Sunday, December 9, 2012

"I Can Do More" Challenge

Reading running blogs has really inspired me.  And the funny thing is I wasn't even aware of running blogs until I happened upon one while doing a Google search for something else.

I have 5 that I read regularly and I know that there are a gazillion more out there that I would LOVE but I'm finding it hard to keep up with these five...let alone doing my own posting.  But of these five blogs there is Dane who ran a full marathon every weekend for an entire year.  My husband and I actually met him and bought his first book.  Its a great read.  Then there is Becca in Colorado.  This was the first blog that I found and her posts really "flipped my switch" about running.  She was recently named Half Fanatic of the Year for 2012 and did 34 half marathon in 2012.  And then there is Skinny Runner.  She is the one that inspired me to create a "challenge" for myself.  She did a "Man Up" challenge in which she did 4 marathons in 8 days...or something crazy like that.  I'm so thankful for all the running blogs out there.

So what could my challenge be?  My first half marathons (1997, 1998 & 1999) were the 500 Festival Mini Marathon and I was a walker.  Then I got a job that was extremely time consuming and didn't do anything for the next 10 years.  In 2007, my husband started training for an Olympic distance triathlon and I was inspired by the running that he was doing so I too started my attempt at running.  I was all set to attempt the Mini Marathon as a runner in 2008...and then had unexpected hernia surgery.  I was crushed!  I remember crying as I watched it on TV.  I immediately signed up for the race in 2009 when registration opened.  At least I WAS able to do a "new" half marathon in November of 2008 - the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon.

I think it might have been a newspaper article that I read about a guy who had done a full marathon in every state that got my wheels turning to set that same goal for myself but with the half marathon distance.  Now mind you, in 2009 I was already 39 years old.  Probably should have started thinking about this in my 30s but it is what it is.  Now it was time to start planning.  Up until that point I'd only done ONE half marathon a year. I couldn't keep that pace or I'd be 80 when I complete this.

Which brings me back to my challenge.  I had upped my game by doing more that one event in 2009,half marathon & full marathon in the same year.  And then in 2010, I did 4 half marathons and a full.  Then in 2011, I did 3 half marathons and a full and done two of those half marathons in the same month but one was at the beginning of the month and one was at the end.  Through September of 2012, I had done 5 half marathons and a 6 miler.  I'm not a good or fast runner and I never really push myself but as I was researching other half marathon to do I found out that there were 3 within a 2 week period that would fit in my schedule...and thus my "I Can Do More" Challenge was born.
  • On October 21st, I did the IMT Half Marathon in Des Moines, Iowas
  • On October 27th, I did the Muncie Half Marathon in Muncie, IN (and then did a 5K later that night in Clermont, IN)
  • On November 3rd, I did the Monumental Half Marathon in Indianapolis, IN

Its amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it.  Who knows what else I'll be able to accomplish?  I now even have a "sub-goal" from the half marathon in every state which is to run my 50th half marathon the year I turn 50 - 2015.  This now means I'm obsessed with researching and planning half marathons in 2013! 

I can't wait to see what the future holds.

A "Monumental" Affair

This was the 5th year for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and Half.  I did the half the inaugural year and then did the full marathon the following year.  It was my very first full marathon.  But after taking two years off from the race, I thought I'd run it again.  Plus it fit in to the "challenge" I was doing and I read about a discount on the entry fee!

Race morning was chilly but one of the hotels was open near the start line so I was able to make one more bathroom stop and stay in the warmth of the lobby until closer to the start time.

I don't remember everything about this race from 5 years ago but figured the route would be similar.

On a personal note: as luck would have it, I should have started my period 4 days before race day but nooooooo, I started THAT morning.  Not cool Mother Nature!  Initially I didn't feel too bad but cramps would hit me hard later in the race.  (sorry it all of that is TMI for some).

One interesting note, I saw a guy running and he had a sign on his back stating that it was his birthday.  So as I ran up to them, I sang Happy Birthday to him. 

Mile 10 would come to be the undoing of an "up to that point" decent race.  All of a sudden the cramps hit really bad; my lower back and my gut.  It was excruciating.  I was in so much pain that I was running at times with my eyes closed - not good or safe!  I was near tears at times.  And then of course, it started sleeting.  REALLY?  I just put my head down and tried to push through although I started taking walking breaks.  And it certainly felt like the temperature had dropped; it was definitely colder by the time I finished.  I could barely text my husband (who was in San Fran) because I was shaking so much from being cold.

This was half marathon #21 for me and 8th for the year.  That's a drop in the bucket for some but this "older" girl is pretty proud of what I've accomplished so far.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Start your engines!

So after getting home from the Muncie Mini Marathon, I took a shower, put on my compression socks (ProCompression...I Love You) and got horizontal in bed for a quick nap.   My husband was already gone; getting things ready to take to Lucas Oil Raceway Park for tonight's Dragstrip Dash 5K.  His bank is one of the sponsors for this event, which benefits Habitat for Humanity AND he was the creative force behind it.  Basically this whole thing was his idea.

He stopped by the house briefly, got a quick recap of the half and then was headed to L.O.R.   The event starts at 6pm and he said that I didn't need to get there super early.  Well imagine my surprise when I got a text asking me to get there ASAP because they need the truck.  UGH!  Luckily, I had already fed the dogs so I was able to leave the house within 15 minutes.  But of course the minute I get there and ask him where I should park so they have quick access to the truck, he lets me know that they now don't need it.  FIGURES.

Oh well, my friend SJP was there so we chatted about Muncie until it was time to start the race.

One fun thing about this race was that initially they separated men and women on opposite sides of the track so that they could award the fastest Man and fastest Women in the first quarter mile.  After that we merged together and completed the 5k.  I told SJP prior to taking off that she shouldn't feel the need to stay with me if she wanted to run faster.  I wasn't sure how this was going to go for me.  I mean after all, I did a half marathon that morning, drove an hour and a half home and really only "rested" for about 3 hours.

She stayed with me the entire time and we only walked at the halfway point, through the water station.

It was a fun race and I'm so glad that I did it.  Initially I had signed up for this before even knowing about the half marathon.  This was a good personal challenge for me; to push myself to see what fire I had within.

Since the race was in the evening, when it was time for the awards to be handed out all the lights around the track were on.   They are barrel fires and gave out ingredients for Smores.

And as an added bonus, since my husband was in charge, we got to have "Elite" bib status.  He was 1 and I was 2.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Go Speed Racer Go

I don't remember now how I heard about the Muncie Mini Marathon.  I think maybe it was from the weekly "Events in my Area" email from  And I wasn't sure if I should do it.  It was 6 days after completing the half in Des Moines, I had already signed up for a 5K that night AND I was already registered for a half marathon on the following Saturday.

But hey...might as well jump right out of the frying pan into the fire!  What I really wanted to know was how much fire did I have in me?  Could I do all of this?  Only one way to find out.  Plus, through my husband's place of work, I could get a discount on registration.  Winning!

So I registered and after a few emails to someone with the race found out what hotel was being considered the host hotel and got a discount on my room as well.  I could have saved that money and driven up in the morning but I just wanted to be there and not stress about driving up there.

From my house to Muncie it should only take about 1 1/2 hours but I left a little later than I should have and was driving up in Friday evening, after work traffic.  Then, it went down to one lane for 5 miles.  It took an hour to drive that 5 miles!!!  It ended up taking me 2 hours and 45 minutes to get up there.  I got to packet pick-up with 15 minutes to spare.  Good thing I wasn't going to get my blood pressure checked because they probably would have wanted to send me straight to the hospital.  I was about to exploded.

But alas, packet was picked up and I drove back to the Applebee's I passed on the way and had my "traditional" night before race meal.  Then it was to the hotel to get checked.  It was odd doing all of this without my husband :(  Got everything laid out and was up until about 10pm then it was lights out.  Shockingly - I didn't sleep well.  NOT!

Got up right on time in the morning.  The hotel had a breakfast bar so I grabbed some dry cereal, anticipating that I'd eat it post race.  We needed to be back at the starting area 30 minutes prior to the race.  Not sure this was "needed" because they basically went over the turn-by-turn directions of the race.  If you aren't from the area (which I'm not), it didn't mean a thing and it seemed like a time waster.  Plus it was cold!

As far as I know, the race started on time.  I wasn't really paying attention to the actual time.  I had some nice chats with people as we all waited for the cannon to go off signaling the start of the race.  Met a kid (20-something) there doing his very first half marathon.  I also talked to a guy from Ohio.  This was his 5th half marathon in 5 years; a goal he wanted to complete before he was 50 which he said he would be turning early next year.  I told him about our goal for one in each state and that this was to be my 21st half marathon overall.  (I would discover later that it was actually only my 20th - DOH!).  He said I inspired him to set another goal.  I really love talking to "running" people.

The cannon sounds and we are off.  I had my phone with me but I told myself that I wasn't going to use it to take any pictures.  I've been to Muncie more times than I can remember and I can always come back if there was something that I just had to have a photo of.  I was hoping that I could just concentrate on this race and finally PR.

This race also had a one mile walk, a 5K and a 10K.  The half marathoners started first.  I was glad to have my throwaway sweatshirt to start.  It was really chilly and breezy along the White River Greenway.  We crossed the street and began running up Riverside.  I went past the new Sigma Phi Epsilon house.  Surprisingly, none of those young men were out at 9:00AM on a Saturday morning to cheer us on - NOT!  I was actually starting to sweat underneath the sweatshirt so I took it off at the 1 mile marker where there was also a water station.  I asked those folks that, if they remembered, it would be great if they could take that back to the finish area but if not NBD (no big deal).

A few turns and then we run through a little bit of the Ball State campus.  Of course there were some things that I DID want to take a picture of but stayed true to my word and left the iPhone in my racebelt. The course was mostly flat and once you got on the Cardinal Greenway where the trees were on both sides of us, the temperature wasn't too bad.  But the wind was fierce coming at you on the sides when there was no coverage.  I ran with a girl for just a little bit.  It was a nice distraction but then I needed to keep going and stay focused.  I wasn't sure what my pace was and I didn't want to look at my watch until the 10 mile marker.  I was glad to finally see the turn-around around the 7.5 mile marker.  I wasn't feeling too bad but there was also part of me that was cold and ready to be done.  At the 10 mile marker, I was a little faster than where I usually am at that point which made me wonder if I could actually PR this time.  With this in mind, I had to laugh because at the 11 mile marker I saw a quarter on the ground but wouldn't stop to pick it up afraid that it might slow me down!

Trudging on, we are off the path and headed back toward the school where the start/finish is.  I almost missed the final turn because the person telling me to turn was standing in front of the directional sign!  Luckily I heard him tell me to turn.  That last mile seemed to take for ever but I crossed the finish line SIX MINUTES faster than my previous PR.  I was so excited.  I began to wonder if I might have even won my age group.  This was a small race (less than 200 in the half) and I tried to guess the ages of the women around me.  But I'm so bad at that stuff.

Eventually they got around to the age group winners of the half and I was announced as first place in my age.  So I got a pint glass with the race logo and AGE GROUP WINNER on it.  However, the guy asked me my age when I went up there; he stated that there was some confusion about the "ages" but I wasn't really paying attention.  I was too excited that I came in first.  HOWEVER, several days later the official results would be posted and I did not win my age group.  If I had to guess, they initially broke down the ages incorrectly.  Oh well!  I still PRed.  Oh yeah, and after crossing the finish line there was my sweatshirt that I had given up at the one mile marker.  THANKS VOLUNTEERS.

This was a pretty good race and I was impressed with the aid stations.  They were evenly spaced; nearly every mile and they still had Hammer Gels at the two stations by the time I got there.  There were even some left over at one of the tables after the turn-around so I was able to get three!

I went into the school and changed in to dry clothes for the drive back.  Stopped and got my BP/Rickers coffee (not as good as what I get from MY station) and made good time back home.  Quick shower and a rest before the next extravaganza tonight!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Clark Griswold or Joe Dirt?

On our drive TO Iowa, we passed a sign for the World's Largest Truck Stop!

Certainly it would be a "traveling sin" if we didn't stop and check that out...but we waited until the return trip home.

The Iowa 80 Truckstop is located in Walcott, Iowa and everything you didn't know you needed can be found there!  There are truck parts and accessories, T-shirts, mugs, pins, magnets, snow globes and every other souvenir you need.  There is a restaurant as well as a food court: Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Orange Julius and Caribou Coffee.  There's even a barber shop and dentist in there!

We got a few snacks but didn't buy anything else. However I'm sure that Clark Griswold and/or Joe Dirt would have been proud that we stopped to check it out.

Seriously, click on the link to see what all they have.

He's so cute!

Iowa - State #10

Didn't sleep well which is somewhat "normal" for me the night before a race.  But I got up when the alarm went off with no problem.  Grabbed a quick shower and then had my standard pre-race breakfast: whole wheat toast, peanut butter, a banana and a Starbucks chilled frappuccino.  The nice thing about being able to drive to some of these races is that we can bring our own supplies and the toaster!

It was a chilly walk to the start line.  Glad we bought those gloves at Walgreen's yesterday.  And luckily there was a big building that was open were we could just hang out in and stay warm until closer to the start.

Thanks random person for taking our picture!

A kiss for luck and we're on our way we head to our respective corrals.  Being toward the back gives me the opportunity to find a short line for the porta more time - better safe than sorry.

IMT Des Moines Marathon and Half
The race started on time and we start out running east toward the Capitol - right in to the sun!  It wasn't too bad though. Two right turns and we are headed west toward the Court House.  The marathon and half split around mile 3.  Then around mile 4-5, we enter Water Works Park.  As I got further in, some of the other (read - faster) runners are coming back.  I found Dane, yelled his name and he saw me!  I kept searching for John (which made this stretch of running go by faster) but never did see him and then it was time for me to start the lap around the lake.  I started feeling like I was running out of steam at the 6 mile marker but tried to just push on.  I was thankful that they still had Gu when I got to that station and took in a Vanilla Bean packet. 

Running towards the Capitol
This was just as we entered Water Works Park.  Had to get a photo!

Around Water Works Park Lake (I'm just starting the loop)
After leaving the park, you cross a highway and enter Gray's Lake Park for about another 2 mile loop.  And here is where perspective sets I am approaching the footbridge, I hear horns and sirens and people saying, "move to the right."  Here comes the MARATHON leader passing all of us slow poke half marathoners.  What do you do?  You just keep running "your" race.  Then less than 3 minutes later, a golf cart approaches from the other directions taking a participant off the course.  While I could be depressed about who just passed me, I'm sure that poor guys wishes we was still out there.  PERSPECTIVE.

View of downtown Des Moines from the footbridge
After Gray's Lake Park you head back downtown.  I was ready to be done; just a little further to go.
This sign was on the corner of the last turn before the finish.
It didn't take long to find my husband at the finish line.  We had the official Finishers Photo taken and then asked someone to take one of us with my phone.  Thanks random person!
Wish I had removed my glasses :(
I've never seen so many different food options at a finish area!  If you stayed there long enough you could easily consume on all the calories you burned during the race.  There were your standard options: bananas, oranges, apples, chocolate milk and water.  Then you moved on to BBQ sandwiches, yogurt, ice cream, cookies, granola and pizza .  I didn't even make down to the Qdoba area!!  Plus out on the course people were handing out candy.  I was given Smarties, Sweet Tarts, Gummie Bears and Twizzlers.  I saved the "hard" candies and found the chewy ones difficult to eat while running.  But it was awesome that they were giving them out.
We didn't hang around the finishing area very long.  We went back to the hotel to shower and decided to head back to Johnny's to watch the Colts game.
Good course and great support (tons of aid stations).  I would completely recommend this race to anyone.

Des Moines, Iowa

Its hard to believe that we are getting ready for state #10.  But then again, I feel like this quest is going to take forever.

We signed up for the IMT Des Moines Marathon & Half - both of us are doing the half.  Once again, my husband has a meeting Friday morning so we can't leave until he gets done.  Which is fine with me.  I still had plenty to do - including a quick trip to WalMart - and glad that we could just take our time getting there.

Not a bad drive, sort of boring but we are traveling through Indiana, Illinois and Iowa.

Made it to packet pickup and walked around checking out the booths but not much there.  Did buy some GU.  Never can have too much Gu.  Then we needed to find someplace to eat - STAT!   There was a place called Buzzard Billy's right across the road so I suggested that we just go there. is a Cajun/Creole place and this girl is a total wimp when it comes to spicy food.  Luckily, they grilled a chicken breast without any spices for me.  After dinner, it was time to check into the hotel.


We stayed at the Hotel Fort Des Moines.  Its a tired little hotel but it will serve its purpose and it wasn't too expensive.  It does have a lot of history; Mae West, Richard Nixon, Charles Lindbergh have stayed there.

We got up the next morning and figured we'd head out, pick up an inexpensive breakfast somewhere and then plan the rest of our day.  I think we seriously walked for almost 45 minutes and found NOTHING.  That downtown area seems to roll up on the weekends.  So we just went back to the hotel and ate there.  It was a "buffet" although if I remember correctly we only had 4 things to chose from.  Our waiter gave us some suggestions of things to do so back up in the room & we pulled up info on the ol' iPad.  I suggested that before we do anything we should walk to the start area so that we could get a feel for how long it would take tomorrow.  Walking east, we found a Walgreen's (SCORE!) and then we noticed down a side street, the farmers market was going on, so we decided to investigate.

Biggest Farmers Market I've Ever Been To!  I guess that really isn't saying too much since its only the third one I've ever been to but it stretched for blocks and blocks.  Sadly we got there just about closing time for everything.  However, I got some Kettle Korn and my husband bought some cinnamon almonds...for after the race of course!

We did see a couple of bars that we thought would be perfect to watch college football in later.  But first, let's go explore Des Moines.

We were going to go to the Capital first but decided to find the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.  Well we ended up at some random rose garden (the Claire and Miles Mills Rose Garden) because the address that was listed on Trip Advisor was incorrect.  But it was a nice park and a few roses were still blooming so not all was lost.  A caretaker there sent us the correct way for the Sculpture Park.

Turns out the Sculpture Park was just blocks from our hotel!

Some interesting stuff.  Some weird stuff.  I guess "art" is different to each person.  I'm more of a tradition kind of girl.  In my opinion, the pictures below were the normal pieces.

    Me f-ART-ing around

Back to the hotel briefly and then to find someplace to watch college football!  Surprisingly, we went to an Irish Pub but they weren't showing the Notre Dame game so we went across the street to Johnny's Hall of Fame.  It was a nice afternoon, met some chatty (drunk) people from Nebraska and did some good people watching.

Early to bed.  Gotta that little ol' race tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Michigan - State #9

Dang...once again I've fallen behind on blogging.  I applaud all of you that do it...and work full time...and take care of a family.

So, here's a quick recap of our race in East Lansing, Michigan:

We drove up on Friday after my husband got home from a quick meeting at work that morning.  I swear we stopped a million times before we even hit the state line.  Bathroom break - change drivers - lunch stop - bathroom break....but we still made good time.

Checked in to the hotel and unloaded all of our stuff.  Its not far from the campus of Michigan State and since Michigan State is playing Notre Dame (just a tiny little football game!), our per night charge is outrageous considering how "tired" this hotel is.  But that staff have been very friendly and accommodating.  I needed to borrow an extension cord and they gave me heavy duty construction type questions asked.  We got two free drink tickets and so we headed down to the hotel bar and my husband began his carb loading via Mich Ultra.  Its a pre-race tradition for him.

Got up Saturday morning and headed to the Expo.  There wasn't much there to speak of so after grabbing our race packets we walked the short distance to the capitol building and checked out the sights.


We dropped our race stuff off at the hotel and then drove to the Michigan State campus to check it out.  I think my husband was secretly hoping to find a bunch of college kids tailgating but we didn't see any.  All of the lots were blocked off and you needed a pass since the game was that night so we insanely paid $15 to park when I knew we wouldn't be there that long.

Walked around campus but didn't want to be on our feet/legs too much since that half marathon was in the morning.  It was a nice campus - from what we saw.

I somewhat begrudgingly took this picture of Magic Johnson.  I will ALWAYS be a Larry Bird girl - ALWAYS!

Dinner at Applebee's and then to bed.

Sunday (race) morning was the usual routine for me.  It was just a short drive to the start area and we didn't have any trouble finding a place to park.  SWEET!  Since you could also pick up your packets that morning the Lansing Center, we were able to use good bathrooms and stay in there until closer to the start time.

This was a good course.  You start downtown and then run east toward the MSU campus.  All of that is about the first 3 miles, then you start running along the Lansing River Trail, Scott Woods and Hawk Island Park. It was all very scenic, mostly flat with just a few rollers in there.  Some of the trails were narrow so if this race had been much larger it could get really crowded.  It finishes near the Adado Riverfront Park.  It was all spread out and my husband didn't have any issues waiting for me to finish.

They served the usual post race food but I'm usually never hungry when I finish.  I think I might have pounded down two chocolate milks though!  Sadly, there was no finishers photo area but did find someone to take a picture of us.

We were able to get a late check out from the hotel so we didn't hang around post-race too long.  Drove back, took our showers, packed up the car and headed home. 

Another state crossed off the list.