Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Rock the Parkway Half Marathon--my first half marathon

Training
This is my first half marathon, and in a way, I feel like I’d been training for this one forever. Originally, I planned to run the Hangover Half Marathon on January 1, but it was postponed a week and then ultimately canceled because of extreme cold. The race organizers offered a couple of other races I could switch to instead, so I ran the Sweetheart 10K race in February, which was also postponed a week due to a snow emergency.
I used Hal Higdon’s advanced half marathon plan, not because I’m such an advanced runner but because the distances were about what I run each week anyway. To be honest, while I’ve run most of my life, I haven’t trained or competed until this last year. There’s a lot I don’t know how to do yet (running well downhill for example) and I’m pretty inexperienced with the mental side of racing.

Pre-race
I gotta be honest—it was FREEZING out. I don’t have much insulation any more and have zero shame in wearing layers to run. Those runners who wore shorts and singlets? Insane! I did the tiniest of warm up runs but honestly was shivering so much, I didn’t run more. See that yellow headband I'm wearing? I almost didn't bring it and I'm so glad I did. The wind was just awful and that headband kept my ears from freezing off.

Because I’m inexperienced, I decided to find the 2-hour pacers and stick with them. I didn’t want to go out too fast and I thought it might be good to run with a group (I always run alone). They explained their strategy: slower to start, walk through every aid station, speed up downhill. Stick with us, they said, and we’ll get you there. OK, sounds good to me except I don’t drink or eat during a 2-hour run, so I figured I’d see how I felt at the first aid station and take it from there.

Race
Our first two miles were pretty slow, which was good since I was running with a lot of people and dodging elbows left and right. But when we got to the first aid station, I though hmm I don’t really want to stop and walk, I’ll get even colder so I kept going. I figured they would probably catch up with me later and I’d run with them then. I never did see them again as it turned out.

Around mile 9, a friend was out cheering and that just warmed my heart—she braved some nasty weather to do that and I felt so encouraged.

Then somewhere around mile 11 and right after it started sleeting, a man on my right side who was slightly behind me said “Hey don’t slow down, you’ve been my pacer this whole race—I’ve been following your yellow head band and I want to break the 2 hour mark.” Say what? Someone is using me as a pacer?? So we ran together. Wow did that help—every time I even thought about being tired or cold, I reminded myself that I too wanted that sub-2 hour time and that I’d worked hard for this for months. At the 12 mile mark, Richard (that was his name, we were best buds by now) asked if I had anything left in the tank for the downhill stretch. I don’t know, I said, but I’m sure going to try. And I ran my little legs off until the end.

Post-race
I found my husband, who is the best crew a woman could ask for, grabbed a banana and a beer (really odd pairing to be honest) and went to get the print out of my results. I was pretty confident I’d broken the 2-hour mark according to my watch, but I wanted to see the official results. When I got the print out and saw 1:57:04, I started to cry. Now you have to understand that I’ve been (accurately) called a velvet covered brick, and tears are not normal for me. But I just stood there in the freezing wind blubbering while my sweet husband told me what a great job I did.

Next weekend I run the second of three half marathons for the Heartland 39.3 challenge. It’s supposed to be upper 40s and rain, of course, because apparently I bring crappy weather to races.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Mind over matter

Last Wednesday, my running plan called for a 60-minute run that increased in speed throughout. I’ve done tempo runs (as these are called) before, but what I hadn’t done was an hour long run in 22F with a wind chill of 9F at 4:27 AM. That’s some wind, to drop the temperature that much.

But I did it, and then I had Kent take this lovely photo as proof that yes, I ran in that weather super early in the morning. I look so glamorous!

How cold was it? I always take a little snot rag with me because my nose gets really drippy in the cold weather. It was so cold that the little rag froze.



Monday, April 2, 2018

Big 12 12K race before I forget

I won an entry into the Big 12 12K run through work—the race had three lengths: one mile, 5K and 12K. I could have also run the mile before running the 12K part but since I’ve been training for a half marathon, that race didn’t work into my training plan.

The weather was lovely that morning. Well it was sunny. Also cold and also pretty darn windy. Runners were encouraged to wear their school’s colors, and while I couldn’t find any Jayhawk-specific stuff, I did wear KU blue. You can see I’m also using magnetic holders for my bib. I got tired of poking holes in my good running gear so got these from Amazon. They worked really well.

This route was incredibly hilly and that’s saying something because I run hills all the time. But these were pretty steep, especially the last two miles of the race which was nearly all uphill. 



In this photo at the very end of the race, you can see I’m concentrating really hard. I was mortally afraid I’d catch my toe on one of those carpets that were covering the wires and go tumbling. Fortunately, I didn’t.

All in all, I’m pleased with how I ran. I maintained an average page of 8:57 per mile and came in fourth in my age group. The winner in my age group ran it in 57 minutes!





Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wedding!

I have been a little preoccupied the last month what with my older son’s wedding, so I’ll be catching up with my posts. This time, though, I’m starting with the most recent and the most important.

First things first—the wedding was gorgeous and went off beautifully. My new daughter-in-law is highly organized and everything went off without a hitch. The ceremony was held outside in at Carnton. After the ceremony, we had a cocktail hour and could tour the mansion which was pretty cool.

Just married!






















Carnton that night

I was able to participate in all the bridal party stuff that day, including getting my hair and makeup done professionally. As I watched the bridesmaids and the mother of the bride get their makeup done, I realized what a smart choice I made to have someone do mine. Some things are much better when outsourced!
















Here’s the start of getting my hair done. I have a lot of hair, but it’s fine and very soft so the stylist used texturizing powder, then backcombed my hair like crazy and then used probably 10 bobby pins and half a can of hair spray. My hair wasn’t going to move at all, which was also good since it was incredibly windy outside.


Here's me with a french twist (no makeup yet).



I was trying to get a photo of the the lines of the dress.



















I'm not very good at the selfies, but here's a closer look at my makeup.

As the makeup artist started on me, she asked what I normally wore. “What you see is what I do,” I replied. “Oh,” she said, “you go for the natural look.” Yup, that’s true but as I told her I didn’t want that for the wedding. I asked her to glam me up and that’s what she did. I’ve never in my life worn false eyelashes (I don’t have the skill to put them on, I have tried and failed), but I wore them on Saturday!

Interesting factoid: it was so windy out, that the ends of the false eyelashes fluttered in the wind.

This is Karen (my daughter-in-law's mother) and me. Yes, we both have on navy. My daughter-in-law helped us each pick out our dresses.

















This is Karen and my daughter-in-law's sister who was the matron of honor. 



Full on Hollywood with my sunglasses and stole.



















Kent and me in front of the front door to the mansion. You can see how windy it is because my bangs actually blew around.

















The ring-bearer (also the son of the matron of honor).



















KU was playing in the NCAA tournament that night. My younger son sat with Kent and me at the reception, and all three of us graduated from KU. So Ben whipped out his phone and we sort of kept an eye on the game while eating dinner (KU won).

And a photo of my corsage.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sweetheart 10K race

This race was originally scheduled for last Saturday, but as I mentioned, the City of Overland Park called a snow emergency; when that happens, they won’t provide support for races, and the races can’t be held without the support. So it was rescheduled for today.

The weather was far yuckier today than last Saturday (which was merely frigid). I woke up to a wintery mix, which turned to a bit of snow and then sleet and then rain, all within an hour’s time. I’d planned to run a warm up couple of miles around 7 but at that point it was raining.

I decided I’d try to warm up at the racing venue instead, since everything was supposed to start drying up around 8:30. Unfortunately, the only thing my warm up run did was get my feet soaking wet. I mean they were squelching! Temps were in the low 30s and we had a good wind from the west, so the wind chill was in the upper 20s. Brrr.

Still, the rain had stopped which was good. Here I am under the orange arrow with the super bright pink ball cap on as we started:


And at the finish:

Huh, I thought the clouds had cleared out more than that.
And my official times:


My three goals for this 10K were:

  • Don’t injure myself—most important goal. Achieved!
  • Finish the race—so that reinforces the first goal because I can’t finish if I hurt myself. Achieved!
  • If possible, keep my pace under 10 minutes per mile. Achieved! And I'm so tickled, my average pace per mile was 9:05.

My official chip time for the 10K was 56:22:9, I came in second in my age group, 26th out of all females and 59th out of the 249 who ran the 10k. I joked with Kent that I keep improving, and still keep coming in second in my age group. We looked at the results for the younger women, and I’d have won a couple of them. What can I say, I’m in a fast age group.

That is the blingiest finisher's medal I've ever seen.
Next up, I won an entry to the Big 12 races on March 10 from my employer, so I'll be running a (hilly) 12K proudly wearing a Jayhawk cap. And I'm fully focused on the first of three half marathons on April 14. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Training does pay off

I’m not very experienced at running races. I’ve run a grand total of five races: a Jingle Bell run in the Detroit area in 2007 (not timed, purely a fun run), Hospital Hill 5K in 2008, another 5k in 2008 that I don’t remember the name of but it was some sort of fund raiser for physical therapy school at KU or something like that, and then the two races late last year.

On a whim, I looked up the results for the very first 5k I ever ran, which was the Hospital Hill 5K 10 years ago.



Then I pulled my results from the race I ran in October, the double race that was a 5K and then a 3K: 



Finally, I grabbed my results from the Jingle Bell 5K I ran in December:



It's really gratifying to see that I've improved despite being 10 years older. Now I'm even more determined to see how good I can get. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Catching up, part 4

My birthday also happened to be the same day as Amanda’s bridal shower, and honestly I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it. She very kindly opened her home to me so I didn’t have to get a hotel, and she and Jordan drove me around so I didn’t need to get a rental car.

That Friday, we had dinner at the Taj, an Indian restaurant in Nashville. I love Indian food, and the biriyani was excellent.




The next day, my actual birthday, I took a 9 mile run first thing in the morning. My piriformis and hamstring felt pretty good and it was gratifying to know I can run that kind of distance at this point in my life. It was also freaking cold, like 20F.



After the bridal shower, we talked through where to go for dinner. Apparently, hot chicken is a big deal in Nashville so we decided to go to Kitchen Notes. Don’t be fooled by it being in a hotel, that restaurant is good! We had the hot chicken, savory biscuits, charred okra and marinated root vegetables. Everything was amazing, and I will say even I found the chicken to be quite spicy. I’m on a hunt now to find a good charred okra recipe—the ones I’ve found so far, include tomatoes or sauces and that’s not how the dish was that night. It’s very pared down, just the okra and some flakey salt and some sort of oil, and it was so good.

I flew home on Sunday and got back to Kansas City that had yet another arctic front move through—it was 13, and 3 inches of snow had fallen. Yuck.

On Monday, I got to work and found that my team had gotten me balloons.