Sunday, January 17, 2016

(11-07-2015) Monumental Half Marathon

This was the second year of a four year series that the Monumental Marathon / Half Marathon is doing. If you complete all four years (2014-2017), you will receive the red and white Star Medallion. Here is the release they sent out out last year:
 So, they've got me for the next few years!

Registration for this races opens up just after midnight on New Year's Eve. So after the big countdown, a kiss and then a toast with my husband, I scurry into the computer room and register.  With taxes and fees, I paid $55.24.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6th: 


This race has a pretty good Expo which runs both Thursday and Friday. I went on Friday but there wasn't anything that I really needed so I didn't stay too long. I need to try to check it out on Thursday next year though because they do sell out of some stuff.  Like I need more shirts but....

I saw my friend C.V. at the Back on my Feet booth and chatted with her for awhile and then I stopped by the Indy Mini booth as well.  Bart Yasso was one of the Expo speakers this year but I got there too late to see him. 

The only thing of note was while looking at shirts in one of the vendor areas, there was a man and woman basically blocking the path while he was trying on a shirt.  I politely said "excuse me" and walked between them. Next thing I know I hear a CRUNCH, look down and I had stepped on his glasses! I felt horrible and said "I'm sorry" a million times but...why in the heck had he placed them on the ground? She should have been holding them for him or something. 

When you register 11 months before the race, you can forget that you do this:
But the funny thing is, I did the same thing last year and forgot until I picked up my packet. Wonder if I'll remember - and then forget - to do it the next two years as well. :)


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7th: Last year I pre-purchased parking but it wasn't where I thought it was going to be so I decided to just wing it this year. I was texting with my friend A.L. about parking before I left the house and she was going to try to get in the same lot I was headed to. 

Got parked and headed into the Convention Center to use the bathroom. Texted A.L. to see if we could meet up and head to the start line together. After multiple texts we finally found each other.

We headed over to where the Half Fanatics / Marathon Maniacs were to have their group photos but we got there too late.  Some other stragglers showed up late as well so those of us that were still there took another one.  Sadly, I can't find a copy of it anywhere since I didn't have one taken with my phone.

A.L. ripped her bib (not sure how!) so we needed to find a safety pin for her. Finally found one and then we headed to the start area. I don't know if its because this race has grown but the start area is different from where it has been in the past. I knew that the finish area was going to be in a different place but I must have skipped over reading the part about the start. I didn't matter that it had changed; it was just - well - different. 

We waited to the side of the corral areas and scanned the crowd for people we knew. We never did see J.D. which is usual because he's so tall which makes him easy to spot. 

We finally got down in the corral and asked another participant to take a picture of us.
It was mostly a perfect weather day for a half marathon. 



With so many people, it takes a little longer to cross the start line now. I think it took about 6 minutes from where we started.

I did not set any finish time goals since I still hadn't been training. Like all the races this year, finishing has been the goal.

Once again, I've waited so long to do this recap that I've forgotten a ton about the race. I do remember that I saw more random "mascots" this year than ever before. I contemplated stopping and getting my picture taken with all of them but I already knew that i was going to be slow so I just decided to push past. I didn't even take any pictures with my phone along the course. I've got to get back to these races being fun. Aside from the start and finish, this race was basically the same. I mostly love the course except for the area between miles 7(ish) and 8(ish).  There is a little bit of a hill and the road is always in bad shape.

And now - 2 1/2 months later - I don't remember much else about this race. Part of me does remember that I really had to pee somewhere around the 10 mile marker. Every porta-potty that I saw had a line so I didn't want to stop and wait. I was eyeballing bushes and nooks in between buildings as potential places to go. I probably wasted just as much time from slowing down and walking so I wouldn't pee myself as I would have if I'd just stopped at a porta-potty.

A.L. and I met up briefly afterward but once I got my medal and grabbed some snacks, I was ready to walk to my car and head for home.  Although I STILL needed to pee so I went into the Convention Center so I could just sit and "relax" on a clean indoor toilet.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8th: Since my husband wasn't with me on race day, I didn't have anyone to take any pictures.  Luckily the weather was just about the same today as it was on race day. I headed back downtown around the same time I finished on Saturday and went to the monument that is on the medal. I'm thankful that my husband is willing to help me out with my medal photo-shoots, even if they are the day after a race.  

Always with the Monumental race, I like to do a picture of the medal with the actual monument in the background. This year's monument was the obelisk in the Veteran's Memorial Plaza. 

From the Visit Indy website: Veteran's Memorial Plaza, once known as Obelisk Square, was completed in 1930. Centrally located in the Plaza are the Obelisk and Fountain that honor all Indiana veterans. The Obelisk is a 100-foot shaft of black Berwick granite, representing the hopes and aspirations of the nation. The bronze tablets at its base (created by sculptor Henry Hering) represents the four fundamentals upon which our nation's hopes are founded: law, science, religion and education. One hundred feet in diameter, the Fountain is made from pink Georgia marble and terrazzo. Fifty state flags and the American flag are displayed at the north end of the park.   Veteran's Memorial Plaza






This was half marathon #14 of the year for me and Lifetime #84.

(10-17-2015) Indianapolis Half Marathon



I wish I hadn't waited so long to recap this race but here goes....from what I can remember.

This wasn't on my radar to do initially. I had done it back in 2013 and in an effort to try to tackle different races I was going to pass and go to Pennsylvania and do the Hershey Half instead.  But got an email from the event organizers that 2015 would be their last year. Here is a brief snippet from their email: With attendance down nearly 60% from our peak years and sponsorship moving onto newer events, we are at the point where we are not able to sustain our charitable giving. We as a race committee decided that year 20 was a great milestone year to celebrate the event and retire while still successful and before sustaining financial losses. That statement made me sad for them so I thought I should stay in town and support this local race.  And as you may have already read, that meant I had to find a different race to take place instead of Hershey. You can read about that here: Rock The Canyon - Day 1 & Rock The Canyon - Day 2

So I registered on June 30th (probably the last day to do so before the price was to increase) and with taxes and fees, I paid $65.40.

Fast forward a couple weeks after registering and we get notification from our credit card that our account had been hacked. Although my husband contacted them and disputed the charges that weren't ours, we got something in the mail stating that they had suspended payment to this race and another that I had registered for. I immediately emailed the race and told them what had happened and to not cancel my registration. Sadly, I never heard back from anyone (bad customer service) but I did later discover that i was able to verify my registration on their website. Thankfully, crisis was averted for both races!

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16th:
Packet pickup took place at the Sterret Center in Fort Harrison State Park. This was a different location from years past and not necessarily close to where I work but I (and a coworker) took an extended lunch and went early rather than fighting the stupid 5:00pm traffic up in the area. Packet pickup for this event has always been on the scaled down side of things but it was even more so this year. Thus we were in and out in about 10 minutes.


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17th:
Race start time wasn't until 8:00am so I didn't have to set my alarm too early. However it was important to try and get parked prior to some of the road closings. Also, the Mini Ambassadors had decided to do a group photo prior to the race. We were to meet at 7:00AM 

I didn't park where I did in 2013 but took a chance on a parking lot just east of the start line. This turned out to be a prime location and much closer.

While waiting on a few more Ambassadors to show up for our picture, I saw my friend A.L. walk by. She was trying to locate another friend J.D. to get her packet but wasn't finding him. As luck would have it, I saw him about 5-10 minutes later, called her (he didn't have his phone with him) and was able to get the two of them together. They both got in the porta-potty line so I waited with them. We are all also scheduled to be down at Space Coast although JD is contemplating not going.  The line wasn't moving very quickly and although there was still about 10 minutes before the start of the race, I when ahead and ventured over to the start line.



It was such a better day than in 2013. THAT year it was cold and there was a drizzle almost the entire time. Although it was cold/cool this year...there was no rain!

This is such a beautiful course 

The course has its first incline at this sign and yes - I walked up it.  It isn't really that big of an incline but I'm so not in half marathon shape. The only shape I'm in is Outta Shape!
When a kid in a pepperoni pizza onsie passes you, it could be a long rough day.
Seriously, it was a perfect Fall day for this event.
Mile 7 is the most fun....it is almost all downhill!
I saw a lot of my running friends along the course. I even caught up to another Mini Ambassador. He was doing the full.  I saw a guy that had an Ironman tattoo on his calf so we chatted about the ones he had done and which ones my husband has completed.

For the first time ever, I saw a dead snake on a course. I contemplated taking a picture of it but by that time (it was between miles 10 and 11) and had put my phone away.

I didn't got to the food tent the last time I did this race, maybe because I was cold and wet but I popped in there this time. SCORE! I grabbed a slice of cheese pizza, a veggie burger and a chocolate chip cookie.  Actually TWO chocolate chips cookies but I consumed one of them before I got back to my car.

 

I later discovered - after seeing posts from other participants on Facebook - that I basically got the same medal that was given out in 2013.  The ribbon was different but the medal was the same. Other people got a round medal.  I questioned it with the race organizers - and got the run around from them - it is what it is.  It made me wonder if they had leftover medals from years past and so they just got new ribbons for them.  The square medal is more unique looking but since I already have one like it, I sort of wanted the round one.

This half marathon will be back next year - there will no longer be a full marathon - but under a different race management company.

Will I be back?  Not sure...time will tell.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 - Finding Joy




"Joy" is my word for 2016.
I feel like I lost (most) of the joy in my life in 2015 and I need to get it back.


I don't necessarily make New Year's Resolutions but I like to set goals. And I'm a firm believer that you can set a goal at any time in your like. You don't have to wait until January 1st or the beginning of the week, just set a goal when it feels right or speaks to you to do so. But to me there is something refreshing about the beginning of a New Year or a New Month or a New Week.

So with that said, here are my goals for 2016 (in no particular order):
  • Reach Half Marathon #100
    •  - this is scheduled to take place on September 17th and I'm already registered so is this really a "goal" that I should be listing? Perhaps the "goal should be stated as - to complete 12 half marathons before September 16th so that September 17th is #100.
  • Track my running, weight and Blood Pressure/Pulse readings.
    • I purchased a BP cuff that also displays pulse so I'm headed in the correct direction. I just need to do it and track it on my Walgreen's App so that I can accumulate points and get a substantial gift card reward.
  • Run 1000 miles in 2016
    • I think this is doable. It should be slightly less that 2.75 miles a day. 1000 divided by 366. That sounds reasonable. Even if I have travel days (or "just don't feel like it I need to rest" days), I would have my half marathons that would be added mileage days.
  • Don't get behind on my blogging 
    • But first of all...I need to get caught up on my blogging. UGH!  Why does this happen? Why do I get behind?  Those are rhetorical questions of course.
  • Begin and complete my "Operation: Christmas in July" philanthropic project. 
    • more on this later
  • Find my JOY!
    • I think some of that is going to require me to find a new job. I'm working on that.

So here we go...I did my 2015 year-end recap and now this.

I have 4 races from 2015 I still need to do; 1) Indianapolis Half Marathon, 2) Monumental Half Marathon, 3) Space Coast Half Marathon and 4) Santa Hustle.

I also want to blog about my trip to Paris. I still can't believe I went there.

And I want to blog about my experience being a guardian on the Indy Honor Flight.

I hope you'll stop by from time to time.





Saturday, January 9, 2016

2015 - Year End Review


I was SO ready to bid farewell to 2015.

I can't say that it was a complete bust. There were some great things that happened:
  • I turned 50. Nope, I'm not bothered by that number; it is just a number and hey, let's celebrate all things that are Fifty and Fabulous!
  • My husband surprised me with a 20th wedding anniversary trip to Paris. All along I thought we were going to San Diego. Paris was AMAZING!!
  • I was selected to be a Guardian for one of the cutest WWII Veterans on the Indy Honor Flight on September 5th. It was an incredible experience and I feel like one of the most important and fulfilling things I've done in my life. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if my Dad was still alive and I would have been able to take him. But now I have some new life long friends and that's pretty cool.
  • I completed 17 half marathons and made it to 3 new states. My state total is now 20.

But...
  • Our oldest dog passed away at the end of January and that was really tough.
  • I started a new job in February.  During any other time in my life I never even would have interviewed for it but I'd been out of work for six months (downsized out of my previous job) and with everything that we went through with our dog...I accepted it.
    • It has been one of the biggest life-sucks ever!  The drive is one hour each way and the work is meaningless.
    • The only positive is that I've met some great people that I hope are now life-long friends.
My hope is that 2016 will be better.

Fingers crossed!


Monday, October 12, 2015

(10-10-2015) Bedford Half Marathon

This was the second year for the Bedford Half Marathon. I contemplated doing it last year but didn't but I can't remember why now. It probably conflicted with another race. I registered back on June 1st before any price increase and with taxes and fees paid $54.32. Three race distances are offered: the half marathon, a 5K and a 1-mile Family Fitness walk.

Bedford is 70 miles south of Indianapolis and would take me approximately an hour and 25 minutes to get to. That was a little too far to justify going the night before to packet pickup so I would just need to get my bib race morning since that was an option. They really encouraged everyone to come Friday to get packets but I just couldn't rationalize driving that far two days in a row. They said that we might not get our shirt size, if we didn't get our packet the night before. I don't understand that. I realize that there are people that sign-up the night before a race but if you have people that have registered in advance and you asked them what size shirt they want/need, you should save those shirts back for people who have preregistered. People that signup last minute can have THEIR shirts mailed to them if the race doesn't have their size. So I decided that I would just wear a "generic" running shirt down there that morning and hope for the best.

Since I wasn't 100% sure where I would be going in the morning I wanted to leave earlier than I normally would "need" to. Race Directors - please put an address for the start line (even if its the address of the closest building) so that people coming from out of town can MapQuest or OnStar directions! Luckily my friend TR did the race last year and she gave me an address to use for OnStar. The race was scheduled to start at 8:00AM so I wanted to leave my house at 6:00AM. That meant the alarm needed to be set for 4:45AM.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10th: I left the house at exactly 6:00AM. I probably should have gotten gas the night before but I had enough to get down there so I would worry about filling up on the way home. It is still so dark outside that early in the morning and when taking back roads, I always worry about hitting a deer. While I didn't see any deer, less than a 1/2 mile from my house there were 2 raccoons in the middle of the road. Their beady eyes were shining in my headlights but thankfully they scurried across the road to safety. And I wasn't 15 minutes from my house and I had to stop to use the bathroom! It is situations like this that makes me not want to carpool with people! But after that, there were no more stops until I got to Bedford. While the drive down there was uneventful, it was the trip of a thousand orange construction barrels. They weren't all necessarily blocking off a lane but they were lined on the side of the road for at least 20 miles!

I didn't exactly make it to where TR had told me to park but I figured I was fairly close to the start line when I saw several runners in a bank parking lot. I found a spot on the side of the road and headed toward the music. I was about 1 1/2 blocks away. I saw the "Race Day Registration" sign but it didn't register that I would get my packet in that location. After walking around for a bit, I finally asked someone where packet pickup was and they pointed me back to the sign I had just walked past.

It was so nice and warm in the packet pickup building! I got my bib number and I'm happy to report that I was able to get the correct shirt size. Since it was a chilly start to the day, I went ahead and put it on over the long sleeved tech shirt that I wore. The race shirts were black so I hoped that I wouldn't get too warm wearing it - as well as a shirt underneath - once the sun came out.

Unfortunately there was no public restroom in this building and I really needed to pee one more time. There was a single porta-potty just two doors downs. I don't think that it was technically a "race facility" but there was no line and another lady had just exited from it so used it. Whew....it did not smell nice in there!

Volunteers were setting up the post race goodies as I walked over toward the starting area.
The forecast looked to be a perfect day for a half marathon.
But it was still chilly and I tried to find a storefront nook to stand in to stay a little warmer. It is interesting to see how people tolerate weather differently. For example these two guys: one clearly has no problem with cooler temps while the other guy is sporting the popular trash bag ballgown for warmth. I too have used a trash bag but I've never had one "floor length" so I was impressed!
The mayor gave a few words of wisdom (she was participating in the half marathon as well), there was a prayer, the National Anthem and then it was time to get in place for the start. They did a good job of announcing that the 1-mile Family Fitness Walk participants should be in the very back, the 5K-ers in front of them and then the Half Marathoners and it looked like most folks were lining up appropriately. There were A LOT of kids; not sure if most of them were doing the 5K or the 1-miler. But this event also had a school challenge program which is probably why there were so many children.
This isn't a very big race yet so all distances started at the same time and after just a few blocks the half marathon continues straight while the other distances turn right. This caused some "dangerous" conditions as young children who were on the LEFT side began darting through half marathoners to get to the other side of the road to make their turn. I realize these kids don't know any better and they are just running all nilly willy being excited about running a race but (IMO) it would be wise for the organizers of the race to perhaps separate the course - with cones maybe - for these few blocks so that only half marathoners are on the left side of the street. I had one lady tell me she was worried that she'd be taken out by a kid!

I really have nothing else to post about this race. It was one of the most visually unstimulating course that I've participated in. It was so boring. Even the leaves hadn't started to change much down there so I couldn't be in awe of the beautiful fall colors. Usually during a first time race for me, I am taking lots of pictures but I barely took any during this half marathon. But here are some of the items of interest that I noted along the way:
  1. The aid station near mile 3 was very energetic. I think it was sponsored by a realtor (maybe a bank); one lady had a sign that said "run fast like you are late for a loan closing" and I should have taken a picture for my friend that owns a title company. It was at this section I saw a younger man - maybe in his early 20s, if that - who was wearing grey fleece sweatpants and they looked like they were the heavier material. He was taking a walking break when I passed him and I couldn't help but wonder how hot he might get later in the race. Fast forward to entering Murray Forest Park - just before the 11 mile marker - and he is COMING OUT of the park! How did that happen? I never saw him pass me and I would have recognized those sweatpants. He had to have cut the course at some point.
  2. Just past the 5 mile marker we ran through Hillcrest Circle (the first subdivision of the city) and this was what I would consider the most scenic portion of the race but was probably only 1/4 mile in length.
  3. The aid station (mile 7 I think) was associated with a hospital or health care service provider. They were very energetic, had some great music playing and had a gurney on display. I asked it they were giving free rides.
  4. Around mile 10 1/2, there were some residents out cheering us on and they had made and posted some clever signs. This was the very first time I took a picture of anything on the course. 
  5. As I was coming out of the park, I saw two people running in wearing Shawna Girgis for Mayor T-shirts. The city of Bedford was also plastered with signs to re-elect her. And as they got closer - having seen her photo on some of those signs and billboards - I recognized that it was her. I now had some added motivation that I at least needed to finish before the Mayor.
  6. I ran past a young man before the 12 mile marker who appeared to be just walking in the area but he was walking IN the street where we were all running. He said to me, "God Bless You. I'll be praying for you." Hopefully that wasn't a sign that he thought I didn't look so good and maybe I wouldn't finish! But it was nice and I thanked him.
  7. The final aid station (after the 12 mile mark) had another set of enthusiastic volunteers. I was offered not only water & Powerade but a slice of pizza. I tried to talk this gentleman in to running in front of me with the pizza as motivation but he wasn't up for it. They said they had handed out several slices on this day. 
This course was full of ups and downs (and I mean that literally; lots of inclines) and there was a nice downhill not far from the finish where I came into some speed (by my standards) and passed three people that were walking. But that was short lived as there was also one last incline to ascend before the finish line. As luck would have it, one of the guys that I had just passed came blowing by me to finish in front of me. I was too over this race to care.

But I am pleased to report that I finished 10 minutes before the Mayor. I contemplated tracking her down and getting a picture with her (she's the first female Mayor of Bedford and was elected back in 2008, ) but was just in the mood to get home.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS RACE:
  • Race day packet pickup was easy.
  • The aid stations always had plenty of water and Powerade and enough volunteers to actually hand cups to runners. Although the first aid station had water in the Powerade cups but the rest of them had done it correctly.
  • This is a "challenging" course for someone like me that doesn't do any hill work. I know I should but I don't. Here is a description of how the course flows: http://www.bedfordhalfmarathon.com/images/docs/2014_Bedford_Half_Marathon_Course_Description.pdf
  • I didn't enjoy this race and not because I am a wimp when it comes to hills. There was just nothing to it; it was unspectacular. In contrast to the Hotlanta down in Georgia that I did back in August which was just as hilly. I enjoyed Hotlanta more...and it rained on me the last 6+ miles!
  • Looking at the statistics from this year to last, attendance for the half marathon was down by over 100 participants (312 in 2014 and 208 in 2015) but the 5K number was up. It will be interesting to see how it does next year. I think they are going to give away a "Streaker" medal to those that have completed all three years. I will not be back however.
  • They did give a really good medal.