altho, what if Chicago doesn't pick me....? I  don't have a plan B.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chicago marathon recap

The Hansons program kicked my ass the last 10 weeks of training. There were countless runs that I didn't want to do, and many others that were painful but I made myself finish. Every time I was struggling or unmotivated, I took myself mentally to that Monday afternoon at 12:20 while I was eating lunch at the middle school, when my runner status changed from "pending" to "accepted." That was months before the training started, when everything was good and I was elated to be headed back to Chicago for the biggest marathon I've ever gotten to run.

Our hotel with free parking and ample potties lol
When I woke up on race morning, however, I just didn't feel like running. I even asked Bill if he'd get a head start for me, but all he could offer was about 3 miles siiiiigh so I'd have to do the whole thing myself. I met up with Nancy and we waited together in corral G, then she immediately started faster than me, and I let her go. My plan was to stick to a 10:30, regardless of how much faster my legs wanted to go the first few miles.

The weather was absolutely perfect - mid 50s and full sun! It was slightly warm in the sun, and a little cold in the shade and early on I saw the best sign - "After 500+ training miles, this is your victory lap" I kept that in mind for the entire race.

After an hour or so, however, I needed a bathroom break!!! I'm not one to "go" while I go, but the bathroom lines were really long. At mile 12, there were a bank of potties with very few people waiting, so that had to become my stop which added 3-4 minutes to my time. I picked up the pace a little to compensate for that, and at the half, I was within 2 minutes of the time on my arm. Unfortunately I was also already 0.25 miles over the official distance.

Finish chute - I took NO photos during the race -
I had a PR to run!!!
I kept going, maintaining pretty close to 10:30s. For the first 19 miles, the only walking I did was enough steps to sip water at every table (every 2-3 miles). It hurt, but it was fun and I relished the crowd support. I savored running through Mexican Town where the crowd support was almost oppressive. I crossed through the gate into China Town, knowing the race was almost done.

I was still a few minutes over pace, then we hit Michigan Avenue, where I fell apart in 2013. Last year I gave in to the cramping and the exhaustion and did more walking than I should have. This year, however, I ran the entire stretch of Michigan Ave. with a huge smile on my face. It probably looked like an agonizing grimace, but I was smiling, knowing a PR was within reach and I was so close to the finish!

At mile 26, we turned right and went up "Mount Chicago," the ONLY uphill on the entire course. In 2013 it destroyed me and I kept breaking down into walks, but I had deliberately raised the incline at the end of every treadmill run as preparation, and this year, with Eminem's "Lose Yourself" blasting on repeat, I ran past people and crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. My last full mile was a 10:57 and the last 0.5 was a 9:36 :D

#18 - not my best post-race photo :P
THEN I absolutely fell apart! The finishing chute in Chicago is massive and seemed like a solid mile from the finish line to where I'd meet with Bill. I was hit with a huge wave of nausea and I knew it was from dehydration and drinking water would solve everything, but the thought of putting anything in my stomach made me feel queasy. I slowly slowly slowly hobbled my way along, to the point that it took 45 minutes to reach him and I was concerned he'd employ our emergency plan if I didn't appear by 3pm. When we finally met up, I spread out my space blanket, covered up with my Hello Kitty snuggie and laid down in the fetal position. Like Kelly pointed out, though, it was worth it!

My final time was 4:54:12, which wasn't the time I wanted, but still a PR of 3:57. Bill pointed out that in order to PR, I had to get back to the best race of my life then improve on that! Looking at it that way, I improved 17 minutes over my 2013 time on the same course, which also reflected a 17+ minute improvement over my spring time. I love you Chicago marathon :)
A little food, a little water and I felt better
Still a plain ribbon, but the medal is better than last year 
Pic Bill got of finishers in my approximate time. He missed me though :(

Monday, October 20, 2014

Detroit marathon recap

When my alarm went off at 4:45 on Sunday, my cat looked at me and gave me a crazy look, wondering why I'd ever want to get out of bed that early and go run outside in the dark. I agreed with her and for a good 20 minutes debated texting Bill to say I was skipping it, to not bother driving downtown to see me finish.

Siiiiiiiigh Then I got dressed and left the house. I've never not done a race I was registered for and it was only fitting that Detroit would be my last* marathon, given that it was my first. Besides, I had already horsed around with the expo, and if I didn't run, I wouldn't let myself wear the shirt, and for all my complaints about the expo and the race, they always have really nice shirts. (They had my size and it fits)

It was cold. My throw away shirt was way too small and I didn't have any gloves. I wasn't in the mood to run. Sometimes though, you just get it done, even though my legs were still tired from Chicago and my pinky toe blister was guaranteed to come back very soon.

The start area in Detroit is always so congested and movement anywhere near the corrals is impossible. The only place I could get inside a corral was the C area, so that's where I started, despite the J marked on my bib. I went out slowly and still passed a good number of people. It makes me wonder why they bother with assigning start corrals if they're not enforced and it's too congested for runners to use them correctly.

Just for fun I applied the 4:40 pace band I had picked up in Chicago and for about 12 miles I was right on target. Then I just stopped caring and stopped trying. Walking became more frequent than just through the water tables. I walked about a mile going through Indian Village, then while on Belle Isle, it was so painful and I was going so slowly that it made no sense to try and jog. I could walk at the same pace for a whole lot less pain, so I did.

Mad Dog saw me on the bridge and we chatted for a bit. I said I was sticking with what had been my plan since April, which was PR in Chicago, then horse around in Detroit and just finish. Then I admitted I was going to walk until mile 26.1 then jog the last bit just to save face. I didn't even manage that because I saw Bill and ran over to hug him before I crossed the finish :)

My time... who cares? It wasn't a PR, but it was never intended to be one. I finished 57 minutes faster than my first Free Press when I actually had been trying.

Despite not even trying in the second half, I had a number of mini-accomplishments:
- I ran the entire Ambassador Bridge, for the first time in 4 tries. It's a steep hill that goes for well over a mile and I've always walked part of it.
- I ran the entire tunnel
- I ran the entire Belle Isle bridge, which is flat, but loooooong and late in the race.

Some runners have a mantra for each race. This was my first time repeating one to myself: "I never ever ever have to run another full marathon!"lol
Brrr!!! It was cold despite the sun!
They have great medals every year. They're always the same,
but I'm fine with that :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chicago Saturday - fail!

I didn't need to see Hal at the Chicago expo this year, so there was no great hurry to get there super early. It was open Friday and Saturday until 6pm. We had driven to Chicago and parked at the hotel (free parking!), then walked a half mile to the Nike store and took a free bus to the expo. The bus was super convenient and saved us a lot of $ and headache. I wish they offered the same service to/from the race on Sunday.

It was massive, yet there were very few things we actually wanted to see. I picked up my number, which was super organized. I had to show my id and booklet, which was scanned, then I was directed to the appropriate number. By the time I got there, the volunteer had my packet in his hands. Super fast and easy.

Then it was time to pick up my shirt. I ordered a large and paid for it way back in April. They had more than enough time to order the shirts according to what people ordered. I was there approximately 2 hours before closing and they were all out of women's larges. Huh???? I ordered a large in April so it should have been sitting there with my name on it! Evidently the shirts ran small this year and the shirt exchange raided ALL the shirts. THAT'S NOT HOW A SHIRT EXCHANGE WORKS!!!!! There is supposed to be a small number of extra shirts that can be exchanged as a convenience, and if they run out, that's too bad. You don't ever take the shirts from registered participants who haven't shown up yet!!!!! It's a good thing the shirt is so hideous or I would have been irate. They offered me a women's small - do I look like I wear a small??? Or a men's small. NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS!!!!! The design is ugly. Did they forget to design the shirt until the last possible second or something? It's unfortunate because last year's had a great design and fits great so I wear it often and proudly. This piece of crap will get tossed in the basket of race stuff I never wear.

Then we looked at the race gear. I would have been happy to spend a lot of $ on a jacket, but there was absolutely nothing I liked. For the prices they charged, I'll wait for someone to buy everything at the outlet store and post it on eBay. Or not. The selection was not good.

We did stop for a minute to take a photo like last year, and the guy working that booth gave me the absolute best thing from the expo - two bandanas that match the background of the display.

The expo had free pace bands for 4:30 and 4:40, but I wanted a 4:35 band. I took the 4:40 but made my own pacing chart before bed :)

Nancy and her husband were in town for the race as well and we all mentioned meeting up for dinner, but after the expo Bill and I wanted something quick that wasn't super noisy. I wasn't particularly hungry, but I made myself eat anyway. Then back to the hotel for an early night and dreams of running....not so much. I slept terribly :(

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicago - PR

I ran a personal best marathon time in Chicago. That's all. Too tired to tell the story - in a day or so.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Contest time

Here is a fun contest to pass the time until the big race - Guess my finishing time and post your prediction in the comments. I'll bring home some goodies from the expo for the closest guess :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The truth about tapering

Here's one more: After not walking all summer, you suddenly can't run further than 3 miles without a walk break.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday - A slight change

I'm scheduled to run 5 "easy" miles today. It's cold and there's a steady rain - definitely not weather I want to be running in! Besides, at 5 pm, it's already practically dark. I could use a treadmill, but that would involve driving 15-20 minutes each way to use the gym, and while running 52 minutes outside is nice enough, doing the same on the TM is a boring, painful chore.

Change of plans! Tuesday is a scheduled day off, so I'll swap out Monday and Tuesday this week. I'm maintaining fitness at this point, not trying to build any new strength. Must not get sick, which would be entirely possible if I were outside, cold and wet, or if I spent any considerable time around germy people!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

T-minus 1 week

Chicago (aka the biggest race of my life) is one week away. I feel ready and wish it was this weekend!!!! Waiting another week increases the chance of the weather getting worse and the likelihood of getting sick again.

The plan for the week is:
1. go to bed early every night!!!
2. Avoid student germs!!! (wear a blue surgical mask as needed - they can laugh at me, I don't care)
3. Start carb loading in a few days, otherwise eat super healthy and naturally

I'm getting super excited for this one! I haven't been this excited for a race since fall 2012. I wound up running the Free Press with a head cold that year, but even with that, it was my best running season. I had my 3rd best time ever at the Free Press, then PRed at Columbia City, and I feel tons stronger this fall. I've certainly never trained harder for a race. Fingers crossed! Let's do this!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Running sick :(

Last week was the third week I've worked with students this school year, otherwise known as the time my immune system can't fight off their germs anymore :(

I started feeling yucky on Monday. It was supposed to be a strength workout, which are generally 1 hour, but within a half mile I was feeling pretty woozy and it didn't make sense to force myself to complete a training run.

Tuesday was a scheduled day off.

Wednesday I worked then immediately napped on the couch, completely skipping my run.

Thursday was the same.

Friday I felt marginally so-so and wanted to try a run. My plan was to cover 3 miles, regardless of how often I had to walk. If I didn't move my head, however, it limited the wooziness and dizziness and I managed 4 miles (of the 8 the Hansons recommended).

Saturday was supposed to be 10 miles. I slept almost 12 hours on Friday night, then after laying on the couch until 6pm, I finally started, with the idea of going for 1 hour. It wasn't terrible and I was able to do 6 miles at race pace, so I threw in one more mile at faster than race pace. Then I slept until Sunday.

They recommended 7 miles on Sunday, and once again I slept late and rested and relaxed until 6, when I managed another 6 at pace and the last one faster.

Monday I was back with the program as scheduled.

Some people would argue I wasn't really sick if I could run 7 miles at pace or better. It took 23 hours of rest to do so, however, and I still felt terrible, I just forced myself to run through it. I lost 20 training miles and I didn't want to let it slide anymore, even if it meant running through wooziness and flying snot. Ewwww

Monday, September 22, 2014

Not Hal's taper!!!

The last three weeks of a training program are generally tapering, or a gradual reduction in mileage to allow the body to heal itself before the race. Every time I used Hal's program, I knew that after my 20-miler, the miles dropped significantly and my free time increased :)

Not so much with the Hansons. Their plan is still 6 days a week, and the mileage is still high, much higher than Hal calls for. I count a running week as Wednesday-Monday. The week I just finished was scheduled as 49 miles, and I did 42.62 (I lose 1.38 due to darkness and 5 to feeling sick). Tomorrow is a day off, then the next week is still 46 miles!!!! The last full week before the race is 40, which is the same amount as Hal's week 15 (highest mileage week). I've had months where I've barely done 40 miles and here are three consecutive weeks of it! Heck, in January I ran 46 miles the entire month and 39 of those were done at Goofy.

My running feels stronger and is getting faster, but I told Bill this morning all I do is run and rest. His friend who just qualified for Boston had remarked the same thing. Then at work today I started feeling yucky, like a sinus infection is coming on, so I immediately went into cold-management mode. I laid down and took a little nap after work, took an Emergen-C packet, two vitamin d pills and tons of water.  I'm not sneezing or coughing, no runny nose, but my ears and throat are slightly sore. I have every intention of running 10 on Wednesday, so if that means going to a minute clinic tomorrow for antibiotics for a sinus infection, so be it. I've worked way too hard since I switched to the Hansons program for it to all fall apart with 20 days left.

Today was scheduled to be a strength workout. I should have done 3 sets of run 2 miles at 10:20, jog 800m at whatever easy pace. I made it 0.63 miles and decided against finishing it. My head was woozy and while I ran the entire 2012 Free Press marathon with a head cold, it was miserable and not an experience I ever want to repeat, especially if it isn't race day. I only jogged home because it was faster than walking.

Tomorrow's plan is work, then be in my pajamas and laying down by 3pm. What a boring day, but I'll do about anything to be healthy for the race!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

8 minutes

Saturday's plan was 16 miles. I wasn't particularly excited about it. I could have woken up early and run while it was cool, but I really enjoy sleeping late, and doing so is the best way to catch up on sleep. By the time I woke up, it was sunny and hot. Rain was in the forecast for the afternoon, so I just ate and went, even though it was in the upper 70s and sunny. Last year the Chicago marathon was the same weather, so I need to be ready to run in any conditions.

It was hot. It was sunny. There was a nice breeze and I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible, but it was an uncomfortable run. Originally I thought about doing the same route as my last 16-miler, but when I started, it was on a different route and that was ok. I did a 6-mile loop and stopped at Kroger to refill my water. (I also got distracted by a garage sale with tons of Barbies, but I have almost all of the same ones...)

I ran another 5.5 and stopped at the library to refill once more, then I ran home and I was done.

My first 16-miler was 3:01 so I was hoping to get under 3 hours. Last time it was mega humid, but I woke up early to run before the heat got really bad. This time after my last mile - which was the fastest of the entire run - I gratefully stopped the watch and finally really looked at the time.

2:53!!! The final average pace was 10:49, which is pretty much spot-on for a training run when I was saddled with a heavy water holster. Most training programs advise to do the long Saturday run 30-90 seconds slower than race pace, so I was exactly where I should have been.

My legs were beat and definitely did not want to run another 10 miles, but I had also run 21 miles in the past three days. The three runs before the race will be 14 miles, none of them at tempo.

The idea of the long run is a significant difference between Hal and the Hansons. Hal said half your weekly mileage should be on Saturday and if you need to take off a day or two before or after, that's ok. The Hansons say Saturday should be approximately 30% of your weekly mileage, and something that really struck me - if you need a day off before or after your long run, you're doing it wrong!!!

I'm now tapering, but still running 6 days a week, with this Wednesday being another 10-mile tempo run, so it's not an easy taper!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The great tempo run

Running consistent times isn't particularly a strength of mine, so I've done all my tempo runs on the dreadmill and let the machine maintain an exact pace. This week was prescribed as a 10-mile tempo run, which was bad enough - two sets of 53 minutes each - ugh! Add in the weather, which was absolutely perfect at mid-60s and sunny, and I couldn't justify a miserable TM run.

My watch predicts my finishing time per mile anyway, so it was time to self-pace. At the race I'll either have to self-pace, or stay with a group, which isn't really my style.

Almost immediately I started with the doubting self-talk. "8 miles is good enough." "An hour is good." "Go to the intersection and that's ok...."

Then I actually started running. The first few miles were a challenge to get the pace within a pretty exact window - I wanted no more than 5 seconds off pace either way. The first couple miles were speed up! Maintain. Slow down! Slower! Slow. Maintain. Speed up! After about 3 miles the pace was easier to maintain with less speed changes.

Then it started to feel good, and who wanted to stop before all 10 were done??? I didn't want the weight or bulk of carrying water, so I stopped once - at the library at 7.83 and it was a great run, one of my top ten ever.

At 5 miles my time should have been 52:30, the actual was 52:23. The second half was a little more under pace because I figured it was ok if I sped up a tiny bit the last mile.
Here were the splits :)
Today was scheduled to be 6 miles at whatever pace, but it was upper-60s and sunny, so obviously a great time to change it to another pace run. I figure the more 10:30s I can do, the better. I need to build muscle memory here!

Friday splits :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Another race another shirt

This year's Detroit marathon shirt. I can't decide if I like it or not. Why is the start at the bottom and finish at the top? Shouldn't the design follow the progression of the race and go top to bottom? At least it's not covered in sponsor logos!!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Strength workout

Something different that the Hansons include that Hal does not (at least in the novice programs) is a dedicated speed workout. About halfway through it changes to a strength workout, which is still designed to be speed work, but a little slower for a longer duration. They host organized workouts at their store, but I shifted the program one day so my long run is on Saturday, which means my speed work is on Monday, not Tuesday.

The next best option was to google "Hansons speed workout" and "Hansons strength workout." I found four of each, so I do each one twice before moving on to the next one.

Yesterday was:
- Warm up (0.5 miles in my case)
- 4 sets of run 1.5 miles at ten seconds faster than marathon pace, then recover/jog for 0.37 miles
- Cool down (short walk)

Race pace is 10:30 or 5.7 miles per hour so my strength pace is 10:20 or 5.8 mph. By the second set, however, I was up to 5.9 mph, then the third started at 6.0 and increased. Just for fun and to replicate the Chicago course I added an incline the last ten minutes. Good times :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Halfway to Hell Maryland

Last week I took a vacation to Virginia to see presidents' homes and Civil War battlefields. Obviously I packed my running stuff, but I know how hard it can be to make a long run happen at home, so doing it on vacay would be even worse, not knowing routes or available water, etc. It made the most sense to run a half marathon and let the organizers worry about the details.

The best choice in Virginia was a super hilly 20k just outside of Washington DC on Sunday, when I planned to be further west. Besides, VA hosts a rock and roll half so there are ample opportunities to run in Virginia.

It was geographically more desirable to run a half in Maryland. The only one in the state that weekend was in Hancock. It was pretty expensive for a half - I've done full marathons for less. I stayed at a small bed and breakfast that was 0.25 miles from the start, so I picked up my packet, returned it to my car at the b&b then went back to the start. The shirt is an orange t-shirt. I wore it to sleep in the hotels on my vacay, but doubt it'll be worn again.

That little distance was a nice warm up walk. What was a lot worse was the weather. We've had a super mild summer in Michigan so I haven't gotten acclimated to the heat and humidity this year. It was 79 degrees and massively humid at the start, which wasn't until 8:30. Whew! Satan called - wants his weather back! With the weather, I would have preferred they move the start to 7:00 or 7:30. Or keep the official start at 8:30, but give runners the option to individually start earlier.

The course was nice. It was an out and back along a paved trail. About half of it was in shade and after the first half mile, there was absolutely no elevation change. I treated it as a training run and with the weather became even less concerned with trying to PR.

I blurred my bare midriff in the interest of modesty :)
Even aside from the weather, it wasn't a good race. There were supposed to be 4 water stops, but the third one just disappeared, so we had to run from mile 6-11 without any water. It was the same heat as DX-A2, but even more humid. At that race I took water every single mile. This one should have offered fluid every mile, perhaps every half mile.

The timing chip was an actual chip I had to attach to my shoe. Not a huge deal, just a little archaic. I haven't had a detachable chip since 2010 and even that was a disposable one.

I dragged through a lousy half - and passed a woman in the last 0.2 miles - then they gave me..... a magnet??? wth????? It was not a cheap race, but the goodies were beyond cheap and almost an insult. I remind myself that it was a training run, and it was a fund-raiser, but what a half-ass experience.

Even with my less than desirable time, I finished 4/7 in my age group. The 3rd place finisher was only 2 minutes faster and had I known that, I could have made up 2 minutes, yet I really doubt there were prizes for the top 3, probably only the first in each group. Besides I don't need a second magnet :P

I still haven't decided if I'm going to run a marathon in every state. Maybe a marathon or half! in every state. If so, this was #6.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

More Spartan Freebies!!!

In Spartan news, NBC Sports has partnered with Spartan Race to film 6 episodes of the races, culminating with the world championship race to be aired November 16.

For my Michigan readers, two new events have been announced closer to home - this October 4th in Cumberland Ohio (east of Columbus), and one is scheduled in Michigan for 2015, date and location to be determined.

Don't want to wait that long? There is a Spartan cruise through the Bahamas in March 2015. Click here for more information, then here to enter the drawing for a free entry (and bring me as your +1 :)

Lastly, I can offer a free race entry to one of my readers. Anyone interested? Blog followers only this time :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Best run ever?

Saturday's forecast was hot and sunny, with a likely heat index well above 90. It was also the first of only three really big runs the Hansons have me doing (each 16 miles). I could sleep in and risk the likelihood of gross weather and suffer. Or I could wake up super early and do it before the sun was at its highest peak. Neither option excited me.

I set my alarm for 5:30 and made it outside ready to run a few minutes before sunrise. It was already warm and humid, but very peaceful. There were virtually no cars and I only saw one person who wasn't running (he was watching his dog tinkle lol)

My time plan was to go slow enough that I could run for miles without walking. I ran around home because I could arrange a route that would be mostly shady, and that had ample places to stop for water that would be open that early (Helloooooooo McDonalds :D

My first mile was 11:40 - slow. Whatever. The second mile was 11:00. Better, but still not great, yet I hadn't walked any. It was definitely hot and humid, but aside from sweating buckets, I felt really good and just kept going. In mile 9 when it was really hurting, the clouds and a little fog rolled in. It was like watching a movie - I was running into the sun and could watch the clouds cover the sun quickly and completely. Aaaaah! The temperature immediately plummeted!

Well past halfway I still hadn't walked! I got to 13 without walking, 14, 15, then finished the entire run without walking!!!! Granted, I stopped three times to refill my water and a few times to cross the street, but no walking!!!!!

Towards the end my thighs had chafed a little but I could have kept going several more miles. After showering, I was happy to tell my friend that I was tired and worn out, but nothing hurt! I spent the afternoon wearing my compression sleeves and I feel great!

Not only that, I negative split by 2:21! The last two miles were both under race pace :) Overall I averaged 50 seconds slower than race pace, but I'm not too concerned because I was alone and had to manage my own water, which added about eight pounds of weight and bulk to my waist.

Best run ever? So far!!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Humidity!!!! Grrr

This summer has been super mild. Virtually every day I've been able to sleep in then run whenever I want, without having to run too early or too late. Granted, it's more comfortable to run when the sun isn't at a peak, but it's been tolerable all summer.

That dreamworld ended fast! Today is the oppressive heat and humidity we've come to expect from summer. It's mid-80s, but 80% humidity, so it feels like 91. I was sweating just walking from the car into the house and the air is so thick it's more difficult to breathe. The Hanson brothers want me to run 8 miles today...

What to do? Run on the treadmill? Wait until the sun is going down? Complicating everything is that tomorrow is one of my biggie 16-milers and the forecast says I need to wake up as early as possible and get it done. If I wait until later to run, I'll be doing 24 miles within 12 hours, which I'm sure isn't exactly what the brothers intend. I just don't know.

Any tips for dealing with humidity? Or staying dry in the face of such humidity? When it's so humid and I sweat so much the wetness leads to blisters and chafing. The wicking material doesn't really help when the air is already so heavy with water :(

Monday, August 18, 2014

A terrible 10 :(

Saturday was an "easy" 10 miles, yet it was my worst 10-miler ever timewise. Grrr that was frustrating!

It didn't help one bit that I ran in the middle of the day. I like sleeping in so I didn't go super early, then Bill wanted to go to a party that evening, so late running was out. Unfortunately that left me with the middle of the day. I went to Ann Arbor for a chance of scenery, but it was hot and sunny so the different view didn't distract me or help any. The breeze felt good, but the weather wasn't on my side. It was one of the few really hot runs I've done this summer, so it could have been so much worse.

I wore my water belt, which makes me uncomfortable, but it was necessary. With the heat it didn't last more than 4 miles and after 5 I had to stop at an assisted living facility for a refill. More water would have helped, but there were seemingly zero water fountains.

Also problematic was my lack of protein before the run. I had eaten a bowl of Kashi cereal and a few cookies, so not much of substance. So I learned from that.

Within the first half mile I started cramping so my slow pace became glacial. After 2 agonizing miles the cramps passed. By that time I was sweating like crazy and my headphones were bothering me, so I tried to run with just one, but that was bothersome as well so I did the second half without any music. I was so bored, however, that I sang kids songs to myself lol

It got done. Sometimes that's all I can say.

The run had an unfortunate postscript. A few hours later, Bill and I were enjoying sangria at Dominick's with his friends, and looking at the menu. I was ravenous, but couldn't decide what I wanted to eat so I had him surprise me. When he returned with a barbeque chicken sandwich - something I would normally gobble up - my stomach turned. Within a few minutes my heart was racing, my forehead was gushing sweat and I went to the bathroom, hoping a little vomiting would make me feel better. Instead I shuffled to the car and laid down in the backseat while he had dinner and said goodbye. It was probably massive dehydration that felt like flu :(

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Zen Run

Friday was another 8-mile day. I have great routes around my house, but I've done them so many times over 4 years that I'm bored with them. I debated where to drive and run - Grosse Ile? Lake Erie Metro Park? I figured Hines was still flooded, but I'm bored with that anyway. I waited until early evening so I wouldn't have to contend with the full sun then just stayed around home. I did my normal route, but in reverse and it made a huge difference!

Like every run now, the strategy was to go as slow as I needed in order to run without walking. There were 2 places I'd have to stop to cross the street at the light, so each segment was 2-3 miles. I could manage that.

It was great! I somehow got into a Zen state where it didn't hurt! I would go so far as to say I enjoyed it! There was nowhere else I'd rather be and nothing else I'd rather be doing at the time. The miles passed easily and I finished with a 10:38 average, which is just about perfect for a training run.

Now I need to figure out how I got into the mental state and duplicate it every time!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The hardest run yet

Tuesdays are becoming my favorite day of the week because they're the one day the Hansons have absolutely nothing scheduled lol After the mini break, however, comes the hardest run of the week for me - the tempo run! The goal of the tempo run is to run AT race pace for the whole time, not averaging race pace, but maintaining the exact pace. The pace stays constant, the perceived rate of exertion (PRE) does not...

This week was the hardest run I've done in a long long time. Since I've only been doing the tempo runs for a few weeks, I still do them on the treadmill so my pace is exact. Maintaining an exact pace isn't particularly a strength of mine, so I let the TM do it for me.

I drove 15 minutes to the gym, pulled my headphones out of my bag and realized my iPod was at home on the charger! Noooooo!!! The plan was 8 miles and the TMs shut off automatically after 60 minutes, so I planned to run 60 minutes and 24 minutes. I made sure to do the 24 first, because if I did the 60 then stopped to reset, I probably wouldn't do the 24.

I did the 24 without music. It was awful. The TMs do have headphone jacks to listen to the overhead TVs. I wasn't sure how I'd like being tethered to the machine like that, but it was worth a try. My headphone cord is sufficiently long so it was ok. Unfortunately there was nothing on tv! I alternated between TMZ and SportsCenter at NFL training camp. TMZ was mildly entertaining - I'd never seen it before.

The first few miles were easy enough, the last few were really difficult. I wanted so badly to slow down for a few minutes, knowing I could speed up at the end and still make the time. But that's not the purpose of the tempo run. No, I had to maintain the consistent pace. I wanted to quit after 6 miles but I got through it. It was just under 1/3 of a marathon and it was difficult. The actual race will be easier mentally because I'll have visual distraction and company.

When I use the TMs, I have definite favorites, generally those on the ends because I don't want people on either side of me. Most people observe the "courtesy rule" and leave an empty TM between runners, when available. I was in a mini row of 4 TMs so hopefully no one would be in my row, right? Not so much. An elderly man in jean shorts and khaki socks walked on the machine right next to mine! Grrrr After he finished walking, he turned to me and said "Good luck on your 10k." ????? "Thank you," I replied.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Slowing down to hit goal time

My first long run with the Hanson program was a 10-miler. The next day was 5. Hal never made me run the day after a long run and I'm not sure I've ever done it. Yet the new plan isn't about being comfortable, but doing what will get me a PR, so I dragged my tired legs out of the house and got it started.

I ran in the evening and it wasn't especially hot so I didn't carry any water. It was "only" 5 miles so I shouldn't need water, right? Without breaking for water, my plan was to run the whole time, regardless of how slow I went. The important thing was getting the miles done and getting my legs accustomed to being tired but still running.

I wore my watch to keep track of the distance, but the time and pace were completely irrelevant. The first mile was a 10:49, next was a 10:48, then an 11+. It didn't matter. Every time I felt weak and wanted to walk, I slowed down even more just to keep going.

Somewhere around mile 4.1 it started to feel a little easier and my legs felt a little lighter and I was able to go a tiny bit faster. Mile 4 was in the 10:20 ballpark then the last mile was a 9:22. My final average time was a 10:35, just a touch above my marathon pace of 10:30.
Hal who? Keith and Kevin Hanson are helping me this year

Hal always said to start slowly enough that I can maintain it forever and it's finally setting in. Every run I've done since then has used the same approach - start slow, keep it slow but consistent. When it stops hurting, speed up a little. Good things are happening with the Hansons.

Monday, August 11, 2014


I don't plan to just finish the Chicago marathon. I expect to run it and destroy my PR in the process. I still debate the goal time pretty much every time I run and have excess thinking time. I don't want a simple PR but a huge one, like 20-30 minutes. I'm training for a 4:35 finish but I know there will be so many people that it'll be impossible to hit the corners and tangents exactly so I'll be over mileage. Do I add 5 minutes allowance for that? 10?

In the quest for a big fat PR I've changed plans, going from 4 runs a week to 6. I'm trying to lose weight so I have less to carry around, or at least not gain any. Nancy asked if I wanted to do the Akron marathon as a trial run, but after a little thought I had to decline because the marbles have always been solely in Chicago. I read an article in Runners World about a woman training for an Ironman. A lot of what she said is completely apropos for Chicago - the bigger the goal, the more flexible your ideas of what is "normal." Not to mention that the closer it gets, the more willing you are to do just about anything to finish the goal. Cortisone? Bring it on! (just an example, not personal experience) Veterinary liniment gel? Got it! I follow an 18-week training program and as early as week 2 I told Bill I would be DEVASTATED if I failed to PR in Chicago.

When I toe the line, I'll be the best prepared I've ever been and there will be no luck involved, but careful preparation and laser focus so I can hit my PR and promptly retire*. See you at the finish line!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ditching Hal

The first seven week of Hal's program went well, then came to a crashing halt when I realized I'm BORED with his program. I've used it so many times that I can recite the entire program from memory and I don't want another ten weeks of it!!! I noticed on Thursday that my bones, joints and muscles all felt great, but I was limited cardiovascularly, so that was problematic. Running hasn't been fun the past week or two because it's soooooo boring.

So I changed it up and switched from Hal to the Hanson training method. It's going to be a huge change. On the positive side, no single run is further than 16 miles (there are four of those). On the negative - running six days a week. Individual runs are shorter, but total miles are greater. I'll see how it goes. At least it's different and has an emphasis on speed training.

I figure I'll have one of three outcomes:
(1) Run huge PR at Chicago
(2) get completely burnt out and give up on running altogether
(3) injury

Switching programs mid-way is unorthodox, but I'm not going to say it's a bad idea per se. I think even Hal would agree that the best training program is the one that works for me this year. At least it'll have variety.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New shoes!

I wear Mizuno Rider running shoes. The current model is version 17, but I'm still in my beloved 13s. When the price was right, I bought 8 pairs from Amazon and wish I had gotten more. At the time of purchase I figured I would be set with shoes until 2015 and it seemed comical, yet it just keeps getting closer and by next year I'll have to wear a new style!

My old ones were really beat up and quickly losing their shock absorption. My last several runs have felt sluggish, so it was time to get out a new pair. They're so clean! More importantly, they have good structure and will support my feet and legs. I made the last pair last seven months, which is one more than typical.

There is a solitary box left in the basement. Poor lonely shoes lol
It was like my own personal shoe shop :P

Sunday, July 27, 2014

2nd in age group, 11th female

I really wanted to win a race, even though I'm not the fastest runner by any stretch. Rather than become a super fast runner, it would be easier to find a small race that didn't have the most competitive field. Cheating? No! Deliberate planning.

I figured one of my best chances was the Electric Bolt in Ann Arbor. It's a fund raiser for Ann Arbor Active against ALS, the same group that organized the Twinkie run, where I would have won my age group, if the race was 18 days later so I could be in the next age group.

Anyway, there was both an 8k and a 5k, and I thought perhaps the more serious runners would be in the 8k, and the 5k would be more casual runners, families and walkers (not the zombie type...) I reasoned I had a better chance in the 5k, so that's the one to do.

I didn't sleep well the night before and the weather was something else. It was in the upper 60s, but massive humidity - 90+%. It was too dark for sunglasses, but too bright to not wear them. Plus my legs were still a little lethargic from the 14.5 miles I ran on Friday night.

To PR, I would have to average 9:08s. The first mile was no problem, even though we had to run across grass for a stretch and mostly on dirt roads. Then we hit the hills. I should have looked at the course map ahead of time and prepared myself for the hills. Somehow I passed more people going uphill than any other place in the course. Weird.

It was rough going. I could tell I wouldn't PR, but there was an out and back part, and I definitely looked at who was coming my way, to gauge where I was in relation to the rest of the field. I'm a terrible estimator of ages, but I thought perhaps I could hold on for top 3, even if I didn't hit first place for my age group.

After a huge uphill at mile 2.9, the end was a massive downhill. We turned the corner and the finish was 0.1 miles away. I saw a man 0.04 miles in front of me, and determined that I had to beat him! Somehow once the finish line is in sight, the pain goes away and I can fly.

Then we waited.

Something really nice about small races is the post race food - homemade cookies!!!! Someone made lightning bolt shaped cookies - yum! Plus chocolate milk, coffee, popsicles, fruit, etc. 

Yay!!!!!!!!!!! The winner of my age group smoked me, and I'm ok with that. I'm not sure I could beat her time even on a treadmill, much less on a hilly course. The top three in each age group got a pint glass, which I promptly added to my collection of race glasses that I never use :) Another runner finished after the results were printed at the event, so I was actually 2/7. I looked at all the female finishers and my time was 11th overall among women. Had I done the 8k my half marathon pace would have gotten me 2nd place in my age group for that race. 

Something nice about the ALS races is that they're a la carte. Runners can choose whether or not to buy a shirt. The race fee was minimal - maybe $17 for early entry? It was the same price for the 5k or 8k. Then adding a shirt wasn't bad either - $12? I didn't get a Twinkie shirt, but I wanted one of these because I like the ringer style and it's a super soft cotton so I'll actually wear it. They're unisex, which is somewhat shapeless, but also means long enough sleeves!!! My little cat was very intrigued by it :) The fee could be paid online for a slight charge, could be paid by check in the mail, or could be paid by check or cash in person at pick-up right at the start.
I don't know about this pic - I think I look like a boy lol but I don't want a single piece of hair touching my neck so I pull it back and tie it up and obv I don't waste time on makeup before a run. Bill liked the jersey though and sleeveless was essential on such a muggy morning. We passed a water table twice and I grabbed a cup both times, just to dump it on myself.