17 More Days!

In my mind, that sounds ominous. I have 17 days until the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon. Only 17. I have one more long run, which if the weather cooperates, will happen this Friday after school. I would prefer to do my 11-miler Saturday morning rather than after a long day at work, but the girls have their first tennis match out of town Saturday, so Friday it is. This week I have taught four bootcamp classes in three days, and my legs are sore and tired. They  are so sore, in fact, that last night after I showered, I immediately crawled into bed. I  then texted my husband, who was still downstairs: I want to come kiss you goodnight, but my legs are too tired! They refuse to carry me. I love you to the moon and back! How pathetic is that? Seriously, I was that tired, yet, I couldn’t sleep! My body didn’t budge, but my eyes refused sleep. This was especially frustrating because I had to teach HIIT at 5:30 am.

I had planned to run four miles this evening, but – at the strong encouragement of my husband – stayed home instead. Rest is good, right? I teach bootcamp again in the morning, and we will be focusing on arms and abs, purposely avoiding power squats (that’s for my benefit, not the participants’). I might try to run a couple of miles on the treadmill before hitting the shower, but my legs might just have a different plan.

Then I will rest up for Friday. Hopefully my friend Jennifer will be running part of my long run with me. It goes so much quicker when someone is with me. I enjoy solo runs, but have done far too many in the past couple months. Because I still lack confidence in my knee and my endurance, I have hesitated to run with others much. And for some reason, this race is really personal to me, and I just want to do it on my own. Weird, huh? I am really excited for my friends who are running, especially those who will complete their first half marathon, but this race is for me – and for my friend Katie, as I previously posted. After bailing at the 8-mile mark last year, not running a single race since, and going through knee surgery, this is, perhaps, my most important race to date. Just a couple months ago, I was convinced I would never run 13.1 again; I just couldn’t do it. Then running seemed to get a little better, and I was able to run a little farther, and I decided that I have to run 13.1 again. I cannot give up what I love, until my legs refuse to move. Last year, I spent a lot of time focusing on several of my ‘newbie’ friends, and I loved it. This year it is going to take all of my focus and energy to get myself across that finish line. Once I cross, and I will even if I have to crawl or ride piggy back on someone, I will celebrate with everyone else. Lord, I hope I make it.

I said that running has gotten a little easier, but it is still so flippin’ difficult. Every single run takes so much effort right now. I am not running nearly as fast as I was a year ago, but I feel like I am putting in even more effort. We all have tough runs, but I would like to have just a few easy ones. Monday was a beautiful day, and I had looked forward to my run all day as I looked out the windows of my classroom. I was finally going to be able to run in shorts and a tank, and work up a great sweat. My legs felt like bricks. Most of the time, my first mile is tough, but then I fall into a rhythm, and it gets easier. That never happened. I had run five miles Sunday, so once I hit the three-mile mark, I stopped. I could run no further. I walked the mile back to my car, and chalked it up to a bad day…another bad day.

I have thought about goals for the race. Common sense tells me that my only goals should be to enjoy running the race (which is an incredible race with a huge crowd on a beautiful course), and to cross the finish line with my knee healthy. My husband would tell you I don’t often use common sense. The last time I finished Derby, my time was 2:04, and my last complete half marathon time was 1:59. While I know it impossible to get close to those times, I would still like to have a respectable time. And, I have been online looking at last year’s times. I always say I am not going to do that, but I always do. Always. I really have no idea what to expect. When Jackie and I ran our 10-miler, we ran about a 10:26 pace, and usually one runs faster in a race just because of the adrenaline (and because I get caught up in the crowd). If I could run a 10:00 pace, I would finish in 2:11. First, I don’t know if that is possible; second, I surely wish I could run faster. I should just finish this to prove I can run that far, and then concentrate on running faster for a fall half marathon. Will I? Do you see how there is a constant battle going on in my head? No wonder I couldn’t sleep.

My mind will be in turmoil for the next 17 days. My stomach will likely follow suit at some point, hopefully not race morning! That would be awkward. I am not a fan of porta-potties! My next few blogs will probably provide more information about the race than you care to know, but as you know, I write whatever is on my mind (not everything – you’d be shocked if you knew what all goes on in my head; it’s very cluttered in there).

Run on, Friends!

Drumroll, please…

I know – I just blogged last night, and I usually don’t blog twice in one week. However, I finally made a decision, and I want to share what gave me the kick in the butt I needed.

After posting my whiny blog about being uncertain about my ability to complete the Derby Mini, I received a text from a friend. I have known Katie for many years; I kept up with her success as she ran cross country in high school, and then received a scholarship to run at Belmont. We have been friends with her family for a long time, so I won’t forget the day that we received the news that Katie had cancer. We were in Virginia Beach visiting my step-daughter, and Katie’s dad called my husband to tell him that Katie had been diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. Katie fought the disease and won; and then she fought it again – and won again. Despite joining the ‘survivor’ list, the disease and treatments took a toll on her young body. Katie’s lungs have scar tissue, which hinders her breathing during strenuous activity. Long story short – at this time, she can’t run. She is now a junior high science teacher, and she coaches cross country and track. While she is involved in running, she can’t get out there and do what she loves. 

So, last night I received this text from Katie:  Run the Derby! I would give up lots to be able to run it, even if it was an 11:00 pace! Do it!

That’s all it took. I had been complaining because I might have to walk a little, or I might be slower than I was in the past. I have no reason to whine. I can run, and I am going to run for Katie. I am going to tattoo her name on my arm (Just kidding! Permanent marker will do!), and when the race gets tough – which it will – I will look at my arm, think about the battle Katie won, and I will be her lungs and legs. I will never be half the runner Katie was in college, but that’s okay. I am who I am, which is a middle-aged nana who loves running.

Incidentally, Katie will be home that day with her four-day-old baby!

This morning (before I could chicken out), I registered. And since it cost $75, I’m not backin’ out! I had planned to run five miles after school, and because the forecast was for sunny skies and 60 degrees, I was really excited about the run. It wasn’t sunny, and it wasn’t 60, but it was a great run. I don’t know if it was because I was now officially training, but I ran better than I have for months. I wasn’t worried about my pace, but at the one mile mark the little lady in my ear said I had run it in 9:49. My pace felt good, so I just kept it up. I ended with an average pace of 9:29, and miles four and five were 9:16 and 9:18 – smokin’! It was one of those runs that when I finish I just want to cheer for myself. People give me strange looks when I do that.

Though my time was good for me, there was this group of fast runners out at the same time. They happen to be my friends, Jennifer, Kelly, and Tomi Jo, and I am oh, so envious. I saw them take off, and wished I could keep up with them. As I was flying down the street, I came up with this analogy: I am a senior on the freshman team, and those three are varsity. I want to be on varsity, but know I just don’t have the ability (or young legs) that they have. Seriously, they just blew past me when I thought I was running fast!  

When I arrived at our humble cabin in the woods, there was a box outside. My new running shoes had arrived! Maybe those beautiful shoes will help me make varsity! Or not. But I’ll look good! 

A Tough Decision

I made a deal with myself. If I could run nine miles this past weekend, I would sign up for the Derby Mini. I ran nine miles. I haven’t signed up. I just keep going back and forth and back and forth. I eeked out nine miles without walking, but at a slow pace; I averaged 11-minute miles. Last year – presurgery, pre-physical therapy – Jackie and I ran ten miles at a 9:20 pace while training. That’s super-fast for me. The last half marathon I completed, I ran a 9:09 pace – that’s smokin’ fast for this grandma! Saturday as I ran, I kept telling myself that the pace didn’t matter; I just wanted to see if I could run nine miles. I told myself (obviously, I spend far too much time in conversation with myself) that should I choose to run Derby, time would not matter. It would be awesome just to finish.

It wasn’t long ago that the idea of ever being able to run 13 miles again seemed as impossible as winning the lottery. I don’t play the lottery. Saturday, it seemed within reach. My run was difficult; I still don’t have my endurance built back up. At the four mile mark I said some not-so-nice words because I couldn’t believe I had only run four miles, and still had five to go. And then I got to five, and thought Only four more to go! I thought about the cheering crowds lining the streets of Louisville, and the drunk frat boys who always stand outside their house yelling as we run past. I thought about the little kids holding their sweaty hands out for high-fives as we trot by. I thought about my husband waiting for me at the finish line, and the pride that would be in his eyes as I cross the line (he truly is an amazing source of support for me). I LOVE the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon! There are 18,000 runners, tons of crowd support, and a beautiful course. I want to be there, and I don’t want to be on the sidelines. But (here I go) what will happen when I run through Churchill Downs? Will I have heart palpitations as I remember that point last year when my knee finally gave up? Will I cry? Would it be really cool to run that particular race because I haven’t run a race since last year’s Derby mini, and I returned to that same race? Is my knee really ready or will I just reinjure it by pushing too far too soon?

Derbymini

I have an appointment with my gyno this week (TMI?), and I will ask for his opinion. While that might sound odd, the reason I go to this particular doctor is that he is a marathoner and triathlete. No, he isn’t an orthopedic doctor, but I trust his opinion. He helped me through the half I ran after my hysterectomy. Funny story…last year at my appointment, I was sitting on that lovely table in my stylish paper towel gown, and we started talking about the IronMan that Gary and I had gone to watch. Doc whips out his Iphone and shows me pictures of him in that IronMan! Awkward. After talking with him, and attempting a 10-miler this weekend, I will decide. I will have to because they have a cap on the race, and if I wait too long, I won’t get in. And then I’ll be pissed.

In other news, Tabata Bootcamp is becoming quite the popular class! Breanne is starting her next session, and had to add another group because there wasn’t enough room in one class. My crazy-early-morning class also filled up, so I will also be adding another group. I will be teaching two classes before school on Mondays and Thursdays, and one class on Wednesdays. I see some early bedtimes in my near future. I am really enjoying having my evenings free to be a mom. After school today I was able to get groceries and fix dinner before the girls came home from tennis practice. While that might be typical in your home, it isn’t in mine. And I don’t have to feel guilty about not working out because I did Tabata and ran two miles before school today. Who knows? Perhaps I can do a better job at keeping up with this blog.

These will make me faster!

These will make me faster!

By next week, I will post my decision. Just in case I register, I ordered some super-cool new Asics! Although I had planned to get the Cumulus, the Asics 2000 come in a neon yellow that I just love, so that’s what I bought. I bet they make me really fast! When my daughters will little, any time they got new shoes, they would take off running and swear that the shoes made them fast. Now, who wants to run ten miles with me Saturday? And feel free to comment if you have an opinion on the Derby.

The End of an Era…

Maybe it isn’t the end of an era, but it is the end of something I love. This week was my last official week of teaching Zumba. This is my second school year teaching Zumba (yes, teachers gauge time based on school years), and I have so enjoyed the opportunity to share a fun form of exercise with others, the friends I have made along the way, and the chance to dance like I know what I’m doing a couple times a week. I’ve tried to make my classes fun, while also providing a kick-ass workout for participants.  Despite all of these positives, there was one negative that over-shadowed all the good.  It is killing my knees.  [Disclaimer:  Although you probably think this picture is me, it really isn’t. My hair isn’t that long.]

zumba

I was hopeful that after surgery last fall, I could return to all the things I love with no issues. My surgery knee would hurt on occasion, but it was tolerable for awhile. Right after the first of the year, I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to teach Zumba much longer, and began making preparations to step aside.  The twisting and lateral movement are just too hard on my already weakened knees. My first love is running, and I really want to get back to being able to run half marathons, so the decision was made to give up my classes. It wasn’t an easy one; I wavered for the last two months. This week, my knees hurt like crazy during class, so I knew I had made the right decision.  It’s still sad, but I will move on. I am, fortunately, still able to teach Tabata Bootcamp, and am adding a new HIIT class on Wednesday mornings. Between teaching those classes, helping out Biggest Loser teams, and running, I will be busy.  I also had a couple of students ask me if I would help them run, which, of course, I am thrilled to do.  Who knows? I might even hit a few of my husband’s spinning classes (but I hear they are really hard).

About running…I am slowly scratching my way back to being a runner. I have really struggled this winter (this long, crappy winter) because I just don’t want to run in the cold. In previous winters, I have really enjoyed cold-weather running. Heck, I felt like a bad-ass out there in 20 degree weather, the wind ripping through my hair, sleet smacking at my face. Not this winter.  My bad-ass has been on a treadmill.  I have been on the treadmill more this winter than I have the past five years. I just don’t want to bundle up when I can wear shorts and a tank and work up a good sweat indoors.

Someday spring will arrive, and I will be ready to hit the streets.  I need to – I am contemplating running the Kentucky Derby Mini in April. Honestly, I don’t know if I can do it because my knees still hurt, but I am going to attempt to train, and see what happens. If I am not extremely confident that I can finish, I will back out.  I won’t go through the trauma I went through last year when my knee screamed at me to give it up. I won’t sit on a street corner in Louisville, freezing cold and crying while I wait for a ride.  I won’t get in a elevator after hobbling back into the hotel, and be faced with an 80 year old man with a finisher’s medal around his neck, while I go home empty-handed. I know that I have no chance to PR; that won’t be my goal. If I run, I will run with my friend Debbie, who will be running her first half marathon. If I run, I will finish.  I won’t be stupid and continue running if my knee begins to hurt (Lord, I hope I don’t eat those words).  I will walk if I have to (Lord, I hope I don’t have to).  And I won’t be jealous of those who PR (Yes, yes, I will be jealous, but I will smile).

What are you doing to stay healthy?  Exercising?  Eating veggies?  Meditating?  Hoping your skinny friends get fat?  Go out and live life!  If you need a mentor, there are lots of us who are willing to help.  Fitness has changed our lives.  We are not only healthier and happier, but we have some amazing friends whom we have come to know through our fitness endeavors.

run

 

The Evansville Half Marathon

Jennifer Land, me, and Jackie Fischer after finishing

Every race offers a unique experience.  Some are amazing; I feel great, run well, and enjoy the atmosphere.  Others are not quite so incredible; I feel tired, don’t run as well as I’d like, and the atmosphere is less than uplifting.  Sunday’s half marathon was an odd mix of the two.

Though I felt I had adequately trained, I hadn’t put in the miles I normally do when training for a long race.  I ran between 2 and 4 miles a couple times a week, and ran 5 miles during the week only a couple of times.  I did my long runs on the weekends, but never concerned myself with speed.  I taught Zumba classes 4 times a week while training, so I was curious as to what, if any, effect that might have on my running.  It is definitely a great workout, and I work different muscles, but I wasn’t sure if it would actually improve my endurance or speed.

In the days leading up to the race, I kept telling myself that I needed to be drinking more water so I would be properly hydrated – but Diet Mountain Dew and Diet Pepsi found their way to my thirsty lips.  I also knew that I needed to eat healthy (non-gassy) foods.  But then we went to this great wedding the evening before the race, and not only was there fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and bread, but there was this fantastic dessert spread.  I knew it was fantastic because my daughter made the cheesecakes (and someone had to test them), and I baked some of the cookies (I tested those too).  There were cupcakes, mini apple pies, cake pops…and on and on!  I have always admitted that I have an extreme weakness for sweets.  If it’s available, I am going to eat it.  No willpower at all.  So, we piled our plates with desserts, anxious to try each one.  That wasn’t exactly the best pre-race nutrition (but, gosh, it was delicious!).

In my previous post, I mentioned that cleaning out the system is necessary before a good run.  When a runner gorges on fried food and dessert, it becomes even more crucial to evacuate.  But sometimes it doesn’t happen.  It didn’t happen.  I won’t go into the particulars, but I had this really heavy feeling the whole time I ran.  It was not pleasant.  It actually took a couple of days to feel normal.  ‘Nough said.

Race morning, Jackie, Kassi, and I left town at 5:00 a.m.  It was a cold morning!  I had stressed all week over what to wear for this race.  We all ended up in running capris and long-sleeved shirts, which was perfect for the temps.  Once we all arrived at Reitz High School, the starting point for the Evansville Half, the waiting game began.  We waited inside to try to stay warm, all the while contemplating just how our runs would go.  We had agreed that we would each run our own race.  My first half, I ran with Jackie.  I am so glad to have met that goal hand-in-hand with one of my best friends!  However, we have discussed how we talked the entire way, and that now we are wise enough to realize that talking takes a lot of energy, and that we run faster when we aren’t chatting.  So we all lined up together, but once that gun went off, we were each in our own zones.

I really get into a different zone during a race.  I have so much running through my head that I am better off by myself.  My goal for this race was to be in the top 20 in my division.  In April, I ran the Derby Half in 2:04, which was a 9:29 pace.  I wanted to be able to run that pace, but really didn’t think I could run that fast again.  My strategy (and I use that term very loosely) is always to run hard – and faster than normal – as long as I can, and if I have to slow down, I will.  I figure it will still average out to be a faster time.  I took off fast (for me).  I didn’t obsess over my time throughout the race.  I checked my watch a few times when I hit a mile mark, and knew early on that I was running well.  I just knew I wanted to give everything I had so that I would have no regrets.  At about mile 7 or 8, the back of my knee began to hurt.  A lot.  I had never had that pain before, and wasn’t sure what had caused it.  The pain remained for the rest of the race.  At one point, I thought I might have to stop because it was so uncomfortable, but I just kept going.  I knew that I was limping at some points, and my race pictures show a miserable look on my face.  I just kept plugging along, and by then, I wasn’t really worried about my time.  I just wanted to keep running.  I finally got to mile 12, and I looked at my watch.  When I read 1:49 and realized that if I could maintain my pace, I would break 2 hours – which is something I NEVER thought I would do – I was determined to push through the discomfort.  I could hold up one more mile.  I got about a block or two from the finish line and heard my friends yelling for me.  I looked at my watch and saw that I was going to make it!  I kicked it up and sprinted (picture old-lady sprint) to that finish line.  1:59:43!  It was close, but I did it!  I knocked 4 minutes off my previous time, and I broke 2 hours.  I had also placed 19/119 in my division.  I was ecstatic!  Though I felt bad for my husband because he was unable to run due to having had surgery, I was surely glad that he was at the finish line to greet me.  He is my biggest supporter, and at that moment, I needed him with me.

I still don’t know how I was able to maintain a 9:09 pace for 13.1 miles.  I believe that the Zumba made a difference.  I also listened to music for the first time in a long race.  I found that I liked it, but I don’t think it made that big of a difference.  This was one of the hardest, most uncomfortable races I have run, so now I wonder what would happen if I had eaten properly in the days leading up to a race, hydrated with water, had no pain, and maybe even used some of those energy gels.  Could I run faster?

I have now run 4 half marathons.  My times have been 2:13 (Fall ’10) 2:08 (Spring 2011), 2:04 (Spring 2012), and now 1:59.  To know that though I am getting older, I can still improve my speed is so satisfying.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are too old to do anything!  I am looking forward to continuing to challenge myself to reach new goals.  Just a few short years ago, I could not even imagine myself running a mile.  Really.  It took me weeks and weeks just to be able to run one mile on the treadmill, and then more time to get up to two miles.  This coming April, I will be running my 5th half marathon, and with me will be several newbies.  I am so excited to get to share this adventure with them because I know how amazing they will all feel when they cross the finish line of their first half marathon!

I cannot post about the Evansville race without congratulating my friends.  First, Kim Strobel – my goodness!  Kim is a beast!  She tied for 3rd place OVERALL in the women’s group.  That’s 3rd out of over 1100 women!  She is just freaky fast.  I couldn’t be more proud!  Jackie Fischer beat her previous time by 4 minutes – amazing!  Kassi Rogers, who injured her foot a couple weeks before the race, and had to take several days off running, was determined to run the race, and finished with a great time – not the time she had hoped for, but she hadn’t hoped for an injury either.  Her determination is so impressive.  Jennifer Land had another fantastic race.  She has faced injuries over the past year and a half, and wasn’t happy with her time, but we all are.  She rocked!  Eric Kehl…he worked his tail off to get in at 1:57, also breaking the 2 hour mark.  Sarah Kluender fell on Saturday and looked like she had been in a fight (and lost), yet was also determined to run this race.  Amy Hollinden and Sophie Fischer ran the race together, and they managed to talk the whole way AND break 2 hours!  They came in at 1:57 as well.  Debbie Reed ran her first half marathon!  Getting in training runs was difficult because of her work schedule and kids’ activities, but she managed to get it done, and crossed that amazing finish line in her first 13.1!  I am so proud to call these runners my friends.  I have said many times that running is an incredible sport because runners are so supportive of one another.  When one of us is having a tough day or feeling bad about a run, there are plenty of friends around to lift us back up.  When someone has a great run, we are all sincerely happy for him or her.  I am truly proud of all of my friends!  Thank you all for inspiring me every single day.  Your passion, determination, and work ethic show me what it takes to be a better person.

Running a Mini

First, let me say that this is my second writing of this post.  I wrote over 2000 words, hit post, and it disappeared!  I had spent a lot of time on that one, so with any luck, this one will go through.  Anyway…here goes round two…

As I was lined up with 18,000 other runners awaiting the start of the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/Mini Marathon, I began to wonder how I could describe what it is like to run a mini marathon – 13.1 miles.  I know that a few short years ago, I would have wondered why any somewhat sane person would even want to run that far.  What fun could it possibly be to run that far?  Now that I have experienced it, I get it.

Even before the official race day, one can feel the energy building.  Gary and I arrived in Louisville Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel.  We immediately saw many other runners in our building.  We headed to the expo, and found that the city was filled with runners.  We were excited just to be a part of such a big race.  Race day morning we awoke before the crack of dawn, donned our running garb, and began the trek to the starting line.  The start of the race was 6:30 am our time.  I am never much for small talk the morning of any race.  My thoughts are on trivial things such as the weather and what exactly to wear, whether or not I will need my sunglasses, if my stomach is going to hold up, and did I pee enough before leaving the hotel room.  Gary has learned just to let me be.  Despite my obsession over, well, everything, I still took in all the runners around me.  The anticipation was building as we marched closer to the starting line.

Lining up in my designated corral, I kissed Gary and we wished one another a great run, and then I was on my own.  With 18,000 other people.  It was crowded!  I kept my crowd anxiety in check, and scanned the runners around me.  Runners come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and abilities, but we all had one thing in common – we all wanted to run our best race that day.  For some running their best race meant just enjoying time with friends and checking another race off their lists; for others it meant breaking a personal record; and for those elite runners, it meant winning.  There were people running for charities or in memory of loved ones.  Some were celebrating recent weight loss.  I even saw a few who were celebrating weddings.

Once the national anthem began the crowd quieted.  We were all enthralled by the emotion of the moment.  It was almost time.  Our time.  A time we had trained for for months.  The weather was perfect, the runners excited, and the crowd supportive.  The energy of all involved provided the boost I needed to start strong.  The gun finally sounded, and the fast runners were off.  Me, well I had to wait about five minutes for the not-so-fast runners to begin.  And so it began.  I embarked upon my journey.  I started off fast <for me>, but had decided I would just listen to my body and run fast if I could, and slow down if I needed to.

There are many things that inspire and encourage runners along the way.  The crowd support in Louisville is incredible.  Many spectators hold signs, and I try to read most of them as I run by.  My favorite sign of the day was ‘Your training lasted longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage’.  Another thing that kept me going was bible passages.  Many runners had scriptures on the back of their shirts, and I seemed to come upon them at just the right times.  One of my favorites, which I not only saw a few times during the race, but my friend Amy also sent me before the race, was ‘They that hope in the Lord shall renew their Strength, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.’  Isaiah 40:31.  How inspiring that was just when I was feeling weak.  I do thank God every run.  I am so grateful to Him for the strength, endurance, and good health to complete every run.

Along with God, Elvis also provided some much-needed inspiration.  And not just one Elvis, but five.  I was just running along, when suddenly I spied the five Elvises running ahead.  They looked awesome!  I ran beside them for a few seconds just so I could say I ran with Elvis.  There were also some young ladies who wore small versions of the fancy derby hats, and two female spectators who had put a table on the sidewalk, complete with a tablecloth and a vase with flowers.  They were enjoying tea while watching the race.  There were small children cheering on parents, and senior citizens reminiscing about their youth.  There were also DJs and bands spaced out perfectly.  Nothing like a little music to put some pep in your step!

After running through Churchill Downs, which is amazing, the marathoners break right, and the mini marathoner head back toward downtown.  That’s when it started getting hard.  Really hard.  I was getting tired, and I was starting to hurt.  Thankfully, it was about that time that the police yelled at us to move over…the first of the marathoners was coming through!  These two men, presumably Kenyans, were running at about a 6 minute pace – they were flat-out flying!  It was just an extraordinary moment when as they passed us, everyone started clapping and cheering them on.  I still get teary just thinking about it.  The energy from that sight carried me a bit further.

It took some serious effort to run the last three miles.  I had to keep reminding myself to look up and hold my shoulders back.  I kept staring at the ground in front of me, which would cause me to slump.  Slumping isn’t good.  One cannot breathe properly when slumped over trying to drag her body along.  As we ran toward downtown, the crowds grew.  I hope they know how much their cheering helps the runners.  Whether it’s true or not (in my case it most certainly was not), someone yelling, “You’re looking strong!” makes a runner feel just a little stronger.

We finally turned right onto Main Street.  Only one half mile to go!  I was so tired, and I wanted it to be over.  At that point I no longer cared about my time; I just wanted it to end.  I pushed hard, and finally crossed the finish line.  I had done it!  And, of course, I immediately checked my watch – I had beaten last year’s time by over a minute!  I was excited, but I also had an overwhelming urge to puke.  Really.  I didn’t, but it was surely questionable.  I grabbed a water, got my token race photo taken, and bypassed the food.  No way could I have stomached a bagel or banana at that point.  And beer?  No way.  They had beer at the post-race party.  I don’t like beer on a good day, but just the thought of it after the race was nauseating.  Apparently I was in the minority because the beer line was terribly long.  Gross!

My race time was 2:04:11, which is an 9:29 pace.  Last year I ran a 9:37 pace.  I was beyond thrilled.  I placed 94 out of 602 in my age group – woo hoo!!!  I was 1534 out of 6939 total females, and 4074 out of 12,104 total runners.  Maybe 4000th isn’t anything to brag about, but I beat 8000 people!  Considering I am not an athlete, and I just started running three years ago, I think I rocked it!

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that someone accused him of boasting because he posted about his recent weight loss.  Really?  I’d hate to hear what they’d say about me.  Why shouldn’t we all be proud of our accomplishments?  I think he should announce his weight loss from his roof top!  He worked hard to reach a goal and to become healthier.  Yeah!   I believe that by sharing when we meet goals, whether it be weight loss, career goals, earning a diploma or degree, or running a race, we can inspire others to continue to reach for dreams and to tackle that which intimidates them.  I would much rather read about achievements than read complaints and harsh words about others.  We should take pride in living life to its fullest, and continuing to set goals even in later years.  We should celebrate with one another and be happy for our friends!  I am certainly happy for all who saw their dreams come true in Louisville!

I must also ‘boast’ on my husband, who continues to inspire me to lace up.  His goal in the mini marathon was to finish in less than three hours.  His time:  3:00:02!  He was not happy – at all – about those 2 seconds, but he did it!  He knocked three minutes off his previous half marathon time.  We were both happy with our performances, but gosh, we were sore and tired!  We treated ourselves to a steak lunch after checking out of our hotel, and then headed home to hold down the couch the rest of the day.  Today we managed to limp into church, and as the day went on, we began to loosen up.  Was it worth it? Absolutely.  I wish I could etch every special moment along the course into my mind so I could share it with my friends, but there are simply too many of those moments to try to remember.  There really is nothing like the camaraderie of running.

So what’s it like to run a mini?  It’s tiring.  It’s envigorating.  It’s exhausting.  It’s inspiring.  It’s painful.  It’s fulfilling.  It is life-changing.

Nana’s Gonna Run 13.1!

The weekend is upon us.  The weekend of the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon, that is.  Gary and I have been planning this weekend for months, and I am thrilled it is finally here, but with it comes apprehension.  I am pretty certain I can bust out 13.1 miles.  The adrenaline rush from the other 17,999 runners and the amazing crowd support will make up for my aging legs and nervous thoughts.  The issue is that I ran this race last year, so I have something to live up to.  I have a time to beat, or at the very least match.  I am working hard to not get too caught up in times, but I know come Saturday morning at 6:30 am, I will take out too fast trying to keep up with runners I have no business trying to keep pace with.  It just happens.

We are taking off at noon tomorrow so we can check into our hotel – the Galt House 🙂 (which just happens to be an extraordinary hotel on the riverfront) – and then hit the expo.  That is where we will gather our race bibs and race t-shirts, and then browse the vendor booths.  Dinner will likely be in the Fourth Street Live area, and will consist of some type of pasta.  Hopefully whatever I eat won’t haunt me during the race.  That would suck.  I am concerned about the weather.  The temps should be okay, but there is a chance of rain all day.  I can run in the rain, but for a race I much prefer sunshine.  It is difficult for Gary to run in the rain because of his glasses.

Last year we had some friends who were also running the race, and one friend, Jen, who was there to support us, but because of an injury two weeks before the marathon, she was unable to run.  Although I will miss our friends being with us, I am looking forward to a weekend away with my husband.  It will go quickly as we are heading home after the run, but we will savor those rare moments when only we matter (sorry, kids!).

I will most certainly blog about the race no matter how it turns out.  My students, who are from 8 to 10 years old, still don’t understand why I would run a race and not plan to win.  I have explained OFTEN, but they still don’t get it.  Today they told me that if I can’t win the race, they hope that I at least get 3rd or 4th.  Sure.  It makes no sense to a third grader that I would be happy to place 9000th.  Actually, my goal is to place in the top 25% of my division.  Top 20% would be awesome.  One advantage I have is that I moved up an age group this year.  Only in running is aging an advantage!

Below I am including a picture of us from last year’s race: Tony Hollinden, Jennifer Land, me, Gary, and Kick-Ass Runner Kim Strobel.  It is the race the Kim qualified for the Boston Marathon, and consequently landed a big spread in today’s Perry County News!  What wonderful memories of that day!  Now the focus is on making wonderful memories at this year’s Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon!  Run On, Rock Star!

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