with heavy hearts and much love.
“The Klingon day “jaj” lasts 1.29 Earth days, or 30 hours, 57 minutes and 36 seconds.
A Klingon year “DIS” lasts 440.125 Klingon days, or 567.76 Earth days.”
I cannot imagine a 30 hour day! Geesh. My jobs would surely have me working even longer. But maybe with 30 hours in a day, somewhere I might find a marathon with a long-enough time limit that I could finish it even if I walked. LOL However there will be no marathon for me this year on any calendar, Terran or Klingon. I’m not even going to consider it. I am calling 2015 my “year to get stuff out of the way” lifewise and “back to basics” athleticwise, neither of which includes running 26.2 miles.
Lifewise, the first thing to jettison out the hatch is a boards recertification exam. Family doctors who want to be board-certified (translation: “any one who wants a decent job”) have to take the medical board exams every 10 years, and I’m doing that in April (which means studying instead of training for events in my spare time). Since you are required to know all sorts of minutiae about things you may never see in your daily practice, cracking the books like a medical student is what you have to do. But the good news is: this will be the last board exam I ever take. When it comes due again in 2025, I will be 69 years old and probably only working part-time someplace that doesn’t care if I’m board-certified or not.
“Back to Basics” in my athletic life means tabling the Ahab-like obsession with distance and working toward greater all-around fitness in an effort to avoid injuries. I realized last fall (while rehabbing yet another repetitive strain Achilles issue) that I had given up all else in favor of running, and that was surely what contributed to the physical faltering. Since it’s never healthy to be unidimensional, I returned to serious strength training and aerobic conditioning along with eating a higher protein diet. Oddly enough, my endurance didn’t suffer and I even lost some weight in the process. So the new year will include shorter races but more biking, lifting, aerobics and the dreaded stretching after each workout. I will see where that takes me before I try again to slay the white whale labeled 26.2.
2015’s preliminary plans include the following as of this writing:
January — Super Run 5k (in San Diego during a board review conference I am attending)
February — Puppy Love Virtual 5k (a fundraiser for animals)
March — Penguin in the Park 5k (another chance to hobnob with John the Penguin Bingham)
April — MORE Fitness Women’s Half Marathon (in New York City to celebrate completing the board exam)
May — Soldier Field 10 Miler (this year’s “race with the cousins” in Chicago)
June — at least one 5 or 10k somewhere with my running club and maybe more
Fall/winter — possibly a multi-state outing in the fall with the gang from MainlyMarathons.com but definitely a December half on the gulf coast within driving distance of New Orleans (tentatively The Holiday Half Marathon in Point Clear, Alabama)
I will post reports and most likely photos from all of them as each one occurs, and will seriously try not to let months go by before that happens. I’m really a pretty rotten blogger when it comes to consistency but I do try.
I also signed on with the Moon Joggers again this year and have thus earned my first bib and medal already without even having put foot to pavement yet (although I have done many many treadmill miles).
So that’s it for now. I’ll holler back later with a report on the San Diego 5k.
In the meantime as they say on Qo’noS: “qet pagh Hegh” (run or die)!.
Klingon Emblem – http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Klingon_Empire?file=Klingon_Empire_logo.png
Moby Dick – From http://wallpapersinhq.com/images/big/moby_dick-195639.jpg
Moon Jogger stuff – Me
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Like I said in my last post, the Achilles tendonitis reared its ugly head (as it is wont to do on an annual basis) and my fall plans got curtailed. My original plan was that a trio of half marathons — Wichita Fire, Rock-n-Roll Savannah and Rock-n-Roll San Antonio — would complete a half dozen half marathons for the year. But I probably overextended myself doing the Wa Du Shuda in July which would have brought it to 7. And I am now certain I didn’t stretch enough (as I am wont to do on an all-too-regular basis) and ended up limping instead. Oddly enough, the pain began in September and there wasn’t any discrete event that started it. I just noticed a soreness that worsened over time and took months to rehab again. Feh! And I now repeat my favorite lament: It sucks to get old. But it sure beats the alternative. And since it’s way too late to have died young, I’ll continue to learn my lessons and keep going.
So here’s how my fall running season went: I dumbed down from the 1/2 to the 5k in Wichita, did half of the 1/2 in Savannah ( slinking off the course as it fortuitously looped past my hotel during Mile Six) and did the whole 13.1 in San Antonio unfortunately walking most of it. Rehab continues as of this writing but I’m getting there. And hopefully, having finally mended my ways, I will stay recovered this time.
I don’t have much to say about Wichita. I didn’t take any photos. I was in severe pain the entire time and to this day I don’t know why I didn’t cancel the trip and save the money. Obsessive 50-State Racer Syndrome? Maybe. I might have invented a new disease with that trip.
Savannah was much better. The city reminded me of New Orleans (second home of my heart) in some locations and that gave me such a welcome feeling. I also stopped by the studio of my most favorite ever fitness video trainer, Tracie Long, and took a cardio/weights class. I’ve been doing her workouts since the days of The FIRM in the 1990s, and it was pure joy to do a workout live and in person with her. Even though I didn’t run the entire half marathon, I had a wonderful weekend because of that experience alone. And hopefully two days of good calorie burn offset some of the fried chicken, grits and cobbler that I could not help but enjoy while I was back in the South.
Then the Rock-n-Roll half in San Antonio put the smile back on my face. Even though I decided to walk the entire thing to avoid reinjury, I did throw in a little running when I was just so overcome with energy that I couldn’t help it. Sometimes a good song on my iPod makes me break out into a run and, caution or not, I can’t fight the feeling.
The San Anton weekend was memorable because it was John The Penguin’s last outing prior to retirement and there was a special goodbye session at the expo featuring a lot of big names in running. At one point, I turned around to find Meb Keflezighi sitting behind me in the audience. I about fainted! My cell phone camera did not capture a very good image, but I did snap a pic of him onstage with John after presenting him a plaque which outlined all of the wonderful things John has done to bring running to the common person. It was an emotional moment and I think the photo sums it up.
The race itself was a fun one. It was the typical uber-crowded R-n-R event well stocked with amenities and live music at every mile. The weather was a bit cool and overcast but in the low 50s, perfect weather for racing really. Since I walked most of it instead of running, I was able to take a few photos here and there of people and things that struck my fancy.
So 2014 ended with my having done very few races once again because of the work schedule that continues to eat up two weekends a month. I did run more half marathons in any one year than I have ever done before (five) and I pushed my number of “states raced in” to 24. Other than the two injuries (foot tendonitis in May and Achilles in September), it was quite the enjoyable year and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I reported miles all year to the Moon Joggers and earned slightly under 600 for the Voyage to Venus mission which granted me the rank of Cadet. My husband said we now have proof that I’m a Space Cadet. LOL
The BEST THING about 2014’s running though was that I finally gained entry into that cadre of crazies that I’ve been trying to join for two years: The Half Fanatics. It’s a related organization to the Marathon Maniacs and you have to do a certain number of races within a specified (and somewhat short) length of time in order to get in. My spring schedule qualified me and so I joined. The running kind is the type of fanatic I am happy and proud to be!
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STILL CATCHING UP WITH RACE REPORTS:
Summer 2014 was a cool one with temps well below average in my little corner of the world. Because I don’t enjoy running in extremes of weather, I do a half marathon or two before July 1 and then pretty much call it quits until fall (except for the occasional evening 5k). This year the weather was nice and, looking for something to do in mid-July, I signed up at the last minute for a small half-marathon in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, a town in the center of the state. When you have problems with impulse control and a belief there is no such condition as “too much of a good thing”, you sometimes do things without really thinking.
So I perused my favorite race website runningintheusa.com, checked the weather forecast, picked an event, signed up, arranged a hotel and only then investigated the race a bit further. Looking over results from previous years I discovered there are usually less than 50 entrants in the half and every single one of them runs a lot faster than me. FACE PALM!
That’s right Captain Picard, I am one dumb bunny.
Noting that, I dashed off an email to the race director saying I would likely be finishing in 3:15 to 3:20 and offering to withdraw if it posed a problem in keeping the course open. She responded that it would not be an issue, and stated I was most welcome to join them. So I stayed in it.
Now as anyone who knows me (or any one of the 10 people who actually read this blog) is aware, finishing dead stinking last in a race is one of my phobias. I have done it before and it was so exquisitely painful that I have gone to great lengths since then to avoid it. But here I was pretty much volunteering to be the last runner. OK, I figured, I’ll make it my job for that day and act like it doesn’t matter.
Race Day arrived, a refreshingly cool and sunny mid July morning, and I lined up with the rest of the runners on east Bridge Street in New Lisbon. While waiting for the gun to sound, I struck up a conversation with another racer and at some point sheepishly mentioned that I’m very slow and would be coming in last. She and I shared a laugh about it, the race started and then we took off — all 45 of us.
As the course wound on through greenery and gently rolling hills, I soon got absorbed in the experience and stopped thinking about time, pace, standing or any of that other competitive stuff. It was just me and the road in harmonious union — the whole zen thing I love about running.
There were not a lot of aid stops but there was a table or two, each with a porta-potty nearby, somewhere along the route. No bands, entertainers or any of the other glitz you pay $85 entrance fees for, but it was a nice race with a very reasonable price. Closing in on the end, there wasn’t even anyone following closely behind me like they usually do when you’re bringing up the rear. A police officer in a car showed up every couple of miles or so but he would always give me a smile and a wave which was quite pleasant. I was really enjoying myself.
Maybe 12 miles along, the route left the countryside and the end approached. Padding down the paved streets of the town, I began to anticipate the usual scene that greets a back-of-the-packer like myself: winners already home bound bearing trophies, volunteers taking down banners, tables being folded, maybe a couple of bananas waiting in a box along with a few water bottles for me and the other slowpokes. Honestly, I’m used to it and it doesn’t bother me any more. It’s like living in a shabby house. Perhaps others are unimpressed, but we who dwell there call it home.
Instead, as I turn the corner off the bridge and cross the finish line, there are DOZENS OF PEOPLE flanking the sidelines smiling and applauding. I’m like “What? Who? Me?” as they stand there doing the slow clap reserved for The Unlikely Hero Who Manages to Survive Against All Odds. With beaming faces full of respect, admiration and awe they all stare at me as I gaze back with my frozen smile and wonder how I ended up in the Twilight Zone.
Then two people with cameras jump in front of me and take my picture. Now I’m certain I must have dropped dead back there on the road someplace and this is Heaven.
Finally the lady I talked to at the start of the race comes running up saying “YOU DID IT! Even after the accident!” And I start looking around. “What accident?” I say, “I didn’t see an accident.” “No,” she responds, “YOUR accident. They told me everyone was waiting for the last runner because she was in a car accident and never supposed to walk again but ran the race today.” And it hits me like a lightning bolt. Oh no, they think I’m this Miracle Woman! Holy cow, I’d better get the hell out of here before they find out I’m not. So I smile back at her and say “I’m sorry, they were mistaken, that’s not me,” and rush to my car like the devil was chasing me so I can haul ass out of town.
A few days later when I checked online for the results and any information in the local papers about the race I found an article about the real Miracle Woman who must have been somewhere behind me the whole time. God bless her. She did have a terrible accident and, against all odds, had survived to run a half-marathon. Her triumph over adversity and pain was well worth all the glory and my fervent hope both then and now was that every one of those people waited for her after I fled the scene. I wish I’d remained myself just to tell her how awesome she is.
So the race I planned to come in last ended up with me not being last after all. And when the time keepers reported my finish (no timing chips), they somehow duplicated the stats of the previous runner which made me look way faster. It was a day for strange twists of fate. Go figure.
Photo Credits: Art Slater and Brittany Slater
The Achilles tendon rears its ugly head and alters my fall plans.
An old story retold.
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Yes, here it is December and I’m just now writing about a race I did in June. Hey, at least it’s the same year. Anyway, the BEST RACE OF 2014 and one I highly recommend to any marathoner (if you wake up early enough on registration day because it always sells out) is the Sandhills Marathon and half in Valentine, Nebraska.
Being a 50-state racer I’ve made a hobby out of traveling to “destination races” all over the country, and each year I try to pick a unique smaller race as a counterpoint to the huge Rock-n-Roll type affairs that I often do as well. I don’t remember exactly how I found this one but I’m really glad I did.
The races are held in the summer in a sparsely populated corner of Nebraska where it is said — and I believe — that cows outnumber human spectators on the sidelines. It is a small but surprisingly well-appointed race featuring probably less than 200 runners that winds through the sandhills, “a region of mixed-grass prairie on grass-stabilized sand dunes in north central Nebraska covering just over one quarter of the state” (per Wikipedia). The area is desolate and beautiful, and excellent for running. I read about in online somewhere in 2013 and immediately became intrigued so I made sure I was awake the moment registration opened (New Year’s Eve possibly?) and I signed up. The race sold out within 24 hours. I will always consider myself lucky for having run it.
I flew into Omaha and drove across the state for maybe 5 hours until I reached the small town of Valentine, where packet pickup was held in a western wear store.
I wandered around town for a little while looking for a place to eat because I had missed the pre race pasta dinner and then settled on eating at the restaurant bar of the Motel Raine where I’d booked a room, which turned out to be an excellent choice because they had an awesome brisket sandwich. I took a pass on the Mountain Oysters which were also on the menu. :)
After dinner, going through my packet, I raised my eyebrows more than once at a few of the cautions like “don’t pick up a snake if you find one on the ground.” The trip was getting more interesting by the minute, I mused.
Soon enough night fell and eventually the sun rose to find me already on my way down a highway to the corner of Brownlee Road and Highway 97 where runners were to converge for the start of the race. We pulled off the road into a cow pasture where we parked and boarded buses that took us to the starting point of the race.
We milled around near the start for a while jumping up and down and trying to warm ourselves on what was an uncharacteristically chilly morning of maybe 47 degrees or so, until the guy with the shotgun showed up and fired it into the air to signal the beginning of the festivities.
And then off we went.
Slow as I am, eventually the crowd thinned out and I found myself at the back of it with only my own footfalls and the beautiful vista to behold. I’m not someone who thrives on crowd support or cheering hordes urging me on. I’m just happy to be free to step along in a place I might not have gone before. And I love those moments in a race when I’m not worried about where I am in the pack or what my finishing time might be but am merely enjoying a chance to run alone amidst nature’s beauty. This race had a lot of that! I think that’s why I loved it so much. And, despite what the name may imply, it was not overly hilly or sandy or especially difficult in any way. And I didn’t see any snakes. It was simply quiet and beautiful as the following pictures demonstrate:
As horses without a care in the world ignore us as we pass by…..
That was the beauty and charm of the day. It made the wind and cold weather seem less of a bother because it was such a treat to be a part of this majestic scene for a morning.
Now I can hear people saying already “ok that’s nice but where are the amenities out here so far from the beaten path?” Well there were tables, some manned and some not, every several miles and they were stocked with bottles of water, sports drink and snacks. There was also the most unique and interesting bathroom idea I’ve ever seen: the travelling porta potty. A very nice man hitched up 2 portajohns to a truck and drove them the length of the race, stopping here and there for as long as people needed him. You could flag him down if you saw him but regardless he would eventually show up at a water stop and stay for a while before he moved on. You never felt like you were without relief in the form of a beverage or a bathroom.
As you can see from the course map, the full marathon wound along down this blacktop road through some towns in pretty much a linear northwest to southeast direction. The half- marathoners were bussed to the midway point and had their own startline, so everyone finished around the same time and place.
By the time we got to the end there was a full swing party and barbecue going with music and beer and a whole lot of merriment. They were grilling big old hamburgers and offered those along with the usual bananas, bagels and other carby post race fare. Everyone was friendly and congratulatory, and I felt like it had been almost a visit with friends of friends rather than a day spent with strangers.
As I crossed the finish line they handed me a horseshoe in lieu of a medal (for completing the half; you get a spur for the full) and directed me toward the party. I ate and drank and celebrated with all the runners then headed for my car to drive back towards Omaha and a flight the next morning back to home.
I really enjoyed the Sandhills Half Marathon even though the day was chilly and the wind bit a little more than I’d like. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a small unique race amidst nature’s peaceful scenery and with a lot of nice people.
The swag was nice too: an orange cotton shirt and the horseshoe I’ve since hung on a ribbon. Along with a treasure trove of memories to cherish.
PHOTO CREDITS TO:
Brooke Kaczor, Andy Pollock, Jody Green, Victoria Dietz, Michael Muehling
An unexpected race.
The one I knew I’d finish last.
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In the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Chancellor Gorkon answers a quote from Hamlet by stating, “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.” I can’t say that I have. My knowledge of the Klingon language is far too limited. However, I do quote the fellow often enough, as I did this past spring when I railed against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and pondered whether “to run or not to run.”
The season was supposed to have proceeded thusly:
March – NC Half Marathon brings long run distance to 13.1 miles.
April 5 – Abe Lincoln Half Marathon in Springfield, plus 2-3 miles brings long run distance to 15 or 16 miles.
A few more weeks of training brings total long run distance to 20 miles.
May 18 – Cellcom Green Bay Marathon marks my first completion of a full marathon.
However, like the Klingon prince Khamlet of the famed play, I was to find myself opposing a sea of troubles instead of following my original schedule.
On April 4, I drove down to Springfield with every intention of having a wonderful weekend: a room at the Hilton, post-race steak dinner with a friend, and joyful celebration of kicking off the 2014 running season in splendid fashion. I felt a little queasy early in the day but blamed it on too much coffee. I figured it would resolve itself with time, as my rare digestive issues usually do. As I picked up my packet, the volunteer who handed me my bib said “ooh lucky…777″ as she handed it to me with a smile.
Shortly afterward, back in my hotel room, I began to get chills. Feeling like something flu-ish might be at hand, I figured I’d take a nap. I don’t nap as a rule but felt oddly tired. I woke up 3 hours later when a forceful and insistent rush of diarrhea sent me running to the bathroom. It continued all night long.
Needless to say, I did not run the half-marathon. I spent the next day and a half wrapped in a blanket and watching TV when I wasn’t sweating, sleeping or pooping. What a bummer! At one point, I looked out my hotel window and snapped a photo of city. It was the closest I would get to my wonderful weekend.
But as always, like Hamlet, opposing the sea of troubles in order to end them seemed like the wisest thing to do. It took almost 2 weeks for my system (after 5 days of rather dramatic stomach woes) to mend itself and for me to get back to running at full strength. This type of setback is not a dealbreaker in marathon training and I decided I simply needed another half-marathon to help me pick up where I left off. The excitement and challenge of race is always a source of inspiration for me, and that was what I set out to find.
The Eggshell Shuffle on April 19 in the nearby Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village looked like just the thing. It is run every year in Busse Woods which is a beautiful 3700 acre forest preserve with large fishing ponds, boating and even its own herd of elk. Unlike Springfield, which is some 200 miles south of our local area and usually about 10 degrees warmer, the weather around here in mid-April is as likely to be snowy as sunny and the day turned out to be quite a chilly one. Nonetheless, I showed up and did my best. The first few miles were slow going because I was a bit underdressed but as the morning progressed and the sun rose in the sky, it turned out to be a beautiful day. The warmer it got, the more energy I seemed to find. By Mile 10 when others were slowing down, I just kept going faster and faster. I finished with a better time than I have managed in 2 years. It felt great and I was happy.
In fact I was SO happy that instead of merely picking up where I left off in my training schedule and doing 2 miles after the race, bringing the long run total to 15 miles, I decided to add 4 miles on to the outing and log 17 miles instead. “Why not?” I mused, “I feel wonderful today.” I would just skip ahead in the training to where I was supposed to be on April 19 instead of where I really was. No different than cramming for a test, right?
The next morning I woke up and felt pretty decent except for a mild pain in the arch of my right foot. I didn’t think much of it. I rested a day and did a short run/walk the day after that and the pain was still there. I tried different shoes and did some aerobics the following day and then lifted weights the day after that. Still a little pain but less. I figured, “it’s getting better.” The next day, a Thursday, I went out for some speedwork. By 1/2 mile into the session, SHARP pain with each footfall began to course through my right foot. “What the hell?! This better not be a stress fracture,” I remember thinking as I limped home. The pain increased over that day and into the next. I found a pair of dress shoes with a 2 inch heel that took my weight off the arch when I walked and wore them. That weekend I got an x-ray. Normal.
Determined to find out what the hell I’d done to myself, I got an MRI 4 days later. The report said “peroneus longus tendonitis at the level of the cuboid bone.” Another “what the hell” moment crossed my mind. I can go months, no…years, without even thinking of my peroneus longus tendon. And if I hadn’t already learned about it in med school, I would probably think Peroneus Longus was an ancient Roman porn star. This is how obscure an injury this was to me. I’ve had Achilles tendonitis, hip bursitis, iliotibial band syndrome, quad strain and arthritis flares in just about every joint impacted by running. I’ve never gotten any guff from my peroneus longus tendon before.
So off to the podiatrist I went although by the time I got in, the pain was gone. He took a detailed history, looked at my films and considered the problem. “I’m ready to do anything,” I told him, “Taping, PT, orthotics, rest, whatever it takes.” I was desperate. “I mean, I don’t even know how to stretch my peroneus longus much less protect it from strain.” His advice was simple. Stretch, ice, be prepared for strains and sprains during marathon training, and get rid of the over-pronator shoes. “They think everyone overpronates,” he said. “Wear a neutral shoe and see how it goes. Use a medial heel lift if the pain comes back. Go run. Come back if you have any problems.”
What a joy that was to hear! It led me to think about why I was wearing overpronator shoes in the first place. Back when I first started running about 6 years ago a guy in a running store watched me walk. After 2 minutes of observation, he told me “you overpronate” and handed me a pair of Asics Gel Kayano which I dutifully wore until they almost fell off. The more I learned about running, the sooner I replaced them. I learned about rotating shoes, wearing the right socks, stretching, foam rolling, icing — but I never considered that they might be the wrong shoe for my foot and gait in the first place. I know now.
So the foot healed and I moved on. But once again, a planned marathon was missed. And once again, I emerged the wiser. I see how I screwed myself by overtraining. I see how the shoe played its part. I found another marathon, this one in December, and once again I will try one more time.
For me “to run or not to run” is never the question. “To run = to exist, no more” is from my version of the Shakespeare quote. Or maybe I should give credit where credit is due, to the legendary Klingon playwright, Wil’yam Shex’pir, who wrote:
“taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
quv’a’, yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’?
pagh, Seng bIQ’a’Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’,
‘ej, Suvmo’, rInmoHDI’? Hegh. Qong — Qong neH —
‘ej QongDI’, tIq ‘oy’, wa’SanID Daw”e’ je
cho’nISbogh porghDaj rInmoHlaH net Har.”
Up next: the BEST race of the year.
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OK so it’s almost summer and I’ve been missing from my own blog again for months. I have been running — not always racing although certainly running. And it sometimes takes a lot of effort to sit down and write about a race once I’ve talked about it in person and posted on Facebook, but eventually I find myself here. The half dozen or people who actually read this are hopefully patient enough to wait.
Anyway like I said earlier, winter sucked here. It was snowier than it’s been in eons and each new snowfall was followed by a subzero blast of cold, so naturally the couple of races I had planned in January didn’t pan out. I started the Polar Dash 10k but bailed after I almost fell twice on very icy pavement.
Then I completely skipped the F^3 Half on Lake Michigan when it was like 15 degrees. Call me a Cold Weather Wuss if you want to, but I’m not willing to get frostbite or fall and break one of these 58-year-old bones just to do a road race. ‘
February brought a Florida vacation and I did a Virtual 5k and a Virtual 10k for the Moon Joggers fundraiser down in St. Augustine where the weather ranged from the 50s to the 70s. I earned myself a pretty cool Enterprise medal for the effort and had fun. One day I saw a flock of wild parrots during my run which was something I had never seen before. It was a great 4 days.
Following those two months of pretty much non events came an actual half-marathon. In March, my husband and I headed to North Carolina for my first half of 2014, the Charlotte Motor Speedway NC Half Marathon, which was also my first “real” race of the year. It was in interesting event in that it started and ended on the actual Motor Speedway and included a small expo there as well along with a 5k the night prior.
I brought my husband along because he is a Nascar fan and even talked him into doing the Twilight 5k with me the night before the half. We hung out at the expo looking at shirts and stuff after we picked up our race packets for the 5k and that is where we took this selfie. He’s a cutie but not a runner. We ended up walking the 5k on the track and finishing in about 45 minutes but it was fun . It’s cool to walk where the drivers actually race and to see the asphalt, looking at the skid marks on the walls and ogling all the cool cars parked in the infield. It makes you feel like an insider.
The next morning I had to arrive bright and early for the half marathon. It was still dark when I got to the track and I could feel the anticipation building in the air, coming from myself and the other runners. I hadn’t run a half since November and here it was March. I’d trained completely indoors on the treadmill (even doing 10 miles once) and wondered how that would translate to running on an actual pavement. There was excitement and trepidation in equal measure when I saw that sign at the Start Line. “Boogedy Boogedy Boogedy!” I wanted to holler. “Let’s go runnin!”
A lot of the other runners were quite light-hearted as you can see from their attire; I took pictures of the most fun looking ones.
Disco guy here was quite striking, along with these 3 tutu girls. But the cutest had to be the chick in the checkered outfit. Everyone was in great spirits and prepared to have a lot of fun as we waited for the starting gun to go off.
Soon enough the sky began to brighten and it was time for the race. We took off after the gun and the pace car, which was really pretty awesome, and began 13.1 miles of basically circles and hills. Here is a photo from the race’s Facebook page showing the start:
How cool is that?! It was loud too. Having done a race at a Nascar course once before (the Iowa Speedway 8k in Newton, IA, at the Rusty Wallace track), I thought I knew what to expect and I was pretty certain they weren’t going to do an entire half-marathon round and round a race track forever. But I was sort of wrong. The grounds in Charlotte are much bigger, with a dirt track as well as the Nascar track, and some other spots too, and they weren’t afraid to run us in circles a couple of times. In fact, we seemed to cover the same ground enough that it felt like we were going in circles pretty much the whole time even though the map shows we were not.
Needless to say, by the end, I was tired of turning corners over and over, a little daunted by the big hill in the middle and ready to finish. The day was cooler than I’d hoped (even though it was much warmer than back at home) although I did work up a bit of a sweat running and walking the whole 13.1 miles. As far as amenities, It was excellent. Aid stations were plentiful and well-stocked, the volunteers were friendly (including some very enthusiastic local high school musicians and cheerleaders), and the course was well marked with enough portapotties — everything a runner could want.
I can’t say that I didn’t like it because I love running and racing no matter where I am, but I had been hoping to get in some views of the countryside and should have had my own expectations a little more in line with reality before I went (like by looking at the map maybe….duh!). I did enjoy seeing the awesome cars at each mile marker and my husband liked going to the Nascar Hall of Fame the day before, so it certainly lived up to its billing as a great weekend for the race fan.
I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes Nascar and wants to run in a unique location as well as get a close up look at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. By starting and ending in the same place the drivers go, you will really get to see places by running it that you would not experience if you showed up to watch an auto race as a spectator. Charlotte is also a nice town for a weekend visit with good food and friendly people.
As you can see from my finish line photo (where I’m wearing my shirt sleeves like the gloves I should have brought along) I managed to finish smiling despite the limerick I wrote on my Facebook page:
Lianne came to Charlotte to run
Because that is how she gets her fun
But endless circles and hills
Did give her no thrills
As she knocked out that 13.1.
So that was Charlotte in March of 2014.
NEXT UP: April (featuring another race that wasn’t and an unexpected one that was), May (where an injury knocked me out of yet another full marathon) and June (the best race of the year so far).
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