Saturday, April 5, 2014
The first of two half-marathons this month... I picked this one because I have a friend that lives in Bentonville. The plan was that the girls and I would spend the weekend with her and she'd keep the girls for me while I did the race. Bentonville is a 3 hour drive from my house, so it's not a race I can just get up early for and make the drive the day of. If I hadn't had a friend in town, I never would have even considered it.
My friend's daughter caught pneumonia. We hoped she'd get better in time, but she was still pretty sick by mid week, so we decided that me and the girls staying at their house wasn't a good idea. Which left me with a dilemma. I couldn't drive up the day of, and I couldn't take the girls with me with no one to watch them. So I reached out and another friend of mine offered to keep them overnight for me. I booked a hotel room in Bentonville. Problem solved!
The next plan was for me to get off of work, check the girls out of school, take them to my friend, then hit the road. It left me very little room for error.... I get off of work at 1:30. Half an hour to my friend's house from school. Packet pickup ended at 6pm, and it's a 3 hour drive as I said. I was hoping to get on the road by 2:30, to be in Bentonville by 5:30. I got to the school and it took 20 minutes to finally round up the girls and get out of there. Ridiculous. I still could make it. But I had to get gas, get the girls settled in.... it was creeping up on 3pm before I hit the road. I would just barely make it, but I could still make it.
Then, not even 20 miles out of town, traffic came to a dead stop. It took 20 minutes to go the few miles to get around the accident. There was no way I could make it, and - of course - despite having used the bathroom before leaving my friend's house, I needed a pit stop.
During my potty break I emailed the race people and explained what was going on and they told me what I needed to do to pick my packet up in the morning before the race. Disaster averted!
I made it into town about 6:30, feeling like my bladder was going to explode. It's not like I was guzzling water, and I never have to pee that frequently, but of course I had to when it was totally not convenient. Then I realized I had printed out directions to the packet pickup location, not the hotel. Smartphone to the rescue. I GPS'd my way to the hotel.
I checked into my hotel room....
I had a king size bed and 5 pillows all to myself! A night of just me... no one else... no TV, no talking. Just pure peace and quiet. It was divine.
I got up at 5am, changed into my race clothes, found some breakfast, and headed out to find the place to pick up my packet. I've only been to Bentonville once and we didn't really explore town then, so I had no clue where I was going. Thank goodness for the GPS yet again. Of course, the route it picked for me included part of the race course, which was closed, so it wasn't as helpful as I hoped for, but I found a place to park for the race. Which turned out to be almost half a mile from my destination. I had to walk to get my packet, walk back to the van, then walk back to the starting line. I really was thinking that if I believed in omens, I probably should just walk away. Go home. But, I didn't.
My shoe charm says "Sole Sister"... my sister has one, too.
I had hoped that at packet pickup, had I made it in time on Friday, that I would talk to someone about the early start, since I was a walker. The 3:15 pacer started early, and I knew I wouldn't cross the finish line before that. Yes, I could finish the race in the 4 hours, but I thought an early start would at least let me get home earlier. But, since I was late, I couldn't do that.
Almost immediately, I felt like EVERYONE had passed me. There were very few walkers. I imagine most of them took the early start. The policemen on bikes were circling around the last few of us. I was honestly afraid to look behind me, to confirm that I was last. I just walked. Someone has to be last, and I was going to do this race regardless of where I was in the pack.
Bentonville is a beautiful town. I never take my phone out to take pictures during a race, because it slows me down, but I took 3 pictures today.
Hay sculptures. I tried to get both of them in the picture, but apparently failed. I thought they were so cute and clever.
We passed an old cemetery, and it was probably my favorite part of the course. Not only was it really pretty, but the signs were great.
(No, it really wasn't. LOL)
We passed the Waste Water Treatment Facility, too, but that was neither beautiful or fun. It was smelly.
I was getting really excited towards the end.... my pace was excellent. I was under a 16 minute average. Barely, but still. With just one mile left to go, I just knew I was going to end with a sub-16:00 pace. Then... the hill. I had heard mention of The Hill. But didn't think too much of it. Ha! I do not know how ANYONE could run up that hill. Seriously. By the time I made it to the top, and for a minute I wasn't sure I would, I had a stitch in my side (I'm walking, remember?), I couldn't breathe, and I thought I might have to visit the first aide station conveniently placed at the top. It was insane. They had cardboard figures of the race director dressed up like Satan along the way. I'm really not exaggerating. It was killer.
And it killed my pace. I tried to recover as best I could, but it just wasn't in me. I finished in 3 hours, 33 minutes. Two minutes faster than my first half last year, 12 minutes faster than my second half, and it's hard to compare to the last half I did since they diverted me and I lost half a mile. My pace was 16:23. So, I did get a new personal best =) And I definitely was not last ;)
I crossed the finish, got my medal, and pretty much immediate walked the half a mile back to the van, wishing I had parked closer every step of the way (and GPSing it again as I had no clue where the van was in relation to the finish, even though it was fairly close to the start, but I have zero sense of direction), and drove back home.
It's hard to see, but I wrote "x 4" in the dirt next to my sticker
Aside from the stinky waste water facility and the evil hill, this was probably my favorite half-marathon yet. There were so many people out cheering us on, staying until even the slow-pokes like me. Water stations galore, never more than 2 miles apart and that was rare. At times it was every mile. And the scenery was gorgeous. I'll definitely do it again.
I'm tired. I'm sore. I have an epic blister on my left foot. And now that I've written this, I am going to bed.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Once upon a time there was a girl named Jennifer. In high school, she had a very awesome friend named Sam. Truth be told, she had a huge crush on him. He was just everything she liked.... long hair, played guitar, funny, smart. They were best friends. One day Sam called her and told her he sometimes thought about asking her out but he didn't want to risk not being friends. Jennifer convinced him they would be friends no matter what happened. They "dated" for exactly one week. It was a little strange. During that week, Sam opened up a lot about his mother. The note he wrote to her to break up with her told her that his mother had died a few years prior. It also said, "sometimes I think I love you and I want to tell you. " Even though he ended that phase of their relationship, Jennifer thought that was the most beautiful thing anyone had ever said to her and it remained burned into her memory for many, many years.
They did remain friends. Dating was awkward at best and they never even kissed. But they loved each other as friends.
As life went on, they lost contact. Then they found each other again. Sam was very odd, but Sam had always been very quirky and that was one of the things Jennifer liked do much about him. Unfortunately, Jennifer had just meet Bill and devoted so much time to him that she lost touch with Sam again. She never forgot him, though. Some people are just too much a part of you to forget.
Jennifer saw Sam a few times... once walking down the road, once across a store.. always too far away for her to call to him. It was frustrating. To know someone you missed was so close, in the same part of town frequently as you, yet you had no way to talk to them. She never could find him on social media and no phone number listed since everyone these days has mobile phones (not that she could ever in a million years work up the nerve to call him if she found a number for him...).
One beautiful warm Saturday, Jennifer took her kids to Hobby Lobby. They picked up some yellow yarn and checked out. As they were leaving, Jennifer held the door for a man following behind them. She looked at his face and realized...
It was Sam.
Dumb with shock, she said nothing.
He said "Thank you." And walked away.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Even amidst all the chaos in my head and life recently, I have kept up with my mood blanket. I think it's been good therapy, honestly. I have to look back on my day and be honest with myself about how I'm feeling. Some days, when I look back on the day, things weren't as bad as I felt they were in that moment. It's been a great visual to one of my current mantras... feelings don't last forever, good or bad. You have to savor the good ones and wait it the bad ones.
The picture is my progress through March 2. I have one more section that will take me through the end of March and then I repeat the whole thing. I actually thought about just carrying it through March and starting a different blanket because I am a little tired of the color scheme, but I think I should keep it going. We'll see how I feel at the end of March.
Monday, March 3, 2014
I decided I needed a good goal to keep me moving. A good long term goal. This is my plan....
I turn the big 40 on 2015. I have decided I want to have 13 half marathon medals by then. I have 3 now and that gives me 21 months to find and complete 10 more. It will keep me in constant training mode pretty much. The hardest part is coming up with 10 more without adding too much travel expense.
I said my next half is 4/26, but that has changed. It's actually going to be 4/5 at the Bentonville Running Festival. I have a friend that lives there that I don't see enough, so it's the perfect excuse to go visit. And she had kids around my kids ages so they can come along too. I will have the cutest cheering section at the finish line with 5 kids under 10 =)
And another exciting aspect of adding in the Bentonville half is that after RussVegas on 4/26, I will qualify for Half Fanatics! I would love to be out on the race course rocking a HF jersey. =)
I have a REALLY crazy goal marinating for after this is completed. And I do mean crazy. My sister was telling me about a co-worker of hers whose wife WALKS the FULL marathon. She's won the walking division a few times, in fact (which implies that she may not be the only walker doing the full). I'm just in awe of her. So maybe, MAYBE, I may celebrate turning 40 by walking the full Little Rock Marathon in 2016. Maybe =)
Sunday, March 2, 2014
I almost didn't do it. I had spent so long in my funk just sitting on my behind that I didn't feel prepared. But, less than two weeks to go and I decided I COULD NOT quit. So I got back out there to train. I was still worried. I only made it up to 8 miles in training. But I was going to try.
The theme this year was super heroes. My original plan was Super Grover. When I asked my sister if she was dressing up, the plan changed. She was Super Grover and I was Super Gonzo. Personally I think we were the best costumes out there, hands down. =) And luckily I had the idea of using a rain poncho for capes. I think we both would have frozen to death otherwise.
The weather was a concern for days before the race. Yet another winter storm was headed our way. Good grief, I am sick of this winter. We knew it was going to rain so we looked up ways to keep our feet as dry as possible. But it was so much worse than we thought it would be.
It was so cold, barely above freezing and I am almost sure it was freezing by the end. Windy... very windy in places. And rainy. My legs were numb. I don't think I have ever been so cold in my life. But I felt great! I would check my pace at each mile marker and I was doing way better than I thought I would. I kept my mind from thinking too far ahead, just one mile at a time. I reached 10 miles and was ecstatic. So close!
But then, just before mile 11, there was a cop redirecting us. He said there was a thunderstorm coming and they were shortening the course. Everyone was so upset. We met up with some people who hadn't been redirected and you could tell who had and hadn't been because we all looked like someone had popped our balloon at a party.
It turned out that they only shaved about a half mile off our route, which was even more irritating because it seemed so pointless... half a mile, 8 minutes at my pace... how stupid. But I really shouldn't complain. The full marathoners were picked up on a bus and even if they refused the bus and finished, there was no one there to give them their medals. =( In fact, my sister is at the after race party and said they are just giving the medals away. (She asked if I wanted to have one and I was very torn but I want one of those huge hubcap medals so badly I said yes)
I finished, half a mile short, in 3:23. I totally would have smashed my previous times (3:35 & 3:45). I am beyond impressed with myself.
Next stop: RussVegas Half on April 26! I have a lofty goal but I will tell you more later about that later.