Monday, June 29, 2015

Baltimore Women's Classic 5K 2015

Yesterday, I ran the Baltimore Women's Classic 5K. 

This was the 40th year for this ironic race which benefits Cancerve.  Cancerve is committed to helping women who are fighting cancer and improving their quality of life.  Ironically, this was my first 5K when I started running three years ago and it will be my last 5K before I start my treatment for uterine cancer.  I drove home from vacation in Virginia on Saturday evening in pouring rain and put together my flat running outfit.  Of course, several friends suggested that I have a back bib for the race and I followed their suggestion. 
Of course, I had to add the shoe bling that I got last year in the Runner's Village.  What would a race be without a little bling! :) 
I set my alarm for 5:30 am and off to sleep.  I've actually been quite tired these days which is abnormal for me.  I'm normally an energizer bunny type so to be tired is a huge adjustment!  The alarm went off and once again, I found myself wondering why I run!  Don't we all feel this way but love race days! :)  I got dressed, grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to downtown Baltimore.
I had planned a meet-up on Gracious Warrior Princess Facebook page and several running friends said that they would be able to meet before the race.  One of my friends even drove from Northern Virginia to run the race and support me! 
Once I parked, I headed over to Rash Field in downtown Baltimore in the Inner Harbour.  This is one of the prettiest areas of the city and one of the many reasons why I love this race!  The runner's village was in full swing at 6:30 am. I walked around a bit however the field was really muddy from all the rain the night before. 
I met my friends with many hugs, questions about how I am doing/feeling and pictures galore.  I'm actually quite surprised that I didn't break down and cry because I thought that I would be very emotional however that followed after the race when I was driving back to Virginia! 
These wonderful ladies are such wonderful friends and I'm so blessed to have them in my life!  A huge THANK YOU to Gracie (Pattie), Kim, Jessica and their friends for coming to support me.  Gracie and her husband, Paul drove up from Virginia to support me.  She hadn't planned on doing the race but did it with me and we took the race easy for both of us!  I can't thank her enough for all her support!!!  Again, I'm so blessed by the running community along with the support has been tremendous especially over this last week as I've struggled with my health, tests and waiting surgery along with treatments.  Again, you have brought so much to my life and I can't even begin to THANK YOU!  However, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! 
The race started promptly at 8 am with the singing of the National Anthem at 7:45 am.  Gracie and I started the race together.  We chatted about how we don't like the hill, which races we have next and life in general.  What fun to have a race buddy the entire race.  I also saw one of my friends, Amy from Pumpkin to Princess as she ran past me.  I wished that I could have spent more time with her as I love her dearly!  It started to get hot and humid around mile 2.  Also, at this point, you can see the finish line but still have a mile to go around the harbor promenade which is very lovely.  Friends were waiting for me at the finish line; thank you Danielle!
This race hands you a cold towel, race medal and has cold watermelon!  More pictures followed by Gracie and Paul heading home!  A huge thank you to Paul for being the unofficial photographer of the day!
I headed back to Rash Field to attend the BWC Training celebration and grab some food.  Several of my coaches were there and wished me congratulations. 
Meghan (a friend for many years now) and my running coach for the training hugged me while telling me how proud she was of me.  Of course, she also made me promise that if I needed anything during recovery to call her! 
I decided to grab some pictures of the Inner Harbor and head back to Virginia for my week long vacation in the Northern Neck Rivah Country! 

Once on the road again, I stopped at the local Wegmans for my post-race tradition of coffee and pastries.  Of course, I had to stop because I had been crying.  The emotions caught up with me about how important this was to me and will always be! 
I love this year's medal; the colors are my favorite-pink and turquoise.  I'm such a girlie girl and love the pink!  This race continues to one of my favorite races for many reasons-the race course, the beautiful Inner Harbor of Baltimore, the women who run this race, the Runner's Village, seeing friends and now the significance of being a cancer survivor (to come).  Again, I can't begin to tell you thank you for all your support.  Running has changed my life in many ways and I'm a better person because of that and YOU! 

Till next time and  remember, my journey continues....If you can dream it, you can do it as Walt Disney said!

Monday, June 22, 2015

What can you do when you can't run

Last Thursday, I found myself in the Emergency Room.  I had been having some medical issues and while waiting for test results, I found myself getting sicker as the days went on.  After four hours, I was sent home with a rest and wait health order until this upcoming Tuesday.

I was used to running at least a mile a day and had started the Runner's World Summer Streak 2015 with only a little over two weeks left.  The doctor didn't tell me that I couldn't run however suggested that I allow my body to rest for several days and take it easy.  Easy, I thought means no running since I tend to push myself and had been taking it easy only to get worse.  Basically no running then. :(

So, what's a runner to do when you can't run for several days.  The obvious, of course, spent time with running in other ways.  First, movies.  I have a wonderful streaming program available at  my workplace, Howard County Library System entitled Hoopla.  You can stream movies, comics, audio books and music.

I searched for running in movies and the following titles came up in the search engine:  My Run, Endurance, Spirit of the Marathon II and The Last Mile.  I had seen Endurance and the Spirit of the Marathon II but not the other two titles.  My Run is the story of Terry Hitchcock who loses his wife to breast cancer, then loses his job and has to deal with all of this while being a single parent.  He runs 75 marathons in 75 days to raise awareness for single parents.  This film is narrated by Billy Bob Thorton and just so inspirational.  I laughed, cried and wanted to run even more after watching!  

The Last Mile is a documentary on running.  I particularly liked hearing various runners aspects on the sport and the music is breathtaking.  Again, this film made me want to go for a run and just enjoy it!

Second, today was Summer Solstice and for the past two years, I have attended the Summer Solstice yoga salute to the sun sponsored by Athleta.  Finally, I felt well enough after resting for two days to get out of the house and attend this annual event.  Yoga would be good for me, right. :)  The class started at 11:15 am and was done by 12:30 pm.  I love the yoga instructor, Jamie who was so relaxing, calm and thoughtful of the day.  I loved being outside in the sun on the new patio at Columbia Mall even though we moved inside after about 10 minutes due to the extreme humidity.  

After yoga, everyone in attendance received a new Athleta yoga and toesox.  I can't wait to try these out; such fun to have new toys to place with in yoga classes!
Finally, after lunch and going home, I spent my afternoon reading some of my favorite magazines and a book that I had started full of short stories and essays.  Experience Life, Runner's World and Women's Running are some of my favorite magazines.  I had started Tales from Another Mother Runner about a month ago.  It is a collection of stories and essays from Mother Runners.  I had the opportunity to meet Dimitry McDowell.  She is very sweet, full of energy and I love her honesty about her running while being a mom!

Although a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to complete the Summer Running Streak, I feel much better after a couple days of resting. Still unsure about my health but I will find out on Tuesday at my doctor's appointment and we'll go from there.  I can't wait to get back to running again but this was a well deserved break after a month of four half marathons and a ten miler!  I enjoyed learning more about the running world and community while still feeling connected to running.  

So, what do you do when you can't run?  Anything running related or just relax and do other things?  I would love to know; please leave me a comment.  Till next time and  remember, my journey continues....If you can dream it, you can do it as Walt Disney said!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Volunteering at races

How many times have you thanked a volunteered at a water stop, on the race course or at the end of a race?  I know that I can't even begin to count the number of times.  As runners, we come to depend upon these unknown faces during our races. There is our famous Peggy Sue that we all knew and loved.
Shared from the Peggy Sue Facebook wall

The volunteers provide us with support, encouragement, safety and medical (our police/ EMT/Firefighters) along with hydration and fuel always having a touch of smiling gratitude. I know that without race volunteers there have been many times when I felt as though I couldn't continue and a kind word from them has kept me going to the finish line.

I had the opportunity this past Sunday (June 7)  to volunteer at a local race, the EC 5K & 10K in Ellicott City, Maryland.  I know EC and it is a hilly little town with shops, restaurants-quite lovely nestled along the Patuxent River.
Pictures taken from Main Street, EC

I decided to volunteer after receiving several emails from the company,  Rip It Events.  I have done several races with this company locally.  What a great way to give back as a runner after all the races that I've done and had wonderful volunteers giving their time to me!  I also asked on my Facebook page if anyone had volunteered at a race and the feedback that I received was so positive-thank you!

I received my email and saw that I was a course volunteer.  I saw that several friends including moms from my local Moms Run This Town were running the race.  I got up early on Sunday morning (after running the Baltimore 10 miler the day before and working); a bit tired and drove to the race.  I picked up my volunteer shirt and race flag along with receiving my course location.  I then saw my friends; they  looked fantastic as Super Moms!
Super Moms-Deb Strong and Jennifer Caplan Givens
I drove to my location, parked my car and grabbed a cup of coffee while putting on my volunteer shirt.  There was a water stop before the turn and I introduced myself to the other volunteers.  I saw that the turn was a bottom of a hill so I decided to walk up the hill to see where the runners were going on the course.  This part of the race lead to a wonderful trail run and there was a police officer there waiting to assist with traffic.  I found out that he was a runner as well and his daughter was running the race.  Again, a huge THANK YOU to our police who assist in traffic and safety during our races!

The race started at 8:15 am and I saw the first runner about 8:22 am.  WOW..can you say FAST!  I kept cheering the runners up the hill (this was the half-way point if you were doing the 5K).  I saw Deb coming strong  up the hill along with one of my running coaches from 3 years ago, Susie!  I tried to provide as much encouragement for everyone.  I know as a runner what those words mean to you. I also saw Jennifer being very fast as she and Deb were a relay team-Way to go, ladies!  

I have to admit that it was tough to be encouraging with different motivation throughout the race even though I enjoyed it!  I tried to remember some of the words spoken to me during races and I hope that I was able to do that for the runners. There were a lot of thank yous and smiles throughout the race. 

I saw the last two runners about 9:20 am, thanked the officer and walked down the hill.  I thanked my fellow volunteers and the race personnel, handing them my race flag and drove home.  I saw that Deb and Jennifer had won first place in the relay-Congratulations, ladies!  I'm so proud of them and blessed to have them as friends.

I had a fanastic time volunteering at this race.  Would I do it again-in a heartbeat!! I was able to be on the other side of a race and I believe in giving back when the opportunity arises.  I believe that it takes all aspects to be a healthy person; not just physically healthy.   It was a wonderful opportunity to give back to the racing community that has given so much to me.  
Ironically, I saw this article yesterday on Facebook on the Runner's World page, Race volunteers lawsuit against Competitor lawsuit will go forward. I am a bit saddened by this because without volunteers at races, we as runners, would have many consequences.  What are your thoughts about this?  Have you ever volunteered at a race and what was your experience?  

  And remember, my journey continues....If you can dream it, you can do it as Walt Disney said!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Baltimore 10 Miler Race Recap

Yesterday, I completed the Baltimore 10 Miler.  I wasn't initially registered for this race however I won a free entry at the expo for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  I realized that winning this entry qualified me for the King Crab Challenge since I had done the Frederick Half Marathon and was registered for the Baltimore Running Festival.

The King Crab Challenge is a series of three races:  Frederick Half Marathon, the Baltimore 10 Miler and the Baltimore Half Marathon.  The royal gift this year is four medals along with the cool medal rack and an invitation to a royal banquet sometime in November.

So, now that I'm part of the King Crab Challenge what do you wear to the Baltimore 10 miler since it starts and ends at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.  A zebra sparkle skirt of course with zebra socks and barrettes that I made which were elephant and lion.  I had a lot of fun making the barrettes.  

 I was able to do packet pick-up at the local Sports Authority.  The Baltimore 10 miler is known for its race premium so packet pick-up was only to pick up my bib.  I set my alarm and got up early on Saturday morning.  I arrived at the zoo and after parking headed to the runner's village.  Immediately, I heard the song the lion sleeps tonight.  What a great song to have at the race!
 I had seen that my local chapter leader the night before had posted about where the  Moms Run This Town were meeting for a group picture.  So, I headed to the meeting place at the Runner's Village but I saw a couple of friends who are part of the Princess Posse.  It was so nice to see Amie Jo and Tessa. They looked fantastic in their Baltimore and Maryland running clothes! The Runner's Village was set up nicely in a field and there were a lot of tents and tables plus a stage for the band after the race.

 I met up with the moms and we took several pictures.  There were several chapters represented.  I love meeting up with the moms and seeing friendly, familiar faces and smiles!

I also saw my friend, Patti and we hugged while wishing each other well in the race.  I love seeing Patti at races!  
Of course, before the race I went to start my Nike GPS watch.  I had just charged it the day before so I thought that it was fully charged.  Well, it didn't charge!  Since it was low battery, the watch wouldn't connect to the GPS.  Drat!  No watch, no intervals or miles/map-I was on my own this race!

The race started promptly at 7:30 am after the singing of the National Anthem and we were off!  The first two miles were easy downhill and before I knew it, I was at one of the entrances to JHU.  I know this area of Baltimore City and knew the course.  There were a lot of police officers along the course but I was a bit disappointed that there weren't more locals.  I passed where Memorial Stadium used to be on 33rd street.  I remember seeing quite a few of the Oriole games there before the new stadium was built downtown.  I headed to Lake Montebello to run the loop around it.  The lake is quite beautiful.  There is a work-out loop and disc golf course there as well as a walking/biking/running trail.  
Picture courtesy of Baltimore City

I ran around the lake which was very lovely and there were several tables filled with protein bars, gel packs and Gu along with water and Gatorade.  I grabbed some fuel and continued running back towards JHU and the zoo. Along the way, I heard "Hey,there's a zebra on the course" and it was Amie Jo and Tessa.  We passed each other several times before they took off and it was great to see them on the course.  It was starting to get humid at this point in the race and I was feeling tired.  I didn't realize the last two miles were primarily uphill through Druid Hill park.  That was the killer for me and my legs.  I struggled through those miles but just keep thinking-just keep going or as Dory would say...just keep swimming!  
I saw the finish line and ran as fast as I could to the finish.  I finished with my normal time and was happy with that since I didn't know how I would do with this race.  I had just finished four half marathons in 34 days so I didn't have any time limits with this race!  I was greeted with a cold towel given to me by volunteers and it felt great!  It really cooled me down quickly!  Lion and elephant were very happy to be cool as well since they had most of the sun during the race while enjoying their barrette ride!
There were tables of cold watermelon, bags of Utz chips and other salty snacks, bananas, oranges and apples and bottles of water.  I headed back to the Runner's Village to pick up my premium which is a jacket along with my medal.  You only received a medal for this race if you were part of the King Crab Challenge.

I headed home and was a bit tired.  I enjoyed this race and if I decide to run it next year, I will be better prepared for the hills at the end.  The volunteers and the police officers were wonderful throughout the race course, there was plenty of water and Gatorade tables.  It was easy to drive to and the parking was great.  The race premium is really nice and fits well.  I love the thumb holes in the sleeves!  The runner's village had a lot to see but I had to be at work that afternoon so I didn't get to spend a lot of time after the race to enjoy it.  There is always next year!  Thank you to the wonderful volunteers, police officers and my friends who I saw at the race.  I always love seeing your smiling faces!  

And remember, my journey continues....If you can dream it, you can do it as Walt Disney said!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Avocado Half Marathon and 5K

My son, Patrick is a recent graduate of University of San Diego.  So, what does a runner do when they are traveling?  Of course, they look for a race in that area!  When looking, I saw the San Diego Rock n Roll however this was after my vacation time.  A bit disappointing since I love this series.  I did manage to find a small local race, Avocado Half and 5K.   The race supported Fueled By the Fallen; an organization supporting military members, public safety personnel and their families to aid in their emotional and physical recovery by displaying and racing Memorial Race cars.

I had recently joined Half Fanatics and posted about running this race seeing other runners on a racing bulletin board.  Several of the runners reached out to me and I was fortunate enough to meet one.  Amy was a life saver!  She offered to pick me up from my hotel and take me to the race.  I was so grateful as I had reached out to the race personnel asking about the race trying to see if my better half and son should come to support me.  I found out that Fallbrook is a little town outside of San Diego and that there wouldn't be anything there for them so they decided not to attend.  Without Amy, I would have had to drive there myself not knowing the area.  I found an avocado picture online and made a shirt for the race.
I found a local running store, Milestone running to pick up fuel for the race.  Chad and his coworker were wonderful, friendly and wanted to hear about the half marathon. Thank you to the guys and for this great picture!  If you're in San Diego, go visit them and when I return to San Diego, I will make sure that I visit them.

Afterwards, I laid out everything in preparation for the race since I knew that Amy would be arriving early.  

Morning arrived too early (doesn't it always) and I got ready for the race and meeting Amy.  You can tell how tired we were because the picture is blurry!
Amy is such a sweet heart!  She arrived at the hotel and during the 45 minute drive to Fallbrook,   I felt that we had known each other all of our lives.  She was so easy going, friendly and heart-felt and I am so blessed to have her as a friend. We had so many things in common and couldn't get over that we would be good friends!   We arrived at parking and didn't have enough time to take pictures due to traffic.  I did get a picture of the start/finish line.  
The runner's village was small but set up nicely.  The race started about 5 minutes late and we were off.

The first 1.5 was downhill and I was thinking that this is a great start.  Little did I realize that I would have to come back up that hill!  I passed our starting line and the rest of the way were rolling hills from miles 4-11.

 I thought that we had hills here in Maryland but boy, California hills beat ours hands up!  I have to admit that I realize that Californians are better runners because they don't have a choice in their training! The weather appeared like rain but it didn't rain; just spitted briefly.  Along the way, I was amazed by the trees and flowers.  The yards had orange and lemon trees.  We don't have that in Maryland!
Around mile 8, I stopped to take a picture of this sign because it made me laugh.  At this time, I saw Amy, hugged her and wished her well finishing the race.  I figured that I wasn't going to PR this race due to the hills and decided to leisurely run at this time.  I knew on my watch time that a PR wasn't in the books so I just decided to make the best of it.  
At mile 10, there were marines at the water stops (which they ran out of cups at mile 4 and you can to drink water from the orange thermos being held by volunteers).  The marines were cheering everyone on and gave me the motivation I needed to put myself in gear.  What really helped was that the last mile and half were downhill to the finish line.  As I was approaching the finish line, I saw the clock...2:27.  I couldn't believe and started to jump up and down because I knew that I was going to PR and by a lot of time!  I crossed the finish line and started to cry.  One of the volunteers came up asking if I was okay along with several marines who hugged me once I explained what had happened!  I received many well wishes in the runner's village.  There were oranges and some water but again, they ran out of most of the things by the time I had finished.  Poor Amy was all I thought because I knew that she was following me.  A volunteer handed me my medal along with several avocados.  

I was able to take pictures of the runner's village along with the mascot, Miss Pitts.  

I waited patiently for my time to be posted and then started to cry once again.  I couldn't believe it! This was my fourth half marathon in 34 days and my best time ever for a half marathon!  I may be a slow runner with my time but this is the best time for my halves!

Amy finished about 30 minutes after me followed by more hugs and congratulations!  She still looked wonderful and I just love her smile!
We headed to the parking lot to catch the shuttle bus back to her car.  While waiting in line, we met some wonderful women.  Again, more smiles and congratulations!  Californians are wonderful, friendly people and I was so blessed to have met Amy and these women!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart because you made this East Coast girl happy with your friendship!  
Amy drove back to the hotel and dropped me off.  Again, more hugs!  I can't thank her enough for picking me up, driving and providing wonderful conversation along with support!   I know that we'll be friends for the rest of our lives!

Overall, the race was wonderful and I would gladly do this again! The swag was wonderful, the people of Fallbrook were supportive along with all the active military and volunteers.  Thank you for a wonderful experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life.  My first West Coast race but not my last!  

And remember, my journey continues....If you can dream it, you can do it as Walt Disney said!

#RIOTS Week Six and Seven

It's weeks six and seven for the #RIOTS.  I got a week behind as I had a lot of personal things going on these last two weeks. I ha...