Month: October 2017

Spooky Fun at the Pumpkin Run

Fleet feet

My favorite time of year, Halloween,  brings about one of my favorite runs-The Evergreen Pumpkin Run.  When I began running (2008-09), I signed up for this race with Ethan.  I was intrigued because of the location, the Evergreen Cemetery, and because at the end of the race you get to pick up a free pumpkin to take home.   I love history!  After all I am a history major, so I find it interesting that this is one of the oldest cemeteries in Jacksonville.  It’s in historic Springfield with turn of the Century homes, and I love things about Old Jacksonville.  I could walk around all day exploring tombstones and wondering what these people’s lives were like.  I know, my family makes fun of me too.  Anyway back to the race, there is a 5k option and a 10 miler.  After running the 5k one or two years in a row, I decided to try the 10 miles.  And fell in love with the race.

People dress in costumes, so don’t be surprised to see a T-Rex, a zombie, Forrest Gump, or a headless horseman.  I dressed up like a cat one year.  That was for the 5k.  Some people wear their costumes for the full 10-yikes!  At the end of the race there is a costume contest.  

The 5k was sold out this year.  Two years ago, medals started to be handed out, and runners love bling. The bigger, the better.  Go figure.  I usually covet the race shirt.  One reason I love the Atlanta Peachtree 10k on July 4th.    This year’s medal did not disappoint.

Why yes, a medal and a water after 10 miles-thank you!

Because the race has gotten so big, there are now 2 waves.  One for runners 10 minutes and faster at 8:00a m, and 8:05 a m for 11:00 minutes + pace.  I lined up at the 9:00 pace flag trying to be optimistic (I had run 16 miles the day before).  I’m representing JTC race team after all, so I better try for some speed.  The race course can be narrow in some places and the pavement is uneven too.  Watch your footing.  So the race begins.

1st mile is a lie-8:58 per mile!  Pumpkins line the race course, and there are hills!  Suddenly at 3 miles, I see the race clock-26:10!   If only I was running the 5k.  Keep going!  We make a right, and we’re out of the cemetery and on part of the S-line trail.  At 5 miles I see a familiar face-hi Todd!  Then loop back to where I see a lot of runner friends and say “hi!” as we pass each other.  Fuel at 6 miles and continue on.  

Not a PR, but still a happy finisher

One more 3 mile loop, and done!  What a great race, it never disappoints.  And the best news!  I was 6th in my age group, and since it’s part of the Grand Prix series; more points.  I’m still working on top 5 this year.  If you’re in Jacksonville for the last weekend in October, be sure to check it out!

Remember it’s not about the destination , it’s about the journey,

Mercedes

But I don’t want to taper!

The weather is cooler, I want to run!

As a runner I have said some four letter words during my training… “this heat sucks!”, “I hate Summer running !”,  “damn this sidewalk!”, “I am never doing another Fall marathon!”  You get the idea right?  But there is one word I despise and is the most hated word by runners everywhere-taper.   So exactly what is a taper?  Runner’s World defines it as follows:

Taper, or tapering, refers to the reduction of exercise before a competition or race. Tapering is believed to be essential for best performance and can take from as little to a week to two or three weeks.    

Rest days right?  Everyone knows rest days are good for you.  I try to take at least 1-2 days off per week.  Your muscles recover after a tough run.  But 3?, 2?, or 1? weeks with less of what we runners love to do?!  It is not easy.  I get cranky, I get moody, I feel out of the loop with my BRF’s, but yes; I still recommend it.  Even though you may not have a time goal for your marathon or half marathon, it’s essential for recovery.    Especially catching up on sleep.  I never sleep well the week of the marathon, so any sleep is welcome and needed.  It also gives me a chance to get some cross training in. Just because you taper, doesn’t mean stop all exercise and putting your feet up as you eat coffee ice cream(that’s okay for 1 day).  Easy workouts such as cycling, swimming, or weights are great ways to get your 3x’s of 30 minute exercise.  An easy walk is also recommended.    I aim for 2 week’s of tapering.  Do I cheat?  Yes.   Example:  we had a 16 mile group run this morning(not a problem except I was suppose to run 8 and then my co leader was suppose to relieve me)-did not happen.  I ran all 16 miles and I have the Pumpkin 10 miler Run tomorrow.  I know better, but…tapering is hard.  I hate that word!

I told you this was not easy.  Just know this too shall pass, and you’ll be ready to tackle your race head on-rested.  

Summer marathon training preps us for Fall races

Don’t hate the taper, embrace it!

Remember it’s not just about the destination it’s about the journey,

Mercedes

Virus, Zooma 13.1, and finding my joy-oh my!

My first Zooma Amelia Half was memorable for many reasons

It’s Wednesday, and I have a super busy week on deck.  Planning day was Monday, I posted my grades, then the kids came back…GOTR lesson on Thursday, Southern Women’s show VIP meet and greet-the list goes on and on.  Then all of sudden I’m worshiping the white porcelain throne.  Uh oh.

Yes, a stomach virus.  Not the flu thank God!  Thursday was a day of cancellations.  I cancelled  going to school, I cancelled being a pacer for the Zooma Amelia 13.1, I cancelled my Fernandina hotel room since I wasn’t running, I cancelled my opportunity at the Southern Women’s Show, and I cancelled running with my BRF’s.  I hated Thursday.  On the other hand, I got a lot of sleep. Then…

Friday!  All better.  Weak but able to go to school.  I decided if I can’t pace and definitely not race, maybe there was a way I could run especially since I am a Zooma Race Ambassador.  My husband was not happy, but he knows me-when I commit to something I don’t back down.  So off to the expo after school with the fam.

Angela was the perfect 3:00 hour pacer.

The Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island was the site of the expo.  I picked up my packet, picked up some goodies, and back home to get ready for tomorrow.  No sleep, so up early for breakfast and coffee.  Then off I go.  The drive up A1A was nice without much traffic except for fishermen.  I parked at the Nassau County school board parking lot, and walked to the waterfront.  Historic Fernandina was having their annual car show-nice!  I met up with some of my BRF’s who were pacing and lined up with my co-leader/pacer replacement Angela.  I wanted to see if I could keep up.  30/30 at 13:00 minute pace, here goes!  Down Atlantic Ave we ran/walked and then left turn to one of the hilliest neighborhoods in Fernandina on Wolff St.-whee!  However it was shaded, and I knew what was coming.    Then on to Old Town Fernandina to Fort Clinch where we saw a deer running on the dunes!  Hurricane Irma had really done a number on the trees in the State Park.  Sadness .  Then left on to Atlantic Ave and right on Fletcher straight to the Ritz Carlton.

Did I mention there was no shade?  Or in some cases water?  I was so glad I brought my Nathan handheld water bottle.  Our group now had dwindled down to just me and Angela.   We enjoyed the sights along the way!

Our beautiful views along Fletcher Ave

Then a left turn at Peter’s Point Beach Park where we saw horses, and then 500 yards of soft sand.  That by far was the worst.  There was the Finish!  2:57:36.  I’ll take it.  My tummy was doing flip flops from mile 8 and beyond.  I was so thankful just to finish with my BRF.  We finished on the lawn of the Ritz Carlton with yummy food from Salt Life Cafe and Barefoot Bubbly.  Everything went down nice and easy-thank goodness.  Back on the shuttle, and then the drive back.

What a gift…running

What I took from this run

  • Never underestimate yourself. Even though you feel like death one day, you never know what a new day will bring.
  • Time is relative.                      You’re in a race with yourself.  No one cares if you PRed or you didn’t until you say something about it.  Sometimes it’s important when you have a goal, sometimes the goal is just to put distance on your legs.
  • Step back and enjoy the sights around you.                                   I had no idea how beautiful Fletcher Ave could be because I drive it when I come up to Fernandina.  I noticed the ocean, beach houses, Halloween decor, flowers, people…it was a feast for the eyes.
  • Natural beauty is all around too.                                               The sky was bright blue with beautiful cloud formations; eye candy.
  • BRF’s are a blessing.                  They keep your mind off of how you’re feeling, they make you laugh…it’s a special connection that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
  • Thank you running!                       I have had so many opportunities because of this sport.  I was able to participate in this fun race because I am a Zooma Ambassador,  I fundraise for the Donna Foundation because 7 years ago I decided I wanted to run for a reason, some of my best friends are runners, and I get to share my love of my sport with girls in 3rd-5th because of GOTR.  Blessed and changed for the better.

What engages your joy?  Go out and find it!  I hope you’ll share yours too.

Remember it’s not just about the destination but the journey,

Mercedes

The End is Near, Why is my Head not in it?  Marathon Training Burnout.

Chris finishing up the JU RiverHouse 5k

It’s October.  I have 37 days until my marathon in Kill Devil Hills NC and I toe the start.  All this summer I have been gutting it out.  10 miles, 12, 14, 16, 21, 20.78, 14…wait, what?  The farthest I’ve  run is 21 miles?!  What is going on?  I will be tapering soon and I’ve hit a training wall.  The question that haunts me is why?  I should have run 24 miles by now.  Colds, hurricane, races, have all interfered (that’s what I’m telling myself).  Deep down, I know better.  I am on marathon training burnout.

How did I get here?    I don’t know.   I am here now and I don’t like it.  My type A personality is really angry at myself.  I have never done this before.  I have goals.  I made them this past year, and somewhere along the way I lost sight of that goal.  What happened?  Okay let’s think…

  • I have hit a running plateau.  I was fast(at least everyone I ran with said so), and I’m slipping.  I can’t past 26:00 5k.  I tried track.   I’ve stopped going.  Excuses, excuses.   
  • I have gained a lot of weight.  Over 10 pounds.  That makes a difference.  How much weight you carry can slow you down.  I am not claiming this is a truth for everyone.  I am saying this is what has happened to me.  I need to pay attention to what I’m putting in my body.  
  • School is back in session.   I am working, and trying to keep my focus on improving as a teacher.  Under a lot of stress to be the best at what I do Math/Science.  Then…surprise! You are now teaching it all!  Double the effort.
  • Anxiety.   I don’t care what anyone says, I think this stupid voice gets in your head and messes with your mojo.  I feel tired….”five more minutes in bed, you need it…”. I feel doubtful…”today is not your day…”. I feel annoyed…”you don’t have to do this, go treat yourself to a cupcake…”. All this stuff eats at your resolve to be strong and work through your training.

Okay, now what?   The marathon is still looming.  I will not DNS or DNF!

  • Keep at it.   I have a long run tomorrow.  I will do it.
  • Plan out your meals.  I have a food journal.  It keeps me on track.  Use it in advance.  What will I eat for dinner this week? Plan out a menu and stick to it.
  • Tell that voice to HUSH!  You have a bridge run with your friends?  Get up no matter how tired and do it!  You have a swim?  Pack your stuff and take it with you.  Track?  Stay at school and work until 4:45, and then change and go.  Don’t get derailed by that inner voice.
  • Your health is more important. Staying healthy and moving at my age is important.  I do not want to be lethargic.  I want to be running at 100!
  • Everyday is a gift.   Celebrate what you can do with your time and energy everyday.  Treat yourself by getting a massage, a pedicure, signing up for a group fitness class, or what I do, sign up for a fun race!  Anything to keep you excited and motivated.

Will you have bumps and hard times on your journey?  Of course, but keep on keeping on.  Never give up on yourself, you are your biggest cheerleader.  If you make your mind up that you can, then you will.  No one can take that from you!  Remember that!  Here’s to all of us, we will persevere.

Up on the podium for 2nd place. I love running!

Remember it’s about the journey not just the destination,

Mercedes