Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kim Trivia 101...just in case you were wondering

Probably the best thing about the running community is our diversity. We all run, and we all have our own way of doing it.....but we are not always in agreement on our preferences. And that's OK. It would be pretty boring if we all did everything the exact same way; there would be nothing to question or anything new to try for ourselves.

So, just in case you were wondering, here are some trivia questions I stumbled upon recently. And, these are my answers.

LOCATION: Trail, Road, or inside?
Road, no contest on that (although I do LOVE me some trails in the woods on occasion). Although my inside option (my treadmill is set up in our mud room) probably smells better than a gym, it is my absolute last resort. I have never felt like a treadmill run feels like a "real" run. It's too mechanical, too regimented, and certainly not my own doing. No matter how fast I can make myself run on it, I just cannot get past the fact that the treadmill is still in control (and I'm merely "keeping up" with it)....it's not a feeling I enjoy or embrace.

It's no secret I'm not a fan of the treadmill....

TIME OF DAY: Morning, noon, evening?
I like both morning (the earlier the better) and evening, but kind of prefer the morning a teensy bit more. Being up and moving before the sunrise (in the summer) is totally invigorating to me. As for running in the evening, any season will do. It's tranquil under the bright stars on a winter night and I love hearing the bugs buzzing and crickets chirping on a hot summer evening.
 It's never too cold or too warm...if you're dressed properly (and a smile certainly helps!)

WEATHER: Sunshine, mild, or hot?
All of the above. I can handle a light rain (in warm temps), but I'll take sunshine any day, no matter the temps.
Nothing like a trail run on a summer day!
FUEL: Before, during, or after?
Although the distance dictates some of my pre-run fueling, I usually prefer to have something in the tummy. I don't drink coffee, but I love an early morning chai latte' before heading out (as well as a bowl of oatmeal). If I'm going farther than 5-6 miles, I usually loop back to my house to refuel (thus, avoiding the need to carry anything on me). If I'm doing a race, I'll have something stashed in a belt or pocket and use it every 5-6 miles). Currently, I'm going through a transition with my fuel options...the gels no longer work for me (icky tummy issues), so I've been trying different options (sport beans, fruit snacks, energy gum, etc.)...still a work in progress.

ACCESSORIES: music, watch, sunglasses and more?
Almost always, I have music with me. I use it more for background "amvience" than for pace or cadence. I have a GPS watch, but usually just wear my basic stopwatch because all of the mile-by-mile stats are TMI for me. The information is great, but having all of those numbers at my fingertips makes the run feel more like a science experiment than an enjoyable fitness activity. Yes, I'm very old-school (LOL). And sunglasses are a must!  I have sensitive eyes and very dry skin (ahem...wrinkle-prone). I have been able to avoid the weathered-and-wrinkled-eyes and I'm willing to bet my Mizunos it's because I'm almost always in sunglasses when I'm in my running shoes.

My good old trustworthy watch

REWARDS: Food, wine, or?
Chai latte'!!! I'm not much of an alcohol drinker, so indulging in wine as a reward...well, let's just suffice it to say that I need a more enticing carrot dangled in front of me. I do love my chai latte's, though...hot, sweet, and full of carbs = perfect for carb re-loading. And food....I'm one of those rare runners who is not hungry after running. I'll drink (water, Gatorade, chocolate milk), but I need a few hours before my body will crave food.

TYPE OF RUN: Long run, tempo, intervals, hill repeats, progression, or recovery/easy?
I love long runs! I am an endurance person and love the challenge of going further and further. I also like hill repeats because they test not only my physical stamina, but also my mental strength. My least favorite of these are intervals, because they involve speed work. I'm a tall gal with long legs (and my knees kind of "turn in")...not a pretty sight to behold if I'm trying to make my body move faster than what feels "normal." Did I mention I'm also horribly uncoordinated? Yes, I'm arms & legs all over the place...but I do speed work once in awhile because I know it does a runner good (and it gets me out of my comfort zone).

I used to dread hills...now I look forward to the challenges they give me
Anything else you'd like to know?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Grandma's Marathon...A Must-Do Destination Event

Grandma's Marathon. WOW. It was so much more than just a race.

When I registered for Grandma's Marathon, I did so to use it more as a training run than an actual race. Have I mentioned that I also have an ultra happening in less than four weeks ((gulp))? The mileage for the ultra (and, subsequent taper prior to said ultra) would fit in nicely with the timing of this marathon. Thus, I could say, in all honesty, I was running a marathon "just for fun." Consequently, I had a very dear friend tell me, as she shook her head in good humor, that I have a much different definition of "fun" than she does.

So, that's been my story all along (and I have stuck with it). I have mentioned how much more difficult it has been for me to train for a summer marathon than a fall marathon. My spring calendar is full of yearly  spring-time obligations (our school's We Care/After Prom committee as well as dance recital rehearsals and performances....so there's my April), but this year I also had an unexpected death in the family (my mother-in-law), a surprise birthday party for a sister-in-law, and our son's high school graduation...all within the month of May. Prior to that, I had been rehabbing some persistent aches and pains through physical therapy and maintaining a very conservative training regimen. Yadda Yadda Yadda. It's no secret my training was less than ideal, and I did have moments of doubt as to whether or not I should just take a pass on all of this....but my gut kept telling me I'd regret not trying. So, onward!
It's not a road trip without my Pepperoni Pizza Combos (carb-loading 101)

As with most of my races, my friend Barb came along as my partner in (running) crime. We departed at 8:15 on Friday morning to make the trek to Duluth, MN, we were guessing about a 7-hour drive (anticipating a few stops for gas, food, and occasional construction delays). We arrived in Duluth around 3:30, and headed straight to the expo to get our marathon race packets (we also were doing the William A. Irvin 5K, as part of The Great Grandma Challenge, that evening at 6:00PM, and needed to get those near the start line).

The expo was nice, but pretty crowded. We got our packets and walked around for awhile, and scoped out the vendors. I saw a booth where they were taping people's legs, and asked what to do for my foot. I had done a half marathon three weeks prior, and had some heel pain (that had worked it's way to my arch)....Plantar Fasciitis. I had been staying off of my feet (and out of my running shoes) for the past three weeks (except for a couple 10K's last weekend).  My legs (and wonky foot) were well-rested but I was still a little concerned how things would go over the course of 26.2 miles. I have never used any kind of sports tape, but the gal taped my heel and reinforced it around my ankle. Immediately, upon that first step, I could tell a difference. Granted, I was walking (and not running), but that gave me hope that things would be great for my races.
to tape or not to tape? It worked for me!!!
While at the exp, I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Kelly (from Bubble Gum Runner)  in person. What a sweet gal!  We've known each other via our running pages, and it was fate (?) that brought both of us to Grandma's. Kelly had also been planning to do the 5K with us, but her coach advised against it (she was hoping to snag a BQ).
Yes! We met Grandma herself!

We didn't have a lot of extra time, so Barb and I headed to the check-in to get our 5K packets. Not wanting to walk all the way to the car, grab my running clothes, walk back to the expo, change clothes and then make another round trip to drop off the street clothes back in the car....I very sneakily changed clothes in the back seat of the car. Problem solved.

The William A. Irvin, docked in the harbor
So, people may wonder why we chose to run a 5K, 13-hours prior to the start of a marathon. Well, we had agreed that Grandma's was going to be all about the experience. It was not a quest for a PR; we had no concerns about pace, splits or finish time. We also knew our legs would be stiff and tired from the long car drive...why not do an easy 5K, shake out the legs, and make the best of it? Neither of us had run in Minnesota before, why not knock out a couple of events while we were there?
Ready for the William A. Irvin 5K
The temps were cool, and there was a gentle breeze coming off the lake. The race began, and took us along the road outside of our parking lot. It was a simple course (an out-and-back), noting fancy. My foot felt fine! It was almost like I'd never experienced Plantar Fasciitis! We finished in 28:27, just under a conservative 9:30 pace (I later learned I placed 8th out of 65 in my age group....woot woot!).

A final meet-up with Kelly before dinner
Once finished, we headed back to the expo for the spaghetti dinner. We met up again,briefly, with Kelly for a few minutes, and exchanged a few last-minute good luck wishes for the race, before heading to our hotel in Superior, WI.

Marathon day started with a 5:00AM wake-up call. I had all my gear laid out, and had gotten my fuel belt ready before bed, so all I had to do was brush the teeth, get dressed and go. After a quick breakfast, we were on our bus, headed to Two Harbors!

....let's just say it was a bumpy bus ride....

The eternal optimist, I was hoping all the weather forecasters were wrong in warning of us about the rain and possible thunder storms. The realist in me, though, brought along a garbage bag for a make-shift poncho. And it was over my body, reluctantly in place, before were stepped off the bus. Ugh.

Not a bag person or a hat person....but desperate times call for desperate measures

It was raining when we got off the bus, but within moments the rain quickly became an all-out downpour. Seriously? Momma N, what were you thinking? All of these runners, who had put in thousands of miles in training (and wearing expensive running shoes, none-the-less) were getting soaked. None of us like blisters...it's a gamble if you'll get one (or several) after 26.2 miles, but it's almost a guarantee you'll get one (or several) if you start the race in wet shoes. Fortunately, the realist (again) made a good decision in slathering Aquaphor all over her toes before sliding on her favorite wool socks. And that attractive hat? It totally (somewhat) saved the runner from looking like a drowned rat.

Luckily, as the race started, the downpour became more of a light sprinkling. Not ideal, but definitely much better than the heavy rain we'd just stood in for 45 minutes.

Off and running in the rain...
 Race day is NOT the time to experiment with fuel, but given my lack of consistent long training runs, I had not had much opportunity to try some different options. I have always used gels, but in recent months, the gels have been at war with my tummy. Sport beans have been alright, but not great. I decided to try fruit snacks (since they have a similar calorie count as gels) and use PlowOn Gum gum for my energy source. I was not running this marathon for a PR, and I wasn't entirely sure my foot would hold up for 26.2 miles...so I was willing to try a different fueling option.  

The race began. Having never run in a garbage bag, I was instantly annoyed by how hot it was underneath. I also had a jacket, as well as my arm warmers. By mile 2, the bag came off. I wasn't quite ready to toss it, so I twisted it up (kind of in a figure-8) and carried it. A short while later, the jacket came off as well. Much better!

I had been chewing a piece of the gum since the start line, and was amazed how easy it actually was to "run and chew" at the same time. I normally do not chew gum, but this was working! Just before the 5-mile mark, I ate my first fruit snack. So far, so good.

Barb and I agreed to run this race for fun, and we planned to stick with each other. I enjoy talking with other runners, and it's fun to check out all the different race shirts they're wearing. Already, within the first few miles, I had spotted some familiar shirts (because I had identical ones in my own collection!)....instant conversation! We chatted with other runners from Iowa, numerous runners who had run previous Grandma's Marathons, and a lot of runners who were embarking on their first 26.2! I even met a gal from Illinois, who had lost count on how many marathons she's run (she thought it was 24?)! She stayed with us for a few miles.
Aren't all of those evergreens beautiful?
The rain continued. The course (Old Highway 61) was absolutely beautiful, though. Constant evergreen trees  lined the road, and we could see glimpses of Lake Superior off to our left. I could feel the water sloshing around in my shoes. Definitely not an ideal scenario. Several years ago, I ran a half marathon, with the first 9 miles in the rain. I wasn't sure how 26.2 miles of rain would feel.

The miles really seemed to go quickly, though. There were porta pots at every mile marker, and water/Powerade stations at most of the markers as well. Some of the porta pots were in between the mile markers, so it felt like every half mile or so there was some form of a distraction. Also, there was constant crowd support!

Before we knew it, we at the halfway mark. A veteran Grandma runner told us there would be plentiful porta pots up ahead.....and they weren't kidding! Right at the 13.1 mile marker, there were porta pots! We're talking three long rows of porta pots...like you'd see at the start line of a race! They were probably all situated there because I believe that's where the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon started there, but it still was a most unique sight!

Porta pots aplenty

Still feeling good, we pressed on. The rain had stopped, but I was still carrying the twisted-up garbage bag (why I carried it for 10+ miles I'll never know!). I finally pitched it.  I had taken a second fruit snack around mile 9 or 10, so I popped another piece of gum. I had been taking water at every station, and grabbing a Powerade as well. The wonky foot had a little weird thing going on along the top of it, but the PF was a no-show and the taping seemed to work like magic. Every time I stopped to grab water/Powerade, I took a few seconds to stretch the quads and calves.

A few miles later, the clouds parted and we had sunshine! It wasn't long and I decided to shed the arm sleeves. Since rain (and storms) had been in the forecast, I elected to leave the sunglasses behind. I seldom ever run without sunglasses, but didn't want one extra thing to carry. Bad decision. Once the sun emerged, it got really bright, really fast. I love sunshine, but do not like squinting.

It was around mile 18 when I had that weird little sensation that my tummy wasn't feeling so happy anymore. I tried to ignore it, but started scanning the road up ahead for a porta pot...as a precaution. Remembering a recent half marathon, and the unfortunate runner who was the victim of a most embarrassing accident, I was eager for a brief pit stop.

It had been awhile since my last fruit snack, so I grabbed one from my belt and ate one as we made our way towards the next aid station. I grabbed a glass of water and gulped it down as I waited my turn in the porta pot line.

Back on the road, it occurred to me that we had passed our longest training-run distance a few miles ago....everything from here on out would be kind of "uncharted territory." We weren't even halfway to the next mile marker when I realized I'd need to stop again. Ugh. Thankfully the miles (in between the aid stations) were going fast, but this was annoying!

Barb was such a good sport to pull over every time, but by mile 22 I could tell it was getting difficult making a stop at almost every aid station. We were on the home stretch, and my tummy was feeling better, but I didn't know if I could make it the final four miles without stopping again.  It was a very frustrating situation.

The clouds had reappeared, so the bright sun wasn't an issue any more. Up ahead, I could see the bridge that was referred to Lemon Drop Hill. All the stopping and starting was wearing on me as well. I told Barb to go on ahead and finish strong, and I was going to walk for a minute. She had a lot more energy left than I did, and it wasn't fair to hold her back (I later learned that she passed 315 runners in those final miles!)

I grabbed another Powerade, and walked for a couple minutes. I glanced at my watch, and noticed the 4:30 time was not going to happen, but there was a chance I could still make 5 hours. I grabbed my last piece of gum and started running again.
approaching the finish line
I made it to mile 24, and although I was feeling better, I decided to make one last porta pot stop, just to play it safe. I had noticed my calves were starting to cramp a little, so I stretched them while I waited for my turn. I could tell my hamstrings and quads were feeling a little strained as well.

The final miles went well for the most part. We were back in Duluth, running on brick-paved streets. The crowds were amazing. Despite my frustration, I could still feel myself smiling. Heck, what's not to smile about? Two years ago (almost to the date) was when I started training for my first marathon. Prior to that, I never ever would have pictured myself running 26.2 miles...and yet, here I was....about to cross the finish line of my third marathon. Who would have thought?
miling and smiling, even with all the garb tied around my waist

I rounded the final corner at Canal Park, and spotted the finish line. I did my best to (somewhat) finish strong in that final stretch. I heard the announcer say my name. I saw the photographers giving me the thumbs-up. And I crossed the finish line. A sweet lady congratulated me as she put the medal around my neck.
It's not everyday you receive a flower at the finish line!

Barb was right there within seconds. We hugged. We posed for a few finisher pics. We grabbed our gear bags....and sat down with some food and chocolate milk. And, just like that, the rain reappeared (wouldn't ya know?). I texted Kelly to see how she'd done...and she got her BQ!!!!! She was back at her hotel (nearby), and was planning to come back after a quick shower...but with the rain falling, Barb and I decided to search for our bus and head back to our hotel.

As we were walking through the DECC (which had been the site of the expo), I spotted a gal up ahead of us who resembled Cher, a gal who I had recently become acquainted with via my running page on Facebook. We were hoping to meet up, but with the thousands of people (not all runners), it would be tough.  I took a chance and tapped her arm, and asked if she was Cher...and it was her!  The odds of finding each other was slim to none...but it happened. We chatted for a few minutes, and gave each other a congratulatory hug. I wished I would have taken our picture. Cher, if you're reading this...next time?
post race...yes, we were using the power blankets as sarongs
We found our bus and scored the final two available seats. After a humid, hot and long (45 minute?) ride back Superior, our hotel was the final stop (go figure). Since we couldn't get a late checkout (because the "late" checkout time ended before we'd even finished the race), we were given permission to come back and use the pool showers. What they failed to tell us was that the pool "showers" were actually in an open room, next to the pool (with an open doorway). Yeah, NOT happening. So, we snagged a few towels and locked ourselves in the women's restroom for 20 minutes, and each took a turn at the sink.  Another problem solved.

We were in the car and headed home by 3:30PM. And, we made several stops along the way back to Iowa to stretch our legs. How's that for a whirlwind trip?

So, how do I feel about marathon #3? Humbled, but proud! I knew, in going to the start line, not to expect or hope for a fast finish.  I have been distance running for over seven years, so I have a strong endurance base. I can run a half marathon without much training (and I had trained up to 15 miles), so I knew I was good for at least the first 15-18 miles. I was pretty confidant my strength and endurance would sustain me to the finish line, but I just wasn't sure how my foot would hold up. I knew I would have to eventually walk periodically during the final miles because of my less-than-ideal training. And, I also knew I needed to listen to my body and not push it much farther than it was able to go. I am still not completely healed from all my aches and pains, and with another big race coming up there was absolutely nothing to gain by trying to be a hero and "leaving everything out there on the course." What I did not plan for was the tummy stuff in those final eight miles (hello? porta pot stops at almost every opportunity LOL)

Overall, I felt great for most of the race. Despite the tummy issues, I never felt fatigued or finished. I have done three marathons, and have managed to avoid the dreaded "Wall" at all of them. So, what was up with my stomach? Was it the fruit snacks? The gum? The rushed breakfast at the hotel? I will never have a definite answer, but I suspect it was the combination of the fruit snacks with all of the Powerade. I have heard you're not supposed to mix electrolyte drinks with energy gels, so I'm betting that was a factor. Although I was indeed sweating, I was not over-heated and certainly not dehydrated. I probably shouldn't have been drinking it at every stop. I never had any accidents (thank goodness for all of those porta pots!), but it is nerve-wracking running and not knowing if you're gonna make it to the next stop or not. I probably lost (gained?) a good 20 minutes (or more) in all of my stopping and waiting in line for the porta pots.

Would I have liked to have finished faster? Absolutely! I love a PR as much as the next runner, but I did not train for a PR. I did very limited speed work, kept my mid-week miles to a minimum (per my physical therapy instruction), and had numerous challenges in getting my long runs completed in a timely fashion. I am OK with all of that. Really, I am. Right now, at this point in my life, my family is front and center. I will have much more "free time" in a few years (when all the kids are out of the house), and if I train smart right now and avoid further injury (by not over-training), my endurance and strength will be even greater. Then, I can focus more on speed and PR's (at least that's my game plan).

It's been two days, and already my body feels recovered (but I know I'm not as recovered as I feel). Already, the thought of marathon #4 is dancing around in my head...I just know it will not be happening in 2015. After my ultra next month, I might do a couple fall half marathons (and a handful of smaller distance events), and let myself have a proper recovery. Constant training is a recipe for constant injury, and I'm not willing to go down that road.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Grinnell Games 2015...and the Hat Trick that didn't happen

The Hat Trick....that didn't happen

Well, this was an interesting weekend. Lots on the agenda, lots to think about, lots to do...and some things better left undone.

Such is life. Sometimes the ego needs to take a backseat to proper rest, recovery and TLC (especially when there are much bigger things happening the next week).  

The weekend began Friday evening with the Twilight Trail Run at the Grinnell Games, which was a 10K race on the trails of Jacob Krumm Preserve, just south of town. This was the third year of this event, and every year the course has been different. This year, the course had a change in venue (the two other years it was held at Rock Creek Stare Park, which is just west of town).

I do not do much trail running, but when I do run trails, I enjoy them! It's great being in the woods, under the trees, in the grass, mud, and sloping terrain. It certainly levels the playing field! There are no flat straight-aways and one always needs to be watching the ground for rocks, sticks and a surprise tree root.
At the start line....eager to test the legs (and wonky foot) on the terrain
As I have been progressively rehabbing my glutes/ hamstrings/pirifirmis (and most recently, my Plantar Fasciitis-laden foot), I was looking forward to this race. I knew it would be a good test for my legs (let's be honest, everything from the waist-down hurts after running trails), but I also knew the grass would be good for my foot because it's much softer than concrete.
Barb and I, ready for some trails!

My goal for this race was to take it easy and enjoy the scenery. Also, I had only run 4.5 miles in the past two weeks (since the PF reared its ugly head), so I knew it would be stupid to push myself too hard on the mostly-healed foot. I also had a 10K street race the next morning on my calendar....and a 13.1 scheduled for Sunday.

So, here's the setting: 
Due to a major rainfall the evening prior, there was quite a bit of knee-high standing water on part of the course. Instead of running kind of a figure-8 pattern, we had to do two laps on one side of the preserve instead. Let me just say, "ugh." (I am not a fan of double-looped courses....but sometimes they can't be avoided)

Off and running! (photo credit: Sarah Breemer Pfennigs)
Did I mention it had rained? The grass was wet, the air was humid, and there was plenty of mud (and an occasional puddle). But the scenery was beautiful!  I had never been out to this place (a mere eight miles from my doorstep), but I had heard many great things about it.

 Most of the trail we ran on went around a lake, and was covered in grass.

But there also were a few bridges along the route
There were plenty of grassy hills with lots of clover, most of them angled at 45-degrees or more

Some of the hills were steep amongst the brush

And, of course, some of the trails were covered in mud!

Barb and I hung together for the first four miles or so, then she broke away. I was taking things easy, and did not want to hold her back. Although it gets a little boring repeating a loop on a race course, you do have the advantage of knowing what's up ahead the second time around.

Since the race began at 7:00PM, and it was overcast, I didn't bring sunglasses. There were a few bugs smacking me in the face (and eyes), though, so a little protection would have been smart. The temps were cool, but perfect for running. I had knee socks, a long-sleeved tech fabric shirt and also a hat to keep the bugs at bay.

There were a few minutes of confusion, though, in the last stretch of the race as we'd finished the second loop and were headed to the finish line. Believe it or not, running a segment of a trail such as this looks much different on the return trip (in the opposite direction). There were so many twists and turns (and I have a horrible sense of direction), that I had no clue which way to go when I came to fork in the trail. There were no immediate runners in front of me, so I took a gamble and went right. (Since the course had to be re-routed to a double loop at the last minute, there weren't signs situated at every turn). Fortunately, I didn't have to go too far to know I had chosen correctly (whew!), and a short while later I made it to the finish line.

Bib and Bling #1 for the weekend (Check out the mud on the shoes!)

This race went pretty well. I was able to run most of it, except for a few of the steep hills. I have learned, depending on the grade,  I actually can walk a hill  faster than I can run it. It requires less effort, less impact (so my wonky foot didn't protest), and (especially on the descent) there's much less chance of slipping, tripping or tumbling.

My finish time was 1:05:xx. Certainly not a 10K PR, but for a trail race, I'll gladly take it. Given the fact that my foot was still not 100% all better (and I walked periodically), I'm completely good with everything. I think the soft terrain (even though it was seldom flat) gave my foot a thorough (though gentle) workout.

Back at home, I iced my foot (as a precaution) and stretched the legs and feet before going to bed.

Saturday morning, I felt some stiffness. My foot wasn't too bad, but my hamstrings and quads were feeling the effects from the trails. More (precautionary) icing on the foot, a fast bowl of cereal, and the husband and I jumped on our bikes and headed downtown for the 10K street race.

It was another humid morning. I think it had rained overnight, so the streets were wet and the air was very heavy.  

We met up with some of our friends before the start of the race (and took a few obligatory pics).

With Barb and her daughter  (don't mind the photo-bombing husband)

 The race started about a mile from our house, and the course went right by our driveway.  One of our daughters was camped out, monitoring the street traffic, and snapped a pic of me as I ran by.
Sorry, Max!  You can't come with me

Shortly after the first mile, the course turns right (headed east), onto a county road. This is a road I run frequently, and am very familiar with the lay of the land. It looks like one long gradual hill, but don't be fooled! Once you reach the top of the hill, it levels off briefly, and then another more subtle hill is waiting for you. These hills are not especially tough, but on a damp, humid morning (a morning following a trail run, none-the-less), they can really feel pretty ominous. Such was the case for me on Saturday.

About halfway up the hill.....
 My foot didn't really hurt,but it did feel a little stiff. My legs (especially the hamstrings), though, were feeling pretty strained. And my energy? Well, let's just say my energy was kind of a no-show. I didn't feel tired physically, but my body didn't feel like it wanted to move. It was a struggle to just keep everything in motion.

My pace was doing alright, around 9:30, but it felt like I was barely moving. And I was sweating like crazy. Usually, I wear a tank top, but chose to wear a tech-fabric short-sleeved shirt instead because the temps were a little cool. Bad decision.

I grabbed water at every aid station, and was careful to drink most of it. I skipped taking any energy  fuel (this was "just" a 10K after all), but a little extra boost of mojo would have been smart. Another bad decision.

The total stretch on these hills is less than a mile, but felt much longer. The course then turns right (headed due south) and goes by a recreation area. We do an approximate mile around some soccer fields and baseball/softball fields before looping back out onto city streets.

By the time I made it to the 4-mile mark, I was beat. I decided to grab a water at the aid station and walk for a bit. Actually, I walked for several blocks, guilt-free. Although the body felt alright (well, my heel was a little achy...), my energy was depleted. I knew if I tried to run (even slowly), I'd be compromising my form and that was a gamble not worth taking.

I also accepted the fact that the half marathon on Sunday would probably not be in my best interest. Ever since the Plantar Fasciitis had appeared (two weeks prior), I had been wrestling with what to do about these three events all in the same weekend. It was kind of a relief to finally reach a decision, even if it wasn't the most desired.

That's the husband, getting water from the station at my yoga instructor's house (small world, indeed)
 One of the great things about doing a race in my hometown is that I knew everyone at all of the water stations! It's fun seeing familiar faces, and hearing your name being called out as you run by.

Yay!  We all finished the 10K!

We don't do a lot of races together, but it's always fun with the husband
 I was able to run the final part of the race, and actually passed several people in the final mile (who had passed me while I was walking). Finish time? 1:03:36, definitely my slowest 10K ever, by almost 10 minutes. But, so what? It would have been stupid to try to race this. My body was still somewhat compromised from injury, and sore from the previous race (12 hours prior). With a big marathon only a week away, doing these three events was a risky move...no sense rocking the boat even more.
Bib and Bling #2 for the weekend
Once we'd finished, I felt much better. I knew my legs would be tired, but I had never guessed I'd feel so depleted of energy. Barb and I had registered for these two 10K's and also the half marathon together...but I knew the 13.1 was not going to be happening for me. Disappointed? Sure, but actually not as much as I would have thought I'd be. I still planned to go with Barb, and be her cheerleader. Also, I knew there would be a few other people there that I was hoping to (finally) meet in person...so there was no way I was staying home.

Fast forward to 3:50AM on Sunday morning...and I'm up and out of bed. It felt a little strange getting dressed for a race that I wasn't going to run. Barb picked me up around 4:45, and we arrived in Marion around 6:15AM for the Marion Rotary Marathon for Shoes. The race was scheduled to start at 7:00, so we had plenty of time to get our packets and head to the start line (a few blocks from the check-in).

It didn't take long, and I spotted Amanda (from TooTallFritz.com) and Lindsay (from Glitter Girl on the Run). I have known both of these fun gals via Facebook, but had never officially met either in person. Both were just as friendly and gracious as I'd imagined. The fun thing about meeting other Facebook page administrators, is that I already feel like I've know them forever.

A short while later, I spotted Alanna in the crowd. She's a gal I've known for awhile (via my running page, Running on the Fly ), so it was nice chatting with her briefly. This was her third marathon!

Photo ops with Amanda and Lindsay, Barb, and Alanna
Even though I had not pinned on a race bib or double-tied my running shoes, I still loved being amidst all the pre-race excitement. I certainly did not miss having to wait in line for the porta-pot, or panic at the last minute as I search for water to wash down the start-line energy gel. Everything I'd need for the next couple hours was in my drawstring pack, and I'd be just fine sitting this one out.

This would have been a cute pace car!

All the racers got to run under this amazing display of the US flag

Once the racers were off, I headed back to the parking lot outside the high school football stadium, where the finish would be. There was music playing and the morning air felt nice. I studied the course map for a few minutes and realized the marathon and the half marathon courses split off from each other around mile 6.5, so I would not be seeing any of the 26.2 finishers until they finished, but the 13.1 course would be looping around near the start line, just past their 8-mile mark. Perfect! That would give me a chance to spot Barb.

The temps were surprisingly warm. The forecast called for cool temps, with a chance of rain. We had driven through some rain on the way to the race, but the clouds had parted and the temps had risen.

I spent some time blogging my thoughts and reflections on my races from Friday night and Saturday morning. It was a good chance to evaluate how I was feeling, physically (great!) and emotionally (even better!). Sitting this race out was the right decision for me. I probably could have gritted it out and ran those 13.1 miles, but what would I have gained in doing so? Another race shirt (which I was less than thrilled with) and a medal (which actually looked pretty cool)...and I would have probably further injured my foot. So not worth it.

I waited until about 1:10 minutes into the race to walk over to the start line area, and waited for Barb. Gosh, all the runners coming along looked exhausted! This part of the course was about halfway up a gradual hill, and some of the racers were not looking too happy.

I cheered and clapped for the runners. I was really happy to be watching. It confirmed what I have believed for several years... it's not all about me, but about the entire community of runners. It wasn't long before I spotted Barb working her way up the hill. I took a few pics of her, before heading back to the finish line area.

I spent several minutes scoping out the other cars in the parking lot...and the variety of running-related stickers on them. #runnergeek

One of the most rewarding aspects of spectating a race is being near the finish line, and cheering for all the runners as they make their way to the finish line. Some were walking, many were sprinting, several were smiling...and all looked very sweaty. The temps had really gotten warm in those couple hours (and continued to get worse as the morning wore on), and Barb said she'd seen several runners down, receiving aid on the course.

I can't say much about this event since I didn't actually run the course, but I heard it was very hilly (for both the half and the full). The shirts were tech material, but the sizing was huge (my small shirt fits my husband), and I was not happy with the $5.00 "fee" to pick up my packet on race day (instead of driving over for the expo)...I have never had to do that for a race before, and I have done a lot of races in the past 10 years. But, this race was for a great cause, so I respect cutting a few expenses regarding the swag.

How was my weekend? Great! Am I disappointed in missing a race? Yes. I have only ever had one DNS (Did Not Start), and that was a couple years ago for a 5-mile race on the morning of prom...and the weather was cold, windy, and rainy. This DNS was for injury prevention (and further healing). I have a marathon happening in a few days, and I need to arrive at the start line ready to run. I looked to the bigger picture, and listened to my gut. All is good!

Have you ever done a crazy weekend with more than one event? Ever have a DNS? (It's not the end of the world)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Getting Crafty with a Race Shirt

I have talked much on the blog and the Facebook page about being an art geek. And, that's not a title I take lightly.

I also have written about my "selectiveness" with running clothes. Nothing cotton. Bright colors. Funky shoes (usually with pretty laces). And, I prefer the shirts to be more fitted than loose.

I'm a tall gal (5'9), and have a slender build. I'm kind of borderline when it comes to shirts....I usually get a medium-sized shirt if it's a ladies cut, and I go with a small if it's unisex sizing. That's what works for me. Oh, and did I mention that I hate crew-necks? I prefer a scoop neck, or a V-neck...but those aren't always an option. There have been many a race shirt that I have taken the liberty to cut out the neck (making it more of a scoop neckline).

People often ask me (or they probably wonder in silence) why I "destroy" a race shirt? My answer? If I'm not ever gonna wear it with the (cumbersome and unflattering) crew neck, why not make it into something that I WILL wear? If the race shirts are cotton, they usually get donated or left at the check-in table; if they are made of tech fabric, they usually won't fray when cut (did you know that?). You can do this with cotton shirts, but the cut edges will probably curl.

I did a couple half marathons that both came with Brooks short-sleeved tech shirts, coincidentally in the same exact blue color. Both shirts had pretty cool designs on them, but did I really need two shirts in the same color? (I think not)  And, both of the shirts also were sporting crew necks (double whammy).

One shirt was from the Rock 'N Roll St. Louis Half  Marathon (October 2013), which had really cool artwork on the front and also on the back. The other shirt was from the Dam to Dam Half Marathon, which basically had the logo on the front and most of the back was plain.

This shirt is from the Rock 'N Roll St. Louis Half Marathon

Without much hesitation, I laid out shirt #2 and grabbed a couple of favorite racer-back tank tops. I modeled the front to have the same "cut-away" arm holes as the tank top. The back was a little trickier. I wanted it to have the racer-back look (so it wouldn't be too obvious of a DIY), but I didn't have any tanks that would work with the image placement on the back. Always thinking outside the box, I used a frisbee to give me the perfect circle pattern for the armholes on the back. Presto! A "new" singlet!

The first "Kim-ified"race shirt

Since then, I have cut a few other shirts into singlets. Most recently, I transformed a shirt from a favorite race (from the 2013 race) and wore it to this year's event. And, a lot of runners came up and asked me about my shirt, wondering where I got it (because there weren't any shirts like it at the expo). Ironically, the ladies event shirts this year were the same color (pink) as the one I had modified, but the logo was slightly different. They had a few spare black shirts at the expo, so I was able to swap the 2015 pink shirt for a black one.

This time I remembered to take a few pics to illustrate the process:

Step 1- I took the other modified shirt (from last year) and used that as a pattern. Since these were from the same company (and the same size), it was easy to layer the cut shirt over the new shirt. You can use any tank top as a pattern, just be careful to take into account any designs/screen prints on the shirt.

Layered up and ready!

Step 2- With a ball point pen (or, if you're too fearful of making the mark in the wrong place, you can use chalk), carefully outline the pattern onto the shirt. If you're afraid of cutting away too much, just draw the line closer to the arm hole.

Cut-away lines in place (front side)

Step 3- A trick I came up with, to make it easier to cut the fabric, is to put tape over the cut lines. Use scotch tape for this. I tried using packing tape one time, and it was too sticky. It was more difficult to peel off (after cutting), and some of the edges frayed as a result.

Scotch taped (back side)

A closer look

Step 4- Carefully cut away the sleeves and neck.

The cut-aways

Step 5-When finished cutting, remove the tape. Try to peel it away towards the edge, not along it. If you peel it "parallel" to the edge (instead of "perpendicular" to it), you may fray the edging as it puts more tension on the fabric

The finished Dam singlet on race day

Side note-- Last summer I also ran the Rock 'N Roll Chicago Half Marathon. Guess what color shirt came with that event? How's that for Karma coming full circle! It has a really cool image of the Chicago skyline, though. I still haven't cut out the neck, or done the tank-conversion on this one. Stay tuned.

Another blue Rock 'N Roll shirt...also with a cool pic on it

What do you think? Is there a future career in fashion (re)design for me? Have you ever modified a race shirt?