Monday, August 22, 2016

Dear Running, Thanks for the memories!

Dear Running,
I'd like to thank you for all the great memories and keepsakes you've brought into my life.
Most Sincerely,

Do you have memorabilia from races? What do you do with it?  Here's a sampling of my event stuff:

First of all, I now have more shirts and 1/4 zips than I could ever dream about (and a lot of these are from events). I have purged out most of the drab cotton t-shirts, as well as a few of the less-desirable tech shirts. But my closet still runneth over.

All the long-sleeved shirts are on the left, short-sleeved tops in the center, and tanks on the right
I have kept all of the race bibs (and most of the safety pins) from every race I've done. Currently, I have the bibs on a binder ring. I'm debating about making a shadow box, though. and fanning out the bibs (by year) within the frames. It just has not happened yet.

These are just my bibs from 2015....
How about hardware? Oh, how I love my hardware! Having not been blessed with much natural athletic talent, there were not too many awards or mementos of this sort in my former life. Some medals are prettier than others, and some are much bigger in size. But every medal tells a story.

All of my medals are displayed on an accordian-style coffee mug rack
I am not much of hat person (I much prefer a visor or a funky-colored/patterned headband). But I have to admit, the racing hats are growing on me. I do prefer a hat on a rainy day, or at the very least when I know there's a high chance of rain. Let's be honest, a hat will keep you looking (a little) less like a drowned rat than a visor.

A hat from my 12-hour Ultra (left) and another from Park to Park half marathon (right)
I do have a growing fondness for stocking hats, though. A favorite keepsake is the hat from the IMT Des Moines Marathon last year....all the participants of the Principal Financial 5K Road Race received stocking hats instead of (another) shirt. Score!

Isn't the hat adorable? Black, white and light blue striped...with a poofy multi-colored pom pom
I'm a very sentimental person, and probably have tendencies towards saving too much. I have some patches from races, and some miscellaneous event stickers. The patches are (hopefully) someday going to be sewn onto a jacket (keyword:someday). The stickers? I'm hesitant to put them on my car because I know I will not be driving my current car forever (or at the very least, before my running career ends). I have a hard time putting them on a permanent place that will not be a permanent fixture in my life. I have entertained the idea of affixing them onto a magnet, thus making them transferable to all future vehicles. That hasn't happened (yet) either.

I also have a collection of posters from various events. I keep thinking I should frame them, but then what? As much as I love running, I do not wish to decorate my house with that theme. I could hang them in my laundry room (we all know runners are constantly doing laundry).

Posters from Bix 2010 and 2014, Dam to Dam 2009 and 2016, Quad Cities Marathon 2015

Look closely, this poster is from the 2014 Quad Cities Times Bix7...and has the autographs of Billy Rogers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Meb!

How about you? Got some favorite keepsakes from running? Do you have it out and about, on display? Or do you keep it stashed away...out of sight?

I'm linking up with Marcia , Erika , and Patty  for the Tuesdays on the Run Link-Up. I invite you to head over and check out all the linked blogs!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Keeping It Real

I'll be keeping it real with this Weekly Wrap. We'll be talking achy ankles, oversleeping oopsies, and wet weather woes...just to name a few.

Let's start with my Trench Run from a week ago (recap HERE). It was a great event, and I had a lot of fun challenging myself with the obstacles as well as the "extended" 10K distance of the course (final results from the race director informed us the course actually was 7.33 miles). But there was a lot more running than obstacles...and most of it was on gravel. My ankles and outer soles of my feet have been aching since. Not a crisis, but a mere side-effect. No complaints, but the reality is that I spent most of the afternoon on the couch when we returned home from the race. I'm not much of a napper, but I was that day.

on the couch, in my compression sleeves and Oofoos
Monday arrived. As usual, I wanted to get my #nevermissaMonday run done early. I did just a mile, but it felt longer and I felt like I was going in slow-mo due the achy ankles. And I probably had a bit of a zombie walk for the rest of the day (Ankle DOMS, perhaps?)

Tuesday, I had every intention of rising and shining early and getting in a good run before my work day began. My alarm goes off at 4:58AM every morning, but most days I'm awake before that. Also, most days, I allow myself a few minutes of dozing before getting out of bed. Imagine my surprise when I glanced at the clock and it showed 6:24....oops.

accidental over-sleeping = accidental rest day (sort of...)

I did wind up dong a decent 20-minute power walk in the evening, though, I brought along my 8-pound hand weights and did non-stop arm maneuvers as well.

Wednesday isn't typically a running day for me, but I had a little bit of guilt from the fail on Tuesday's run. So, I tried to make it happen on Wednesday morning...except I awoke to the sounds of thunderbolts and lightning (very,very frightening). Seriously? Since I was not about to lace up and head out in that (nor was I going to fire up the treadmill), I made the command decision to do some stair-training instead. Up and down the staircase, 50 times, thank you very much.

taking it to the stairs

Later that afternoon, I also embarked on a couple hours of mall-walking with the two remaining kiddos at home (and there may have been a rather large cash pay-out for back-to-school necessities). There also was some evening planking, in between watching the Olympics on television.

The planking never stops in my household

Thursday, dawned kind of dark and dreary, but dry. I quickly laced up the shoes and headed out before any precipitation could appear. After two failed attempts, I was able to knockout a decent early morning run. Finally. Third time's a charm, you know.

Started in the dark, ended with daylight...and a #Boltpose
Not much on the agenda for Friday, but I have kept consistent with my August goals (see below). Also, I decided to fine-tune the hair. I'm in a constant battle as to what length I want my bangs to be. I'm also determined to not get in a rut and sport the same hairdo too I trimmed up a section of the majorly out-grown bangs. It's only hair, right? I have learned how to do it the right way, so it's not obvious, but still gives my 'do a different look.

the new bangs...what do you think (pay no attention to the #RBF)?
Saturday, finally a day to get in a somewhat long run! The weather app said rain up until 6:00AM or so, then cloud cover thereafter. I left the house at 6:45 to meet up with my friend, Barb (we live about a mile from each other, so often times we meet up at the halfway point between our houses and go from there). Although there was no immediate precipitation in the air, it was very damp and wet from the overnight showers.

Wouldn't you know it? About 1.5 miles into our 8-miler, it started sprinkling. Thankfully,it was a very light sprinkling of rain, but it was rain none-the-less. And it lasted for several miles. Did I mention it was followed my mist, up until the final mile or so?

My poor (new) shoes had their first "wet run."

Poor babies! They spent the rest of the day with newspaper stuffed inside of them!
And my hair? A total ponytail fail.
This, right here, is why I seldom do ponytails...too much of a mess. I prefer braids or "messy" buns instead.

Sunday was a busy day....we loaded up all his gear and hauled our son back to college. Fortunately, we had unseasonably cool weather, and zero precipitation!

ready for his sophomore year of college!
Of course, the timing was not ideal, in terms of the men's marathon coverage at the Olympics. I was able to see a few highlights throughout the morning, though. I was especially impressed with how Meb handled himself after a tough race, and then that stumble and tumble at the finish line. Push-ups? Now that's style, grace, and a bit of finesse!

pic from NBC Olympics

So, that's my week. In other news:

I have been watching as much of the Olympics as possible. Max has been watching the coverage with me (most nights). It's hard to remember what I used to do most evenings before the Olympics began. (anyone?)

 I am in such awe and wonder of the talent these athletes possess. Quite honestly, I take for granted what they are capable of doing...until I see them in action. And, the sportsmanship? Two words: simply amazing.

Usain Bolt. Unstoppable!
The 4x100 relay team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner, and Tori Bowie....totally amazing! Having to do a separate time trial, then getting placed in the first lane...then winning gold. WOW! 

And lastly, my August goals are keeping me accountable and on target.

25 daily push-ups, 150 monthly planking minutes, 100 flights of stair work each week, and 20 minutes (minimum) of cardio far, so good! 

As usual, I'm linking up with Holly (from HoHo Runs) and Tricia (from MissSippiPiddlin) for the Weekly Wrap. Do head over and checkout their awesome blogs, as well as the many other blogs in the link-up.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Getting the Trench

Can we talk about comfort zones for a minute?

How about OCR's (Obstacle Course Races)? Have you ever done one?

I have wanted to do an OCR for a long time, but have been slightly afraid of what might happen to me. I am, after all, a very well-decorated (and documented) klutz. I wasn't afraid of the obstacles, but was fearful of getting injured.

All fears aside, when the opportunity to participate in the No-Man's Land Trench Run, I was intrigued. My husband is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the US Air Force. A few years ago, he did an 18-month stint at Camp Dodge (Johnston, IA), and he received a "heads-up" a few months ago about the Trench Run and an invitation to participate.

As much as I was leery of taking on the challenge of an obstacle course (on a military base, none the less), the timing was ideal. My ultra was four weeks behind me, and my Route 66 training had not (officially) begun...why not give this a go?

We arrived on the scene around 6:30AM, got our packets, and had plenty of free time before the 7:30AM start time.

Myself and the husband...awaiting the start
We heard a beautiful rendition of the national anthem and listened to a few "cautionary" announcements regarding the layout of the course. Before we knew it, the cannon boomed (literally!), and we were off.

The start line had a big American flag that we ran under
The first mile was on a mostly shaded gravel road. I'm not a big fan of gravel (again, there's that klutziness variable), but it does work your ankles well! The crowd of runners was pretty thick, so I ran some of that first mile in the grass alongside the trail.

There were no mile markers, but I had my GPS watch to help me gauge my whereabouts. The atmosphere was pretty battleground-like.....there was an intermittent helicopter overhead (rustling the leaves of the trees) and periodic speakers were blasting (simulated) machine gun fire. There also were several smoke grenades throughout the course, so it really felt like a combat zone.

A map of the course
Shortly after the 1-mile distance, we had our first army-crawl section. I have never attempted this kind of maneuver before, so it felt a bit awkward keeping low to the ground and slithering along on my forearms and inner thighs (it was a great hip-opening exercise!). The grass was wet and sticky, but not too muddy when I went through...I would guess as more people crawled through, the grass got worn and the mud was more of a factor.

Not too far down the road was the next challenge...sand bags! I think the bags were about 20 pounds. Although not heavy, it was very awkward to sling over my shoulder and run with it in tow. I wound up speed-walking most of the loop before handing over my bag to the next person waiting in line.

I couldn't quite find a comfortable way to hoist the bag
Next we ran about another mile or so before we arrived at the official trench....literally, a trench (approximately three feet deep) with a lot of sand, rocks and mud to walk through. Trust me, I don't think anyone was running through this! This trench wasn't far (maybe 100 yards or so),but it was crazy difficult maneuvering through and then climbing out of it.

Lots of smoke grenades everywhere
After the trench, there was some asphalt and gravel, and a lot more grass-covered trails. Eventually there was a crawl through a 20-foot culvert. More gravel. A short creek to cross. More grassy trails.

Just after the culvert and the creek crossing
Then there was a huge tire to flip. I couldn't figure out how to get my hands underneath it to grip it (and I didn't want to break a finger nail). A guy helped me get it started, lifting it a few inches off the ground, then I was good.

The final 1.5 mile seemed to take forever, though. All of the obstacles were done, and the terrain was pretty level, but it was a long straight stretch to get to the finish line. And, by this time, there were more walkers than runners. I honestly do not know what I prefer: seeing the finish line (even if it's way off in the distance) or having a lot of curves so the finish line is out of sight until right before you reach it. I just know that I always seem to wish for which ever option I'm not currently experiencing.

photo credit - Linda Burger
I finally made it to the finish line with a time  of 1:23:12. The official results showed I finished 245th out of the 407 participants, 43rd out of the 105 females, and 9th out of 17 gals in my age group. It turns out, the 1st place gal in my age group also was the first place overall female...she finished in 1:00:26. Dang!

Not too muddy for the wear
Originally, the course was going to be approximately a 10K in distance, and there were going to be four creek crossings. Due to recent rain, though, the water levels were too dangerous, so the course was re-routed around all but one of them...and they decided to extend the distance to 7.33 miles to compensate for the "lack" of challenges (from losing the three creeks). The one creek that remained was ankle deep and not very long.....maybe 10 feet or so (just long enough that it was too far to leap over).

Overall, I thought this was a great event! Actually, it was a great way to showcase what kind of conditioning the soldiers and guardsmen/women have to undergo in training. I didn't think the obstacles were difficult (probably because I do a lot of cross-training), but I can see where they would be a challenge for the people who were not in condition for them.  I really thought all the smoke grenades and sound effects were great enhancements to the atmosphere. I kind of felt like I was on the set of "Forrest Gump."

After the race
Would I do this event again? Absolutely! If this becomes an annual event, chances are next time it will involve all the creek crossings (one creek is rumored to be waist-high!), so that will add another element of discomfort for if wet grass all over my arms and mud under my finger nails wasn't bad enough!
Swag included t-shirts and water bottles
 After returning back home, we both crashed for a couple hours. We were up early (4:45AM wakeup) and were on the road by 5:30AM. My ankles were sore from all the twisting and contorting on the gravel and trails.

Hello compression sleeves and my comfy Oofoos!
I should mention...since this was the inaugural year of the No Man's Land Trench Run, it was a free event! How do you beat that?

Have you done an OCR event? Did you obediently do all the obstacles, or were you allowed to skip them? Did you do any specific training, or just wing it?

I'm linking up with Deb (from Deb Runs) for the Wednesday Word...which, ironically, is Physical! How appropriate and timely! Head over and see what's being talked about!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rocking the Early Mornings!

Another week back, and there have been lots of early morning shenanigans.

I'm slowly easing back to moderate mileage before the 26.2 training commences. I'm realizing how much I really like those early morning miles. I don't really know why I haven't done more of those EMR's (Early Morning Runs) this summer....but now that the days will be getting shorter, I'm realizing the need to take advantage of what remains.

My week began with a couple of early morning #nevermissaMonday miles at sunrise. Another hot and humid day was in the forecast, so I wanted to get it done before the temps got crazy.

Rise and shine!
I had the same idea for Tuesday morning, except my body had a different agenda. The temps were fairly mild, but the humidity already was pretty heavy. I had been up late watching the Olympics (#mybad). The angry hammy wasn't feeling great. My plan had been four easy miles, but after the first mile I decided three not-so-easy miles would suffice. And, that's all well and good. I've had some pretty great runs lately, it was only fitting a "bad run" was bound to make an appearance.
Definitely not my most enjoyable run, but I'm thankful for having gotten it done
Wednesday was a day of strength-training. I don't post daily pics of my planks (or every fitness-related activity I do....really, who would enjoy seeing EVERYTHING?). Most people know I"m active, I don't feel the need to overwhelm my phone with pictures documenting every time I break a sweat. But this pre-sunrise workout left me feeling like a beast, and ready to conquer the day.
Planking, push-up-ing, and pumping (iron)...Oh my!
It also was our 26th wedding anniversary. We had dinner with the two remaining kids at home...but (for once) I failed to document this moment in time (#another #mybad).

From last year, on our 25th anniversary
Thursday was another day that started in the running shoes before the sunrise. As much as I wanted some redemption for Tuesday's train wreck, I thought it best to keep it easy and steady. The hammy had been achy most of the week, so I didn't want to aggravate it further. Besides, I had a busy weekend on tap, and knew I'd be logging some miles on both Saturday and Sunday. No worries.

By the light of my Knuckle Lights and ViziBelt
Friday...not much happening. I did my August Challenge stuff (planking, push-ups, stairwork, etc.), and watched more of the Olympics. Did you see Mo's incredible 10K? Not only did he take an unfortunate tumble, but he spanked that race and won it! I am so much in awe of the talent these Olympians have!

Saturday, I was up and at 'em (again), and met up with my friend, Barb, for a (moderately) long run. We've had some extremely hot and humid weather this week, but Saturday's temps were beautiful. I had a few moments of "needing" to walk (just keeping it real...ultra runners need walk breaks, too), but overall the run felt great. We got seven miles done and were finished around 8:00AM.

Does anything feel better than stripping off the shoes and socks after a long run?
Sunday, was my first-ever obstacle course run (and we were up early...out of the house by 5:30AM to make the drive over). My husband is now retired from the military (31 years...Air Force active duty and Air National Guard reserve duty). Several years ago, he did an 18-month stint at Camp Dodge (Johnston, IA), and was invited to participate in their first-ever No Mans Land Trench Run...a 10K course on the grounds of Camp Dodge, which would include several army training maneuvers/obstacles, hills, trenches, etc.  This event really got me out of my comfort zone (hello? mud under my finger nails? #eewww), and it was a great testament to the value in doing other cross-training, and being more than "just a runner." The race recap is in the works, so stay tuned.

Yep, that's a 20-pound sand bag. Not heavy, but awkward to run with!

In other news.....

Last weekend was my mother's birthday. We had been living in Michigan for several years prior to the attacks on September 11, 2001. We decided to move back to Iowa, and are now a mere three blocks from my parents. It's nice having them close by, and I'm glad our kids were able to grow up with them playing an active role in their lives.

With my mommy dearest, Carol Jean

This gal, Simone, is simply amazing. I just cannot help being in awe (and ever-so-slightly jealous) of her awesome talent.

Even though the temps have been hot and humid, I refuse to let Momma N win this battle. I have a number of fun ways I'm dong my hair these days.....because flat and frumpy is just not a look I embrace. And I may have a thing for bright colors, too.....

Humid air, don't care!
Last of all, our groomer had a chance to fine-tune Max's hair. She had been on maternity leave for a few months. The husband and I did an OK job maintaining his course, wavy tangles, but it definitely was time for some professional attention. I never like his newly-cut hair for the first couple of weeks (because it just doesn't look like "Max"), but I know it's what is best for him. His fur is thick, and if we don't stay on top of (almost daily) brushing, it becomes a furry mess in a hurry.

Back from the groomer....probably three pounds lighter from all the hair that got trimmed
How was your week? Have you had some hot & humid weather? Does it affect how you wear your hair? Ever done an obstacle course event? If you have a dog, do you do the grooming on your own, or have a professional do it?

So, that's a wrap. As usual, I'm linking up with Holly (from HoHo Runs) and Tricia (from MissSippiPiddlin) for their awesome Weekly Wrap. Head over and check out what's been happening!