Thursday, December 20, 2012

Healing With A Good Run

The tragedy in Connecticut hit home for me.  I have a kindergartner and a first grader.  There is something so wrong about seeing my son's age beside the names of so many of the victims listed in the paper.  I am a teacher.  Now I teach preschool, but I taught in public school for 6 years before I had my kids. I knew the drills, the special code phrases signifying "gunman in the schools."  Get your kids out of harm's way NOW. Lock your classroom door.  Hide.  I watched a news story of a teacher who gathered her children and hid in the bathroom while the shooting happened in the next room.  She told her children that she loved them because she wanted that to be the last thing they heard and not the sound of bullets.  And she worried out loud to the reporter about that--about if it was okay to tell her students that she loved them.  There is something so wrong about that.  That we have to worry about telling our students that we love them, that God loves them.  It is too much for me to take.

The Monday after the shootings I dropped the kids off in a rush.  It was lightly raining as we walked to my son's school, and I had an 8:00 meeting in the preschool.  Walk fast!  Rush, rush.  

Tuesday, the weather was gloomy and foggy as we walked to the elementary school.  For some reason, a state trooper went right by the main road as we were heading up the little hill to the school.  Traffic was stopped by the crossing guard.  We all turned to see the car go by, sirens blaring.  For a second, my heart stopped just picturing that day in Connecticut.  It was like a piece---a tiny fragment---of the panic the parents must have felt as they heard sirens in their little town and saw the police cars heading to the school.  

Next I dropped off my daughter in car line at the preschool.  Our preschool decided to have some of the pastors and other men from the church assisting in car line after the shootings.  They want to provide a sense of safety and security (Though how we are supposed to feel safe anymore, I don't know.).  So a pastor opened the door for my daughter.  For some reason, seeing this big guy whose job is so much more "important" than this, reaching over to take my little girl's hand just choked me up.  That he would do this, that we would feel the need to have him here.  I left car line with tears in my eyes.

So it was on a whim that I responded to Jane's email asking if anyone was running this morning.  I had cleaning and shopping to do and really shouldn't "indulge" myself with a run just for me.  But I wanted to run with her.  I wanted her company and distraction.  I wanted something to feel normal.  And I didn't want to be alone in my thoughts.  

We decided on a time, and I drove to her house.  She was wanting 8 miles (one of her first 8 mile runs post-baby), but as I sat listening to Christmas music in my car, I added up the time and decided I could not get 8 in before preschool pick up.  No matter.  I would run as many as I had time for.

The sun was shining as we got started.  I truly forgot how much I enjoy running in warm, sunny weather with a friend.  It seems like I run alone and/or in the dark almost all of the time now.  Our talk flowed easily from topics like getting your baby to sleep through the night, to training for upcoming races, to family.  As we neared her house, I realized that I could probably finish the 8 miles if we sped up and if I didn't shave in the shower afterwards!  We sped up to an 8:40 mile, a fast pace for Jane as she's building her distance and speed back up.  I felt very alive and happy as we raced along, and I literally ran to my car, shouted a "good-bye," and started driving away in one solid motion (I even forgot to hit "stop" on my Garmin until I was driving away!).  

So what was this run today?  A time I "selfishly" chose to spend on myself though mounds of last-minute Christmas errands await.  A time to reconnect with a running pal.  A chance for conversations about our lives to take me away from the tragedy I've been so focused on.  

For just a moment, to enjoy the sun, and the feel of running, and the company of a good friend.

see Jane's post about our run here

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rocket City Marathon 2012 Race Report

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I got up today at 5:40 thinking that I needed to shower and get the kids ready to leave by 6:20 a.m. (they were going to my mom's house).  At 6:20, I called her in a panic and told her that I was running late and wouldn't be leaving the house until 6:25.  She asked, "Late?"  It turns out that I told her I'd bring them at 6:45!  As you can tell, I was nervous and had a lot on my mind.  So with the extra time, I set up the camera to take a quick picture of me before we left the house.

VERY helpful---taped a pace bracelet to the pace sign
Getting ready to leave the house
I drove the minivan to the start line, and my mom took over driving to take the kids back to her house.  Before they left, my son asked, "But Mommy, how come you get to run with a stick?  I thought you told us not to do that!"  Mom and I laughed about this one, and I explained that we are careful with the signs and we don't point the stick up!  It was about 7:15 a.m. by then, and I headed inside the Holiday Inn to wait and go to the bathroom.  A trick I learned was to hide my pace sign in my bag.  No one asked me about the course, etc. this year as I waited to go to the bathroom!
The Race
Everyone knew the weather would affect us this year.  We've had unseasonably warm temperatures, and the race started in the 50s and ended near 70.  Very warm for December!  I headed out to the start line at 7:45 and enjoyed not being cold, but later in the race I was sweating so much that I could almost wring out my shirt!  At the start, I was instantly swarmed by people who said, "We are glad you're here!"  What a nice welcome!  There are 1,500 people registered for this race, and the start line was not overly crowded.  People were spaced according to pace by large signs with pace ranges (3:30-3:45 etc.) being held by volunteers, and us pacers carried smaller signs with our specific paces. 

Rick came into the start area with a few minutes to spare.  He'd been doing course sentry volunteering since 4:00 a.m. that morning.  He was head of that area and served on the marathon committee, requiring lots of meetings and pre-marathon preparation.  The pacing was the last thing on his mind that morning, he told me, since the other work was important and had to be done.  Imagine if there wasn't someone at even one intersection or turn!  He also coordinated the sentry volunteers' shirts.  A free shirt is a small return for each person who stands outside for 4-5 hours directing the runners!  Through talking with Rick before and after the race, I gained a deeper appreciation for these volunteers.

After the gun sounded, we quickly passed the start line and began the race.  We are told to run off of chip time, so we pressed "start" on our watches about 17 seconds into the race (as we crossed the mat).  Rick wore two watches--his regular watch and our Garmin, but the Garmin wasn't working and shut off early in the race!  This could have been disastrous for our pacing, but we found our stopwatches and my pace bracelet (taped to my sign) to be adequate.

Our group was large for the first 15 miles or so, so Rick and I did not stay side-by-side the whole time.  I found it fun to pull alongside people and have conversations with them.  I ran into my friends Susan and Kristi and others I knew.  And I met many people, though I had trouble learning their names.  Two girls I called Blue Shirt and Pink Shirt stayed just in front of us for much of the race.  They were very consistent for being young and first-timers. 

The miles passed uneventfully in the beginning.  It felt like an easy pace to maintain (I have been running lots of miles at this pace for practice lately).  Rick and I had a runner in our group who helped us during the miles with his Garmin's times.  At each mile marker, I would announce the amount of time we had in the "bank."  At the halfway point, we had between 60-70 seconds banked.  Though even splits or even negative splits are nice, I think it was good to have a small cushion to allow for a little slowing down in the later miles.  And our Pace Team Coordinator had told us, "Based on the experiences of the last 2 years, most people found that being about 60 seconds faster than even pace through the first half worked the best. Your goal should be to finish between 0-60 seconds ahead of your time, no more."  We were right on pace. 

Right before we turned onto Chaney Thompson to head back along the half marathon course (about Mile 14.5), we saw Race Director and Fleet Feet Huntsville owner Dink Taylor on the course.  It turns out that he only came out for a little while to see how the course was flowing.  He's never done this before.  He later said that each pace group was easy to spot because they were huge!  Right before and after this, I saw a couple of friends on the side of the course.  Each was dropping out.  I was extremely sad for each of them and had to distract myself from thinking about them too much.  I knew I would hear their stories later, and I needed to be there for the runners around me. 

We are "peacekeepers" according to this photo caption
Picture found here
The End of the Race
Our group gradually faded, so much so that for the last 2-4 miles, we were on our own and running together (a nice little date!).  We took turns sharing favorite running quotes (my idea).  Mine was, "One day you will not be able to do this.  Today is not that day."  It really spoke to me today, since running with Rick like this was an unusual event.  We normally run our own pace in marathons, so we found this time to be enjoyable and special.  Since I wasn't racing, I found that I was able to trot/walk at each aid station and actually drink the water/Gatorade instead of sloshing it all over me like usual!  I also took things handed out on the course--a peppermint from "Santa" at Mile 24 and a salt packet before that (I guess because it was so warm?).  The salt was great!  The volunteers did a great job handing out the Gu.  I got 2 vanilla ones--one at 13 and one at 18.

With 2 miles left to go, I could feel fatigue setting in.  Rick said I was "taking off," but it felt like I was doing a 10 minute mile.  We were both having trouble judging pace without a Garmin by this point, but we wanted to try hard to still be on pace.  We intentionally slowed miles towards the end to bring our overall pace back to 3:45, using the pace bracelet for guidance on that.  If you look at our splits, Miles 22, 24, and 26 are slower miles, while Miles 23 and 25 were faster.  This shows some of the struggle we faced when trying to maintain evenly paced miles at the end.  It was hard pulling back because I knew we'd get there sooner if we sped up!  I encouraged several people as we passed them, but no one stayed with us.

I made sure to be loud as we neared the "one mile to go" sign.  "One mile left!!!!" I shouted.  And I asked each group of people we passed to cheer for the runners, knowing they would need the encouragement in this last mile.  Rick and I turned the corner to head to Mile 26, and I got a great feeling over me, knowing (or hoping) that we were about to see the kids at the finish.  They've never seen us finish a marathon for various reasons but mostly because they are at the hotel at the different states we travel to and not at the finish line.  Then, we saw them!  It was such a special moment for our family!  I loved it!  They were on the curb watching us, and Rick high-fived them as we passed. 
Seeing the kids on the curb with their grandpa
Heading to the finish at Mile 26.1(?)
Shortly after that, Rick grabbed his leg and said he had a cramp.  He stopped to hold it.  I don't remember my exact words, but I think I said, "Oh no you DON'T!!!!  Get up here!!!" I was not going to have him stop now!   He ended up being fine, and we headed towards the finish together.

Checking my watch as we near the finish line
I was saying, "Slow down, slow down" because he kept speeding up!  He had said we would "celebrate" at the end, but I thought that meant holding hands or high-fiving the crowds or something.  I knew we could be dead-on if we just maintained our pace.  No need to speed up!  It turns out, he had a surprise planned!  He grabbed me and pulled me in for a kiss---me and my snotty and salty face! It was very sweet, but I felt like a clutz and was completely taken by surprise! We were just short of the finish line for this, and, even though I liked the kiss, I wasn't done thinking about that finish.  So after that, we both crossed the mat together.   They have us listed at 3:44:37.

All photos below courtesy of Gregg Gelmis

Rick about to make his move (I am just to his left--see my sign?)

The reaction to this kiss has been really sweet.  I posted a picture on facebook and got lots of "likes."
Race Director Suzanne Taylor asked in an email, "Did Katie and Rick renew their vows at the finish line? WOOP!"  Rick replied to that, "It was a rare opportunity that Katie was within snaggin' distance at the finish. I had to take it. ;):"  Our Pace Team Coordinator even mentioned it in the blog and email to us pacers, "Rick and Katie Maehlmann wrapped up their flawless pacing duties with a kiss at the finish line."  It is a fun memory and something that I am glad Rick decided to do!

With our kids at the finish
We were given our medals and a finisher's hat.  It felt good to be finished, and I was happy to have been on pace at the finish.  I was a little bummed because I had run in size 9's and ended up with a black toenail, but other than that, I felt fine.  We met us with our family and stayed to cheer on some of the runners we'd seen that day.  We ate a great post-race lunch at the hotel of warm vegetable soup, ice cream sandwiches, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

We had a great time at the post-marathon banquet that night, sitting with some of Huntsville's fastest and funniest runners!  There was a mix of generations there, as the table next to us had some of the founders of the race and original runners (the race is in its 36th year). 

I've included my splits.  Rick was not right next to me the entire time so his differ by a bit.  You can see that they range from 8:16 to 9:03, when we were aiming for an 8:31ish pace.  Not bad, but we both agreed that we could have improved that with a Garmin.

1 8:33
2 8:32
3 8:24
4 8:30
5 8:20
6 8:44
7 8:26
8 8:39
9 8:24
10 8:28
11 8:16
12 8:38
13 8:33
14 8:30
15 8:35
16 8:39
17 8:35
18 8:24
19 8:40
20 8:31
22 9:03
23 8:18
24 8:50
25 8:22
26 9:00
.2 2:02

3:44:37 Overall (chip time) Pacer for 3:45 group

I plan to do another post about pacing (things we said along the way that I think were encouraging) and one about the media night I went to last week.  And more about training for Mountain Mist! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quick Pacer Update--Rocket City Marathon 3:45 Pacers

Rick and I managed to maintain pace yesterday and finished in 3:44:37!  I am happy to have finally been on pace as a pacer! :)  

This is us as we got ready to cross the finish line.  Nice to see a big smile on my face at the finish!  This was right after a very special moment that was captured on camera by the wonderful Gregg Gelmis.  Stay tuned for more pictures and the whole story!

Photo by Gregg Gelmis

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pacing--Third time's the charm?

On Saturday, I will pace in the Rocket City Marathon for my third time.  For those of you who are wanting to pace or learn more about pacing, here is a list of what I've done to prepare this time around:

1. Choose a pace that is reasonable for you to run.
In this document, our pace team coordinator Eric Charette states that all of the pacers have all run a marathon within the past year that is at least 20 minutes faster than the pace they are leading.  I think this is important to note.  You don't want to pace a group that is too fast for you (obviously), but you also don't want to pace one that's too slow for you either.

For this year's Rocket City Marathon, I am pacing the 3:45 group with a recent marathon time of 3:12. (33 minutes off)
In 2011, I paced the 3:55 group with a recent marathon time of 3:15. (40 minutes off)
In 2010, I paced the 4:15 group with a recent marathon time of 3:29. (46 minutes off)

This year, my time will be the most challenging for me to pace (since it's the fastest I've ever paced), but it will also correlate with a recent marathon time the best of all three times I've paced.

2. Run with someone who can help you keep the pace.
When Eric Charette said that he wanted two pacers on each time this year, I was very happy.  I knew that I could do this thing, but I've struggled to do it alone.  Guess who I found to pace with me?  My own husband!  I am reminded of a verse that was used in our wedding:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

It is soooo comforting to know that Rick will be there to help me do this (or to finish it if I can't).  He has so many strengths that I don't, and we balance each other well (in life and hopefully in pacing).  He is much more precise, better at numbers, knows the course better than me, thinks things out more in advance, etc.

3. Train at pace---and that means a few seconds faster than your pace.

I did a 20-miler last Saturday at an 8:31 pace (3:45 is an 8:35 pace).  No, I do NOT recommend that marathoners run their long runs at pace (they should go 30-90 seconds slower than marathon pace during long runs).  Pacing is different.  You should easily be able to do a run at pace, and you should do runs at pace to get familiar and comfortable running that pace.  It is good practice for the real thing.  

From my little mishap last year, I learned to add about .2 of a mile to your total distance and use the pace per mile for that distance and not 26.2.  I am a seasoned marathoner, but I never use a Garmin during marathons so I didn't realize that until last year!

4. Do an adequate taper, rest, and fuel.

Will this marathon be easy for us?  NO!  I am trying to prepare enough for this race without preparing too much.  If I don't prepare enough, I won't be ready.  If I prepare too much, I will not be getting the training I need for Mountain Mist (currently training for 50K trail run January 26, 2013).  So while this run will serve as a training run for me for Mountain Mist, I still must give it consideration and take care of myself the week before. 

Exciting news!  

I am being interviewed by local news stations about the marathon on Wednesday night.  Apparently, I was the top local female seed!  This honor usually goes to fellow teammate Candace, who is injured and not running this year.  When I was told about the interview, I instantly said, "Well, I'm not racing, I'm pacing," but they still wanted to interview me anyway.  I asked Rick and the kids to come along too.  The kids are excited that Mommy is going to be on t.v.!

Rick and I spent a long time tonight trying to explain to the kids why Mommy and Daddy are running but not racing.  We want them to understand why people pace.  We are hoping to help others reach their goals on Saturday and to encourage and support them.  We want our kids to know that when we run it is not always about us.  Yes, we get free entry and a training run out of the deal, but we are not doing this for us. This is a way for us to help others in a unique way.  Just like we can stuff packets for the marathon (and, yes, my whole family does this), this is something Mommy and Daddy can do for someone else.  It was hard to explain all of this to little kids.  They were probably more interested to learn that we get to carry signs when we run!

Kinnucan's Shorts

This is a short post, but it's one I didn't want to just leave in the Draft section of my blog like so many others.  Sigh.  There's just not enough time in the day.  

But anyway, I wanted to post about the pair of shorts you see below.  Back when I was an undergrad at Auburn, I got these shorts in a race packet--for free.  This was probably 15 years ago (now I feel old!).  The shorts were from Kinnucan's, a local sporting goods store in Auburn.  I remember liking to "window shop" in Kinnucan's but rarely buying anything.  So I loved these shorts. 

I wore them all the time to run in (yes, they were cotton, but I didn't know any better).  After I graduated, they eventually became pajama bottoms in the summer and then, strangely, maternity pants.  As you can imagine, the waistband got stretched out beyond belief and the elastic quit being elastic.  I knew it was time to throw them out, but I just couldn't.  So I did what Rick does when he decides to throw something sentimental away---I took a picture of them and them tossed them away.  And then I shared their story with you all.

Friday, November 30, 2012

That's What Friends Are For

Today's run was a 5:00 a.m. 6-miler with my group of friends.  I started the day on less than 5 hours of sleep--not good--and then I overdressed for the run--also not good.  I planned for 30s when it was more like 40s.  I'm running along realizing that I'm already sweating in the first mile when my blinkie light falls off. Batteries go flying and both parts of the light also fly to the ground.  And it's dark.  So now I'm tired and sweaty and I've lost my light. Not my day.  

My friends quickly found the two batteries and one piece of the light.  But the other piece was nowhere to be found.  I decided to stay and look for it and told the group to go on and that I would catch up.  My two friends Alice and Allison stayed with me even though I was insisting that they go on.  The group was getting further and further ahead, so I told them, "This just isn't my day.  Go on!  I need to shed some clothes at the car anyway.  I'll just finish my run alone."  I figured I would eventually find the light.  I HATE losing things and have been known to hunt for hours at home trying to find something.  Sometimes just finding the item becomes more important than the item itself!

But these two friends stayed, and, with heads bent, searched for that little piece of my light.  At the same time, they spotted it after a couple minutes of looking.  I was relieved because I knew that I would have been out there until it was found.  I am that stubborn and thrifty.  

As I looked up from reassembling my light, I saw the rest of my group of friends (3 girls and a dog!) returning for us.  It was one of those moments where I was so thankful for my group of friends.  We've been through lots and lots of runs together, supporting each other, lending an ear to listen to, and---today---giving me a sign that I am cared about.   

I meant to include this on my blog weeks ago, and then the holidays came and I put it off and put it off.  It's time to mention it!

Eight girls in my running group ran the Seven Bridges Marathon back in October.  This was a first for 4 of them and something they trained for together while I was training for Baltimore at a different pace.  So I missed most of the runs they did, including almost all of their long runs.  But I kept up through email and my Monday runs with the group.  I eagerly awaited the results the day of the race and got a text from my friend Julia shortly after the finishes.  This group did awesome with all runners getting under 4:30 (their original time goal).  As someone who is lucky to be their friend, today I want to say how proud I am of each of them and how thankful I am for our friendship--and the running that unites us all.

Some of my running group friends after their Seven Bridges Marathon finishes!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Christmas Cards?

So I had to laugh when I opened up an email from the photographers who were at the Cotton Row Runs.  Apparently, the picture below would look great on this Christmas card they sent me!  Really?  Okay, my Christmas cards are DONE!

NOT my Christmas card this year :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Full Circle: Returning to Rocket City for my 28th Marathon

I am less than a month away from my next marathon--the Rocket City Marathon here in my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama.  This will be my fifth time to run Rocket City and my third time to pace it.  But this year's marathon marks a big "full circle" kind of moment for me---I am pacing the 3:45 group, hoping to get the same time I got in my first ever marathon here 11 years ago.

And my pacing partner?  None other than my husband, Rick!  We ran a little of my first Rocket City marathon together 11 years ago (as friends, we were not even dating at the time!), and now we will run together as a husband/wife pacing team.  I never would have believed we'd be doing this if you told me 11 years ago!  I just love how the Rocket City Marathon holds so many memories for me, and we will be making more in less than a month!  I am very thankful for the chance to pace with Rick and look forward to getting just under pace with his help this year (see my unsuccessful attempts at pacing below)!

Rocket City Marathon Huntsville, AL December 8, 2001 3:45:43

Rocket City Marathon  (#2) Huntsville, AL December 11, 2004 3:31:24 

Rocket City Marathon (#3) Huntsville, AL December 11, 2010 4:12:47 pacer for 4:15 group (read race report here)

Rocket City Marathon (#4) Huntsville, Alabama December 10, 2011 3:55:50 pacer for 3:55 (read race report here)

Do you have any races that hold many memories like this for you?  

Which marathon have you run multiple times and why?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Huntsville Half Marathon

The Huntsville Half Marathon was held on Saturday, November 10, 2012.  Rick and I were both able to run since we had sitters for the kids at the race.  This race has a big turnout of nearly 900 people, including a couple who got married during the race (see here)!  The weather was almost 50 degrees and sunny at the start.  

I'd had a bad cough that had been lingering for over a week, but it wasn't bothering me too much this morning.  I didn't train hard for this race (Rick's been out of town some the last 2 weeks so I've had limited running), but I figured I was in decent shape and would try to get close to my time from last year (1:30:53).

I went into the race much too fast.  Not seeing the first mile marker was hard for me, though I somewhat judged my time by the people I knew around me.  I vied for a spot among the top women during the first few miles.  Kathy and I went back and forth a little and ran together some, and Kylie and I did the same until I passed her around Mile 5.  At Mile 8, Kathy kept going and I fell back.  I knew I'd started too fast and saw my splits get higher and higher.  I think being sick all week took a lot of my strength and energy today, and I just tried to hold on as long as I could.  I was doing some bad math in my head and thought I could still PR, but I missed it by 30 seconds.  My time was 1:31:17, a time I'm happy with given the conditions for me today.  

A new friend and blog reader, Alison Fields, took this picture of Kathy and me approaching Mile 7.  We are on the greenway section of the course.

Kathy and Katie
Picture by Alison Fields

Miles 1-2 13:29
Mile 3 6:47
Mile 4 6:57
Mile 5 6:37
Mile 6 6:50
Mile 7 6:55
Mile 8 7:02
Mile 9 7:12
Mile 10 7:07
Mile 11 7:07
Mile 12 7:32
Mile 13 +.1 7:37
1:31:17 Official Time (7:00 pace)
4th Overall Female

A Few Numbers:

*So here are the ages of the top 8 woman: 26, 38, 22, 35, 25, 24, 26, 28.  Kathy is 38, and I am 35.  She remarked after the race that we are still running strong, just as we were a decade ago.  I am proud to have held my own amongst all of the youngsters in this race!  

*A generic rule-of-thumb is that you take your half marathon time, double it, and then add 10 minutes, and you get what you can run a marathon in.  Well, if you apply that formula to my half today, you will get 3:12:32, almost to the second what I got in Baltimore last month (3:12:31).  McMillan calculates my half marathon time at 1:31:29 given my Baltimore time.  So my half marathon time correlates very well with my recent marathon time.

It was great having Gregg Gelmis take pictures of us before and after the race.  Below are Julia and Kylie with me.  Both girls did amazing out there today too.  Julia got a PR of 1:37 and ran a good race.  Kylie is proving to be tough competition for me.  We are both pushing each other at many local races.  Her strength is definitely in the 5Ks and 10Ks, but she is training for her first marathon now, and I'm sure she will do well at that distance too.

Katie, Julia, and Kylie
Running group friends Allison and Michelle also finished strong today.  I am wearing a finisher's shirt from today's race in this picture.

Julia, Katie, Allison, and Michelle
Kathy placed first in our age group but got an overall prize, leaving me to get first in the age group.  This race has the best age group awards I've ever seen.  For ONE race, I got a coffee mug with race logo, nice glass plaque, reflective runner's vest (got one last year and LOVE it and wear it all the time), AND gift card to Fleet Feet.  Awesome prizes!

LOTS of goodies!
Closing Thoughts
I would love to train for and race another half marathon.  Doing only one a year doesn't give me much room for improvement, especially since I was getting over an illness today.  I am considering adding one more half marathon into my winter racing schedule.  I would love to get my time under 1:30 one day, and I think I could if I trained more specifically for this distance.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Halloween Run

I have not found time this year to squeeze in single stroller runs like I used to last year or even solo day time runs when both kids are in school.  With my son in the elementary school now, I have been going in to eat lunch with him or to volunteer on my off days from working at the preschool.  Rick was out of town for work last week and for part of the week before too, so I was using the elliptical machine every morning instead of getting my usual runs.   

On Halloween, I was feeling tired of using the elliptical machine for 3 days in a row with another one coming the next day.  I had taco soup in the crock pot going for dinner, and I knew the trick or treating wouldn't start until 6 or so.  It left me enough time to fit a run in before dinner!  I dressed and gathered the kids.  I dropped an enormous golden delicious apple into each of their laps as we got started, which they happily gnawed at for almost the entire duration of the run.  That sort of made up for all of the candy they would be eating later, right?

If you ask me, there is something special about running on holidays.  I LOVE Turkey Trots and even ran the Atlanta Marathon on Thanksgiving Day once.  Before kids, I used to get up and do a quick run on Christmas morning.  I could almost feel the anticipation and excitement in the air.  My eyes devoured the sights of decorated houses and my mind worked overtime picturing all the Christmas morning surprises happening inside them.  It's as though running while seeing all of this makes it more real to me.

Halloween was like that today too.  There was a wonderful sense of excitement all around us.  I ran through neighborhoods we hadn't seen all season, so the decorations were new and thrilling to us.  The kids commented on many of them in between bites of their apples!  We saw people scurrying to finish up decorations--one house in particular with 4 or 5 life-sized scary "dummies" placed all around the yard.  I had no idea so many people decorated on a big scale like that!  My daughter used the peaceful run to sit quietly and almost fell asleep, a good thing since we were staying up 2 hours past bedtime tonight!

I felt the enormous freedom that comes from getting to do an expected run.  It's amazing what a run can do to help you feel not so tied down when you are playing "single mom" for a few days.  The sun glowed yellow and orange as it started creeping low on the horizon.  The changing leaves and the pumpkins everywhere were a beautiful mix of yellows, oranges, and reds.  I managed a slow 5 miles and felt so much better after that run, even though I was unaccustomed to running while pushing so much weight.  I didn't manage to find time to shower before trick or treating, but I changed into fresh clothes and--hey--we were outside!  

This run was something different and special.  Maybe a run on Halloween afternoon isn't the first thing on most people's to do lists, but it was for this mom on this day.  It turned out to be a great thing for all three of us.

Spider and pumpkin trick or treat

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Another 5K PR: I Could Get Used to This!

I ran the Spooktacular 5K in cold and windy conditions on Saturday, October 27, 2012.  This race held my old 5K PR (20:01).  It is a fairly flat course and at a good time of year for running fast.  The weather is cool, and marathon season has begun.  Many people dress in costumes for this race and run just for fun (like my friend Julia who dressed up as a nose!), but there are also plenty who race more seriously instead.

So I got a 19:33 today!  Now that I have gotten two 5K PRs in two weeks (19:40 last week), I don't know why it took me so long to get these lower times.  Why did I stay at the 20 minute range for so long?  I think a part of why I am doing well right now is that I am looking at these races as "last chances."  I am trying to give them all I've got.  

I am vain.  I did not want another bad race picture (see my last two entries!), so I managed to watch my form and give a smile to our great local photographer, Gregg Gelmis, who is always out at the races taking pictures.  I really like the picture he took (see below) which was taken at Mile 3 when I was feeling VERY tired!

Mile 1--6:12  I intentionally went slower than last week's 1st mile.  I knew that was a bad idea last week and I wanted more even splits today.  Trailed behind same two girls--Candace and Kathy plus newer-to-Huntsville runner Kylie.

Mile 2--6:25  Windy and alone for this section.  Hard to stay motivated!

Mile 3--6:16  Was asking myself, "How bad do you want this?" because I really wanted to slow down.  I kept trying to catch Kylie (who was being paced by her husband) to no avail.

Finish time 19:34 (19:33 chip time) 6:18 pace 4th OA Female 

Rick also PRed today, and we brought our kids and tried out some new babysitters who met us at the race.  

I would love to work on whittling this time down even more, but I am not sure how many more 5Ks I will be doing in the next few months.  The next PR I would LOVE to beat is my 10K time.  It is the only one from my days before having kids that I haven't beaten on this side.  I would also love to get where I feel good while running one of these things.

Start line (I am to far right behind mustache guy :))
All photos by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville
I am smiling at the camera---not wanting any more bad picture of me!!!!
(near left about 3 rows back)
Finishing a PR 5K!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baltimore Race Pictures

So I'm not really thrilled with any of these pictures, though I wish I was.  It would be fun to buy a picture from my PR marathon, but I have a weird expression or just look awkward in most of these.

This was taken as we were walking to the start line.  You can see how cold we are by our red noses and how my arms are sort of frozen in place in front of me like that.  We probably should have worn clothes to throw off after the start.  It was in the 40's.

This one is my favorites.

WHY am I smirking like that????  And I look sloutchy or something.

That is better.  

The skin on my cheek is all saggy here!!  I think this is around Mile 20 since I am holding what looks like a Gu.

I managed a smile!  Feeling TIRED here.

And now the finish line photos.  WHY did I think to raise my arms like this???  I look like I am in a stick up!  Look at that chicken skin hanging down....hmm, note to self: do NOT raise your arms again in a finish photo AND let's work on toning those arms!

And that's about it!!  Not my best race photos.  

I am beginning to think about my fall line up: Spooktacular 5K this weekend, Huntsville Half November 10, and Rocket City Marathon (pacer) December 8.  I have to come up with a training program that combines all of those.  This week I've been taking it VERY easy.  I'll be ready to train harder next week!  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another PR--Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K

I ran the Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K on Saturday, October 20, 2012.  See my entry here about last year's race. My situation was pretty much identical to last year's.  Like last year, I was running as part of my preschool work team in honor of two breast cancer survivors at my school.  Also like last year, I had just done a marathon a week earlier (Chicago last year and Baltimore this year).  So I was going into the race pretty unprepared to race hard, but still willing to give it my best effort.

I started the race with Candace and Kathy, two girls from my Fleet Feet team.  Liz Hurley herself started the race and took some pictures with all of us women at the start line (the men's race was earlier).  What a sea of pink!

Candace, Katie, Kathy
All pictures courtesy of Gregg Gelmis with We Run Huntsville.

Liz Hurley at the race start (We are directly behind her in this picture.)
In the first mile, I ran with Kathy.  Candace had the lead.  After hearing the split for the first mile, I slowed a little, knowing that the third mile was harder since it had an uphill.  I wasn't going to be able to keep up that pace.  Kathy passed me and eventually one more female--someone we didn't know--did too.

Start line (we are in the middle, front row)
Kathy and Katie
I pushed hard in the 3rd mile after cresting the hill.  I didn't know if I could PR today or not, but I knew it was a possibility.  I gave it my all and look very serious and determined in these photos.  I am very near the finish line in these.

It looks like I am about to suck my thumb in this one!
When I saw low 19 on the clock as I approached, I knew I had done it!  I crossed the finish line in 19:40 (chip time).  I am very surprised that I was able to PR today given the conditions.  Kathy pointed out to me that the Spooktacular 5K held next weekend is a much faster course and a better one to PR at.  So maybe I can beat this time next weekend!  I am happy to see my 5K time finally getting lower into the 19's. According to the McMillan Calculator, my 3:12 marathon translates to a 19:42 5K.  Pretty close!  So now two new PRs, one week apart!

Mile 1 6:01
Mile 2 6:37
Mile 3+.1 7:05 (6:26 pace)
19:40 6:21 overall pace
4th overall female, 2nd in age group

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Baltimore Marathon 2012 Race Recap

Start Line
It was a cold morning (low 40s), and Rick and I huddled in our car for awhile before getting out.  We made it to the finisher's area to drop off gear and use the porta-potties a little less than an hour before the race. We waited until the last minute to drop our gear since we each only had a singlet and shorts to start in. We were freezing!  We walked with the crowds to the start area--about a 1/2 mile or so.  The start area was just crammed full when we got there, and we had to squeeze into the start area and were tightly packed in. We were somewhere around the 3:20 pacer but couldn't advance at all.  People were shoulder-to-shoulder.

Miles 1-9 
7:04, 7:07, 7:25, 7:13, 7:05, 7:15, 7:03, 7:07, 7:13--Easy Running
Once the race started, I knew I wanted to make sure I was closer to the 3:10 pace group.  I hadn't intended to run with them, but I started with them.  Their first mile was fast--7:04--but I still didn't drop back.  I enjoyed the company and the knowledge that we were running an even pace.  These first few miles were easy and relaxed, and we fell into a nice rhythm of pace miles mixed with slightly faster ones.  I was not bothered by the elevation gain in the first 3 miles.  I fueled at Mile 5 and 9, trying something I learned from Tia.  I was wearing a pace bracelet marked with the miles I was supposed to fuel at.  I usually don't fuel so early on in the race, but I wanted to see if it would help me at the end.  I used Sportbeans as fuel (4 packs total) and intended to use 2 Gus provided along the course.

Miles 10-18 
7:13, 7:31, 7:05, 7:03, 7:16, 7:16, 7:16, 7:15, 7:15--Amazingly Even Splits!
I am impressed by how even our splits were for most of these miles.  We found a good rhythm and stuck with it.  I remember seeing Rick and Teddy around Mile 11 as we crossed going to/from the Under Armour facility (the race's main sponsor).  They saw me with the 3:10 pace group, and I saw them together (I wasn't sure they would be able to find each other in all of the congestion at the start line).  Rick and I were both happy for each other.

Miles 19-26.2 
14:55 (2 miles), 7:37, 7:52, 15:07 (2 miles), 8:15, 8:56 (26 +.2 miles)--Finishing Strong?
I know with 2 combined mile splits it makes it hard to see how I did for this section, but I think the fastest mile for the part was around a 7:30 with the rest being closer to an 8:00.  This section was hilly (up to mile 22).  At Mile 18, the pace group cruised on, and I stayed a little behind them so that I could slow to fuel.  They had been talking about how much time was banked (30 seconds or so), so I know I could stay a little behind them and still get a 3:10.  I never saw the course Gu at Mile 12, so I hadn't taken anything since Mile 9.  I took some Sportsbeans and tried to hang on.  I just could not.  I struggled with the hills.  I was also bothered by seeing LOTS of people passing me near the end.  Rick later told me those were half marathoners, but, at the time, I thought I was getting passed and it made me feel very slow!  It is such a mind game in those last few miles.  I also noticed that I could not eat at the end.  I took some more Sportsbeans and a Gu somewhere in those last few miles.  I could not choke down the beans and spit them out onto the road.  I have to work on fuel at the end of the race.

So in the 20's, I knew I did not have the 3:10 once I started seeing my pace bracelet's times and not seeing the now-vanished 3:10 pacers.  I was okay with it at the time but still disappointed.  I started going through all of the "What if's" in my head.  NOT a good way to pump myself up for the finish.  When I finally saw the finish area, I was very relieved.  I crossed the line in 3:12 something, a new PR but short of my goal of a 3:10.  My calves started cramping and I felt a huge desire to lay down on the ground, so I did.  And I sat.  Yes, I know how bad that is, but it felt better than standing.  Shortly after I convinced myself to stand up, I saw Rick.  He'd gotten a 3:15.  I felt bad when he asked how I did, and I said, "3:12" and he said, "Awwww" and made a little face.  I wanted to be able to say 3:10.  He wasn't trying to make me feel bad; he was just showing the disappointment he felt in knowing I was disappointed.

We grabbed a free beer and headed over the pick up our official time from the TMobile station.  After we got our gear bags, I quickly took a couple of Advil and put on warm clothes.  I felt MUCH better then, and my calves felt better too.

Thoughts After the Race
I ran a 3:12:31 on Saturday in the Baltimore Marathon.  Rick and I talked afterwards, and we both met what we'd call the "A-" goal for ourselves at the race.  I am incredibly thankful for a great race and another PR; in fact, I'm so amazed that God would give me another race like this just one year after the Chicago Marathon.  Two years of PR marathons separated by all that's happened this year--wow.  I thought Chicago was the race of a lifetime for me, but now I realize that I might still have even faster times in me!  I missed my goal of a 3:10, but this experience has only made me want it more.  I will take what I've learned from this race and use it to drive my next training program.

Thanks for sticking with this to read this all.  The encouragement of my friends (both local and all over the nation) means so much to me.  You all are holding me accountable for something I might never do without your advice, encouragement, and support.  I hope one day to get that 3:10 and to share that experience with you all!

Now stay tuned for some of the WORST marathon pictures of myself I have even seen!  I have the most awful expressions and positions in these.  They are so awful they are funny!

Baltimore Marathon 2012 Trip Recap

Baltimore Marathon 2012 Trip Recap---Race Recap to Follow!

Thursday, October 11, 2012
We headed up to Nashville at 5:20 a.m. (only 20 minutes behind schedule!) to pick up Monika, Rick's sister-in-law.  After that, it was a long day in the car.  We always like to pack a picnic lunch and eat and play at a park the first day we travel, since it saves money and burns some of the kids' energy.  Rick found a good one, the Warriors' Path Sate Park in Tennessee.  There was the strangest exhibit from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Just look at the Mr. Tumnus statue below!  Finally, we reached the hotel near 9:00 p.m.  What a long day on the road!

Beautiful leaves along the way
Mr. Tumnus statue at the park
Great park with huge playground for the kids!
Friday, October 12, 2012 
I was going to get up and run 2 miles today, but Rick used today as another rest day so I decided to as well.  That made 2 rest days before the marathon.  We made it to the Expo at 10 a.m.  The kids had the best time walking around and getting free stuff!  It was a little annoying to have to walk through all of the vendors twice just to get our numbers and shirts.  They had them on opposite ends presumably so we'd have to go through twice.  Then we headed to the Port Discovery Children's Museum for hours of fun!  We love visiting different children's museums on each trip we make.  This one was great but way too crowded with field trips in the morning hours.

Our family at the finish area (near expo)
Port Discovery Children's Museum
We enjoyed visiting some of the tourist places around the Inner Harbor for the rest of the afternoon.  We went to the Top of the World and the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.  Ours kids found many things  in the city to be fascinating--the birds (pigeons and sea gulls), the boats, the street performers, riding in the fast elevator to get to the observation level, etc.

Going to the "Top of the World"
Great views of the city!  
We carbo-loaded at Noodles and Company with our good friends, Teddy and Angie, and their children.  It was a noisy, busy, and fun night, and it didn't leave me much time or energy to be concerned about the race.

My pesto and mushroom pasta dish
Saturday, October 23, 2012

I will do a recap of the race in my next entry, but here is a picture of us after we finished the race.

State #22 completed!
We headed back to the Inner Harbor for another afternoon of fun.  I wasn't sure how my legs would feel in the paddle boat, but they were fine!

Street performer with a huge crowd!
Dragon paddle boats
Flag in the harbor
Sunday, October 14, 2012

We headed home around 5:30 a.m. our time (they are an hour ahead), and we repeated the all-day car trip home.  We were all VERY glad to get home around 8:00 p.m. that night!

Here is my info from the race: