Races No. 23 and 24

Just when I think I’m done running half marathons, I convince myself to run “just one more.” When I learned that the Haunted Half Marathon in Jonesborough, Tennessee, had a black cat as part of its logo and medal, I knew I needed to run it. Lesli and I rode together to the oldest (and most haunted) town in Tennessee to enjoy a perfect autumn weekend right before Halloween.

Jonesborough is the *perfect* little town to visit in autumn. We were there on October 25 and 26.

The start of the race wasn’t until 9:30 a.m., which is the latest I’ve ever started a race. (Normally these things start at 7 or 8 in the morning.) I was plenty ready to get going (and finish) well before it was time to line up.

The race was incredibly difficult, and not just because I wasn’t as well-trained as usual. The Haunted Half was advertised as having a route with “rolling hills,” but I assure you there was nothing rolling about them. There were REGULAR HILLS, not cutesy little rolling hills. Everyone in my pace group complained about the hills because we were all caught off guard and gasping for breath.

I finished with my second slowest time ever, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t in shape or because I didn’t feel like running. I couldn’t run those monsters. It would’ve killed my knees.

It’s all about the medal though. All I have to do is finish.

I was pretty sore afterward and wondered, per usual, if my racing days were over. Naturally, I signed up for another race that week.

On Saturday, I ran the Secret City Half Marathon for the second time. I still wasn’t impressed with the route (not much to look at) or the bathrooms (there were too few of them), but it was a local race that I could drive to, run, and drive home afterward.

Actually, either my MapMyRun app is way off, or the race directors miscalculated. I ran more than 13.1 miles on Saturday morning!

At any rate, it’s about the medals. Cheers to No. 24!

Now that I’m at 24, it seems silly to not run a 25th. Right?

Throwback to when I trained for races

I’m running a half marathon on Saturday and this is pretty much the most unprepared I’ve ever been for a race. The summer was blazing hot and humid, so I hardly ran, and when I did start running outside, life got busy. School started, obligations got heavy, and the last two weekends went in a way no one expected.

So I have 13 miles to run and I’ve not run more than 8 or 9 in the last month. Some might say it’s no big deal and I’ll do fine, and that may be true, but if you’ve ever run a race before then you know the challenge is mostly in the mind. My body may have the muscle memory, but my brain is saying, “You’ve eaten too many cupcakes.”

This Throwback Thursday is my own kick in the pants. I can totally do this. I may not have the most stellar time and I might have to do more walk/run intervals than I’d normally prefer, but I can do this.

Right? Three cheers for Lucky No. 13.

medals 2007-2009medals 2009-2014

In order: Country Music Half Marathon (2007), Louisville Half (2007), Scenic City Half (2008), Country Music Marathon (2008), Oklahoma City Memorial Half (2009), New Mexico Half (2009), Chicago Half (2009), Rock ‘n Roll Half in Dallas (2010), Knoxville Half (2012), Georgia Half (2012), Secret City Half (2013), and The Middle Half (2014). 

TBT: The first race

Running The Middle Half with Lesli was special, not only because it was held in the city where we met, but also because I credit her with getting me into running races. She ran her first half marathon in 2006 and I was so inspired by it that I wanted to do the same thing.

She joined me for my first (her second) and together we ran the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville on April 28, 2007. Had Lesli not tested her own will to run 13.1 miles, I’m not sure I would have.

Gotta love the picture quality from an old Samsung flip phone:

First half marathon

Medal No. 12 and Race Report

The odds were not in my favor. I’d not trained as well as I should have and whatever is spawning in East Tennessee right now invaded my sinuses with a massive army. The pressure in my ears is unreal. Chuck’s work travel schedule interrupted my travel plans to Middle Tennessee and that meant childcare had to be rearranged. And then there was tons upon tons of rain.

After sorting out a list of details and we were finally the road to Murfreesboro, Lesli and I encountered a large dog in the road who wasn’t fazed by interstate traffic. Even though I swerved to miss him and all the traffic swerved to miss me, I wondered if the Universe was trying to tell us something. The forecast for race day was wet with the potential for thunder and lightning. They won’t cancel the race for rain, but they would for storms. How annoying would that be after all we’d already endured!

We made it in time to pick up our bibs and enjoy dinner with friends. Take that, Universe!

With Lesli after packet pick up

Continue reading “Medal No. 12 and Race Report”

Instead of Dublin

I’ve been perusing half marathon lists for the last week trying to pin down a race. After seven years of running, I’ve learned that it’s essential to have some sort of goal to run towards (literally) if I have any intention of ever running farther than three miles. I’m leaning towards something in Kentucky or Ohio, but I’m totally daydreaming about the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series in Europe. Edinburgh, Madrid, Oslo, Nice.  It’s private torture just to look at the websites.

But on the off chance Chuck was interested in charging up a credit card so I could run a race in Europe, I threw it out there.

“Hey, I could run a half marathon in Dublin in August!” I said. It was a shot in the dark from a thousand yards away but I put as much enthusiasm into it as I could.

“Oh yeah?” he replied. There was a pause, then, “How about I put on the Travel Channel and pour myself a Guinness while you run on the treadmill?”

Point taken.

So yeah, I’m looking at Kentucky or Ohio. Any suggestions? I’m open to the Carolinas too.

If you’re thinking of running, DO IT. It’s quality time spent with you.

Eventually

Inquiring

We’ve been going to a new church for a little more than a month now, and by new I mean new in several ways. It’s the first church we’ve attended on a regular basis since moving back to east Tennessee last spring and it’s a denomination with which neither Chuck nor I have experience. Because it’s all new, we’re attending an Inquirer’s Class for a few weeks before we make the decision to join. In fact, I even had coffee with the pastor last week at a local coffee house because I had questions, and I felt it was better to just get it all out there instead of floating along confused. To date, I think it was one of the most honest conversations about religion and faith that I’d ever had with a pastor or church leader. It was really refreshing. In the Inquirer’s Class yesterday morning, after a detailed lecture about the history of the Christian church and how denominations came to be, Chuck leaned over to me and whispered, “I’ve been in church all my life and have never had it explained like that before.” I agreed.

The boys have been longing to go to church again, which is not only pleasing to hear but it’s also been a catalyst for getting us back on our feet on Sunday mornings. We spent a good year away from church, for a number of reasons, but mainly because we’d been living this crazy separated life between Texas and Tennessee, and frankly we were exhausted. We spent as many mornings in our pajamas as we could.

In other news, school is moving along nicely. Jackson is excelling (again) in reading, spelling and math. He’s attentive during science, though some concepts don’t yet register. Jeremy is thoroughly enjoying astronomy and government, but his struggles with reading make every subject a challenge. I’m continually looking into new programs and other curriculum that may help, because it certainly isn’t for a lack of interest. Jeremy is eager to read all the popular bestsellers, but with so many stumbling blocks on one page, he is easily frustrated. If anyone has advice, I’m open to suggestions.

Lastly, I’ve chosen to run one more half marathon this year, but this time it’s a local race, which means no traveling or out-of-town expenses. I’ve been trying to run a different state or two each year, but running nearby race is the smarter choice this fall.

Next year, I’m thinking coastal. All of those Runner’s World ads for Virginia Beach and Charleston are too tempting to ignore.

10 Precious Medals

Chuck gave me the Precious Medals shadowbox a year and a half ago (he commissioned an artist and everything!), and it’s taken me that long to add two more to the collection. Since the inside of the box is complete, he screwed hooks into the bottom of the frame for my Atlanta and Knoxville medals.

Thanks, hon. I love, love, love it.

Currently there isn’t an upcoming race on the agenda, but that’s mainly because ideal running weather is about to end and I refuse to suffocate in Southern heat and humidity for any reason. Surely there will be something to run in autumn when crisp, cool mornings return.

Race Report: the Georgia Publix Half Marathon

Hills. OMG HILLS. Did I know there’d be hills? No. No I didn’t.

There were more hills on this course than I knew even existed in downtown Atlanta.

Anyway, now that we’ve covered that part, I’ll tell you that the half marathon was darn near perfect. From training and travel arrangements to race day weather and finish time. I crossed the finish line at 2:22:06, which is six minutes slower than my fastest time (Chattanooga, 2007) but 22 minutes faster than my slowest time (Oklahoma City, 2009). Overall, I was very pleased, considering I didn’t run a single race last year and there were a crap-ton of big hills. HILLS!

Furthermore, our hotel location could not have been ANY better. Not only was it situated three blocks from the start line, but the corrals lined up right in front of the building. In fact, my corral just so happened to be immediately outside the hotel’s front door. To make it exceedingly fantastic (and symbolic), I was assigned to Corral J.

This photo was taken at 6:45 Sunday morning from our hotel room on the 12th floor. My corral began under the street light.

Before lining up, we went down to the seventh floor to grab another photo. We had five minutes until the race officially began, but since I didn’t have far to go, it really didn’t matter.

There was even time for silliness in the hallway so Chuck could familiarize himself with my camera.

The race itself was really, really good. I’ve felt very positive throughout training, and all the stars seemed to align in my favor. The fact that Chuck wasn’t traveling was even a blessing. I didn’t tear up at the finish line like usual, but one spectator sign I saw along the way really moved me: “The body can only do so much. And then the heart takes over.”

Thank you to Corey, Gwen and Alex for keeping the boys so Chuck could be my one-man support team!

Happy {Race} Weekend!

There is nothing like crossing a finish line. It’s been a year since I’ve experienced it, so I expect there will be tears.

And if all goes well, I’m rewarding myself with a Nutella Milkshake from Flip Burger.