Sunday, April 6, 2014

When races get close to your heart...


          I'm no competitive runner. I never have been and never will be.  That being said, I still do the best I can for each run, each race, given the strength and energy (and plan) I have for that day.  Anyone with any chronic pain or illness knows this also applies to everyday life.  
     So, with challenges and trials on our minds, let me tell you about my last two races.  Recently, mom and I travelled to Cape Girardeau, MO, for the Unforgettable Perseverance 5K Challenge.  We found ourselves turning onto a road paralleled by a beautiful stream that looks like it belongs in the mountains, then turning into Shadow Rest Ministries, a scenic spiritual retreat center.  The purpose of this race was to support persecuted and imprisoned Christians.  Each runner wore a bracelet with the name of a Christian who is in prison.  The bracelet helped us remember to pray for that person.  "Pray for us" is the number one request of persecuted Christians.  I made new friends and got to run for the best of causes.  It was a chilly and muddy trail race, but I think I'm getting used to the mud this spring.  Very much looking forward to this race again next year!
     I had no plans for races in April, just training.  A friend sent me a message that she was going to walk her first 5k on April 5th to help her grandson's ball team raise $ for uniforms.  I told her I would love to walk with her.  Sadly, her husband experienced a stroke the very next day :(. I'm glad to say he is on the mend!   I found myself wanting to run that race for my friend and her husband!  The finish line was an awesome site!  Seeing those young boys cheering every runner in was so heartwarming!  Best high 5's ever!
I'm glad I ran the race for those who couldn't!  God is good!  All the time!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

LBL 23K Race Report

     Snow, mud, and I wasn't last.  That should be the title for this blog post, haha! The weather has been a moody girl this year, and after the last half marathon, (see previous blog post) I hoped Mother Nature was done with her nastiness, but I was oh, so, wrong. She was a teasing temptress as I went to the Canal Loop one week before the race for my last long practice run. 
     It was a beautiful day on the trail and I had high hopes that race day would dawn just as warm and sunny.  The weather report called for rain, ice, snow the Sunday/Monday before the race.  I don't think anyone anticipated the mess staying around as long as it did, but cold temps dominated once again and the trail went from the pic above to this a week later...
     "A brown snowcone" is what I heard one runner call it, and rightly so.  I put my yaktrax on for the second half of the race, and though they helped with footing I do think they held snow on top of my left shoe, and I couldn't feel my toes for about an hour.  I shucked the yaktrax when I came off the trail to finish the trip into town on the road.  I never went back for them.  
     My only real goal was to finish with a better time than last year.  I beat last year's time by 32 minutes!  In the muck! Hard work and training pays off!  Now if the trail/weather cooperates next year, I'll see just how much my time really has improved!  
     Due to the harsh weather, the trail condition took a big hit.  West KY Runners club, along with LBL staff and other volunteers, met this past weekend to do trail repairs.  (I'm in the grey jacket)
      I learned a lot by working on the trail with these people and was honored to do so.  Doing this work gave me a new insight into this beautiful trail and makes me love it even more.  
     LBL is a very unique place and we are blessed in western Kentucky to have such a place.  One of my goals for 2014 is to run at least 500 miles.  I plan on many of those miles occurring in the Land Between the Lakes area!  And with views like this, who can blame me.

Take The Long Way Home

    The weather this winter has certainly made every training run feel like "the long way home".  (All you 80's peeps cue the Supertramp soundtrack!).  I decided more than a year ago that I wouldn't let the weather be an excuse for not exercising (except lightning, safety first!).  I was very hard pressed this winter to keep my end of the bargain.  I had to maintain my "safety first" motto and dusted off the treadmill on days when the footing was just too dangerous to stand much less run or even walk!  As long as it was not too slick to risk injury, I still walked and ran outside when I could.  The winter weather has certainly made life interesting...for all of God's creatures!
     I signed up for the Crab Orchard "Fly with the Eagles" half marathon on Feb  8th, a month before the LBL 23K.  "It'll be good practice" a friend says (you know who you are, lol). The weather continued to be atrocious and the race was postponed a week due to road/trail conditions.  My mind began its little hamster wheel turning, "are these two long races too close together for me? Will I be able to adequately recover in between? I consider the LBL 23K the pinnacle of my race calendar.  I didn't want anything to affect me beating last year's time!  
     The morning of the new race date dawned cold as (*insert your favorite colloquialisms*) or to be honest, plain ole 15 degrees!!!!  Crab Orchard lake was frozen solid.  The noises coming from the ice were amazing!  Mother Nature's music at its most freaky!  I even saw 2 eagles flying overhead around mile 11!  I had a lot of leg cramps those last couple of miles, but still enjoyed this race! 
     Here is Mr. 21 himself, after the race.  Thanks for always encouraging us to be the best we can be!
     
     Here is my race photo, about mile 3. 
The red hoodie was our race shirt (coolest race shirt, ever!) and I was glad I decided to wear it because it never got above freezing that day.  One of my secrets for cold mornings is in the fuel belt you see me wearing in the pic; it's lemon ginger echinacea juice!  It's carb and sugar enough to give a boost of energy and the ginger seems to warm me up!  I'm glad I didn't back out due to the temperatures/weather and I'm glad I didn't quit due to the leg cramps.  I may not be fast but I have as much determination as the fastest! 
     

Commitment

     Sorry it's been so long since the last blog post.  The holidays and training certainly take a toll on blogging! 
     Since the last post, I did the Pearl of the Purchase 5k and placed in my age group!  Sharon Downs received the women's masters award! 
     Then it was off to Missouri for a couple of trail races.  The Klaus Park "Meandering Turkey" was a new experience for me.  This 4.5 mile trail is designed more for mountain bike types. It's a lot of trail in a small space, "meandering" through a beautiful woods.  It was also "no earbuds allowed" which was a first for me.  I placed in my age group and LOVE my award!
     The Perryville "Turkey Burn Off" was 3.5 mile trail race around a beautiful lake and was exactly the type I like! A variety of terrain, a few small hills, and good people. Definitely one race I'll be doing again!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

10k, 5k, Birthday!

       Fall has descended upon us!  The temperatures and foliage make for an ideal time for walking, running and hiking!  After recovering from the Moccasin Gap 10 Miler, some fun was in order!  First up, the Jost Running virtual 10k.  Virtual races are fun, convenient, and often support deserving charities.  The charity for the Oktoberfest virtual 10k was the Midwest Foodbank.  You can run virtual races anywhere and for this particular run, I chose my favorite trail, the Canal Loop at Grand Rivers, KY. For this particular virtual group, you take a picture with your bib # and email your time in on the honor system, then they mail you your finisher's medal!  My finish time was 1:46 and check out the bling!  It has a bottle opener on it!!! 
     The Saturday before Halloween was the Carlisle Co. Project Graduation fundraiser, the "Boogity Boogity Boo" 5k! It was great to have a "hometown" race.  I got my best personal time and had a great time with friends.  I hope they do this one every year and maybe have runners dress in costume next year!
     To complete our "fall fun" tour, I took my mom to Henderson KY for a weekend getaway to celebrate her birthday.  Mom has been my lead crew member over the past year at almost every race (shout out to Bobby and Zach for also being crew members) and she deserves more than this.  We visited Mantle Rock on the Trail of Tears, John James Audubon State Park and downtown Henderson.  
     Here is a section of trail at John James Audubon State Park.  Henderson is a cool river town and we had a great time. I highly recommend CKB (Commonwealth Kitchen & Bar) downtown.  The shrimp and grits along with my "smoked" bourbon was an epic meal.  I really try and focus on eating with a purpose, (nutrition and fuel for activity). I think doing that helps me truly appreciate when a special meal like this comes along!  Cheers!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Moccasin Gap 10miler Race Report

     Saturday dawned cloudy and cool with some rain on the local radar.  Thankfully, the rain moved out as we made our way to Ozark, IL.  
     The race announcer confirmed that the trail was significantly muddy from the previous night's rain.  There would be three aid stations and we would be following the pink signs and ribbons for the 10miler.  We started at 10 AM on the dot!  (I'm in the blue hoodie)
     I started strong and was even able to keep other runners in my sight for the first couple of miles!  The scenery was stunning!  I would love to go back to this trail for a hike and truly take it in!   
    There is a gentleman in a red jacket in the bottom center of this photo.  I think that shows perspective on just how big that rock/wall/cliff is!!!  
     The singletrack was perfect for trail running and I was having a lovely time until I started sucking mud! Somewhere after the first aid station, the trail became increasingly intermittent.  When you hit mud, it was a quagmire!  I was kind of glad when I hit a big rocky uphill, because the mud decreased, but I was also forced to begin mostly walking.
     At the top of this ridge was the halfway point, with a goody filled aid station #2, a big forestry lookout tower, and a water refill. I took a handful of pretzels and kept moving.  I now wish I had stashed a handful of that candy in my hydration belt!  Didn't I learn my lesson at Bernheim?!!  I still have a lot to learn about my fuel needs.  
     My next picture is of a lovely wooded singletrack.  There are pink ribbons on the trees to the right.  And my phone battery died right after I took this picture. 
     So I'm with no phone, no music, no GPS lady reading off my times in my ear, no problem!  My feet felt great, so I buckled down for some serious hiking!  I would "wog" (walk/jog, a Karla Hogancamp term, lol) along where I could and slog through mud like a pig when I had to!  I think the mud is what started getting to me towards the end of the trail.  I was sick of it!  I was also out of fuel and water by this point and I began to enter a dark place:(.  It's hard to explain but everything seemed larger than life!  This mud pit was just too much, or this one gorgeous woods just seemed unreal!  I was able to clean my shoes of most of the mud at a lovely stream.  I just wanted to stay there but a pink ribbon said, "no, come this way".  It was the last pink ribbon I remember seeing.  After I went up a huge boulder hill (also bigger than life) I came out on a camp road but there were no pink signs or ribbons.  Which way to go? Where was the third aid station? (I never did see it).  What time is it?  I'm hungry and feeling a little mad.  I pick left and trot on!  It seemed like forever before I found some cabins and campers who said they had seen runners earlier and to keep going in ��that direction.  If they had offered me food, I would have taken it!  (No more pity party, lol, just describing how I was REALLY feeling at the time). 
     The last incline was made brighter by seeing my mom coming down looking for me!  I was so tired and hungry, and she walked with me to the finish line.  I should have hugged her, but all I could think of was eating.  I rested a moment next to the time keeper and another volunteer who handed me my finisher's badge and a door prize!  I really wanted to hug them, too!  On my way to the food, a trail running friend congratulated me on finishing and I confessed I lost the pink ribbons, and I remembered at the beginning of the race he had said "you can never have enough trail markers!"  Well said my friend, well said!
~
(A special thanks to my mom, the finish line time keeper, the awards giver, and my trail running friend, Shannon, you all waited for me and that meant a lot!  
     Oh, and the fella in the red jacket in the second picture?  We met him and his wife at a local restraunt!  We all recognized each other immediately!  They were so encouraging and inspiring!  Safe travels back to Wisconsin!)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Back to the singletrack

     It's been two months since I ran on the Canal Loop singletrack and I've missed it so much!  The Central Hardwoods Trail has been smooth and bug free, but just doesn't give me the same mental and physical workout that the Canal Loop does.  
     I purchased some high percentage DEET bugspray and hit the trailhead Saturday with high hopes that the storms would hold off.  The storms held off and the sun peaked through several times as I traversed the east side of the Canal Loop Trail.  
   
     I posted this pic on Instagram and shared a little info about having a favorite poster (when i was 12), that I would have loved to "be in", especially the summer I had my lawn mower accident.  The poster was this lush green trail with a deer on the trail.  Saturday's trailrun reminded me of that poster and I just felt blessed, like my dream came true!!  
     For lack of a better word, I would also describe Saturday as "whimsical".  There were the usual number bikers on the trail, but I also saw a gentleman out training his treeing cur pups, GPS collars included!  Not your average trail user, lol, but a welcome change from the usual hikers and bikers.  
     The sun peaked in and out and birds were everywhere, but I hope the next picture shares the "whimsy" I felt while on the trail...

     The little fella in the foreground is an ornate box turtle according to my knowledgable nephew, Blake, and trust  me, he knows his turtles!  
     I had plans on doing the entire loop to prepare for the Moccasin Gap 10 miler coming up, but decided at the halfway point to do some crosstraining/biking instead.  I don't want to share the details,  but my bike is now being worked on at Dicks Sporting Goods, and I may invest in some elbow and knee pads! 
     Here is the map/recap of my trail run.

     I'm also registered for a virtual 10k later this month, the Jostrunning Oktoberfest!  Virtual racing is a different kind of fun, with the freedom to walk/run on your own day.  Most virtual races are connected to a charity.  The ones I have done so far were for Shriners, Celiac disease, and the upcoming virtual race will be for a food bank.  Here is my race bib for the Oktoberfest...

     And here is the medal, which I will receive in the mail, after I run my 10k and turn in my time and a picture with my bib # to the Jostrunning website. 
     Also check out Anywhere 5k for more virtual 5k races.  Both Jostrunning and Anywhere 5k can be found on Facebook and twitter.