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.