Last Race of 2015: Holiday Half-Marathon and 8k, Point Clear, Alabama

23 01 2016

OK, it’s a familiar theme by now: it should have been the half-marathon but my injury made it the 8k.  Regardless, what a great race this was!  Not only did I walk the whole 8k and emerge smiling with no foot pain (thus pronouncing myself cured of the self-induced-by-sheer-stupidity plantar fasciitis) but it was a beautiful day in sunny Alabama on the shores of Mobile Bay and a perfect day for a race.

December 12, 2015, was a beautiful warm morning at Mullet Point Park when the runners gathered for the race.  Temps started out in the high 50s and went up to mid 70s with abundant sunshine.   The area is just along the bay and the race was held on local roads in a beachside residential area.

Race runners

Like I said in my race day tweet, it was a good morningrace about to start in a Runner’s Paradise.  The race started at 8:30 am and took off from Mullet Point Park (where parking was available along the local road once the tiny parking lot filled up).  There were about 185 runners in the 8k and about 270 in the half marathon.  Porta-potties were few in number at the start/finish area but the lines moved quickly.  The races began on time and we took off down the unshouldered road along the bay.  The course was pleasantly flat.  The sun climbed in the sky and eventually, I shed my race shirt and carried it as I ran/walked (mostly walked) with my tank top keeping me decent.   For a December day, this Chicago girl was very happy to be racing in such warmth and sunshine amid the beautiful scenery.

Honestly, I don’t remember much about the race except happily traversing the long straight road with lush greenery on one side and bayside houses on stilts along the bay on the other.  There were water stops adequately supplied and the course was well marked.  I was so engrossed in the actual experience of the race (and especially the lack of pain in my foot) that I didn’t pay attention to much else.   Although I was certainly slow enough, I didn’t think to take photos.  It was over 4 months since I’d done a race without pain and I was just so happy to be there.

I reached the turnaround and then eventually the finish line where the post race goodies were impressive for such a small event: pizza, muffins, bananas, beer, soda and water.  My overall impression was that it was a well-organized race and one I certainly would run again if I was in the area.race finish line

Having a December birthday, I give myself a “birthday race” every year somewhere in a warm climate so I have an excuse to travel away from the gray skies and snow of Northern Illinois in December.  The Holiday Half-Marathon and 8k in Point Clear, Alabama, did not disappoint.  It was the last race of an injury-wracked year but it concluded 2015 on a pleasant note.  Later that day, I headed to the city I call “the second home of my heart”, New Orleans LA — where I first became a runner and where I ran my first half-marathon.

This is not much of a race report and I apologise but it will have to do.  Running bloggers write for the benefit of other runners so please just take my word for it.  You will like this race.  Parking is good, toilets are not bad, amenities are plentiful enough, the scenery is great, post-race goodies will not disappoint and it is a small enough race that you’re not crowded in with thousands of runners.  Look up Fairhope AL on the map and you’ll find it easy to get to.  I flew into New Orleans and drove there (then back to NOLa to celebrate my birthday the rest of the weekend).  The Hampton in Fairhope was a nice place to stay, and it wasn’t hard to find the race via the GPS on my iPhone.

So that concludes 2015, my most-injured year, a condition I am determined never to repeat.

2015 races.jpg

Next up:  2016, and yet another promise to be a better blogger.

 





Still catching up 2015: Oregon, Massachusetts, New Hampshire races

17 01 2016

After giving myself another Achilles tendonitis flare by doing the mid-April half-marathon in New York virtually untrained, I limped along for a few weeks while gradually rehabilitating myself with the PT exercises and stretching that have been my mainstay for years.  One of my favorite stretching routines comes from the UntitledActive Isolated Stretch DVD by Phil and Jim Wharton, the athletic trainers.  I use it for both rehab and maintenance of my running-related appendages, but obviously not as much as I should.

I spent much of the summer working on some necessary weight loss and muscle building after 3 sedentary months of studying for the boards recertification from January through April (a/k/a sitting in front of a computer and eating), and then went back to more consistent running again in July.  Intending for 2015 to be my fastest year ever, I quickly ramped up mileage and speed for the next race in my 50-state quest:  the Homer’s Classic 8k being held in Silverton, Oregon, on August 1, over a weekend I was attending an educational conference in Portland.  And what a lovely outing it was!

The race is described by several local sources thusly:
“Scenic, flat and very fast, the 8K course features Gallon House, the only original covered bridge in Marion County and an Olympic-style finish. All races start and end at the Silverton High School track, 802 Schlador St. (corner of Schlador and James Streets). Watermelon slices and other goodies are served at the finish.”

Along with the beautiful scenery and very pleasant weather, it did live up to its billing as fast because I set a new personal record for 8k time (even though I was indeed slower than the 82 year old who finished one second ahead of me).  I highly recommend the Homer’s Classic to anyone looking for an 8k near Portland in the summer.  Friendly people, a great course and sweet ice-cold watermelon at the finish — good stuff!

Oregon 2015

Photo credit for start line photo to runsignup.com and runner photos to GCC Photography.

Now here comes the really funny part of the story.  I had just rehabbed my Achilles tendonitis, right?  Well I plunged so wholeheartedly into wanting not only my fastest 5k but also fastest half marathon in 2015, that I ended up with a wicked case of plantar fasciitis in August that pretty much wrecked the rest of my fall season.  Can you believe that?  I mean, who’s that stupid?  Me apparently.  Because that’s how it turned out.

Regardless, I continued undaunted in spirit and gimpy with heel pain to the two-state New England jaunt planned for October, although I did dumb down from the half-marathon to the 5k in New Hampshire.

First on Saturday came the Somerville Homeless Coalition 5k in Boston on a rain-spotted October 3 morning, a race that I pretty much walked.  The event was well organized, everyone was friendly and the autumn beauty was abundant.   It turned out to be a fun day amid the fallen leaves with a great cause to support, and walking it felt actually quite serene.  This is another race I would do again if I happened to be in the area.

Boston 2015

The following day it was on to New Hampshire for the Smuttynose Rockfest 5k.  It was blustery and cold alongside a choppy grey ocean but the runners’ spirits were high and that always makes iffy weather more tolerable.  Some unfortunate signage confusion on the turn splitting off half-marathoners from 5k runners caused a bunch of us to go the wrong way and then back track.  It was okay with me because I wasn’t pursuing a time goal, but hopefully they’ll fix it for 2016 because some people were understandably pissed.  They were also out of water at the end of the 5k by the time I got there after 41 minutes of running.  It was with bittersweet enjoyment (especially since I should have been doing the half-marathon had I not screwed myself with poor training) that I concluded that 3.1 mile jog and rewarded myself with a post-race lobster roll.   Although I finished smiling, as always, I don’t think I’d do that race again.  Organization seemed lacking for this rather large event.

NewHampshire 2015

So that’s pretty much it for summer and fall 2015.  A couple more months of rehab followed, this time including acupuncture, before I proclaimed myself cured once and for all with the year’s final race in December.

Up next:  the Holiday Half-Marathon and 8k in Point Clear, Alabama.

 





Still catching up: The More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon

29 12 2015

Starting off the year having to get the medical boards recertification out of the way put a serious damper on my athletic efforts because I was spending all of my scant free time studying.  Nonetheless, I planned a “celebration half marathon” for the weekend following the test in which I would return to an old stomping ground (New York City) and blast away all the stress with a rousing 13.1 miler.  When I registered, booked and paid for the trip, I had this fantasy about studying on the treadmill as I trained, walking the dogs outdoors in the early spring chill and being at least semi-ready to do that distance. Ha ha!  None of that happened.  I finished the exam, got on a plane the next day and showed up in New York woefully under-trained.  I had done a local 10k (The Rockdale Rambling Run) the weekend before but that was the limit of my distance, and I spent much of that one walking.  Even though I did pass the board exam, I never said I was a genius.  I may be smart enough for a 400 question test of medical minutiae but I’m also stupid enough to do a half with only a couple of 5ks and a 10k under my belt.

start

Photo credit to NYRR.org

 

It was a beautiful 50-degree spring day in Central Park when I gathered together with 7402 other women for my first ever all female race.  Deena Kastor ran with us and, of course, won the race when she finished in 1:12:51.  I, being so much slower, was on my first lap when she came along for her second lap–but for about 2 seconds we ran side by side.  It was pretty cool!  Untrained fool that I was, I was much slower and finished two full hours after Deena did due to the considerable walk breaks I took.  Nonetheless, it was great fun and really did jettison the emotional detritus from those stressful months of working two jobs while studying for the godawful test.

 

Here is a photo of me that I’m not allowed to have because I didn’t pay them for it.Post Race Me

I finished smiling, as always, but with a sore Achilles tendon that nagged at me for months afterward until I beat it into submission with stretching and the usual physical therapy exercises.

New York was the 25th state in my “race in all 50 states” quest and I had a wonderful weekend there.  I saw the play “The Audience” with Helen Mirren, caught up with some old friends and had some very nice meals, including the post race feast shown below:

01b184cd42eb0670afdbd0aed08df8d975b6e07af5

Yep.  Food is one of the reasons I run.

And so is this:

NY More Half

I love the bling.

Next up:  Oregon, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Alabama.

 





Race Report: Waddling With The Penguin 3/28/2015

22 10 2015

I couldn’t pass up the chance to meet my personal hero of running, John “The Penguin” Bingham, at the 10th Annual Penguin in the Park 5k at Millikin University in Decatur, IL.  Yes it was March 28 and I am just now writing about it almost 7 months later.  Hey, I’ve been busy!  OK?  Anyway, here’s the rundown.

It was a bright but chilly 21 degree morning when we started out.

It was a bright but chilly 21 degree morning when we started out.

I found myself slightly questioning my own sanity when I looked at the weather on that fine freezing spring morning but I figured “what the heck, I drove 3 hours to get here last night so I might as well just get out there with all the other crazies.”  I even tweeted about it that day as you can see from the photo below.

pengpark

But honestly, how can you be a Penguin if you can’t stand the cold?!

So it was cold.  Yeah.  It warms up when you start running so as long as I have a hat and some gloves, I generally don’t care.  I had been doing a lot of treadmill training over the winter because I wanted to become faster than I had been in the past.  It was my goal for 2015 to run my fastest 5k ever and to perhaps finally break the “under 3 hour” mark in a half marathon.  I had spent a lot of time on the treadmill doing intervals but did not expect to try and break any speed records on this day.  My goal setting out was simply:  (1) meet the Penguin, and (2) have some fun.

The course is touted as “a rolling bicycle path” in Decatur’s Fairview Park —  which in plain English means “hills”; maybe gentle, maybe steep, but definitely not flat.  However, it is a beautiful and scenic spot even in the dead of winter and the 810 runners were in for a nice treat.  Since John the Penguin himself planned to come in last, nobody even needed to worry about their pace.  After hearing that, I tried out a new rhythm of 4 minutes running and 1 minute walking to see where it would take me.

finish line

How can you go wrong when you are guaranteed not to come in last?

Eventually I found the finish line.

a fine meal

Blueberry muffins and chili: breakfast of champeens.

Afterwards we were served a very nice post-race breakfast of muffins and chili (which I must say was some of the best chili I’ve had in a long time) from Ray’s Chilli which is a local outfit in Decatur.  A packet of their chili seasoning was included in the goody bag, and I have now ordered a full pound of the stuff as it has become part of my standard recipe, along with a few of my own secret ingredients.

It was around Mile 2 when I noticed my time was faster than usual, possibly even faster than ever, so I picked up the pace just to see what I could do.  And it did turn out to be my fastest 5k ever.  Not fast by anyone else’s standards, just mine.  So I ended up with a few outstanding moments that day.  A good race.  A new chili recipe.  A chance to finally meet in person the guy whose written words got me started and kept me going long before they inspired me to get a penguin tattooed on my leg.

It was a wonderful day and a great way to kick off the spring running season.

myraceday

It was a great day—-set a new personal record, meet a longtime personal hero—-a very fine day indeed.





The Galaxy’s Worst Blogger Returns

18 10 2015

Once again, I haven’t been much of a blogger.  I actually haven’t been much of a runner this year either.  But I am still on track to race in 5 more states by the end of 2015.  I will come back within the week and report more fully on each race, some of which are noted below from Athlinks.com.

2015 races





Pi Day, celebrating the number (not the Romulan starship)

14 03 2015

blog griffIn the mid 24th Century, the Romulan starship Pi, a Griffin class scout ship, crash landed on the planet Galorndon Core during a covert mission after sending out a distress signal from the Neutral Zone which was answered by Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise (TNG: “The Enemy“).  What followed on that occasion was the usual drama, interspecies conflict, life-or-death struggles and moral quandary one has come to know and love from Star Trek, none of which is being celebrated today.  This is merely a bit of Trekkie trivia I could not ignore when posting on 3/14/15, known in 21st Century culture as “Pi Day” and heralded by race directors everywhere as a chance to hold a 3.1415k race.

blog shirt

The local middle school near my home had just such a race this morning and despite the fact that I have a cold, there was no way I was going to miss it.  Not only is it my first outdoor race in Illinois of the 2015 season but it is also the first race ever which was so close to my home that I could walk there.

Pi the number is a mathematical constant which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is estimated to be over 13.3 trillion digits when spelled out completely.  However, geeks worldwide are today at exactly 9:26:53 AM celebrating the first ten:  3.141592653.

March 14, which coincidentally is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, has been celebrated as Pi Day since established as a holiday in 1988 by a San Francisco physicist named Larry Shaw, also known as the Prince of Pi (not to be confused with the Larry Shaw who directed an episode of the TNG series).  I’m sure the prince must be a Star Trek fan as are good geeks everywhere.   But I digress….

It was a beautiful springlike morning of 40 something Fahrenheit with just enough of a chill to mandate a cheapie pair of gloves and some long sleeves when we all lined up at the local middle school.  In a parking lot amidst a few lingering mounds of dirty snow beneath a homemade sign an estimated 480 of us gathered together to celebrate Pi in the only way runners know how (by blocking traffic and pissing off drivers as we stride several abreast in one long parade oblivious to all else but our feet and our MP3 players).

blog start

The sky was blue and the crowd simmered with excitement as the air horn sounded and off we went: parents, kids, stroller moms, old people, fat people, speedsters, walkers and me.  Like I said, I have a cold.  I didn’t expect to rack up impressive numbers and I most certainly didn’t.  After the first half mile, I started to cough and thus ended up taking it pretty easy.  I’d jog a while, walk a while and even tried a few little sprints but my lungs weren’t up to the task.  It was still fun though and the 3.1415 miles went pretty fast.   At the end we were rewarded with Hostess fruit pies and slices of pizza pie, just to stretch the pi(e) theme a little further.blog garmin

So the first local race of the season is done and, given the one mile walk to and from the race, I’ve already logged well over 5 miles on my pedometer with much of the day ahead of me yet.  And now it’s on to all the other cool stuff one can do on a temperate Saturday such as this.  I even made up a little poem in my head while I was walking back from the race:

The snow is melted; the bitter chill is gone.
This is my happy morning song.
The sun is shining and I’ve had a 5k run.
I can play in the garden while the day is still young.
What a contented old runner am I
As happy as a fat kid eating pie.

(OK, I’ll keep my day job.  LOL)

 

 





Two months, two races, one winter: done

10 03 2015

vwIn the Star Trek original series there is an episode called The Savage Curtain in which Kirk and Spock are manipulated into fighting a “good vs. evil” battle so this interesting creature named Yarnek could observe and thus understand what seemed to be a purely human concept.  When the good guys won, Yarnek concluded that “evil runs off when forcibly confronted.”

As an arthritic runner, I have long regarded winter as more evil than good (although the gardener in me deems it a necessary evil) and I’ve eagerly anticipated its retreat when forcibly confronted by spring.  I used to stop running entirely during the coldest months, venturing out only during the occasional warm-up when temps might climb near 40, but always felt my fitness level suffered too much from the lull.  One year ago with plans for a spring marathon, I ran all winter long going as far as 10 miles on the treadmill but ended up overtraining myself into an injury that nixed the marathon plans.  So this year, I decided to concentrate on shorter distances, flat terrain and a 50-50 split between running/cardio and weight training over the winter in hopes of emerging fit and ready to run injury-free through the next 9 months.

At the end of January, I attended a business conference in San Diego and ran The Super Run 5k in South Shores Park near Sea World.  Leaving behind mounds of snow and biting winds to run amidst these beautiful floral vistas was pure pleasure.

Even though the day was overcast, it was a beautiful outing.

Even though the day was overcast, it was a beautiful outing.

What a great way to escape the evil clutches of winter!

Surrounded by flowers and warm breezes, I took it slow and jogged along happily.

Surrounded by flowers and warm breezes, I took it slow and jogged along happily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shirt, bib and medal.

Shirt, bib and medal.

And then I got on the last flight out of town before a blizzard cancelled all travel into Chicago. What can I say?  This is the reason I don’t run outdoors around my house in the winter.

AND THEN I CAME HOME TO THIS.

WHAT I CAME HOME TO.

So my next race was a virtual 5k called the Puppy Love Run which I did on a hotel treadmill during a weekend trip to a nearby town.  The run, which was held during Valentine’s Day week,  raised money for an animal protection society.   A virtual race is the only kind you’ll find me doing in Illinois in February.  Some of the local crazies do the Frosty 5 Miler each year but I’m not planning to join them any time too soon.

But now that it is March, the snow is melting and single digit temps have followed Old Man Winter over the hill.  With the usual unbridled glee, I will in fact this weekend return to the roads and leave the treadmill behind.puppy love bib

I’m really looking forward to that.

Winter leaves when forcibly confronted by Spring but I am the one who runs off.  Off down the road I go.

I’m ready.

Next up:
A 3.1415 miler on Pi Day 3/14/15.
Penguin in the Park 5k on 3/28/15.
And an old favorite:  The Rockdale Rambling 10k on 4/11/15.
Then the year’s first half marathon.

I’m so ready!








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