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