Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 year in review

What a year 2015 has been! Lots of races with friends, over 2015 miles completed and fun being an ambassador for Skirt Sports, The Mermaid Club, 261 Fearless and Nuun Hydration.

3 Marathons (Disney, Chicago and Space Coast)
6 Half Marathons
2 Sprint Triathlons
2 Ragnar Relay races (one as an ultra team)
3 10K races
9 5k races
1 5K Standup Paddle board race
Plus a 15K, 8K, 5 miler and 4 miler race

Going into 2016, I've decided to take on the challenge of run/walking 2016 miles. That's going to be harder, since I won't have a fall marathon (or 2) to train for.

My biggest new challenge will be doing my first half ironman in Augusta in September. Very nervous, yet excited. Lots of biking and swimming will be happening next year.

I also plan on running 6 half marathons in the first 6 months of the year.

I've really enjoyed coaching this year. I'm so proud of all the improvement and growth from the athletes I've worked with. I look forward to continuing on coaching. I hope to work more with people individually and growing my own business, Sunshine State Endurance.

I am so happy to continue on as a Skirt Sports Ambassador, 261 Fearless Ambassador and Nuun Ambassador for 2016. I've also been chosen to be an ambassador for Honey Stinger. Excited to be part of the Hive! Check out the photo links to the right of this blog for more information!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Space Coast Marathon

November 29, 2015

Marathon weekend! I am so not ready! Shoulder was feeling better, but still on pain relieving meds. The forecast was showing high humidity, warm and windy. Heading over to Cocoa Beach Saturday morning, I was not looking forward to running a marathon the next day.

Carolyn and I left early Saturday (7:30 am), so that we could get to the expo early. As soon as we parked the car, I found a facebook friend, that I had planned to meet up with! It was great meeting Kerry for the first time. We had belonged to the same mom's running group for many years. We all went into the expo, heading for bib pickup. Carolyn and I found Rob, who hung out with us as we did our shopping. We then headed over to the hotel, but couldn't check in, so we got some lunch and hung out on the beach for a bit. Then, it was off to the mall and then dinner. Carolyn and I got our race gear set up, then got to bed early. 3:50 am alarm set!

Sunday morning, we were out the door and in the car by 4:30 am. We arrived at our usual parking spot just in time. The lot was filling fast! I had a feeling it would. They had let more runners sign up this year. We hung out for a bit, before heading to the porta-potties. A bit more hanging around. Finally it was time to head to the start area. Carolyn went to stand with the 4:20 pace group. I went a little ahead of her to start near the 4:10 group. I knew I wasn't going to be with them for long, but I would stay that pace as long as I could. Once the played the video of the space shuttle count down launch, we were off!

Miles 1-7: I found myself running with the 4:10 Galloway pace group. I couldn't shake them, even though my watch was showing mile splits that were slower than they should have been running. It was a large group and they were doing strange intervals. Something like 1:45/30. So it was back and forth with them for at least 4 miles. It was hard to get by them once they stopped to walk. They took up half the road! Thankfully they eventually pulled ahead. I felt like the effort to keep a 9:30ish pace was much harder this year than my 9ish pace was last year. I knew right away it was going to be rough. We had a nice breeze for the first 6.5 miles. Once we made the turn and started heading south, the wind was at our back, the sun was rising and it was getting hot.

Miles 8-13.1: I started to struggle during this section. I walked part of the little hills, which I didn't have to do the last 2 years of running this race. I was having a hard time getting out of the funk I was in. Just feeling low, because I knew it was going to be a long day. I made it to the half way mark at 2:05, which wasn't bad considering how crappy I was feeling already. I really wish I could have taken the turn towards the finish, but I didn't realize at the time, that was an option!

Miles 14-20: By mile 16, I was feeling very overheated. There was little shade for the last couple of miles and no wind. I started walking a lot more. Around mile 17 or 18, Carolyn caught up to me. We ran for a little bit together, before I told her to head on. I was going to be walking a lot. She and I went back and forth a few times. Thankfully, we hit the second turn around, and started heading North.

Miles 21-26.2: The wind on the way back felt glorious! It helped to cool me down, so I was able to start running a bit more. But since I had been walking so much, I had stiffened up. It made running harder. It just wasn't my day! Carolyn and I ended up run/walking the last 5 miles together. She had a rough day as well. We pushed it to run in the last mile. I was so happy to make that last semi circle turn to the finish line!

Finish: 4:46:42

Post race thoughts: Running a marathon in Florida is rough. The weather in the winter is unpredictable. You never know if you will get lucky and have a cool day or if it will be summer time warm. I had planned on running the 5 year challenge for this race. If I go back for year 4 next year, it will be for the half marathon!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Boo Run 5K, Honeymoon Half MarathoMyakka River 5K race recaps

Well, obviously I am very far behind on writing race recaps! I've been dealing with a pain in my shoulder that has made running difficult. With each swing of my arm, I get a sharp pain in my shoulder blade. Started to become painful with the Boo Run and got worse. Training suffered. Here are short recaps of the past 3 races.:

Boo Run 5K - October 31, 2015

The Boo Run is held in Lakewood Ranch every year. Since there were a few people from my training group signed up to run the race, I decided to move our Saturday run from downtown Sarasota to Lakewood Ranch. I brought my bike out, since I was just going to run the 5K and then get a long run in on Sunday. We got started just after 6am. I rode ahead/behind the group as they ran down Lakewood Ranch Blvd. It was nice to have a change of venue. It was a beautiful morning out. Not as cool as we would have liked, but better than it would be Sunday.

The location of the race start changed from the previous year. It started in the back parking lot, behind all the Main street shops. Gina and I got out there pretty early, and noticed the timing mat only covering half the road (slightly wider than one car). We figured they would put down the rest once the road was closed. Well that didn't happen! The hundreds of runners packed into the 2 lane road, had to squish over to fit on the one side, so they could all run over the timing mat. I didn't get to close to the start, since I wasn't planning on running very fast or going for a PR. My back had been hurting all week. I just wanted to get the miles in and focus on getting the back better for next weekends half.

Once we got going, I held back, while everyone surged forward fast. I felt the stabbing pain in my right shoulder blade. It was much worse than I had been feeling up to this point. I just tried to breath through the pain. The course turns right, out of the parking area, and heads down Lakewood Ranch Blvd. There is a water stop about a mile down the road, and then a U turn before heading back. There are lots of kids running this race, which I think is awesome, but it would be nice if they were given some advice on how to share the road. So many of them started at the front of the pack and then were walking by half a mile. Forcing everyone to move around them. One girl was running slowly, but weaving all over the road. She bumped into me as I tried to pass by her. I kept up a pretty consistent pace, around 8:30, which I was happy with, finishing with a strong kick in the last stretch to the finish.

Time: 26:05 (8:25 pace)

Honeymoon Half Marathon - November 7, 2015

This turned out to be a super hot day! I decided right away that I was going to take it easy. My doctor had put me on muscle relaxers and a strong pain medicine. Thankfully, I got a good night of sleep. It has been a while! The past week was the worst! The massage/cupping I had done really made my shoulder 10 times worse!

So, like I said, it was a pretty hot morning. The race was too loops, starting on Honeymoon island, running over two low bridges, and then back to the island. Pretty much zero shade.

The Pros:
Start of with the good right? Well, not much good here. Good friends to share the journey!
Pretty nice finisher medal.
Um, trying to think of a third.

The cons:
No race sweatshirt. When we registered during the low pricing blitz last year, we were promised a shirt AND a sweatshirt. They decided a couple of weeks before the race to not have the sweatshirts made. Didn't even tell anyone!
Disorganized race start. Very confusing where we were starting.
Limited supply of water on the course.
Poor post race food and drink. Only warm water and pizza. I don't eat anything with flour, so that meant I didn't have anything to eat! Not even a banana!

Needless to say, not one of us will run this race again!

Finish: 2:08:49

Myakka River 5K - November 21, 2015

I got a comp entry for this race, otherwise I wouldn't have run it. I was in no shape to run a race. Still on the pain meds, with make it hard to put in any effort. Mostly I was out here to support the runners from my training group, who were running the half marathon. For some of them, it was their first!

I pushed it hard the first mile, then struggled to keep a good pace for mile 2 and 3. I guess the muscle relaxers make my muscles not want to work.

Finished in 25:38.
5th overall! 2nd female and first masters female. :)

Next up: Space Coast Marathon, November 29
Yeah, so not ready for this. It's going to be another hot day in Florida. I'll just do my best to get through it! No PR's this year!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Skirt Sports birthday giveaway!

Lioness in the Safari print.

My birthday is in one week! As a special birthday treat for one of YOU, I'm so excited to be able to give one lucky reader the Lioness Skirt from Skirt Sports!

The Lioness Skirt is one of the shorter skirts that Skirt Sports offers. Here are some of the details:

Built in pocket on each leg!
- Skirt length (medium): 12 inches on front;  13 inches on back
- Built-in Shorties inseam (medium): 4 inches
- Features Skirt Sports GoSoft Jersey (Skirt) and Endure (Shorties) Jersey fabrics with wicking      properties
- Elastic waistband with continuous drawcord puts you in control and keeps your skirt where you want it
- Zipper pocket on middle back of skirt secures your running essentials
- Built-in shorties have UPF 50+ Sun Protection properties
- Built-in shorties have two pockets, one on each thigh to carry music system, nutrition
- Light-weight, thin 5/8” silicone dot grippers hold the shorties in place

- 3M Scothlight Reflective Material elements for low light visibility; be safe, be seen!

The Lioness offers a pocket on the back of the skirt, too!

So, what color would you choose if you won one of these awesome skirts? Check out the color selection below:

Now is your time to enter! Click on one, or both, of the options below. The winner will be selected Monday, November 2nd. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bill's Beer Run 2015

Casey Key, FL - October 25, 2015

Always excited for Bill's Beer Run weekend. Even though it's only 2 weeks post Chicago marathon, I've been feeling pretty good and had some great runs this past week. But, I did a stupid thing yesterday. That was: not drinking enough water! It was a beautiful fall day in Florida. I sat outside in the sun at my son's baseball game for over 2 hours. No suncreen and one little bottle of propel water and a giant iced coffee. Not a good move!

It's not a good feeling to be standing in the starting area of a race and feeling thirsty. It's a 5 mile race, so I didn't have any water with me. I had planned on trying to run the same pace as last year, which was a couple seconds over 8 minute mile pace. Once we got going, I could tell that would be a struggle. First mile was 8:06. It went down hill from there. I kept close to Gina and Ariana for the first couple of miles, but Gina pulled ahead and stayed there after mile 2. Heart rate started creeping up again ( had my HR monitor on) and got the numbness starting on the left side of my mouth. I slowed it down a bit more and tried to enjoy the race. I love seeing all of my running friends on the course! During the last half mile, I started to pick up the pace again and then finished with a strong kick.

Finish: 41:34 (8:19 pace), 8th in age group

Super happy with 8th in age group! My third year in a row. Sure I'd love to place higher, but this is always a tough race because all of the local fast runners come out for this event. So, 8th out of 48 in age group. :)

Best part of this race: the fun after party! Great time hanging out with friends, drinking beer and eating. :D

Me and Jackie after the race.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chicago Marathon weekend

Chicago is such a wonderful city! Gina, Carolyn, Ariana, Chuck, Darlene and I arrived in Chicago Friday morning. Thankfully, Ariana knows her way around the subway systems. We were able to find our way onto the right subway, and head into the downtown area. Once we reached the hotel, around 11am, I was so happy to hear we were able to check in early! We dropped off all our suitcases, then headed out to find the expo. It took a lot of walking, but we finally found the hotel, where the race was providing transportation to the expo. A short ride on a school bus, and we were there. We got our bibs and shirts, then headed into the main room for some shopping. What a giant space! Lots and lots of vendors. We got some good deals, before meeting up again outside, then heading back to the hotel. It took a while to get back, because the bus driver got lost! Thankfully, he found his way to the drop off spot, then we walked back to the hotel. We had a little rest period, before heading out to dinner. Total walking: 5 miles!

Fun on the bus!
Saturday: We got up earlish, to head over to the shake out run at Fleet Feet. The run over ended up being almost 2 miles. A bit longer than I thought it would be. We hung out for a bit, took some photos with Bart Yasso and Deena Kastor, before heading out on the fun run. That run was just over 3 miles. We hung out for a bit after, then started the long walk back to the hotel. We stopped by a breakfast place, that someone said had gluten free pancakes, but they had an hour wait! We ended up at another spot, which had pretty good breakfast food. We then headed back to the room to relax for a bit. Another great dinner and then early to bed. Total run/walk miles: 8!

With Deena Kastor. My second time meeting her!

Running Bart Yasso.
Sunday, race morning: Another early start to the day. The 5 of us got ready, then headed out the door. Just under a mile walk to the start area. We met up with Mandy on the way over. She was also in our corral. We checked our bags, then got into the long porta potty line. We had about 25 minutes to get through it, before the corral closed. We inched forward and time kept on ticking. Soon we were near the front, but only had a few minutes left to get to the corral! We were yelling at everyone to pee faster! I got in, did my business, and got out quick. We started running toward the corral. Just as we got there, the volunteer was yelling at us to hurry, because she was closing the fence off! We just made it! We were at the back of the "F" corral, the "G" corral (with Carolyn) was behind us and already moving forward. We started the long, slow walk towards the start line, which was a few blocks in front of us, with lots of runners in between. At 8:35 am, we cross the start line.

Gina and I start off together, pulling ahead of Darlene, Ariana and Mandy right away. My first mistake. We go out to fast. Because of the tall buildings, our GPS watches are not working. I hope it will catch on, once we clear the long tunnel we run through, but it doesn't. We have no idea what pace we are running until we finally see the 2 mile mark. We had been running just under 9 minute miles! I should have been staying between 9:15 and 9:30! After another mile or so, I start to feel off. My lip is going numb on the left side. Now, sometimes this happens when it's very cold out, but today, it is not. The other reason this happens is when my heart rate is working in the very high range. This should not be the case during a marathon and at this pace! We slow down the pace a little, but the numbness doesn't go away. We are also, following the blue dotted line, which the race organizers put down for the elites. Follow the blue line and you take the tangents on the course. I need all the help I can get! Don't need to add extra distance. Gina and I are still running together, though I tell her to go ahead if she wants. I know I'll need to slow down soon, but keep going for as long as I can. We hit the half way point a little ahead of schedule.

5K - 29:01(9:20), 10K - 57:36(9:12), 15K - 1:26:47(9:24), half - 2:03:45(9:44)

No, I am NOT trying to push
Carolyn! I was trying to get her attention.
The race course is great, though I have no idea where I am at any point in the race. I know we head north, then come back south, then turn and run west for a bit, but I can never tell what direction I'm going. The crowd support is awesome. There is only one section, early on, were there are not that many people. It was in a park. But all of the main roads we run on are lined with many, many cheering people. It's fantastic! At some point, before the 30K, Gina pulls ahead, and I let her go. It's time for me to really slow down. I spot a spectator on the side with a jar of pickle spears, so quickly make my way to her to ask for one. So good! I loose sight of Gina for good here. :) I walk a little, then start running again, but at a slower pace. The numbness has gone, but anytime I start to pick up the pace again, the numbness comes right back! I am pretty freaked out about this now, so decide to be smart and just take it easy. For the rest of the race, I run for a bit, walk through all water stops and up any sort of hill. Before leaving the hotel room, I had written "I run 4 CJ" on my arm. I look at this writing often throughout the race. It helps to motivate me. I can get through this! At one point (not sure what mile) I hear someone yell out "go Ariana!". I look to my left, and sure enough, there is Ariana about to run by me. I work my way over to her side, tap her on the shoulder and say hi. She is having a rough race, too. We run together for a few minutes before I tell her I need to walk and to keep going. Sometime after mile 20, I see Carolyn pass me. I slowly catch back up to her before taping her on the shoulder. We also run together for a few minutes, and get a photo together, before she also pulls ahead. I wish I could have stayed with her to the finish! Finally, I get to the last little hill, start to walk up that, but see a photographer on the side, so run it. I take the turn to the left, see the finish line ahead and start to pick up the pace. I finish with a quick look at my arm, then raise them both in the air. So happy to be done!

25K - 1:28:12 (10:05), 30K - 3:01:35(10:28), 35K - 3:39:13 (12:04), 40K - 4:19:20(12:55)
Finish - 4:35:05

I won't lie, I'm very disappointed in my race. I trained so hard over the summer. I felt really strong going into the race, but it just didn't happen for me today. My goal was 4:10 to 4:15 finish. I finished way after that! I think a lot of factors lead to my high heart rate. Lots of walking/running in the days before the race. I'm pretty sure I was dehydrated going into the race. Looking back, I did not drink enough water. I am hoping I can recover quickly and get back to training. I hope to do better at Space Coast Marathon next month!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

261 Fearless

With all the excitement of training and getting ready for the Chicago Marathon this weekend, I now have more exciting news to share. I've been named as a 261 Fearless ambassador!

Kathrine Switzer leads this great movement. The mission statement is this:

to bring active women together through a global supportive community – allowing fearless women to pass strength gained from running and walking onto women who are facing challenges and hence sparking a revolution of empowerment. 261 is the symbol that unites us as empowered runners and walkers.

This is a mission statement I can get behind! I look forward to inspiring others as well as being inspired!

For more information about the 261 Fearless movement, and where the 261 number came from, click on the icon to the left of this blog post.

#261Fearless #261runner #befearlessbefree

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It's time to taper!

Since my really bad 20 miler a few weeks ago, I've had some great runs. My 22 miler, went very well. I started at 3:30 am, to run 2 miles on my own. Then, I met up with my Chicago girls, to run 10 miles. I had to be back at Fit2Run before 6am, to meet the training group. We kept a nice brisk pace, getting me back in time to meet the group. I had about 10 minutes of standing around, talking to members of the group, before I headed out with them. The rest of the run went well. I ran a little slower than the first 12, mostly because I was running at paces set by various members of the group. This was fine, I was still staying in my overall pace that I wanted to keep. I ran a little with a few different people, checked in with others, when I saw them out there. I ended up finishing the 22 miles faster than I had run the 20 2 weeks before!

Last Saturday, I had my longest run for this training session. 24 miles. My Chicago girls started out early with me, at 3:45am! We wanted to get in 12 miles, before getting back to the store just before 6am. Once again, I was going to need to go out with the training group. In order to get back in time, we needed to keep a 10 min mile pace. We headed south, towards Siesta Key. Before the turn around, Gina was falling back and once we turned around and headed back, she had fallen even further behind. I really wish I could have stayed back with her, she had done the same for me during my 18 miler, but, I had a work commitment, and needed to get back to the store before 6 to lead the training group! I felt really bad, but there wasn't anything I could do! We got stopped by the draw bridge for a couple of minutes, but still managed to keep a pace at just under 10 min miles, to get back to the store in time. The chicago group headed out, while I waited for the training group to gather and then we were off.

I started off slow with them, even though I was itching to pull ahead. I did get ahead a couple of times, but stopped, to wait for some of them to catch up. Most of the group split up into singles. Everyone seems to have a slightly different pace. I ran a bit with Roxy, and then with Edith. I pulled ahead to get to the turn around spot for the people running 9 miles. Waited there for a few minutes to check on runners and then direct others to turn around, before heading back. Added in a mile in the Golden Gate neighborhood, where a couple of other runners where adding in distance, then added in the last bit I needed, along the water front, towards Selby Gardens. Edith was having issues, not feeling well, so I got her to head back. Ran into Gina, who wasn't having a very good run and was on her own. Thankfully, there were only a few people that didn't have good runs today. Most everyone did great, even though it was pretty humid out. I had an awesome run. Finished my 24 miles in 4:02! I felt great for most of the run. Started to tighten up a bit towards the end, but that is good for me. Usually that happens around mile 20-21.

I feel like I am in really good shape this year. My training has gone well, so I am optimistic about having a great race in Chicago. Now, I just have to deal with taper madness. Starting to cut back on the miles will seem great at first, but I know I will start to feel a bit crazy from not getting the long miles in!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chicago marathon training

Nike Chicago

Last spring, I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon. I was so excited when my training buddies and I, got selected. Even though the race is in early October, It didn't cross my mind that my marathon training for this summer was going to be different than previous summers. The last few years, I've run Fall marathons, but they've been in early November, or later. This is a full month earlier!

For most people, this might not matter. In other parts of the country, running in the summer, is the best time to run. In Florida, it is the worst time to run. August and September tend to be the hottest months of the year!

All through June and July, my training was going great. In early August, I had an 18 miler, that was slower than I wanted, but overall, not to bad considering the heat. Then, two weeks later, the dreaded 20 miler was on the schedule. As soon as we started running, at 4:30 am, I knew it was going to be a rough one. My stomach was a little upset. There was absolutely no breeze. And it was HOT! Around 80 degrees. I felt like I was breathing in my exhaled breath. Just nasty. We ran south for 4 miles, then back to the car. I tried a peanut butter hammer gel. My first time trying it. I had hopped it would be similar to the Gu peanut butter, but it was far from similar. It was really gross! I drank a bunch of water, then ate one of my extra nutrition products.
We then headed north, over the Ringling Bridge, towards Ken Tompson park. All I could think about, was the bathroom at the bait shop, that I knew would be open. I had needed to go for a while! By the time we got there, we were about 11 miles into our 20 miler. It all went down hill for me here. I ran for a bit, but then needed to stop and walk. I felt dizzy and over heated. Gina stopped to walk with me and ended up staying with me for the rest of the run. We headed out towards Lido beach. Once there, we stopped to get more water, and then started heading back. I had to walk a lot on the way back. I felt really bad about holding Gina back from her run, but she was stead fast in not wanting to leave me on my own. All I cared about at this point, was getting the miles in, even if I wasn't running them. I was so happy when I was done! But, I felt really down. I questioned my time goals for Chicago. I questioned my training for the rest of the days leading to the race.

Monday night (two days later), I headed out with my training group. I decided to try and push the pace, to help me get out of my funk. I ended up having a great run! The next morning. I stared my 9 miler, thinking I would take it easy, since I ran hard the night before. I ended up having an awesome run. Running faster and faster with each mile! This past week has been a great week of training. My spirits are lifted. I feel like I've been doing something right with my training.

This weekend, I've got a 22 miler scheduled for Saturday. I'm trying not to worry, to have faith in my training. but I've got to admit, I'm a little worried! The heat is back, after a nice little break this past weekend.

All I can do, is try my best. And know, that even if the run turns out to be not so great, my overall training will provide a solid base, for my marathon goal! It also helps to think of CJ, who is one of my inspirations, while running. CJ is a strong  little 8-year-old, who has Cerebral Palsy. He is a fighter and so am I!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Moon Over Croom race recap

14ish mile night trail race
August 1, 2015

Moon Over Croom is a 21, 14 and 7 mile trail race that takes place in Brooksville on the evening of the Full moon at the beginning of August. This is the second year for the race and my second time running the 14ish mile event. Last year Gina, Carolyn and I drove up, ran the 14 miles and then I drove us back that night. That was rough. Didn't get home until midnight. This year, we booked a hotel room, so we could hang around after the race and then get some sleep before heading home the next day.

Ready to hit the trails!

Gina, Sandi, Carolyn, Jo and I left Sarasota at 2:30 in the afternoon. We figured we would have plenty of time to get up there, check in to the hotel and hang out before the race. The weather was horrible. Lots of rain. We passed 3 accidents on our way north, which created lots of backed up traffic. Our trip took longer than we thought. We still got checked into the hotel, but didn't have as much time to relax as we thought we would have before we headed over to the race site. We got to the race area at about 5:30, picked up our goodie bags, then hung out by the car. There was a large group of us from Sarasota. We met up with some friends, took photos then watched the 21 mile runners go out at 6 pm. We ate a little something, then finished up our prep before we got started at 7 p.m. After some quick instructions, which included letting us know the direction we were running the loop this year had been changed, we were off!

There is a quick run down the road, before we turn right, pass over where the finish line will be, then head down the trail. We were warned that the first quarter mile was muddy. And it was! The trail was a single tract trail, so it was pretty congested this close to the start. Everyone was trying to stay to the sides, to keep out of the water. Some runners ran right through, but I wanted to keep my feet dry, at least for this first loop! At some point during this first section, Gina gets far ahead of us. We don't see her again until we finish the first loop. Just before we finish the first half mile, the trail becomes drier. Sandi, Carloyn and I stick together for the rest of the loop. Lots of up and down hills and pretty terrain. I love the first loop, because it's still light, so we can see everything around us. There are of course, lots of roots and branches down on the trail that we have to keep a look out for. I joke that we are going to be calling out "root" and "branch" in our sleep, with the amount of times we yelled it out to each other. I did twist my left foot and ankle on one root, but it wasn't bad enough to stop me. It did throb throughout the rest of the race. I was happy that I wore compression socks. I think it helped to keep the swelling down. The last section of the loop, is on the main road. Last year when I was here, it was still a dirt road. A few months ago they paved this entire section. Made for a nice break from the trails, but it wasn't a break from the hills. We had a long steady climb back up to base camp. We saw Jo cheering for us as we came in and found Gina there waiting for us. Jo got a few photos, we filled up our water bottles then headed out for the second loop.

Super sweaty at the half way point! That skirt was completely sweaty by the end.
It is now completely dark. We head out with our headlights and our little hand held flash lights. That first half mile is even muddier from all the runners trampling down the dry spots, We pretty much walk this entire section, going very slow. Once we make it through this section, we start running, but keep the pace slower, so that we can keep an eye on the ground and not trip. Even though the sun is down, it feels even hotter than before. The trees seem to be trapping the heat. It's very humid. Half way through this second loop, I can squeeze the sweat out of my skirt! Gross. Sandi leads us for the last hour or so, pushing the pace. We all manage to make it back to the main road without any falls. The last up hill is brutal for me. I struggle to keep up with the others, secretly hoping they will take a walk break. No luck for me. Gina picks up the pace as we close in on the finish. I find the strength to pick up the pace, too, following right behind her as we cross the finish line. With Carolyn and Sandi right behind. Gina and I luck out, getting the last two logo water bottles. We head to the car to get the cooler and finisher medals I made, before heading back to our chairs. Chips and beer never tasted better!

We are done!
So happy to be off our feet and drinking a beer! :)
I had hoped for a faster finish this year. It seemed like we walked a lot last year, but I guess the mud made us slower, because we finished the 14.7 miles in 3:19:04, which was about 10 minutes slower than last year! Oh, well. It was a good run and we had fun.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Engelwood Triathlon

July 18, 2015

This was my third year doing this race. Each year, I tell myself I am going to TRAIN for this race and each year, something happens during training, and I don't get in the biking and swimming that I should. This year, I was dealing with pain in my upper back and right shoulder. Biking and swimming irritated the area. I did manage to get out for a few open water swims, so I figured, while I might not have a faster race than before, I should be OK out there. Boy, was I wrong!

Toni, me, Carolyn, Wendy and Kristi before the race.
In the week leading up to the race, the weather had been pretty bad. Storms every day, with storms all day on Thursday and Friday. The water was very churned up. Not just choppy, but washing machine type water. Carolyn and I arrived at Engelwood beach around 6am. With the race to start at just after 7, we had plenty of time to get checked in and get our area set up in transition. I headed to the bathroom, which was located in an elevated building. Since it was still dark out, I held the handle on the stairs on the way up. On the way out, there were people walking on both sides of the stairs, so I went down the middle. Just before the bottom, I missed the last couple of steps and went down hard. Landed on my knees and then fell to my side. OUCH! I got up and walked around a bit. My knees stung, but seemed to be OK. Went back to the car and got my bike and gear, then headed to transition. Set up next to Wendy. Carolyn was in the row behind us. It seemed like transition was smaller than last year. Wendy told us that there were only 200 doing the race, which is less than the previous year. Probably didn't get many last minute signups, with rain in the forecast for this morning, during the race. We got some group photos, then headed out to the beach. I went in up to my knees, but didn't feel like getting a warm up swim in. Maybe I should have. My group was in wave 4, the last to go. I'm fine with that. It would mean fewer people trying to swim over the top of me. We watched the first 3 waves go off, then got lined up to go. The horn blasted and we were off!

Heading in to start the swim.

I started off at the back of the group, but kept up with a lot of the swimmers, until we got out to the first bouy. Took that turn wide, because the rope holding the bouy was so loose, no one wanted their legs to get caught in it. I was doing ok, checking where I was more than normal because if felt like I was getting pushed all over the pace. I must have been expending to much energy, because I couldn't get my breathing under control and started freaking out between the third and 4th buoy. I tried going on to my back, to relax a little. This works in calm water, but not this type of water. I got really scared because I just couldn't calm down. I almost swam to shore, but I stopped and called out to the lifeguard behind me. I yelled three times, but couldn't get his attention. Finally, a volunteer in a kayak came up behind me. I hung on to his board for a while, getting my breathing to calm down. I had never been so scared in my life. I really didn't think I could make it. After calming down, I decided I could finish. The last buoy wasn't that far away, and I would have the waves to push me back to shore, once I turned around the buoy. When I finished, I was so happy!
So happy to be out of the water!
Short run up the beach, then a run through the parking lot, into the transition area. Spent a bit more time in here than normal. Still getting over the swim, I guess. Got my feet cleaned off before putting on shoes and socks. Put on my helmet and sunglasses, reset my watch, then headed out of transition with my bike.

I was pretty fired up on the bike. Really pissed off about the swim, which I put into riding the bike. I passed quite a few people. There are a lot of newbies that do this race. I'm no expert, but if you are new to a sport, you should really read all the rules. There are not a lot for running races, but with triathlon, you can get disqualified or penalized for things. So, I got really frustrated with a few of the riders out there. Thankfully, there was no sign of a race official, because some people would have gotten in trouble for drafting off of me and for riding down the middle of the road. It's kind of hard to pass someone when they are in the middle of the lane! Anyway, I had a pretty good bike. A little faster than last year. The road didn't have any giant puddles, which we were all worried about because of all the rain we had during the week. This is one of my favorite bike courses. Lot's of giant trees on each side of the road provide shade for a good chunk of the course. Pulled into transition, got my helmet off, visor on, pulled on my Skirt Sports cover up skirt (that had my bib on it already) and then headed out for the run.

Finishing the bike ride, heading towards transition.

Thankfully the sky was still overcast, which made for a decent run. The course is all on sidewalk and road, so no sand! I was able to pass quite a few more people during this part of the race. I started out at a fast clip, but gradually slowed the pace, because I knew I couldn't keep it up. My goal was to keep a sub 9 min mile pace going, and that's what I did. Less than a quarter mile from the finish, I saw Carolyn up ahead of me, but didn't have enough in the tank to push it more to catch up to her. Happy with my strong finish though.

Race stats: 1:27:16. Swim: 12:42, T1 2:32, Bike: 43:43, T2: 1:02, Run:27:21

Carolyn, Me and Wendy. Carolyn and I got 4th
in age group and Wendy got 5th!
One week post race: Still not feeling the swim love. I know I'll get back out there, but with the weather still yucky here and the water still very choppy, I'm not getting back in any time soon. I'm not ready for another triathlon. But, I think it's like child birth, I will forget the pain of it eventually and I'll get talked into doing another one. :) For now, I'll focus on training for the Chicago Marathon!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

SUP & Run 5K

Carolyn, Jackie, Wendy and I before the race.

Benderson Park
May 16, 2015

After many weeks of SUP training, it was finally race day. They day before the race, I learned that there would not be a seperate category for race boards, so I was going to have to compete on my bulky, surfboard type board against speedy boards. This is like riding a mountain bike in a triathlon and going up against people using speedy tri and road bikes. The surf SUP boards are heavy and slower. But, what could I do. I just decided to do my best.

Race morning: I got my board set up on the beach, right next to the water. By the time the race was about to start, I could see that more than half the boards were race boards. It kind of got me down, but I tried to push it to the back of my mind. It's not like I was going to win this thing, I just wanted a fair competition. The run was first, so I got lined up in the middle of the group. The race had a 5K Run, 5K paddle and a 5K run/5K SUP. I was going to do both. I started out at a fast pace, running up the little hill. I was in the high 7 minute mile range and knew I needed to slow it down. My plan was not to go all out for the run, because I knew I couldn't be out of breath for the paddle. People were passing my like crazy. There were a lot of fast runners out for the race. The course was out and back, so I was able to see everyone ahead of me, heading back. At the turn around, I did see some women, who were also doing both races, behind me. It was good to know I wasn't last! I picked up the pace a bit in the last half mile, Speeding up as I ran down the hill to the transition area. Gina was waiting down by my board. She gave me some water and stood by while I got my gear on. I hopped on the board and paddled out!
Heading to the finish

The paddle: we took a right, to loop around the back side of the island. I was passed by a couple of guys on faster boards, and then by a woman on a board like mine. She was fast! My heart rate was way up there, so I tried to concentrate on getting my breathing under control while not slowing down. As I came out of the little canal on the back side of the island, I could see about 5 people a ways ahead of me. My goal was to try and catch up. The wind was blowing from my left side, but because we were pretty close to the side of the lake, we had a bit of a buffer. About 10 minutes into my paddle, my music gave out. It was going to be a quiet paddle! Just before I got a mile in, I passed one woman, who had been at the back of the one pack. I now had my sights set on the other 4. This is were I made a little mistake. I didn't remember the announcer telling us we had to hug the side, just thought it would be easier. We were going to have to turn right at the end of the lake, so I started to paddle towards the middle a bit more, but, as I got closer to the end, I could see that I needed to go around a bouy before making the turn. That wasted a bit of time! After making the turn around the buoy, we had a short paddle heading west. There is a long walkway, that goes down the middle of the lake. It's set up for the rowing races. Thankfully, they had taken out a large section of it, for us to pass through. When Jackie and I had paddled out here a few days before, the walkway was in place, and there was only a small section at the end open. I almost hit the shore trying to paddle through. Just after making the turn, I passed another participant. She was struggling to move forward, with the now, very strong wind pushing us from the right. We both fell way behind the other people, who took the advice of the announcer, and stayed close to the center walkway. I, drifted further and further to the left. Since we would have to go to the left, to turn around the last bouy anyway, I figured it wasn't a big deal. I probably just had to work a little harder in the wind. After making the last turn, We paddled the last quarter mile straight into the wind, to the beach. I could hear my friends on the shore cheering me on. It was pretty awesome! I paddled in, left my board on the beach, and ran it to the finish line. Wow, my legs where like lead! Super happy to be done and very happy with my time. I took almost 15 minutes off from my previous 5K paddle!
5K Run - 26:00
5K SUP - 51:47

Crossing the finish line.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Want to win a free race entry?

That’s right: now’s your chance to win a Basic entry (worth $85) into the Skirt Sports 13er/10k/5k Local OR Virtual Race, coming up on June 14th! This gives the winner a chance to run the race in Colorado, or, run the race in your home town, as a virtual participant. You set the place and time. Just run the distance! There are three distances to choose from. 13.1, 10K or a 5K. Pick the distance that's right for you. You not only receive a race packet including a Finisher’s Skirt, race bib #, and sponsor swag, but you’ll ALSO win a gift certificate to spend right away on the Skirt Sports website! For this giveaway, here’s what you’ll win:
  • $50 gift certificate
  • Race bib #
  • Finisher’s Skirt (Don’t Sweat It Collection pull over skirt)
  • Sponsor swag
So what are you waiting for? Enter now! The winner will be announced on May 17th – and I look forward to running with you in spirit in June!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Skirt Sports has started a new movement that is totally awesome! It’s called #REALwomenmove. This is all about people like me. A woman, a mom, a weekend race warrior, a friend, a wife and an inspiration and motivator to all those around her.

Who is a REAL woman? She is proud of who she is. She is confident. She does not judge, but rather encourages other women. She is comfortable in her own body. She accepts and loves herself as she is. She prioritizes health and fitness.

I’ve been an athlete for most of my life. I was a bit of a “tomboy” growing up. But, I didn’t start running until I got into college. Not sure what held me back, but one day I decided to give it a try. It was usually just a couple of miles at a time, with no goal at the end of it. When I got into my mid 20s, running was a great way to relieve stress from my first job as a journalist and always helped me get through break-ups with boyfriends. I got hooked on running short distance races, when I ran a 5K in Biloxi, MS. I had just moved there, to work at the local newspaper. I didn’t stick around after the race, I had no idea I could win an age group award. A week or so later, a 2nd place ribbon came in the mail! I was so excited. That was the start of my love of racing. A year later, I ran my first half marathon and 6 months after that, I ran my first marathon. Now, I’ve run 55 half marathons, 21 marathons, 2 ultra’s and so many 5K and 10K races, I can’t even count.
My love of running has been with me for over 20 years now. My weight and pace per mile has fluctuated, with all of life’s changes. But, whether I was running an 8 minute mile or a 12 minute mile, I always consider myself a runner. I get out there and work to the best of my abilities. And the biggest surprise to me? I’m faster now, than I was in my mid 20s? My big dream goal is to qualify for the Boston marathon. Since I’ll be moving up in age group at the end of the year, that goal is getting closer! J

Check out the #REALwomenmove website for more information: http://www.skirtsports.com/realwomenmove/

Do you want to take part in this amazing movement? Help spread #REALwomenmove by posting photos of yourself being active. Or photos of you and your friends being active. Don’t forget to include #REALwomenmove and #SkirtSports
For every 5,000 hashtags, Skirt Sports will donate a Get Started Scholarship to a woman who shows all the traits listed in the description of #REALwomenmove.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Virtual 261 Fearless Run

This Saturday, I plan on running 26.1K (16.2 miles) as part of the Virtual 261 Fearless Run that will take place all over the country. This is inspired by Kathrine Switzer, who was fearless in her pursuit to run. In particular, to run the Boston Marathon in 1967. She trained hard for months to run the race. but the race director had other ideas. He didn't want women in his race. He tried to pull her off the course, but was unsuccessful. Kathrine went on to finish the race and make history. Inspiring women all over the world with her fearlessness.

With Kathrine Switzer in 2011.
She has been an inspiration to me for many years. I've read her book twice! I've had the pleasure of meeting her on two occasions, at the Women's Half Marathon. She was there signing copies of her book and to run the race. She took the time to chat with me a bit and wish me a good race.

Saturday morning, I'll be hitting the road early, to run my 26.1K. I will reflect on how my running has changed over the years, how I've become a happier person since running and how Kathrine Switzer has helped to make the road a friendlier place for women runners. There is still time to join in on this great event. Find out more information here: http://www.skirtsports.com/event.cfm/id/Virtual-261-Fearless-Run

And, check out the 261 Fearless collection from Skirt Sports.

#REALwomenmove #SkirtSports #SkirtSportsAmbassador

Sunday, March 29, 2015

If it's a weekend day, it's a race day!

The past few weekends have been busy. It seems like I've been running in a race every weekend since the beginning of February. Well, it's because I have! I had Ragnar Relay, followed by Scrub Jay 10K, Gasparilla 15K and 5K (same day), Hug a Tree 5K/Take Stock in Children 10K(Sat/Sun), Spring Fest 12K, Sarasota Half Marathon, Life in the Son 10K and Smoothie King 5K this morning. 8 weekends of running races! I am tired! :)

I'm not up to writing a race recap for all those, but I will do a few highlights. I always like to look back on the race, when I run it again, to get an idea of how it went and how to improve.

Scrub Jay 10K (Saturday 2/14): This was the first time I've run the Scrub Jay race. It's a trail race. In Florida, that often means sand running and we did have some of that on this course. Aidan ran the 5K and had a decent time considering he never trains for these things. It wasn't speedy for me, but I finished. 56:51.

Finishing the Gasparilla 15K

Gasparilla (Saturday 2/21): One day of racing this year. 15K first. Pretty cold out this morning. lows in the mid 40s. I wore my new Newtons, which ended up causing a lot of calf pain during and after the race. I really pushed it this year and was very happy with my PR finish time of 1:17:25. We had just enough time after this race and before the 5K, to stiffen up. The 5K was a little slower this year for me than it was last year. Time: 26:21. Both races were good enough for top 10% finisher mugs!

Melissa, me and Gina after Take Stock in Children 10K

Hug A Tree 5K (Saturday 2/28): Wasn't planning on running this, but I was given a free entry a couple of days before the race. Race was a couple of loops around Payne park. Sidewalk, gravel and grass running. One of my least favorite courses. Small race. Placed 2nd in age group. Time: 25:02. Take Stock in Children 10K (Sunday 3/1): Felt pretty sluggish this morning. The humidity was very high. I ran 5 miles before the race. I wanted to get a long run in before the half marathon in a couple of weeks. Felt pretty yucky right from the start of the race. I tried to keep it the pace around 8:20, but after a couple of miles, that was not going to happen. Just did the best I could. Time: 57:05

Waiting for Spring Fest 12K to start

Spring Fest 12K (Saturday 3/7): A cold morning today, which was a nice change over the weekend before. I actually felt pretty good, even though I was starting to feel a little burned out. I might have skipped the race, if it wasn't part of the Manasota Track Club racing series. Ran ahead of Roxy and Gina until they caught me around mile 5. I had slowed down, so it was nice to see them and get the push they provided. Ended up pulling a little ahead during the last mile to finish strong. Time: 1:01:49

Having fun after the Sarasota Half Marathon

Sarasota Half Marathon (Sunday 3/15): A few days before this race, I discovered the temp was going to be hot and humid, so I adjusted my goals. I had wanted to try for a sub 1:50 finish time. Based on Gasparilla, I really thought I could get it. But, the conditions were not going to be good for a fast race. I really slow down in the humidity. I hung with the 1:50 pace group for the first 4.5 miles. They pulled ahead of me as we headed up the bridge for the second time. I thought I might be able to catch back up on the down hill, but I had slowed to much running up, I couldn't run fast enough to catch up and I figured it wasn't a good idea anyway. When you are drenched in sweat by mile 3, it is not going to be a fast race. Slowed down a lot in the last few miles, but managed to pull out another sub 2 hour half, which was my #2 goal. 4th fastest time out of 56 half marathons is pretty good! :) Time: 1:56:35

Life in the Son 10K (Saturday 3/21): Again, this is a race I would have skipped, if it wasn't in the MTC racing series. I wish I could have changed to the 5K, but only the 10K would count for the series. Within a mile, I knew this would not be my best effort. Didn't help that I started out super fast. About a quarter mile in, I looked at my watch to see I was running a 6:55 pace! A bit fast for these tired legs. I slowed down and just tried to keep it around an 8:30 pace or faster for the rest of the race. Legs felt like lead, but I got it done. I hung out for a couple of minutes, to see how I placed (5th in age group) before heading down the road to get to Aidan's baseball game which started at 9 am, an hour after race start. Time: 52:46

Smoothie King 5K (Sunday 3/29) So, what's one more race. That's what I thought to myself when my boss told me she had a comp race entry for this race, if I wanted it. So what if I've already run races the past 7 weekends? Or, that I ran over 50 miles this past week, as part of the mileage challenge at Fit2Run? I went into this mornings race, not expecting to get in a fast race, but I was going to try for it anyway. The weather was perfect. Low 50s. We won't be having many more of these days before next fall. So, I went out fast. The course was out and back and flat. I pushed it hard the first mile, 7:40, but knew I would not be able to hold it. I eased up a bit during the last mile, so that I would have something in the tank for a strong finish. Pushed it hard when I got close the end. Not a PR, but one of my faster times. Good enough for 3rd in age group. Time 24:24.

Time to take a break! I've got Ragnar Trail Atlanta in 2 weeks, but I don't consider that to be a race. One month until my next 5K. :)