Another Half Marathon in the Books!

I thought we were smart to run a half marathon the first weekend of November. We would be able to do our long training runs during October, so it would be a little cooler. November 1 would likely be cool, but quite comfortable for a run. I imagined a bright crisp day, just perfect for runners, but maybe a bit cool for the spectators. Ahhhh…perfect running weather!

Then we arrived in Indianapolis for the Monumental Half Marathon. And it was freezing. I had kept a close eye on weather.com, but had hoped the meteorologists were mistaken. A 30 degree high? A windchill of 18? No way. Friday evening we did everything we could to avoid going outside. Thank goodness for the skywalks from the hotel to the expo and mall. We did have to venture out into the bitter cold to go to dinner. It was snowing! On Halloween night, it was snowing. The night before our race, it was snowing. It was only flurries that melted when they hit the ground, but I did not want to see any sort of white flakes. My niece from Chicago met us in Indy, and had failed to check the weather. She was not prepared for a cold run; we took care of that at the expo.

As we were getting ready for the race Saturday morning, my husband had the local news on, and indeed, the windchill was 18  degrees! It was time to layer up…three layers of shirts, leggings, earband, gloves, shorts over leggings. I was so grateful that our hotel was just around the corner from the starting line. When we arrived in the lobby that morning, we were greeted by a lobby full of runners who were waiting until the last possible moment to head to the starting line. We joined them in waiting. My sister was with us and had planned to watch the race. I knew the cold temps would be much harder on her than on us. Once we began to run, we would warm up. She was going to freeze.

preindy

It was finally time for the race to begin. As I previously posted, this was to be Erin’s first half marathon. Erin had not trained for her first half marathon. I promised her that we would walk if necessary, and I was prepared to just enjoy the race without worrying about my time. I was also running this race for a charity, which I had never done. Two weeks before the race, I decided I would raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. In those two weeks, my friends and family donated $1775; that is better than any PR.

I kissed my husband as he headed to his starting point, and Erin and I found our place. Usually I am so nervous before a race that my stomach is upset and my mind is racing. I wasn’t nervous at all for this race. I was there with 10,000 other runners, ready to run my sixth half marathon.

The starting line on the Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon

The starting line on the Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon

The gun went off, and we were off – well, it actually took Erin and I five minutes to get to the starting mat. The first five miles went by pretty quickly. After about two miles, I began to warm up. As we ran around Monumental Circle, a large crowd lined the street. There is no better feeling than running through a cheering crowd. It really energizes me. The best sign of the day said Could you hurry up! We’re freezing! At mile six, the sun came out. Erin and I had both bought new running sunglasses at the expo, so we were happy to see the bright sun. When we were just about to the split where the half marathoners turned back toward downtown and the marathoners took off in the other direction, I heard someone call my name. My friends Heidi and Derrick were running their first marathon, and were coming up to pass us. I was so glad to get to see them; I was there for their first half marathon, and was so proud they were now running a full.

I mentioned that Erin had not trained for this race. She made me promise to walk. At about mile eight, she said that at mile ten we were going to speed up and finish strong. What?! I let her know I was not speeding up; I just wanted to maintain and finish. She was welcome to take off, and it wouldn’t offend me in the least. I didn’t feel bad, but my legs were getting tired. She stayed with me until the last mile, and ended up finishing about two minutes before me. I know that she could have finished much faster if she hadn’t stuck with me for twelve miles. Erin ran a 10k at the end of September, and hadn’t run more than four miles since then. And she ran an entire half marathon. Without walking. Even though I wanted to not like her, I was beyond proud. I had tried to convince her to run a half marathon for a couple of years, and she didn’t think she could. She did…without training.

Race Bling!

Race Bling!

While I’d like to say we basked in the glory at the post-race festivities, we didn’t. We grabbed our medals, hats, and some chocolate milk, and because we were freezing the second we stopped running, we went right back to the hotel for hot showers. It was so cold, in fact, I didn’t even wait to watch Gary finish. I quickly showered and went to the lobby to wait for him to get back.

I must say, I felt better after this race than I usually do after running 13.1. I was tired and hungry (can’t-stop-eating hungry), but overall, I felt great. Today, the day after, the only issue I have is my right calf muscle hurts. And I still couldn’t stop eating. Last night I was already planning more races, and actually convinced my step-daughter to run a half with me in September 2015. And I would bet that Erin will be joining me for another race. Once a runner earns a medal, and experiences the thrill of crossing a finish line, she’s usually hooked. And if Erin could run as well as she did without training, imagine what she could do if she trained!

Run on, Friends!

Advertisements

Snow Day!

winter running A few short years ago when I began running, I was not fond of winter at all.  I found January and February to be very dreary, and anxiously awaited spring.  My friend Jackie and I had really gotten into running in the summer of 2009, and I had told her that I would NOT be running in the winter.  I would retreat to the treadmill and emerge when the daffodils began to pop through the thawing ground.  Why would I want to freeze my butt off outside?

As the temperature gradually began to go down, we just kept running.  And I kind of liked it.  I learned how to dress appropriately; I even started wearing running tights, which, by the way, are quite warm and comfy.  As winter settled in, we also settled in to our running routine.  Running in brutal temps and less-than-ideal conditions made us feel like true athletes.  We felt like beasts in the running world.  Granted, we are just a couple of middle-aged friends who happen to enjoy running, but on those particular runs, we were elite athletes training for our next race, and a little snow and potential frost bite would not keep us indoors!

We have just begun to see signs of true winter recently.  Of course, only in Southern Indiana can we run in shorts on Tuesday and leggings and multiple layers Wednesday.  And that’s no exageration  – Gary, my sister, and I went for a quick run before heading to the gym Tuesday evening, and Gary and I had on shorts (and I was hot), and by Wednesday night when Jackie, Kassi, and I ventured out, it was blustery and freezing.  I attempted to get out of that run because it was also sprinkling, but we decided (actually, Jackie decided) that we would run.  The first four miles were chilly, but once our bodies adapted, it felt great.  The last mile we turned and headed west toward the river.  And the wind was wicked!  We had to work extremely hard to push against the wind’s mighty resistance.  In our elite-athlete minds, that was good for counting an extra mile in our run!

Last night my sister and I went to Jasper (about an hour away) to watch my daughter swim.  It had begun to snow on the way there, and I wondered what we would find when we left the meet.  We stayed less than an hour because Addison swam early, and when we walked out, it was into blowing wind and icy temps.  We ran to the car, and as we were running, I told my sister that I would love to be out running.  She thought I was weird.  I told her that the snow falling made it so peaceful, and that when I finish a run like that, I feel like I can do anything.  She was not convinced.  At all.  And this from a woman who lived many years in Minnesota.

(What I don’t like to do in the snow is drive, and the conditions driving home from that swim meet were terrible.  I white-knuckled it all the way home.  We made it in about an hour and 15 minutes, which wasn’t bad.  The team?  It took the bus 2 hours and 40 minutes.  There was a whole lot of anxious parents.  Kudos to the bus driver, John.  What an incredible responsibility he had.)

My hope is if the snow hangs around a couple of days, I will get to run in the white stuff.  There isn’t much, but it will still offer a serene and challenging course.  Today – on our snow day – I have to go have some gross growth on my leg removed.  I hope that I will be able to get a run in since this nasty little growth happens to be right by the bend of my knee.  Let me digress for a moment…a friend, who happens to be a nurse, was at the gym the other night.  She gave me some rather strange advice.  She said to sleep with bacon – yes, bacon – wrapped on my leg.  I should put the fatty part over said growth.  Of course, I was apprehensive, but she said it would me the little procedure less painful because it would draw the nastiness to the surface.  Bacon it was.  So, the past two nights, I slept with bacon attached to my leg.  And I am admitting that on a public forum.  Sorry if you are grossed out.

If you run at all, particularly if you are new to the sport, don’t let winter drive you to the treadmill.  Get out and experience winter as a runner.  Put on some tights (they are much warmer than sweatpants because wind can’t go up them), layer up your shirts, get some cheap gloves with which to wipe snot, and a hat or earband.  Venture out and enjoy your beastliness!  When mortals drive by, they will envy your toughness (or just think you’re nuts).  You will be that elite runner, and probably start receiving requests to appear on the cover of fitness magazines.  Or maybe just the local newspaper.  Or maybe your friend can post your elite-athlete photo on Facebook.  Either way, you will have done what few would even attempt.

A Young Woman Running During Winter.

Did I Miss Winter?

I am beginning to feel as if I slept through winter.  The past two mornings when I awoke, the sun was shining brightly through our windows and the birds were singing spring tunes.  Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t missed crawling out of my warm bed on bitter cold mornings, or risking my life sliding down ‘the hill’ trying to get to school.  I have enjoyed actually getting our scheduled days off rather than a random snow day here and there.  I am concerned, however, that summer might be unbearably hot, but I am willing to take that chance.

In the running world, the weather has been ideal.  I don’t mind running in the cold; it can actually be rather invigorating.  It always amazes me how quickly we warm up once we hit the pavement.  I have had some of my best runs on the coldest days, and my friends and I have had some of our most enjoyable – and memorable – runs in the most treacherous weather.  Just give us blizzard-like conditions, and we can laugh our way through a seven-miler.  Give us a sudden downpour sprinkled with some booming thunder and lightning, and we can book it, all the way feeling like true athletes (rather than the idiots passersby believe we are).   Just a few short years ago, no one could have paid me to go outside in the rain or the bitter cold.  Now I go willingly, and I like it!

This winter (can we really even call it winter?), we have had some gorgeous days; I have even run in shorts a couple times.  Today was one of those perfect running days.  Because of some stomach issues (no worries – I won’t go into those details) this weekend, I didn’t get a long run in.  My goal was to run eight miles yesterday, but I really didn’t think I should venture quite that far from my car.  I had intended to go to church, and head out for a run as soon as we got home.  It just wasn’t meant to be.  I didn’t even risk going to church.  I plopped my butt on the couch, and stayed there all morning.  After attending a bridal shower in the afternoon (eating a large slab of cake – guess the stomach didn’t feel too bad!), I decided to try a run.  Once I was out, I decided it would be best to run a few miles, and save the long run for another day. 

That day was today.  I knew the weather was going to be gorgeous today, so I really hoped my stomach would cooperate.  I didn’t feel great, but I was heading out.  I met my friend Jen, and we took off.  In February in Southern Indiana, one never knows what to expect, but I don’t usually expect to be able to wear running capris and a long sleeve shirt.  No gloves, no hat, no layers.  It was awesome.  Jen didn’t have time to run eight miles, so once I decided I wanted to keep going, I turned off to add some miles.  It wasn’t fast.  It didn’t feel good.  At all.  But I plugged along determined to get some mileage in. 

Once in awhile when I am out, some unexpected things keep me going and make my effort worth it.   Two such incidents happened today.  I was running south on a street in town, and the junior high track team was coming toward me.  The first runner was a boy whom I had when he was a third grader.  He stuck his hand out for a high five as we passed, which made my day.  I am certain he had no idea how much that meant to his old teacher (old meaning former, or old meaning, well, just old – you decide!).  About a mile later, I was running down another street in my eighth mile, and I was getting tired.  I ran past some children who were playing outside, and a little boy yelled, “Hi, Third Grade Teacher!”.  Again, it melted my heart.  Running in a small town, especially one in which I teach, can be great because the kids I pass many times holler at me, which really gives me little pushes along the way. 

I am determined to stay motivated.  Gary and I are running the Derby Festival Mini Marathon at the end of April, so I have to improve my running.  I also need to lose a couple more pounds and work on core strength.  I am continuing to work Zumba classes into my fitness routine because not only is Zumba a great calorie burner, it is just plain fun.  Morgan’s boyfriend who is in the Army will be here this weekend, and he is going to show me a workout with the kettlebell.  It’s going to hurt.  However, I am getting some serious arm flab, so kettlebell it is.  If I don’t blog for awhile, you will know that my arms no longer work. 

Enough rambling.  I’m tired from running.  It is time to zone-out before heading off to bed.  What did you do for your health today?