Monday, January 24, 2022

Mountain Mist 50K 2019

This isn't a race recap, just a place to drop a few pictures.  In my previous post, I shared what I've been up to.  I honestly forgot that I had run this race in 2019.  This was my eleventh finish!  It made me a little happy to discover this and realize that I could potentially run nine more Mountain Mists and be a 20-time finisher!  But not even remembering it just shows me where my head was during a very challenging time in my life.  Well, my pictures and finisher's time prove to me that I did in fact run it!

This is how I chose to display my husband's and my combined finisher's slates prior to the 2019 race.  I scanned them and made a poster to frame.  The slates can be hung and do include a little leather tie to hang them with, but this look was a little sleeker to me (and much easier to hang one picture than eleven slates).  These slates represent a span of twelve years, four children together, and two ten-time finishers!  The earlier MM races did not have slates as finisher prizes, so they're not represented here.  

Here are the photos from my 2019 finish.


Mountain Mist 50K 2022 (Long Overdue Update)

Mountain Mist 2022 was an event that almost happened for me!  That story in a minute!  But first, where have I been?

This blog went south just like my running did for basically the last four years.  This blog has always been about marathoning AND mothering, but I always thought that the mothering part could take a backseat at times and allow the marathoning part its place to shine.  I felt entitled to having running in my life.  Plus I loved getting faster, learning about how to run, and the thrill of competition.  I seemed made for it, and it fulfilled me in ways that being a mother just didn't.  But don't get me wrong; I loved my role of mother too.  In fact, I felt the two roles created a nice balance in my life: the sharp, dedicated toughness of a runner and the delicate, peaceful, sweetness of a mother all mixed together and melded in me.  The instincts of mothering just seem to come naturally to me, and I welcomed their presence in my life, yet running was always there to give me another area of fulfillment.  With two small children, I reveled in the fact that I could still compete in marathons all over the country.  It was thrilling to be able to take my kids along and let them experience new places side-by-side with me.  When our third child came, things just got better and better.  She was an easy baby, and I felt on top of the world.  I thought I could tackle any challenge.  And I naively thought, "What's one more?"   When my last child came, I was swiftly knocked off my feet in ways I could never have seen coming.  I've always lived by the mantra "You play the hand you're dealt," without really having a life-changing event to force me to act on that belief.  With him, from the start, things were difficult and off.  His first year was a blur, but what I do remember consists of months of watching him be sick without knowing why, being sleep deprived like I never knew before (and this was my fourth time to have a nursling), doctor visits, and testing leading to a diagnosis of multiple severe food allergies.  The emotional and physical toll on me was enormous.  Then came the research--so much research--into everything from allergies, allergy treatments, foods, restaurant menus, medicines, and on and on.  Trying to become an expert in something I knew nothing about.  Trying to figure out how to keep him alive.  I am here now, not having crested the mountain of the monumental task of being an "allergy mom," but being able to recognize that I still need running and desperately want to still have it in my life.  

I never completely gave up running; in fact, I've managed to be a pacer at the Rocket City Marathon every year of his life (including the one where I was pregnant with him) minus the last two years (COVID forced the race to be virtual in 2020 and severe weather cancelled the race in 2021).  It's amazing how little training is actually required for a marathon if you're prepared to suffer on the course.  I now run quite a bit of easy, fun miles with my oldest son who is now fifteen, and I found satisfaction I never knew before in running next to him during his first half marathon in 2021.  There's nothing like sharing your passion with your child.  We've also competed in a few other 5Ks and 10Ks, even enjoying both getting first place finishes in a small local 5K.  Our smiles spread as people commented, "The winners are mother and son!"  I have also found great delight in taking the first place title in the women's master's category, where, at 44, I still feel a little like a fraud.  There's a disbelief that I am here now, in my forties.  Where did the time go?  Every Huntsville Track Club event forces me to realize that I'll eventually have a day where I can't do this anymore.  My today will become the past.  So I press on, clinging to the running that I do have, striving for more, and enjoying the little moments that remind me of why I fell in love with it in the first place.

Mountain Mist 50K 2022
As mentioned, I had planned to pace the Rocket City Marathon in December 2021, but severe weather cancelled the race.  Sometimes it feels like everything is conspiring against my running.  That day, I ended up just running a half marathon distance, but that didn't really feel like the climactic event for all of my training, so Mountain Mist was in the back of my mind.  Then I got COVID over the Christmas holidays, and it hit me hard.  I took a full two weeks off from any exercise.  That took me to early January, without having registered for the race or trained in any way since my last long run before the marathon.  Not ideal, but most people will tell you that a Mountain Mist finish is possible even in less-than-ideal conditions, so in the back of my mind I was still hopeful.  I even ran a 20-mile long run the day registration closed to make sure I felt recovered and ready for the distance, even if I hadn't been on trails at all.  It may seem crazy to wait until the day registration closed, but in past years the race director had allowed 10-time finishers (which I am) the chance to register even if the race was full through the entire registration period.  So I thought I'd be fine, but it turns out the race was full and that policy no longer exists.  I felt totally at peace with it.  My husband was going to be out-of-town, so I wasn't too sure I wanted to leave the kids alone for that amount of time without an adult on-hand.  Instead, I decided to look into volunteer opportunities.  I was actually highly encouraged by the race director which makes sense because there was a huge need.  Something like 50 out of 80 volunteer options for race day were still available.  My 15- and 14-year-old kids wanted to help (and would be helping me with the 7- and 4-year old kids).  I signed us all up for Clean Up, and expected to learn something new about the race I love so much.  

When we arrived at the Lodge around 3:15 p.m., we were actually too early to help.  A huge perk of volunteering is that we were admitted to Monte Sano State Park for free (admission is usually $5 for adults and $2 for ages 2-11).  We were able to take a short hike to see icicles, much to the delight of all of the kids.  It was cold and beautiful up there, just getting to enjoy the scenery without having to run on it.  We were also treated to volunteer shirts and visors.  We also were able to cheer on the very last finishers and see friends who had just finished their 20th MM.  As the finishers left, there was plenty of extra food, so we even grabbed some pizza, bread, and cookie cake to eat.  When we were needed we got to work, emptying trash cans, transporting the extra food supplies to the trailer, and cleaning up after the runners.  Maybe an hour of work total.  The sun started to set, and it was beautiful up there, definitely the first time I had ever stayed this long on a MM day.  My little kids enjoyed doing karaoke with the podium in the Lodge while my older two swept floors.  They started giving food away, so we ended up with several soft drink 2-Liters and an entire pizza to take home.  As we headed to our car and saw another car's headlights pointing ominously at us, we got spooked and then laughed together when the other car turned out to be security.  It was not a typical MM experience for me, but I enjoyed giving back to this race.  Maybe with age comes wisdom and peace when things don't go the way you had expected them to.  


Friday, September 7, 2018

Monte Sano 5K 2017 and 2018

Last I wrote, I was pregnant with my 4th baby.  So much has happened since then!  First off, I gave birth to my little one in August of 2017--a bouncing baby boy weighing in at 9 lbs.!  He was born just 3 days before my 40th birthday.  I couldn't imagine a better early birthday present.  He is absolutely wonderful in every way!  He completes our family, and we now have a 12-year-old, 11-year-old, 4-year-old, and a 1-year-old.  Life is so busy but very fun.

A Little About the Birth

I so enjoyed the process of researching and then successfully completing my second epidural-free birth, but his was an induction (recommended due to my age), so it came with pitocin and having my water broken.  Using the Bradley Method and some birth mantras worked very well for me; in fact, the nurse remarked at one point that it looked like I was simply sleeping.  Let me just say this: if we can and do endure everything (painful and otherwise) that a marathon involves, why be afraid of the process of birth?  It's just trusting our training and our bodies to get us there, same as we do on race-day.  I loved getting to experience it again and encourage any other moms-to-be to know this: You can do it.

Monte Sano 5K 2017

For a fun challenge, I decided to race the Monte Sano 5K on September 2, 2017, 2.5 weeks after having the baby.  I had done a few runs since having him, and I knew I could complete the 5K distance.  Well, what I didn't know is that I would actually do something really surprising to me--I won my first Master's race!  Since I turned 40 on August 20, I was officially a Master's runner (and I'm guessing that not too many of them are also new moms!).  My time was 24:10.  In the pictures below, I'm wearing Rick's large singlet, which was still the only size that fit me.  

My big kids and me.  I have on the carrier for the baby, but Rick is holding him while I got my award.

Monte Sano 5K 2018

So here we are again, one year later.  I haven't been doing any speedwork, just a daily 4.5 mile run with the double stroller (with the 4-year-old and now 1-year-old in it) and a weekly 10-mile long run.  In this year's 5K, I didn't win Master's and my time was only about a minute better than last year's (23:06 vs. 24:10 last year).  This is what running in my forties is going to be.  If I want to get faster I will have to work at it.  And harder than I worked at it in my twenties and thirties.  I've been getting somewhere around 22:30-23:00 in several 5Ks this year, so I know that this is my starting point.  I hope to see that time improve, but I'm okay with it for now.  Funny thing is that the winner of the Master's race is a really nice 59-year-old woman.  Yes, 19 years older than me.  And she has beaten me in every race I've done against her.  She has really inspired me!  No pictures from today (no race photographer, as far as I know).

Upcoming Entries

I'd like to do an entry about the marathon I ran last December (first time running a marathon with a 3.5-month-old) and one about the series of 5Ks that I ran this past Spring (fun races for a great cause).  Stay tuned (if there are still any readers out there!).

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Running and Pregnant (With #4)

Katie (33 weeks, 6 days pregnant) with Rick (husband) and our 3-year-old

I am 33 weeks and 6 days pregnant with our fourth baby on this Fourth of July!  I'm due with him 4 days before I turn 40!  Today I ran the Firecracker 5K in Huntsville, AL.  This is a great race for families.  It is the ONLY race I know of that offers free childcare!  It's put on by Morningside Baptist Church, and their little nursery had 2 little ones today.  Our newly-turned 3-year-old was one of them (she's being carried on my back in the picture above).  Our 2 bigger kids are not quite capable of watching her at races yet, and they are at their first overnight camp for the next few days.  Having a week with just one has seemed like a luxury!

We could not pass up the chance to start our Fourth of July with this race, and I am glad we did!  We headed over there around 6:30 a.m. and easily made it inside for race-day registration at 7:00 a.m.  I loved the empty roads today with the holiday!  Rick went on a warm-up run while I walked around with our daughter.  It had been raining, and she loved looking at the puddles and overflowing ditches!  Then I headed inside to drop her off at the nursery.

I enjoyed the atmosphere of the start line so much.  When I'm not running or racing as much, I really miss seeing my friends and just feeling the energy around me as we all get ready to race.  I've been running anywhere from 3-7 miles a few times a week, but I also have days where I walk instead.  All together, I probably am running and walking 25-30 miles a week in my 6-7 daily morning workouts.  My latest "long" run was a 7 mile run at a 12:30 pace.  My last race was the Cotton Row 5K on Memorial Day, where I got a 26:12 and was 28.5 weeks pregnant.  My pace has slowed a lot since then on my normal runs, so I planned to try for a sub-30.

I felt great while running today, which is always a relief while pregnant.  I kept a fairly steady pace but slowed a little each mile (splits were 8:46, 8:56, and 9:07ish).  The recent rain had made it SO humid out there, so I was dripping with sweat.  That made me feel like I was running much harder than I was. Even though I have a huge tummy right now and I've put on 30 pounds, I still feel like I am the same in my lungs and legs.  I felt like I could run so much faster if I wasn't pregnant.  It just felt great being out there among other runners since so many of my miles recently have been solo miles.  I enjoy cheering for the other racers and watching the front of the pack (the course was out-and-back on a greenway), and I enjoy competing with the runners around me.  It felt good surging and picking off runners near the end of the race.  I also loved looking at the creek with its raging muddy waters today.  The scenery made the time go back quicker.

After finishing in 28:08, I headed inside to get our daughter, and we stayed for awards and to chat with fellow runners.  It was a great start to our Fourth of July!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Independence Mile July 2, 2016

A local coaching group, Running Lane, puts on a fun event at the UAH campus in Huntsville.  This year it was on Saturday, July 2nd starting at 6 p.m.  It's only $8 to enter (but no shirt or prizes).  They also advertised that they would be giving away over $1000 in door prizes and would have a free BBQ dinner after/during the races (there are different heats based on age, elite runners, etc.).  It worked great to sign up our 2 older kids since their heat started first.  That way we could watch them run and then eat a free dinner!

As we got ready to go, we grabbed our 2-year-old Ivy's "running shoes" (a little purple pair of Nikes) and told her we were going to a race.  She's used to coming and has never asked to run before, but she has begun to know what running is.  We have a book, Swing!, that asks, "Have you ever run a relay race?" and each time we read that part, Ivy gets off our laps and runs a little while we cheer for her.  Plus, she's come to lots of races.  So she knows what "running a race" means.  As we headed to the UAH campus, she kept saying, "I wun wace, Momma?" over and over.  So Rick and I finally looked at each other, shrugged, and said, "Why not?"  When we got there, we paid another $8 and entered her!  

For fun, we looked at the Alabama State Age Records that a volunteer had pulled up on his phone.  Ivy just turned 2 a week and a half ago.  Well, the 1-year-old female record holder was named Ivy too!  And her time was 23:38.  The 2-year-old record was 14 minutes though!  Whoa--no chance Ivy would beat that!  Our big kids were bummed since their age group records were so fast.  We told them just have fun.

Below is the picture from the 0-19 age group start.  Tiny race!  I am actually holding Ivy here.  Since we didn't want her to get tired out before the race even started, I carried her over to the Start Line.  

Pictures taken by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville.

My son and older daughter took off once the race started!  Gregg got some good pictures of them as they rounded the first corner.

Ivy was officially in last place just as soon as we started, and she stayed in last place.  But you wouldn't know it from the smile on her face as we passed the crowd!  She loved being cheered for!  Rick and I are running beside her.

Ivy gave up running after .2 mile.  She walked, sat, and walked some more.  Every so often, she would run a little.  I'm glad Gregg got pictures of my big kids finishing since we missed it.  

My daughter loves to sprint at the end of races.  She was behind several children, but then she passed them all.  She has a great ability to dig deep at the end of races.

And here is our little baby as she crosses the Finish Line!

Her time of 22:46 would have gotten her that state age record IF she was still one!  That is a good time for such little legs, and we were all so proud of her!  Her grandparents came, and you can see her grandma right behind her in the picture below, cheering her on!

We had a great time staying to chat with friends, eating some good food, and then hearing the door prize drawings.  Both of our big kids won a $25 gift card (one to Chipotle and one to Fleet Feet).  I recommend this race to all families--such a good value and a fun time!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cookie Dash and Chick-fil-A 5K: Two Good Family 5Ks

These happened awhile ago, but I still want to get them posted on here!  Both races were fun for our whole family and were very family-friendly.

Cookie Dash 5K
April 16, 2016

Pre-Race and Race
 On April 16, 2016, my big kids and I ran the Cookie Dash 5K.  I feel so bad because I led them on a short warm up, but we got back too late and the race was about to start!  We had to rush into place without even catching our breaths.  It was not ideal.  

During the race, I pushed myself to stay with teammate Linda who was ahead of me most of the race.  In the last mile, she began walking so I took the lead and finished first female.  My time was 20:31.  Results here

Pictures from We Run Huntsville Facebook page

Age Graded Results
With over 500 finishers, this is a big race for our area.  It's also a little unusual since it publishes the top 25 people in an age-graded results listing.  I'm not even exactly sure what it is, except that I know by looking at the names on the list that it's a good list of competitors.  Also, out of the 25 people on the list, only 6 are female.  I made the list (#15), but my little girl did too (#23)!  I am guessing since I am a little older and she is a little younger, that this means our times are good given our ages!  My time was 20:31, but my age-graded time was 20:10 (73%).  Her time was 26:27, and her age-graded time was 21:02 (71%).  Again, not really sure what it means, but it still felt a little like an honor!
See here

I wore the baby after the race since she kept asking me to "Hold you!"

This race is well-known for the TONS of cookies people bake for post-race snacks.  We loved going through the line to get some of them!

It never fails that someone will joke: "Did you run the whole race with her on your back?" whenever I wear the baby after a race.  Kind of like how they always say, "She has the best seat in the house!" whenever they see me running with her in the jogging stroller.  I'm just happy that she comes along so well.  Such a happy tag-along baby!  And she is happiest when she can suck her thumb and play with my hair while I carry her in the back carrier.  She loves it!

Rick and I stayed to volunteer when the race was over.  We handed out medals.  

The race photographer captured a sweet moment when I got to place a medal around my daughter's neck for her first 5K age group award (and her first time to run a 5K!). 

Chick-fil-A Decatur 5K Race 
April 30, 2016

As usual, it seems to me that whatever Chick-fil-A does, they just do it well.  Free food events, mother-son and father-daughter date night events, etc.  They seem to give away so much free food!  Well, this race is no exception.  It's part of a series of races in our area.  We live in Huntsville, AL, so Decatur is about a 30 minute drive, but this race was well-worth it!  It had a "family-fun zone" at the start/finish area, including a place to play games and earn free food cards!  Also on hand were free chicken biscuits and even more food for post-race snacks.  A photographer was taking pictures too (credit goes to them for the two pictures below).

My big kids and I ran the race while Rick watched the baby.  He is still recovering from a back injury and isn't in racing condition just yet.  

I knew that I really wanted to do well in this race because of the prizes!  I had heard that the winner got "free chicken for a year" (52 free meal coupons).  As a SAHM, I look for opportunities like this to help make eating out affordable.  Well, when I saw Justyna (in yellow second from left in the picture below), I knew first place was not happening.  So I aimed for second ("free chicken for 1/2 year").  

My time was 21:04, second place.  Since this race was smaller and the course was a little tricky, I headed back out to make sure my kids had found their way.  After cheering them both in, we headed for post-race chicken and a family cool-down (Rick jogged with the baby in the stroller).  

I loved getting the prize of coupon cards which filled a chicken nugget box!  These cards have been such a nice way to be able to eat out at Chick-fil-A over the last few months.  The manila envelopes pictured in the stack below hold the kids' prizes (both won an age group award).  The cards on top of those were prizes from the games the kids played in the family fun zone.  Chick-fil-A was so generous at this race!  Results here

Stay tuned for the baby's first race: One mile at 2 years old!