Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rock the Crossroads Recap: Spontaneous Combusting


Last night's 5k was basically just that…running through the fiery, blistering heat of a hot July evening….

They organizers advertised it as the "hottest" race in Kansas City, and they were NOT kidding! The 5th Annual Rock the Crossroads was a sweaty adventure through the downtown streets of the Crossroads arts and music district of downtown Kansas City.

Having reservations about running 3.1 miles on a hot, steamy July evening - I got totally sucked in by the bling:

That medal was WAY cool. I would walk across hot coals to get one. So - I signed up.

On Friday, Hubby went down to pick up our shirts and bibs, and I was impressed with those, as well, for the most part. The shirt itself is a very awesome tech shirt, but who was the brainiac who chose a BLACK shirt in July??!!

Yeah. That wasn't happening. Not to mention, it's TOTALLY uncool in the running world to wear your official shirt BEFORE you've earned it by completing the race.

Saturday was race day…I spent most of the day hydrating, as well as nursing Dear Daughter, who'd had nasal surgery a few days earlier. (She's recovering slowly - but doing better each day.) At 4:00 pm, Hubby and I headed to our nephew's 9th birthday party, where I skipped the baked beans (as a courtesy to my fellow runners later that evening), but hesitantly had a hamburger patty - worried about how this would settle on my stomach later. In the heat. EEP. Yeah. I'd pay for that later.

At 6:00 pm, we headed downtown, and sure enough - my stomach was feeling a bit queasy. I knew part of this was nerves, as I ALWAYS get this way before an official race - but I wondered how much was due to the hamburger. Maybe that wasn't so smart. You think?

This next photo is interesting. Have you EVER seen a totally empty Start Line/Finish Line thirty minutes before the gun?

Yeah, me, neither. This is because it was about 90 degrees outside - and even hotter in the sun. So, the 915 registered runners were standing in any shade we could find at this point. It was only about 5 minutes before the Official Start Time that we all reluctantly made our way over to the starting chute.

I was pretty far back in the chute, so I didn't officially cross the Starting Line until about a minute or so in…I started off strong, sticking pretty close to pace. At about 1.5 mile into the race, however, we were running up a hill…that seemed to go on forever. I ran…and I ran…and I ran…determined to conquer that damn hill no matter what it took.

That was stupid.

Powering up a mile-long hill…in 90+ degree heat…after eating a hamburger?

Just shoot me.

My legs starting cramping…my stomach started heaving a bit…and my head felt SO hot that I thought it was going to melt off my body. Seriously - I thought I was going to spontaneously combust, and I was SO. FREAKING HOT. that I thought about quitting. I seriously looked around to see if there was a medic near by. Ack.

With what few brain cells I had left that hadn't boiled away at this point, I decided that my ultimate goal was NOT to finish with a personal best time - but just to finish. Standing up. Even if that meant walking a bit.

So that's what I did. I walked. And would then run…a little. But walked some more.

Whew. Smartest decision I ever made.

By now, my Garmin was getting irritated with me, as it kept beeping in alarm: "BEHIND PACE!!!"

Yes. I know. If I ran at my usual pace, it would NOT have been pretty. So, I eventually just turned my Garmin off to shut it up. I didn't care about my pace at this point - I decided I would be happy with finishing in 40 minutes.

Run a bit. Walk a bit. Some times, the roads would be in the sun, and I felt like I was boiling from the inside out. Then we'd hit a cool, shady bit of road, and it was pure bliss. Oh, how we take shade for granted sometimes.

There were two water stops along the route, and I used both of them to dump a cup of water over my head - drenching myself in a refreshing shower of coolness and relief.

Before long, I turned the corner and saw the Finish Line up ahead - a welcome sight. Even better, I saw Hubby, waiting for me to cross. He'd already finished his run way earlier, doing it in 25.04. I hate him. Gah.

My official time was 38.38 - which was WAY better than what I was hoping for. Not my best time, but I blame the heat, and the fact that I had to walk so much.

Hubby finished in 25.05 - which garnered him 4th in his age division.

The good news: I didn't get sick. Although I certainly felt like it, at one point. I've learned the important thing in running is to listen to your BODY and not your ego. It's hard to do that sometimes, but it's definitely smart.

Would I do this race again? Probably. The course was pretty easy, other than that really long hill at the beginning. Most of it is downhill, which is wonderful.

I would skip the hamburger next time, though. Gah.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

My Fashion Faux Paux

There's nothing like running 7 miles on a Sunday morning and then realizing that your shorts are on inside out.


I did that.

Not gonna' lie.

It's not my fault. Really. I TOTALLY blame Hubby for this fashion faux paux.

Because today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year - so far - with temperatures and humidity feeling like we're living on Mars, I decided that it would be necessary for my survival to get up at 6:00 am for my run this morning. My training plan called for an unheard-of seven miles - a new distance record for me. Gah. If I have to run seven miles, I'd prefer to do it before the heat soars to record highs, thank you very much.

So…the alarm goes off…and I nudge Hubby to wake up, as he's in this with me. He mumbles something that sounded like, "I think it's too windy. You shouldn't go." And he went back to sleep.

Normally, I'll look for ANY excuse to not have to run - especially seven miles - and I was sorely tempted to do just what Hubby suggested…but I knew in the long run (Ha - a pun! See what I did there??!!), I'd be glad I went…and I'd be doubly glad I went at 6:00 am.

So…I got out of bed, and got dressed in THE DARK, so I wouldn't wake up Hubby.

And that, dear readers, is how it happened…how my shorts mysteriously went on inside out…but I wouldn't discover this gem until much, much later…after I'd been running all through the neighborhoods.

I'm just sure my neighbors love me.

Anyway, I headed out the door…the skies were dark and cloudy, as we'd had a major storm roll through about 4:00 am this morning. There was still some lightning way off in the distance, but it was deliciously breezy, which helped negate the 78% humidity in the air.

Training is just that…practicing and learning so you can improve. I try to use these training runs as a means of figuring out what I'm doing right…and what I'm doing wrong…what works for me…what doesn't work for me…and how I can get better…all with the goal of that half-marathon in October.

This morning, I tried something new…I strapped on a Hydration Belt that Dear Daughter had given me for Mother's Day. I figured I would need some water during the course of seven miles, so today was a good day to test this out…see if I liked it…and see if it helped.

Well…as I began running, all I could hear was the water…sloshing back and forth. This is NOT A GOOD THING when your bladder is about the size of a pea…I've decided for future runs to not put so much water in each bottle, so I don't feel "the urge" for the entire distance.

My bladder will thank me for this later. Gah.

This morning's run was actually quite beautiful, if you discount the fact of my inside-out shorts and sloshing water…here are some photos I took along the way, to show you what it's like to run around my neighborhood:

I heard a HUGE crashing sound to my left while running through here…it sounded BIG, like a giant grizzly bear or something…but I'm sure it was just a deer. I hope. I don't run fast enough to outrun a giant grizzly bear.

Our spooky tree…this morning, I could see the lightning way, way off in the distance here…so cool…

I have to run through this cornfield, which I HATE. I always think of that movie, "Children of the Corn", which scared the BEJEEZUS out of me when I was younger…I always think some scary, zombie-like, murdering children are going to come walking out of the corn as I'm running by. So, I go all Kenyan-like and run super fast through here. Just in case.

This is a highway. I have to run about a half-mile on this, while cars and semi-trucks are whizzing by me at 65 mph. The speed limit is only 55 mph - but no one pays attention to that. Which is why this is a very popular spot for the local cops to set up a speed trap. At 6:30 am on a Sunday morning, though, it's pretty quiet. Very few cars. One truck. And no cops. Just a crazy Middle Aged Drama Queen running along with her shorts on, inside out.

Eventually, I turn off the highway, and I'm back on the country roads…this morning, I ran into Hubby here, coming along the opposite direction. I guess he decided to get out of bed after all. Not carrying any of his own water, he asked for a sip of mine that I was carrying, and that's when I realized - I was his pack mule. Gah. I shared, though, with the thought that the less water I was carrying, the less sloshing I would hear. And my bladder would be happy.

Eventually, I'm back running along beside the lake…it's beautiful, but I don't want to take too many photos here, as all my neighbors live along here, and they'd think it was pretty creepy, if I were to be taking pictures of their houses and such along the way. In shorts that were inside out.

Before I knew it, I was home…7 miles. I had DONE IT - WOOT!!! My longest distance yet, and my pace was pretty consistent:

The fact that I survived - especially the hazards that I faced, such as giant grizzly bears, murderous children of the corn, speeding semi-trucks, and sloshing water - pretty much offset the embarrassment of my shorts.



Saturday, July 5, 2014

Oops…My Bad

July 4th…Independence Day…a day when people head to the lake, picnic, shoot off fireworks, and sit back and relax and enjoy the holiday. We decided to be a bit different this year…and little did I know that our choice almost resulted in my murder by my Hubby.

Let me back up.

This year, we signed up for a local 5k in our area, the Stars and Stripes. This is the 3rd year of the event, and it's growing by leaps and bounds…

The race had a start time of 7:30 am, and so Hubby and I were up and dressed and in the car by 6:30 am.



This is when you KNOW you are crazy.

En route, we're drinking our go-go juice (which is Accelerade protein-powered sports drink for enquiring minds), and eating our protein bars (which are Kind Gluten-Free, with chocolate - YUM!), and making small talk, which is what we tend to do before running a race.

"What do you know about the course?" Hubby asks.

Shrugging, I reply, "Mmmm…I dunno'. I looked at the map - it looks pretty flat, for the most part. I mean, it's in a PARKING LOT, so how hilly can it be??"

Those words would come back to bite me.


Arriving at the event, I stick to my pre-race routine by going in search of the port-a-potties…and can't find them ANYWHERE. I looked here…I looked there…and was starting to break out in a pre-race sweat and panic attack. Hey - my bladder is now 52 years old and is pretty much the size of a pea…so a visit to the POP (short for port-a-potty) is not just a convenience - it is MANDATORY before a race. Especially after drinking 12 ounces of Accelerade.

Houston, we may have a problem.

About the time I was ready to give up and go find the nearest Starbucks, I spotted the POPS way, way off in the distance. Oh, thank you, Jesus, as I was now at my breaking point. They were so far removed from everything that apparently, none of the OTHER runners had spotted them either, as there was no line.

Did you hear that, other runners??!!

NO LINE. (Don't be jealous)

This is unheard of at races, as normally the line in front of the POPS are miles deep. Apparently, repeated running makes EVERY runner's bladder about the size of a pea…who knew??!!

After taking care of business, Hubby and I meandered back to the start of the race, along with about 1,000 other runners. About this time, the photographer came and asked for a photo. My gut reaction was to initially say, "Hell, no!" as I don't exactly look my best after rolling out of bed at 5:45 am…but then I remembered that I was looking pretty fashionable in my patriotic top, and had dark sunglasses on to hide the bags under my eyes, and was wearing a hat to hide my serious bed head, so we obliged:

It was soon time to begin the race. Kissing Hubby good-bye, and sending him off to join the other Kenyans at the front of the Starting Line, I made my way back to the Back of the Pack, where the Turtles like to hang out. Within minutes, the gun sounded - and we were OFF!

After carefully navigating my way through a very narrow opening chute, there was a sharp right turn…and the pavement was soaking wet, with runoff from the morning's sprinkler heads…and I had to slow down a bit so that I didn't do a Slip 'n Slide. Hubby told me later that he saw a runner or two slip and go down HARD on the pavement when they hit that water…NOT a good way to start off a race. Yikes.

The course seemed to be relatively flat…at first…but then I noticed that it was deceiving. There were indeed hills on this course. And the hills were very, very long….and drawn out…and went on FOREVER.

Up, up, up we went…and more and more runners were slowing down and eventually resorting to just walking…which is pretty normal with us Turtles (Kenyans would NEVER walk during a 5k). Fortunately, I have lots and lots of hills by my house, so I'm pretty used to elevation - although I don't consider myself a Hill Master. Yet. So I plodded along…albeit slowly…but I was moving.


About the time that I was cursing the Hill Gods, I had reached mile #2, where the course seemed to start going downhill. A bit. A tiny, tiny bit - but it was a godsend. A very enthusiastic volunteer stood along the sidelines, cheering us on with a very peppy, "You can DO IT!!!! IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE, GUYS!!!!"

Oh, be still my heart. That was music to my ears.

However, I quickly realized that the very enthusiastic volunteer was also very seriously crazy, because it was NOT all "downhill from here." At about the 2.5 mile mark, it started going back up…and up…and up some more.


And then another thought…oh crap. Hubby is going to KILL me, since I told him the course was flat.


At this point, since I felt like I'd been climbing Mount Everest all morning, I told myself I would be very happy if I came in at 39 minutes…which is never going to win a medal, but since I've just really started running in the last three months, is a decent, respectable time for a Middle Aged Drama Queen Turtle. I could always blame the hills for my slower time, right?

At the 3-mile marker, there was a sharp left turn, which then led to the strait away to the finish line. As I turned the corner, I was slowing down quite a bit, and thought I would just do a slow and steady pace for the last few yards…and then I happened to look up and see the giant time clock ahead.

And it was at 37.35…and counting.


If I gunned it - I could come in WAY UNDER 39 minutes!!!


I turned on my invisible jet propulsion thingies on my feet, and I gunned it with every thing that I had.

And I did it!!!!!!!

My chip time was 37.04. Woot woot!

Not bad for a Turtle. A Middle Aged Turtle, at that.

You can see the joy on my face as I cross the finish line:

As far as Hubby's race, gah. I hate him.

He came in 2nd overall in his age group:

Here he is crossing the finish line:

After the race, I posed proudly with my bling:

As Hubby and I were heading home, we were analyzing and dissecting the race, each eager to share with the other how we'd done, and what we'd struggled with, and how we could have improved. And then, sure enough, here it came. Hubby looks at me, eyes narrowing, and says accusingly,

"Hey! You told me the course was flat…WHAT THE HECK??!!!"

I shrugged, and casually said, "Mmmm…I dunno'. I just didn't want to freak you out beforehand."

Yup. We'll just leave it at that.



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Boosting the Turtle


Living on a lake, I'm used to the other critters that share my living space - such as deer, skunk, possum, raccoons, fox - and the occasional snake. (And let me interject here by saying that it's the latter that really give me the heebie jeebies - and I always have one eyeball on the ground as I run, looking for ANYTHING that could be slithering or slathering, as the last thing I want is a Close Encounter of the Serpent Kind. EEP.)

This morning, I was plodding along on my daily run, when I saw a car up ahead suddenly stop in the middle of the road.

Curious, I watched as the driver got out, walked up to the front of his car, and then very carefully, picked up a turtle…and then moved the four-legged creature over to the side of the road, where he very gingerly laid him back down.

By now, I had ran up along side this very valiant rescue operation, and as the driver was turning to get back in his car, I couldn't help but have some fun, so I said, "Hey - why'd you do that? He was my pacer."

The driver stared at me blankly for a moment, and then quickly hopped in his car and took off.

He's obviously not a runner.



As I resumed my run, I got to thinking about that turtle…moving along, albeit very slowly, heading for some unknown (to us, anyway) destination. And how he suddenly got a boost by a driver who was concerned for his welfare and wanted to move him out of harm's way.

How often when I'm struggling - either as I run down a lonely lake road, albeit very slowly - or as I go through my day-to-day life - do I wish that some God-like hand will come down out of the sky and give me a "boost" to my destination…or at least, move me out of harm's way…?

It doesn't happen, and I'm left to plod along…one foot in front of the other…but eventually, when I finally DO reach the end of my destination - what a sweet, sweet journey it was….



*Image from HERE

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dealing with my Debbie Downer

One of the challenges of being a "newbie" runner is learning to develop mental strength…or basically, dealing with that inner voice that yammers on and on about how I must be crazy for even THINKING of running a half marathon.

I have two inner voices that I deal with…and let me say, just by typing that, I'm feeling like you think that I really MUST be crazy - but not because I'm running, but because I have voices in my head.

I promise I'm not crazy.



I like to call the first voice "Motivational Mary" - who every so often pops up in my head as I'm running, with quotes and inspirational sayings that keep me going, like, "You are AWESOME!" and "You can DO it!" and "Think of how you're going to look in a swim suit!" and stuff like that. Motivational Mary is full of unicorns and puppies and rainbows, and I love her.

However…the other voice, aka "Debbie Downer", seems to be more prevalent…and THAT is the voice that I need to squelch. Debbie Downer is that voice that focuses on the negative, rather than the positive, and by working on my mental toughness, I hope to kill. Debbie Downer says things like, "You're too old. You're too flabby. You can't run. You're nuts." Gah.

This morning, unfortunately, there was more Debbie Downer than Motivational Mary…

It doesn't help that I have to wake up at 6:00 A.M. to run, due to the summer heat. I am NOT a morning person, so Debbie Downer was out in full force immediately.

"Do you REALLY want to do this at 6:00 A.M.???" she began, as I was rolling out of bed. "Besides…it's going to rain. I think you should stay in bed."

As tempting as that was, I realized that Hubby was already out of bed - and out for HIS run - and being the competitive person that I am, there was NO WAY IN HELL that I was going to let Hubby get a run ahead of me. Yeah, cuz I love him like that.

As I was heading out the front door, I met Hubby as he came back from his run, and he says, "You should have ran with me this morning. There was a beautiful rainbow, and you've missed it."


So, I head out the door, and Mother Nature at that time could not make her mind up on whether she wanted it to rain - or not. It was hot. It was humid. It was soupy. It was yucky. It was definitely NOT prime time running conditions. Bleh.

Debbie Downer complains, saying, "Soup??? You should be at home EATING soup on a morning like this…not RUNNING in it."

Motivational Mary says, "There's no lightning. There's no tornados. You can DO this. Move it."

And so I do.

I head out, and within a minute, raindrops are falling on my head, which sends Debbie Downer into a tailspin.


I quickly assessed all body parts for any signs of melting, and not seeing any flesh falling off my body, I ran on. This proved that contrary to what my kids may think sometimes, I am NOT the Wicked Witch of the West, and Motivational Mary whispers that it will be fun to dispel that myth with them later.

After about two miles, my lungs were struggling a bit, and Debbie Downer immediately picked up on this.

"You should turn around right now. YOU'RE GOING TO DIE."

Motivational Mary immediately chimed in with a calming, "No, you're not. No one dies running 3 miles."

I'm pretty sure that that is technically not true, but it was good enough for me to keep running.

The run progressed with a few more complaints and moans from Debbie Downer, but fortunately, Motivational Mary kept me on course and squelched any thoughts of quitting.

I've noticed that the more I run, the more that Motivational Mary steps up to the forefront, and the more that Debbie Downer takes a back seat. I think this is true with any "good" habit we start…it takes awhile for the habit to take hold, and we often have to silence those negative thoughts that want to bring us down.

When I made my way back to the house, I was feeling pretty good. I was wet. I was winded. I was tired.

But I DID it.