Posts Tagged ‘Running’

First off, I just like this photo. I don’t know why, because it’s not particularly likeable. It’s not nearly one of the good shots in the entire lot of photos.

One of my trips to Lexington to meet up with the Run the Bluegrass crew, I spent some time driving around taking shots of the route. Here and there I took pictures of street markers, more to use as reference points for when I pulled up the pics later. A divider. A marker between one batch of useful photos and another batch.  Sometimes I use street signs. Occasionally I jot something down on a post-it note and take a picture of the post-it. That’s what this is – a reference shot. Not really meant to be seen by anyone but me. But here it is.

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Because I like it. I look at it and wish I’d done a few things 1000 ways different, but still. I like it.

Rosalie & Bosworth is almost right at mile 1.5 on the route. That beautiful strip of road in the mirror is what you’ve already put behind you. Keene Ridge Farm is what you’re about to pass on your left. In about another mile, you’ll make a right on Elkchester and the real rollercoaster begins.

And a ridiculous little reference shot reminds me that even the reference shots – the throw away images not good enough for print – for this race, are beautiful.

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Foal of Heartbroken Hill, Donamire Farm – Lexington, March 2013

Have you ever wondered what *that* is, when people say ‘just like that’? I mean, if that’s a sloth or a snail, as opposed to…say, a gazelle… well then, you understand how my week went. Peeps, it is HARD to get back into the swing of things.  BUT! While it didn’t go as well as I would have liked, it did go better than I thought it would.

Since I wasn’t able to run much in December with the hip & knee thing – and by much, I mean I did more this past week than I did all last month (SLACKER!), I decided to start off on the simpler side of the plans and try to find a good middle ground between JFT Training’s half-marathon schedule and Run The Bluegrass’ Beginner schedule –

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Not a great start by any means, but not awful either. Didn’t earn the high-five, but did qualify for the pat on the head. Knee’s hollerin’ a little, but not enough to stop. First time I’ve had a 3-run week since before Thanksgiving. Feels good.

On to the next week.

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*Gotta credit Eric with the pic above since he took that one – which is evident by the fact that those are my hands petting that month-old foal. It’s from the tour of Donamire farm that was organized by Run The Bluegrass last year.  One of the handlers opened up the stall and let our group get up close. Seriously, y’all – foals are soft – and moments like that – when you live in the city – they don’t come along all that often. Gotta grab onto ’em when you can.

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Somewhere along the first 2 miles

My first run on pavement since the Thanksgiving 10k.  4.4 miles with the new training group.

January 1st dawned all gorgeous blue-sky-ey here. Cold – 25 degrees to start the day. But PRETTY!

A full month off of running outside and you start to forget it feels like. I hadn’t realized that – that I was starting to forget about it. But there it was. The sun in my eyes and on my skin, the fresh air burning up my lungs.  All those weird things you think about while you’re running – you don’t get the same kind of thinking on a treadmill.

Like how you wish you’d chosen different underwear and put on one less layer. And how all those people at the corner just saw you fix the underwear issue because it HAD TO BE DONE and that’s not easy through 2 layers of pants. Or how NO ONE looks sexy in Winter running layers. NO ONE.  Okay – some do. Just not me. Egads! – the clothes alone feel like they weigh 10lbs. But on the up-side, it’ll make me look like I lost 10lbs when all the clothes get shed for warmer Spring runs even though I’m eating just as much pasta.

Also, on the treadmill, you don’t get the thinking about starting lines and finish lines and wide open spaces of road in between. How you want to feel when you step up to the starting line. Your husband and your friends at the finish line. What it means to train for a race for 3-4 months and then see the last tenth of a mile come into view. What the route looks like. The picture above is off the RTB course, somewhere along mile 2.

The training group runs officially start on Saturday. Today’s run was just a runner thing – it’s nice to start off the year with a run. A kind of good luck run for the year ahead. It hadn’t dawned on me until I got home that the Run the Bluegrass training plan started today – d’oh! Pretty sure I’m s’posed to be on top of those things.  So ready or not, I started today. Time to put the game face on and get down to business. 3 months and the clock just started ticking.

Countdown to kicking ass, commence!

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I was thinking about Christmas lights and sunrise this morning, and this photo from the end of September came to mind. I miss sunrise. Not that I’m not awake for it – I’m usually up way before sunrise these days, but I miss *experiencing* it. Being out in it. Breathing it in. It’s hard to explain. The air feels & smells different at sunrise. These days, I am usually either already at work or on the highway commuting when sunrise passes. *sigh*  I miss feeling the world wake up & get the day started around me. Oh well, the days will be longer soon enough.

So – some good things!

First – I finally got a decent run in!! YAY! Just 3 miles on the treadmill – but peeps – you have no idea how awesome it felt! Dropped into a groove and could’ve kept on going for awhile had common sense not dictated differently. It was nice to feel like my mechanics were finally coordinating well again.  I haven’t had a decent run – when I’ve felt like running at all – since before Thanksgiving. Not entirely pain free – the knee still feels a bit wonky, but things are getting back on track and just in time too.  For those who aren’t friends with me on FB – I had a bit of a nasty fall down some stairs right before Thanksgiving that threw my hips off – which in turn threw off everything else – and now has worked its way down to my knees. My form has been JUNK – like, literally looking at my arm and asking it ‘why are you flapping around that way? that’s not where you’re supposed to be!’ kind of JUNK!  BUT – not yesterday! Yesterday was GLORIOUS!!!! And just in time too…

Because – second – I picked a training group for Spring. I’ve been running with the same group for the past 4 years, but decided to go a different direction this year. I’ll be running with JFT Training. It’s a new group run by one of the coaches I had before and I anticipate that it will be a much smaller group. More personal. Several people I enjoy running with are moving over to train there as well. Hopefully it’s a good decision. Right now I feel like it will be. Which brings part of the plan into focus…

Next, I need to work on the mileage breakdowns by week for RTB and get a schedule written for hillwork and speedwork. And start getting this body off the treadmill and back on the pavement & trails!

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First off, ya’ll – that’s not me in the picture*.

Drove up to Lexington over the weekend to see my Run the Bluegrass peeps and gather a bunch of inspiration up in the form of what I call “big sky” pictures. In my book, there is no better way to motivate for a race than to gather friends and actually get on the course. This past Saturday was the second of several training runs set up by RTB on the actual course (next one is Jan 11th – come!) Since I couldn’t join in for the run itself (injury), I did the next best thing and got the camera out. 

This is the home stretch folks. The last .1 you push down on your way to 13.1. Sometimes to focus on the beginning, you need to see the end – get a good look at where you’re going.

It’s time to get a plan in gear – decide on a running group for the year, get the plan down in writing and get my head on straight.  RTB has it’s own 12-week plan on the website put together by Shannon Florea, so I’ll be taking a look at that – and probably joining one of my local running groups as well. I signed on for the “Director’s Challenge” at RTB – so a PR is my only option. Last time I down-sized to the 7-miler at the expo because I just didn’t feel ready. That will not be happening this year.

This year it will be 13.1 and there will be a PR.

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*Photo is of Rachel Crabtree, the Assistant Race Director and Runner Experience Coordinator for RTB. No – we didn’t stage the shot. Rachel just kicks ass like that naturally.

Inaugural run.  When I see those two words attached to a run, mulling is required. A lifted-eyebrow look at who is putting on the race and what they plan to do with it. And then usually, unless there is something that really reaches out and grabs me, I decide against it. I’ve done inaugural runs before – and to put it kindly, in my experience, it’s better to wait until year 2 for a run. Let them work out the kinks in planning and set up on someone else’s run/body.

But then – when two different sets of completely unrelated people mention to you that they’re going to do it , there’s some buzz, a little incentive to showing up in the form of saying ‘hi’ to friends you don’t see often – your trainer is doing it – and it’s ONLY a 5k so it won’t last that long if it’s screwed up.  OH – and it’s for a REALLY GOOD CAUSE that is near and dear to my heart – supporting our country’s veterans in any ways needed.

You shut the mulling up and register.

This was the case with the DAV 5K, which I ran on Nov 9th.  I had never heard of that run, but in the space of two days I had a couple mention it over dinner and my trainer mentioned it at Sunday morning workout.  I checked out the website, started seeing it pop up on Twitter and got my registration done. I hadn’t set up anything formal to connect with the friends I was hoping to see, Eric elected to sleep in, and so I was going solo for the whole thing.

The day dawned chilly but beautiful weather-wise.  There was an early packet pickup, so I was able to leave for the run a little later (another run around the ballpark area of Downtown) and got there with about 10 mins to spare on stretching. Then we were off! 

Walkers and runners were heavily mixed in the lineup – so I started out with a lot of bobbing and weaving through the crowd. At run’s end, my Garmin had me at 3.22 – so another 0.12 miles of running sideways around people.  But I started off at a pretty good clip and while I wasn’t on my way to hitting the goal I wanted, I was on track to setting a pace PR – though I felt like I was moving a little slower than the numbers show.  There were soldiers in uniforms with full packs and flags running through the crowd – a thing which I found really inspiring. If they can run with 30-40 lbs of gear on their back, why the heck am I slowing down?! 

I skipped the first water stop as I’ve been trying NOT to stop for water in 5k’s. A solid quality run seemed like it was in the bag.

The second water stop was where I noticed something really interesting – because I did decide to grab a swig at this one since my legs were still feeling heavy. Ya know how when you finish your swig, you dump and then throw the cup – and there is some nice volunteer there to take care of that blatant littering for you – USUALLY? Well, I took my swig, I dumped the excess, I looked for the spot where people were throwing and…

Then I looked for the spot where people were throwing their cups again and…

NO ONE WAS THROWING. There were 2 garbage cans just past the water stop and EVERY SINGLE PERSON was handling their own trash. The volunteer with the cup rake was standing there with nothing to do and a look of disbelief on her face.  She’d expected a mess and didn’t seem to be getting one. Seriously folks – in 6 years of racing – I have NEVER been on a course where everyone fielded their own trash.  Some are cleaner than others, but there’s always trash. I don’t know what it looked like before I got there and I don’t know what it looked like after I passed by – but this was the cleanest water stop I have ever seen in my life! I would like to think it was out of respect for the cause for which we were all running. I probably should’ve expected that a run organized by military-minded people would be clean and efficient.

And then there were motorcycles.  Yes, motorcycles.

As part of the DAV 5k, there was a motorcycle rally that started just before the run. The motorcycles were going to ride the course, kind of like a biker parade of sorts since a lot of vets are riders and since one of the sponsors was Harley-Davidson. I missed the takeoff in favor of staying warm at home for a few extra minutes.

In the home stretch of the last ¾ to half-mile, there were the riders. The bikes were parked to line one side of the course and in front of them – I kid you not – were what had to be a couple hundred motorcycle riders in all their black leather and gear – standing as close to each other as they could in a line – with HUGE smiles and HIGH-FIVING runners as we all passed.  Spanning a distance of about a quarter mile.  You know I went and got my high-fives on from almost that entire line of leather! Oh – to have my camera for that – I wish, I wish. (But I don’t run with it.)

Unfortunately, I was so inspired by the high-fiving that I picked up speed as I went down the line and ended up winding myself. My Garmin says I was at a 7:48 pace (!!!) for that section of run. When you’re regularly a 10:30-ish – that’s not good. Ooops.  So I needed to walk to get my breath back and watched my pace PR disappear. You’d think the sprint would make up the time for the recovery, but a sprint goes by much faster than a recovery. Meh. So what. The high-fiving was too cool for me to care. I’m a sucker for a high-five.  The finish was nicely lined with cheering spectators – and after I finished, I doubled back to cheer people in – specifically 3 guys with packs, gear & flags who I knew were not far behind me – and ended up connecting with 2 friends I didn’t know were going to be there. BONUS!

Official finish time put me at around 10:40 pace – with the added in 0.12, Garmin has me at 2-seconds over my pace PR average. But as we all know – what’s on the Garmin ain’t what’s in the history books.

Again, everything around the finish area was immaculately clean and well-organized. There were nice tents and things of interest to vets set up. My friends and I grabbed a cup of coffee – they had big cups, not the tiny ones (THANK YOU!) and headed over towards one of the rendezvous points that they had for each of the different military branches – which was where I’d parked. As we were walking, there were still people finishing – including several significantly older vets who could barely walk without assistance but were doing the walk.  I started cheering for them, though in retrospect, I wish I’d crossed back over the line and walked in again with them.  They deserve that. Then homeward bound.

REALLY IMPRESSED WITH THIS RACE! If this was their first year, then you know it’s only going to keep getting better as far as participation and offerings. I will note that also for first year races – participation tends to be low in general – usually less than 500 participants (and that’s being generous) unless there is some wacky theme to draw people in. This race had more than 2,000 participants in it’s inaugural run.  It will definitely be on my to-do list next year!

Some things I would change – and it’s a really short list –

1. I would improve the sound system for announcements. I ALWAYS get a little patriotically misty-eye inspired at the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, but I barely heard it before the run. I think – especially for a veteran oriented run, hearing this loud & proud was important. I was mortified to pick up on it being sung in the last 3-4 lines and realize (1) it was being sung, (2) I was missing it, and (3) I still had my hat on as did most around me because no one could hear it. 

2. I would separate out the run start and the walk start times. Getting out of the gate with all the walkers that seeded themselves up front was a little frustrating.  Even 5 minutes between the two would make a difference.

Thanks for a great run experience DAV 5k! See ya next year!

Some things – they just aren’t about the clock.

When I first registered for the ADA Step Out 5k, I was feeling really torn about it. It happened to be the same day as the Monumental 13.1 in Indianapolis – which was the focus race the running group had been training for all Summer. I was feeling wishy-washy about a 13.1, but after Hudy felt like I could get it done if I went that way. There were also a few other stops I was considering in Indy, including a meetup opportunity with the Run The Bluegrass peeps, and I could knock them all out with this one drive.

But then there was my friend Mark.  You see, ADA stands for American Diabetes Association. Mark lost his mom to complications of diabetes early in the Summer and was fundraising for the ADA 5k as a way to honor her. It was going to be a family affair – Mark is my Maine’s husband – so yeah, family to me. Go to Indy with the people I consider my running family, or walk with Mark and my friend-family.  Did I say I was torn? Let me restate that. TORN. I’m sure I sound a little like an asshole for even having that dilemma, but if you run regularly with a pack of people, there’s a loyalty there that’s hard to understand if you’re not a group runner. Also, I have a kind of skepticism for corporate charity fundraising mechanisms, but that’s a separate thing.

THEN, I reminded myself that I hadn’t touched my 5k PR from last year and was running out of good running weather to make that happen. SELFISH DECISION MADE. Do the 5k and put in a good faith effort towards a PR, support my friend, earn a good breakfast out.

AND THEN, I talked to Mark some more as he started showing up to my yoga classes – turns out, Mark wasn’t just fundraising & walking – he was planning to RUN this as his very first 5K. And he’d been training for realz! Started hitting the gym, cleaned up his diet, gave up alcohol until after the race – HE WAS COMMITTED! If the man was gonna honor his momma – he was going to do it right! No half-ass effort.  Just looking at the changes he was making on his way to race day, I was really awed. I have pretty awesome friends – but once in awhile – I get knocked on my ass amazed at just how truly incredible they are. This was one of those times. Mark awe-smacked me! He worked so hard on this thing that he even had to raise his fundraising limit because he passed it with time to spare & felt like he could raise more. How could I have ever considered NOT being there to support his effort?

The day dawned bright and sunny, but also chilly with more than a bit of wind. Our happy little group of 10-12 was huddled in the breezeway at GABP waiting for things to get started. This group included my Eric, who I had registered as a runner so that he could start with us (the walk start was a 10-min delay). I knew he would at least run a few parts of it – because he’s my husband and I know him. Man says he’ll walk it, but if everyone else is running it – he’s going to do at least some running. Also, he walks faster than most of us run. I’ve actually gotten shin splints trying to keep up with him. (Seriously honey – SLOW DOWN – your wife is short! Love ya!)

The race got underway and we all started out loosely together – staying close to Mark for about the first half-mile. Then we began to spread out. I realized pretty quickly that my legs just weren’t in PR mood and decided that I would be helpful by doing what I call “playing carrot”. Sometimes when I am running, if I’m struggling, I pick a person a distance in front of me to be the carrot – I promise myself that I am going to keep them in sight as if they are a carrot being held in front of my nose. I may not be able to pass him/her, but I will do my damnedest to keep them right where they are in front of me.  I know other runners that do this too. So I pulled out about a block ahead, where the group could still see my back and tried to match their pace from there – figuring if Mark could see my back only a short distance ahead, it would help him stay running.  Though – he had Maine by his side the whole time, as well as Maine’s dad and my Eric. Mark was running with a personal posse of coaches!

We hit the first of two significant hills just after the 2 mile mark. I climbed it to do my own hillwork, then doubled back. The group was coming around to the base of it just as I was coming back down to cheer and run the crest of it again. After that – it was last mile! The struggle was becoming real as Mark said aloud that things were getting hard and his calf was beginning to cramp – he’d done the distance in training runs before and knew he could do it – but as we all know, races are different, harder somehow. Maine was still coaching him like a champ – staying right alongside him –  and I started reminding him to breathe yoga class style – get the oxygen down into that calf! Recheck form. Relax shoulders.

Finally we rounded the last corner, which was onto the field at the ballpark  (Mark & Maine are huge Reds fans too) and as we crossed third base, heading for home and the finish line just in front of the dugout – MARK TOOK OFF! GO MARK! – sprinting his very first finish! With Maine & Eric on his heels and me coming in behind to watch them all cross.

Mark had run all of his very first 5k!! How cool is that?! And equally cool – my husband surprising the shit out of me by running almost all of his first 5k!! Eric had taken to doing some Galloways – having heard me talk about them enough to know what they were – letting himself walk when he needed to and counting off the 60 seconds rest before running to catch back up. He’d kept up with us the entire run! Seriously – how could I even have considered being anywhere else? This was freakin’ AMAZING to be a part of!

And also friends, looks like Mark is one of my running peeps now too. 🙂  (Eric = still not convinced. yet. muahahaha)

For details on the race itself – I have to say – not sure I would do this one again.  Pros:

  • The route was nice and water stops were okay.
  • A big pro of it was that they had a pretty good post-race spread of food – sandwiches from Honey Baked Ham & soup from Zoup!
  • The kids got to play on the batting field Kids Zone at the park.
  • They had volunteers with giant foam fingers giving high-fives to everyone as they walked off the field after crossing the finish line. I REALLY LIKED THAT!

But the rest of it was kind of a pain in the butt. Cons:

  • After you registered, you got this packet in the mail. I saw it and was thinking – great! They mailed us bibs! – NOPE. It was a fundraising envelope and your event waiver. Which you had to bring with you to get your bib at the event. Thus giving the volunteers the opportunity to side-eye the empty-envelope non-fundraising shmucks. Since I don’t mind contributing – and did so ONLINE above and beyond my registration – this irked me. I do too many runs a year to solicit for them beyond my own donations. Then, when you got to packet pickup at the event, it turned out that you didn’t really need the empty envelope. Just carrying it around for no good reason.
  • I found out LATER that there was a packet pick-up opportunity earlier in the week that I would have happily gone too instead. Except that finding this detail on the website was like trying to ferret out a cheat code for Tombraider. Eric & I had to leave the house by 8:30 for a 10AM race which is 8 minutes from our house to be sure we had time to do packet pickup. Usually I would not leave the house until 9:30 for a 10AM race at GABP.
  • There were too many pre-race ceremonies – like 30 minutes worth. To me, this is a sign of non-runners organizing a run event. You just don’t leave runners standing around out in the November cold pre-race for long periods. Runners dress differently to run than they do to stand around for 30 minutes and not everyone has a person to leave jackets & warm gear with who is not running. Other than a 2-minute announcement and the Star-Spangled Banner, ceremonies are a post-run thing.  I was chilled to the bone before the run ever started and never quite shook it off. Everyone else appeared to have frozen tuchuses too and watching the kids get cold from standing around made my heart hurt.
  • Post-race water. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS FLUID. When Mark got done with his sprint finish – and Eric too – they needed water. Like NOW. We all know how that feels. Except that there was none. To get water, you had to go up out of the field area and to the Smokehouse pavilion – which is about another .2 miles including the stairs. I’ve seen water put in some funky places before – but this was the furthest from the finish that I have ever seen water. A volunteer told me that GABP wouldn’t let them put the water any closer – to which I called fraud. I’ve done several runs at GABP and not had it be this far away before. “Well, that was during the season…” she said when I responded the same. “Well, we just didn’t have that many runners, this is more a walker event…” she said. I don’t care. You have runners – you have water close to the finish line. It’s an unwritten rule. Seriously, this makes me want to flick someone on the forehead. You should never have a situation where an exhausted runner has to go search out water. Also, I had to walk by 3 different vendors giving out water bottles (empty water bottles) while looking for actual water – that’s just mean.
  • Finally – results. Not that I actually cared b/c like I said – PR got thrown out the window. But – I couldn’t find results anywhere on the race page – not even a link. On a google search, I found a link that showed everyone’s name but no times – and there was supposed to be chip timing. FINALLY and much later  – I find a link on the race FB page for results. Sorry people who aren’t on FB – no results for you. Again with the cryptic website crap. People, runners want to know when, where, where to pick up a packet and where to get results. That information should be up front and easy to find on a run website. Nothing more frustrating – especially when you’ve had an awesome race – than not being able to find the official results or having them delayed a ridiculously long time.

So overall – really glad to be there for my friend, and I do appreciate the cause – diabetes research needs LOTS more funding – but not thrilled with any organization that throws a race and then puts the racers second.

Put the racers first and the money will come.

It is last Wednesday. I was sore, basically from head to toe. I smelled very bad. And as I settled my tired, grumpy ass into a bar stool at the Mexican restaurant where I have met Eric, I ordered a SMALL Negro Modelo and the chicken tacos when what I really want is covered in melted cheese and salty sauce with loads of rice. I want a beer as big as my head to pair next to it.

I had just finished 6.7 miles of semi-rolling hills and pushed myself pretty damn hard through the entire route. I am proud of this run. I did my work. A pack I am normally behind, I had stayed in the midst of or even a block in front of for most of this run. But now I hurt. That deep bone, achy kind of hurt where my core is tense and my body tries to tell me I’m almost 40. I tell it “what-the-fuck-ever”. Because I’m grumpy. I cuss more when I’m grumpy. Did I mention that I’m sore?

*sigh*

“Change Day” has sucked.  It has been almost carb-less (except for the small beer & soft taco shells). It has tasted like salads without cheese or creamy dressing. Smaller portions. My stomach actually growled at one point because I was timing my meals. (First world problem, fo’ sho!) Ugh. Then, there was this run when all I wanted to do on getting home from work was sit on the couch. But nope – off to running group. Because the whole point of “Change Day” is not doing anything fun or yummy not doing the things that make me fat. It’s choosing chicken tacos instead of cheesy enchiladas and getting my ass out running instead of collapsing on the couch.

It’s about telling yourself to stop being lazy. Making easy, lazy choices. It’s day one of your kick-in-the-fat-pants realization that you’ve been slacking, a rut is looming and that if you don’t snap out of it, you’re going to get stuck in it.

“Change Day” is all Susannah’s fault.

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This face – not so innocent as it looks!

Susannah is one of my fellow ambassadors – and it’s her that I was out running with when I realized a Change Day REALLY NEEDED TO HAPPEN. As part of the weekend in Lexington, and for the fun of watching us groan with hangovers, Eric & Rachel have organized a run the morning AFTER our distillery tours. The plan laid out in front of us is 7-miles on the Run the Bluegrass course. Unfortunately, my hangover says 4-miles is a better choice.

Or at least I wish it was just my hangover. That’s easy enough to fix.

After going out a little too fast on the first 3/4 miles (@10:10), Susannah & I slow it down together and decide to let the rest of the pack move along ahead of us.  It’s a good chance to get to know her. If I’m being perfectly honest, when we first got settled into our little group, I wasn’t so sure about her. You see, Susannah is Southern. And though I’m raised Ohio nice, I was born Chicago badass. Everyone born in Chicago secretly feels like they’ve got a little Capone in their veins. It’s why we have a reputation for taking no crap. However, a little secret about Chicago badass DNA – the only thing that scares the hell out of it…Southern women. Shhhh! A Southern woman walks into a room and we want to jump up on a stool and shriek like we just saw a mouse. We have no idea what to do with y’all.  Exactly how does one respond to “Kiss my grits!”?

No really, I need to know. I always thought that was just some made up thing on a TV show, but they really do say that! I heard it!

So Susannah, I’m trying to figure her out and getting a whole lot of nowhere. Are we going to be friends? Are we going to be stinky-side-eye-ers? It’s unclear. It’s not until drinks on the tour bus are being passed and I watch Susannah keep passing them right on past her that my head really cocks to one side and I get even more confused. Does she not drink? ‘Cause I’m okay with that if she doesn’t – but then where are all the solo cups going? All those other people seem to have cups and yet, I’m still passing cups of booze* to her…she is like the black hole of yellow solo cups. Then, IT comes out. Double-insulated with a big orange ‘T’ for Tennessee Volunteers – Susannah brought her own cup on the tour party bus – her own REALLY BIG cup! It’s then that I know.

She and I – we’re gonna get along just fine.

What I still don’t know – where all the solo cups went. Seriously Susannah, where did all the cups go?!

It’s over getting to know Susannah on this run, talking horses and scenery and injuries and life,  that it becomes apparent to me that I haven’t been doing my work. I feel fat and sluggish. That is NOT easy to fix. And of course because Susannah is running with me when I figure this out, it’s all her fault. Running Rule #1:  Run is sucking? It’s  your running buddy’s fault.

Wait, what? That’s not your rule #1. Hmmm. You should try it. It’s a good rule.

The route is just as hard as I remember it. I end up introducing Susannah to 3:1 Galloways.  We finish around 5.5 miles because I didn’t pay attention when I reset my watch for the intervals, but the overage justified walking a gratuitous portion at the end and I feel like I’ve been beaten up. Susannah must have been pounding on me a little when I wasn’t looking. You know how those Southern women are.

Friends, it has been a REALLY FUN Summer. In that way that fun means lots of beers and ballpark food, grill outs, the patio at Oakley Pub. I have been eating like crap! I’ve been skipping runs to go do other fun things.  When I have been running, I’ve been chilling out – enjoying it – hanging back. Nothing wrong with that at all except that I’ve let go of most of the speed gains I worked so hard for last year. I’ve been putting in my work sporadically and then wondering why I’ve got niggling aches and pains and things aren’t going the way I want to during harder routes.

The Run the Bluegrass route is a reality check. It’s time to get a plan. The eating needs cleaned up. There will be no kissing any cheesy grits. The weight-training, it must come back. My body loves it even if it feels like a punishment to my soul sometimes. I do like being able to do a solid set of push-ups. There need to be working runs in addition to fun runs – speedwork, hill repeats. Consistent work with the trainer and at the boxing studio to anchor in the heavy core work. And Yoga, of course. There is always time for yoga.

Most importantly, my head has got to get back in the game. I’ve been mentally lolly-gagging. Time to re-focus. While I work on getting the plan details worked out, there’s Change Day. Good choices do not need to wait on a solid plan. You just start making them. This is last Wednesday –  the day that all the crap going in my mouth and all the crappy excuses coming out of my mouth STOP. The day 6.7 miles of HARD work gets done. And the day that kicks off my doing better, working harder.

Thank you Susannah.

________________________________

*sometimes not booze. I swear she’s not a lush.

This is what Rachel says to me. “You’ve been quiet this whole time and then BOOM! I like that idea a lot.” She is throwing me a look along with it that is slightly surprised, but not at all surprised in the same expression. She leans over and taps Eric ( a different Eric, not my regular Eric) on the shoulder and tells him ‘Listen to this. Tell him what you just said to me.’

It’s almost the end of the weekend in Lexington and an impromptu brainstorming session has broken out – something that quickly energizes and sparks passionate discussion in our group though we’re all a bit exhausted at this point from the whirlwind of fun we’ve been having. I am sitting around a table with several other runners talking to Eric Marr and Rachel Crabtree. Eric is the Race Director and general idea man behind Run the Bluegrass Half-Marathon, as well as the Founder of Lexenomics. Rachel Crabtree, in addition to having her own business as founder of Wellfed Meals, has the official sounding title of  “Runner’s Experience Coordinator” though if this weekend is any indication, she should add “whirlwind organizer”, “cat herder” and “force to be reckoned with” in bold print on that business card as well.

These two are idea people and despite being tired, they are quietly listening to all of this passion being thrown at them by the handful. Taking it in. I can see the wheels turning in each of them – already trying to run with the logistics on some of what we’re coming up with because, and maybe more important than being ‘idea people’, they are also ‘action people’.  Both entrepreneurs, they know ideas without action behind them are just good talk.

Friends, I do – and I don’t – know how I ended up sitting at this table.  It started with my race recap from this past Spring, then there was a tweet, followed by an emailed idea, some more communications and then BOOM! There it is:

Run the Bluegrass Amb Logo

To someone who only began to describe herself as an athlete MAYBE two years ago – never feeling secure about that despite all the running and yoga and kickboxing that has occupied my last 2 decades because I wasn’t fast enough or tough enough or…just generally enough…

To someone who just recently began to own being enough – THIS WAS TERRIFYING. Run the Bluegrass was starting a Run Ambassador program for the first time and thought I would be a good fit. My mind immediately went to the oh-crap-they’re-going-to-expect-me-to-run-fast-and-I’m-still-struggling-with-10:30s place and I almost shut it down, except that then instead I decided to ask what being an ambassador means and the answer I got still makes me tear up a little if I think about it too hard.

In a nutshell, what I got back from Eric was ‘Just be you.’  That they liked my words and my photos and my ideas. You know, those things that are really close to my heart. Things that are the most ‘me’ of all the things I do.  That from my 3-part race recap, they could tell I was obviously passionate about the race.

“Passionate” is nice Southern speak for saying, ‘you won’t shut up about it and we’re glad for that’.

Essentially, they made me an Ambassador of Not Shutting-Up. I might be struggling with a 10:30 pace, but not shutting-up – that I got that down!

Also, if there’s an Ambassadorship of Not Shutting-Up, there are a few other places that should’ve called me a long time ago. Just sayin’. (Gordo’s, OPG I’m looking at you.) And okay, so maybe the U.N. didn’t call me (yet), BUT – the U.N. has Good Will Ambassadors, and running is a sport that’s all about spreading good will. So, it’s not unfathomable that they might call me. You know, should Angelina Jolie ever get bored with the gig and they need to fill the position. Consider me in line.  I digress…

That was how I ended up in Lexington. A meeting of the Ambassador minds and to do a little previewing of what this amazing run wants to offer next Spring.  So that with that information, I can use my not shutting-up skills. They intend to put on a REALLY COOL EVENT!  and in doing so, give me a lot to write about and take photos of and get inspired over so that I can’t help but share it with you. Not because they asked me to do those things, but because I’m so excited about them that I can’t shut up about them.

If this past weekend was any indication, people – this is going to be one heckuva ride. And you’re coming with. First and foremost because if I’m going to do this run again, and do the full 13.1, I’m going to need to get my training in gear. So there’s that to talk about.  Also, because I took about 300 photos over the weekend which I want to show you.  Then, there were these awesome people I met – who I should introduce you to.  As the race starts to release details, you’ll get the inside scoop.

Peeps, I got stories. And – just being me and all –  I’m going to tell them.

Weekend Runaway

Posted: 10/06/2013 in 13.1
Tags: ,

Good morning, peeps! As I write this, I’m holed-up under a nice cushy comforter tucked into a corner room of a lovely hotel in Lexington. In about an hour, I’m going to get showered and re-packed. I’m going to find a little place for breakfast called the Coffee Pub that has good coffee and smells like warm. I remember it from my last visit. Then I’m going to drive around on an overcast day and see if I can add a few more photos to the 1000 I’ve already taken this weekend.

After which I will drive my hour and ten minutes home, I will kiss my husband extra special nice because it’s rare that we’re apart 48 hours. I will play “toss the rag” with the dog because that’s what he will want to show me he’s happy I’m back. Then I will begin to process all of this amazing weekend, edit it all, and stand in wonder at the way life sometimes goes.

But right now, right now, there is this bed. Normally I would never use a computer in bed – but it’s okay because it’s a hotel. Hotels are for computers in bed, leaving your shoes where you kicked them off, and discovering shows like “Vanilla Ice Goes Amish” (seriously it’s a real show) (Also, I’m sorry America because that’s a real show). I’m having coffee. I’m watching a movie.

And I’m writing to you. Because this trip – this is something  you’re along for. You’re a part of why I’m here.

I have a lot to tell you.