Race Recap: St Jude Memphis Half Marathon!

What a weekend!

The Inaugural Annual MJ Reunion Half Marathon, also known as the St Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend  involved lots of driving (try 18+ hours round trip for EACH of us!), lots of running, and lots of eating our way down Beale Street.

Mel and I met back in 2008 in grad school. We were both proud members of what we called the wRECking crew cohort, and had our fair share of shenanigans. Ours is one of those friendships that was solidified in times of crisis – namely while stuck on the side of the road for 4 hours one cold, December evening in Southeastern Ohio and then being picked up by a tow truck at 1 am and taken to a very Batesian hotel in the boonies. Over those 4 hours, we did everything to entertain ourselves and keep warm, including mooning what little oncoming traffic there was. Yep, our friendship was sealed with butt prints on a car window.

We both graduated in 2010, and then Mel moved all the way to Houston. Since then we’ve only had Facebook and Daily Mile to keep in touch. Back when we lived in the same city, neither of us were runners, but somehow we kept each other up to date on our separate but eerily similar running journeys, and decided back in January that a great way for us to keep in touch would be to meet up each year for a half marathon. Quality girl time, racing, and a weekend vacation? Um, yeah!

We stayed with a family friend of Mel’s, who just so happened to live within a few blocks of the Expo, the start/finish, AND Beale Street – quite possibly the most ideal location ever. On top of that, he was an amazing host, and showed us all the best places in Memphis.

the view from our home for the weekend...

Mel is currently training for her first marathon, and I’m at the end of a looooong training cycle, so our goals for the race were very relaxed and flexible. As much as I would have loved to PR again, I’ve been on fire for the last few races, and have been feeling pretty overtrained in the past few weeks, so I decided to go with the flow and run according to how I felt in the moment. Mel wanted to stay as fresh as possible for her pending 16 mile run next weekend.

Overall, I have to say that this wasn’t what I would call a “good” race day for me. I was running pretty consistently around 10:00 minute miles with Mel until about mile 5, when I went ahead a bit. Miles 5 – 8 were clocking in around 9:30, with some faster spurts, but it felt much more difficult than it should have, and I just didn’t have the same fire in me that I had in Indy when I PRed. The tank just felt empty – classic overtraining, if you ask me.

Just after mile 8, Mel caught up with me, and we ran 2 smoking miles around 8:30. Those miles really took it out of me, so around mile 10, I set Mel loose, and slowed it down a bit. Someone conveniently forget to mention the rolling hills in the last 5k of the race, and they beat me up properly. For the first time since the marathon in September, I walked in a race. It felt like I walked a lot in miles 10 & 11, but my pace for those miles was still around 10:30, so I must not have walked as much as I thought.

At mile 12, I kicked it into a higher gear, knowing that I was so close. The race finished in AutoZone Park, the baseball stadium, and I could almost see the finish line when the woman in front of me tripped in a pothole and went chin first into the street. I stopped to make sure she was okay, and thankfully she was – she earned some hardcore road rash on her chin, but seemed fine, so I pushed ahead. I remember thinking that if I hit a pothole. I’d be face first, too, after almost 13 miles!

looking a little rough toward the finish

Not even a few hundred yards later, I noticed people crowding around something, or as I realized when I got closer – someone. A man had collapsed within sight of the finish, and there were about 8 people helping him, asking “can you hear me?! can you hear me?!” After hearing about all these marathon deaths in the past few months, the whole situation sent chills up and down my body and a queasy feeling  spread all throughout my gut. I sent some good thoughts to the runner and his family and thought about him as I crossed the finish line. Thankfully, he seems to have come through it alright and should be going home soon.

I mentioned earlier that this race wasn’t a “good” race for me, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. I finished in 2:11:24, for an average pace of almost exactly 10:00 minutes per mile. The fact that 10:00 minute miles is now a “bad” day honestly had me over the moon! Having to climb up though the stands in the stadium, not so cool. I just kept thinking “man, if I’m having this hard of a time after a half, those poor marathoners will have an awful time with these!” I reunited with Mel, who PRed by about 7 minutes and met her goal of running negative splits for the first time in a race!

My GOTR good luck charm!

After the race, Mel and I meandered back to our generous host’s apartment, showered, lounged, and hit Beale Street for an evening of… well, mostly eating. Fried chicken, BBQ, fried pickles, gumbo… all the Memphis must-eats. It was so awesome to see Mel and catch up with her – we haven’t seen each other since she graduated last spring, and had a ton to talk about. This past year has taught me that nothing is more important than the people you love, and I’m so excited for our adventure in running and racing in the years to come. It’s always better to share an amazing journey with an amazing person – 50 half marathons in 50 states, baby!

Mel & our amazing host on Beale Street

All in all, it was the perfect weekend – nothing beats running and eating your way through a new city with a friend as awesome as this one!

( Stay tuned – more photos to come of this epic weekend! )

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Race Recap: Flying Feather 4 Miler!

It’s been just about a year since I started running. Since then, running has become a huge part of life and hands down the best way to celebrate just about anything. Naturally, I was psyched for my first Thanksgiving Day race, and to top it off, it’s my TENTH race of 2011, fulfilling one of my goals for the year! Our original T-day plans had us in Cincinnati, so I had registered for the 102nd Annual Thanksgiving Day Race there. Somewhere along the way, plans changed and Ian and I ended up hosting in Columbus. Thankfully, I had a few really great races to pick from, but like any other hardcore runner, the question really came down to swag: pumpkin pie or a bottle of wine?

Quite the debacle indeed, but I think we all know what I ended up going with… wine all the way, baby.

Pre-race, I was probably the coldest I have ever been. Instead of hanging out in the car, we decided to watch the kids race that started about 30 minutes before the main event. It was cute, for sure, but some of the parents were really driving me up the wall – shoving people out of the way to get shots of their kid, pulling their screaming kids through the race, and just generally being ridiculous. Instead of watching that hot mess, I decided to take a few laps around the block in hopes of warming up my legs, which were aching they were so cold.

When it was time for Ian to leave the corrals, I couldn’t bear to part with my jacket, so I took my number off my shirt and pinned it to my jacket. I knew I’d probably regret that decision, but I just could not take that jacket off… brrr!

As I cruised along, I slowly started to regain feeling in my lower extremities, but I have to say that the course wasn’t big enough for the 4,000 who were running the race. I had a goal of running at least one sub-9:00 mile, but I spent most of the race weaving like a maniac – I probably ran half the race in the grass next to the path/road, all the better to pass people. At one point, I almost creamed a girl who stopped out of nowhere to tie her shoe right in front of me. That’s what you get when you stop mid-race without notice. I felt bad, but only a little.

Despite all the crowding and weaving, I passed mile 1 in 9:17. Around mile 2, I started to get really hot, but figured I’d try to tough it out. By the time I hit mile marker 3, I knew I wouldn’t make it in that sauna of a jacket, so mid-run, I wiggled my way out of it, re-pinning my number on the fly and tying the jacket around my waist. The epitome of class, dontchyaknow.

The last 1/2 mile was all downhill, and thank goodness – my legs were burning by then. I rounded the corner and sprinted to the finish in…

35:13, an average pace of 8:48/mile!

I went into the race with a goal of running at least one sub-9:00 mile, and I ended up running 2…

Mile 1 – 9:17

Mile 2 – 9:02

Mile 3 – 8:44

Mile 4 – 8:17

If you had told me a year ago that I would finish a race with an average pace in the 8s, I probably would have dropped to the floor in hysterical laughter. Despite one of the most difficult years of my life, I’ve worked hard and I’ve been blessed with many accomplishments – for that, among many other things, I am truly thankful.

And besides, we all know wine tastes better when you earn it!

Race Recap: New Balance Girls on the Run 5k!

My first season as a Head Coach for the Girls on the Run of Franklin County culminated this past Saturday, at the New Balance Girls on The Run 5k! There are just too many things to say about the past 10 weeks, but suffice it to say that they have been some of the most inspiring, challenging, heart-warming, and rewarding weeks I’ve had the chance to experience.

Each week, I spent 2 hours with 15 young girls. While most Girls on the Run teams are based at elementary schools, my team was based at a community center called the Run the Race Club. My first day at GOTR back in September was a bit overwhelming. The center bursts at the seams with kids after school, and it was chaotic to say the least. The first weeks are always a little rough as everyone gets to know each other, but as time went on our team hit a groove; then all of the sudden, it was time to for our end of the season celebration – a full 5k race!

In the weeks before the race, our girls received their brand new New Balance shoes. The team was blessed with two generous sponsors, so each girl got a sweet pair of running kicks along with their shirt and 5k registration. It was so much fun handing out those shoes – the girls were THRILLED, and couldn’t wait to put them to good use in the race.

The morning of the 5k came early and cold, of course, but excitement was in the air – we had a race to run! The girls were ready; we had built not only endurance, strength and fortitude, but genuine confidence and positivity. Those weeks held some difficult conversations, challenges in respecting and truly listening to one another, and true breakthroughs in building positive and healthy relationships. We were ready.

After we picked up our packets and got our numbers pinned on, we spent some time enjoying the festivities – the girls LOVED the hair station! They each got sprayed up with different colors, picked out some festive hair ties and pins and we had a blast just being silly and enjoying each others company.

And then, it was time to line up at the start! Each girl is assigned a running buddy who is there for moral support and to ensure her safety before, during and after the race. I started the race walking with 4 girls from my team, but one, K, wanted to run a bit, so I went ahead with her while another coach walked with the other girls. All through the race, K did an amazing job – she ran for awhile and walked when she got tired. I set small goals for us – run to that tree! walk to the lamp post and then run again! Jog to the water station! After a few minutes, K caught on, and started setting her own goals. I really loved spending so much one on one time with her, and we talked about all sorts of stuff!

Before we knew, it we hit mile marker 3, where we had already decided we would sprint to the finish. Watching each girl cross the finish line and receive her awesome GOTR medal was one of the coolest experiences! I got to cheer in most of my girls, and it had me nearly in tears…

I never could have guessed 10 weeks ago how this experience could have changed me; but in those weeks, I saw how these lessons impacted each girl. Each week, they shared stories about how they had taken what they learned at GOTR and used it – how they had heard hurtful gossip about a classmate and put a stop to it, were welcoming to a new girl in class, and stood up to peer pressure. I’ll admit, at first I wondered whether the lessons would stick. Sometimes, the conversation starters we threw out were met with little more than crickets. But as they came back, week after week, I started to notice something different –  a small spark that wasn’t there before.

Maybe 10 weeks isn’t long enough to truly make a lifelong change. But, it is certainly enough to light a spark, and hopefully the lessons these girls learned through GOTR can be fanned into something truly amazing – strong, confident and healthy women!

Race Recap: Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon!

The morning came early, earlier even than it usually comes on race day. You see, I had decided that my “stomach issues” come as the result of not taking part in my normal daily ritual of coffee and “morning constitutional.” So, I woke up at 4:00 am, trudged downstairs, switched on the news, and dutifully ate my toast with peanut butter, banana, and slurped my coffee.

I’ve never been more relaxed before a race… I think it had something to do with not rushing around, and of course, partaking in my usual ritual. I think it also had something to do with the fact that my Mama was there – this would be the first time she’d see me run. Isn’t she cute?!

We made our way to the parking lot right by the starting line and found a spot with no problem before seeking refuge from the cold in the Indiana Convention Center. I casually made my way to the start with just a few minutes til the gun was to go off, and said goodbye to Ian and my Mama.

Going into the race, I planned to race for a PR, knowing that although I had just set a PR at the Nationwide Columbus half marathon, I had a lot more in me. For me, this race was the perfect example of flexible goal setting. In my mind, I was hoping for anywhere around 2:10 – 2:15.

The gun went off, and just before I passed the start line, I saw my Mama and Ian, yelling and laughing, and I gotta say… it was the perfect jump start. The first mile passed by in just over 10 minutes – about 10:01. I thought to myself, “hmm, that may be too fast, Janene.”

Then the second mile passed in another 10 minutes, and the third in just under 10 minutes…. and I felt great. No horrible feelings in the tummy, fresh legs, and lungs that barely even felt like they were getting worked. It was at this point that I realized 2:10 was absolutely possible.

A few miles later, I passed the 10k mark in just under 1:01 and change, faster than my week-old 10k PR. I hit mile 7 in 1:08, and with faulty mathematical logic, though that perhaps even 1:58 was in my grasp, thinking that I only had 5 miles left. Math fail. But still, it was then that I realized sub-2:10 was in the cards, assuming no blow-ups.

As a side note, I found it kinda hilarious that I ended up calling Ian a few times during the race, to make sure he and my mom were in places where she could actually see me… I was WAY ahead of schedule, so much so that Ian was pretty skeptical… boy, did I show him. At this point, I knew that Ian and Mom were just after mile 12, and I decided that I would stay the course until about miles 10 -11, and then pick up the pace for a strong finish.

Around mile 11, I started to feel the fatigue of sub-10 minute miles, but knowing that they were so close kept me going. Then, just after mile 12, I saw Ian standing on a street corner, and my Mom running up behind him, yelling my name, beaming and telling me I looked great!

It’s amazing how much of a burst in energy you get from seeing your family! Having them at mile 12 was perfect timing… just as my legs were getting tired, I had that surge of energy to carry me through to the finish. At this point, I realized that if I pushed it, I could go sub 2:08…!!!

So that’s what I decided to do… I kept up the pace, turned a few corners, picked it up as I saw the finish…and VOILA –I didn’t think that a half marathon at a sub-10 pace was in the cards this year…. but I was so wrong. It’s amazing how fast I can run when I’m not afraid I’m going to poop my pants with every step!

And of course, a HUGE thanks to Ian and my Mama – without their amazing support, this would not have been  such an amazing race. And, my Mama LOVED it! I was worried she’d get bored, or too cold, but I should have known better – she loves people & crowds, and Ian said she was just chatting up a storm with all the other spectators, and cheering on other runners… I think she’s hooked, too!

The day after the race, Ian and I took the dog for a walk, and I chatted his ear off about it all – the race, my hopes for future races, and running in general. I think this was a huge breakthrough for me, both simply in figuring out my digestive issues and pre-race ritual, and in terms of what I’m actually capable of. I see BIG things in my running future… I can’t wait to share them with you, but for just a little while longer, I’d like to keep them as my (not-so-little) secrets… stay tuned!

Race Recap: Wellness in the Woods 10k!

I really can’t say much about this race, other than the fact that it ROCKED!!!!

After PRing in the half marathon two weeks ago, I PRd again in the 10k – 1:02:12, and average pace of 10:03 per mile!

I’d estimate that 80% of this race was on the trails out at Highbanks Metroparks, so I guess we can call this my first trail race. I had heard that the trails at Highbanks were hilly, so I went into this one not expecting to PR… but I won’t lie, I was hoping to. My training runs have been stellar lately, so I was pretty confident that I had it in me.

Some things I learned today:

i.love.hills. I charged up those hills like they were nothing, passing people left and right, chicking dudes, kicking ass, and taking names. I passed quite a few people in these 6.2 miles, and I’d venture to say 90% of them I passed on the uphill. Rock. Star.

I’ve got a competitor lurking under the surface. After the first couple miles, when I settled into a nice easy pace, I realized that I could only remember being passed by one or two women that I was absolutely sure were running the 10k. A large part of me knew that I was most likely not going to break the top 5 overall women- I didn’t start paying attention early enough. But, it gave me the pep to pass as many women (and dudes!) as I could – which was quite a few. I ended up 12th overall, and 2nd in my age group! They didn’t give out AG awards, but still…

I am capable of so much more… I feel like I’m on the verge of a really awesome breakthrough… more on that to come!

For now I’ll just bask in my 2nd PR of the month!

Race Recap: Nationwide Columbus Half Marathon!

The Nationwide Columbus Half was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend – our wedding weekend, in case you can’t tell from the photos…

In the whirlwind that started Thursday morning, I was exhausted by the time Saturday afternoon rolled around. We partied hard at the rehearsal dinner Thursday and obviously Friday evening at the wedding, so by the time we arrived back in Columbus on Saturday afternoon to head to the expo, we were beat! A few of our awesome wedding party were also running, and trickled in Saturday night, so we did what made the most sense – pigged out on pizza and beer at HoundDog’s, the best pizza joint in the city. Seriously. Go get some Smokin’ Joes crust, NOW. After pizza, I rudely announced that if I didn’t go to bed NOW, I would turn into even more of a raging bi-yotch.

The morning came early, as it always does on race day, and the apartment was abuzz by 6 am. Our amazing spectators dropped us off about 30 minutes before race time, and we dashed to find Carrie. We had perfect timing – we shouted “CARRIE!!!” among the crowd of almost 20,000 and found her with just a few minutes to spare!

The first few miles flew by, and Ian and I got tons of laughs, high fives, and congratulations! thanks to our awesome outfits. We must have gotten at least 50 congrats and best wishes, and heard lots of “Awww, look at that bride and groom, how adorable!!” Here’s a tip: want LOTS of support and attention? Dress up. It’s as simple as that. The first few miles flew by, and before we knew it we were at mile 5 – where I lost my groom to a massively long port-o-potty, and my outfit became significantly less cute. Thankfully, I had the always awesome Carrie to keep me company, and we had some business to attend to.This was Carrie’s first half marathon, you see, and her goal was to hit 2:30. We ran somewhere in the 12s for the first mile or two, thanks to the congestion of 20,000 runners, and settled into a pace around the high 11:00s. We agreed that once we hit mile 10, we’d pick it up and finish strong.

Finish strong we did!! We ran miles 12 & 13 in the 9:50s, and crossed the finish line in…

2:28:47!

An AWESOME time for Carrie’s first half, surpassing her goal, and a new PR for me!

It was awesome to run a race for the fun of it – as a celebration, of sorts. Of the 5 of us in our group, 2 successfully finished their first half marathon, and the rest of us set new PRs!

Showing off all our new bling…

Race Recap: The Columbus 10k

{ Look at me, being all cool posting this recap almost 3 months after the fact. Better late than… yeah, you get the point. }

Back in June, I ran the C-bus 10k with my new work friend, Carrie, on a whim. It was her first, and only my second, so since life got away from me for a couple months there and I hadn’t been training, I wasn’t expecting to PR or anything. I was just looking to get back in the racing saddle and spend the morning with a new friend – the perfect way to kick off the summer, don’t you think?

We started out nice and slow after watching the kids run (ADORABLE!). We cruised along, uneventfully for most of the race, just chatting about running, work, and life. I had only been back in Columbus for a couple weeks, so I really enjoyed running through the city that I missed so much. I just kept exclaiming, “man, i’m so glad to be back!!” As far as the run itself, I was really impressed by how my body took to the distance after not running over a few miles for a month or two – we cruised right along, and I never felt out of breath or any sort of muscle fatigue until the very end.

We crossed the line with a time somewhere around 1:10 and change, and I couldn’t have been happier! It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. Carrie is training for her first half marathon, the Nationwide Columbus Marathon, the same race that Ian and I both running in October. I’m excited to have a training buddy, and so glad I could run her first 10k with her!

Race Recap: The Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon!

5 days ago, I ran my first half marathon, and…

wow.

That’s really all I can say, even 5 days later. Just… wow.

the excitement builds...

I mean, I had an inkling that I’d be forever changed by this experience, but I really had no idea how fundamental the change would be. More on that later.

I mentioned it in my “last long run” post, but these 13.1 miles really and truly were a celebration.

this is exactly what it felt like...

To be  perfectly honest, I don’t really want to give a mile-by-mile recap. It just doesn’t feel right. What I will say is that despite the rain, despite the lack of pre-race “taking care of business,” if you will, despite not consuming anything other than water whatsoever during the race, for fear of moving “things” along, despite the dreaded hills in miles 5-9, despite the last 2 miles of “don’t poop your pants, don’t poop your pants…”

I did it.

freakin' rockstar

I basically did everything wrong.

And yet somehow, the miles cruised by, and before I knew it, I was 8 miles in, having taken zero walking breaks, and nearly at the top of the hills, thinking “Really?! Mile 8?! When did THAT happen?”

Of course, then mile 11 slapped me in the face, and I walked a bit more than I intended. But as soon as I passed mile 12, I ran it home hard, crossing the finish line in…

bringing it home...

2 hours, 30 minutes, and 39 seconds.

Remember that “OMG, I’ll be a rockstar if I finish in 2:30” goal?

Well, apparently, I underestimated myself.

pig butt, te he!

I think, to a certain extent, I’m still processing this whole experience. Immediately following the race, all I could think of was “find a bathroom, find a bathroom, get some calories, find a bathroom.” I won’t lie, for a few minutes there, all I could think of was how miserable I was – sopping wet, a little achy, and in desperate need of a bathroom. I wondered if I really ever wanted to do this again, much less TWICE this.

Of course, once I relieved myself, all of those feelings subsided, and all I could think about was doing this again… and soon. I was hungry in so many delicious ways. Running 26.2 miles still seemed almost impossible… but 5 months ago, running 13.1 miles was also an impossibility. My feelings about the word impossible are shifting, these days. Again, more on that later.

I spent an afternoon chatting about this with a friend who unfortunately couldn’t run the Flying Pig this year.  She was super proud of me, and it was good to talk it out. I still can’t believe how GREAT I felt after the race, and by that I mean my legs NEVER got sore. My lower back was definitely feeling it, but even the next day, I thought, “I could run 3 or 4 miles today.” I didn’t of course, but still. I ran 3 miles yesterday in 31 minutes and barely broke a sweat.

My friend says that that means I trained well, and that I’m ready to start training for the marathon.

i came home to my new Runner's World... serendipitous!

I have a few more days off from a training plan, and then…

it begins…

😀

Race Recap: The Duel at Darby 10k

Well… that went SO MUCH better than I had expected!

Having only raced twice, I hadn’t experience the race day energy before this morning – when the collective energy of all racers combines to push you even harder than you though was possible.

But after today,  I believe it.

cheezin with my fancy new laces

The day began early – 4:30am to be exact. You see, the race started at 7:30, and it was 2 hours away. Smart planning, there, Janene. Thankfully, Ian is the most awesome dude ever, and not only agreed to drive me there, but claimed that he would love to support me! I know, I know – I’m a lucky gal.

We drove through some intense fog. And by that I mean that Ian drove through it while I mindlessly chomped on a banana and snoozed. As we got there, other participants were setting up their bikes/transitions areas – the race offered 5 and 10k races, as well as a sprint & olympic duathlons.

It was an exciting atmosphere, to be around all this nervous energy as the sun threatened to rise over the houses to the east. This was also the “biggest” race I’ve run, although by no means big at only about 120 racers for all 4 events. I picked up my packet and goodies, swigged some Gatorade and pulled on my shoes.

any minute now...

i beg you, please dont click on this. the neck popping cheezball smile is embarassing.

As we lined up at the start, I was chilly. Cold, really. But then the gun went off and I settled into a solid groove. As we passed the first mile marker, just as we entered a beautiful bike path, I realized that I ran the first mile in 9:59, and comfortably slow. Ordinarily, I would have thought “WHOA, too fast!” but for some reason, I thought “Hmm, this could be a good day!” I passed the second mile marker in another 9 minutes and 52 seconds, and it was then that I realized that I could serisouly shatter my 5k PR (3  ). So, naturally I pushed the next 1.1 miles, finishing the first half of my race in 31 and change.

Clearly, I deserved a walking break, so I took one, but resumed running fairly quickly and found another good but slower groove. On my way back down the bikepath, I saw quite  afew beautiful birds flitting around the trees and bird feeders – cardinals, robins, chickadees, blue jays, and more. I even saw a bright red fox run across the path about 25 feet in front of me.

Before I knew it, it was mile 5, so I pushed it hard, and then I was turning the corner to run to the finish. Suprisingly, I ran the race almost entirely alone. There were quite a few people so far ahead of me that I couldn’t see them, but almost as many that far behind me.

I rounded the corner, and the spectators erupted in cheers as I let loose and ran as hard as I could across the finish line.

bringing it home!

it's over already...?!

Let me tell you: that. Felt. GREAT! I couldn’t stop smiling as they handed me my medal. Ian headed over towards me and I just grinned and said “I DID SO GOOD, DIDN’T I?!”

10ks are my fave!

Proudly announcing my 10k PR – 1:04:45  !!!

(That’s a 10:27 pace, for those of you who mathematically challenged… 😉

Race Recap: Fantastic Frigid 5k

This morning started early – 6:30 am, to be exact. The alarm, er, cell phone went off, and I fumbled to make the infernal noise stop before I snuggled deeper into the covers, wondering why the hell I thought this was a good idea. The me of a year ago would never have dreamed that my activity of choice on a Saturday morning would be anything other than sleeping in late, drowning 14 cups of coffee to combat the aching in my hungover body. But, such is life – now I eat 5ks for breakfast.

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I finally threw off the covers, still seriously considering not running the race. But, race or not, I had a whiny dog who needed to use the facilities, if you catch my drift. So, up I was. And while I was up, I might as well make some coffee, too, right? I groggily struggled, step by step, to ready myself, climbed into the car for the 2 hour drive with Ian at the wheel, and still wondered if it was too late to back out. It was only $10. I could take that hit.

As soon as we reached the main road, the sky loomed, bright pink, purple, and blue. Okay, I thought. This is pretty awesome. I mean, if I hadn’t gotten up, I would have missed this, and let’s be honest – I really do want to run today.

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I picked up my bib, pinned it on as well as I could with frozen fingers. Okay, now what do I do? We’ve still got 30 minutes before race time. I guess I’ll just stand here by the fire the race organizers so generously made, and shift around, looking awkward and cold. Sounds good to me. Can we just start this already?

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Within 5 minutes of the start, I’m questioning my sanity again. There’s deep snow everywhere on the unplowed path, and then all of the sudden, we leave the path to trudge through grass covered with 4 inches of snow. I’m going to snap an ankle for sure, I thought. And there goes the Flying Pig. Pass the first mile marker. Man, I really should have peed before we started. Damn. 1 1/4 miles in, and I enter the so-called “Woods of Death.” I’ll take the snow-covered grass again, please. This sucks. I really am going to break something, and then I’ll be pissed, I said to myself. So I walked. The runner behind me agreed, so we became instant runner-friends and decided to walk the quarter mile or so out of the deathly woods.

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Heather and I trudge through more snow/grass, commiserating about our not trail-ready limbs. We got so chatty that we got lost. Oops. Our respective significant others, who apparently found spectator-friendship (whoda thunk?!), laugh at us and tell us we’re doing great. Back on track to pass the 2nd mile marker – just one more loop and we’re done, we can do this! But maybe we should just cut this one short, it’s really just not our day. Maybe we could go get a beer, even!  Nah, we’ve come this far, we might as well just finish it. But it’s a damn good thing this is not our first race, otherwise we might say “to hell with it!” and never do it again.

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Ultimately, the Fantastic Frigid 5k, put on by the Columbus Running Company was aptly named. Despite frigid temps, rugged terrain, and a small route snafu, I had a blast! Of course, I have to say a big thank you to Heather, my running-friend, and of course, Ian, the best fiance in the world, who stood around in 25* weather to proudly cheer on his even-slower-than-usual fiancee to frigid 5k success!

I might truly be insane, but there’s another one in 2 weeks.

I think I’m gonna do it.

Race Recap: Run To Empower 5k (My First Race!)

Well. This is certainly awkward. I mean, there I went and said I was going to be blogging more, and promptly disappeared for another week. Or more. How embarrassing.

But in my defense, life has been absolutely, certifiably, 110% bonkers around here. I have about 4 weeks + a week of “finals” left of grad school, and in those 4 short weeks, I have to defend & revise a thesis, finish, present, & revise a leadership project, and in the meantime, keep up with my 2 classes and put in 8 hours a week for my graduate scholarship. I turned in my thesis manuscript Sunday morning, after 4 consecutive 13+ hour days of whipping the little bugger into shape. Can you say S-T-R-E-S-S-F-U-L?

The good news is that I RAN MY FIRST EVER RACE on Saturday, October 9th, 2010! That’s right, I partook in the Race to Empower 5k in good ole’ Athens, Ohio. Proceeds from the race go to the Empower Campaign, an educational initiative in Africa, so not only did I get to run my first race, but I also contributed a little something to make getting to school for Ugandan children just a bit easier.

The race itself was great! Going into it, I was a bit worried, since I hadn’t run in about a week, and before that my training had been sporadic thanks to a weird shin/calf injury I had going, but the miles flew by, and before I knew it we were 2 miles in. It was much hotter than Ian or I were expecting, and being out on the bikepath made it that much more noticeable, but all in all, it was a raging success, I’d say! We both finished in 34 minutes and some change, which I was happy with. Not so fast, but about the same as I had been running before my shin started acting up, so I was pleased!

Depending on how my leg is feeling in the next couple of days, we may be signing up for another 5k on Halloween. Half-marathon training has been un-officially suspended, due more to the sheer insanity of life at this point, but I’d like to see how the leg holds up before I make a final decision about anymore races. It didn’t hurt at all during the race, but was pretty sore on Sunday. When I went to have it looked at, they said it was most likely a tendon sprain and that I should “try not” to run for 6 – 8 weeks, whatever that means. Well, that didn’t exactly happen (I know, I know), but I’d still like to play the “better somewhat safe than really sorry” card.

I know I’ve said this before, but I really do want to continue blogging more. It really (REALLY!) helps me to stay motivated and inspired, and I need some of that right now.

How do you stay motivated and/or inspired when life seems to get in the way of your best intentions? I’d love to hear some of your tips! 🙂