Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Race Report: New Hanover Regional Medical Center Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon

Yes I am a runner, but no, I have not been following a plan.  I am pretty consistent in my mileage each week between 20-50 miles per week.  My average mileage for the last 4 weeks (according to my Garmin Fenix 5s) was 29.3 miles.  My average mileage walking for the last 4 weeks was 12.1 miles (walking Miles ToGo).  I am getting mileage in, but it is erratic.  I can’t seem to want to bring myself to train for any races, although I am pacing quite a bit this year which is always fun.

Last weekend was a baseline run to see where I need to work.  I ran in the Wrightsville Beach half marathon and promised myself to run happy and strong and not push it.  I was good about pulling back when I felt my heartrate start to climb.  I did not look at my watch for pace or distance the whole race, but I did have it on my heartrate screen so I could just run by feel.  I was thrilled to be so consistent throughout the race.  Here is a  breakdown of the mileage:

Made the conscious decision that since I was fun running it I would not warm up at all and just try to start slow and work my way into the race.  Mile 1 was probably a little fast, but it felt really slow: 7:40.  7:40 on another day would feel fast but with the excitement, adrenaline and all the runners  surrounding you it felt slow.  I guess it felt slow enough that subconsciously I picked it up. We had wind at our back during most of mile 2 so it felt effortless at 7:17.

During mile 3 there are many people along the side of the road and it is always fun to read the signs, chat with people and thank all the people cheering for you.  I wore a St. Patrick’s Day outfit and received lots of extra cheering for my costume.  In fact, a couple of men that were right behind me said they wanted to stay near me as long as possible because of all the loud cheers.  They dropped off around mile 7 and I ran alone most of the way unless I was passing someone, or someone passing me.  Mile 3 was 7:29 which felt comfortable.

Mile 4 is a mental blur for me, so I will just leave it at my time for that mile; 7:33.

Mile 5 is in Land Fall where my friend, Josie, has a house.  My hubby and her hubby were supposed to cheer us on at the end of their street, but they never made it.  The pillow was just too tempting….lucky them!  I was anticipating seeing them so it pushed me along at a 7:27 mile.  I had one Honey Stinger Fruit Smoothie flavor chomp during this mile.

Mile 6 was still in Land Fall and the neighborhood residents are really great at coming out and cheering for us.  They had cute signs and many had cowbells.  Everyone needs more cowbells in their life! 7:29.

Mile 7 is where I took in nutrition with my salted caramel Gu.  Yummy.  I was wearing a costume, so I had no pockets.  I wore a wrist band that had a zipper compartment and I had my chomps in there in a small baggie.  Well….when I took out my Gu I did not zipper the wristband up correctly (while running, mind you) and the rest of my chomps all fell out.  I was certainly not going to stop in the middle of the race, so I hope there are some happy squirrels and rabbits feeling nourished.  I dismissed any negativity here because I like a couple of more chomps before I get to mile 11-12 to finish strong.  This mile was a 7:28 .6

Mile 8 was a blur probably because we were running around the circles at Mayfair Center;  7:28.5.  It is odd to me when you lock and load during a race and you remember nothing, but stay very consistent.

Mile 9 was a 7:28.6.  We started on the greenway and thus started the quiet part of the course.  I felt good here and kept pulling myself back when I felt my heartrate started to rise.  I was sweating so much at this point (cotton t-shirt, I  am looking at you) that I was starting to get concerned about not having any nutrition on me.  I cannot tolerate Gatorade because of the sugars so water was my friend on the course.  I am hoping maybe I can convince the race director to switch to Nuun….wouldn’t that be awesome.  

During Mile 10 a gentleman came up on me and I picked it up a little to chat and run with him.  He then picked up the pace and I wished him well as I wanted to stay comfortable.  7:25 was my pace this mile and to me it felt much slower.

At Mile 11 I had decided that I was too stinking hot and I wanted food.  Anything edible.  I focused on my heartrate a bunch during this mile because I could feel it creeping up.  7:27 was my pace during this mile but it didn’t feel this fast.  I thought I was in the low 8’s at this point.

Mile 12…this mile was the mile I felt.  I felt every blessed step.  I was hangry by this point.  I kept pulling back my pace because I started to get a little lightheaded everytime I tried to up the pace a little.  I knew I needed water and food.  I was trying to pick up the pace to get FINISHED. I saw the beer tent at the WVU water stop and knew THAT was not going to work, but I don’t remember any water from 10 miles on.  I either missed it or drank it and don’t remember.  Either way, this was my slowest mile since mile 1; 7:35. 

Ahh….Mile 13.  Heaven help me.  Loved getting to this point, however…….insert screeching sound here.  When my watched vibrated at 13, I was nowhere near the finish line.  I picked up the pace a little and finished this mile at 7:31.  The competitor in me would have really worked this mile, but it was actually nice to   f  e  e  l   good coming in towards the finish line.  The last .31 was an average of a 6:47 mile.

My watch and many others had this course as long.  I am the queen of ‘as the crow flies’ and know the roads to know when I should be on the left, middle or right.  According to my watch, my overall pace was a 7:28 average mile, and the results show a 7:35.  Either way, I was happy to be done and get food and drink! 

My official time was 1:39.24 and I placed first in my age group out of 104 runners.  This was a great starting point and now I get to start working. I need to work at varying my workouts.  I need more speed workouts in my life.  Who am I kidding…I need to START speed workouts again.  I love speed workouts so I have NO idea why I stopped.

I am putting my intentions out here in print and for the world to see.  Plan your work, work your plan.  I want to see where this goes.  I am excited to create a running plan!
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a fun, yet challenging half marathon the Foothills Brewing to Kick off NC Beer Month with the  2nd Annual HopSwap Half Marathon powered by OrthoCarolina is on Saturday, March 31st.  I am pacing the 1:45 half….please join me!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Raining (or shall I say snowing) On My Parade and Onto Brighter Things

I have a confession to make.  I made a huge error, and I am the first to admit when I am wrong.  I did run 101.3 miles at the Crooked Road 24 Hour Ultra Race, but I did not double check the Virginia state record book prior to the race.  The last time I had checked it the record for 50-54 year old women was 80.something miles. Well......there was this little race called The Virginia Cancer 24 Hour Race and a 50 year old woman named Paula Garrigan went 107 miles.  I am mortified  I neglected to look at the website before I announced I had broken a state record.   Should I be confessing to fake news?  Absolutely.  As my mother always said, "You only have your reputation, so act accordingly".  I am humbly apologizing on record so I can move onward and upward.

Speaking of upward, my thoughts these days have been filled with the "What's Next" question.  I am wrapping up my 93 day notice in the next couple of weeks and I am still hemming and hawing when people ask what I am going to be doing.  Well...my retirement is going to start out with a bang.  I am helping my son, Nick Westfall, behind the scenes of his movie, 8 Slices, which he wrote and is directing down in Holden Beach for 2 weeks in January.  Like his first movie, I will be doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  It will be a wild ride that will be exhaustingly fun.  He has endless amounts of energy (I wonder where he inherited this) and I enjoy seeing him follow his passion.

I just started running consistently and adding a few miles of speed.  I am looking forward to devoting more time and energy to my running.  I may be almost 52, but I feel like I can thwart off the big slowdown that often occurs in women in their 50's (especially those who have been running as long as I have).  I may be delusional, but I want to see where consistency and the devotion of time can lead me.

I am a little stressed about the impending holidays because I am currently juggling so much on my plate.  I am learning to give myself permission to be less than perfect.  Christmas seems to happen each year and somehow I have always gotten it all done.  I may be acting too nonchalant, but hey there is still 11 days.  Miles is 8 months old now and a great road/trail companion to me.  He does not care if the presents are all wrapped (because he's too busy yanking ornaments off the tree when we are not looking)

I just bought a new microphone to use in a podcast I am developing so I played around with it by creating a short 5 minute meditation.  This is an easy way to refocus during this hectic holiday season.  I would love your feedback (bad, constructive and good) and whether or not you would like to see more.  If you cannot retrieve it below, it will be on my Facebook page:  Cindy Kearns Barbour.  Please find and enjoy it there.


From the bottom of my heart, I feel badly about misrepresenting the record and I wish you all a peaceful, joyous holiday season.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

101.3 Miles and a New Virginia State Record...oh my!

 Some years races are easy, other years you wonder if/why you run at all.  This year was my 6th year at the Crooked Road 24 hour ultra.  I love this race.  This is the most well supported race I have ever experienced in 41 years of racing.  For 24 hours, the volunteers kept me hydrated, full and motivated to continue.  Well...almost.  I better start at the beginning.  Being the most de-conditioned I have ever been before an ultra I knew there would be some dicey spots in the race.

 Beforehand, I had convinced myself that 80 miles was non-negotiable and 100 miles was my stretch goal.  I was the most relaxed I have ever been before staying awake for 24 hours and moving forward running and walking.  My dear friend, Tonia, let me stay at her house at the Virginia/North Carolina border with my puppy, Miles the night before. She graciously kept him so I could race as Dan was on a golf trip with the boys.  I actually slept like a champ (very unusual the night before a big event) and I got to Rocky Mount, VA around 7:10am.  Perfect amount of time to unpack, visit and get ready for an epic 24 hours.

 We had a little fun at the beginning of the race in this picture here:

 The weather was perfect for this type of event and the warmest this race has ever been to my recollection.  The plan was to run with Dena (who bypassed moving a couple of weeks later so she could be part of the race) till she left which was somewhere near 50 miles and darkness.  I was laser focused for my 80 miles so I was not as sad as I usually am when she deserts leaves me.  I was in good spirits and had fun chatting and running with Stephanie (a first time ultra runner who placed THIRD overall for females) till about 67 miles or so.  She was going to change clothes and get some food so I opted to just keep going because again I was stubborn laser focused for my goal.

Here is a view of part of the course.  I had our Jeep right along the course for all my supplies ( I knew it was going to rain in the middle of the night) and in case I wanted to lie down and nap for a little bit during the night. 

I allow myself to turn on my IPod and phone after 50 miles during an ultra, but I did not turn it on till mile 88.  Why?  I have NO idea.  Although it did start raining in the middle of the night TWICE.  I had a poncho that fell into pieces a few minutes after putting it on and luckily Ricky (the race director) gave me a trash bag that I wore till it stopped raining.  It was as long as I am so I was constantly pulling it up off the ground to prevent myself from tripping.  

At some point in the middle of the night I lost the stomach for food.  I could not find anything I wanted so I stuck with chicken broth and it seemed to help me tremendously.  I usually counsel people that if you get behind in your food (which apparently I did) and you stop taking in food you are toast.  Well...I felt like toast, but somehow managed to KEEP GOING.  In retrospect I should have figured out SOMETHING to eat.  During the day I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like they were my job.  I actually stayed away from the really bad sugar, but did allow myself ginger ale and an occasional coke during the night.  These drinks are in 2 oz. doses, so I did not consume much sugar at all.  I did have the McDonalds hamburgers, but I refrained from the pizza this year.  But hey, there is a first time for everything.  Me turning down pizza?

When daybreak came I had less than 5 miles to go to hit my goal.  I became very emotional at around 7am for some reason.  I couldn't point at any particular thing except maybe the lack of food.  I was almost inconsolable the last 2.3 miles.  I was so emotional, in fact, that Dena called Johnny and Melanie and they ran around the course trying to find me and helped me emotionally get over myself and get an extra lap to win this race for females.  

Was I happy to break the Virginia State Record again?  YOU BET.  Was I happy to be over 50 and winning a race?  YOU BET.  Will I do it again?   Hhhmmm...it's still too early to think about it for 2018.  

Here is the official list of finishers and their total mileage.  There were 10 people over 100 miles with 2 of the finishers being females.  

Here is Mark and myself accepting our overall Male and Female award complete with the cutest little Banjo I have ever seen.  I am currently coveting it on my kitchen counter.  I have never been so tired, yet so happy.  

Here are the Greensboro friends that were there at the end to cheer, hug, cry and celebrate with after the race.  Johnny, Amy, Stephanie, and Melanie.
 I do not know what is next for me, but I look forward to the next adventure! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Tsunami before the Calm 24 hours of Relentless Forward Motion

Race week.  It brings a tsunami of emotions.  What am I thinking....I cannot run for 24 hours.  True.  There is quite a bit of walking involved WITH the running (if all goes well).  Last year was not my year.  There were horrible winds that blew (my friend) Dena and I all over the course and we decided to 'pack it in' 62 miles into the race.  We left some unfinished business out there on the course.  This year I am committed to seeking my second 100+mile completion within 24 hours.  I am FULLY committed to 80 miles and I am MOSTLY committed to 100.  I can do this.  I've done this before.

 The week of a race I let doubt and anxiety creep into my psyche but I am old and hopefully wise enough to continue to ignore the fear of the unknown.  Any given day anyone can do anything they put their mind to.  I continually tell myself, "What the mind will believe, the body can achieve". 

I have started my packing for the weekend.  I tend to over pack because I would rather have too much stuff than not enough.  With the weather being iffy in the afternoon, you do not want to mess with mother nature and wearing dry clothes is a MUST.  Each year is a different story of what I need and must have.

 I have run in snow at Crooked Road, but never rain.  There is a chance of rain this year and I am reminded of a Lululemon Product Photo Shoot where I was running in 40 degree rainy weather and laughing about it.  It shouldn't be this cold but at least I have a frame of reference on laughing in the rain.  Who knows, maybe I will start singing.
 Whatever Saturday will bring, I will bring what I have and with the utmost energy and enthusiasm.  Heck- if I can pull off a 3:34:17 at the NYC Marathon with a hurt toe (I kicked a subway grate by accident after sliding on a paper cup in the road) then I can run/walk a 100 miles.  Right?! 
This picture epitomizes that I will go from girly grace to grit in a nanosecond.  Don't count this princess out.  I have plenty left to prove in the running world.

When I finally get to the starting line of the Crooked Road 24 hour ultra I will find my calm rhythm and crank out the mileage; one mile at a time. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Running DOES Connect Us! When a Partner Moves Away

Running connects us.  You've seen the tag line, phrase, etc. all over Facebook.  What does that mean?  Yes you feel a chain-link sense of community of like minded people but what happens when a link moves away?  

I have had the luxury of great running partners that have circled in and out of my life over my 4 decades of racing.  I try and keep in touch as much as feasibly possible but I know (and hope they know) what an indelible mark they have inked in my soul.

Everyone has that one friend that is up for ANYTHING.  Dena is one of those friends that said, "Let's do a 24 hour race" and BOOM we did it for the next 7 years in a row.  Several years we went step for step for at least the first 50 miles and some years we were just there breathing the same air.  Dena is one of those women who I strive to imitate; assertive, confident and driven.  

Dena has been dabbling in the triathlon world so our weekend long run has been disrupted but I know if I truly needed her she would be there in a heartbeat. Dena is moving to Atlanta (whelp) and I am SUPER excited for her, and SUPER sad for me.  Yes we will still stay in touch (I am currently teaching her that cell phones are actually a phone and not a texting machine) but running together will be few and far between. 

When she first told me she got the job I was ecstatic and then she told me she might be moving the weekend of our infamous 24 hour Crooked Road (best 24 hour race out there. Period.  You cannot convince me otherwise. Ever) ultra I was crestfallen.  Yes I just typed that word:  crestfallen.  This was OUR race.  This was OUR time to completely catch up in life. Who am I going to talk to for 24 hours?  Okay:  I talk to EVERYONE all day and night in that race so maybe that part will not change.  

If you see me during the race or on Facebook on November 18-November 19th, send me a little love. I will need it.

One more thing you might not know about Dena and me, we have run together every Christmas morning since 2012 (or is it 2013).  We wake up early and my family does not.  We run in the crisp early morning air with virtually no one outside.  We run the number of miles in the upcoming year.  This year would be have 18 miles for 2018.  I will probably return to me running solo to the cemetery a couple of miles away from our home wishing all the headstones a very Merry Christmas.  I do this every Thanksgiving also because my Mom has been buried in Maryland since 1992 and I have not visited her since then because I live so far away.  Hopefully she knows I am thinking of her.

Footnote:  This is what happens when I write- I sit on it too long and forget to post.Thank you, Sheri, for the reminders! 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Beginnings in Life

Have you ever taken a vacation, returned, and reassessed your life only to decide that major changes do not seem scary? I took a trip to Switzerland which was not only an epic adventure, but a template for thinking globally instead of locally.  I am taking a brave, new step towards the twilight of my career and redesigning my work life.  I want to continue my passion for wellness but on a different pathway.

 Is it scary?  Yes.

Will it work?  Who knows, but I know I need to try.

I have felt scattered this past year.  Holding a full-time job, taking care of my Dad, rearing a puppy, and trying to keep my running life together has been challenging.  I love being a part of the wellness world, but I feel that I have exhausted my current skills set since beginning my career 30+ years ago.

I have had a restlessness that wakes me up at night and consumes my thoughts during the day. This is how I know I need to try and step outside the box.  I need to push my edges and create more peace and harmony in my life.

I am fortunate to have a wonderful husband who although he doesn't try to understand me, he gets me.  He sees the highs and lows and supports, encourages and celebrates with me every step of the way.  There is something rumbling in my soul and I want to explore it. He is my rock, sounding board and my safe haven. Life is infinitely more wonderful having him as my husband.

Do I have a concrete plan yet?  Heck no.  That will be a part of the fun these next number of months as I am leaving my current full-time job at Starmount Country Club December 31st (unless they hire someone before then).

I have had many different avenues to encourage people to live healthier lives:  tv, radio, newspaper column, etc.  and maybe I will do something along those lines; or not.  Who knows at this point, but I am truly excited!

I can't wait for my future to unfold and I hope to chronicle it here in the blog.  Here is where I am committed to writing more and exploring this incredible earth we inhabit for such a short period of time.

Cheers to new beginnings!

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

New Year, New Everything!

I am embarrassed I have fallen short on the blogging front.  This is a new year and a new everything.  Last year this time, I was helping my Dad up in NYC in ICU.  Fast forward to now, he is living 6 miles from me in NC and adapting to NC life.  

In case you followed me last year, I did indeed hit my goal of 2016 in 2016.  I was logging some serious mileage in the month of December, but I did it!  I ended up with 2023 miles.  I did not, however, sign up for 2017 in 2017 because I did not like the stress this challenge caused me.  I think on a number of days I would have opted to rest my body (and probably should have) but I got my running shoes on and ran anyway.  I logged many more miles walking, rowing, elliptical training and cycling but I chose to only consider running miles in the challenge.  

One of the most magical moments of last year was being asked to be a Lululemon Running Ambassador.  Some of the Lululemon Crew came to a half marathon I was pacing in October and were there at the finish line with really cute signs. I was moved to tears of joy.  I have been a Lululemon fanatic since I learned about them 6 or 7 years ago in NYC.  I was the first patron on opening day at their showroom location here in Greensboro, NC and have been an avid fan of just about everything they sell.  They are really making great strides in their running gear and I hope to help them in any way I can with my 40+ years of running.  Big, hairy audacious things are in the works and I cannot wait to share them here on the blog.  Suffice it to say, I still pinch myself often to make sure I am not dreaming.  
 Lululemon now has a complete store at Friendly Center and I have been fortunate to host some runs from the store with more exciting plans in the future!  Stay tuned!  Now back to running...

 I am excited to be returning to Boston this April for the 2017 Boston Marathon.  My running friend, Jeriann, moved to Dallas so we thought this was a great way to see and spend some time together.  I am so excited to share a hotel room with her and plan on documenting our time in Boston down to the nitty gritty; all things running, that is!  I visited Jeriann in December and ran the half marathon there and ran into a few running friends celebrities:  Deena, Meb, Ryan, Desiree, oh my!  Can't wait for the fun to continue in Boston!  I did manage to earn 2nd place in my age group and just last week received my award.  Cameron, my faithful rescue dog LOVES to be in pictures!
I have been diligently training for Boston and can't wait to share what has been working and what hasn't in some future posts.  For now, here are some of my favorite pictures from last year (I am definitely working on my flexibility in 2017..eek!):