Boston, you are in my prayers tonight.
Boston, you are in my prayers tonight.
In no particular order, some of my favorite running moments from the last year:
South Platte Half Marathon – Littleton, CO 4/7/13
This is a great spring race from Downtown Littleton, north along the South Platte River, into Denver. After a two mile loop around the town, there is a 10 mile stretch of concrete trail along the river and then a mile along 8th Ave. into Denver. One of the best things about this race is that you don’t have to cross roads or dodge traffic the entire time you are running along the river.
Today was gorgeous – temps in the high 60′s, sunny and minimal breeze. This race is well-organized, has aid stations every two miles – though the first one is at a bottle neck on the route which isn’t great, lots of spectators and plenty of good post race food. Registration includes a light rail ticket from the finish line back to the start – which was kind of fun, too. I mean – any race you can take a train away from is a good race, right?
I ran this race in… 2009, I think. And it was a gorgeous day and well-organized and a lot of fun then, too. It is a pretty big crowd – about 3,000 runners and the bridges over the river heave under so many feet thumping away. In fact, crossing the longest bridge today, I was a little surprised by how much the bridge was moving. As I came off the far end, I heard two runners behind me talking about actually feeling a little dizzy on the bridge. It did remind me of running on the cruise ship and I knew what they meant. But my next thought really was: is this bridge truly structurally sound enough for this? Will it hold up to this many runners for long?
I hadn’t run a step since the marathon in Hilo 3 weeks ago. Not on purpose – I’m not experimenting with minimal training as a viable long-term distance running strategy. I developed an annoying chest cold upon returning from Hawaii and it lasted two full weeks. In fact, during this race half the fun was the chance to run while not drowning in snot or hacking up a lung. In one month I have a 50k to run and it is my full intention to spend these next 4 weeks doing the appropriate training. One way or another, snow or no snow, outside or on the treadmill, I will get it done.
Hilo Marathon – Hilo, Hawaii, March 17, 2013
First tropical marathon.
First trip to Hawaii.
First time training aboard a cruise ship…
Where to possibly begin? This isn’t a travel blog and in any case I believe a place like Hawaii should be experienced first hand and without preemptive and biasing description. The things I enjoyed – the beach, the birds, the sea, the whales and volcanoes and salt air and the effortless blending of mainland Americans and vacationing Japanese… these mean little to the determined surfer, diver, shopper and sun bather. But… the trip leading up to the day of the marathon is an inextricable part of the actual race. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My first trip to Hawaii and intended to be vacation and marathon trip. Myself and my two favorite female relatives determined to enjoy the sights and take on the Islands. And we did and it was AWESOME!!! The vacation part of the trip started with a few days on Waikiki and then a 7 day island cruise right up to the day before the race. And this meant training on board the ship for that entire week. But for the first few days I ran the Waikiki Beach strip and up past Diamond Head and looked down at the waves breaking on the jagged coastline and out to where the sky and the sea ultimately met.
I hadn’t trained much this winter. Missed my favorite winter and fall half marathons and several other planned races and mostly enjoyed the seasonal ice cream flavors with a fine disregard to prudence. These first three runs were a test – what did I have left after months of dedicated non-running? Well – I had air, for one thing. Sea level!!!! Once again I could run any distance my legs would take without a background twinge in my lungs. I do notice thin air in Colorado. It’s sharp and dry, often cold and in some places, at some elevations, it seems there can never be enough. In Hawaii, the air is soft and humid and bursting with O2. OK – the air was good. How about the legs? Soft and out of shape, heavy from a winter of neglect and, as always, unaccustomed to hills – I live in the flatland prairie part of Colorado. But willing. I have to say this – the legs were willing. Tired after the first two days of running but responding to my determination and holding up well.
I ran the coast from Waikiki past Diamond Head for three days, walked the strip and toured Pearl Harbor and the Punch Bowl Cemetery. And then it was time to board the ship.
The promenade deck on our ship was about 1/3 of a mile around. I ran between 7 and 9 miles for 4 days, took the stairs everywhere I went on board and did a lot of walking and some snorkeling on shore excursions. By the Thursday before the race, my legs were feeling stronger and no longer sore and tired. I knew I would be slow, but I figured I’d get the race done.
Running on board the ship was interesting. First of all, during the times I ran, I didn’t see anybody else running. Running while docked was fine – the deck felt stationary enough and I could watch the whales nearby or study the dockside activity or just generally focus on my technique. Running while underway was much more exciting – accommodating the movement of the ship, dodging people out strolling or just standing watching the islands go by, and knowing I was missing some shipboard activity somewhere. I also often ran in early evening which was when people were inside the dining room which looked out onto the promenade deck – and they were watching me go by – around and around for an hour and more. I guess I was the dinner show and I hope it wasn’t too bad. One time, after a night of rain, the railing was beaded with heavy water drops and I kept my hand on the rail as I ran, shooting the water into the air. It was pretty refreshing.
When the cruise ended, we returned to Hilo and checked into the host hotel. The hotel was nice with a strong air of having had it’s Heyday in the 1920′s or 30′s. The entire town felt that way – once busy, popular and bustling and now forgotten and drifting.
The morning of the race, the bus was right on time and took us inland and up – several hundred feet above the ocean. The start area was at a rec center with bathrooms, porta potties and a large room for stretching and waiting for the start. The race started on time while still fairly dark and we started a winding run through small neighborhoods, quiet stretches of jungle, up and down hill, and across bridges arching over streams tumbling down rocky gorges towards the coast. The day was overcast and stayed in the low 60′s with a slight breeze – in my mind it was ideal for a tropical marathon after a long and chilly winter in Colorado.
The first 12 miles of the race were very scenic and enjoyable and we ran past the finish line around mile 11. After that, we spent way too much time running through ugly industrial areas and around the airport. Returning to the finish area, we again had to pass the finish line – heading uphill – and circle back to it. Which was tiring at the very end of the race. Along with the finisher’s medal, we were given a shell lei – which was a neat touch, I thought.
And yes – my legs were sore for the next two days. But I ran my Hawaii marathon and enjoyed it and that counts as a win in my book.
Yeah. Ok – remember that whole competitive thing? Yeah. Well… there’s this running club called 50 States & DC Marathon Group USA. It seemed like a plan – I’m needing to run long distances to get in shape to run 50 miles. I find marathon bling motivating. If I’m going to run all these marathons, I might as well get around some. If I’m going to travel around running marathons… I might as well get a t-shirt for it!
It made more sense in my head.
During the pre-race dinner for the Eisenhower Marathon, I had a chance to talk with a couple who had recently completed their 50 state tour and were going again just for fun. They mentioned that upon being presented with their completion t-shirt they did the math and realized the average 50 State club runner spent about $20,000 traveling around doing the races to achieve the $20 shirt.
Huh. Hmmm… Hmmm… Hmmm…
Seems like a bit much. I’m not entirely sure I’m willing to spend that much on this stuff but I’m going to have some fun with the part I decide to do.
So, I’m waiting with close to 10,000 other people for the start of the GoFargo Charity 5 k. At 95 degrees and a light 24 mph wind, I’m glad this is short.
Let me just say – the locals love this town and this marathon.
Anyway. This marathon starts and ends on the NDSU campus at the Fargo dome. A residence hall on campus is taking up for the lack of local hotels and that is where I am staying. I never stayed in the dorm when I was going to school. And looking at this room, all I can say is, Thank. God. (as an aside, I don’t actually have personal space. I have territorial waters and they would not fit in this room. My tack room at home is twice this size. It’s like the photo of the stateroom in the cruise brochure – look closely. The picture is captioned: actual size.). Anyway, on the very plus side, staying here means I don’t have to drive anywhere or fight for parking. With 10,000 runners, this is a fantastic advantage.
Ok – pasta dinner catered by Carinos and nice and tasty. An advertized bonus for this upper Midwest marathon, the dessert was a Scandinavian specialty I’ve never heard of but looked like a rolled wheat tortilla spread with butter and sugar. And that really IS what it was. Huh. I passed a restaurant which advertised cold custard and butter burgers. Yeah – let’s not mess about here – we wants our comfort food, baby.
And I am really enjoying the regional accent which I have mostly dismissed as a Hollywood thing until now.
I’m going to see if I can tweak this a bit. If not – more to come later!
And the next race up: Fargo Marathon in Fargo, North Dakota.
I’ll admit I haven’t trained for it. I’ve been doing many things these last couple of months but running hasn’t featured heavily on the to do list. That’s ok – I’m in no hurry and see this one as an experience in a new place – a state and city I have never been before. This marathon has a lot of hype and seems to be highly enjoyed by the people who run it. So why wouldn’t I do this race?
|Recipient of the Runner’s World Reader’s Choice Award as the #1 Best Value Marathon in America||Recognized as the 8th Best Overall Marathon in America (Runner’s World, January 2010)|
So, this will be my seventh state towards that 50 State marathon goal. It’s a road trip – 12 hour drive up there and then 12 back. All the road trip joys will apply: iPod full of songs and audiobooks; cooler full of snacks with at least one stop for a milkshake along the way; time for at least one outlandish and/or dubious roadside attraction; and miles and miles of highway unfolding into the distance. Fun!
I’m actually in two races – the 5k on Friday night and the marathon on Saturday. The 5k is a charity event for the local community: http://www.fargomarathon.com/5krace.htm
“FARGO MARATHON 5K: Help Us Put A New Pair of Running Shoes on Children In Our Community
Let’s take one huge step forward for our community. This spring Fargo Marathon, Dakota Medical Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and NIKE have partnered together to produce a matching funds program with the goal of raising enough money to purchase a new pair of running shoes for 1000 underprivileged children in the Red River Valley. Your 5K registration will make a difference. 1 Race, 3.1 miles, 10,000 people, 1000 pairs of shoes.”
The race starts at 8:15 – decadent! – and I am ready to roll.
BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH DAKOTA FARGO 5K
We said we were going to do it… and we did! The following post is by my mom regarding our
rampage stroll through the Arizona battleground. The weather was gorgeous, the crowd was big, the costumes were insane and I believe a great time was had by all.
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Warrior Dash Valkyrie in Training – Jumping the fire was the least of our worries.
Well, it’s over, done, kaput, fini and I prevailed, conquered, triumphed, SURVIVED! I don’t quite feel like a Valkyrie; that seems too lofty a status to claim. However, I do feel like a pretty tough old dame; a survivor. In addition, successfully completing the Warrior Dash has given me new motivation to continue my training and weight loss.
The big day was April 28 and Team Geezer had shrunk from 6 to 3; Wendy, a true Valkyrie; Jessica, another tough old dame; and me, the Valkyrie in training.
Actually, my daughter, Wendy, is only an honorary geezer. At the age of 40 and a dedicated extreme runner, she is in her prime and quite physically fit. You only have to read the other entries on her blog to get that. We both pretend that I am not 27 years older and a couch potato wannabe. She motivates me, encourages me, enables me in my delusion that I can do this, and delights in my success. Wendy started this quest by challenging me 8 months ago.
The day was hot, the venue dusty, the crowd large and rowdy. Over the next 2 days, 10,000+ aspiring warriors would don buffalo horns, roar excitedly, and enthusiastically tackle 14 hazards in pursuit of a pot metal disc; the “Bling”, the proof that we successfully participated in the silliest endeavor of our lives to this point. We are all survivors of some sort and most of us have survived other challenging and even life threatening events. However, the Warrior Dash has the distinction of being a life threatening event in which everyone volunteers to place themselves at risk for no gain other than bragging rights. Human beings; go figure. Are we missing a chemical of some sort? We do love to live on the edge. Even at the age of 67, I still fall prey to this flaw in the human psyche. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even the oldest in the Dash. My, oh my; the lengths to which we will go to prove ourselves indestructible.
The Dash was both better and worse than anticipated. We started off at an optimistic trot in the first wave of the day; my hubby rolling video of the screaming, bouncing mob. The costumes were wild; a flock of batmen (and batwomen) in boxers, perky hard bodies in everything from yoga gear to bikinis, a pair of hunks in drag, more hunks in tutus and unitards. Team Geezer was spiffy in hot pink shirts announcing our war cry (and our combined ages) in glitter; “200+ Years of Survival!”. The committed and seriously determined competitors had stripped down to their trunks and six packs; they took off at a dead run and never looked back.
Did the top guy really finish all 5k in only 21 minutes? Yup; the 5k and all the crazy obstacles along the way, including 4 walls, 2 sets of cargo nets, a fire pole, a junk yard of rusted cars, a tightrope across a pool of mud, another pool (of more mud) with a particularly refreshing waterfall to climb (and another d@$%@&d wall to slide down), two rows of fire, and the dreaded mud wallow. Twenty one minutes? Seriously? I felt good to finish in 1 hour, 19 minutes and change. I felt even better when I discovered that participants half my age took twice the time. I guess there is something to Geezer Power, after all. Of course, in retrospect, my competitive side emerges and I add caveats like, we dawdled (true); however, the whole truth is that we took it slow on purpose. We were just out to enjoy the day and get through the course together. We accomplished both goals in spades. We all took a lot of pleasure in the Warrior Dash…after it was over. (It’s a good thing no one asked me if I was having fun during the traverse of the triple wide cargo net. My response would not have been printable.)
The obstacles were tough, which gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction, having been able to surmount them with no more than scraped knees and sore shoulders for my trouble. I could have done without the mud wallow and the fire hose shower afterward. However, I can never get enough of the laughter we shared. The next morning, Wendy and I walked 6 ½ miles and chattered about the Dash the whole way. It had been a great weekend and a great time spent with my daughter; more memories to add to our collection of laughs we will share when I am 90 and no longer able to do this crazy stuff. I still have a few years between now and 90…hmmm…next year?
My mother and I are currently registered for the Warrior Dash in Florence, Arizona on April 28. Yeah, this is it – the one the Valkyrie in Training has been focused on for the last 8 months. As this has been a personal journey for her, I will let her tell in her own words the anticipation and intrigue of the race…
“Warrior Dash Valkyrie in Training – Penultimate Entry – Jumping the Fire
At some point, it occurred to Team Geezer that we have to jump the fire. It has become a metaphor for doing the deed, getting it done; actually completing the Warrior Dash. Next Saturday, April 28, is the big day! Yea!
I have been wondering if it will be hard (most likely), frustrating (probably), fun (absolutely). One of the geezers is even bringing a bottle of bubbly to celebrate our accomplishment. Note the optimism there? We do expect to finish, no matter what; we have vowed to push, pull, drag, and shove each other over every last obstacle.
Our numbers have dwindled due to injury and other life events but the hard-core folks are still here. Me, Bobbie, the aspiring Valkyrie; my daughter, Wendy, the reigning Valkyrie; Jess, who doesn’t give a d@%m about Valkyries; and Betty, to whom it just seems like rollicking good fun. Wanda, the injured geezer, will be there for moral support as will Betty’s daughter, head motivator; Jess’s honey, keeper of the cooler; and my hubby, designated photographer. Can’t do this without our own cheer squad, right?
My training has been hit and miss this month. Excuses, excuses…surgery, recovering from surgery, recovering from infection after surgery, and, oh, yeah, it is our Yellow Time here in Tucson. Every Palo Verde tree in town is bursting with yellow blossoms, vying for attention with all the other trees. Even better, each species of Palo Verde blooms on a different schedule providing us with an extended blooming season of rare and spectacular splendor. An exquisitely beautiful time of year with delightful and breath-taking landscapes everywhere you look. Breath-taking on several levels. As much as I adore the Yellow Time in the desert, it quite literally takes my breath. It is this particular pollen that knocks me flat in spring. I spend these glorious days groggy on Benadryl and peering at the world through buckets of tears. Therefore, most of my workouts have been indoors. Rather than enjoying beautiful mornings walking through my neighborhood, I have been confined to quarters with my hand weights and the TV. Well, it is what it is.
Still, the Benadryl cannot quell the excitement and anxiety with which I anticipate the Dash. One of my geezer buds and I are creating hot pink geezer t-shirts for the team. Even though my daughter has not yet achieved an age at which she can claim geezer status, she has agreed to accept the rank of honorary geezer for the day. So, we are anticipating some mud filled, muscle tearing, fire jumping fun…with bubbly and self-satisfaction as our reward. Oh, yeah, of course, there is the BLING. Got to have bling and lots of photos just to prove to ourselves that it was not all an exhausting dream.
There will be one more post to commemorate the end of my odyssey toward Valkyrie status. Next week, I hope to be able to include photos of the happily and suitably muddy Team Geezer, wearing happy, silly grins. No blood, we promise each other. Hey! That’s a good mantra; no blood, just mud. Combined, Team Geezer represents two and a half centuries of life. Ganbare to all of us!”
Races #8 for 2012 is checked off: the St. Patrick’s Day 5k in Brush, CO. These races were a loop around the south edge of the town and into the county. I’ve run parts of this course on my daily training runs and thought I’d give it a go to see how my legs were recovering from the long race two weeks prior.
The morning was gorgeous, about 50 degrees and calm. I jogged the mile from my house to the start line and so I didn’t have to park. There were indoor bathrooms and water available before the race.
The race started on time and we set off down the road. There was one aid station at the half way point.
The volunteers were cheerful and helpful.
It was about 60 degrees when we finished and there were bananas, oranges, water and sports drinks available at the finish. Of course there was green beer later!
I enjoyed the run, did very well, and surprised myself with a strong finish. I jogged home and felt great.