Race Weekend Recap: Mercedes Half Marathon 2015

Location:  Birmingham, AL
State #8
Half Marathon #15
Time:  2:14:41
Pace:  10:17

Thanks to my bitchy hip, I hadn’t run the 8 days preceding this race.  After two visits to the chiropractor and a lot of quality time with my foam roller, a softball (because the foam roller just didn’t hurt quite bad enough!), and an ice pack, I was almost back to normal although not quite at 100%.  But since I was assured that it’s just tightness and inflammation and that nothing is torn nor in danger of being torn, I wanted to give it a shot.

When I registered for this Sunday race, I already knew that I was going to have to work for a couple of hours Saturday morning, but I thought, “No big deal!  I’ll be out of there by 10, home and packed and gone by 12, and at the expo well before it closes at 6!”  Well that’s what I get for making plans.  haha We had two rounds of severe winter weather come through last week, and the roads were positively treacherous on Saturday, the worst they’d been all week. The highways and roads in town were clear, but I work in the delivery industry, and those roads only account for a small percentage of the roads traveled by my employees every day.  Usually when I’m going to be out of pocket, I let my people know to call a manager at a neighboring office if there’s an emergency, but I just couldn’t do that Saturday.  I couldn’t leave knowing my employees were out on those dangerous roads, and I couldn’t put the burden of worrying about them on any of my co-managers as they all had their own people to worry about.  But anyway, back to the point… it was nearly 5:00 by the time I got out of the office, filled my gas tank, grabbed a pizza to heat up for supper in the hotel room later, and got on the road.  The drive down was miserable.  I hate driving under three conditions:  at night, when it’s raining, and when I’m sleepy.  Well I had the perfect trifecta going for me Saturday making it a looooong 4-1/2 hours.  I had called ahead earlier that afternoon to the expo to let them know I wouldn’t make it in time for packet pickup, so they sent my goody bag and bib over to the host hotel where I could pick it up when I got to town.  I was super bummed about not making it down earlier because I had made plans to meet Holly from HoHo Runs at the expo!  So I drove straight to the Sheraton, was in and out with goody bag in-hand in less than two minutes, and back on the road to Homewood (where I’d booked a hotel just outside of Birmingham to save a few bucks!)  I had JUST gotten back on the interstate when traffic came to a dead halt.  All I saw were blue lights and tail lights.  I was was so ready to just eat and go to bed, and there I was, 10 minutes from the hotel, stuck in traffic.  Well one of those things I could take care of.  I reached into the back seat and grabbed my pizza.  Cold pizza for the win!  Thankfully, traffic cleared within just a few minutes.  I finally got to my room about a quarter till 10.  After a quick text to Holly letting her know I’d arrived and arranging our morning meetup plans, I crashed and burned.

Holly was also staying in Homewood at a hotel just right across the street from mine, and she very graciously offered to drive us downtown to the start.  She picked me up at 6:00 on the dot and we made our way downtown.  Parking was a breeze, so we had plenty of time to mill around before the 7:03 start.

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Right after this picture was taken, the rain started.  It was never a heavy rain, but steady enough that we were pretty well soaked before the start.

We lined up between the 9:00 and 10:00 min/mile pacers.  I was planning on shooting for 10:00 miles, but once we started moving I settled into a 9:30ish pace and felt fantastic. There really wasn’t much to look at on the course, but I was never bored with it like at Mississippi Blues last month.  Even with the soggy weather, there were lots of people out spectating and lots of groups had come out and set up their own aid stations with gummy bears, bananas, orange slices, etc.  This was hands-down the most well-supported course I’ve ever been on.  The race itself had probably 8 or so stations (3 of which had GU), and there were probably at least that many extra ones tossed in.  It made them quick and easy to get through.

At the 10K mark, my time was 58:15, a 9:33 pace.  I was pretty excited to see that number because at the race that holds my current HM PR (2:07:24) my 10K split was 59:45.  But very shortly after that, things went downhill.  I wish I could blame it on my hip, but I can’t.  I didn’t even feel a twinge until around mile 10.  The same thing happened that happened at St. Jude in December.  I just reached a point where I was DONE.  Like flipping a switch, running all of a sudden got a LOT harder!  It could have been a lot of things really, (lack of sleep the last few weeks, dehydration, hills, stress, humidity) but none of the excuses matter.  It just wasn’t my day.  Not only did I not get that PR, I didn’t even meet the “B” goal of averaging under 10:00.  Matter of fact, my time was a minute and a half slower than last month.  I can’t lie and say I’m not disappointed, but I’m not beating myself up.  I still got to go to a new place and run a great race and turn a blogger buddy into a real-life buddy!  haha  And my race photos don’t even suck!

2-22-2015 - Mercedes Marathon 2

2-22-2015 - Mercedes Marathon

2-22-2015 - Mercedes Marathon 3

2-22-2015 - Mercedes Marathon finish

I would definitely recommend this race to anyone thinking about doing it.  It was reasonably priced, well supported, easy to get to, had fantastic post-race festivities, and I loved the shirt and medal.  And we even got a finisher’s beach towel!

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I’d love to say I’ll be back to this race, but the truth is, I’ve got a lot more states to do before I start doubling back and repeating states!  haha  Maybe in 2025…

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Five Things Friday

1.   Back during the summer, I bought a few winter things on clearance from Road Runner Sports.  One of them was this shirt.  Of course it didn’t get cold enough to wear it until November, and then it sat in a heap on the laundry room floor with all my other running gear waiting to be washed until sometime in December.  And it came out of the wash like this!  It disintegrated!  I know it was just a fluke as I’ve ordered tons of stuff from RRS, but WOW.

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2.   On a similar note, I ordered some really cool bookends from Amazon to use in my kitchen with all my cookbooks.  They arrived broken.  Heavy-ass wrought iron and UPS broke it.

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3.   I’ve had a nasty head cold this week.  I had fever with it the first couple of days, so that kind of cut into my running a bit.  I’m all for running through anything above the neck but not when fever is involved.  Thankfully it seems to be subsiding pretty quickly.  Usually when I get a winter cold it hangs around for freaking ever.  I attribute its early exit to my recent discovery and use of essential oils.

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4.   Work is reallllllllly looking up right now.  I’m finally getting a replacement for the employee that was reassigned back in November, so my life is about to get a LOT simpler.  You know.  Once I get her trained the way I want her.

5.   On the running front, I’m on par for 100 miles this month for the first time since December 2012!  I was on the road to it in November and then work happened and derailed me a bit.  Starting The Goofy Runner has given me the motivation I need to keep moving!!!

Race Recap: Mississippi Blues Half Marathon

Half Marathon #14
State #7
Time 2:13:19
Pace 10:11

Even before I decided to give this whole “50 half marathons in 50 states” thing a whirl, I had registered for what would be my 7th state–Mississippi Blues. It was within driving distance; it was on my birthday; and I had just heard great things about it, so why the hell not?!  The hubs doesn’t usually come with me to races, but since this was my birthday weekend, I didn’t give him an out this time.  He and I both worked until lunch Friday and then headed out on the 5-hr drive to Jackson, MS.  We drove straight to the convention center for packet pickup, and we were in and out of there in just a few minutes.  We arrived at about 6:30, so I wasn’t expecting to find the expo still set up because the web site said the expo ended at 6:00 but that packet pickup would be available until 9:00.  But there were still LOTS of people coming in, so I guess the vendors decided not to pack it up as long as people were coming in.  I made a quick round through the expo but didn’t buy anything even though it was pretty hard not to go wild at the Gypsy Runner booth.  So much cuteness!!!

We were staying at the Marriott, which was just a few blocks from the expo, and on the way there we saw where the start line was set up for the next morning.  It was super close to the hotel, so I was pretty stoked about that.  It was CRAZY cold, and I wasn’t looking forward to walking a long way to the start.  I knew it was supposed to be pretty close to the hotel, but I didn’t realize exactly how close it was.  I’m usually more frugal when booking hotels for races and stay a little ways out where it’s cheaper, but I splurged a bit on this one since it was my birthday and all.  🙂

So we got all checked in and the first thing we noticed when we walked in the room was how cold it was in there!  The heat was set to 73, but it couldn’t have been over 60 degrees in there.  We assumed that they hadn’t had the heat on in the room long and just cranked it up and called in a pizza for delivery because we just really didn’t feel like getting back out.  When the room still hadn’t warmed up by the time we were ready to go to bed, I called the desk and complained about the room being so cold.  Turns out they knew that was a problem for that room and a few others as we were directly over the parking garage.  They said they try not to put people in those rooms when it’s that cold, but they were sold out that night, and since we were some of the later people checking in, we were among the lucky ones.  They brought us a space heater and extra blankets and even knocked $50 off our bill for the night without me even asking!  Awesome customer service.  Anyway, that space heater made all the difference in the world.  I thawed out and was asleep by 9:30 with my alarm clock set for 5:30 to give me plenty of time to get awake and functioning before the 7:00 start.

We headed down to the lobby shortly after 6:30 but stood around chatting and prolonging heading out into the cold (starting temp was 23 and felt like 18).  About 6:45 we started the short walk to the start line.  As soon as I walked outside I noticed how quiet it was.  I kind of panicked at first thinking I had missed it or we were farther away than I thought, but I looked around at all the other runners around me and thought we surely didn’t all make the same mistake.  I guess I’m just spoiled to a lively race start.  I don’t think I’ve EVER been to a race that didn’t have a band or piped-in music or SOMETHING at the start.  There was absolutely nothing here.  A guy played the national anthem on the electric guitar, but that was it.  Just an emcee on the megaphone announcing how many minutes to start every so often.

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I seeded myself around the 4:20 full marathon pacer and moved to the edge of the corral so I could hang with D until the start.  When it was almost time, I handed my coat over to him and he headed back up to the room to go back to bed.  Yeah, races just aren’t his thing.  haha

There was absolutely NO energy to the start at all.  And that set the tone for the entire race.  Before I bash it too much, let me start by saying that it was very organized and the volunteers were great.  They were very friendly and helpful and just the fact that they were out there braving the cold for us was very much appreciated.  They were amazing and I thanked every one I saw.  But the race itself?  The race kind of sucked, y’all.  It was just…boring.  There was exactly one band playing on the 13.1-mile course.  The course was extremely challenging with constant hills, but that’s not why I wouldn’t do it again.  I don’t mind a challenging course.  I enjoy it actually.  But there just wasn’t anything to look at.  Several miles of it were right by the interstate, for Christ’s sake.  There was virtually no spectatorship.  I get that it was cold, but I’ve run cold races before where there were tons more spectators than this.  When we came up on the college campus I thought, “Yes!  This will liven it up a bit!”  Not a soul in sight.  I was so disappointed!  The other races I’ve done that have gone through a campus, that’s been the liveliest part!  At Murray State, I think every frat boy on campus was out there acting a fool.  I know all of this stuff is just personal preference.  I know there are a lot of people that take running more seriously than I do that think these things aren’t important (and think people like me who enjoy these things shouldn’t be taking up space on “their” course), but that’s just my subjective take on it.  I’ve run small races before too and was fine with it because I knew ahead of time that it was a small race with no frills and extras.  I guess in my mind I just had this event built up to be more than what it was.  It certainly seems to me like it was advertised that way.  Like I said… subjective.

Now the objective… This was a super challenging course!  Although I do prefer a hillier, rolling course over a pancake-flat one I was kind of over the hills by the later miles of this one.  I only have 11 miles worth of data from my Garmin because my dumb ass forgot to turn it on when we walked out of the hotel.  It was only when I took my coat off right before the start and saw my watch on my wrist that I remembered.  Of course it didn’t find a signal before the start.  When it finally found a satellite, I could see the Mile 2 marker ahead, so I just hit the start button when I reached that marker.  Since I didn’t have a watch for the first couple of miles I just tried to concentrate on not letting myself start out too fast.  I have a tendency to do that–especially when I’m cold!  I did a pretty good job of pacing myself I guess because I never really bonked.  I did get tired of the hills and started walking parts of them toward the end.  I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt not to expect a PR at this race, but I was kind of hoping for a second best.  As I watched my time during the race I knew that was possible but it was going to be close because I didn’t know my time from the first two miles.  At mile 12 I decided to give it what I had left.  Lucky for me there were no major hills during that last mile.  haha  When I crossed the finish line, my watch said 1:53 something, but I still didn’t know my time or if I’d hit my goal of second-best.  I was hoping for anything below 2:13:20, which was my time from the Shamrock Half back in 2012, but I’d have to wait to find out.

I found D right out of the finisher’s chute.  I really didn’t even realized I’d walked out of the finisher’s area until I was out of it.  When I crossed the line, I was handed my medal and a bottle of water and was offered a space blanket, and I kept walking to where I thought the food would be.  But there WAS none.  That was where I found D.  I asked him if I missed the food, and he said he hadn’t seen any.  I looked around to ask another runner where to get whatever they were eating, but… NO ONE had anything.  There was nothing!  I’ve run $15 5Ks that at least had fucking bananas and Oreos at the end.  Again, I guess those are just my personal expectations.  I didn’t read anything that promised finish line refreshments, so my disappointment was unfounded.  I just kind of assumed there would be something because I’ve never been to a half marathon where there wasn’t.  Another major strike against this race in my mind.  Had I known, I’d have brought something to MS with me to make a protein shake.  As it were, we walked back to the hotel and I ducked into the hotel restaurant and asked if I could just buy a banana.  They graciously just gave me three… I think probaby just to keep me from coming in and sitting down. haha

Aside from the awesome volunteers, I have to say the only thing I liked about this race was the medal.  Yes, I’m that shallow runner.  Bling size matters.

2015-01-10 17.51.04When the results were posted in the afternoon, I found out that I have a new second-best time by ONE WHOLE SECOND!  hahaha

2015-01-10 19.42.48Closing thoughts:  Did I enjoy myself?  Yeah, I did.  It was a great quick trip away with D, and we just don’t get that much anymore since we bought the business last year.  I gave a solid effort on a difficult course and I’m happy with the results.  Would I recommend this race to anyone else?  No.  Not by a long shot.  If big races are your thing, you’ll be disappointed.  If small races are your thing, you may enjoy this one, but you’ll pay more for registration than what it’s worth.

The Goofy Runner

I mentioned yesterday that I had a goal for 2015 that I hoped you guys would help me with.  So let me elaborate a little bit!

I have two loves:  running and animals.  For a long time I’ve been trying to find a way to combine those passions.  I started a local group a couple of years ago where me and a few other folks would go get some of the shelter dogs and take them out for runs.  That fizzled out pretty quickly.  Everyone thought it was a fabulous idea when I first pitched it, but then when it came time to start doing something, everyone was suddenly very busy.  It was just me and the same handful of people for a while and then it got to where they were available to help less and less.  And that’s just not a chore that someone can take on by themselves, so I nixed that program about a year ago.  I’ve volunteered and transported for several different rescues from time to time, but I’ve never really found my place.

Now on the running front… I’ve recently decided to give this 50 half marathons in 50 states a real shot.  I’m not sure that I’ll ever complete it, but I sure as hell won’t if I don’t ever start, so right now we’ll say that I’m officially going for it.  I knew there had to be some way to turn that into a fundraiser of sorts, but I just wasn’t sure how.  When I was searching the interwebs for ideas, I found an organization called Running for Rescues that does something sort of like what I was wanting to do, but their participants solicit donations for one key race and their proceeds are spread out all over the country.  I wanted to do something spread out over a broader time frame, like all of 2015, and I wanted to be sure all of my proceeds were kept local because GOD KNOWS this area needs all the help it can get.  The south in general is pretty irresponsible when it comes to companion animals, and we live in an area that is particularly bad.  So after mulling it over and getting advice from a few friends, I came up with a plan.  For all of 2015, I’ll be hosting a pledge-based fundraiser to benefit Goofy Foot Dog Rescue in West TN.

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Even though they’re based out of a neighboring county, a lot of their rescue efforts are focused here in my home county, so I’m satisfied that I’m keeping it as local as I can. They are an amazing organization founded by an amazing woman, and I am excited to be able to help them help more animals.  The plan right now (and this is a new plan, so it’s still subject to some tweaking) is to do this a month at a time so that potential donors don’t feel like they’re on the hook for an entire year.

This is the pledge structure for January:

Training miles = $0.10
Racing miles = $0.25
A new state = $5.00
A PR = $10.00

Assuming that I average 80-100 miles a month with several races thrown in there, I’m hoping I can get an average of at least $15 per sponsor per month.  I wanted to keep it low enough to encourage participation but high enough that GFDR would actually benefit from it.  I think that’s a nice middle ground.  I started a Facebook group called The Goofy Runner (based on the name of the rescue, but hey, I think it’s a rather fitting title anyway!) where I’ll be posting updates on my progress as well as the rescue’s goings-on so that my sponsors can follow along and see where their money is going.  I went public with the page on January 1st, and so far i have five committed sponsors for January.  I’d love to see that number at least double!  I know I have a lot of animal-loving followers, so please join the group and play along!  And please spread the word!  This is a small, grassroots rescue that depends solely on their founders’ income and donations to do everything they do!  And if you don’t want to do it for the animals, do it to watch a runner push herself like never before to be sure she squeezes every dime possible out of her supporters!  This could be the motivation I’ve been lacking all along!

Training Recap & PFTW

Adding a new puppy to your life unexpectedly a has a way of totally upending any plans that you may have had.  Since this is Sami’s second week here with us, we’re kind of getting into a bit more of a routine.  After a largely nonexistent training week the week before last, last week wasn’t terrible.  I got in an easy run, intervals, and a long run, so I guess I got the necessities done anyway.  So let’s talk about those three runs a little bit…

The easy run was an easy 5.4 miles.  It was supposed to have been 6, but I was in a time crunch.  Not much to say about this run.  It was easy.

The intervals… well I have a little more to say about the intervals.  A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I thought I needed to reassess my goal pace.  I don’t talk much about pace specifics here because frankly I’m embarrassed by them, but I think I need to put it out there to get my point across for this one.  My 5k PR was an 8:38 pace, so until recently I’ve been happy to keep my 400s under 2:10 or so.  Well, a couple of times here lately I’ve seen indications that I may be a little bit faster than what I’ve given myself credit for.  Last track session, my 6th 400 was 1:54.  So when I went back this week for 6 x 400 again, I decided to try to keep them all under 2:05.  I kind of shocked myself by pulling off a 1:55, 1:58, 2:00, 1:57, 2:00, and 1:56 with 200 recovery in between.  Sigh Sometimes I wonder what I could do if I’d actually push myself and commit to a solid training plan.

Sunday I ran 12 miles.  They were uneventful.  At 70 degrees, it was hotter than it has been and wiiiiiindy as helllllllll.  But with my H20 hydration pack loaded with Nuun and a couple of gels, I made it through it with no issues.  Was it as fast as I’d like?  Not at all.  But it didn’t suck.  Then I came home and got the foster pup and walked her for 2 miles on the road behind my house then took her home and traded her out for my two dogs and took them to the park for three laps (2.25 miles).  I’m sad to say those are the only meaningful longish walks they got this week.  I fucking hate this getting-dark-at-5-pm bullshit.  I can’t walk them from home after dark for fear of getting mauled by the coyotes, and going into the park after dark skeeves me out because it’s just too dark and secluded, and I can’t carry my gun into the park.

So anyway, that brings us to this week… It’s race week again.  St. Jude is on Saturday.  And yet again, I am unprepared.  This will be my 13th half-marathon.  You’d think I’d have this shit down pat by now, but I have never gone into one feeling like I was properly trained.  Sure I can get through 13.1 miles.  But will I go out there and kick ass and PR and race to my full potential?  Nope!  Again.  Maybe someday…

Training Recap & PFTW

This week kicked last week’s ASS!  In the running department anyway.  I totally dropped the ball on doing any kind of strength or cross-training though.  Oh well.  We can’t have it all, right?  haha

Monday – Rest day.  Nada

Tuesday – I was off work Tuesday and I had planned to cram a lot into that day, including going to the gym.  I ran 6 easy miles and I walked the dogs 2 more, but the gym never happened.  And it’s funny because as I sit here on Sunday writing this, I can’t remember why.

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – 6 miles, 3 at tempo pace.  It was FREEZING!!!!!  I went from running in a tee shirt and shorts on Tuesday to cold gear tights and long sleeves and gloves on Thursday.  Cold-weather running is my absolute favorite, but I guess I need time to acclimate to that too because I was chilled to the freakin’ bone the rest of the night.  It took two hours in my fleece lounge pants and sweatshirt with my fuzzy robe on under a fluffy blanket drinking hot chocolate to warm up!

Friday – Rest

Saturday – 6 x 400.  NAILED IT.  One of the intervals was at 5K pace, and the other 5 were well below it.  The last one was over a minute faster than goal pace.  I have no idea where that came from.  None.  Reassessing goal pace. Also, walked dogs 1.5 miles.

Sunday – Ahhhhhhhhh redemption.  Last week’s attempt at 11 miles was a disaster, and I ended up cutting it short to 9 miles.  Today i ran 11 miles, nonstop, no fuel, effortlessly, and at a decent pace.  I desperately needed that mental boost.  It was cold, it was raining, and I loved every single minute of it.  It rained the entire day, so my poor doggies didn’t get walked again Sunday.  That was by their choice though.  They had zero interest in even going outside long enough to pee.  They each held a 10-hour piss to avoid going outside.  Fucking princesses.  haha

PFTW:

Things are about to get pretty tricky because I’m losing my help at work. That means longer days and 6 days a week, but I’m gonna try my damnedest to keep some sort of semblance of a training plan.

Monday – Rest or easy spin
Tuesday – 6 easy + strength
Wednesday – Rest (It’s D’s birthday!)
Thursday – 6 easy
Friday – 6 x 400
Saturday – Spin + Strength + walk
Sunday – 12 miles + walk

And squeeze in walks with the dogs as many days as possible during lunch. This getting dark early shit SUCKS!!!

RnR St. Louis Race Weekend Recap – Day 3 – RACE DAY!

If you missed Days 1 & 2, go catch up here.  I’ll wait…

Okay, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s pick up where I left off.  IT’S RACE DAY!!!!  Start time was 7:00, so we had set our alarms for 6:00 with plans to leave the room about 6:45.  We were only a few blocks from the start, and it was chip timed, so none of us really cared to stand around in the corrals forever before the start.  As we were walking up, still several blocks away, we heard the gun but still didn’t bother to get in any hurry.  We still stopped to get pre-race pictures before jumping in the corral.

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Me, Kim, and Trisha. We hadn’t found Tiina yet.
10-19-2014 - Pam & Tiina before RnR St. Louis
FOUND HER!

Kim snapped this photo from the start line.  The race banner, the sunrise, the arch in the background… best race photo ever.

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And just a couple minutes later, we were crossing the start line.  I had absolutely no plans or goals for this race whatsoever except to ENJOY IT!  I hadn’t run more than 8 miles since March, so the only thing I had in mind was to keep it slow and steady so I didn’t blow up halfway through.  I did a pretty good job of that.  I felt really good all the way through, other than being pretty hot.  It was in the 40s at the start and in the 50s by the finish, which I usually wear shorts to run in, but that day I had on tights.  I ran pretty steadily until I hit the 10-mile mark and then I started walking up some of the hills, of which there were plenty.  That’s one of the things I love about this course.  It’s constant rollers.  I have learned that I by far prefer a rolling course to a flat one.  I seriously just love this race.  I crossed the line in 2:21:35.  Out of my 12 half marathons, that puts this one right in the middle time-wise.  Given that this one was run solely for fun I’m TOTALLY cool with that.

10-19-2014 - Pam crossing finish line

10-19-2014 - RnR St. Louis finisher's photo

It’s fun to think that a few years ago I ran a 2:21 fully trained and felt tanked at the end and now it’s my “fun run” time after a full day on my feet and climbing up and through and over shit at the playground…excuse me–“museum.”  And I remember a day when running 10+ miles would put me back in bed for a nap before lunch.  haha  Okay, maybe that’s not a good point because I totally would have taken a nap Sunday if I’d had time.  But instead we all headed back to the hotel for quick showers because we had tickets to go up into the Gateway Arch at noon!  We thought we were leaving in plenty of time, but a complicated checkout at the hotel, lots of traffic because of the Rams/Seahawks game, a walking detour because of construction at the Arch, and a long security line made us a few minutes late.  Thankfully they let us go on up anyway.

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View of the stadium from the top of the Arch.

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River view looking out the opposite side.

And just some more photos from the park grounds…

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One of my favorite pictures from the weekend, taken by some random kid Kim picked out of a crowd.  haha

And with that, our weekend was a wrap.  Kim and Trisha had a plane to catch, and I needed to get on the road home, so we dropped Tiina back at her car where she’d parked close to the start line that morning, and we headed back to the airport.

I had an AMAZING time with these ladies, and I cannot wait to do it again!!!!!

RnR St. Louis Race Weekend Recap – Days 1 & 2

TL; DR version:  Met friends in St. Louis.  Did some stuff.  Ran a race.  Did some more stuff.  Had fun.  The end.  If you want the full story, grab a snack and get comfortable, ’cause this is gonna take a while!

Once upon a time, way back in April, this crazy blogger lady was in town on her quest for 50 half marathons in 50 states.  Long story short, we met for dinner, I mentioned that I was running RnR St. Louis in October, she hadn’t run a race in Missouri yet, my plans became her plans, and BOOM, it was settled.  We were meeting in St. Louis!  Somewhere along the way, she conned a friend into coming with her, and I twisted Tiina’s arm (Not very hard either.  She’s pretty easy like that.) and a twosome quickly became a foursome.

Kim and her friend Trisha were due to arrive at 2:55 Friday, I left my house right at 10:00 and somehow timed it perfectly.  I parked in the airport cell phone waiting area and texted her to let her know I was there, and she replied that they had just landed.  I drove around and picked them up within minutes and we were ready to get our weekend started!

After checking into the hotel, we walked just a few blocks to the expo to get that part out of the way.  We thought it’d be quicker and easier to get in and out Friday, and MAN we were right.  It was the least crowded I’ve ever seen an RnR expo.  I think a lot of the vendors weren’t even there yet.  There were very few samples being given out.  Although I have to say I got the coolest freebie at this expo that I’ve ever received at any expo ever–A SLINKY!!!  (Side note:  Slinkies do not work on escalators.)

It was while we were at the expo that I got a text from the missing quarter of our foursome telling us that she’d had a family medical emergency and that she’d have to skip dinner with us that night and just meet up with us the next day.  So three tourists set out on a mission to find food, which turned out to be quite the fiasco.  haha  The other girls had BBQ on the brain and we ended up at a place called Marcel’s.  We looked at their menu before we went in, and there were veggie-friendly items on the menu.  Baked sweet potato, veggie of the day, side salad, done.  Easy enough, right?  So we were seated.  We ordered our drinks and three appetizers to share, and then when the waiter came back to take our order, he informed me that they were out of sweet potatoes.  “No problem,” I said, “just change that to a regular baked potato.”  Ummm… yeah, they were out of those, too.  Seriously.  Had I known where the nearest grocery store was, I’d have gladly offered him directions to procure a potato.  As it were, I just ate more than my fair share of our appetizers and said I’d grab a sandwich somewhere when we left.  I used the Happy Cow app and found a sub shop nearby that had veggie options, so we hoofed it there on our way back to the hotel only to find them CLOSED.  I got a little irritated then.  But we had passed another sub shop on the way there, so we went back to it, stopped to look at the menu on the door.  TEMPEH!  WIN!!!  We opened the door to go in and the guy behind the counter tells us, “Sorry, we’re closed.  We close at 7:30.”  It was 7:effing34.  “Oh, you’re closed?  Sorry, I was confused by your unlocked door and your lights being on.”  Ugh.  By that point I was ready to give up and hope for better luck at breakfast.  But then purely by luck we happened by another little restaurant.  Without much hope, I walked up to look at their menu.  The first two things I saw were peanut butter & jelly sandwich and hot dog.  I entertained the idea of a PB&J for a split second and then I saw it–eggplant sandwich!  Ahhhhh… finally a full, happy belly.

So then we headed back to the hotel and started mapping out the rest of the weekend.  We knew for sure we wanted to do three things:  Tour Busch Stadium, tour the Budweiser brewery, and go to the arch.  With tickets bought and plans made, we called it a day.

The next morning, we hit the ground running and didn’t stop till we crashed that night!

Busch Stadium Tour:

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So weird to see the stadium completely empty!
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2011 World Series Championship Trophy
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View of the field from the home announcers’ press box.
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Me. In the Cards’ dugout. HAPPY, HAPPY GIRL!
Picture of a picture.  I usually don't fall into the tourist photo trap, but this one was too good not to buy!
Picture of a picture. I usually don’t fall into the tourist photo trap, but this one was too good not to buy!

The plan then was to meet Tiina for lunch and head to the brewery for their free tour (because the paid tour was sold out).  Thing is, you can’t book the free tour.  It’s first come, first served.  So when we got there at like 3 in the afternoon, the next tour wasn’t until 7 that night.  Had we known how crappy and short the free tour was gonna be, I’d have suggested we skip it, but we didn’t know.  But that left us with lots of time to kill, so we looked to Tiina to entertain us since she knows the city.  And this is why I love Tiina… she took us to a big-ass playground.  Well, she called it a “museum,” but she described it perfectly when she said, “The City Museum is a museum in the same way a tomato is a fruit.”  haha!

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Coolest. “Museum.” Ever.
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My only advice to anyone about to go down a 10-story slide is to wear jeans that don’t have metal on the back. It will light yo ass up!
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Multi-level metal grates should be a mandatory alternative to stairs everywhere.
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Trisha making her way through a wire tunnel a couple of stories up.

After we’d had our fill of the playground, we headed back over to the brewery to hang out in the biergarten until our 7:00 tour, but we just happened to get there about the time the 6:00 tour was starting.  We decided to try our luck at crashing, so we just kind of stood there like we belonged and nobody ever kicked us out.  We started out in the Clydesdale stables.  Those horses have it made.  I’m not one to support animals being exploited or forced to perform or even be on display for human entertainment, so trust me when I say Budweiser is doing it right.  These animals are treated like royalty.  When we arrived, most had already been blanketed and put in their stalls for supper, but one was out being groomed.

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Now that’s a big horse’s ass.
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Massive beautiful beast. I just wanted to go hug it.

Then we went inside the brewery where basically we saw some big tanks where the beer is stored and that’s pretty much it.  It kind of sucked.  I guess they know that and that’s why they give you a free beer at the end as some sort of atonement.

After that, we grabbed some grub and headed back to the hotel to turn in.  We WERE there for a race after all!

Okay, that’s long enough for one post.  More tomorrow.

Mama Goes Masters!

I’ve already told y’all about my 10-mile run Saturday, but what I COMPLETELY FORGOT to mention was that the first 8.25 miles of that run were dedicated to MCM Mama!  (She might be the one going masters, but I seem to be the one with early-onset dementia.)

See, Mama is turning the big 4-0 this week and hosted a virtual race in her own honor.  (I’m seriously thinking of stealing this idea for my 31st birthday in January.  How convenient?  31?  3.1?  As in 5K?  Sounds like a virtual race just BEGGING to happen!!!  Now if I just don’t forget about it before then…)

Participants had three choices:  4.0 miles (for her age), 8.25 miles (for the actual date of birth), or 40K (for the crazies, a.k.a. T and G!  I don’t think they’ll be offended that I called them crazy.  They freely admit they are runners first, logical thinkers second.  And I want to be just like them when I grow up.)

On to the important stuff!

Mile 1 – 10:07
Mile 2 – 10:55
Mile 3 – 11:34
Mile 4 – 11:53 (water/chat stop)
Mile 5 – 10:56
Mile 6 – 11:07
Mile 7 – 11:53 (water/chat stop again.  strange that it’s the exact same split as the first stop)
Mile 8 – 11:04
Mile 8.25 – 2:40

Total time – 1:32:02

Happy Birthday, Mama!!!!

10-mile "Group Run"

And I use that term “group run” VERY loosely. I basically drove an hour and a half this morning to run 10 miles by myself.

Only about 30 or so people showed up. Maybe less. I don’t know what kept them from coming out. Maybe the forecasted rain? (Which it never did do, by the way…) Maybe the fact that it was 78 degrees with 80% humidity at 6:30? I don’t know. But they weren’t there.

In the emails the chair person told me not to worry about pace because they had members of all levels. BULL. CRAP. I started out with three chicks but by mile 1.5 I knew I had to let them go on ahead. Their LSD pace was 10:00. And they were the slow ones of the group. :/

There were a few ladies out there training to walk the Women’s Half Marathon in Nashville, but that didn’t do me any good either. Slower than the runners but faster than the walkers. That’s me.

All was not lost though. The route was on the same course as the Clarksville HM that I ran last year and that I will be running again this year, so it does give me more experience and familiarity with the course.

It wasn’t a HORRIBLE run. It wasn’t my fastest 10 miles, but it wasn’t my slowest either.  (Overall pace was 11:24, which is actually at the fast end of McMillan’s calculated spectrum for what my LSD should be. So I’m not too broken-hearted.)  My legs just felt heavy and sluggish from the get-go. After I thought about it, though, it really didn’t surprise me. Last week I did my long run on Sunday, then I ran Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and now today too. That’s five out of seven days, which is more than my body is used to.  I’m READY for these two upcoming rest days! I will probably throw in some light cross-training one day, but for the most part I’m taking advantage of the downtime.

Another reason it wasn’t a wasted trip is that I had to go to Clarksville anyway to get these.

And my club membership got me a sweet 10% discount!

Yep, it was that time. Today’s run put my Mizuno Wave Rider 13s at 302 miles, so it’s time to start working a new pair into the mix. They’ve been a good shoe for me, so I stuck with them.

I knew I was going shoe shopping after the run plus still had a 90-minute drive home, so I at least had the presence of mind to take a change of clothes with me. Alas, after the run there was nowhere to change! Let’s just say I relived some very old memories. It’s been a long time since I stripped down in the cab of a Z71!

I’m not writing off the club just yet. I’ve got things going on next week and the next that will keep me from being able to go, but I’ll probably head back the following week and give it another go. If I gave up on everything the first time it sucked, I wouldn’t be running anyway!