Races and races and races….

This is a post about races! Since I am so behind in my race updates, I am going to do a short blurb about each and hope that it’s going to be all good. So much has been happening life-wise lately that it’s hard to sit down and just write. It’s one of the things that I currently regret the most. I really am hoping to change that, even if it is just small updates weekly or bi-weekly. I think I just need to realize that not every post has to be long and drawn out. In fact, I am sure that most of you (if there is a you) would appreciate it if things weren’t terribly long and drawn out. You all have lives too, after all.
So, onward!

Firstly, there is Gazelle Girl. This took place on April 13 (yes, people, April, that’s how far back I am going). It was the first major race I ran this year, and really, I just ran it as a training run. It was a pretty warm day, compared to what we had been training in (read, anywhere from -2 to 10 degree temps). There was fear of rain early on, so of course, I grabbed the rain jacket. I ended up shedding that at around mile 4, carrying it, and then throwing it at Jeremy when I saw him and my father on the course.
I got to run with Virginia, who was pacing for the 9:30 pace group. It was a fun, pressure-free run. I did pick it up in the last 6 miles or so, and managed to make it a PR for the course. Last year I finished in 2 hours and 8 minutes, this year, it was 2 hours and 2 minutes, so I am pretty proud of that!

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Next, we move to Riverbank Run 25k, which took place on May 10. Again, this year the goal was to run as a training run. I wanted to PR for the course, but I also wanted to relax and have fun. Well, the relaxing didn’t happen as much. I ended up running in to Margo, a friend from my very first training season with Gazelle. We ran and chatted for a good portion of the race, and tried to keep ahead of the 9:30 pace group, a goal at which we didn’t entirely succeed (though their pacing was slightly off, as I came in at a 9:28 average pace and finished behind them).
This was the race where I discovered that my winter training had been pretty rough. It was a warmer day, and I know I could feel the fact that I had been pushing myself by the end. It was the race that kind of put a nail in the coffin of my 4 hour marathon dreams, at least for Bayshore. But I am getting ahead of myself.
It was a warm, warm day. Especially on the hills in the back half of the course, where there are no trees, and very little shade. Despite the fact that I didn’t race the entire course, I was still happy with my finish time, which was a full 8 minutes ahead of the time I finished last year.

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Bayshore Marathon is next! This took place on May 24. Oh what a day. Yes, I went out too fast. Yes, it was much warmer than what we’d been training in. No, I did not finish in under 4 hours. No, I did not PR. Yes, I am okay with all of these things.
I feel like with each marathon, I learn. This was only my second, and from it, I took away many new ideas and strategies on how to run the next. Firstly, no matter what you say, no matter how slowly you say you’re going to go out, don’t get caught up in the excitement and run race-pace right off the batt. Or at least maybe not so hard right out of the gate. I meant to go out at around a 9:30, and ended up below a 9. My mistake. Secondly, when you don’t know the course, and don’t know what to expect, don’t assume that what you’ve been told is entirely the truth; different people have different perspectives. What is considered flat to one person, may be hugely hilly to another. Fueling is another thing that I need to do further work on for this type of race, though I did learn and take away some good things from my first marathon, and they were applied here, I still have more to discover.
All of this being said, it was still a lovely race. It was a gorgeous day, the surrounding scenery was beautiful, and I really didn’t feel too badly afterward. And I got to eat Moomers ice cream and go wine tasting afterward. What more could a girl ask for?
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Finally, the most recent of the races run was Third Coast. Rain nor snow nor sleet nor ice could stop us…Okay, so maybe we didn’t encounter all of these things (thank goodness). But there was definitely rain, exhaustion from lack of sleep and some pretty extreme heat and humidity. Eleven of us set out on this 209 mile journey from Holland to Traverse City. It was most definitely an amazing route. I saw places in Michigan that I’d never been before, or never heard of. Plus it was an amazing group of friendly and entertaining people. I am not sure that words can describe this journey, so I think it’s going to be a lot of pictures instead. This was definitely the most fun I have ever had, and one of the most unique races I have ever done. And, we came in second overall, out of 14 teams! That is completely awesome and incredible to me! Here is a bit of team Kickin’ Asphalt’s journey from beginning to end:

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Well folks, if you’ve made it this far, I thank you. I think that is all for now. Until next time, friends!

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Man oh man…

Well, folks, it’s been a while. I’ve fallen tragically behind in my blogging. The winter really got me down, and then life got busy. It’s no excuse, really, but it’s what I’m going with. So, I am sorry for my absence.

So much has happened in my time away, that I fear it may take me all day to write one solid update. So, I think I will break things down a little. At the moment, I don’t have time to write anything solid, anyway. In any case, here’s a brief run down of what’s been going on:

– Quit one job

– Moved to another job (closer to home, and better work!)

– Ran the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon

– Got another job (at a local running store. Be still my beating heart I’m in heaven)

– Ran the River Bank Run 25k

– Watched my brother graduate from Law School

– Ran the Bayshore Marathon

At some point or another, I hope to write posts about a couple of those races (Bayshore in particular).

Every month I set month long goals for myself, be they physical or monetary or whatever. So, for June, I think my goal is going to be to update at least once a week (something at least somewhat meaningful). So, now that I’ve thrown that out there, I have to stick to it, right?

If you’re still here with me, I thank you for your patience. I think I can get myself back on track with this goal. Who knows? It could be fun!

MCM and other Marathon things!

“Congratulations. The MCM Lottery has been conducted and you have reason to celebrate as one of the officially registered participants in the 39th Marine Corps Marathon to be held on Sunday, October 26, 2014 in Arlington, VA. ”

It’s been almost two weeks since I recieved that e-mail, and I still don’t think I can believe it. I may not be able to believe it until October. Though, I suppose I better start if I actually want to have the money to travel there.

So why pick a marathon outside of Michigan? And why Marine Corps? Those are two very good questions.

One of my original thoughts for a goal for this year for Declare It Day was to run a destination race.  But some how that wasn’t scary enough. Well, it is now. The MCM will be one of my four this year. I have wanted to do a destination race, or one outside of my home state. I am rather excited to get to travel and run.

I chose the MCM because it would be one that would be easy enough to travel to, but also because it is a race that has meaning for me. My grandfathers both served. And others in my family before them. Grandpa Fox, the grandfather that I was fortunate enough to know in my life time signed himself up for the army during WWII as soon as he turned 18. I truly believe he was an American hero. I was lucky enough to get to hear some of his stories before his death almost three years ago now. I will run for him. I also have an uncle who was a marine during Vietnam. I will run for him. And two cousins who are in different branches of the military (one an active marine, and one in the reserve). And I will run for them.

And while I may not believe in war or (often) the reasons behind it, I still believe that the men and women of this country who put their lives on the line deserve our support. So I will run for them.

I have also decided, for the first time, to run this race as a fund raiser. Starting today, I will be raising funds for TAPS – a wonderful survivor-oriented charity. Here’s what they have to say about what it is they provide: “The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is a heartfelt national non-profit veteran’s organization that reaches out to the families and loved ones who have been impacted by a death of a loved one in the U.S. Armed Forces. The heart of TAPS is its national military survivor peer support network and its focus to help and support families, friends, and military personnel as they cope and recover. In addition to the peer support network, TAPS also provides these services:

  • Military Survivor Seminars, Workshops, and Children’s Good Grief Camps
  • Crisis Intervention, Grief Counseling Referral, and Caseworker Assistance
  • Toll Free, Fully Activated, TAPS Helpline …24 Hours / 7 Days a Week
  • Online Community Website, Chat Room, Message Boards, and Forums
  • TAPS Quarterly Magazine and Other Educational Publications”

I think this is truly a charity worthy of our dollars, and I am asking you to help me in my fundraising goals. You can find my fundraising page here: http://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1102084&supId=404390267&extSiteType=1
Please, please, please consider supporting me. Any dollar amount helps! I will be posting this again and again as the time draws nearer.

In other marathon news, I believe I finally have all four of my marathons picked! It wasn’t an easy decision, and it’s hard to find runs that are spaced far enough apart that it isn’t going to kill me!  I was already signed up for Bayshore in May, and now for MCM in October. I think I will also be adding Charlevoix (June), and Marquette (August). That’s a lot of running, folks!

In just two months I will run my first since October, and we’ll go from there. We’re getting close. Here’s to hoping I make it to the end of the year.

It’s Ground Hog Time!

Today is the day where we let a little furry rodent predict our weather for the next 6 weeks. Every year they rip this poor guy from his wintery slumber and thrust him into the air so he can tell us what we all already know. So, you know, it was  a big surprise when Phil predicted six more weeks of winter for us.

But, what you may not have known is that Phil has a more interesting cousin. This cousin and I, we made friends today in the form of a race: The Ground Hogs Day Marathon and Half Marathon at Millennium Park in Grand Rapids, MI.
According to their website: “We’ve all heard of Punxsutawney Phil, the little furry guy in Pennsylvania who comes out, sees
his shadow, and declares six more weeks of winter. Then there’s Augustus T. Groundhog, better known as Grand Rapids Gus. He’s Phil’s much more interesting cousin. Unlike Phil, who it seems can only see shadows, Gus has much better eyesight and can look at a calendar on February 2 and know that spring doesn’t start for six weeks. Gus suggested that instead of lamenting over six more weeks of winter, we should EMBRACE the cold and snow and do something fun.
And so, the Groundhog Day Marathon was born.”

To say this race was a challenge may be an understatement. This was the first time I have ever, ever thought of quitting a race. Even running a marathon wasn’t this hard. Seriously. Running a marathon was easier than this.

Here’s why:

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Yep. That’s snow, and a lot of it.

The course is a loop. The full marathon runs this loop six times, and the half three (it’s a repeat, like “Ground Hog Day.” Get it? Hah!).  So, you’d think that the snow would get packed down the more we ran/walked/slid over it. Not the case. Nope. Not at all. That picture was taken on the third loop around. The more we traversed the path, the more churned up it got. The more churned up it got, the more difficult it got. I think I walked about 80% of the last lap. I am not kidding when I say this was difficult. Boston Qualifiers dropped out of this race. I would say about 40% of the people who started this race dropped out.

Most walked a lot of the way. Especially on the back half of the loop where there was no footing and at least a 2-foot base of snow, plus the loose stuff on top:

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I finished in 3 hours, 52 minutes and 7 seconds. For some perspective, my best half is 1:53:17, that was Park2Park this summer. My marathon time is 4:08:54. Yeah. I finished a half-marathon in almost as much time as it would have taken me to run a full on a normal day.

Luckily, I had some great company:

Crazies

And I met some fellow-crazies out on the course as well. Those of us who actually finished realized that we were in this together. At some point, you really realize that it’s not about time. This happened about 5 steps into it for me.

Finishing this race was probably the dumbest thing I have ever done. The risk of injury was huge. But you know what? Hearing stories and sharing camaraderie with those foolish/awesome enough to finish this made it worth it. That’s one of the best things about running a race, for me. The people you meet that you would have never otherwise had the chance to connect with. In the end, it was worth it. And I can now say that I am badass for running in these conditions. And also probably crazy enough to try it again next year.

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