Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black Toenails Update

I have had many people find my blog by searching "black toenails," and, as sad as this is to admit, my post titled "Black Toenails and the Cookie Dash Run" is my most popular post ever (Okay, that's kind of really sad for me.  Not a marathon post.  Not even a training post.  A post about black toenails.  Sigh.)  I can only conclude that this is a topic you want me to keep talking about!  And I aim to please!  This is the fourth post in a series of posts about my poor, ugly toes (see here, here, and here).

Most recently, I lost my middle toenail on my left foot while wearing shoes and socks.  It was really gross.  I came to take my shoes off after work, and I felt something that I thought was a small twig in my sock.  I thought it was weird that it had gotten inside my sock.  That's when I realized that it was actually my toenail just floating around in my sock.  Yuck.

Here is my vacant middle toenail with one to the right that is just growing back. 

Middle toenail fell off
My right foot's toenails have been hurting when I run.  I wish they would go ahead and fall off.  They are very ugly and are very hard to conceal.  I even tried to (see the nail polish!), but you can still see the black around the edges (toe next to big toe).  The toenail next to my little toe is about to fall off now.  I can raise it up and wiggle it around, kind of like when you would have a really loose tooth as a kid.  I know it's gross, but how else do you talk about black toenails?

Black toenails in different stages
Well, that is all I have for now about my black toenails.  I know you are all very jealous of my beautiful feet!  Hopefully I will have something more substantial for you next time!

Friday, November 25, 2011

First and Last 20 Miler for the Rocket City Marathon: Pacing Practice

I am running in the Rocket City Marathon on December 10, 2011 as a pacer for the 3:55 group.  This will be my second time to pace in the marathon.  You can read about my time last year here and here.  I felt somewhat discouraged about my pacing experience last year and vowed to be more on pace this year.  If you reading this because you want to run in the 3:55 group, let me assure you that I will get you there on pace this year.  The things that I learned last year will help me, as will having a faster pace (I paced the 4:15 group last year).  I take my responsibility very seriously.  In most marathons, I only have myself to let down, but as a pacer, I have others relying on me.  I don't want to let anyone down.  But to be honest, pacing is a challenge for me.  It will involve very controlled running, something that I struggle to do well.

If you have never heard about pacers before, I would like to share a quote from Eric Charette, organizer of the pace teams, who says pacers are chosen "based not only on their ability to cover the distance within a certain time, but they are also outgoing and dynamic people who are able to motivate runners.  They are all experienced marathoners who have deep knowledge of endurance running and all have run a marathon within the previous year that is at least 20 minutes faster than the pace group they are leading."  I would like to add that I've always seen pacers as helpful if you are trying to Boston Qualify.  The 3:55 time is a 2013 BQ time for males 60-64 and females 45-49.  So those two groups of people will probably make up a large portion of my pacing group.  I am excited to also have people in my group who are wanting to break 4 hours.  I hope to see many of them reach this milestone!    

In preparation to pace the 3:55 group, I ran my first and last 20 miler for the Rocket City Marathon last Saturday, November 19.  I am still well trained from the Chicago Marathon and, more recently, the Huntsville Half Marathon.  This training will help me in the marathon, but I still wanted at least one 20 miler just for this race.  If I were running a training run for a regular marathon (not one I am pacing), I would shoot for a pace somewhere between 60 and 90 seconds slower than my marathon pace, or between an 8:30-9:00 pace.  For this run, however, I wanted to be exactly on pace.  I thought it would be a nice challenge and that it would help prepare me for pacing (I know there are some newer marathoners that read my blog out there, so note that running your long runs at pace is NOT recommended!!).  I somehow remembered the pace per mile wrong though, so I thought I needed 8:55s when I actually needed 8:58s.  Close enough!

The run was a success even though my splits were not consistent, especially in the beginning.  I was running with Jane then, and we were not paying attention to pace.  When I ran alone, I was paying more attention and was more consistent.  I also ran a fairly hilly course!  At Mile 19, I conscientiously slowed my pace to a 9:23 to bring my average down.  I felt very in control on this run, and it gave me a lot of confidence about my pacing this group in two weeks.

Splits (aiming for 8:55 pace)
1 9:03
2 9:00
3 9:03
4 8:56
5 9:08
6 9:24
7 8:35
8 8:43
9 8:58
10 9:01
11 8:26
12 8:46
13 8:48
14 8:46
15 8:46
16 8:52
17 8:52
18 8:58
19 9:23
20 8:43
Average 8:55 pace/691 elevation gain

I've met people who just love pacers and people who pretty much hate them.  But I've learned that walking in someone's shoes can do wonders for how you view them.  I now have so much respect for the pacers in the marathons I've run, even though I've never been in a pace group myself!  Running a marathon at a pace 20 minutes or more slower than your marathon time is very challenging.  Pacers are doing this selflessly for the other runners, for anyone that wants to run in their group.  I have a lot of respect for anyone willing to give that a try!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Breaking 3 PRs in 4 Months

Strong legs help me set a PR in the Huntsville Half.
Photo by Brandy Titsworth

The Old PRs
I'm 34 now, and until this year, all of my PRs were from before I had kids.  Most were from around eight years ago.  I had more time to run and not as many responsibilities back then.  I was okay with the fact that my PRs were older.  And those old times seemed really fast to me...up until last year.  Last year, I finally decided to try to tackle the PRs.

As my racing times got down close to my old times, I started really learning my PRs (yes, for a long time I didn't know them offhand).  I started memorizing them and knowing what pace per mile each event was.  I studied how to convert one distance's time to another.  I started reading about my old PRs races (the ones that I remembered, like this one).  And I started training to beat those times.

The Targets (My Old PRs)
Spirit of Halloween 5K October 2003 20:01 (26 years old)
Half Marathon
Huntsville Half November 2004 1:34:51 (27 years old)
Rock 'N' Roll San Diego June 2003 3:21:54 (25 years old)

The person I was competing with was my younger self.  With this, I experienced the joy of quite a challenging task.  I enjoyed "racing" against a younger women who hadn't had two kids---ME! 

I set out to tackle the marathon first because I was doing a lot of those, and I was seeing a steady improvement of my times (with four marathons, I saw a steady decline of just over 20 minutes).  By November 2010, I had entered the 3:20s again in the marathon (albeit a 3:29!).  I had read about my old marathon splits ad nauseam by this point.  Still, my old PR (3:21:54) from the Rock 'N' Roll San Diego still seemed fast to me.  If you've run many marathons, you know that eight minutes can be A LOT in a marathon.  Yet I knew how I approached the marathon.  I knew about my tendency to start fast and then slow down.  I knew I could follow that approach again and be successful.  It took Myrtle Beach's flat course after my yearly 50K (and its training) to get me to the 3:18:05 (little did I know I would break that new PR just eight months later!).

With that one time, it was as though anything was possible for me.  I began what became the best year of running that I've had in my "career."  I went on to target and then attack the 5K (new PR set at the Firecracker 5K in July 2011) and the half marathon (new PR set at the Huntsville Half in November 2011).  Between those two, I PRed again in the marathon with a 3:15:33 in Chicago, proving to myself that my 3:18 was no "fluke."    

Lessons Learned
People have asked me, "What's next?" and honestly I don't know.  I guess a small goal would be to break that tough 10K PR.  But then what?  A 3:10 marathon?  A 19:30 5K? 

For now, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I think it is appropriate to just take a moment to be thankful for this year of running, one that may likely be the best year I will ever have.  Not many people can smash through 3 eight year old PRs in one year.  I know that.  I know that I will probably never experience a "comeback" like that again.  And I know that the comeback was in part thanks to the regularity of my running with my morning running group.  They are the real reason I am thankful.  Running with them may have helped those times to come, but it is the friendships I have that mean so much more to me.  Yes, I am so thankful that I got to experience the thrill of beating my younger self.  But so much has happened in the past eight years.  So much life.  It's made me realize how silly caring about these PRs can be.  Yet a piece of me still takes pride in the toughness, determination, and persistence that made them a reality.

New PRs
Firecracker 5K July 2011 19:55 (33 years old)
Half Marathon
Huntsville Half November 2011 1:30:53 (34 years old)
Chicago Marathon October 2011 3:15:33 (34 years old)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finish Line Pictures from the Huntstville Half Marathon and Why Pictures are Important

These pictures are courtesy of my friend's husband, Tony Scott.  The neat thing about the Scott family is that they were all involved in the Huntsville Half Marathon in a different way.  Christy ran the half marathon while Tony took pictures and cheered at the finish line.  Courtney, their daughter, babysat our kids with the help of their son, Brandon.  They were highlighted at our Huntsville Track Club banquet this month when Christy received the 2011 Admiration Award.  This family is a good example of how everyone in your family can play a part in a race, even when they are not all running!

I have given a lot of though recently to how thankful I am for facebook and for those who use facebook to share albums for runners at different races.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.  That is so true with racing!  In running, having a picture to look at can really take you back to a special moment, one that you may have been too out of it to appreciate while you were living it!  I have ZERO pictures from most of my earlier races since I was usually there alone.  With facebook, I have been tagged in several people's albums.  Some that I remember are the We Run Huntsville group, Gregg Gelmis, James Hurley, and Tony Scott.  I, in turn, have taken pictures at different races too.  Having a picture of the moment you cross the finish line is such a special thing.  It takes you right back to that moment.  It is thanks to people like this who think of others that we have pictures to remember these moments of our lives.  I know I am grateful to have them!

Here I am crossing the finish line (looks to me like I am actually getting a 1:30:52 instead of the 1:30:53 in the results!). 
Photo by Tony Scott
I used up EVERYTHING I had when I raced and could not even hold my head up when I was done!  I know I look sad or even defeated in this picture, but I am actually very happy, just glad to be done.  I stayed with my head down like this, gathering my thoughts and being thankful for being done, while I walked through the finish chute.

Too tired to even hold up my head!
While we are on the subject of special running pictures, I thought I would share my FAVORITE running picture ever.  This picture is from the Rocket City Marathon in 2001, taken by Mr. Fahey (I forget his first name!).  This is my first picture ever with my husband, who was just my friend at the time.  Since this picture was taken obviously before facebook, the fact that I have a copy of it means that Mr. Fahey printed it out for me or Rick.  This picture is priceless to us and made it into our slideshow at our wedding.  All thanks to a friend who was willing to capture a very special moment!

Rick, Katie (and John Christy) running Rocket City 2001

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Huntsville Half Marathon 2011 Race Recap

Huntsville Half Marathon
Saturday, November 12, 2011

I didn't give a whole lot of consideration training-wise to this race.  Thought I did rest on Thursday, I ran on Friday for about 5 miles with the double jogging stroller.  I woke up on Saturday with a slightly sore upper body from that.  Oh well.  The weather had been perfect on Friday, and I enjoyed spending the day off without having to get up early to run (Rick was off too but spent the whole day staining our fence).

On Saturday morning we made it to the race around 7:15 a.m.  The race takes place at Hillwood Baptist Church in Southeast Huntsville, right off of South Parkway.  The church lets us use their facilities, so we can stay warm in their gym and use their bathrooms before the race too (I am not a port-a-potty fan, so that is important to me!).  I actually hit the bathroom 3 times before the race, so it was good to have a nice one to use!  Our babysitter, Courtney, got our kids busy on the church's playground as we headed to the start line.

I chatted with a few friends before the start and ran into most of my running group also.  I think there were 8 of us running in the half, which is almost all of our group.  For 3 of the girls, it was their first half.  It was exciting to think that they were about to run further than they'd ever run before and to know they had a nice medal and finisher's shirt waiting for them at the end!

The Race
As the race begun, I fell into pace with my friend and fellow Fleet Feet teammate Kathy Youngren.  Kathy is an amazing runner (visit the Fleet Feet Racing Team website to read her bio and PRs).  It felt fun and even lighthearted to be running with her and some of our other teammates.  They were joking around, and the atmosphere was just very positive.  I didn't feel like I was in the beginning of a very tough race!  I asked Kathy what pace she was aiming for, and she said 7:15.  Well, our first mile came in at 6:32!  I guess you could say we were banking that time for later!

The race passed back by the church (I think) in the 3rd mile.  Here is a picture of Kathy and me running side by side. 

Katie (back left in black) and Kathy (in same uniform) in the Huntsville Half
Photo by James Hurley
You can see in this picture that there was a girl right ahead of us.  She came from out of town and was a very strong runner.  We weren't able to pass her.

I ran with Kathy until Mile 7, one of the greenway miles.  I ran out of steam and my pace dropped a little while hers stayed the same or even increased by a bit.  After the turnaround (Mile 8?  I am NO help at all with specifics of this course!), I was so encouraged by my friends calling out my name as they made their way to the turnaround.  "Go Katie!" helped me feel so much better, even though I was still struggling with feeling out of gas!  I made it a point to try to see each person who called my name, and to in turn shout back similar encouragement.  It made the miles go by very fast!  I think I did this exchange probably 20 times or so.  It was fun for me to see where each of my running group friends was too.  Everyone looked strong!  After passing all of my friends, I took to just calling out, "Keep it up!" or "Looking strong!" to the people near the back.  It helped distract me from how I was feeling and hopefully was an encouragement to them also.

Around Mile 10, I decided that I only had a 5K left to go.  I figured I could stick with it for that long!  I actually caught up to and then passed Kathy around Mile 11.  I figured she would stick with me, but she didn't.  So it was a pretty lonely last few miles, but I knew the end was near.  Rick had warned me about a slow 12th mile but then a fast 13th.  I proved him right by running a 7:15 12th mile (my slowest in the race) and a 6:45 13th mile (my second fastest in the race).  At Mile 13, I actually made some audible grunts as I chugged up the last little hill to the finish.  I saw the clock with 1:30 on it and was ecstatic to be getting a PR!  I crossed with a time of 1:30:53, 5th overall female and 1/80 in my age group.  It felt great to have exceeded my expectations.

Then it was time to find Rick and the kids and to see how all of my friends did.  The neatest story was how 2 of my Sunday School friends were running next to my hairstylist and befriended her along the way.  Seeing them all come and and congratulate one another was so neat!  I also saw my friend Tracey finish in 1:47, an impressive 1st half time!  Her family of 5 children were all watching her come in.  I enjoyed getting my medal, finisher's shirt, and a nice reflective vest as my age group award, plus filling up with bagels and pizza!  

Look for another post about how I have now beaten 3 of my 8 year old PRs (the 5K, half marathon, and marathon) in 4 months!

1 6:32
2 6:50
3 6:49
4 7:01
5 6:51
6 6:57
7 6:54
8 7:03
9 7:10
10 7:02
11 6:55
12 7:15
13 6:45
.1 :43

6:56 pace    
5th Overall Female
1st AG

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Huntsville Half November 12, 2011

New PR!  1:30:53 More details to follow!

Picture by James Hurley

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Huntsville Half Marathon Goal Setting

The Huntsville Half Marathon is this Saturday, November 12, 2011.  I did a little digging back to see some of my old half marathons, just to get feel for how I think I can do.  I haven't done many of them!

Here are the ones I found:

2000: Rocket City Half Marathon* Huntsville, AL November 4, 2000-- 1:42:56 1st in AG
My first half ever, and probably my longest run ever at the time.  Entered on a whim!  I could not even find my old bib for this one.  It was before I started saving them.  I found a set of race results I had printed off of the computer.  Besides Joe Francica (1st OA), I didn't even recognize any of the top men's names.

*The Rocket City Half Marathon is now the Huntsville Half; it just changed its name in 2004.

2001: Freeze Your Half Off Half Marathon Auburn, AL February 10, 2001-- 1:37:59  4th in AG 
Graduate student at Auburn this year.  I was surprised to see this below my results: Candace Chambers 1:38:19.  Those of you local runners may know this girl.  Her last name is now Jacobs.  Candace wins almost every local race these days.  She's come a long way since 2001 (assuming this is the same girl?)!

2002: Can't find any results

2003: Rocket City Half Marathon November 8, 2003-- 1:35:50 2nd in AG, 6th OAF 

2004: Huntsville Half Marathon November 13, 2004-- 1:34:51 (PR) 1st in AG 4th OAF (results from Athlinks)

I have not run a half marathon road race since 2004.  In 2005, I was pregnant.  Then in 2006, I had a four month old and did not run it. 

I do have a really fun/crazy memory from the Huntsville Half Marathon in 2007, though.  I remember dropping Rick off so that he could run the half and then heading to the Aldridge Creek Greenway to run my own half marathon (on the section not on the course).  We had a sixteen month old and a two month old at the time.  We decided that Rick was definitely in better form to race than I was, but I was training for Mountain Mist and needed a long run that day.  So I pushed the kids in the double stroller for my own half marathon.  Then I nursed my daughter in the car and headed back to pick up Rick from the race. 

When I bring up these stories (also like this one), it is not to make anyone feel sorry for me or to make people impressed by what I did.  It is just to show that if you really want something, you will make it happen.  You won't let obstacles stop you.  I hope it can inspire you to try something you never thought you could do.  I am constantly getting inspiration by those around me  (Today I got reinspired by Ben Davis in the video found here.  Thanks, Runner's World!). 

In 2008 and 2009, I did not run it (I can't remember why, but having kids will do that to you!  I do remember volunteering as a course sentry one of those years).  In 2010, we were running the Marshall Marathon on that weekend.

All of this to say that I haven't run many half marathons for one reason or another.  I've run twenty-three marathons but only four half marathons.  I guess I would say that I prefer the marathon over the half, and my focus has been on training for and racing those events instead.  I've definitely had to become more selective about the races I do over the last five years.  The half marathons have kind of fallen by the wayside.  This year, though, Rick and I have a sitter for the kids, and we're both ready to compete! 

Setting My Goal For the Half Marathon

Looking back, my current PR is a 1:34:51.  Here's why I think I can beat that on Saturday:  My half split in Chicago was a 1:34:10!  But we all know that a half spilt does not count as a half marathon, so I will have to perform at my best on Saturday if I want to PR. 

While I was aiming for a 7:26 pace in the marathon, I will aim for around a 7:00 pace in the half.  Pace calculators like this one can help you figure out your overall time for a pace.  The 7:00 pace per mile is a 1:31:46.  The McMillan pace calculator puts my predicted half time at a 1:32:43 (7:05 pace) based on my most recent marathon time.  I would be happy with that time also; the goal is simply a new PR.

The biggest obstacle for me to achieve this will be the lack of speed work since the marathon.  I like to give myself sufficient recovery from marathons (I have tried shortcuts here in the past with awful results!).  I have taken my full 26 days of recovery (one day per mile raced).  I haven't pushed, except for two 5K races, since the marathon.  This can either mean that I'm fresh with a good base of training or that I'm out of shape from not doing speed work in a month.  No runs at a 7:00 pace can also hurt me as I try to find that pace during the half marathon.  It should feel slower than my 5K pace (by 30 seconds a mile) but faster than my marathon pace (by 30 seconds a mile).  This sounds nice and easy to me (but, of course, I am sitting at my computer and not attempting to run it!).

Most of my running group will also be at the half marathon on Saturday, some running their first half ever.  To all of the runners, I wish you luck and a great race!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bank of America Chicago Marathon Pictures

Here are some pictures from the Bank of Chicago Marathon:

Early morning excitement!
Rick, Katie, and our friend, Teddy

I love it!  Squeezing cold water on my head with discarded sponges all over the ground!
(Strange place to be taking pictures!)


Ahead of lots of men in this picture!

Lookin' tough
Don't mess with me!

I love the arms up in victory all around me!

Cool backdrop! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

IMT Des Moines Marathon October 18, 2009

Disaster Strikes

The IMT Des Moines Marathon on October 18, 2009 was the marathon-that-almost-wasn't for Rick and me.  I called it our unlucky state #14!  As I look back, it's probably the marathon that proved how tough I am and how much I want to be able to run marathons.  Not only would it have been easier to not run this marathon, it arguably would have been smarter and even safer too.  The things you really want sometimes involve risks, but they are worth it in the end.  They prove what you are made of.

Preparing for the Trip from Alabama to Iowa
We were preparing to run a marathon a month after our Maui Marathon on September 20, 2009.  It seemed like the best use of our training to find another marathon to run roughly a month after Maui.  We had done this before with good results, and we were eager to get back into marathons after a pretty big hiatus.  Iowa came up as a possible state since it was close to Wisconsin.  Wisconsin was where my younger sister, Laurie, lived at the time, and she was willing to come over to Iowa and watch the kids for us as we ran (to see the entry about how Laurie helped us during the Madison, WI marathon go here).  So that is how the IMT Des Moines Marathon came up as a possibility for us.

I am thankful for Rick, since he is a planner and I am more of a dreamer.  He planned this trip for us, mapping the route, making hotel reservations, and registering us for the race.  Everything was in place and going according to plan when his work called him to Cape Canaveral, Florida at the last minute, right before we were supposed to leave for Iowa.  I was crushed.  There was no way for him to make it back in time for us to drive up to Iowa together.  I started thinking that maybe I could drive up there alone.  Now, the kids were two and three years old back then, and the trip was almost 800 miles, or at least fourteen hours with stops.  And I never drive on our car trips thanks to a great husband who always drives!  All of these things were BIG obstacles for me to get around if I wanted to run the marathon.  And at the time, it was just for me.  We both decided that Rick's chances of getting up there to run it were very slim due to the work situation in the Cape.  I had decided to do the drive alone when, at the last minute, my mom refused to let me drive it solo and agreed to come along with me. 

The Trip Up 

The trip from Alabama to Iowa with two toddlers was pretty rough, and I really don't think I could have done it without my mom's help and a trusty GPS.  The thing that I remember most about the trip was stopping for dinner at Subway near the kids' bedtime (about 7:00 p.m.).  My mom was thinking we would be looking for a hotel in that city since we had been on the road all day.  I refused to stop, changed the kids into their nightclothes, and drove for five more hours while they slept in the back.  Those of you with young kids know that it is much better to get driving time in while they are sleeping.  I did not want to strap them in for five hours when they were fresh in the morning.  I wanted them to be in Iowa.  I was in rough shape when we arrived near 1:00 a.m. at the hotel.  As we shuttled sleeping children and luggage into the dark hotel, I wondered what I had been thinking when I decided that I could safely do this part alone.  I was thankful my mom was there.

At the hotel the morning after the day-long car ride
Day Before the Race

If I remember correctly, the drive occurred on Thursday, so we had all Friday to explore Des Moines. It turned out to be a great plan. We used a reciprocal gardens pass to visit their botanical gardens and shopped at a great mall.   Below is a picture of the yummy Cheesecake Factory cheesecake slice that we all split after lunch.

We used the GPS to find the expo, since Rick had programmed the directions in it before he left for his trip.  I--of course--picked up his packet too, but we still didn't know if he'd be able to get here to run the race.  He was trying to fly from Florida to Iowa with a midnight arrival time.  Oh yeah, and we told Laurie (a grad student who had a ton of work that weekend) that she did not need to come watch the kids after all since my mom was with us.  It turns out that two years later, we eventually found another race for her to help out at!

The next two pictures show us outside of the expo and at the pasta restaurant.  We brought spaghetti home to eat in the hotel room.  My son loves to tell the story of how he spilled his pasta all over the white hotel bed as he ate.  I think it is one of his earliest memories!

Outside the expo

Getting pasta to go
This picture sums up this trip to me---a mom first and a marathoner second. 

I tried to get some sleep in our little room while waiting to hear Rick's arrival at midnight.  I was so glad to hear the key in the door!  He had made it and would be able to run after all!  Little did I know that his experience in the marathon the next day would be less than ideal.

The Race
I don't remember too much about this race, but here's a bulleted list of the things I do remember:
  • Beautiful fall leaves on the streets (I loved the beautiful changing leaves!)
  • Bagpipe music being played on the course
  • Chatting with other runners
  • Beautiful rainbow bridge we ran over with little rainbows cast from little prisms in the railings
  • Getting sub 3:50 for the first time in five years
  • Waiting for Rick while sipping a free beer at the post race party (good sized marathon)
  • Buying our marathon medal display holder as an early Christmas present
1 8:35
2 8:13
3 8:16
4 8:39
5 8:51
6 8:33
7 8:25
8 8:28
9 8:27
10 8:20
11 8:20
12 8:07
13 8:29
14 8:32
15 8:27
16 8:22
17 8:19
18 8:42
19 8:50
20 8:56
21 9:14
22 9:24
23 9:40
24 9:54
25 9:23
26 9:31
.2 2:10

overall 3:49:19
8:46 pace

We made it back to the hotel relieved that all had ended well (that is, we both finished the state!).  For me, the 3:49:19 marked the first time in five years to go below a 3:50.  I raised my bar after that and no longer made my goal sub-four hours.  I credit my time at this race for giving me the confidence to run the 3:35 I got the following February at the Mardi Gras marathon.  I was getting the hang of running marathons while mothering young children!
Iowa finishers!

Returning Home

We returned home on a two day trip (yea!), stopping in St. Louis to stay the night at my aunt and uncle's house and to see Rick off on an airplane back to the Cape (where his hotel room there was waiting for him).  Above is the whole gang at my aunt and uncle's house. 

Below is a picture of the arch.  When I see this picture, I think about how I circled around and around the arch trying to get on a bridge that was on the GPS map but was actually closed for construction.  This picture reminds me of the hard work, courage, and pure stubbornness I used to make this marathon happen.  And that is why running was the easiest part of State #14. 

We circled this many times.