Sunday, June 8, 2014

5K Foam Fest

Early this year my daughter mentioned us doing an obstacle race together.  I've looked at races like Tough Mudder and they are NOT for me!  Making my way through an obstacle of dangling live electrical wires is not my idea of fun.  I'll stick to straight running, thank you!  Then she showed me the website of an obstacle course called Foam Fest.  It's a 5K run with obstacles but no live electricity (whew!).  I wanted to do it but finances wouldn't allow it.  Then my daughter found a Groupon for almost 40% off and of the balance she paid half as my Mothers' Day present.  Thank you, my dear!  So we signed up not knowing exactly what the course would be like since they don't have the same course setup at every location.  They have a representative sample of obstacles on their website and that's all we had to go on. 
It ended up being at a very expansive ranch in Dade City, Florida that is used for horse racing and shows and they have cattle herds but we didn't see any animals when we were there.  The ranch is beautiful Florida woods and open grassland and we loved it!  We were in the first wave, leaving at 8:00 before the heat got too oppressive.  All we knew to expect were inflatables, obstacles, mud, and soapy foam! 

We took off running and about 1/4 mile away was the first obstacle, something like a bounce house but with only about 4-foot walls and no roof but there was foam.  We got wet and soapy!  We kept running but it wasn't easy to run on uneven grass.  We weren't trying to get a good time like in most 5Ks.  In fact, they don't even time you at all; it's just for fun.  We walked some because we didn't want my daughter's asthma to kick in, but sometimes we ran to put distance between us and the group of about 8 people in front of us that kept taking pictures at every obstacle.  One portion of the course went through the woods and they had something like bungee cord strung across the path in a random spider web fashion that we had to crawl under and/or through.  I stepped through some and crawled under others.  It was actually kind of liberating to crawl on the ground and smell the dirt.  I wasn't trying to stay clean; in fact, getting dirty is part of the point of the whole run!  We came upon two wooden wall structures about 10 feet high that we had to climb and I did it with no problem and while talking!  It wasn't a smooth wall; the boards were nailed in such that there were footholds. 
We came to an A frame with a rope net stretched across it to climb up, over, and down.  I figured that if I climbed near one of the support poles the rope wouldn't be as slack and would be sturdier.  I'm smart that way.  :-)  Height wasn't an issue for me.  The issue was wondering if my foot would slip and my leg or legs would fall through the openings and then I'd be stuck.  That didn't happen, though.  Whew!  I made it to the top with no problem but took my sweet time getting over the top support bar and starting down.  Once I did, though, I climbed down lickety split! 

On we went to the first mud obstacle. 

It was wet mud that we crawled through under more bungee cord on our hands and knees, not our bellies.  Later there was another mud pit that was not as wet but was VERY deep.  The monitor there kept telling people not to lose their shoes.  I stepped in and sunk almost to my knees!  I tried to step carefully but only a couple feet in I picked my leg up and my shoe stayed in the mud!  I laughed and reached down to pull it out but my hand came up empty!  It was really stuck!  I had to reach my hand down in the mud farther than I wanted to and really pull hard and when my shoe finally came up it made that squerching sound.  It's a good thing I wasn't wearing my good running shoes!  When I put it back on my foot there was a big glob of mud in the outer toe area.  I figured that since they were old, yucky, holey shoes the mud would work its way out as I ran or walked.  It didn't and it was uncomfortable.  I had to stop, take my shoe off, and pound it on the ground to get the mud glob out.  I'm glad we weren't doing this course for time! 
Other obstacles included bounce house-type contraptions with water and foam.  Ahhhhhh!!!  One was a rectangular pool about 3 feet high with 5 large rollers that you were supposed to alternate going over and under.  No problem.  I stepped into it and dropped down to my knees to go under the first one.  COLD!!!  COLD!!!  COLD!!!  COLD!!!  I went over the first one instead and then gathered my wits to try going under the second one.  The cold wasn't so bad but it was muddy from the people who'd gone before.  And we were the first wave!  I can't imagine what it was like a couple hours later.  Yuck!  

The second-to-last obstacle was called the Death Drop. 
It was a 42-foot inflatable waterslide!  I don't like those really big slides at water parks so I considered bypassing this obstacle.  I watched other people doing it, though, and decided to give it a try.  I had to pray going up because after the first five steps or so there was a net overhead so people didn't jump or fall off onto the ground.  I'm not highly claustrophobic but I don’t like enclosed spaces especially when there are other people around.  I made it up without hyperventilating, though, and got into position, crossing my ankles and arms.  It was actually fun going down!  The main lesson I learned from this course is that anticipation is often different from actuality. 
There was one last little obstacle and that was foam mats linked across a pond that you had to run over.
There were three paths, one with two mats, one with four, and one with six.  I chose to take the path with two mats because there would be less time and distance to fall into the pond where frogs are.  J  The second of my mats had a little depression in it where water had already started accumulating and that's where I fell, but only on the mat and not into the pond.  I tried to get up and keep running but fell again so I just crawled the rest of the way.  
Not pretty but they weren't giving style points.  I made it across and up the bank.  After that it was just a 1/4 mile or so to the finish line and our medals! 
Brianne made it look much easier than I did, but I'm glad we got to do this run together. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Gasparilla 15K

Three years ago I was at Gasparilla observing my very first race.  I think it was the half-marathon.  I stood there watching people heavier than I was run across the finish line and realized with tears streaming down my face that there was no reason I couldn't run.  Two years ago I had run two other 5Ks but was nursing a knee injury and couldn't run the Gasparilla 5K.  I went anyway and asked God why I couldn't run.  He said that I had walked about 20 minutes from my car to where I was standing and some people can't even do that.  Last year I ran the Gasparilla 8K.  Three weeks ago I ran the 15K.  Will I run the half-marathon next year?

It was warm for February three weeks ago, even in Florida.  The weather was also quite foggy.  My phone does not much more than calls and texts, so I rarely use it to take pictures.  I don't carry my camera with me on runs, though, so I had to use my phone to capture the foggy conditions on Bayshore Boulevard. 

My friend and fellow Ragnar teammate Rusty also ran the 15K.  At about the 8-mile mark (a 15K is 9.3 miles), I saw him standing in the middle of the street.  He had decided to stop and wait for me so we could run together.  I had settled into my comfortable slow pace and was slogging along.  He took my hand and pulled me (mentally and physically) the rest of the way.  He made me increase my pace and at one time I said I didn't think I could keep up that pace because of the stitch in my side.  Somehow I did, though, and we crossed the finish line at 2:08.  My actual time was 2:04:47, which gave me a pace of 13:23 per mile, which is slightly faster than my average lately.  If Rusty hadn't pushed/pulled me to increase my pace, I would've finished much slower and been disappointed in my time.  So thank you, Rusty, for pushing me to do better!

He and his girlfriend, also a Ragnar teammate, left the race and went skydiving.  Sheesh!  These athletes don't know when to quit, do they?!nish line and realized with tears streaming down my face that there was no reason I couldn't run. Two years ago I had run two other 5Ks but was nursing a knee injury and couldn't run the Gasparilla 5K. I went anyway and asked God why I couldn't run. He said I had walked about 20 minutes from my car to where I was standing and some people can't even do that. Last year I ran the Gasparilla 8K. Yesterday I ran the 15K. Will I run the half-marathon next year?

My friend and fellow Ragnar teammate
Rusty also ran the 15K. At about the 8-mile mark (a 15K is 9.3 miles total) I saw him waiting in the middle of the street for me. I had settled in to my comfortable slow pace and was slogging along. He took my hand and pulled me (mentally, not physically) the rest of the way. He made me increase my pace and at one time I said I didn't think I could keep up that pace. Somehow I did, though, and we crossed the finish line at 2:08. My actual time was 2:04:47, which gave me a pace of 13:23 per mile, which is slightly faster than my average lately. If Rusty hadn't pushed/pulled me to increase my pace, I would've finished much slower and been disappointed in my time. So thank you, Rusty, for pushing me to do better!

He and his girlfriend, also a Ragnar teammate, left after the race and went skydiving. Sheesh! These athletes don't know when to quit, do they?!

I posted the above on Facebook the day after the race and here is Rusty's comment and then mine in response:

I give The Lord all the Credit for you told me are you more concerned about your pace and time or more concerned about finishing race with a teammate that needs you so don't give me the credit give the Lord all his credit and glory for he's one Who turned me around to come back to you

Then I thank God for telling you to turn around and come back to me and you for listening and obeying.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys 2014 (part 2)

Mid morning on Saturday my second leg was 4.1 miles completely across the pedestrian span of a bridge around Duck Key.  It seems like the road from Miami to Key West is nothing but one long bridge.  It pretty much is, which is why they call that part of A1A the Overseas Highway.  There were dozens of people fishing off that span and looking at me like I was crazy as I ran past them.  I saw one guy running the opposite direction.  He was just running on his own, not as part of Ragnar.  I told him he should join us and he laughed at me.  J

I ran into the exchange where I was to hand off to Lisa and (this all happened in about 2 seconds) she wasn't in position for me to slap the slap bracelet (baton) on her or to take her GPS watch from me that I was borrowing.  She was talking to a race official.  I wondered why she wasn't ready.  As I stood there taking off her watch I listened to their conversation.  Our team was 3 hours behind and he was telling her that she wouldn't be able to run.  WHAT???  They were closing up the course and shutting down the exchanges, and we were some of the last people.  The official said we had a few options:  1. Skip that leg altogether and take our next runner to the next exchange to resume the race.  2. Run some people tandem, meaning we would skip that leg and Lisa and Jared would both run the next leg instead of just Jared.  3. Run people simultaneously, meaning that Lisa could run that leg and then we'd quickly take Jared to the next exchange where he would just start running without waiting for Lisa.  Then van 1 would take over again and do the same thing with each of their runners.  Van 2 would do that again when it was our turn to run our last legs.  There may have been other options but I don't remember.  Things broke down at that point with us needing time to process what we'd just been told, disbelief, trying to figure out what happened, etc.  I think Lisa got to run that leg and we drove Jared to his next leg and he started to run.  Then we met up with van 1 at what had been a major exchange but was now a ghost town and made a plan that I can't remember and one of our team members had to leave the race early and fly home due to unforeseen circumstances.  Not good from all sides.  We were hot, tired, and confused.  I'm pretty sure everyone got to run all their legs except the one who flew home and the one who had a knee injury.  He had to walk part of his second leg and made the wise decision to give his third leg to someone else and be our designated driver.  Ragnar is not our job and they don't pay for injuries to be taken care of.  That runner needs his knees to walk the rest of his life and it wasn't worth it to sacrifice them. 

As we supported our last runner on his second leg we were able to pass out water to other runners who were wilting in the midday heat.  The temp was about 83 degrees and they were running on city sidewalks without much shade.  Thank You, God, for that opportunity to be a blessing to others even though we were physically and emotionally uncomfortable ourselves. 

Van 1 then took over for their third legs and van 2 was able to go to the next major exchange where there was supposed to be breakfast waiting for us.  Except that it was the middle of the afternoon and they had run out of breakfast, so our only option was pizza, and cold pizza at that.  I bought 2 slices and some fruit and was able to eat most of it, but I was very glad I brought my own food (chicken I cooked at home and cut up, tomato wedges, strawberries (!), almonds, sunflower kernels, whole-grain muffins I made, etc.).  We rested and took a hot shower (and I do mean HOT!  Only hot water came out of the shower head.  I had to stand out of the stream of it and just throw water on myself) while our van 2 leader tried to figure out what our options still were and how best to finish this race.  We definitely weren’t going to do it in our projected 33 hours.

I think we opted to run simultaneously, letting Terry start her final leg, and then driving ahead to let Pastor Frank start his and run for Josef who was now our driver, etc.  By the time I started my final leg it was after 4:30, and Ragnar considers 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. to be nighttime hours.  All runners on the course between those times must be wearing a reflective vest, a headlamp, and a tail lamp.  Any support person outside the van must be wearing a reflective vest.  You can be disqualified immediately for not following those rules.  They're serious about safety.  I was wearing a large safety vest that construction workers wear that was provided to us by the company one of our runners, Rusty, works for.  That was very nice of them, but it was awkward to run in.  I did one trial run with the headlamp at home before setting off for Ragnar.  While it wasn't a serious hindrance, I didn't like it.  It started to give me a headache and I was glad my final leg was only 2 miles.  I ran it in 27 minutes, which is a 13:30 pace.

When van 1 finished their legs, they went to our hotel in Key West to check in and then went to wait at the finish line.  After all the van 2 runners except the very last one finished, we continued on the course to support him. 

Jared running and Pastor Frank (green shirt) and Josef making sure Jared is doing well

The whole team met at the finish line to run across it together! 


Here we all are after crossing the finish line and getting our medals!

We stayed a little while at the finish line and shopped the merchandise tents.  I got a Ragnar headband that I've since run in a few times and love!  I'm going to get some more of that brand next time I need headbands.  We eventually all made our way to the hotel and showered, then most of us went out to eat a very well-deserved meal.  We didn't want to get into the madness of Key West on Saturday night so we didn't stray too far from the hotel, which was far away from the party scene on the northern end of Duval Street.  We finally found a place for a good celebratory meal that wasn't terribly expensive but only after a few of our team members went back to the hotel and ordered pizza.  Not me!  I worked too hard to celebrate with delivery pizza! 

We all slept very well Saturday night!  Sunday morning I was relaxing outside our hotel suite and saw about a dozen people over maybe 30 minutes run past the hotel.  I had no desire to join them!  Usually I do when I see someone running but not this morning.  I wondered if they had run Ragnar and how they could be up and running again the next morning.  About 9 of our group walked to Calvary Chapel Key West to go to church.  It was about 1-1/2 miles away and we all needed to walk as much as possible to keep our muscles from cramping up.  It's a very small church and we about doubled the attendance!  One of our leaders (and one of our church's pastors) had tried to contact this pastor the week previous but hadn't been able to, so he had no idea we were coming.  Imagine his surprise when his congregation was suddenly twice as large!  His message was on breathing room, which he defined as the space between our current pace and our limits.  It's taking an even pace and not going too fast or too slow.  How appropriate for people who had just run 200 miles! 

We had lunch after church at a Cuban place diagonally across the street from our hotel and some of us (here's Terry) got whole coconuts to drink water from. 

And Lisa

It was some of the best and most affordably priced food on the island.  We went there a few times for coffee and/or food. 

We went back to the hotel and cleaned out the vans because some people were heading home that afternoon.  The rest of us lounged by the pool or went in the pool or played ball in the pool and drank free smoothies the hotel provided by the pool. 

Ah, the life recovery of a Ragnarian!  When the lady making the smoothies found out we had run Ragnar she said they like to see us come in.  She said we have a spring in our step but there's a limp at the back end of it!  Sunday evening those of us who stayed went to Mallory Square where they have nightly sunset celebrations with street vendors, street performers, shops, etc.  The sunset wasn't spectacular but it was still fun. 

I got an order of conch fritters.  Now I can say I've had overpriced hush puppies.  Whoopee.  We bought souvenirs.

The second one down is a map of the keys so I could see where I ran (Duck Key and Big Coppitt Key).

We played around with our team name - The Saints Come Running In,

and played in hammock chairs.

I never sat in one before because I was afraid it wouldn't hold my weight and how embarrassing (not to mention dangerous) would it be to have the thing collapse when I sat it?!  I gingerly tried it this time and it didn't collapse nor did the wood squeak.  Rusty even spun me in it!  I want one now!  Oh, I already have a hammock.  Well this one is different!

We ate supper,

and just played!

While walking around Key West Sunday night I saw a kiosk selling blown glass.  I love that stuff!  I walked around it looking for a running shoe or a strawberry or something but nothing caught my eye until I saw a turtle.  I thought about how I run slowly and that a turtle is an apt depiction of me.  Then I rejected that thought!  Yes, I run slowly, but by golly I am NOT going to define myself as a turtle!  That's like giving me permission to continue running slowly.  I walked away without buying anything.  I met up with the rest of the group a few minutes later and was telling them the story and Amanda said she has a blog called The Turtle Won.  Yes, the turtle was slow, but he persevered and won the race.  Well that put a new perspective on the matter.  I've never seen any fast runners actually sleeping during a race or even goofing off and allowing a slow runner to win, so I may never win a race.  What that story is about, though, is perseverance and endurance.  I definitely have those qualities!  I still don't want to identify myself as a turtle, but I feel a little better about it now.  That's why you saw a turtle magnet and a turtle sticker in the picture above of the souvenirs I bought. 

Monday morning we got up and packed and went walking through Key West again.  We took the obligatory picture at the Southernmost Point in the continental United States,

And looked around the closest gift shop to Cuba. 

This is a sign I don't have to be concerned about anymore!

We figured Duval Street would be less rowdy on a Monday morning than a weekend night.  It was less rowdy but not less crowded.  I took pictures of Margaritaville for my brother (who's a big Jimmy Buffett fan) and pictures of chickens for myself (since I have 3 at home - chickens, not brothers, although I do have three brothers).

Why did the chicken cross Duval Street? 

Oh yes!  We also took the obligatory 0 mile marker pictures. 

Key West is only about 1 mile from north to south and only about 4 miles from east to west.  I liked walking almost everywhere we went, and I'm sure it kept us from being too sore after running such long distances.   

I'm glad I got to stay in Key West a couple days after the race and enjoy time off.  Sometimes you have to

stop and smell the roses!

Alas, our time in Key West was coming to a close and we headed home.  It was fun to drive back and see where we had run and hear the stories the other people told.  Three of us had been in van 1 and four had been in van 2 so we got the low-down on who ran where and how that section of the course was.  Somebody had stairs at the beginning of their run, somebody ran the entire 7-mile bridge and then some, somebody ran their entire leg on loose gravel and dirt, etc.  We saw the high school where we slept under the stars on a cool, breezy night behind the van on air mattresses.  Our route home didn't take us on the same course we ran through Miami so we couldn't relive that part of it.  It was a very long 9-hour ride home but we came back with memories and God stories to tell and new friends.  Thank you, Amanda, Lisa, and Terry, for letting me use some of your pictures in this blog.

Van 1 friends - Amanda, Steffanie, Michaela, Rusty, James, and Eli

Van 2 friends - Josef, Terry, Lisa, Lorryn, Pastor Frank, Jared, and me

Yes, they would, but we're not normal people.  We're Ragnarians!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Ragnar Relay Florida Keys 2014 (part 1)

So!  Ragnar!  Ragnar Relay Florida Keys 2014.  Wow.  Where do I begin?  How about a year or so ago when I first heard about it? 

Our running team's captain first mentioned doing a Ragnar relay about a year ago (early 2013) when a group of us were on our way to volunteer at a water station at a local race.  He mentioned it again the next time we did that and the team started coming together.  Ragnar Relay Florida Keys is a 198-mile race from Miami to Key West. 

I had run one 10K at that point but was mostly doing just 3.1 miles.  Hmph.  I said just 3.1.  There was a time when I thought running 3.1 miles was an impossible feat.  Now it's "just."  Incredible!  Anyway, I slowly began increasing my distance and ran a midnight 10K on July 3.  For Ragnar, I chose to be runner 10, which gave me distances of 7.6, 4.1, and 2 miles.  When it came time to actually run, officials had tweaked it to 7.1, 4, and 2, which means that I ran a total of 13.1 miles, which is a half-marathon.  Now if I can just put those pieces together and run them continuously, I'll have done a half-marathon.  One day.  J 
Starting last November I tried to incorporate two runs in one day but never seemed to get it done.  I would run 3.1 in the morning then try to run in the evening but always ended up walking.  It was HARD to do two runs in one day!  I didn't actually do it until January 5, just a month before Ragnar.  Not where I wanted to be in my training.  I did get up to 8 miles on December 31, which was my longest distance of continuous running ever!  I did a 15K (9.3 miles) in October, but I walked part of it.  Well, running isn't everything and I don't get paid to do it so it has to fit in with the rest of my life, and the rest of my life and my 44-year-old body just weren't making room for two-a-day runs.  I do what I can. 

Thursday, February 6, one van left from the church with five of us in it.  The other van left a few hours later.  We headed down 1-75 through Sarasota, through Fort Myers (as far south as I'd been up to this point), and to Naples where we turned east onto Alligator Alley.  Didn't see a single alligator.  L  I did see two wild iguanas right in Miami and some farther down in the keys. 

We got into Miami in the early evening, checked into our hotel, and then headed to Olive Garden where we were going to have dinner when the second van got there.  The people in our van continued to bond while we waited and then during dinner.  I had spaghetti but I wasn't purposely trying to carb load since I wasn’t running until the next day in the early afternoon.  Breakfast and lunch would be more important meals for me to get some carbs in than supper the night before.  I split a 2 for $25 meal with someone and for dessert we ordered 2 mini desserts.  Mine was the dark chocolate caramel cream.  I've wanted chocolate for weeks.  Good, gooey, cakey chocolate.  When the opportunity comes to order something, though, it's just not appealing.  I did enjoy the few bites of that dessert.  At the hotel in Key West they have mini Dove dark chocolate ice cream bars waiting for you in the freezer in your suite and they replenish them every day.  I had one.  One.  The whole weekend.  Dove dark is my favorite chocolate.  At one point someone realized they had replenished them and someone else said I should have one.  I said I already had and she said I should have another.  I looked at it for a second, then shook my head and closed the freezer.  I didn't need it nor did I particularly want it.  I'd had enough.  J  That was God at work, my friends. 
Back at the hotel in Miami we began decorating the vans:

This is part of Ragnar culture and we had fun drawing, writing verses, and writing our names on our respective vans.  The check marks show that we completed our legs.

We all got to bed fairly early since the runners in van 1 had to be at the start by 7 a.m.  Van 2 didn't leave the hotel until about 10.  Ahhh, a nice leisurely morning! 

While we were still at the hotel in the morning I started thinking about our team members who hadn't trained very much and was feeling proud that I had been training for a year and perturbed at them for hardly training at all.  I started feeling like the older brother of the prodigal son in Luke chapter 15.  He couldn't celebrate with the rest of the family on the return of his brother who had squandered his life and inheritance away.  The older brother had done the responsible thing and was resentful that the younger brother was still treated like an honored member of the family when he had been irresponsible.  I knew that attitude was pride so I started praying, repented, and asked God to change me.  I knew no one on the team had been flippant and just said, "I don't have to train.  I'm good."  Life had gotten in the way and none of us gets paid to run; we do it on our own time and sometimes schedules just don't allow us to train as much as we'd like.  Still, I knew that we would all get encouragement, cheers, high-fives, medals, etc.  But I deserved all that more than those who didn't train!  Sigh.  Stupid pride.  I continued praying and then texted some friends who prayed for me and reminded me of the benefits I got by training.  I asked God to remove the "It's not fair!" attitude I had.  Running is such an individual sport and to take someone who does a solitary activity and suddenly put her on a team was taking some getting used to and some denying of self. 
Our first runner had started the race, handed off to runner 2 who handed off to runner 3, etc. and van 2 was waiting at a major exchange for runner 6 to hand off to runner 7, who was the first runner in our van.  Runner 6 came in and leapfrogged over runner 7 (That was something van 1 had started doing.  It was fun but van 2 didn't carry on the tradition.  Lisa is glad I didn't try to leapfrog over her, I'm sure!)

Eli leapfrogging over Amanda 

Michaela leapfrogging over Steffanie

We quickly took a group picture since it was the first time we were all together during the race

and runner 7 took off on her first leg.  Van 2 quickly drove to the next exchange to wait for her.  We were standing around with other teams waiting when I got a text from our runner saying she was done.  Huh?  I asked her where she was because we were at the exchange waiting for her.  There were only about 50 people so it was easy to see who was coming in and impossible to miss her.  It turns out we were at the wrong exchange.  Oops!  The RagMag was confusing because it stated the exchange a runner left from not the one he or she came into.  Or something like that.  It was confusing.  We had to go to the exchange where she was, drop off runner 8, and then drive ahead to the exchange where we had just been.  That used up about 40 minutes and the whole team was already behind.  I ended up beginning my first leg an hour and 15 minutes later than projected.  At home I run in the early morning, sometimes before daylight, so running in the mid afternoon was new to me.  I tried to train that way, and was able to a few times but…ugh…  It was unseasonably warm in Miami.  When the temperature is in the low to mid 80s I definitely don't run in the heat of the day.  Oh well, what could I do but adapt?  There were other teams' vans on the road as I was running, and one beeped at me so I waved to them.  It was Team Debauchery.  Well then.  Okaaaay.  My team would drive ahead, pull off the road, and send someone to me with a bottle of water.  Once or twice they all got out and played our theme song, When the Saints Go Marching In, on the big portable speaker each van had; that was fun! 

Sometimes I poured the water on my head rather than drink it.  Both ways were refreshing!  One of my running songs is Never Going Back to OK by The Afters.  Some of the lyrics are:

I feel alive and it hurts for a change
I'm looking back it's hard to believe
That I was cool with the days that I wasted
Complacent and tasteless and bored
But that was yesterday
We're never going back to ok
We're never going back to easy
We're never going back to the way it was
We're never going back to ok

While that song was playing a butterfly flitted into my path.  Normally butterflies come and then are gone in a couple seconds but this one stayed with me for about 30 seconds as I ran.  That's a long time for a butterfly!  Thank you, God, for sending me a butterfly, a symbol of new life, right when a song about never going back to my old life was playing!
Another song that played on my first leg was Mandisa's Back To You:

This shouldn't be complicated
This isn't that hard to see
It's not about what I do for You
It's what You've done for me
You gave your love, You gave your life
You gave your everything and I
Wanna give it all back
Give it all back to You

I finished that leg in 97 minutes, which gave me a 13:36 pace, about 30 seconds per mile slower than I would've liked but that amounted to finishing only 3-1/2 minutes later than I would've with a 13-minute pace.  It was worth it to have 97 minutes of worship time! 
About 30 minutes after I finish each leg my body is able to eat to refuel.  As this race goes on I can tell that I'm eating in response to my body's need to recover and refuel, not just to satisfy my taste buds.  Victory! 

Friday night van 2 was at a major exchange where there was a pasta dinner for purchase, which we skipped, and showers for purchase.  Best $3 I ever spent!  Some people were sleeping in the gym, some were sleeping outside in tents

and some were just sleeping outside.

Our church provided air mattresses and we slept on the ground behind the van under a starry sky and with a cool breeze to make us comfortable.

This is the end of part 1.  Part 2 will be posted tomorrow. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

200-mile Ragnar Relay Race is almost here!

Friday, January 31, 2014

One week from now I will have completed my first and longest Ragnar leg!  It's almost here! 
I had planned to taper off and not run next week after Sunday but still do my usual Tuesday, Thursday, and either Saturday or Sunday runs this week.  However, rain and cold temperatures have changed those plans and I ran only Tuesday.  I hope I can get in a long run tomorrow and possibly a short one Sunday.  I'm glad I have a good base of 8-mile runs built up. 

Sunday, February 02, 2014
I ran a little more than 6 miles on the beach with a friend yesterday and then did a yoga class, also on the beach.  Last evening I ran one mile to test out the GPS watch a fellow Ragnar team member is letting me borrow.  Today I ran 40 minutes with a friend and this will be my last run before Ragnar.  My body needs to rest!  Running 3 times in about 24 hours will be very close to what Ragnar will be like.  It's been very hard for me to get two runs a day in, and I like to be prepared, so this is good experience.  I just wish I'd been able to do it a couple months ago and more times.  Oh well.  God is the god of the impossible, and letting people see what He can do through me is the reason I started running in the first place.  Let's go then!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Two-A-Day Runs


The Ragnar Relay Race is just over a month away and I'm feeling the self-imposed pressure to get faster and to run more.  I've run 7-8 miles a few times now but I'm not getting faster.  At one point I was telling my running team my whole weight loss/running story and I said that I used to not want to even walk one mile because the weather was too ho-o-o-o-o-t.  Then I started walking and running and now I eat 5Ks (3.1 miles) for breakfast!  Well now I'm starting to eat 10Ks for breakfast! 
According to the suggested training schedule Ragnar puts out, I should've started doing two-a-day runs in November to get used to running on tired legs.  I did walk in the evening about one mile after I had run in the morning but only once or twice.  This morning I ran 7.8 miles and my goal was to walk four miles this evening.  I forgot to start my timer when I started walking so I don't know how fast I did the first mile.  I started the timer at the 1-mile mark and was going to see how fast I could do the second mile and then see if I could beat that time on the third and fourth miles.  However, before I'd reached 1-1/2 miles it started to rain.  I love running or walking in the rain but I had to put my phone in my pocket so it wouldn't get wet and that caused the timer to stop.  It kept raining harder, which I loved, but I didn't want to ruin my phone so I cut it short and walked just over two miles.  Sigh.   

I'm going to run in the morning but only 4 miles.  I don't want to overdo it by trying to run another 7 or 8.  My Ragnar legs are 7-1/2 miles, 4 miles, and 2 miles.  I just want my body to be used to running on tired legs. 


I didn't run on Friday like I said I was going to.  Ugh!  Sometimes it's just hard to make myself get out there and do it.  I ran with a friend this morning for 40 minutes, about 3 miles.  I've tried to do two-a-day runs for more than a month but all I can manage the second time out is to walk.  Better than nothing but…disappointing.  Maybe it was hard because the days I'd tried to run a second time I had run 8 miles the first time!  Since I did only 3 this morning I figured it was realistic to do a few more this evening.  I'm getting bored with my usual routes, though, and wanted something different so I went to the beach.  I love that I live in a place where I can go to the beach in January and run!  I determined to do 50 minutes, which would be about 4 miles.  I actually did 4-1/2 miles at a pace of 11:06!  I don't know how I got that pace since lately I've been running between 13 and 14 minutes per mile, but I'll take it!  I'm running again in the morning (in 9 hours) with a friend but I don't know how far.  We'll see what this body can handle after running twice today.  It's tired. 


Saturday, October 12, 2013

An Unexpected 15K

It all started last Tuesday when a friend posted on our church's running team's Facebook page that she couldn't run a scheduled race due to another commitment.  She asked if anyone wanted to take her place.  I asked questions and checked the information about the race and the course.  When I first heard it was a 15K (9.3 miles), a distance I've never run before, I thought I could alternate running a mile and walking a mile and do it with no problem.  Then I found out that they have a 10K and a 5K and the challenge is to run one at 7:00 a.m. and then the other at 8:15 a.m.  Oh.  My two 10K times were between 1 hour and 20 minutes and 1 hour and 25 minutes, so that presented a problem.  With some input from my running partner and a couple other friends, I decided to try it.  If I wasn't able to run the 5K due to taking so long to run the 10K, that would be okay.  Usually Wednesday is one of my rest days from running, but since I now had a 15K to run in three days, I figured I'd better hit the pavement.  I like running two mornings a week in the dark with my running partner, but I realized I missed running a little later so I can see the sunrise.  There were some beautiful ones on those few training mornings!

I ran 3.1 miles on Tuesday, my usual distance, with no problem except the blinding sun in my eyes. 
At first I didn't like it, but my perspective changed after a few more times of turning and running into this BOOM SUN! It was the SON saying, "I'm here! I'm more present than this sun that's bothering you. I'm closer than this sun and you don't want Me to go away like you want it to!" No, Jesus, no I don't! Sometimes Jesus is like that - BOOM! IN YOUR FACE! and sometimes He seems far away in the sky and not bothering you. Yesterday, on my first training for this unexpected race, He needed me to know how close He was.
I ran 4 miles on Wednesday, 5 on Thursday, and somewhere between 5 and 6 on Friday.  I tried for 6 but just ran out of steam.  I wasn't used to running so many days in a row, and increasing by a mile a day is a huge jump!  I knew I had done the best I could in such a short time, and God would have to do the rest.  On the way home, though, I started feeling like I should've pushed through then felt like I might have fainted from dehydration if I had.  I asked God, "Why do you keep throwing such big challenges in front of me?"  He answered, "Because I work on a large scale, Michele.  You can't do this on your own; only with my help."  If it was just an easy little 5K, which I do several times a week, no problem.  Even a 10K I've done twice now.  But a 15K, well…that's different.  And only 3 days to prepare for it?  Definitely God.   
This bench sums up my training:

The night before the race I was feeling my usual pre-race jitters.  I decided to pack the things I would need and a few more things just in case.  That took all of 10 minutes and did nothing to ease the nervousness.  I woke up on time, and my mom, daughter, and I made it down to the venue without being late.  I put my watch on and noticed that the band has started to crack. 
I got it as a birthday gift and it's had a good three-year run.  Time to shop for another one.  It still works and still straps on; I've just gotta "watch" it.  J  I picked up my race packet and warmed up my legs for the start of the 10K. 
I'm off and running!  It felt good to be among other athletes (it still feels weird to consider myself an athlete).  The race atmosphere was not making me run faster, though.  I walked about 1-1/2 minutes after each water station.  I'd get a cup of water and pour it on my head.  Then I'd get another cup or two to drink.  They had only Gatorade at the second station.  Gatorade = chemicals going into my body.  I started wondering why I didn't make my own Gatorade the night before.  I found a recipe for it on Pinterest and have made it before with only water, salt, Sucanat (less processed sugar), and fruit for flavor.  Well, there was nothing I could've done about it during the race.  I figured I was sweating and would be drinking enough water the rest of the day to flush out the chemicals.  Still…

About halfway through the second mile I smelled wood smoke.  BBQ!!!  Mmmmmm!!!  It was coming from the Saturday Morning Market.  I wanted to stay right there and just breathe, but I had a race to run. 
I saw no one I knew either running or lining the route except my friend's husband from church.  He's a policeman and was stopping traffic for the race.  I called his name and waved as I ran by.  He congratulated me, which carried me quite a while. 

As we rounded Mirror Lake, at about mile 3, I saw a woman ahead of me wearing a T-shirt that on the back said, "True strength is not giving up even when everyone would understand if you did." 

I told her if I had a camera I'd take a picture of it!  I continued running and finally made it past the farthest point I had gotten to in training.  I was in unfamiliar territory.  Well not really, since I was born in this city and have lived here my whole life, but I had never run and probably never even driven on this particular street.  My right foot felt like it was developing a blister, maybe from running on the slope of the road for 5 miles.  I tried to get more toward the middle.  We turned onto Coffee Pot Boulevard, which I've been running once a week for a few months.  I started to run faster the last 1/10 mile when I saw the finish line!  I made it in just under 1 hour and 25 minutes.  I walked straight to my mom and daughter,

took a big drink of water, got a square of Dove dark chocolate, and asked them if the 5K had already started.  One of them said it had and one said it had not because she never heard the announcement.  Okay.  The 5K *had* already started but I saw walkers just past the start line.  My feet hurt but I speed walked and half ran.  The chocolate didn’t seem to give me much energy but it sure tasted good!  I was trying to catch up to the back-of-the-pack walkers.  I wove around people with dogs, people with strollers, and people lined up 8-wide across the entire street.  Sometimes I had to walk because it was so crowded, sometimes because of fatigue, and sometimes because of drinking water.  At certain points I jumped up onto the sidewalk to get around people and sometimes jumped back down to the street for the same reason.  It was almost like an adventure run!  I finished in 2 hours 11 minutes and 41 seconds, but I didn't stop my watch the couple minutes between races.  I ran the 5K in roughly 43 minutes, slower than I usually do, but not bad considering how much walking I did.  I stopped where my mom and  daughter were but then went to get my medal. 

All the way through both races I was prepared for the fact that I might not get a medal because I wouldn't finish the 10K in time and then didn't make the official start of the 5K.  I told myself it was okay and that I had the personal satisfaction of doing a 15K with three days of preparation.  I walked up to the medal tent and they must've seen that my bib said 15K (I really hadn't compared my bib to others) and they gave me a 15K medal with no questions asked.  J  It made me very happy! 

Race organizers had set up about eight kiddie pools filled with ice and bottled water.  After making my way down the avenue of vendors and getting a massage (ahhhhh!), I walked back past the pools.  Several hours after being filled most of the ice had melted and almost all of the waters had been taken.  A few of the pools had just melted ice in them.  I bent down and soaked first one hand and the other in the icy water.  My feet were wet from having poured water on my head at each water station, so it was an easy decision to put first one fully shod foot and then the other in one of the pools!  It wouldn't have taken much to convince me to sit down!  I had brought dry socks and shoes but no dry clothes, so I just got my feet wet.  I stood there for a few moments until it got too cold and then I stepped out and went back to my family. 

We went to lunch at Cracker Barrel and I ordered protein to rebuild my muscles.  Eggs, sausage, and yogurt, along with a blueberry muffin for carbs, a strawberry on the yogurt parfait for yumminess, and sweet tea for...well, because it's sweet tea! 

Terry, thank you for not being able to run the race yourself and giving me another opportunity to let God work through me!  Like I said in my very first blog post, my reason for blogging is to encourage people to allow God to dream big within them so that together they and He can do amazing things, hard things, things that they'd never be able to do on their own.  And to encourage them to give Him the glory and credit for them.