Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Forgive me Bloggers, for I have sinned…

…it has been over FIVE MONTHS since my last blog post!

Part of me wants to say that nothing has been happening but of course many things have. So to start, here is an overview of the past 5 months. I will follow-up with details in subsequent blog entries.

JANUARY

  • The saddest of all – we had to say goodbye to our oldest dog Patriot
  • But I finally got a job offer

FEBRUARY

  • I celebrated my 50th birthday
  • I started going back to the Brunch Bunch gatherings
  • Started the new job
  • Went to the Plainfield Chamber of Commerce Annual Auction & Dinner

MARCH

  • Attended the Indiana Historical Society’s unveiling of “An Evening at Ayres”
  • I was hired to be a Running and Fitness Blogger for the Visit Hendricks County website
  • Did my first half marathon of the year – the No Luck Run
  • Little Big Town meet and greet & concert
  • Another Brunch Bunch
  • My husband had his first colonoscopy (TMI?)
  • Surprise 50th birthday party for a friend (one of many I attended)
  • Dinner with two high school classmates & their spouses

APRIL

  • The NCAA Final Four Men's Basketball Tournament
  • Carmel Half Marathon – I struggled A LOT!!

MAY

  • Had a Senorita Sunday Brunch Bunch at my house
  • Gave up my job as the VHC Blogger Sad smile
  • Seymour Half Marathon – still not properly trained
  • I’ll be doing my first ever (legit) trail run on May 23rd – and shockingly, I still haven't trained!

I hope this finds me back on the road to blogging.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Running Recap

December 31, 2014

I set a three running goals in 2014. I ended the year 2 for 3.

The first goal was to complete my 50th half marathon before I turned 50. I checked this off this list on May 17th at the Geist Half Marathon. I won’t turn 50 until February 2015 so NINE MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE. #GoalCrushed

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The second goal was to complete 31 half marathons so that I could level up within Half Fanatics and “land” on Earth. I#GoalComplete

THIS FIRST COLLAGE REPRESENTS:

Polar Dash Half / Fly With The Eagles Half / GHS Half Marathon

Get Lucky Half / (Half Fanatics) / Southern IL Spring Classic

Hoosier Half / ORRRC Half / Carmel Half

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THIS SECOND COLLAGE REPRESENTS:

Illinois Half / Seymour Half / Geist Half

Noblesville Half / (31 Half Marathons) / Sunburst Half

Indy Women’s Half / Biggest Loser-Rockford / Cincinnati Half

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THIS THIRD COLLAGE REPRESENTS:

Rock’n’Roll-Chicago / Biggest Loser-Chicago / Mahomet Half

Boom Shakalaka Half / (13.1 Miles) / Blues at the Crossroads Half

Hodson Half / Women Rock Half / Dayton River Corridor Classic Half

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THIS FOURTH COLLAGE REPRESENTS:

Boilermaker Half / Springfield Half / Chicago Monster Half

Monumental Half / (EARTH) / Veterans Half

Space Coast Half / Santa Hustle / Believe You Can

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At the beginning of the year, I bought this wall calendar to help me track – at a glance – all of these races as well as all the triathlons that my husband would be doing.

Brand new – waiting to be filled in (crappy photo)2013, 11-07 Half Marathon Calendar for 2014 (1)

2014 completed – yellow boxes are half marathons, pink/orange boxes are 5Ks, 10Ks or miscellaneous distances and the green boxes are my husband’s triathlons.010

RANDOM STATS:

  • Longest streak was half marathons 5 Saturday’s in a row.
  • I did back to back (Saturday then Sunday) half marathons twice.
  • Twice I did a half marathon on a Saturday morning (in one state) and then did a 5K later that same day (in another state)

THE MEDAL WALL:

My side of our medal “display” in the basement:2014 Total(2)

Medal Wall 2014, 12-31

The third goal was to run 1,000 miles in 2014. That total was to include running miles only: training miles and competitive miles but no “walking” miles. I don’t track walking miles although I did not “discriminate” against the times I took walking breaks during competitive events.

I did not hit this goal. I only logged 904 miles. I was experiencing some major hip pain in August and only completed 43 miles that month and then only 38 miles in December. I think I was a little burned out in December. Interestingly, I logged 109 miles in January and almost all of those were on the treadmill since we were in the grips of the Polar Vortex.

I haven’t officially set my next set of running goals. I’d like to tackle crossing off more states from my 50 State Challenge and the states I need are further away so travel costs will increase. That probably means less half marathons. But I’d still like to complete at least 12 (and hopefully 15) half marathons in 2015.

As always…stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Santa Hustle–Race Recap

December 21, 2014

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This would be the third consecutive year that I’d done Santa Hustle. For some reason though, I didn’t sign up right away and it went through a price increase. The first year I waited because I wanted to see what the weather was going to be like. This year I NEEDED this race. It would be my 31st (and final) half marathon of the year and would level me up (technically its called “mooning up” but I think that’s weird to say) to Earth within Half Fanatics. I registered on October 28th and I found a $5 off discount code so with taxes and fees, the final cost was $59.83. This year runners would be receiving a dri-fit hoodie instead of the usual “Santa shirt” tech shirt.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20TH: I headed to the JW Marriott for packet pickup around 11:00AM. I wanted to get it done and out of the way and then I was going to the Indiana Historical Society to check out the Festival of Trees event. You could attend today for free and I figured it would get busy as the day progressed.

I parked half way between the two buildings and walked over to the Marriott around 11:30AM.

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Basically the same expo as last year. They have this gigantic space and use maybe half of it.

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What was different this year was the exchange table was really busy. I don’t remember them specifying that the hoodies were gender specific because if they had, I would have ordered a medium. But even THAT would have been too small. I ended up with a large and it doesn’t have much wiggle room.

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I checked out some of the other Santa Hustle merchandise and there were a couple of things that caught my eye but since I still haven't found a new job, I didn’t get anything. Of course I didn’t NEED anything anyway but it sucks not having the option.

So after the Expo and checking out the Festival of Trees display, it was back home for the evening.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21ST: This race doesn't start until 9:00AM so no crazy super early getting up for me. That is always a welcomed change. I got up at 6:00AM and was out the door at 7:30-ish. There was a Half Fanatics group photo scheduled for 8:45AM and that would give me plenty of time to park and get to the meeting location.

The initial plan was to park in the Indiana State Museum garage. That must have been everyone’s plan because it was full! I had to drive around the block and park in the Government Center garage. It wasn’t that much further away but waiting to get in and actually parked put me behind schedule. I sent A.L. a text telling her to wait for me for the picture and that I was on my way.

Not many people showed up for the photo. I wonder if the location was too far west and not right by the start line. But having it near the start line probably would have been a cluster.

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I walked with T.R. to bag drop and then went to the porta-potties for one last stop. As I was waiting I could hear them calling for the half marathon participants to get lined up. Thankfully the line moved rather quickly. A a very nice girl that was doing the 5K (which didn’t start until 9:30AM) let me go ahead of her.

As I was walking toward the start area, I happened to see Dave. A selfie with Dave might need to be a new pre-race tradition.

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We wished each other well and then I made my way on to the bridge. It was there that I saw M & J! Time for some more photos.

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Below I was trying to make “31” with my gloved fingers but she got me in mind stance.

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The weather was “better” than last year for this race. Last year we were in the beginning stages of the Polar Vortex and had quite a bit of snow. Although this year was cold – it is December in Indiana after all – there was no snow!

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My phone stayed in the holder this entire race. My third time to run this route and there are a couple of other races that use this same course as well. There was one sign I would have liked to capture at mile 10(?) but I resisted.

I saw Dave and his “posse” on the course and at the 4 mile marker, I saw C.V. She was cheering on folks from Back on my Feet. We exchanged a high five. High five

As we were running north of 16th street, I could smell the donuts being made at Longs. They smelled so good. But as good as that smelled, when you are running the final stretch behind the zoo you can small animal urine (elephants, maybe?) and that is NOT good.

There was one girl that I was chasing. I named her Happy Braid because her hair was in a braid (duh!) – and it was thick which always makes me have hair envy – and when she would pass me she was always smiling and spoke to me a couple of times. She would pass me when I took a walking break. I would pass her when she took a walking break. But after the 11 mile marker, a friend that had already completed the race joined her and she never took another walking break. Thus she finished before me.

A nice surprise was seeing my husband at the finish line. He got video of me crossing. And then took some miscellaneous photos of me as well.

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They had live reindeer in a pen. They were getting along at first but then they started locking racks. I couldn’t get a clear photo of the rassling!

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In the distance, I suddenly see A.L. heading toward the finish line. She was hard to miss in that Mrs. Claus dress. So I ran over the cheer her in. Then I see The Grinch, Rudolph and Frosty running in with her as well. I thought they were “part of the race” but would later learn that they were her family members. How fun is that?

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They became quite the draw for everyone to have their picture take with and A.L. told me that they were still there as the last runners were coming in and the event was taking everything down. What troopers.

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My husband needed to leave to finish up a Christmas project but the event photographer did get this cute shot of us before hand. Heck, I might even order it!

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There was an after party at Howl at the Moon. A.L. couldn’t go but I when I saw M.W. at the finish waiting on her husband and talked to her about going, she thought they might. Long story short, they got there before me and said it was over. WHAT? Nowhere in the info from the event did they mention there was a time limit for it. The venue isn't even close to where the race took place. I drove over and had already paid for parking to only then find out there was no more “party” going on. I know it was going on at some point because T.R. went there to get her age group award. Not cool Santa Hustle! All of us slower runners never stood a chance to participant in the after party.

I can’t say that I’ll do this race again next year. I haven't officially set how many half marathons I want to do in 2015. I’d like to cross a few more states off my list so if that means less “local” half marathons, then so be it. But this race is good to keep in your back pocket as a last minute end of the year pick up.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Space Coast Half Marathon – Race Recap

November 30, 2014

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This was year #2 of the 5 year Big Bang Series. Last year’s finishers were able to take advantage of early registration so I signed up on February 14th. My husband – although he was registered last year didn’t actually race because of an injury – could not sign up until the next day. Thankfully he got in because this race fills up fast! With taxes and fees it was $91.10 each. I’d forgotten how expensive it is but it really is worth it. The medals are AMAZING!

Series Medals 

And again, it was another one of those “sign up so early in the year you sort of forget about it until it gets closer” race.

Fast Forward to mid-October and we begin looking into airfare. The initial plan was to fly down Saturday, do the race Sunday morning, shower and pack up and fly home Sunday night. Well…while we were “aware” that this was Thanksgiving weekend we didn’t think about what that meant and flights home on Sunday were Out Of Control! Crazy expensive! So we investigated prices if we stayed and flew home on Monday; that cut the cost in half. Luckily our house/dog sitter was able to stay an extra night.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH: Our flight was scheduled to leave Indianapolis at 7:55AM so that meant we needed to leave our house no later than 6:00AM. That would give us time for my coffee stop (necessity!), park the car, get shuttled to the airport and get through TSA. We were flying Southwest Airlines so Group A got called to line up but then we were told to sit back down because the mechanics needed to work on something.  EEK! The delay wasn’t too long and we were finally allowed to board. Some lady was traveling with a small dog and – they were sitting toward the back of the plane – it kept barking and barking. When the pilot came on over the PA he said that the good news was - we had a tailwind so we’d make good/better time getting to Orlando. He said the bad news was – they were out of dog biscuits. FUNNY! Once the engines were fired up and we were in the air, you really couldn’t hear the dog any more or all the children on the flight. We landed in Orlando ahead of schedule, got our rental car and we were on our way to the Expo.

This year the Expo was NOT at the Kennedy Space Center but at the Radisson Resort at the Port (the pink hotel) but – in my opinion – it was worse than the setup at KSC. Parking was horrific, the expo space wasn’t any larger or if it was they added too many booths so it was just as crowded. We did get our bib numbers quickly; that area wasn’t too bad. It was once you rounded the corner to the vendor areas. JAM PACKED! But thankfully the very first vendor booth had a familiar face. BART YASSO. Of course I asked if we could have our photo taken with him. He was so nice. He asked which distance we were doing and seemed genuinely interested and then he and my husband talked about Ironman Arizona. Bart had completed SEVEN Ironman races.

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I wasn’t going to buy anything at the Expo. I certainly didn’t NEED anything but since I didn’t get to make a shirt for the event, I caved and bought a short-sleeved Space Coast technical shirt to wear for the race. As we were about to leave, I saw a familiar face. Dave Mari – the amazing marathon/half marathon social media king.

Expo with Dave Mari

The next stop was checking into our hotel. I tried to get reservations where we stayed last year but by the beginning of May, it was already full. All of the host hotels were full! That’s almost SEVEN months before the race. CRAZY! But I was able to find a spot at the Best Western Ocean Beach Hotel & Suites. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much but I got a good deal on it ($99.86 taxes included) and we only needed it for one night. And lets face it, we’ve stayed in worse before a race. But I was mostly pleasantly surprised. It wasn't luxurious but it was good enough. After unloading all of our stuff, we naturally went to the beach.

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We walked for a bit, enjoyed the sunshine and scenery and I gathered a few shells for my Mom. We then headed back to our room, made a grocery list and went to the store for supplies. After shopping and taking the stuff back to our room, we went into Cocoa to the Applebee’s we ate at last year.  Before heading back to the hotel, we drove a portion of the course to give my husband a feel for it since he didn’t do it last year. It was lights out early since I was setting my alarm for 2:45AM to be on the 4:15AM bus.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30TH: The plan was to wake my husband up when I was leaving the room at 4:00AM. He was going to take the 5:00AM bus and we had planned on a meeting place near where the Half Fanatics picture was to be taken. He wouldn’t be taking his phone with him so hopefully this was all going to work out.

The bus line was already lengthy when I got there but I wasn’t too worried about it. Last year, two buses were there to take the first group of runners. Well, the bus seemed to be running a little late but I still wasn't that concerned and engaged in conversation with the people in front of and behind me. However when only ONE bus arrived – and it was past the scheduled pickup time -  I got a little concerned. Granted, if I missed the picture, I missed the picture. But I really wanted to be there for it.

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Sometimes timing is everything. As we were waiting for another bus to show up, I had turned around and happened to see my husband step outside from the lobby. So I shouted his name and he walked over. He had gotten up and ready and remembered that the hotel was going to start serving breakfast at 4:00AM so he thought he’d check it out and while he was there he stepped outside to see what the line situation was. Since he was ready and had everything, he decided to just wait with me and get on the next bus. However he did quickly run back to the room to get his banana…but he had plenty of time.

We headed straight to the picture area. It was nice to have my husband there so that he could take some photos for me.

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Photo op with the Running Social Media King – Dave MariDave Mari

OFFICAL HALF FANATICS GROUP PHOTOHalf Fanatics Group

We both decided to pay a visit to the porta-potty one more time and then headed to Brevard Avenue where the race would start. We decided to hang out on the side until the race actually started and then jump in. Luckily, my husband’s pace corral was right where we were.

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Together we watched (mostly listened to because we were so far back) the playing of a Space Shuttle countdown and liftoff on the Jumbotron and then my husband made his way in with the runners. I had to wait just a tad bit longer but eventually made my way on to the course as well.

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The weather didn’t seem nearly as humid at the start this year and I probably could have worn the long-sleeved race T-shirt that we were given.

The plan this year was to keep my phone in its holder. But I just couldn’t resist stopping to take a picture of the sunrise!

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There were a few things along the course this year that I didn’t remember (and maybe they just weren't there) from last year – such as the two adult beverage stations. One of them was just handing out beer but the other had mixed drinks and they were cooking food. But since I told my husband that I’d hoped to finish in 2:30, I didn’t stop. On the way back in though, I did briefly stop to get a picture of this sign.

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My husband was hoping to finish in under 2 hours. I saw him at/or near the 8 mile marker (he was headed back in to town) thus I would have been at/or near the 6 mile marker. He looked strong and – if I remember correctly - was in between the 1:50 and 1:55 pace groups. After the race he told me that the wheels fell off for him around mile 10 and he couldn’t maintain his current pace. He did meet his goal and finished 1:59:03….but of course he still wasn’t happy with that.  UGH!

Not much else to write about this race. I was once again struggling and taking too many walking breaks. Around the 10 mile marker, the 2:30 Galloway pace group caught up to me. I figured “what they heck” and joined in with them. My hope was to stay with them for a little bit and hopefully pick up steam and finish ahead of them. NOT! I think I hung with them until 12 1/2 miles and then I needed to walk before it was time for the break and I never caught back up. Thus I finished 1 minute and 30 seconds slower than I “wanted” to.

I saw my husband as I was making my way around the north side amphitheater area and then again at the finish line. Got my medal, my finishers beach towel and a cold hand towel which is always a welcomed “gift” at the end. We then walked over to get our free breakfast. The one thing that puzzles me about the finish line area of this race is that (unless I overlook it every year) there isn't any water anywhere except AT the finish line. And the water at the finish line is in coolers and you have to fill up a small cup. You can find sodas, beer and OJ but no water elsewhere. I really think they should change that.

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I didn’t see any of my Indiana friends in the finish line area so we headed over to the bus area to catch a ride back to the hotel. Thankfully the Best Western had extended check out for folks doing Space Coast – not that we were pressed for time – so we were able to go back to the room, shower and take about an hour nap before we had to check out. Ideally we would have just stayed here Sunday night but since that wasn’t our original plan when I made the reservations, there wasn’t anything available so we had to switch hotels.

We packed up, grabbed a quick bite at McDonalds and then headed to the Kennedy Space Center so that I could try and take the medal picture I was hoping to capture. We didn’t want to pay to park just to get a quick picture and we got shooed away when we stopped in a little nook on the side of the road. After re-routing and pulling over in a “No Stopping” area, I got this. It isn't the best. I was too far away and the wind was blowing but it would have to do.

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After getting the medal photo, it was then on to Orlando, check into our next hotel and then to the airport to return the rental car. This might have been a better option than staying in Cocoa Beach after all since our flight Monday morning was at 6:25AM which meant we needed to be at the airport at 5:30AM. (I really need to start booking our flights so that we can sleep in!) There was some miscommunication about getting the hotel shuttle after dropping off the car but we eventually got it figured out. It turned out that the shuttle guy was at lunch so we needed to take a taxi and the the hotel would reimburse us. Sadly, the girl at the front desk told us NONE of this when we were asking what we needed to do (we checked in and dropped our bags off first) when telling her we needed to go to the airport to drop off the rental car. Even the taxing stand guy and the taxi driver weren’t communicating with us effectively (or “at all” truth be told) when trying to get back to the hotel. Why is all of this so difficult these days. EEK! My blood was beginning to boil just typing about all of this again.

But we eventually make it back to the hotel, watch a little football and then decide to take another nap. We didn’t sleep long though. Both of us were getting hungry and we needed to find some place to have dinner. Being without wheels, it needed to be within walking distance and sadly the only place was Hooters.

It was back to the hotel and early to bed since we had to get up at 3:45AM. We needed to be in the hotel lobby at 5:00AM to board the shuttle.

Obviously, I’ll be doing this race next year since the plan is to do all 5 year and complete the series.

Next year is Space Shuttle Discovery.image

I’m curious to see if we get the bonus medal THAT day or if they will send it to us. I hope it will be that day.

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Above on the left is the participant shirt and on the right is the shirt I bought to run in.