Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Bunny Ears and Peeps: The Scottsboro Half Marathon Race Report

See race website here

Pre-Race--the Week Before
We don't have many local half marathons, so when nearby Scottsboro opened up a new one this year, many local runners, including me, took note. 

Even though I had already registered a couple of weeks ago, I actually only decided to do this race for sure on Friday, March 29.  I knew that I was going to be able to run it, and I assumed that I could keep around a 7:00 pace given my recent marathon time (3:16 --7:30 average but first half was under 7:15 pace).  Plus I knew that McKay Hollow Madness (25K trail run last weekend) was a good training run.  But I hadn't trained specifically for the half at all.  I figured I could hope for a time somewhere around 1:32 or so. 

Last week was our Spring Break, so I opted to sleep in and run/workout later in the day.  I ran twice in the neighborhood (Wednesday and Friday) while the kids stayed at the house.  They are just getting old enough so that I can do this.  Wednesday's 7-miler (7:00 pace) was one of the days.  It was my first run since McKay Hollow, and I felt very good during and after the run. 

Rick picked up my packet for me on Friday.  It included a sports bottle, chapstick, and gum.  Pretty nice!  Finally, I decided---I would run it!  I was glad that the race was an hour away and that I would have some time to myself (after being at home with the kids all week through lots of cold days spent inside the house!).

Saturday, March 30, 2013
I arrived at the race start after 7:30 a.m. with less then 30 minutes to spare.  Once inside, I saw a huge line for the girls' bathroom but a much shorter line for the guys'.  When some girls suggested heading into the guys' bathroom, I agreed to go too.  We made a separate line for the stalls (and avoided looking in the direction of the urinals) and took care of our business quickly.  I don't think the men minded too much (most seemed amused), and I am glad we did it because I would not have gotten to go otherwise.   

The Race
Before the race started, I looked around for familiar faces in the front.  I noticed several Fleet Feet teammates since some were leading pace groups today.  I also spotted the newest teammate, my friend, Julia!  We both noticed a girl in the front that looked pretty fast.  I know I could have just talked to her, but instead I checked out the pace bracelet that she had attached to her arm.  I made out the first mile--6:51.  "That's going to be first place," I predicted to Julia.  

Then the race started, and I took off.  That girl was indeed in the front.  My first mile was 6:50.  I really had no agenda as far as pace--just to try to stay under 7:00 as long as I could.  I wasn't wearing a Garmin since ours is having trouble charging, so I had to rely only on the mile markers.  In Mile 2, I was approaching the first place girl and thought I would surge to see if she stayed with me or not.  I did, and she did not follow.  Mile 2 was a 6:24---too fast!  I'm not even sure where that came from, because I haven't run a mile that fast in training in a long time!  That is why competition is good for me.

I stayed in the front for the rest of the race, although that girl was very close behind me at times.  It helped a lot that another runner was right around my pace and we kept going back and forth.  The race was not too well marked, and there were a few places where it helped having someone else there to verify we were going the right way.  After not seeing the mile marker for Mile 11, I shouted back to that guy, "Are we going the right way?  Where was the mile marker?"  He assured me that we were and that we just missed it. 

Several spots on the course were places where we "doubled back" on the course, so we could see/cheer for other runners as we ran in the opposite direction.  I loved cheering for many of my friends and hearing them cheer for me.  It was a good distraction.

This course had many rolling hills that only slightly affected me.  As I said before, my concentration was thrown off a little by my having to think carefully about the course.  I think it could have been better marked.  The aid stations were fine, though, and I took water at each one and 3 packets of gel during the race (I had brought 2 but took 1 that was offered also). 

I had a complete "Katie" moment as I rounded the corner for the finish line.  I started sprinting for the finish (nice because I never feel like doing this in a full!), and I didn't see where we were supposed to turn, so I cut a corner short!  I went into a handicapped spot that was right before the corner we were supposed to turn at.  I instantly turned around and retraced my steps so that I could run the course.  But the little episode cost me a few seconds and happened with all of the crowd watching!  I managed to finish with two seconds off of my PR!  I was 11th overall and first female.

Post Race 
I wasn't planning to stay long after the race so that I could get back home to my family.  But then I ran into several friends and also stayed to see others finish.  All of the pacers ran in bunny ears, and I laughed as my pacer friend skipped into the finish while holding hands with another pacer!  Julia finished in 1:37 and was 3rd overall.  Many of my church friends had run today, and we all chatted for awhile and took a picture. 

Willowbrook friends
Picture by Jay Maher
At the awards ceremony, I talked with my friends, Jane and Julia. And I enjoyed eating many Peeps---a post-race snack offered at this race! I was surprised to be given a plate, free shoes, and $100 cash as a first place prize!  I imagine there will be more competition next year since they have a cash prize like that!

On the way up, I had joked with Rick about not having enough money for gas (I was driving his car, which was low on gas, and I had only brought $4).  After I texted him about my win, he remarked back as a joke, "Good! Gas $!"   Even though I was on empty, I really didn't want to use my new bill, so I bought $4 in gas and coasted home on that!

Ending Thoughts
I wasn't even planning to run this race, so winning the race and also PRing was a big accomplishment for me.  As I have said before, I really do wish I could train specifically for a half, but I just prefer the full.  And I really do want a break from the long distances now.  I enjoyed the drive today, the company at the race, and even the race itself.  I felt great at the finish (probably happens when you are more used to marathons!).  There were a few things I noticed today at the race that I hope they correct for next year, but all-in-all I think it was a great inaugural event.  I enjoyed the rest of my day getting ready for Easter (including shopping for a couple of hours in the rain for my Easter dress!). 

My prizes for first place

Easter 2013

Happy Easter!
Mile 1-6:50
Mile 2-6:24
Mile 3-6:56
Mile 4-6:49
Mile 5-6:55
Mile 6-6:54
Mile 7-7:04
Mile 8-6:59
Mile 9-7:01
Mile 10-7:05
Mile 11 and 12-14:10 (7:05 average)
Mile 13-6:55

Gun Time: 1:30:52
Chip Time: 1:30:51
Overall Place: 11
Gender Place: 1
Pace: 6:56

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

McKay Hollow Madness Trail 25K Race Report

Here is the race website.
Results can be found here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013 7:00 a.m.

Rick, the kids, and I headed up to Monte Sano Mountain around 6:15 a.m. in the pouring rain!  I wasn't too worried about me (as I am accustomed to running in the rain), but I was concerned for the kids.  I kept thinking back to this day when they were wet and miserable.  I had packed all of their rain gear in the hopes of keeping them dry today.  They would be helping Rick with the aid station at Mile 5.

We arrived at the race start with about 15 minutes to spare.  It was around 47 degrees and still drizzling rain.  A small pavilion housed the start/finish line spectators and was packed full of people trying to stay out of the rain.  Rick pulled me up as close to the pavilion as possible, and I hopped out and headed for the bathrooms.  I was cold from getting wet in just that short walk/jog. 

I was seeded 6th today and was hoping for another first overall female win.  I lined up at the start with Christy Scott, an amazing ultra runner who's training for a 100 mile event in a couple of months.  She's a fellow Fleet Feet teammate and a great girl.

Race number

Lined up and ready to start! (Dink Taylor, me, and Christy Scott)
All pictures from We Run Huntsville taken by Gregg Gelmis
I have to note that the guy on the left in the picture above is our local Fleet Feet store owner, Dink Taylor.  He is an insanely amazing runner.  Today in the race, he got 3rd place, but he missed getting 2nd because he had a nasty fall and cracked a rib and gashed up his leg!  He kept on running---through the pain.  He is so tough!
The Race 
Unfortunately, I was talking with another girl as the race started and missed hitting start on my Garmin until a quarter mile or so into the race.  So all of my splits don't compare "apples to apples" with last year's.  And there's no mile markers for this race!  Going only based on overall pace, I knew from the start that I was slower than last year.  I was okay with it because I haven't been on the trails since Mountain Mist and I've been recovering from an awful stomach bug.  I was happy to still be in first place for the women.
The rain and mist was intermittent (see picture below).  So visibility was not great.  I chose to wear a visor to keep the rain out of my eyes, but--oh man--I am not used to wearing a visor on the trails!  In Stone Cuts (a section of huge boulders that you have to walk through), we took a hard left and started a climb.  I could not see above me since I was wearing my visor, and I hit the top of my head---hard!---on a boulder above me.  This was in the 2nd mile of the race.  I remember thinking that I was glad no one was around me to see it!  I also took a spill in the Stone Cuts and had another almost fall on a steep downhill section (where I saved myself from a hard fall by grabbing a tree trunk).  Though I wasn't hurt from either event, falling like this blows my confidence to go fast.  Today was just too wet and slippery to push too hard out there.  I realized that early on in the race.
Race Start (I am in red near front to the right)
For some visuals, take a look at the mud and puddles today! 

I was relieved to see the kids were happy when I stopped at Aid Station #1 (Mile 5).  They told me great stories later of bumping along trails in our SUV as Rick hauled the tables, coolers, and tent needed for the aid station (it required the tailgate to be precariously left open!).  Apparently, there were lots of leftover Clif Bloks, so Rick and the other aid station volunteer were told to take many home with them.  What a nice surprise!  We plan to share these with our running friends.  Rick was also given a free taco meal at the end of the race (racers and volunteers ate for free).  Last weekend, I was given a $2 discount coupon for another HTC event.  It is refreshing to see how the race directors reach out and show appreciation to the volunteers in ways like these. 
Some free Bloks!
I made it to the 2nd aid station (Mile 10) without much difficulty.  I was enjoying trying to keep two guys (I called them "white shirt" and blue shirt") in my sights.  At the aid station, I passed them both, but they soon caught back up and we chatted for awhile.  After talking over their times and previous race experience, I realized that I could pull ahead of them and finally chose to do that with a couple of miles left to go. 
The Finish
Mile 15 (or so) was a slow steep uphill climb of 17:43.  I included the picture below of another runner crossing a section of stone that was turned into a small waterfall today!  This is right at the top of the hill.  You are very close to the finish line here.  I approached the finish line and thought it was strange because it was deserted!  I no longer noticed the rain, but it had started up again lightly.  Everyone was inside the pavilion gathered around the edges to watch the runners finish!
Waterfall finish!
I finished in 2:37:31, missing my time from last year by several minutes.  I am okay with that though.  Today I was 10/172, and last year I was 15/189, so I improved my overall ranking today.  I was first overall female today and won a pair of Solomon trail shoes and a FF gift card.  And a little snail puppet.  Gotta love the race director, Blake!

I warmed up in front of this awesome fire and enjoyed a brunch of a taco, chips, and salsa and a Coke!

Here are the goods!
Awards for first overall female
After Thoughts
Of course, whenever I finish a trail race I think, "If only I'd trained more on the course!"  But then it never happens.  We live over 30 minutes from the trails, and it's just easier to get our runs in from our house instead of adding in an hour drive.  I'd rather be with my family than spend all day on the trails.  
This year, I managed to win first overall female at both of the big local trail races--Mountain Mist 50K and now McKay Hollow Madness 25K.  Ultra runners use a website, Ultra Signup, as a way to gauge performances in ultra events.  Here is my data from there.  I see the runner ranking as kind of like a grade, and my "grade" for the 12 events that are listed here is 89.1%.  Previous Mountain Mists were a 76% and a 69%, and today's performance was a 100%.  Kind of an interesting way of looking at things, though it's only one way of evaluating your performance.  Basing your success on how well you "beat" others doesn't really tell you much about how you did in a race.  I prefer comparing myself to my performance in the previous year.  Given the conditions today, I feel like I did okay there.
Splits (again, these don't reflect the entire course.  I failed to start my watch until 1/4 mile into the race):
2:36:46 for 14.86 miles
10:33 average

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rocket Run 10-Miler

Today I volunteered for the Rocket Run 10-Miler in Mooresville, AL.  Rick ran the race and was able to PR, and I saw my friends Julia and Jane there as well as a bunch of other runners from Huntsville.  Mooresville is only a 15 minute drive from Madison (it's where I've been meeting Kylie to run).  It's one of few 10 mile distances around here, and, because of this, many people like to go for state records at this race.  Today a guy from Madison, Josh Whitehead, ran the overall state record (for any age group)! 

My volunteer requirements for Valerie (the race director) were that I be near the finish line (I knew the kids could play there since there is a big magnolia tree) and that my job be kid-friendly (this often leads to me getting jobs like handing out waters or other similarly easy jobs rather than, say, data entry, but I say all jobs are important!).  

So today she put me on finish line duty with a guy named Daniel.  This guy was pretty neat.  When I asked him why he chose to volunteer today, he said he was a new runner and that he'd run a couple of 5Ks.  He knew he couldn't run this race, so why not give back?  He mentioned his job which involved 12-hour shifts.  He sounded very busy, but he still found the time to volunteer for his newfound sport.  I think he's making a good example for other runners.  

I enjoyed hearing him tell me "newbie tales," like how in his first race he just tore the tab off of his bib and left it in the car, not wanting to have that extra piece flapping around and showing everyone how much of a newbie he was!  He later discovered that the race directors use those pull tabs to track the finishers!  

That's exactly what our job was today.  We were assigned the job of standing in the finish chute and pulling the pull tabs.  Then we were to place them on these long strings---in order!---and give them to the finish line data entry people, who would use this method as a back-up to a computer system they were also doing.  I must admit, though I've run in many races, I've never been assigned this job before.  I liked the new challenge!  With only 150 runners (or so), the finish line was manageable the whole time and never went too fast for us!

Our job went from 51 minutes in (when the first finisher came through) until 2 hours (when the last finisher came through).  It was exciting to see each person come in, especially the front runners.  I wondered if I could have pulled a first overall women finish today when I saw the first girl come in over 1:10 (probably not since I've had the stomach bug this week, but maybe on a good day?).  I think Daniel did a great job for his first time to volunteer.  He handled the strings, while I got the tabs.  My kids played happily in the magnolia tree nearby.  They have done a lot of volunteering already for their ages, so it was fine with me that they were not needed to help today.  

This is our first hot (mid-70s) weekend here in Alabama, and I attempted 7 miles after the race.  It was hot (for me), and I still felt a little weak from my bug earlier in the week.  I didn't want to push it too much and think I wisely decided to stop before I felt too tired.  I am back to eating (yay!) and am ready to feel energy return.  Today it was enough just to give back a little at the race and to feel the sun again afterwards.  Things are looking up!

Photo by Gregg Gelmis
Me and my girl at the race start this morning

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Saltines, a 46-mile week, and 2 races in 2 weeks---Ack!

image found here

So, coming off of the Little Rock Marathon, I didn't really have any running plans.  I rested on Monday (just walked with the family around the neighborhood), did the elliptical on Tuesday-Thursday, and ran 8 miles with my running group on Friday.  On Saturday, Julia and I met a Fleet Feet teammate, Kylie, and some of her UAH cross country team for a run.  We did the same trail I'd done before with Kylie and did 9 miles in a 7:25 pace.  I was struggling to maintain this pace and was grateful that Julia slowed down to finish 3 more with me.  That put me at 46 miles for the week, and that was with only 3 days of running!  Probably not the best approach, but I saw the run with Kylie and her team as an opportunity that this "old woman" could not miss out on!

This week, I got hit with the stomach bug on Tuesday.  Yuck!!  I have felt awful all week and eaten very little (saltines, Sprite, and Gatorade), and there's no way I could have run Wednesday or today.  Maybe tomorrow.  I will see.

I plan to volunteer at the Rocket Run 10-Miler that Rick will run this Saturday, and then the next two Saturdays I have events.  The McKay Hollow Madness Trail 25K is March 23, and the Scottsboro Half is March 30.  I am not ready for either event (yikes!) and will likely miss an egg hunt or two to go and run.  McKay Hollow is a tradition of mine (and one of the races I usually run and not Rick), and the Scottsboro race is a new one that just seemed like a good opportunity.  No time to train for either now though, so I hope the marathon training will help me there.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Little Rock Race Report: Part 2

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We got up at 5:45 a.m. to get ready for the race.  I took a shower and ate a waffle with peanut butter. We headed to the start/finish line area (only a few blocks apart).  I love the excitement pre-race!  Since it was in the low 30's, we waited until the last minute to take off our outer layers for our gear check bags.  Around 7:45 a.m., we quickly stripped off jackets and warm-up pants, checked our bags, and headed for Corral A. This marathon is a nice size (though there are early starters--they started at 6:00 a.m.--that plan to finish in 6-8 hours that you have to weave around during the race).  We were able to walk right into the corral. We found the 3:10 pacer (a guy named Ryan that we had met yesterday at the expo), and I got to meet a blogger friend, Tia.  Tia ended up finishing in 3:07 today!  She is an amazing runner.

Before the race
Rick and I both had a goal of loosely shooting for the 3:10.  This was our "A+" goal---something that would be amazing if it happened, but we knew we would not be disappointed if it didn't happen today.  I am stubborn and very hard on myself, but I am learning that you will have good races and bad races.  Our ultimate goal is to finish a marathon in all 50 states.  It sure would be nice to hit that 3:10 along the way, though!  This goal seemed like a huge stretch for me based on my training.  We knew we had the weather on our side since it was nice and cool, but we also knew this course had a couple of tough hills in the middle.  It would just depend on how we felt during the race.

The race
Beginning Miles (1-13): Easy running
7:21, 6:58, 14:17 (2 miles), 7:21, 7:04, 7:16, 7:05, 7:10, 7:16, 7:12, 7:12, 7:01
The pacer, Ryan, had told us the day before that he was aiming to hit all miles at 7:15 (not really "banking" a lot of time in the beginning).  I decided to try to stay with him as long as I could.  Our first mile was 7:21. Perfect.  He was setting a good pace.  I didn't have a Garmin, so I relied on him to slow me down in the beginning when my adrenaline gets the best of me.  Mile 2 6:58--a little fast.  I did not see the marker for Mile 3 (some were just actual small street signs and not big flags), but Miles 3 and 4 were 14:17 together.  I had a pace bracelet and checked that periodically.  After a few miles, I separated from the group and stayed just ahead of them and to their right.  I could hear them behind me, but I liked being alone.  This is not new to me, since I run much of my training alone.  But later, when I looked back at the race pictures and also saw how close Rick and I ended up finishing, a part of me wished I had stayed with him.  We could have had great conversation and pushed the other one.  This is when it's hard to be married to a runner with similar time goals.  I stayed separate in part because I didn't want either of us to feel pressure to stay with the other one.  Each race is always our own race (we haven't always done it this way, but we do when we are racing now).  That is why pacing with him at Rocket City was such a fun treat!

Anyway, I headed into the half around 1:34.  Most of the first miles were easy and boring.  They were not a struggle.  I knew the hills were coming around Mile 15.  The pacer had said we'd slow for those by about 20 seconds.


A note about my fueling--I had decided to fuel every 4-5 miles with Gus that I carried.  This is new to me, as I usually do not follow a consistent fueling strategy.  I usually take Gu as it is offered on the course.  If for some reason I miss seeing the Gu, I miss out on fuel.  I feel like this is leaving too much to chance.  The only problem I had was where to stash 5 Gus!  I tried pinning them to my shorts, but I felt like they would rub and bother me there.  So I stashed 1 in my bra and 2 in my arm sleeves by my armpits, one in each side. And I left 2 pinned to my shorts, but I decided to use those first.  I ended up only being bothered by one of the ones in my shorts (it left 2 wounds from where it rubbed---urrg!).  I ended up taking 2 Gus offered on the course somewhere near the end (19 and 22??).  So 7 Gus total!  All of mine had caffeine (and I had some Honey Stinger chews with caffeine before the race).  I really didn't feel all that different in the race though, in terms of energy.  I wish I could say they had a better impact!

I stayed a little ahead of the 3:10 pace group.  Rick is in matching FF uniform just behind the pacer.
Middle Miles (14-20)--A Little Harder
7:24, 7:30, 7:24, 6:50, 7:15, 7:16, 7:32

These miles show a lot about the course!  Mile 15 was indeed a slower mile due to the hill.  But look at how the downhill affected me--6:50 mile!  This was a very fast mile for me in a marathon!  My body was starting to feel tired as I headed into the last 6 miles.  I started telling myself, "Only 6 miles left!" but I was feeling very tired.  A couple of times, the pace group was passing me, and I was thinking, "Wow! Did they just speed up?" because I couldn't feel myself slowing down.  I would surge to bring myself back up to them.

Last 6.2 Miles--Falling Apart!
8:04, 8:00, 8:17, 8:15, 8:38, 8:37, (last .2)1:47

Miles 20-23 or so were a scenic turn-around (turn-around at Mile 20.5 or so?).  So we were headed out to the turn-around and could see the people in front of us already heading back.  It was neat because I got to see some of the front runners like Tia!  I cheered for her as I saw her pass in the opposite direction.  But the course was lonely here (no crowds or music), and I found myself saying, "It's not going to happen today, Katie."  But the good thing was that I felt okay with it!  I really did.  I just wanted to hang in as long as I could.  I knew I had started fast given my training, and I knew I was going to pay for it now!  I tried distracting myself and pushing myself, but I was really struggling.  The pace group caught me and passed me, and no matter how hard I tried I could not keep up.  Rick and I shouted out encouragement briefly to one another as we crossed paths.  The last time I saw him was just after he'd made the turn-around.  We were not far apart at this point, but I knew it was our good-bye.  So I shouted out, "It's okay.  I'm okay where I'm at!"  He was still with the 3:10 pacer and looking strong, so I was encouraged that he may make the 3:10 today!  I knew I would not, but I was hoping for a sub-3:20.  I just needed to DIG to get it.

Digging here (not even looking up to smile!)

A small smile
Miles 24-26 were far off pace.  They were lonely and a hard-fought effort not to walk.  I was doing math in my head, trying to see if I could beat my Chicago time (3:15:33), and I was trying to speed up!  Mile 25 had a little hill, and it was just too much for me to take.  I was exhausted by this point and relieved to see the Mile 26 and then Mile 13 (for the half marathoners).  I knew I had .1 left!  I crossed the finish line in 3:16:11 (official time).

Another Collapse
So as I stopped running, I felt my legs go weak and felt lightheaded.  I am tired of having this happen at the finish line of marathons.  I reached out to a volunteer and said that I needed help standing.  Out of nowhere, a wheelchair emerged and I was plopped down into it and taken to the medical tent.  NOT how I wanted the finish to go.  In the tent, I was told to lie down while my feet were elevated.  If I raised my head, the whole room began to spin.  So I lay still while they took my pulse and BP.  My BP was low, and they said the blood pooled into my legs after I finished, causing my brain to not get enough oxygen.  They had a name for it, but in my fog I do not remember it, but I did find some info here.  I have collapsed like this in a few other marathons, but I had never heard that explanation.  I know I wasn't dehydrated (drank water and Gatorade along the course), and I know it wasn't anything more serious.  The good news is that I was cleared to leave the tent after a few minutes.  I was able to stand and walk out.  While in the tent, I had been given that HUGE medal by a volunteer.  I went out to the Athlete's Village and got a picture in front of the backdrop and gathered some food.  Then I went to get my gear bag and to look for Rick.  When I found him, I expected him to say that he'd gotten the 3:10, but he said that he got a 3:14:15 (still a PR by about 35 seconds for him).  

A note about the medals: These medals are HUGE and weigh over 2 pounds each.  While some may love this sort of thing, I actually found it annoying.  The medal was hard to carry, and I was afraid I'd drop it and break it or hurt myself!  And Rick and I aren't going to be able to hang it with our other marathon medals on our display holder (see here).  But if it makes some people happy to get such a huge medal, then I'm fine with it.  But me, I'd have been happy with the normal size. :)

1 7:21
2 6:58
3,4 14:17
5 7:21
6 7:04
7 7:16
8 7:05
9 7:10
10 7:16
11 7:12
12 7:12
13 7:01
14 7:24
15 7:30
16 7:24
17 6:50 
18 7:15
19 7:16
 20 7:32
21 8:04
22 8:00
23 8:17
24 8:15
25 8:38
26 8:37
.2 1:47
overall 3:16:11 7th female, 69th overall
2nd in age group
**Top 5 females won money at this race.  It got me to thinking---if I could only take 10 minutes off of my marathon time, I could start getting paid to run these things!

Video of the course here
Finish line video seen here

After the race

We headed back to the hotel to shower.  Rick's parents and the kids had had a great morning together.  We found a Newk's (kids eat free all weekend) and ate sandwiches there for lunch.  

Rick's parents left, and we decided to try the post-race BBQ dinner (4-8 p.m.).  It was free with your race entry.  We all ended up having a great time at the dinner.  The food was good (BBQ, potato salad, rolls, beans, brownies, etc.).  Since there was free alcohol, Rick and I each got a couple of beers.  And they had a free photo booth where you could dress in funny western clothes and pose for pictures.

Photo op as you entered the party

But the best part for me was watching the dancing.  They had a floor in the middle of the room, and my kids decided to go out there and provide entertainment.  It was fun getting to watch them have no shame as they danced away.  How are these my kids??? I would have been so nervous dancing in front of all of those people!

Yummy dinner!

The theme for the race was "Lucky in Little Rock."  I thought about this as were were headed home on Monday.  The trip went off without a hitch.  We were able to spend 4 days together as a family, missing 2 days of school/work each.  We all stayed healthy and safe.  We had a good visit with Rick's parents and made good memories with them.  Rick and I were able to finish with good times---a PR for Rick and my 3rd best time (and "lucky" 7th overall female).  I survived a rough finish, even needing medical attention.  But I am healthy and fine.

So did I feel lucky in Little Rock?  No. I felt blessed.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Little Rock Marathon Race Report: Part 1

This post is mainly for my family's memories or for people looking to make a similar trip with kids. 

This was our 23rd state to run in and the kids' 11th state to visit while we run.  It's crazy to think that they've been a part of nearly half of this journey with us!  Rick and I like to talk about how different marathoning will look for us in 10-15 years when the kids are older and able to stay alone at the hotel while we run-- to even stay at home while we take weekend trips to run!  I know we will miss this stage of our journey a lot then.  My son remarked today that he can't wait for our next trip.  We work hard to make sure these trips are not just about the race.  These are our family's vacations too.  

This was the first trip where Rick's parents watched the kids, and we were thankful they were able to drive up to meet us!  

This was my 29th marathon and my 40th marathon or ultra distance event!  I really feel like my experience in these distances helped make my race a good one--even when other factors were against me.  Rick and I have learned how to "get it done" when it comes to the marathon.  We do the race and barely skip a beat for the rest of the day's activities!

Friday, March 1, 2013--Driving to Arkansas

I have decided that a 5 1/2 hour drive is PERFECT for our family right now!  Our kids (5 1/2 and 6 1/2) were able to do their schoolwork, eat a snack, watch a couple of movies, and play a rousing game of Backseat Bingo, and then we were there!  Oh, we also stopped in Memphis about halfway into our trip to visit the Children's Museum of Memphis.  We always try to visit at least one children's museum on our trips.  We use a reciprocal membership card, so these visits are free for us!  The kids burn a ton of energy and are much happier after these stops.

We were happy to get to our hotel in Arkansas around bedtime (we had left Madison around lunchtime and had a 2 hour stop in Memphis).  Seeing a new state's sign is always big excitement for us! 

Saturday, March 2, 2013--Expo and Children's Museum

I had tried to closely follow the taper schedule for me this time around.  So I had not run or exercised in 2 days!  Today my plan called for 2 miles.  I did them very easy on a run near our hotel in a little residential neighborhood.  It was snowing a little, and I called these songs to mind: Gungor's "Beautiful Things" and Jason Gray's "Nothing is Wasted."  Rick and I have been facing a huge struggle with our kids' schooling (too much to get into here), and these songs and the run just spoke to me in an amazing way.  I really felt close to God and ready for Him to be with me tomorrow on the run.

We were staying only a few miles from the expo, start, and finish line.  We drove over to the convention center for the expo around 10:00 on Saturday.  The expo was just the right size and easy to navigate.  They had cute photo ops all around with the Western theme.  I even got a free massage while there (you only had to tip at the end).

The convention center was adjacent to the Peabody Hotel, so of course we had to stop and see the Peabody ducks!

Then it was on to lunch and the Museum of Discovery.  We ate at a pizza place and then walked over to the children's museum.  It was a cold, windy day, but the walking kept us from getting too cold.  This museum was really great with tons of interactive displays that both kids loved.  I kept going from kid to kid to play with each for a little bit (with 4 adults between us we could do this!).  My son loved the Grossology exhibit, and my daughter loved a cool running exhibit!

This exhibit let you run a short distance on a mat and then it showed a short clip (3-5 seconds or so) of you running (just your shadow), your stride length, your speed, and your energy level (from 1-5).  My daughter's always said "5" for her energy level!  I am on one of the pictures below (the competitive side of me took over and I was trying to see how high my MPH could go!).

Then it was on to the hotel for a quick rest time and then on to dinner.  We opted for kid-friendly and convenient and chose Jason's Deli.  Rick and I got a chicken pasta dish each.  Then we set out our marathon stuff and went to sleep!

Ready to go!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Little Rock: 3-3-13 and My 3rd Best Marathon Time

Quick Update

Katie 3:16:11 (7th overall female)
Rick 3:14:15 (his new PR!)

The medals were huge and weighed over 2 pounds each!  

I'm working on a race report for later so check back in for that!