Reflections on Friday the 13th

Normally, I would consider myself pretty superstitious. Don’t step on cracks; don’t walk under a ladder; knock on wood; pick up a penny for good luck (only if it is heads up); put that penny in your left shoe and you will marry the man of your dreams; I will buy something else at the grocery store if (God forbid and yes, it has happened) my total is $6.66 or $66.60; bad luck comes in threes; Murphy’s Law; don’t talk about something bad or it will happen; and for the love of everything Holy or Not-So-Holy, do not even acknowledge Friday the 13th. There are three of them in 2012, in case you wondered. (I always need to know these kinds of things.)
I’ve been like that my whole life. I believe in signs, spirits, ghosts, numerology and all kinds of supernatural stuff. I also believe in God. I used to spend a lot of my life afraid of things I couldn’t explain, didn’t want to explain or that terrified once I understood. Instead, I usually freaked out, overreacted and mostly assumed the absolute worst.
Running changed that for me. When I started running, I gained I confidence that was entirely new to me. I could do whatever I set my mind to. Through running, I have become happier, healthier, and I enjoy my life so much more than I used to. I believe we can achieve the impossible. I believe I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. I control my own destiny – my own race, if you will – and after my first half marathon in August 2009, my life has never been the same. Running has brought me joy, friendships and a freedom that I never even knew existed. Bad day? Go for a run. Worried about something? Go for a run. Need to figure out a problem? Go for a run and you’ll be amazed at how clearly your mind works. 
Now, I embrace my bad luck, to some degree. For example, it just made sense that I coach the 13 minute pace group. It made even more sense to call ourselves the Lucky 13’s. Nothing like grabbing bad luck by the horns and screaming, “Bring it on! We are who we are and we’re not changing!” Um, yeah, that only kind of worked for us. (Duane still made us turn around and run like hell back to shelter when we accidently set out during a lightening storm). His exact words were, “People like us should not run in lightening storms. That’s just asking for trouble.”
(We only pretend to like each other and where the heck is Duane?!)

I’ve overcome my fear of storms. I photograph them now, as a matter of fact.
(From the safety of my very own porch)

I took on the greatest challenge of my life when I attempted to run the Goofy Challenge in Disney this year.

(Don’t mistake our smiles for happiness)

I will be prepared next time. Doesn’t even scare me now. I know what I have to do and do it I will. I’m coming for you, Goofy. 
(Um, one question, where were you when I needed you most?
Oh, Walgreens. Who knew?!)

I have even overcome my fear of physical pain. Nothing hurts more than a pulmonary embolism. Not even a marathon and that hurts. In fact, since I almost died then, what’s there really to be afraid of now? Clearly, God wants me here for a reason still. (Oh wait, apparently the one time I should have actually freaked out, I did not).

(I really have had nothing better to do than take a lot of pictures
and plus I look almost normal now)

Actually, I think Tequila is more deadly than a pulmonary embolism. We celebrated our five year anniversary last Saturday with some Italian food, star gazing and Mr. Montezuma. Never again. I do not know how people drink it! 

(Who the heck drinks Montezuma Tequila anyway?!)

Hell, I think I overcame my fear of Friday the 13th.

Notice I can’t be entirelypositive about it (I’m also a gigantic pessimist for the most part). I’m just thinking WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?! The old me wouldn’t even have asked. Now, I feel as if I can handle anything thrown at me. It even crossed my mind to celebrate (not with Mr. M. though, I assure you). 

So, there you have it. The still-very-superstitious-and-very-unlucky-but-I-can-pretty-much-handle-whatever-life-throws-my-way-now-new me. What about you? Are you superstitious? Do you avoid Friday the 13th like the plague? What scares you the most and are you able to overcome that fear?

Until the next mile marker, 

Cap City Half Marathon: A Spectator’s Report

When it came down to it, weather predictions weren’t at all favorable for the Capital City Half Marathon on Saturday. In fact, there was a heat warning issued on Thursday by the race’s medical director. I had decided not to run the race due to my knee injury and missing too many long runs (insert: everything seems to happen for a reason here) and was pretty bummed about it. I watched as the time goals of the runners I knew shifted from going all out for a PR to running based on feel, heat, humidity and hydration. I can’t say I was relieved I wasn’t running, but I did feel like if I had to sit out a race, this particular day was definitely a good one.

Still, there was no way I was going to miss the race. The Lucky 13’s had trained for this day for the last five months, and I was going to be there every step of the way, even if it meant cheering from the sidelines. Which is exactly what I did.
MIT Volunteer Crew, Cap City 2012 S
The temperature was 64 and humidity was 93% at the start. The only thing that made the weather slightly bearable was the fact that it was overcast. I watched as the clouds hung over the city. A part of me wished they would just release rain (or something) to give relief to the runners below. There was not even a breeze. I was pretty miserable just standing outside. It was a tough race, a tough day and tough conditions. Anyone who ran it should be proud. It was a special race to be a part of with a record crowd of more than 13,000 people. 
Seriously, doesn’t it just look miserable?!

We camped out literally right before the finish line – between mile 12 and mile 12.5. We were on an overpass where spectator support was lacking, but a steady incline definitely was not. The Cap City course changed this year to include a new finish line, and I would say it was definitely difficult. We were armed with cow bells, signs and lots of screaming to give runners that last push to finish the race. I was screaming out names on bibs as people flew by – “You can do it, Rachel,” “You’re really almost there, Tom,” “You’re looking great, Angie!” And on it went, for nearly four hours. Several of them looked startled when I called them by name, and some even looked appreciative. 

Me & Jessica with our cow bells. 


More MIT cheering!

 Who wouldn’t pick up the pace to run away from the two of us?!

“Come run with us, we promise you’ll have a blast!”
(Thanks to the source)

I was hoarse, tired and my knee was throbbing by the time it was all over. Still, it was nothing compared to what I saw on the course, people were passing out, stumbling around and throwing up behind bushes. Medical attention was readily available (especially so close to the finish line), though, so I know the people who were suffering got attention as soon as humanly possible. I think I counted four or five people go down just within my sight. There were some moments that were a little scary, but I’ll give it to the Cap City medical team and emergency personnel for working really hard to ensure no one was seriously injured or ill that I saw.   

I am incredibly proud of the 13’s and my other running friends who ran it, especially the first-timers! NOT AN EASY RACE AT ALL!

Me, Amy & Duane. Amy earned a PR!

Me, Nita & Duane. 

Sandy and Stacy during their FIRST Half Marathon!

Wade and Shirley after their FIRST Half Marathon!

Another huge Congratulations to these Lucky ladies. Julie and Sue ran their first full marathon on Sunday at the Flying Pig in Cincinnati. Love these girls – I am so proud of you both!  

Julie & Sue – MARATHONERS!

Vist Elle on Facebook
AND….A huge shout-out to my sailing friend Elle over at Eat Run Sail. She is running her FIRST EVER Half Marathon THIS Sunday!!!! I am so excited for you, Elle, I can’t wait to see pictures of you as you cross that finish line! I have watched you grow as a runner, and I have every confidence in you that you will do this. I just know it! Best of luck to you and The Captain – have a blast!!! I’ll be cheering for you from Ohio.  
What about you? Did you race this weekend? If so, I would love to hear about i! Looking for a race? Check out this week’s Ohio Pace Per Mile Report for some awesome upcoming events. 
Until the next mile marker, 

VIPing It with Cap City

It’s the eve of the big day in Columbus, Ohio. The Capital City Half Marathon, The Patrón Quarter Marathon and the Commit to Be Fit 5k are Officially SOLD OUT at a Cap of 13,000 athletes. There is the familiar buzz of anticipation, excitement and anxiety in the air around town and in the voices of the runners I have known for months now. It’s been building all week

Race Day is finally here! In less than 24 hours, the Lucky 13’s will have crossed the finish line of another half marathon as another session of MIT comes to a close. For many, it is their first half marathon and I couldn’t be more excited about being on the course to cheer for them. They’ve worked hard for this day since December. They’ve trained for months in wind, rain, cold, a little snow and even some warmer temperatures. I couldn’t be more proud of you and the accomplishments they have made. I have watched them conquer what once may have seemed like an impossible task – they’ve run the miles, shown up before the sunrise on Saturdays and kept up training during the week, even when they were feeling discouraged, down, ill or injured.

MIT 13-Min. Pace Group Winter/Spring Session 2012

During a race week, no matter where you are, it is very common to feel anxious and wound up in anticipation of race day.  It is important to relax, though. Worry and tension create fatigue and sometimes illness. So, I have been reminding the runners in our group to take some time this week to do whatever most relaxes them. I remember being completely terrified for my first half marathon, nearly unable to function (I’m really not kidding), but looking back there was no need to stress myself out so much. I followed the same training plan as them, and I made it through – it was the single greatest accomplishment of my life thus far. I have no doubts that the 13’s will also look back on their race with fond and proud memories. Believe in yourselves, ladies and gentleman – because I surely believe in you!

Remember these three things, if nothing else:
  1. HAVE FUN – I’ve had a blast with you on Saturdays so don’t stop enjoying yourselves now!
  2. RUN YOUR OWN RACE – We’re not in it to win it. Our victories come from achieving what others may have said we couldn’t, conquering our inner fears or accomplishing something amazing.
  3. HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR TRAINING AND IN YOURSELF – You can do this. Myself and the other coaches have every confidence in you. You are prepared. You are ready. You will succeed!
All this being said – let the party begin! 😉

My co-coach and friend Judi and I hit the expo last night:

After all, who can refuse a great opportunity to SHOP for running gear?

Cool shirt commemorating the Bicentennial!
LOVE THIS! Front. 

And hang out with the best running friends ever?

Nita, Judi & Me

And I must day, Cap City does it right. The Diamond Cellar, yellow tail bubbles Sparkling Wine and New Balance provided a unique opportunity to upgrade your Capital City Half Marathon registration and get the total VIP experience! We were both grateful and ecstatic for the opportunity. I for one was not disappointed. It was so much fun.

The Total VIP Experience:

The New Balance VIP Official Cap City Jacket. Very nice – black with a sleek logo on the back.

Doesn’t Michael take lovely pictures of my back side?

Love the race shirt! It’s the city’s bicentennial. 

At the Cap City Celebration Lounge you receive the official Yellow Tail Sparkling Wine Flute with race logo that you may fill up as many times as you like during the Cap City Health & Fitness Expo. 

“Yes, Sara, Champagne does count as carb-loading!” – Judi
An invitation to the Champion Panel and VIP Reception from 6–8pm on Thursday, May 3 for the Official toast to kick off the 2012 Capital City Half Marathon.

Free race day parking.

Access to the VIP Tent with catered breakfast and lunch and private bathrooms.

Now that the day is almost here, I am sad I’m sad I have decided not to run tomorrow. With my knee injury, being sick for two weeks and just resuming physical therapy and training this week, I decided it would not be smart for me to run. I haven’t had a solid long run this season, no more than eight miles, and I just feel like I am extremely under-prepared for this race. NO MATTER HOW MUCH I WANT TO RUN, I SHOULD NOT. Please tell me I am doing the right thing. I’m pretty bummed, not running  is always hard to handle. Especially for me.

I will be on the course – start, middle and finish – tomorrow to cheer everyone on! I can’t wait. It’s the next best thing to running. 😉 Still, I will miss being out there with all of you who are running.  
Best of luck tomorrow, friends. Have fun, believe in yourself (I do!) and run your own race! I can’t wait to hear all about it. Run well, run strong, run safe and stay hydrated. Rest up. Tomorrow is going to be a great day! 🙂

Until the next mile marker,

Celebrate Week #11: Cap City Half Marathon Training Report

This week, Celebrate the hard run.

As hard as that may be. This weekend was brutal for our long run. Don’t let anyone fool you. With the gale force winds, it felt like 18 degrees outside. The Lucky 13’s ran into the wind on the way out and on the way back. I don’t know how the wind was blowing in both directions, but I assure you, it was. It wasn’t easy – in fact, it was downright hard – but, we did it. I appreciate the hard runs because without them, I wouldn’t know what a truly good run felt like. The hard runs make the good runs that much better. If I would have skipped out on running this Saturday (and believe me, I thought about it) I wouldn’t have run 7 miles at all and that would have made me even more miserable. Next time the sun is shining and there is no wind, I am running – like tonight!  

My Weekly Training ReCAP:

  • WED 02/22 – 3 mile training run in 44 min; 14:49 min pace per mile.
  • SAT 02/25 – 7 mile MIT training run in 1 hr 44 min; 13:29 min pace per mile. 

How was your training week? Was it windy where you were? Do you mind running in less than ideal conditions or do you embrace it?

Until the next mile marker, 

In Case You Missed It:

Google Friend Connect (GFC) is going away at the beginning of March! Check out THIS post to find out how you can still stay connected to me and your other favorite blogs. Don’t miss out!

Reflections of One Goofy Runner

It’s been a week since I attempted the Goofy Challenge (13.1 miles followed by 26.2 miles the next morning) in Walt Disney World Orlando, Florida. The pain in my feet is starting to subside, I am walking with only a slight limp and my toe and foot is slowly growing new skin. Plus, I can breathe out of one nostril now so it gets better everyday! I’m actually looking forward to my next run – Saturday, maybe?! – and can’t wait to start training for the Cap City Half in May. I’ve been taking it easy, sleeping a lot and reflecting on what I learned from this experience. Here are my thoughts:

  • Sometimes your body just says No. Now usually it is my mind that says, “No. You can’t do this” or “It hurts too much” or “You’re too slow, fat, tired, busy, etc.” The mind can be a precarious thing and negative thoughts are more than difficult to overcome once you get caught in that downward spiral, but physically not being able to go on is different and something I had never quite experienced like this before. Can you push though physical pain? Is it really mind over matter? I have learned that I think you can push through pain to an extent, but sometimes your body just stops you from going on. The mind is very powerful – and has derailed my body a time or two before – but I don’t think wishful thinking can always make up for physical limitations.
  • Blisters are more painful than I ever imagined. Period.
  • Florida is not flat.Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
  • A DNF (Did Not Finish) is better than a DNS (Did Not Start). Thank you, Bill. And to those few of you that said I couldn’t, did you even try?
  • There is always another race to run.
  • I ran two very challenging races on very little sleep. I could play the what if game over and over again (What if more sleep would have made a difference), but it wouldn’t change thisoutcome. I now know I need plenty of rest to perform at my best.
  • It got hot. I wasn’t appropriately prepared. Lesson learned. No matter the forecast, from now on I take at least one racing outfit for each possible weather scenario. After all, I had 11 pounds left in my bag before I hit the flight weight-limit.
  • I need to stop comparing myself to other runners. I am not other runners, I am me. I ran my race and that is all that should matter.
  • “Hard” is not a figment of my imagination. This race was damn hard.
  • I was not in my best physical shape to run this race. I will be when I run it again. “THE WILL TO SUCCEED SHOULD ONLY BE SURPASSED BY THE WILL TO PREPARE.” Train harder, train smarter.
  • Never underestimate the value of an effective training plan. Stick to it. Learn from those who are more experienced than you are. Everyone has a story, a lesson learned, a triumph achieved, a challenge not met. Thanks, Jeff, for making me run those 20 miles the day after Christmas. I wouldn’t have made it to 22 without them.
  • 22 miles on the heels of 13.1 is an accomplishment, no matter how many more there were to go.  
  • I am a relatively young runner – and I dream really big. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I need to remember I took on a challenge that even seasoned runners have not or maybe even will not.
  • Practice makes perfect. Even in running. This was my second marathon ever. My first one was only about eight months ago. I have not had a lot of marathoning practice. (Never mind that Shalane Flanagan has also only run two marathons, one of which was setting a record in the Olympic Trials…stop comparing…).
  • Vacation and Race don’t really go well together for me. Not good, not bad, just a realization.
  • I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. I am grateful to have had this opportunity.
  • I have said it before and I am saying it again now – The running community is second to none. Where would I be without everyone who helped me get to and go on this journey? Some of you I personally know, some of you I have never met; some of you I see every week and some of you I may never see again, but you have all made a difference. Your support, encouragement, kindness, motivation, love and advice has been a meaningful part of my journey. Thank you to: Dad, Mollie, Michael, MIT and the Lucky 13’s, Judi, Deb, Amy, Laurie, Kim C., Kim K., Kim B., Laurel, Duane, Jeff G., Jeff H., Ben, “The Bike Boys” (Chase, Joe and Adam), Julia (Pain, Pride, Perseverance), Elle (Eat Run Sail), Jennifer R. (From Fat to Finish Line), EMZ, Miss Zippy, Running to Health, Dr. Bright, Randy, Judy, Dave, Heather, Nita, Kris, Brent, Jennifer M., Jennifer H., Suzi, Keri, Lisa, LeDawn, Chrissy, Julie, Mandy, Sarah, Wendy – to name a few, and I know I forgot some! Thank you to everyone who has been with me on this journey, you know who you are. (Is this how Grammy winners feel!?!?!)
  • Honestly, I am comfortable with a DNF. Yes, of course I wanted to finish and earn the Goofy medal too, but looking at where I came from only a few short years ago, that was downright incredible. I am proud that I gave it my all and left it allon the course. It was emotional, exhilarating, exciting, real, raw and surprisingly, healing. This for my mother and I know she was there with me every step of the way. I know she is not disappointed in me and therefore, I am not disappointed in me either.
  • I may be content with a DNF in this race, but watch your back Goofy. It doesn’t end here!

Until the next mile marker,