Bring it on!

Jennifer and me after 2010 Half

We have complained; we have celebrated; we have whined.  We have trained!  Since mid-August, my friends and I have been training for our 4th half marathon.  4th!  It wasn’t that long ago – 2 1/2 years – that I said very adamently that I would never run a half marathon.  Who would even want to run for over two hours? I asked.  I don’t have the time or the energy for that!  But then something happened.  Once I found out I could run 5 miles, I wondered if I could run 6.  And then I ran 6 – and wondered if I could run 7.  And so it goes.

Two years ago, my running (and life-long-totally-amazing) friend, Jackie, and I began to discuss running a half marathon.  The Evansville Half Marathon.  We, along with my husband and some other friends, decided to try it.  We totally rocked it!  On October 10, 2010, we completed our first half marathon…13.1 incredible miles…and we held hands as we crossed that finish line.  Our pace just so happened to be 10:10 on 10/10/10!  How great is that!

We haven’t run another half together.  I have run the Kentucky Derby Mini twice since then, and Jackie and my other best-life-long-super spectacular running friend, Jackie’s sister, Kassi, have run Evansville and Owensboro.  So this Sunday will be my first half with Kassi.  And I can’t wait!  Jackie, Kassi, and I have done most of our long training runs together.  The wonderful thing about there being three of us is that one of us can always take the lead.  When the other two are having a less-than-fantastic run, someone steps up and pulls us along.  I have yet to be the leader on a long run, but have had some rockin’ shorter runs.  On our last long run, I told Jackie I was glad it was the last one because if we had another, it would be my turn to lead!

Our last long run was my favorite.  My husband drove us out to a little church in the country (Lillydale), and dropped us off.  We took the old, winding highway 10 miles back to Kassi’s.  It was a gorgeous morning, and the countryside shone with fresh dew and sunshine.  The hills spilled before us, beckoning us to challenge ourselves.  Dogs barked threatening us should we choose to approach their houses; cows munched on straw and were oblivious to our passing.  Some miles we talked; some we ran side-by-side in silence.  Our relationship is such that we can be completely comfortable talking non-stop, but we are also comfortable with silence, each knowing the other is lost in her own thoughts.  Kass was the rock star that morning.  She stayed about a block’s distance in front of us, but at the end, we all finished together.  The week before, Jackie kicked butt.  She not only stayed blocks ahead of Kass and me, but she also ran 12 miles when our schedule only demanded 11.  Kass and I stuck with 11.

This past Saturday, we each had other obligations, so our not-quite-as-long runs had to be solo.  I ran Saturday afternoon.  Though I had planned to run 6 miles, it was so beautiful out that I stretched it out.  When I got back to my car, I was at 6.6 miles.  For some neurotic reason, I like to end with even mileage, so I ran until my Nike GPS Sportwatch read 7.0 – exactly.  If you run, you understand.  This week will will do a couple of short, easy runs.  And then Sunday, if all goes as planned, we will have an awesome run.  The thing about half marathons is that so much has to go right.  My stomach cannot be in the least bit upset – can’t be too hungry or too full.  Bowels need to be regular (If you run, you understand – promise!).   The temperature needs to be in the 60s.  My legs need to be rested, but not too rested.  Clothing has to be completely comfortable (and cute).  Allergies need to be in check.  If all of this is perfectly aligned, I can meet some goals.  My main goal is for the three of us to be in the top 20 in our division.  After analyzing last year’s results (yup, I really do that), I feel this is very possible.  Maybe even likely.

This weekend, several of my running friends will be running the half marathon, and I am sure that I will forget or miss someone, but I want to wish them all a great run!  Kassi, Jackie, Jen, Kim, Eric, Tony (you are going to run, aren’t ya, Tony?), Amy H, Sophie, Trish…and all the other TC runners – Kick some butt this weekend!  I will see you at the finish line.  And to my husband, I am so sorry you can’t run this weekend, but am glad you will be waiting for me at the finish line (with a Diet Pepsi?).  I can’t wait until April, when we, along with a bunch of newbies, rock the Derby Mini!  Run On, Friends!

(Pictures and captions just wouldn’t go where I wanted them!)

Gary and me – after completing our first half marathon!

Jackie and me finishing our first half marathon!

Let the training begin!

Time to get back to writing about running and fitness.  Both have become such a focal point in my husband’s and my life over the past three and a half years, and especially in the past three months as Gary has worked to lose almost fifty pounds (Can I hear a ‘Woo Hoo’!), and I have spent countless hours preparing to teach Zumba.  And now we have race day approaching.  I hardly have time for a job!

Several of my running friends, my husband, and I are now into our training for the Evansville Half Marathon that takes place on October 7.  I ran it two years ago.  It was my first half marathon, and I ran it with my friend Jackie.  It was a terrific experience for both of us.  Neither of us could even imagine running 13.1 miles when we began running.  It just seemed impossible.  As we continued to log miles, we also began to dream.  Just maybe we could pull it off.  And we did!  On 10/10/10, we ran our first half marathon at a 10:10 pace!  We were quite impressed with ourselves as we crossed that finish line hand-in-hand.  Since that time, I have run the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon twice, and Jackie has run Evansville again, as well as the Owensboro Half this past May.  Jackie, Kassi, and I (and sometimes Jennifer) will be training for this year’s Evansville together.

We began our long-run Saturdays last weekend.  Today we were scheduled to run eight miles.  The high today was going to be over 90, and it began to get hot early.  The heat just sucks on long runs.  We got our eight miles in, but we ran slowly, stopped to walk several times, and whined throughout the run.  One of the benefits of running with a couple of friends is that usually at least one of us is having a decent day and will push the others along.  Today was Kassi’s day.  Jackie was struggling to keep going, and I was willing to stop at any point, but Kassi saw to it we ran the full eight miles – and I am thankful she did!  I have never regretted sucking it up and completing a tough run.  I have regretted giving up.  Next weekend we want to run eight miles without all the walk breaks.  We might not be able to run together because of other obligations, but we will hold one another accountable.  And we will pray for much, much cooler temps!

Beginning in September, along with training for the big race, I will begin a busy Zumba schedule.  I will be teaching at least four classes a week, and will likely add one or two more.  I have worked hard to put together a good class, and look forward to sharing such a fun form of exercise with others.  I think it will be interesting to see how this form of cross-training affects my running.  Maybe I’ll be crazy fast!  Or not.  I know that I am in better shape physically than at any other point in my life, and that is good enough for me!  But running a wee bit faster would be a pretty sweet bonus!

How are you staying fit these days?  There are so many great forms of exercise, find one you enjoy!  You won’t regret it!

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