a few weeks ago, i decided to run a small trail half marathon in georgia. put on by a friend of the bunny, it was a good excuse to get away for a few days and spend some time with a friend i don’t get to see nearly enough. years ago she and i met over our blogs. a couple comments about a race led to emails and an eventual meeting that became what will no doubt be a lifetime friendship. we’ve run most of our marathons together. her now husband called me from their first date. and we’ve seen each other through some serious ups and downs.
mini-me and i headed up wednesday afternoon and it was nearly 9 p.m. when we got in. regardless of the exhaustion there were tequila shots ~ for me and the bunny NOT for mini-me ~ and lots of girl talk and giggles. i honestly have no idea what time we made it to bed though a text sent on my phone shows nearly 3 a.m. typical us no doubt. somehow there’s always a bottle of tequila and lots of laughter where ever we go.
the next morning i got up (somehow) and went for a seven mile run. i desperately wanted to hit the trails behind the house but it’s hunting season and private property or not, i prefer not to mess with country folk and their guns! i thought a lot on that run. maybe it was because it was thanksgiving and i felt a need to reflect though honestly the holiday itself hasn’t meant much to me since my cousin ~ who i spent many a turkey day with growing up ~ was killed in a car accident in 2003. but i reminded myself how lucky i am. great friends, an amazing daughter, a stable job and a comfy home. there truly was so much for me to be thankful for.
the thanksgiving meal itself was a tad bit odd. “dinner” at the bunny’s in-laws around noon that lasted maybe 45 minutes. it’s a small family and most live within a mile or so of one another so a lunch together isn’t necessarily a special occasion and they almost make my family pale in dysfunctionality. but regardless it was a nice meal complete with way too much food. the in-laws don’t drink. at all. so we left the tequila at home. but that night was another full of shots and complete hysterics.
the next morning we headed to the bunny’s other house in macon. she still spends half her weeks there for work (her pre-marriage world and home). we spent the afternoon helping to check and clear the trails for the race and i was definitely a bit intimidated. we don’t have many hills in florida and though there wasn’t anything extreme the entire course was rollers. since i have a half on the 8th that i’m hoping to PR i had no need to push the pace and given how tough the course looked to be, i vowed not to. but we all know better i’m too damn competitive! the bunny wasn’t running but she was manning the one aid station on course and mini-me was set to help her so we spent a quiet, tequila-free night getting ready.
saturday morning was a 34 degree start! not exactly what i’m used to but exactly what i love so i bundled up with extra layers.
but of course it was a mere few miles in that i was down to a t-shirt. though i kept on my gloves and hat. my absolute favorite running attire
i knew there were a couple women ahead of me but i wasn’t sure if they were running the half or full. admittedly i had my sights on a few i’d seen at the start with vows to pass as much as to not be passed but for the most part i ran simply to run. the weather was invigorating. the trails tough but beautiful. my pace was nothing spectacular but again, i was trying, very hard, not to care about time. i almost went down ~ four times! ~ and i even considered quitting. maybe not seriously but i was scared i was going to bust my butt and with my hopes riding on a PR this coming weekend i thought it might be better to play it safe. but i held in there and crossed the finish line at a 2:22. far from a PR and really not impressive but given the difficulty of the trails i felt pretty accomplished. the race director hung the medal around my neck and we sat there chatting for a few minutes before i looked down and read what was around my neck.
overall female finisher! really?!?! i was shocked!
we celebrated that night with ~ you guessed it ~ tequila a last night with the bunny that always comes too soon.
in some ways it didn’t feel like thanksgiving. there was certainly nothing typical turkey day about it and the few traditions i try to hang onto went wayside but i couldn’t have been more thankful for the time spent with a great friend and great trails!
i never really told the whole story about vinny, the male pitbull some asshole abandoned outside the ice rink where mini-me skates. tied up to the light pole at 4 p.m. in the afternoon in 90 degree weather with no food or water! it’s a long story but i’ll make it short. it took forever but we eventually trusted each other. i sat with him for hours trying to find a rescue group that could come get him but to no avail. he and i bonded but i couldn’t take him home not knowing how he’d do with my dog, my cat and my kid. so he went to the only place that would take him off the streets ~ animal services, the county kill shelter ~ and i vowed to get him out. within days i found a rescue group to pull him. but he became a political pawn in the issues and mismanagement of the shelter and was deemed unadoptable and schedule for euthanization by the director. i started an online petition, caused a stink and eventually got him released to the rescue from which he was eventually adopted.
happily ever after.
since then, mini-me and i have taken to visiting animal services. it’s heart wrenching but we hope that the little bit of light we can bring to the hundreds and hundreds of dogs let them know if only for a short while that not all humans suck. i’m pretty good at being the hard ass. always have been. as much as i want to save them all i know the problem is much bigger than me. but a month or so ago one little guy caught my eye. he was emaciated and cowered in the corner of his kennel. it took about 10 minutes of coaxing to get him to timidly come to the bars but even then he wouldn’t so much as sniff my hand. he was, no doubt, the kind of dog that any potential adopter would write off and given his scheduled next day euthanization date, apparently so had animal services. but as mini-me walked around behind me, he wouldn’t take his eyes off her. huge brown eyes begging for someone to love him and give him a chance!
for so many reasons, i knew we couldn’t adopt another dog. but suddenly i wanted to foster. why this guy i’m not sure. there were so many others. cuter. friendlier. but next thing i knew i was putting in the foster application and a few days later we busted him out of animal services and took him home. mini-me wanted to call him bailey. i was stuck on kyler. so we compromised and named him baylor.
kiva ~ our border collie ~ was a bit hesitant but welcomed him into her world. the cat on the other hand wasn’t so sure. but it didn’t take long for baylor to settle in. and little by little we’ve watched this pathetic animal transition into a new dog. a fear of eating became a food-crazed piglet. a permanently tucked tail turned to kisses and cuddles. a disinterest in everything was replaced with a love of tennis balls and rope tug-of-war with kiva. he’s learned to walk ~ and run with me ~ nicely on the leash. we’ve housebroken him and taught him a handful of commands. he’s smart. klutzy. strong. playful. and all together an amazing dog. it almost breaks my heart that i know some day soon i’m going to have to let him go to his forever home that we have yet to find ~ or really even try to find. but i know it’s what best. for him. for us. too little room and a few future uncertainties that make me know we can’t adopt. it won’t be easy but i have to remind myself that i turned that scared, near death little critter into this amazing dog.
*photo credits for most of the pictures in this post go to my friend michael!
the weekend after mcm i had camping trip plans with a group of trail running friends. year two of this hopefully annual tradition. last year i didn’t quite get to experience things the way i wanted given i was in a boot with a broken foot! but i still went, camped, hiked and hobbled best i could. i knew this year wouldn’t be ideal coming off a marathon but i’d had a small taste of the trails and i couldn’t wait to see what lay further out.
torreya state park is in north florida. a near five hour drive from tampa and a lifetime of difference from what we know here. hills, colors, fall. i wanted as much of the weekend as i could get so friday afternoon i slipped out of the office around 2 p.m. and headed north with a couple others. it was nearing 7 p.m. when we arrived and i took the last of what little lingering light there was to setup my tent before plopping down at the campfire with a strong drink and dinner.
saturday morning we were up and out semi-early. with the added bonus company of the race director of the torreya challenge we got a lesson in the fauna and flora that abounded in addition to an amazing run. it was hard to believe we were still in florida. the hills and views almost made me feel as though i was up north where i belong!
some opted for extra miles but i kept it easy at eight and headed back to camp for a drink and a shower. but a few hours later a group of us headed out for run number two at a trail system called the garden of eden. last year i’d walked part of it but i’m not kidding when i say the hills were so steep i had to crawl up them given how inflexible my leg was in the boot. i’d heard the oohs and aahs of what the view was like and it did not disappoint!
after garden of eden the other type of fun began. there were bourbon slushies sent courtesy of jax even though she didn’t make it this year. barenjager shots. beer and lots of vodka. not to mention the food! i think we could have fed the entire campground!
after dinner ~ and many many drinks ~ those of us that dared headed out for a night run. nothing long. a few miles maybe. but we’d turn off headlamps and hide behind trees trying to scare each other but more often than not just ending up in seas of giggles.
when we came back into the clearing in the center of the campground, i found myself mesmerized by the sky. living in the city we miss so much. i couldn’t help but lie down in the middle of the field and just stare. i swear it was just because of the stars and NOT the vodka turner and chori joined me for awhile as did some random guy who came and lay down with us. but seriously how could you not be in awe of this view …
sunday morning i skipped the run. i’m not sure my body could have handled more miles, not to mention i may have been a tad bit hungover. but even the view from the campsite was worthwhile.
DC was nice. MCM is a great race. but from city roads to campground trails it’s obvious to me where i love to be most.
the first time i ran the marine corp marathon was a life altering experience. running through my childhood home and seeing it from that completely unique vantage point was like running through the story of my life and i didn’t dream i could duplicate it so i fully expected this time around to be more about the physical side of the run versus the emotional.
there wasn’t even any time in the weekend added in for fun. with a late afternoon friday flight up and a monday morning flight home, there was just enough time to do packet pickup and the expo saturday followed by a quick shakeout run along the canal, capped off with a pre-race dinner with the charity team i was running for. thankfully my friend RH had offered up his house to me and emC regardless of his being out of town so in between the running around i had space and time to relax and mentally prep. i’d given up on the BQ dream and even the sub-4 had been dashed given my knee issue while training. but i still wanted a PR. anything sub 4:15:10.
sunday morning emC and i met up with the attorney and hitched a ride with a friend to as close as we could get to the start. we were left with about a mile walk in 45 degree weather ~ perfect for the run but hard for us florida girls! but that walk was amazing. the groups of marines we passed ~ some working hard to setup others simply welcoming us with words of strength and encouragement. the washington monument lit up in the distance reminding me i was home. the emotion i thought wasn’t going to be there was starting to surface and it was invigorating!
we met up with others from the group ~ about 20 of the 40 or so we knew up from florida. a little shit chat and pats on the back and then we all drifted off to our own points along the start. i found myself with emC and littleL at the 4:15 pace flag. i figured that was the safe place to be. thousands of runners bundled together to find what warmth we could and i more than once caught myself with a tear running down my face from the emotional anthem and pre-race show. i was ready to run.
it took about 10 minutes from gun to start and i lost emC and L almost immediately but when i race, i race alone. the first couple miles were rough. 30,000 runners trying to find a space and pace of their own. my garmin suggested i was too slow. near a 10 minute mile but busting through was a challenge and i didn’t want to adrenaline dump trying to fight the crowd. so i went with it until the course naturally thinned on its own.
this year there was a course change. more of rock creek park which happens to be my childhood backyard and they started again. the memories. the images. the ghosts. me as a young girl visiting the saw mill. the graveyard where we made up stories about the stone never righted from the lean. that odd modern architecture house my father rented up the street. i got lost in it all and before i knew it we were running out to haines point. i hit the half split at 2:06:40. within grasp to PR but barely and with no margin for error or exhaustion. for a second i found myself calculating splits and numbers and i felt myself tensing up. it was at that point i decided it was what it was. there would be no pressure. no push. my run is in my heart not in the watch around my wrist or the runners surrounding me. i knew i wanted to simply run how i felt.
from there on i stopped looking at the garmin. i might as well have not had it on. i caught the occasional mile marker clock but refused to let the numbers sink in. i just ran. there were moments of frustration. the huge crowd participation and field left areas of bottleneck that cramped my pace style and more than once i narrowly avoided catastrophe of tripping over someone who cut me off or stopped short in front of me. but the beauty of the city that raised me kept me entranced.
anyone who has run mcm knows and fears the bridge. physically it’s nothing really. mentally it’s brutal. mile 20. desolate. highway. no lack of signs reminding you it’s there and it’s ugly. last time i ran mcm it got me. i succumbed to the walk as the self-doubt won. this time i was determined to beat to. i was ready to fight. but as i got part way across i realized there no need to fight. i felt great. maybe 50 miles in the woods prepares you for a mile stretch of lonely.
as i neared the mile 25 marker i decided it was time and i stole a glance at my watch. i wasn’t surprised at what i saw. i felt it all along. but regardless i knew i wanted to finish strong and i pushed hard and when i hit that final hill at mile 26. the one that so many stop to walk. i leaned in and took it in stride never once slowing the pace. i crossed the finish line with a negative split and an easy PR.
marine corp marathon 2013 ~ 4:10:41. ooh-rah!
i don’t know why i can’t find the time to write these days. work is a bit hectic and life outside the office offers little reprieve. but i really should be able to sneak in a post or two each week. now i’m so far behind i don’t even know where to start. i guess i’ll stay chronological even though i’m itching to jump ahead. and though there are other aspects of life that i’ll share at some point as well, running comes first in here so that’s where i’ll start.
a couple months back i got convinced to do a sprint tri the weekend before mcm. not that it took much convincing. i wanted one this season. but i didn’t get in the water at all. not even once. in fact hadn’t been since augusta … LAST september! and my bike training consisted of two maybe three rides. add to that, i caught the nasty cold that mini-me brought home from school and the race was shaping up to be a disaster. i got asked by more than a few if i should even go through with it. but hacking up a lung or not, i don’t quit. it’s just not my style.
so i swam …
i biked …
i ran …
and i placed 5th in my age group!!!
granted i went home that day and pretty much didn’t move for almost two days. seriously i couldn’t even muster the energy to cook for my kid. but it’s been awhile since i’ve placed in a race so it was well worth it! and i learned a thing or two about my strengths ~ and weaknesses ~ as well. total shocker of the day was that i placed 2nd in age group in the swim. second!!! not only have i done a mere three open water swims in my entire life ~ my first tri, my second tri and now my third tri ~ but i’m scared to death of the ocean! so i’m pretty damn impressed with myself on that one. but flip side, i placed 11th on the bike. yikes! i know some of it is the low quality of my ride but fact is i’m weak. with a little strength training, some spin classes and some additional bike time i could have done far better. as for the run, it was solid. fourth in age group and a decent ~ though not fabulous ~ time. given all givens i’m happy with what i did and can’t wait until next tri season.
Since the government shutdown occurred, the Marine Corps Marathon continues its coordination with hopes of a conclusion in time to host the event without impact. Without a resolution to the government shutdown this week, the MCM as planned is in jeopardy of being cancelled.
While still considering and exploring all possible options, the MCM has targeted this Saturday, October 19 as the date to officially notify runners of the status of the event. It is sincerely the hope of everyone associated with the organization that MCM participants can run as planned.
in the case this race is cancelled, hundreds ~ hopefully thousands ~ of runners are still planning to converge on the national mall and run 26.2 and i will be one of them! congress needs to pull their heads out of their assess and fix this now! they picked the wrong group of people to screw with.
hell hath no fury like 30,000 runners in taper mode!
this past weekend was a hodge podge of activity that i’m claiming as my last long training run even if it was a little broken up. saturday morning i did my first brick workout in more than a year. eleven on the bike followed by four on the run. my legs felt a bit like jello for the first half mile or so but once i settled into it the run was strong. i forgot my garmin at home so i have no idea on pace but i think i would have been happy. after finishing up i stripped off the tri shorts and threw on running gear and headed over to the trails where a photographer friend had asked for models he could practice on. i haven’t seen all the shots he took but my last post was one of my favorite of what i’ve seen so far. all in all we probably added another two miles to the run as he scouted locations.
sunday there was supposed to be a group heading to new-to-me trails at a place called wekiwa springs but everyone ended up bailing except for me and the wingman. the trails were pretty rough. lots of sand in parts and crazy roots and mud for a stretch that was nearly impassable. but we got in an 11-mile loop that was rewarded with a refreshing dip into the 72 degree water of crystal clear springs. i wouldn’t say the trails were my favorite so chances are i won’t be rushing back there anytime again soon but it made for a new adventure which is always fun. and the springs after the run … what a perfect way to cool down!
i’m not sure yet how i’m going to handle my tri on the 19th. i want to kill it but given it’s the weekend before MCM i don’t want to do anything stupid. i still haven’t really been in the water since augusta. seriously not one lap in over a year. but i’m not too worried about a .33 mile swim. assuming that is i don’t panic in open water which is always a possibility. i caught myself looking up old results yesterday. i like to think i might be able to place in my age group but again, i don’t know if racing hard is an intelligent choice. of course this is me we’re talking about so i’m not sure there’s any other way.
this coming weekend will be one last semi-long. and then it’s time to taper. not my favorite part of training by any means but a necessary evil to let the body, mind and soul rest and ready.