Thursday, June 16, 2016

Race Report: Flag Day 5K/2 Mile Walk 6.15.16

The Flag Day 5K/2 Mile Walk is put on by my running club every year and it benefits not only their scholarship fund, but all a local center for special needs/developmental disabled youth and adults. Before the race started, they had a “challenge race,” a short distance where several of the clients from three centers got to show the efforts of their training. It was pretty cool because all of us runners and walkers stood around and cheered them on. They also served as race workers and handed out water at water stop so this was definitely one of those “feel good” races where it didn’t really matter how you did, it was for a good cause. It was hot and muggy but not as bad as it could have been with temps in the low 80’s. It was cloudy up until race time (of course) but luckily most of the course was shaded so the sun really didn’t interfere.

Since this was put on by the running club, I assumed all the top ladies in my AG would be there (and they are fast!!!) and since I was still recouping from Ragnar, I decided to use this race as a training run and not worry about my time. It was billed as Ohio’s largest Flag Day race so I assumed there would be a ton of people there so I was surprised when we got there and there weren’t as many people as I expected; 251 runners and 32 walkers. I guess I expected a lot more. Anyway, the RD, whom I see at a lot of my races, has been telling me about this race for the last two years and has always said it was a nice, flat course. OH HE LIED, HE LIED LIKE RUG. It was anything but! Paul and I did a quick warm up run and when I realized there were going to be hills, I could hear my legs protesting. I was already going into this race knowing there would be no fancy footwork and that with all the “real” runners at the race, there was no chance for an AG placing but after getting a taste of what it was going to be like? Yeah, this was going to probably be one of my slowest races to date…and I was ok with that. I was planning on running this race with Paul but when we got there, he said he didn’t want to run with me, which was ok, so I just decided I’d run however I felt and see what happens. I was also going to run with only one ear bud in and the music turned down low and see how I fared.

Since it was a gun start and I wasn’t really worried about a time, I didn’t get right up front with the real runners but kind of hung mid pack. The start of the race was down hill so I had some pretty good momentum going which of course is never a good thing at the beginning of the race but I just went with it anyway. I was actually surprised how good I felt so even though I checked my watch a couple of times just to see where I was at for curiosity sake, I really didn’t speed up or slow down, I just ran. Running with one ear bud didn’t last long because there was someone behind me breathing so hard it was driving me up a wall so in went the other ear bud and up went the music. Up down up down up down went the course through an apartment complex and exercise path. One of the residents had their hose out and was spraying the runners (there was enough room to get away from it if you didn’t want to get wet) and even though I was already drenched in sweat, it was a welcome relief.

We got to one hill towards the end where a couple of people were walking. My legs were tired and I admit I stopped running for a couple of steps but then I noticed a woman pushing a stroller who had been ahead of me most of the race didn’t stop, she didn’t even slow down so I said if she could do it pushing a stroller, so could I. The course looped around so the home stretch was the downhill from the beginning and then a straightway to the finish. My legs welcomed that “boost” and I decided it was time to kick it into overdrive…my goal to hopefully pass the woman in the stroller. And I did. As I was passing her, she congratulated me and I told her thank you for helping me because I was chasing her the entire race and through the shoot I went with the time clock at 26:00. What the?!? Really?? Sure enough, I stopped my Garmin as I crossed the timing mat and it read 25:59.5. Sweet!!! I know how fast the ladies are in my AG are so while I was excited about my time, I figured it wouldn’t be fast enough for a placing. It's all good, I wasn’t expecting one anyway. I waited for Paul to come down the straightway toward the finish and cheered him on as he went past. Jaime will get a kick out of this but I asked him if he wanted me to get him some water and felt the need to get it and bring it to him while he was cooling down (you can take the girl from Ragnar but you can’t take Ragnar from the girl LOL). This race has live results so I went over to check my time and officially it was 26:05 but holy macaroni, I placed 3rd in my AG!!! Guess most of the real runners stayed home!!

After the race, they had a ton of goodies, including pasta salad and this concoction made of brown rice a black beans that was REALLY good and since I would be getting an award, we decided to stay. Thankfully it was air conditioned.

Official time: 26:05
3/13 AG
31/116 females
92/251 overall

Even though the course was not the flat course I thought it was initially, I would definitely run it again. It was for a good cause and it was very well run and hey, the post race snacks were awesome, what's not to love about that!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Every Mile a Memory: Race for the Place 5K on National Cancer Survivors Day 6.5.16

Race for the Place 5K/1 Mile walk benefiting The Gathering Place (TGP) held every year on National Cancer Survivors Day, the first Sunday in June.

Every race I try to have 2-3 goals. This one I had two:
First goal: Sub 25:00 time
Second goal (if first wasn’t met): Top 5 in my AG

I apologize in advance for such a long race report. This event was more than just a "race" to me and a few lines just wouldn't do it justice. I've included pictures to give your eyes a break from all the text. LOL

What can I say, the race that started it all for me two years ago will always be "my" race and for all the reasons it is special to me, every year it becomes even more so. As I've mentioned before, this is my anniversary race and the race report from last year's race includes details and challenges of the course so I'll skip over that.

Not only was this the first year I had my own team (aptly named Just Keep Swimming…and Running), but it was also the first year I was not only joined by the usual suspects (family and a friend or two), but my cousin, Michelle, who is more like a sister and my two life-long friends, Leslie and Shawne, with whom I have been recently reunited with were part of my team this year, too.  Being a team captain is somewhat stressful because so many people were running late and I know what a complete MADHOUSE it is in the staging area from doing this race before (over 4,000 people participate) and then throw in the fact I'm a basket case before ANY race, much less this one, so I was a bit on edge.  Plus I had picked up our race packets on Thursday so I had to make sure everyone had their bibs before I headed over to the starting line. We were supposed to meet at 8 am and then get our team picture taken at 8:15 but half of my team wasn't even there yet so we just got the picture taken with the handful we had. But we all managed to find each other before the race and everything worked out. Next year I will do a couple things differently to alleviate some of the stress but DEFINITELY, Lord willing, will have my own team again.

Even though I tossed and turned all night (which has become the norm for me), I stayed in bed "resting" until about 5:45 am. We have to leave the house by 7:15 and I planned on getting up at 6 anyway so it wasn't that big of a deal that I was up a little early. I had my race outfit all set and ready to go the night before so all of this allowed me to have not one but TWO cups of coffee before the race. Bonus java is always a good thing on race morning!  I didn't do team shirts because I feel people should wear what they feel comfortable in, especially if they are running,  and not everyone wants to spend the additional money anyway plus they get a shirt from the race. I decide to wear the shirt I made for last year's race, the one with my dad's picture on it. I also made a pair of shorts the first time I ran the race two years ago so those are a must every time I run an "honor/memorial" race.
Every mile a memory, my running mantra
I don't eat breakfast as it is and don't eat before a race but I decided to have a banana just for good measure. The weather was rainy and drizzly the entire ride to the race, which was about 30 minutes from my house. Temps were in the 60's so it was a little chilly but not too bad. Pau had checked the weather before we left home and he said it was supposed to clear out by race time. Because this race means what it does to me, I was going to run it regardless of what the weather did. When we got to the mall where the event took place, it was raining again so Paul and Rick decided to wait in the lower level/covered parking area while I decided to "brave" the elements and go up the team meeting area where my cousin was waiting for me. Shortly there after, other team members trickled in and after we got out picture taken, we just hung around waiting for everyone else to show up. By that time the rain all but stopped.
Leslie isn't afraid of a little rain
The one mile walk takes place in the parking lot of the mall and the 5K starts and ends at the mall but goes through neighborhood streets. After a short warm up run with my friends, Paul, son, friends, and I said goodbye to the team mates who were doing the 1 mile walk and the 5K-ers who didn't want to be close to the front and we headed over to the starting line. Since I've done this race before, I know what a zoo it is at the starting line and I wanted to be pretty close to the timing mat so we headed over about 8:50. This, unfortunately means we missed the opening ceremonies, which you could sort of hear off in the distance.  This was this first year they told the walkers of the 5K to line up AFTER the runners. Guess they finally listened to all the people who complained. I have to admit I was a bit irked when a woman pushing a jogging stroller lined up in front of us. She looked like a legit runner and she ended up being pretty fast and all that but I still think it was kind of rude to be smack dab right there in front knowing full well of ALL the runners that were behind her but whatever. The race started late, about 9:10 or so but eventually the blew the horn and we were off.
Rick, me, and Paul at the starting line
Girls just wanna have fun
Rather than give a play by place of the full race, especially since this is long enough at is it, I'll just say it was muggy and it was tough! The course ran though heavily populated neighborhood streets and to those of you who run hills all the time, this course would have been a piece of cake probably but not for this girl. Again, I talk more about the course in my race report from last year so I'll skip that. This year it seemed that's all we did was run up never ending inclines with very few declines and even though this was my third time running this race, both Paul and my brother-in-law, Eric, felt the course was a little more hilly than in years past so we weren't sure if they changed the course a bit or if it was just us.  Looking back at my RR from last year's race, the "hills" were an issue for me so it could have just been our perception. Every mile was a struggle and in mile 1, I got my first ever race side stitch and I thought I was doomed for sure. Then a second one stared. They eventually disappeared which is good because I was having a hard enough time as it was. At one point, perhaps mile 2ish, the sun looked like it might peek out from the clouds and I kept thinking if it came out, I'd be doomed even more. It had warmed up a bit but luckily the sun never did come out and even though the air felt as thick as mud, at least it wasn't a million degrees.

When I first started the race, I looked down at my watch quite a bit but I finally got to the point, especially when I saw it at 9:30 pace somewhere in mile 2, that checking my watch was only frustrating me because I was clearly not going to meet my goal so quit looking at it and just ran. This is the second race I've done that (the other being my 5K from last month) so I've decided I will ignore my Garmin from now on when I race. Lesson learned from last race confirmed in this race.

Once again, I felt like I was running like crap the entire time and decided this was not going to be the race I'd run sub 25:00 so I just changed my focus to why I was running the race...the fighters, the survivors, the taken.  A woman passed me and she looked like she was floating, running effortlessly like a gazelle without a hint of struggle and I wondered if I'd ever get to the point where I'd run like that, too. With not to much longer to go, I passed her and when I got to mile 3 and the volunteer said the time was 24 something, I could not believe my ears!!  I thought I was going to completely blow this race and here I was, only seconds from my goal. As I rounded the corner to the finish, my son who had already finished the race, called out to me and told me to gun it.  I yelled back "I can't" and then I saw the finish clock and when I saw it was still in the 24's, I dug for what little energy I had left and as I crossed the timing mat, the clock read 24:48. No.flippin.way!! My Garmin said 24:45 and given where I started the race, my numbers were pretty accurate. The timing company for this race doesn't have live results like the other races I do so we had to wait for several hours to find out what our official times were but dang it, I my met goal!  Now would I place in the top 5 of my AG? We'd have to wait for the award ceremony for that.

One by one, as team members would finish the race, we'd head up to the final stretch and cheer on those on our team who were still racing. Meanwhile, the team members who did the one mile walk found us so we all stood around talking as we waited. When my cousin, Michelle, our last team member to come in passed us, we all cheered and screamed for her. This was her first 5K race and her first time walking an "official" 5K distance. You know that "gazelle" I mentioned earlier? As we were waiting, she came up to me and thanked me for helping her. Shocked, I thanked her and told her SHE was the one who helped keep ME going. I told her how effortlessly she looked and how I envied her and much to my surprise, she said she didn't feel very "gazelle-like," that she felt very off, and the race was kicking her butt just as it was me. She said she thinks it appears she runs like that because she is very tall and has long legs because she surely doesn't feel like she's floating. Glad to know I wasn't the only one suffering LOL.

My nephew, Daniel, his wife, Shari, and their two boys participate every year
My cousin's first 5K
Michelle finished and met up with us and we all walked to over to where the awards ceremony was getting ready to start. We were able to get someone to take our picture while we waited so we'd have one with all the team members present. So I met my goal of a sub 25, now would I make the top 5 in my AG? First they announced the top three overall winners in the Survivor Male category and then they announced the top three overall winners in the Survivor Female Category. I was only half paying attention because in the years I've been doing this race, I've never even been close to being a contender so imagine my utter surprise and astonishment when they announced the 3rd place winner and it was me!! I started jumping all over the place as my team screamed and cheered for me. I started to cry! Never in a million years did I ever think I'd be running, much less winning overall anything. I was so excited and stoked when they announced my name, when I went up to get my award bounding like Tigger from Monica Robbins, a local TV personality, I didn't realize they were doing a group shot of all the overall female winners and walked back over to my family, missing being part of the group shot. LOL  My brother-in-law, who is a serious runner and almost always places in his AG, placed 3rd in his AG.
So excited to win my award I missed the group picture
Eric and I with our awards
After the awards, we all headed over to a local restaurant to celebrate an awesome day. As we were leaving the race, a woman came up to me and congratulated me on my award and asked what my time was. They didn't announce times when they handed out the awards which I thought was odd. I told her what my Garmin said and she said she sees me at a lot of races and always picks me out as one of the people to try to keep up with. Me?? Really??  Who woulda thunk it! Now I am not sharing that to brag, it just really meant a lot to me and was a big confidence booster (something I severely lack, just ask Paul), especially with the way I was feeling during the race and it made this special day even more so. Before we left lunch, the times had been posted on the website. My official time was 24:43 and I did not make the top 5 of my AG but rather 8th which was a bit of a surprise because I picked the top 5 goal based on last year's times and what I thought I might run. Just goes to show you never know who will show up on race day, even when it's raining. However, I didn't care, wining 3rd overall trumped a #5 in my AG hands down!

Yesterday just happened to be my 3.5 year anniversary as a cancer survivor to the day. A strange twist of fate? I think not. 12.5.12 will be a day I will never forget nor will 6.5.16. I am truly blessed for more reasons I can express and I can't thank my family and friends who help me just keep swimming…and running. If you made it all the way to the end, thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this. =)

Final thought: This race proves all the more to never let the feelings of self doubt, technology, or the voice inside your head that says you can't or you won't get the best of you. Sometimes you just have to let the cards fall as they may and be happy that you can and will cross the finish line. And when you get there, you may just surprise yourself.

Time: 24:43.3
3rd Place Overall Survivors Women (8/158 Overall Survivors)
8/127 AG
207/1,759 overall

Our team raised $1,018 and I personally raised $437. There is still time to donate to our team. The Gathering Place is accepting them through June 30.
Just Keep Swimming...and Running
Me, my mom, son, and sisters
My co-worker, Debbie, nevers misses a chance to race

Every mile a memory

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

It all started with a beer...celebrating 17 years of wedded bliss

"So tonight let's raise 'em up to where we ended up 

There's been highs, there's lows, fast lane freeways and bumpy roads, cursed the devil and prayed to heaven, lost it all when we rolled some sevens. Been more smiles than there's been tears, been more good than bad years. Ain't it crazy baby how we got here, Oh, it all started with a beer. Oh, it all started with an ice cold beer."

"It All Started with a Beer" ~ Frankie Ballard

I know my husband, Paul, hates honky tonk but the first time I heard this song I chuckled and then l got a little choked up thinking about us. It was in that moment when I knew this would be the song I would quote on our 17th anniversary. Love it or hate it, Paul, this song is so us.

Our first "date" was at the Chesterland Tavern. Our mutual friend, Anne, knew we both had an interest in each other so when she and Paul were both home on leave from the Marine Corps one December evening (the 21st…in 1996 to be exact), she arranged for the three of us to meet for a beer…or two… It was that night Paul and I started talking and when we walked out the door at the end of that evening, I knew he was it. My life was changed forever. Well, here we are today, celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. Yep, it all started with a beer (and truth be told, a shot or two of Jager LOL).

There has been a lot highs and lows in the years we have been together and I am sure there have been times I have been a lot more than he bargained for but regardless what crazy has been thrown our way, here we are today. Love you always, honey.

Ain't it crazy baby how we got here, it all started with a beer❤️
May 29, 1999 ~ The day I married my Marine