Seconds count.

We all know seconds count, it matters when it is the difference between a personal best/record. It matters when you are trying to move up a space or two in a race. And it REALLY matters when it comes to RRCA Grand Prix championship points when you are in an uber-competitive age category.  Speaking of, who knew the women’s 50-55 age group was one such??? I’m certainly finding that out this year.

How much do those seconds count? Even ONE SINGLE SECOND can mean the difference between a first and 2nd place age group award especially when you factor in chip time versus gun time.

This morning’s race was a bit of a lesson in it for me–a woman in my age category finished just ahead of me and I was perfectly fine with it, I ran my race best I could and she legit crossed that finish line mat ahead of me.  However when age group awards were announced, they called my name as first female grandmasters female and hers as second.

I’m confused…I go up and question it and here she comes too and is a wee bit indignant–not that I blame her, I would be too but they say no, that’s what their sheet says and we need to speak to Mac (of Mac’s Race Timing Service, best damn race timer in the state in my  humble opinion).  Mind you, this is a championship race so the points matter both individually and for your team.

Off we go, and of course this would be the second time I had pestered him because my name wasn’t showing on the preliminary results sheet and we explain the situation.  She says she finished ahead of me and I say yes, she absolutely did, Mac then very patiently goes through the numbers for us and I literally finished one second faster than her on the chip time. One second!

Fortunately she was very gracious but I know I’m now gonna have to step up my game because I will be the one she is gunning for in the Grand Prix races.

Race Recap:

Chase Race and PAWS, the Arkansas state Grand Prix 2 mile championship–this has always been one of my favorite events especially on the years where I have gotten to run the pet mile with Elsie (we have earned two top five awards).  Unfortunately due to the impending nasty weather I had to leave her home, the Miniature Schnauzer Menace is a fair weather runner when it comes to rain and it was just as well, the 2 miler was delayed two hours because of lightning and the pet event was cancelled.

My training has been FUBAR since the Valentine’s Day 5k courtesy of a co-worker quitting mid-shift leaving the rest of us working double-shifts and extra hours, kind of tough getting motivated to do quality training when you are spending 10-12 hours on your feet.  Alas that is simply an excuse and I really need to embrace the suck, harden the f*ck up and get those miles in regardless if I want to try and get somewhere near the front of the midpack again.

My chip time: 15:33.46/ Gun time: 15:40.43.  Wasn’t helped by the two hour delay and the donut I ate right before the race. 26 seconds slower than 2017 but I’m several pounds heavier which I need to work at getting rid of. *cough, approximately 11 pounds heavier*

Near perfect racing temperatures once the storm system moved out so can’t blame my lack of speed on that!

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Moral of the story:  It ain’t over until it’s over and keep pushing, that one second does make a difference.

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Adopt a canine running companion

p_20190101_112810I volunteer as a foster for a local animal rescue group and my current houseguest absolutely loves to run especially on the trails. 3-5 miles is no problem for this girl and we did 7 miles this past Saturday. One day last week I hadn’t taken her out for 3 days and she went and got one of my running shoes, dropped it in front of my chair and sat there staring at me in expectation.

Unfortunately she is dealing with black dog syndrome (Google it) and is not getting the adoption attention she deserves.

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If you are in the Connecticut/east coast area and are looking for a canine companion to run with then you won’t go wrong with Betty Boop here.

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Some people are reluctant to adopt a smaller dog for running but I am owned by a miniature schnauzer that would outrun most dogs that are considered ideal runners–she is now 11 and I don’t take her out for longer than 6 miles but she used to do double that easily.

#adoptdontshop #rescuedogs #runwithyourdog #running #runner #caninecompanion #trails #trailrunning #rescue https://www.adoptapet.com/pet/24116619-westport-connecticut-poodle-miniature

Hello 2019!

Hiya!

Still running? Yep.

Still crazy about it? Oh yeah.

Racing? Errr, not really but that is about to change as my job in retail hell allows.

Blogging? Well, obviously not but hopefully that will change as well which begs the question, does anyone still read blogs or has facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites of the ilk taken over? Either way a scroll through this and my other personal blog has reminded me how much I missed having a written record of my adventures and day to day routines so will get back to doing this for myself.

Speaking of racing I did do my first one in ages last month, rocked up to a local 5k with no goals other than to finish it and hang out with my friends.  The free Santa suit also might have been a key influence 🙂

The inaugural Santa Run 5k in Cabot was quite good, you would have never known it was its first year.  No freshman mistakes that were visible to the runners other than a route not being published beforehand.  It was held at the local retirement center and proceeds went to Lonoke County Meals on Wheels, a very worthy cause.

Quick race recap:  The weather was absolutely dire! Bitter winds, rain, and a bit of sleet. All that however didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the participants and volunteers, we were all having good-natured grumbles and mutters about the weather and how we were all crazy to be there doing it but everyone seemed to be in high-spirits. How can you not be happy when decked out in jingle bells, Santa suits, and festive attire???

We were all anticipating a flat route through the downtown area but nope, they took us out to the high school and towards the Shiloh neighborhood which is well known for its short but evil little hills.  I quite liked the route but it was definitely not what we all expected.

The Good:

*Well organized

*Warm place to gather indoors pre and post race with a Christmas festival

*Indoor restrooms!

*Race medals that were lovely hand painted Christmas baubles by the residents of the home

*Chip timing and an announcer saying everyone’s names as they approached the finish line.

*Wonderful volunteers

*Hot cocoa and cookies

*Race swag was a Santa suit AND a t-shirt which I wore several times to work for our holiday spirit days

The Bad:  No bad! Other than the weather which of course is no fault of the organizers it was fabulous.  The only thing I would possibly change is having one course marshal or a sign at the entrance to the Shiloh neighborhood so people didn’t accidentally turn there instead of continuing straight (there is a curve in the road just beyond so if you didn’t see anyone in front of you there might be some confusion for the front of the middle of the packers).

I would not hesitate to do this event again, hopefully next one the weather will cooperate and the turnout is even higher.  Although that might not be such a good thing for me because it would mean the super-speedy runners might turn up!

My results: Chip time 25:50.31, 1st female, and 7th overall.  Well off my 5k PB but I am not complaining!

Next up is the One Hour Track Run January 20th, the first race in the Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix series. Let’s get ready to race!

Full Moon 25K 2017

AKA the race I should have considered being a DNS (Did Not Start). I did this one a few years ago while experiencing non-stop nausea from a birth control pill and to be honest I remember very little from it because I was in a haze of misery.  This year I had signed up for the 50k and training was going fairly well until I incurred an injury at work–tweaked the piriformis which went on to affect my entire right leg from the glute all the way down to my calf and radiated around to the shin.  The shin had me the most concerned because I initially though it was a stress fracture because I couldn’t even apply fingertip pressure to it.  Fortunately that faded after a few days, however the glute to calf pain did not.  Throw in a raging case of plantar fasciitis in both feet and my training has been FUBAR and non-existent since the 8th of June with the last long run being a 10 miler on 4th of June!

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So being the stubborn arse I am and not wanting to completely ‘waste’ my $50 I opted for the 25k route again knowing that the SAG wagon would always be an option if things went even further south.  For those unfamiliar with the Full Moon it is run at night on forest service roads in the Oachita (pronounced wash-ih-taw) National Forest and its tagline is heat, hills, and humidity!  It definitely lives up to it! Add in dusty, loose packed dirt roads riddled with rock plus copperhead snakes, tarantulas, and other native wildlife and it’s an adventure all runners should experience at least once.  The aid stations are awesome with lovely volunteers looking after the runners and walkers brave enough to take it on. This year the turnaround point aid station for the 25k had a disco ball lighting the way and it was surreal in the way the beams played across the trees and dust motes. Again, thank you to those who gave their time and encouragement.

I quickly learned that my INOV8 running pack which was perfect for UK ultra conditions is not going to work in the Arkansas heat and humidity, it has too much coverage and doesn’t ‘breathe’.  Ended up ditching it at the mile 4 aid station and carrying my handheld of Tailwind until on the way back when I collected it back for the 4 miles to the finish. Was wishing I’d just left it there for the lost and found though! Fuel was the small bottle of Tailwind, crisps (potato chips) and watermelon with a chaser of pickle juice at the turnaround, then orange slices, crisps, and a small cup of 7-up at the 12 mile mark.  I should have foregone the 7-Up though, it wasn’t flat and I drank it too fast so any running I was doing ended about 1/4 of a mile from that station! Developed a gas bubble which wouldn’t go away and I could no longer take any deep breaths. Prior to that point I was power hiking the ups and overtaking people on the downs (I don’t have much fear when it comes to bombing down the hills even in uneven conditions) but it was game over for any running whatsoever for the last 4 miles in. Note to self, avoid gulping the carbonated stuff from now on, sip it like a fine gin or in my case some of Aldi’s own.

One handy thing I learned is that Off Active bug spray makes for a damn fine anti-chafe agent as well as keeping the nasty biting critters at bay. Zero chafing except for on my toes from the loose bits of gravel that worked its way into my shoes thanks to being unable to find one of my Dirty Girl gaiters–if anyone wants to gift me an early Christmas gift, a set of those would be quite nice 😀

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Last night’s kit included the Team Beef Arkansas singlet, Brooks Cascadia 10s (which are due for replacement), Brooks Night Life cap (also due for replacement) and shorts, SureSport calf compression sleeves (a groupon special from 2013), Silva headtorch, Inov8 running pack, and Tailwind in Caffeinated Raspberry Buzz. The swag from this year’s race included a technical vest, 25th Anniversary water bottle with finisher’s ribbon, 2 tubes of lip balm, Hammer Nutrition gel, and a fantastic finishers all you can eat breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes plus awesomely stocked and staffed aid stations.

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Event pictures courtesy of the awesome Arkansas Outside, grimaces courtesy of moi

My stats–fairly dire! However I gutted it out and finished and while my time was approximately 26 minutes slower than 2011’s time, the course this year was also 16.2 miles versus 15 for that one and no, I did NOT get lost. Considering the injuries and lack of training I am counting it as a win (PS avoid gulping the carbonated drinks during!).

 

 

 

Chase Race and Paws

Have you ever raced a 2 miler? It’s intense. And fun. But very, very, very intense. My best piece of advice is to do a thorough warm-up and then take off balls to the wall fast and try to hold on as best you can. Of course this is totally counter to what I recommend for a 5k but like that you really don’t want to have anything left in the tank once you finish. If you do then you didn’t run hard enough!

Today was the 4th time I’ve run the Chase Race but the first time since 2012 (kind of hard to justify a trip from the UK for a 2 mile event even if it is your favoritest road race in Arkansas). It is so much fun and incredibly well-organized plus you get to run with your dog for the 1 mile afterwards or love on all the other furbabies if your mutt (like my Elsie) has to stay home.

Today is also my 2 mile race personal best. Yeah, I know, totally shocked me as well, I was telling everyone it was probably a personal worst–I can never remember my race times–and came home to check out just how bad it was only to discover it was 4 seconds faster than my first Chase Race in 2009.  Now mind you, it’s still not terribly speedy at 15:07 but I’ve not done any speed work at all and have been struggling to run 8:30s on my shorter “faster” runs but hot damn I will take it!

My lungs hurt, my legs ache but the 2nd place age category kind of makes it all ok. Kudos to Don Potter and the entire team that makes the Chase Race such a success. Hopefully I will be back to run it in 2018 to chase down that sub 15 and Elsie will be up to running as well.

Pictures to be added later 🙂

 

 

Milestones

A milestone has almost slipped by me…Tonight was the first meeting of our local Women Can Run 2017 clinic and during it I realized this month marked the 10th anniversary of when I started to run.  When I began, it was all on my own and I used the Couch to 5k program that I found via a web search. It worked but it was so hard staying motivated in the beginning and as I looked around the room full of women I wondered if the beginners realized just how lucky they were with having such an awesome resource available to them. They are about to embark upon such an amazing journey and the friendships they make will be cemented with sweat and thus will be nearly unbreakable.

Welcome to your new lives. Run strong, run happy, and run with all your heart.

 

Running Films: Free to Run

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Last night after one of my mutts decided to give me a fright by making me think someone was attempting to break into the RV (he decided a midnight snack was in order, the mutt that is) I decided to take advantage of the free Hulu trial that is coming to an end tomorrow by watching Free to Run (amazon affiliate link) a documentary by Pierre Morath.

I’d first become aware of the film from an article in a free French newspaper while we were traveling there last autumn and thought it had something a wee bit different about it. That could have been down to my painstakingly slow French translation though! The documentary was more than a little disjointed but it was still engaging.  Because it is about distance running it focused mostly on the marathon distance but there was the matter of the narrator referring to it as 26.4 miles, not once but 3 times throughout that I caught–perhaps that could be a drinking game, having a shot whenever it was referred to as 26.4 rather than 26.2!

What was great was how the women’s movement was portrayed in the fight to even get the right to run an organized marathon event and Bobbi Gibb was acknowledged as the first woman to run Boston albeit as a bandit. Made me proud of my womanhood and being a runner and thanks to them I have the option to register for any race longer than 1500 meters!

I’m also a little in love with Noël Tamini and wish I could read some of the issues of Spiridon the running magazine he helped create.  His fight to open up the international racing scene to all including women is something that needs its own documentary.  If there are any please send me the information, I would love to view them.

There are several other luminaries of running profiled and interviewed–Fred LeBow, Frank Shorter, Pre (Steve Prefontaine), Joan Benoit Samuelson, etc but the parts above were my favorites.  As I first mentioned it was a little disjointed and a NY Times Review referred to it as idiosyncratic, which I do concur with.

Worth a watch, you betcha. Just be prepared for the overwhelming urge to lace up your shoes and go for a run immediately after.

Back in the USofA

Yes, it’s true. I won’t be posting up any #gotlost photos on instagram from the lovely footpaths of England for a bit.  As of right now I’m back in the US and reconnecting with running friends here.  Unfortunately my Nordic Walking poles are still in the United Kingdom so I won’t be getting to do that as cross training until I can be reunited with them but that doesn’t mean I’m not still pursuing new activities!  Last Saturday I was invited by a friend to attend an aquafit H.E.A.T. class.  Oh. My. Gosh.  Talk about an intense core workout! If you get the opportunity to try one of these do so! I’m still nursing some sore muscles 2 days after.

As for running I’m rebuilding on that, it kind of took a back burner after we left France for Ireland and I am looking forward to getting back to some semblance of decent mileage. I will try and share some of my favourite run routes from our Europe travels in the coming months.

 

Not just about the medals

I run for many reasons….the endorphins, the calm, my mental health, trying to outrun my family history of heart disease and at least reach age 70, camaraderie, cake, the occasional bling, and to set new personal records/bests.  But occasionally I run for remembrance, mostly for those I have known personally, last month though my partner proposed a different sort after a week of visiting WWII cemeteries, battle sites, and memorials—running Omaha Beach. No medals, no t-shirt just a simple run on a beautiful beach that not terribly long ago had been the location of so much sacrifice.

It was so incredibly poignant and brought to reality all those history classes I cruised through paying the least amount of attention that I could get away with and pass with a decent grade.  Gazing across a short expanse of beach that must have seemed endless to those struggling to traverse it to reach the first bit of shelter from the enemy onslaught. No words I produce can equal the sacrifice, terror, bravery, tenacity, mayhem and bombardment of that time and I certainly can’t adequately express the emotions I was experiencing while running that beach.

Omaha Beach Run

As I say, not as I do or How I ran the Reims Marathon on no training!

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It would happen that way back in July I ended up winning an entry to the Run in Reims race festival from Running Heroes (affiliate link, my code is 00ac)…being on somewhat of a roll after the last ultra I opted for the marathon thinking we would be settled in Malta and I could get some good heat training in making a cooler autumn race somewhat easier.  Well if you follow our Gabby and Simon blog/vlog then you are well aware things didn’t go to plan AT. ALL.  I actually didn’t think we were going to make it to Reims so had tried to transfer to it to someone who could make use of it but per race rules that wasn’t possible.  Honestly we had written off me being able to get here and my training was non-existent anyway (difficult to get in quality training when essentially you are homeless and camping out in the car).

Obviously we made it but oh my gosh was I expecting my first ever DNF with my longest run being around 7 miles in the past 3 months!  Not to mention there was a little incident with my right foot being run over by the car week before!  If I was someone I was coaching I would most emphatically have advised against doing this but as the blog title reads, this is an “As I say, not as I do” post.

First off I must say I love France, once you get away from the Paris area then the people are incredibly friendly and helpful and not above taking the piss in a very good-natured manner. Yes, there is some arrogance occasionally but actually far less than I’ve encountered in the UK (again not counting Paris, they wrote the book on it).

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This could end up turning into a novelette of a post so opting for the good/bad format:

Good:  Security is taken seriously but it isn’t incredibly obtrusive. Like the Marine Corps Marathon we had to clear security before entering to collect our numbers but it seemed much more organised and certainly went quicker.

Bad:  Finding the venue for the race village was far more difficult than it should have been, explicit directions should be included for those of us not from the region–and there were a fair few of us, Simon heard lots of grumbling about the same issues we had in finding Stade Auguste Delaune.

Good:  Number and t-shirt pickup was very quick and easy once we found the stadium.

Bad:  Expo was non-existent, this is a new event but there were over 11,000 participants over the 10k, half-marathon, and full marathon races so vendors and organisers need to get their act together and have something befitting the event size.

Good:  The races and the roads were well marked and fenced off so as to block off the majority of car access and to protect the runners and spectators.

Bad:  They started closing off a lot of the roads earlier than stated causing major issues with racers trying to get to the packet pickup.

Bad: The race maps could have been clearer.

Good: High energy start and the waves moved through smoothly.

Good: Lots of water/food stations that were very well stocked and plenty of bins spaced out appropriately to throw your rubbish in.

Good: The volunteers and spectators were AMAZING! Lots of allez, allez, bravo cheers from everyone and if you smiled, gave a thumbs up, and clapped back they were even more enthusiastic.

Good:  Beautiful course overall although like most marathons you do seem to have an industrial park section.

Good:  We ran through the heart of Champagne vineyards country.

Good: Every kilometre was marked and they were spot on with the location accuracy

Bad:  More of a meh, wasn’t fond of the doubling back during the last 2 miles but at least there were lots of people cheering.

Good:  Several bands were set up through out the course so that helped boost energy levels especially for those of us like moi who didn’t bring their mp3 players

Good: Variety at the food stations–fruit, water, coca-cola, savoury crackers.

Good: Gender-specific tech race shirt, personalised bib, and very nice medal with the option to have it engraved.

Good:  Actually great, the best food I have ever seen at a finish line! Got my obligatory banana but they had champagne, macaroons, coffee, tea, soup, quiche, pizza, fruit, biscuits, etc all rowed out for quite a distance so you weren’t crowded around trying to fight your way to what you wanted.  Also the half and full marathon sides were separated so as to alleviate any crowding as well.  Everything appeared to move quite well and you were not herded through like cattle so no rushing.

My performance recap:  As stated before I had no pressure to try and complete it in a certain time so went in fully relaxed and settled into a decent pace that lasted until around mile 15 when my back started aching.  It was a surprise to me as well that I passed the 4:15 pacer (I had started in the very back of our pen) and was feeling comfortable.  Kept expecting him to pass me when I had to start doing a run/walk but apparently my split times were fairly reasonable–my slowest was mile 23 with an 11:09.

I loved the champagne country part but could have done without the endless canal slog mile 18.4 through 25, that was the only bit where it was a struggle mentally but I find that type of route mind-numblingly boring.  I did get a chance to re-pay the very nice Belgian man that I had been chatting with off and on who got me back to running when I had started to walk during mile 16.

Overall I’m happy with having finished and I even ended up with a personal marathon best of 4:13:01 (official chip time), an improvement of 25:23. If it wasn’t for every muscle aching in my body right now I would say that I should do this more often! Now pardon me while I go off to do the marathon zombie shuffle while walking the mutts 😀

Oh and a huge thank you again to Run in Reims and Running Heroes for hosting the competition for the entry. This is one race I would definitely not hesitate to pay the entry for to run again and that’s high praise from me.

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