Monday, February 18, 2013

Dasani Myrtle Beach Half Marathon Race/Pace Recap

I found a new calling.  Who knew I could have this much fun pacing?!  I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life this past weekend.  It was a weekend of firsts for me.  First, 10 women can absolutely be drama free and all get along swimmingly in a condo.  It was fun because some of the Sole Sisters (Christie, Christine, Sarah, Amy, and myself) teamed up with some of the Woo Hoo Crew (Melanie, Katie, Carole, Kathy) and one from the Streakers (Amanda).  We had an oceanfront condo in Myrtle Beach a few miles away from the start/finish line to the race.

First things first, Christie Strupe (one of the Sole Sisters) bought me the cutest charm for my shoe for the race.
It may be hard to see but it is a sneaker charm from  It says Sole Sister. I decided to give my Nike Free shoes a whirl for my pacing debut.  They are super comfortable.  We get to the expo and I am excited to meet some fellow pacers there.  No one was there, but I got my pacer shirt:
Yes, I look happy.  Yes, I stayed this happy for most of the weekend.  I was so excited for my pacing duties that I barely slept on Friday night.  I have to say it was weird being at the Expo and not having any butterflies in my stomach.  I tend to get a little nervous before a race. We got settled in early for the night, and I taught yoga to everyone in the condo for almost 45 minutes.  Very, very relaxing.

The alarm went off at 4:35am and I shot out of bed and directly into my clothes.  None of my condo mates were able to accompany me to the starting line because I had to be there by 5:45am.  The race started at 6:30am.  I was there practically jumping up and down not only from excitement but from also trying to keep warm.  We got very was 42 degrees at the start and warmed up as the race went along.  Rain and then snow didn't start till late afternoon on Saturday.  The beach actually had a dusting of snow when we woke up on Sunday morning.  Back to the race.

I saw several friends I knew and met quite a few people who were in my pace group.  I continually stressed to them that I was NOT going to start out fast and that I had 2 Garmin watches on.  One was set for the 9:05 minute mile and the other one had my overall pace, in the moment pace, and time posted.  I even recounted the Richmond Half Marathon pacing story, so I appeased them greatly.  It also helped to allay their fears when I mentioned I have several sub 1:30 half marathons under my belt.

We didn't hear the elephant (yes, a real elephant was supposed to roar, or whatever  sound  emits from their trunk is) for the start, but we saw all the runners ahead starting to run so we started my one watch for gun time (close to it) and the other watch I started on the starting line for the chip time.  I talked incessantly at the beginning to coax the participants not to go out too fast.  We stayed very steady.  I told lots of stories.  I warned them are either going to love me or hate me.  There would be no in between.  I bopped around and chatted up with everyone during the run.  It was a beautiful morning.  I kept telling them that the key to success is to relax and enjoy the run.

I looked at my watches quite often, but I think the biggest smile I had on my face was when we hit the 6 mile marker and my pacer watch had a bunch of zeros across it.  That was a GOOD thing.  It meant that we were nailing our pace and that we were not ahead or behind our goal. 

I really focused on getting them to ignore their mind and let their legs just keep turning over.  I discussed ways to get the core involved to give the legs a break, but mainly I just kept pointing out things along the run to amuse them and make them smile.  I even got bystanders involved during the run.  I would yell, "When I say Myrtle, you say beach, Myrtle...Beach".  Everyone joined in and encouraged my group.  I didn't care if they thought I was nuts or not because I was going to get them to that finish line if I had to pull, drag or carry them.  Luckily, I didn't have to!  Here is a photo from the race almost 3/4 of the way into it:
It dawned on me that this great group of people were all going to make it.  I was so thrilled.  I knew that we had quite a difference in gun/chip time so I didn't tell them that we were going to come in under 2 hours.  With a half mile to go, I encouraged anyone who was feeling good to listen for the crowds, empty the mind, and focus on the finish line.  Several took off.  I still had a good number left with me and when we made the final turn towards the finish line, I ran sideways, backwards and encouraged them as loudly as I could.  The crowds were helpful.  I think the louder I yelled for them, the louder the crowds were :)  Here is a photo of me running sideways to coax them to the finish line:
I crossed the finish line at exactly 2:00:01.  However, my chip time ended up being 1:58:18.  I would never have finished this early if my group wasn't all with me.  We lost 2 people that I know of because of being injured and not feeling well.  If we lost any others, I was not aware of them.  Here is me going across the finish line overjoyed for my group:
Had I known the red Powerade stained my tongue, I probably would have kept my mouth closed, but I was too happy to even care how I looked.  Yes, my race bib says Cindyloohoo.  Why not.

I got to hang out with lots of friends afterwards and we took several photos.  Most of my friends PR'd on Saturday and I couldn't have been more pleased.  I knew I did the right thing by pacing when several runners and their families came up to me in the post-race area and thanked me.  I also got several hugs from family members for getting their loved ones in under 2 hours.  I turned to several girls in my group and smiled ear to ear.  I felt like I needed to run some more miles and I knew Mark, a friend of the Sole Sisters, was trying to qualify for Boston.  I ran to the 23 mile marker and ran with Mark to help him to the finish line.  He was having some leg issues.  He was battling hard to finish in 3:25.  I could see the pain on his face but I knew he was close to his goal so I ran and tried to keep his mind off of running until his wife Samantha joined us.  I veered off so she could help him the finish line.  He missed it by less than 2 minutes.  He WILL qualify soon.  I just know it!  I got back to our group and we took more photos.
Here is our pyramid attempt:
All in all, I     l  o  v  e  d    being a pacer.  I would do it every weekend if I could.  I also enjoyed getting over 19 miles in for the day. After eating, showering and napping, we headed to the after-after party at the House of Blues.  I think I danced for almost an hour.  Talk about fun!  But now my focus will be on the Wrightsville half marathon next month on St. Patrick's Day.  I will be RACING, not pacing.  I better get off this chair and go for a run.......

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Power of a Solo Run

All week I wasn't sure what my running plans for the weekend were going to bring.  I leave for Myrtle Beach this weekend, so I wanted to give my husband the wheel on what we were going to do this past weekend.  We ended up having a low key Friday night, so I thought I would run Saturday morning with some of the Sole Sisters who had planned an 8am run from Panera.  Hot coffee, bagels and great conversation....who could ask for more?  Well....evidently I didn't ask enough because I messed up.

I got to Panera early so I could do 2 miles before meeting with the group because they were only running 8.  I didn't plan very well and took an Ipod in my mitten because sometimes I like to listen to music when running alone.  It was a cold morning in the low 30's; I needed music.  My shuffle, my pink nano and my other pink older nano all needed charging, so the Ipod touch would be perfect for the 2 miles.  A mile and a quarter into the run as I was making my way back to the Panera parking lot, I realized the group had decided to run on SUNDAY morning, not Saturday. 

I laughed at my blonde hair and decided that maybe this was some sort of divine intervention.  I needed more hills in my workouts these days, so I was determined to keep running.  I turned toward one of the longest hills in Greensboro with a smile on my face.  I was not only going to run a hill, I was going to see airplanes.  I was very comfortable running and told myself I didn't care about time, etc., as long as I logged 10 miles.  I can sometimes become a slave to my Garmin watch; pace, avg pace, etc.  I really, really enjoyed this run.  I'm thinking it is because I didn't analyze my watch.  I'm thinking I was running with just myself so if I needed to slow down on the hill, I could slow down.  I didn't have to worry whether or not I could keep up with anyone or not.

I sang out loud a couple of times and stayed warm thanks to 'hot hands'....what would my Reynaud fingers do without them?  I was actually smiling when I finished.  I then looked down at my watch and realized I averaged a 7:39 mile and smiled even bigger.  My new slogan, "Hills:  It's What for Breakfast"!   I grabbed some bagels and coffee for Dan and myself and went home.

The lesson I learned?  Running with friends is great, but running solo can be empowering.  Every single day is/can be an adventure....enjoy the ride!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I Want to Flirt With Pain, Not Dance With It

I've been rather silent in the blogging world.  That is usually a good thing or a bad thing.  Right now it is a good thing.  I've been busy doing/living and haven't had much time to sit down and write about it.

Since the day after New Year's Day, my hubby Dan has been on a clean eating path.  Well.  Maybe not completely clean, but pretty darn close.  He's lost over 12 pounds thus far and I couldn't be prouder of this commitment.  He's been working out regularly as well, so some of the bodyfat he's lost has been replaced with lean muscle tissue.  Congrats to him.  The only downside is that I've had to be super organized and plan lunches and dinners on a daily basis.  We ate out twice in the month of January.  That's a new record for us as we like to dine out approximately 1-2 times a week.  Dan has been good about eliminating beer (for the most part) and indulging in an occasional glass of wine.

My daughter, Mandi, also moved back in the house the beginning of the year.  It has been fun to see her mature into this beautiful, young woman who I adore so much.  With her, came my favorite grand doggy, Skittles.  She has been a delight to have around and keeps Cameron and Louie on their toes.  Here is me cuddling with Skittles on the couch.

The New Year also seems to have inspired me to purge/organize the house.  I have been milling about cleaning drawers/closets here and there with no real direction, but I am enjoying the 'feeling' of getting organized.  I guess it is similar to planning, training and then racing in running.  There is no better feeling than knowing you trained adequately and you left nothing out there on the course.  Which, by the way, brings me to the real jist of my blog today:  I want to flirt with pain, not dance with it.

I seem to be at a crossroads and sometimes being too knowledgeable about something can make a mere hill feel like a mountain.  I used to revel in the craziness of feeling like I couldn't take another step.  I used to drink in the feeling of knowing I gave it my all.  For goodness sake, I was so focused on the finish line during a race (in high school) that I gave it everything I had and lost a little control of my bladder. Yuck!  But it is true. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm training hard these days.  This week I've had a good mix of tempo runs, recovery runs and cross training.  I am doing hill workouts again, but have yet to step on the track.  I did a couple of speed workouts on the treadmill.  Here is my little workout room that I love to occupy in the privacy of my own home.  See that little piece of equipment on the far left of the photo?  That's one of my most prized possessions:  Back inversion table.  That is what has saved me from spending countless dollars on back, IT band,  and hip rehabililtation issues.  I don't know what I ever did without one, but then again I was 40 when my hubby bought it for me. Anyhow, back to flirting with pain.  I am a motivational speaker....why can't I light a fire under my butt and as the saying goes, 'Just Do It'  (which, by the way, is trademarked, so I'm going to make sure I give Nike all the credit-why can't I come up with something inspirational that ensures our financial future?).  I will address this issue further when I return from my pacing duties at the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon next weekend.  I am going with a great group of Ladies from the Woohoo Crew and the Sole Sisters.  I will certainly have lots of photos to post from the race!  Here is Skittles wishing she had a matching pair of Kinvaras, and a walk.