Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Grand Finale

My final race of 2013 took me to Savannah, Georgia for the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon. My friend Traci and I flew to Atlanta and stayed with my sister, Maryanne.  Traci and Maryanne have been friends for years and we were all excited for a girl's weekend!

On the plane, Traci and I sat with my friend, Ellen, who I hadn't seen in ages. We flapped our jaws about horses and running, our favorite things. Funny how you never know who you'll run into when you're traveling!

Traci and I had a three hour layover in Denver, so what did we do to pass time?  Thirteen minutes of planking! (We went upstairs to a corner of the mezzanine where there was minimal foot traffic and witnesses.)

After a night in Atlanta at Maryanne's house and an interesting trip to the grocery store ("Maryanne are you buying a squirrel?"), we took a three hour road trip to Savannah. 

Our hotel was amazing, but the race packet pick up was not. They had lost Traci's number and she had to be issued another one, causing her race day tracking not to work (which she found out after the fact). 

Just for the experience, we ate at Paula Deen's restaurant which wasn't anything to brag about. Plus, there is nothing quite like gambling on eating fried food the day before a race....

Race morning came fast and it was cold, dark, and crack-of-dawn early (insert jet lag here).  We stopped for a quick photo op on our way to the gear check and porta-potties. 

We were gifted with a corral 6 start, my best yet, but that joy came and went as we were still standing in the porta-potty line when the race started. So much for our prime starting group!  By the time we got to the start they were on corral 10. We quickly gave each other hugs and well wishes and off we went. This was Traci's first half and my sister's second!

In my rush to the starting line, I made a rookie mistake and forgot to double tie my shoelaces. By mile 1, my laces were flapping and I had to stop to tie them. Seriously? I know better!

It was a beautiful course with SO much history surrounding us.  We ran through a full spectrum of neighborhoods and everyone was very friendly.  Downtown the trees draped over us creating a tunnel for the sea of runners. Neighborhoods rallied together to cheer and the funniest sign I saw read: "You're running better than our government!" 

Savannah was a magical race with all of us getting personal records! Traci ran a 2:15, I ran a 2:20, and Maryanne beat her last half marathon time by 14 minutes! 

On our road trip back to Atlanta, we took a detour to the beach. It was the first time I'd been to the Atlantic Ocean.

I could have stayed there for days, but the Coach outlet mall was calling Traci's name. Well, that was what I thought until I was the one who bought so much stuff I had to buy a second suitcase just to get it all home! ("If you're looking for me I'll be in timeout in the car.")

Great trip, beautiful location, friendly race, and memories with my sister that will last a lifetime!

May 2014 bring you all the joys that comes from a balanced life and putting family first!


Monday, December 30, 2013

The Reality of a Mother Runner

Running doesn't come easy for me. I envy those who decide to go for a run and then just go; no additional planning, thought, or guilt associated with their choice.  I'm a mom first and runner second. Being a Mother Runner requires A LOT of time and planning. I'm not complaining, just acknowledging the behind-the-scenes actions of active moms (and dads too!). So, round two of a fun girls' marathon relay weekend looked like this:

1.  Leave my house at 11:30 a.m., pick up a friend who is running on my team, and drive 2.5 hours to Richland, WA.

2. Have a fun road trip to Richland.  

Wait, stop the press, it's not so easy in my world (insert more stops and time). 

Here was the reality of that weekend for me (like many other Mother or Father Runners):

1.  Leave my house at 11:30 a.m. with my two boys and all our luggage and pick up my friend who is running on my team.

2.  Take my older son to his soccer game and play cheerleader from the sideline (while keeping his little brother entertained and out of the game, trying to carry on a conversation with my friend, and then looking really excited and engaged when my son looks at me after making a great game play or goal).

3.  Take my son to his end of the season soccer party (with his little brother and my friend along for the entertaining ride).

4.  Drive everyone an hour and a half to my in-laws house where I drop off the boys to stay the night (they LOVE IT at Papa and Grammy's house! Who doesn't?).

5.  Have a fun road trip to Richland, WA. with my friend.

6. Arrive in Richland in time to meet our other two relay teammates and eat dinner at 8:00 p.m. A two and a half hour drive had turned into an eight and a half hour adventure. No wonder we were hungry!

7. Go to the hotel (oh, I mean sketchy motel) and get ready for race morning. (Laying out our race clothes consisted of covering the surface before putting your clothes on it.) The race started and ended in the motel parking lot so it was worth it for the location!

8.  Get up the next morning and run...no, wait I'm third leg so I have no rush! Sweet! So, Traci (second leg) and I headed to Starbucks for coffee and oatmeal. Life is good when Traci has her coffee.

Turtle Girl was first leg again and we all gathered for a photo before the race started. Our friend Tammy joined us in the picture as she was running the whole marathon...her own one woman team! 

It was another FREEZING cold morning.  After the race started, Traci, Janine and I drove to the first transition point. It felt like a timed scavenger hunt; follow a paper map in an unfamiliar city to a set location before your runner gets there. Similar to the last race, we hovered in the warm car until the last possible moment to get out for the transition. Turtle Girl arrived and Traci ran off into the sunrise.

We piled in the car and continued on our scavenger hunt to find the second transition, then the wind and rain hit. Oh man. Cold, wet, and windy. Lovely.

Traci smoked her run (something about those second leg runners!) and then I was off. My first mile was fast because I was FREEZING! Then, as my body warmed up, my pace leveled out. I felt solid and was inspired by a family we'd been watching pass through each transition. The mother was running the full marathon herself and her family members were running as a relay team encouraging and pacing her, then transitioning to a new family member at each transition. Awesome!

I sprinted in to my transition and Janine took off as our closer. She is one of our "fun sized friends" who despite her small stature can turn on her jets and blaze past you. She blew all of our times out of the water and finished the marathon sprinting in faster than any of us can run. Our final team time was 4:15! 

Back to the motel room we go to shower, change, and warm-up, then we all say goodbye and head out. Turtle Girl and Janine drive straight home, while Traci is along for the long ride home via the in-laws to pick up my boys, play in the leaves, chat, then finally getting home in time to make dinner and get ready for work the next morning. A two and a half hour drive turned into a five hour drive for this mother runner. Par for the course.

Where does the time go? The weekend was over and it was already time to start thinking about the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Half-Marathon. My last race of the year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Comfort Zone

Call me crazy. In October, I stepped out of my comfort zone and ran two marathons, two weeks apart from each other! Well, l need to be honest...they were both marathon relays.

By random chance, I ventured into the team sport arena of running.  (Rewind to August) Here's the scenario:
I'm bored of running, but know I need to keep moving if I want to maintain the physical gains I've made. So, reluctantly, I log into my Active.com account and begin signing up for the Spokane Marathon 10K in October.  As I'm about to confirm my registration, I'm interrupted by a phone call.  It's Turtle Girl and she needs one more person for her Spokane Marathon relay team. Seriously!? The same race, the same distance, the same registration website I'm on, but more fun than running a 10K alone...I'm in! And so, with that, my relay team adventures began.

I'm a princess runner. I hate being cold, running in the rain, snow, wind, or running up hills. Yeah, I know...suck it up and go.  Running in the Northwest guarantees I'll need to buck up and deal with all the above.

Spokane Marathon Race morning it was 30 degrees. I had the final leg of our relay which included Doomsday hill. I was nervous because I was the "closer" for a team where I'd never before run with two of my teammates. As a matter of fact, I'd only met them briefly the day before and I knew I wouldn't be able to pick them out of a crowd. I felt pressure to "perform" (from myself) and it was hard to go through my normal race morning routine knowing I would still have to wait at least another three hours to run (after the race begins). Odd. I don't know how to do that, but I was about to learn.

Ready, set, go...Turtle Girl was off.  Our team drives to the first transition point and waits in the warm car for her arrival.  Turtle Girl arrives, Beth takes off, and we head to the next transition and wait. Beth smokes her leg and Andrea is off before she knows it. We go to the final transition point and wait some more. Andrea rounds the bend and I take off. It feels good to finally run. I've been waiting for this since I woke up, six hours ago! I make it up Doomsday hill and power through my leg passing two other relay teams along the way. It feels good. Rarely am I the passer, usually just the passee (I may have made that word up).

Race over, group finisher photo taken, and final relay time of 4:30.  What a relief and blast! Would I ever do it again? Definitely, two weeks later....