Friday, November 29, 2013

The Good and The Bad. What a 24 Hour Race Feels Like.

I have been contemplating what to write about for the last 3 days.  There are so many facets to a 24 hour race.  I decided to break it into 2 parts.  The first part will entail all the logistics.  The second part will delve into the emotional side of a 24 hour race.




Photo & PhotoShopping Courtesy of Nathan Daughtrey

We had 13 runners from Greensboro tackle the 3rd Annual Crooked Road 24 Hour Run.   I have been fortunate to be a participant all 3 years.  I have made some great running friendships all 3 years.  Ultra runners themselves are a cheery bunch.  You can arrive to these type of events and not know anyone, but quickly you forge bonds and form lasting friendships.  I still wonder if ultra runners are just genuinely nice people, or are they genuinely happy to see other like-minded (crazy to the outside world) athletes.  Either way, they become!

I had made a supply list for some of the other Greensboro runners, so here is what I sent them:

Supplies List for Crooked Road 24 hour Ultra
4 outfits….really….you have to get out of wet clothes to stay warm
Big jacket/hat(s)/mittens/gloves/neck warmer……it gets REALLY cold in the middle of the night Fleece pullovers- 2 thicknesses….thick and thin 3-4 pairs of shoes and the same for socks….
I used 3 pairs at Hinson Hot hands- I used 2 in my gloves, 2 in my shirt, 1 in my back pocket and one in my turtleneck Fleece blanket….you will want it when you are in walk mode…it definitely helps Arm warmers/compression socks- I took off compression socks at midnight- not sure if I will wear them at Crooked.
5-6 Gu Gels 2-3 pkgs of Gu Chomps
3 cans of coke or other magic elixir
2 5-hour energy drinks
1 Sugar Free RedBull
Hard Candy- help wet your mouth when you start to dehydrate a little
I made a gallon of Gatorade that I watered down a little into bottles I could quickly grab-the cups at the tables are so small that you need real fluid sometimes
Yoga Mat (for stretching on) and pillow Massage Stick/Foam Roller/tennis balls I used them all during Hinson
Pretzels or salty snacks….definitely need the salt.
 I love dipping half cooked potatoes into salt
I had 2 Ipods with me but didn’t use them until the evening…so many people around during the day. I downloaded some podcasts and some music
Winter coat & Scarf. I wore them the whole time at night.
I will definitely bring some soup mixes, or cans of soup.
Slip-on shoes (like Crocs)- you don’t want your feet touching the ground and you won’t have any balance- trust me on this one.
2 or 3 towels- 2 big ones, 1 hand towel.
Sanitizer- you will not want to go wash your hands, the bathroom is too far

Quite the list, but I ended up using most of everything.

The weather forecast changed so many times the week preceding the race that I frequently double-checked what city I had typed in.  The night before the race the weather people decided it could rain on Saturday before late afternoon and then there would be wind gusts up to 35 mph throughout the rest of Saturday into Sunday morning.  They also predicted snow flurries.  Did I mention they predicted real feel temperatures in the single digits?  They were accurate with the exception (thank goodness) of rain.  We, fortunately, did not have any rain....just snow flurries.

So, as you can see, you couldn't go into this race without preparation because the elements were going to be brutal, but I will save all those comments for the emotional section :)

I drove up the morning of the race with Christie & Bekah.  We had so much fun stopping to get a bacon biscuit.  I need laughter the morning of a race because I still tend to get very nervous about my own personal performance.  I am working on it, but alas "working" is a verb.  Look how much fun Bekah and Christie are having during the race.  This makes my heart smile.  I am a very competitive person, but somehow I really, really don't care how I place on a 24 hr. race.  I know it is hard to believe, but I don't even like to look at the leader boards because I'm racing myself; my own demons.

The great thing about the Crooked Road course is the .95 mile loop.  Yes.  I'm telling you, it is GREAT to have food, drink and PEOPLE every mile!  Would I prefer it to be a 1 mile exactly loop?  Absolutely.  On a good day I'm horrible at math.  On a 24 hour running/walking adventure I'm downright scary.  One question I frequently get asked (especially after 3 years of this race) is how do I not go insane going in circles?  I have never disliked this loop. Ever.  I love the winding path through brief trees.  I love running along the Pigg River.  I love hearing the waterfalls on the back corner of the course.  I love the little footbridge and the gravel road that leads to people, food & drink!  At night, there is no lighting so there are glow sticks which light the way.  It's really very peaceful at night.  The moon didn't come up till after 11pm (I think) and it illuminated much of the path, which was a good thing since my headlamp died around 4:30am.

The race itself started out just fine.  Here is a photo with my running friend, Amy.  Amy ran 102 miles at Hinson Lake 24 hour in September.  I actually ran a number of laps with her son, Drew, who is 10 and completed 50 miles there.  We became facebook friends and the rest is history.  I absolutely adore her!  She is a rockstar!

We ran a few laps together and chatted at the food table.  We encouraged one another and inspired the other to keep moving.  She also wanted to hit 100 miles.  Unfortunately it was not our day.  No woman went over 100 miles this year, and only 3 men made it.  We have chatted a few times since the race and we both are pleased with how we did considering the elements, but deep down still a little disappointed we didn't make it.

I have never made it a full 24 hours in a race because I previously hit my goals and went home.  Since I didn't make my goal, I did make it the full 24 hours.  It was really neat being a part of a small group that got to lay their stick down when we heard the air horn at 8am.  My husband was with me at the time and it is a moment I will NEVER forget. I REALLY felt.....


The race started out great!  I felt good and I smiled for quite a few photos throughout the day.  A couple of hours into the race, my BFF Melissa came to the race with Bailey (her adorable Golden Retriever).  She ran a few laps with me.  Bailey ran a few laps with me and it felt GREAT to have her there to distract this weird feeling I was having most of the morning.  After she left, it wasn't too much longer before some more of my friends showed up; Trish, Chris & Chris.  I am the luckiest woman in the world to have such great friends that would brave the cold to see me for a brief stint every time I went around the course.
 I ran with people for quite a while, but when I started  feeling off, I wanted to be inside my own head.  Off.  What does that mean?  Wish I knew.  I was feeling lethargic yes, but it was more than that.  About 26 miles into the race I was feeling like I could not regulate my temperature.  I'd be hot, then I'd be cold.  I then started having some GI issues.  Controlled diarrhea, if you will.  Sorry about that.  Here I am in this photo, hot...notice the other people still wearing jackets, etc. behind me.
I was able to continue to take fluids (protein drinks included), but I was having a hard time eating solids.  I did quite a few gels and chomps throughout the day and night.  I couldn't understand what was happening because I felt fabulous at Hinson.  I finished 75 miles by midnight there.  What was happening here?  I was deviating from the plan.  Yikes!  Late in the afternoon every time I saw my Greensboro peeps I would burst out in tears.  Don & Kathi came in the late afternoon with tomato soup and I cried as I tried to drink some of it while Kathi & Cara rubbed my legs to loosen them.  Once it got dark my trio (Trish, Chris, & Chris) came back to cheer me on for a few more laps.  Here is a very dark photo, but you can see the elation on my face to see friendly faces in the cold.

I wanted to hit my goal of 100 miles.  I wasn't taking any flack from my body.  Usually it is my mind that is my nemesis; not my body.  When the Greensboro peeps were leaving for their hotel, they asked me several times if I wanted to go with them.  I emphatically said no.  I was staying with Christine, Keith & David.  I think I remember crying as I said goodbye to them.  I started running again and ran into Keith.  He has done 100 miles before, just not in 24 hours, so it was my job in the middle of the night to help him achieve his goal.  He was having a really tough time.  At one point at our communal table, he said he was going to pack it in for the day.  I looked over at Christine and she was shivering so badly that I didn't have it in my heart to try and convince him to stay.  I think I teared up, gave them a hug, and soldiered on.  I have to tell you.  Giving up never entered my mind.  In retrospect, maybe I should have?  That is the interesting part of this journey.  Was I being too stubborn?  Who knows.  I do know I wore my black fellow flower which means, "Why yes, I am a force to be reckoned with".  I had it in my hair during the day and my pocket at night.  I touched it frequently to channel energy.

Around 1am the wind kicked up even more.  David was still there. He is the one in the photo above that looks like he is running on water.  David would run a few laps, walk a few laps, then get warm in his SUV.  We got to jog a few then walk a few laps together.  It started snowing and we interlocked our arms like we were on our way to a debutante ball.  Here is where I should tell you what I was wearing at the time (it's a wonder I could move at all!):

Climawear long sleeve shirt
Polar fleece pull-over
Down jacket
Lined, heavy raincoat (to block the wind)
thick, lined running tights
polar fleece pajama bottoms over top of the tights
hooded sweatshirt tied around my waist to keep my butt warm.
Fleece neck warmer I got in Sun Valley, ID
Winter hat given to us at Crooked Road last year
Hood from lined rain jacket over top of my hat
skiing mittens
I had hand warmers in both mittens, in my sports bra, in the back pocket of my running tights, and in the front waistband of my running tights.  I was BARELY warm enough.  Barely.

David and I chatted about music and the stars.  He talked about how much fun he was having at his first ultra.  He's never run a marathon, yet he was having a blast at an ultra.  I loved it!  When he decided to go lie down in his SUV, I had rejuvenated myself again and even starting running again.  The wind gusts were up to 35 mph.  It felt like I was being blown over a number of times.  Anyway, I was doing it.  I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal yet I was still determined to see what I could accomplish.  I was quite proud that I was still going, even knowing I wasn't going to succeed.  That was a huge break-through for me.  When things are going well, things are easy.  It's when things are going very wrong that you learn volumes about yourself.

It is the middle of the night and you know kept me trudging along?  The FANTASTIC volunteers.  They would bring you soup, coffee, hot chocolate and pretty much anything else you needed.  When my headlamp went dead around 4:30am, it was Sharon (wife of the race director) who loaned me her knuckle lights.  Sharon has been there for me through my best and more importantly, my worst.  It is amazing the level of care and hospitality all the volunteers gave us runners.  I would have been a frozen popsicle somewhere on the course if it had not been for their help.

Daylight started emerging.  Hallelujah.  My neck was sore from holding up the headlamp.  My back was sore probably because I was leaning over to illuminate my pathway with the headlamp.  Here is where I tell you I did not get a single blister.  Not a one.  I only got 2 chafe marks and they were where my capris squeezed my butt cheeks together.  Owww.  Yes, that took a number of days and a lot of Aquaphor to heal.  Some of the Greensboro runners came back to get a few more laps in.  I think I cried when I saw each one.  I walked a few laps with most of them.  Then, the most emotional moment of the whole 24 hours.  I saw Dan's car coming down the road towards the loop.  I started crying and hyperventilating.  I was so excited to see him I started running again.  I had less than 10 minutes left in the race so I told him to pack up all my stuff and I was going to run one more lap.  I ran the whole lap, even up the one big hill.  When I got around the course back to Dan I asked him to jog with me because I had 2 minutes left before the air horn and I wanted to get to the 100 mile marker on the course, even though I knew I didn't complete 100 miles.  I looked at that sign for 94 laps.  I told that sign for over 48 laps that I was going to see that 100 mile marker.  I then told that sign that even though I wasn't going to make it I was going to be joyful for EVERY lap I could see it.

I was zombie-like for a couple of days, but then all of the sudden I snapped back to the real me.  I never know if the fatigue is from running/walking so many miles or from the lack of sleep.  As I sit here and type I've already started running again.  I've taught a couple of yoga classes and 1 extreme interval (3/4 intensity for me) class. I feel like I accomplished more by falling short of my goal then if I had indeed succeeded.  I think ultras make you dig DEEP within yourself.  Do you have what it takes to persevere is a question you ask yourself many times.  I learned that I am tougher than I ever thought I was.  I learned that I can now safely call myself an ultra runner. For those of you who will ask,  I was 3rd female and 8th overall.  Not bad for a middle distance runner :)  What's up next?  I'm pacing the 1:45 half marathon at Myrtle Beach and I couldn't be happier and excited about it!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Greensboro Marathon Journey. I paced a great group of runners

After a fitful night sleep, I woke up early to a dark, 28 degree day.  I was so excited about pacing for the 3:50:00 group of the Greensboro Marathon, nothing could dampen my spirit or enthusiasm.  This was the inaugural Greensboro Marathon that was a point-to-point race from Elon University to downtown Greensboro.  We boarded buses from the finish line area which took us to the starting line.  I proudly wore my pacing shirt with several layers underneath to stay warm.  I was doubly excited because I had 2 of my Sole Sisters, Dena and Sarah, with me at the start.  Here is a picture of Sarah who was about to embark on her first marathon journey and myself  near the start of the race huddling to keep warm.

Luckily, I knew several people which definitely made the time go by quickly until the start of the race.  Although, it doesn't take much for me to engage in conversation with just about anybody; especially runners!  Sarah's race plan was going to be to hang with me as long as possible and then hold on until the finish.  She had extra motivation and I will divulge that at the end.

The race went off and it was hard to convince everybody to stay slow and keep our 8:46 average mile pace.  You get wrapped up in the feeling of running and warming up.  Many tend to go out too fast which leads to 'hitting the wall' in the later stages of the marathon.

I told everyone they were either going to love me or hate me during this 3:50:00 adventure.  I was going to try and keep them focused on their goals and getting them to experience the magnificent journey in a confident, positive way.  It was great because 3 or 4 miles into the race, a runner passed our group who was in my Myrtle Beach half marathon pacing group and he told everyone how I had helped him achieve a PR that day and that they were in good hands.  My heart swelled and I think I got a little teary eyed, unless it was the cold air (wink, wink).

I wore 2 Garmins to ensure success of my group.  I had my newer Garmin set with our 8:46 pace and my older Garmin to give me in the moment pace, distance and time elapsed.  I was constantly monitoring our progress because this was a hilly course.  Here is a photo of me during the after party with my Garmins

The Greensboro Marathon was a beautifully rolling course with the exception of 3 major climbs.  My job was to instill confidence in my runners and I used the three plus hours to impart all of my racing knowledge.  The main focus was that my PR's in the marathon (3:10 Charlottesville) and half marathon (1:27 Cannonball) were on notably hilly courses.  I explained that hills were good because it gave your muscles something different to do.  My runners did great.  I had great help from another veteran marathoner, Jeff, who validated or imparted knowledge of his own to our group of new marathoners.  It was great to have someone else who has experienced the highs and lows that IS the marathon.

The course was very well marked and on the pavement below us were all the marathon mile markers.  I would yell "Bam" every time we stepped on a mile marker and exclaim, "Another mile down, now forget it and live and revel in THIS mile".  It was amazing how quickly the mile markers came up on us.  The sights of the horse farms, cows, cute little downtown Gibsonville and the journey into Greensboro definitely added to the charm of this race.

Here is a photo of us about to finish a big climb at mile 13.  Out of nowhere came the first wind of the day.  My hair is sideways in this photo!  But look at the determination on all of our faces!

They were all working hard:  Rusty, Jeff, Brandon, Mr. Brandon, Kelsey, Sarah and Zach.  It was quite a hill (of course the photo doesn't portray that) but they looked great!  I encouraged my runners to glance behind them when they reached the peak of each hill to see what they accomplished.  I also told them to give themselves a pat on the back to relax their neck and shoulders from climbing. 

At around mile 19, I started talking about the wall and what it feels like and how to overcome it.  It was at this point that my group starting passing people who had started out too fast and didn't have anything left in the tank.  I was careful to make sure everyone we passed was okay and offered fuel (my sleeves and shorts were filled with gels and chomps).  Only 1 runner took me up on my offer, but at least I did my job and offered.  I think it gave my new marathoners a boost in confidence that they were feeling so good.  Of course I encouraged everyone, not just those in my group.  When we hit the 20 mile marker, I think I said, "What a beautiful morning to race a 10k, isn't it"?  I got a few laughs, but a few were starting to feel the effects of running for so long.  With each water stop I was insistent about my runners getting water/Gatorade or fuel.  It was nice to have my boss from the Bryan Family YMCA, David Heggie, hand me a cup of Coke (my magic elixir).  I took one sip and gave the rest to some of my runners who did not know it can be a secret weapon.  I learned its magical powers at my first Crooked Road 24 hour Ultra 3 years ago.

With only a 5k to go, I told my flock that this is the time for them to fly if they were feeling good.  They didn't have to fly right then, but they were to think about it.  I was very proud to see some take off at that moment and we never caught up with them so it was definitely the right move for them!  With 1.2 miles to go, I encouraged the runners that were left that this is their time to take off.  We had a few runners drop back some, but their goal was to break 4 hours and they were clearly going to do that.  With less than a mile to go, I found myself all alone!  I began to pick up the pace more to run in with people than anything else.  I made the last turn before the finish line, stopped briefly to kiss my hubby and crossed the line doing a happy dance in 3:49:20.  I then ran back and helped my new marathoners finish their journey.  I would yell their name to the crowd and tell them that this was his/her first marathon and to give them a huge welcome!  It was great to see so many happy faces of runners finishing their journey.

The finish that moved me to visible tears was my little Sarah.  Here is a photo of her and I about to cross the finish line of her first marathon.  Sarah's journey started 2 years ago when she went through her whole marathon training program and got injured the week before the race.  Then last year, Sarah lost her mother to illness.  The Sole Sisters bought her a pendant she had pinned to the inside of her pocket.  On one side was her mother in her youth and on the other side was a photo of Sarah and her mom.  All of us were moved to tears at the finish line and it was great her Dad and hubby were there to hug and comfort her.  You can see we are both wearing our in our hair.  The black one I am wearing is described as:  Rock Star. Sexy, strong, sassy.  Rule breaker and resilient spirit.  Dances like she crosses the finish line- with her hands up.  Why yes, I am a force to be reckoned with.  Bloom, baby. Bloom.  Sarah wore red and it represents, Love, passion, commitment and spirit.  It takes strength to do what you love. 

That is the thing about marathons.  They are a journey.  Most training programs are 16-18 weeks long of diligent running, stretching and proper eating.  Usually there are sacrifices involved, but most importantly it is about the strengthening of the mind, body and spirit.  Marathons are hard.  I don't care what pace you average, how many you've run, etc.  It is more about what can you do with the cards you are dealt.  A marathon is about THAT day.  On any given day, anybody can beat anybody.  You never know what will happen when you step up to the starting line.  The key to marathon success is to trust your training and to adjust your expectations when necessary.  I love the journey because I learn something EVERY TIME I'm racing or pacing. I learned quite a bit on Saturday.  I mainly learned that I love pacing!

Although I LOVED pacing this marathon;  it is now over.  Now it is time to focus on my 100 miles at the Crooked Road 24 Hour race on November 23rd.  It is a little over 3 1/2 weeks away.  Did I mention I'm excited?!

Happy running and racing to all those doing Fall marathons/half-marathons!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hinson Lake 92.7 miles.....Believe in your dream; your body will follow

I am currently on the couch thinking about all the wonderful memories I have from last Saturday's Hinson Lake 24 hour Ultra.  I am still in complete shock that I exceeded my goal of 90 miles.  Our local newspaper reporter (and fellow runner friend) Eddie Wooten, asked Dena & I to write a short report on the race, so here are the basics that I shared with him:

The race: 8th Annual Hinson Lake 24-Hour Ultra Classic

September 28th – 29th, 2013
The place: Hinson Lake, Rockingham, NC
    My entry fee: $24.00

      About the race: Run as many miles as you can around a 1.52 trail loop. There were many runners that came to just put in a few laps and there were some who relentlessly hammered out a ridiculous amount of miles.

          Entry limited to 240 runners.  
Why I went: This was my first year at Hinson Lake.  My friend, Dena, told me how great it was to run a longer loop than Crooked Road (1.52 instead of .95 miles per lap).  She was definitely correct.

        My goal going into the race was 90 miles (I completed 75 miles last year at Crooked Road, so it was a natural progression).  I completed 92.7 miles. 


 Pluses:  This type of race is ideal because you are only minutes away from food, drink, bathroom, massage table, and PEOPLE!  The people in and around this race are fantastic.  Most everyone chatted, even in the middle of the morning.  


     Minus: It gets dark and once it gets dark it is hard to keep your energy levels at an optimum level.  The temperature only went down to 54 degrees, but after running all day my body definitely felt cold in the middle of the night.

I ran in 3 different pairs of shoes and I think I have a complete collection of every type of sand used to create the path in my shoes. Not sure if I need a washing machine or a trashcan.


     Racing tidbit:  I can be out on a 6 mile run and feel like it is an eternity.  I’m out on this course and if I feel like walking..Guess what?!  I WALK!  (I ran approximately 27 miles before I did any walking-if I plan on breaking a 100 miles, I’m going to need to walk earlier). 


     Another morsel-you really do not tire of the loop.  It was really great because you start over a bridge, then you pass all the tables of lap counters.  After the lap counters are the tables of drinks (Gatorade, water and the magical elixirs: Ginger ale, Coke & Mountain Dew).  Many of the runners set up tents along the lakeside so that by the time you pass all the fun people crewing for their runners you’ve already hit ¼ mile marker.  Then you cross a whole lot of foot bridges (in the dark you pray you are running straight so you don’t fall off).  There is a really long 300’ bridge complete with a gazebo before you enter what they call Mt. Hinson, and what I call climbing land of roots, divets holes, and loose sand.  This section was challenging mentally and physically once you started getting tired.  Then it was the section where you were counting the sewer lids till you saw the last ¼ mile marker (up a brief hill) which emptied you into the parking lot near the bridge where you began.  Some laps seemed to go by so quickly, other laps felt like an eternity.
In my last blog, I told you that my friend, Dena, was also participating in the event.  She exceeded her goal as well.  We probably couldn't have done it without the help of her husband, Blair, and some friends, Melissa & Daniel.  Here are some pictures with some of the gang, Blair took the picture so he's missing!  No other race would I have dared to stop and take a photo...that would have been valuable seconds!  That's one of the biggest reasons I love these ultra events.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Little Engine That Could and Could Not! Hinson Lake Hear Me Roar!

Well...I cannot believe it is already the end of September.  Time has really flown.  I've been quite the silent blogger of late.  I plan to change that starting today :)   I've been running quite a bit, but last week was the first week I have felt like the real me.  Between the worst allergy season in North Carolina and this little thing called menopause, I've been battling just to get up in the morning and get through my workouts.  This has left little time to try and somewhat write a cohesive blog, so now that I'm back; watch out!

I have been consistently running and I feel like my back/piriformis issues are very manageable these days.  Hallelujah!  I've been good at stretching and teaching a few yoga classes a week.  Now that the humidity levels are starting to dissipate, I anticipate a good fall/winter of racing!

First race is in 2 days.  Yup.  2 days.  Hinson Lake 24 hour Ultra race.  I couldn't be more excited than I am.  It is currently Thursday afternoon and I am COMPLETELY packed for my race adventure (clothes, food, and probably too many other creature comforts).  I think because I am completely packed I felt confident enough to actually sit down and write.  Since I last blogged several other things have happened:  My daughter, Mandi, bought a house and got engaged!  We are thrilled beyond words at the exciting life she and Jordan have set up for themselves. Wedding date: June 7, 2014.  This is will joyful time and energy spent.  Another bit a news was not as thrilling, but we are beginning to see the positives; Dan lost his job almost 6 months ago and after the initial shock, great things have happened.  Many have rallied around him and he has several things "in the works".  I have enjoyed spending more time with him and LOVE having him around the house.  We've been lucky enough to take quite a few mini-vacations; a wedding in St. Louis, hiking in the mountains, and some beach time.

Hinson Lake 24 hour Ultra is a new race for me.  To be totally honest, if it weren't for some friends (Josh & Iris Sutcliffe) moving to the Pacific Northwest, I would not in the race at all.  It sells out quickly.  Yes, for you non-runners, there are other crazy people like me out there.  Anyway, I am used to the Crooked Road 24 hour Ultra, so this is going to be even more exciting.  Crooked Road has a .95 mile loop course and Hinson Lake has a 1.5 mile loop course.  I am so excited to be running more than a mile per lap.  It will definitely help my mental psyche.  I am returning to Crooked Road in November for my third year in a row, and I'm excited to see all my ultra running friends I've made there.

What is my goal this year?  Let's recap what I've done so far at Crooked Road: 56 miles in 2011, 75 miles in 2012.  My goal at Hinson is a little lofty, but I am super focused.  I am attempting 90 miles this year at Hinson Lake.  Yes.  I said it out loud to the universe.  I believe in stating your intentions out loud and on paper.  I am armed with the desire and determination to make it happen.  Now I just need for Saturday 8am to get here.  I will be posting in the late afternoon on Facebook (trying to save my cell phone battery in case I need to chat during the night with any friend who may be experiencing insomnia on Saturday night).  I have several friends that go to bed really late at night, and several friends that wake up very early.  I am hoping to bridge the gap with any insomniacs!  Hint-Hint!

My dear friend, Dena, will be running it with me.  She is just as crazy (and I feel that she's the crazier one) as me.  She has declared some goals, but I don't want to speak for her.  She is the one who chatted with me on the phone in the wee hours of the morning at Crooked Road last year.  She was talking with me as I completed my 75 miles.  I can't wait to help her get her mileage this year.  She is an amazing runner and an even better friend.  She is even nice enough to share her hubby as crew chief for us both.  Blair is one of those people that makes you smile after spending any time with him.  It's a good thing, because we will be spending LOTS of time together.  My BFF Melissa is coming down to help out in the afternoon and I couldn't be more excited to share my passion for running with her.

I am bringing my new Hoka One One shoes and can't wait to try them out for the long haul.  I have packed 4 pairs of shoes, but I'm hoping that the Hokas are it.  We shall see.  The temperature is not supposed to dip below 54 Saturday night, but the high will be 79.  That's a little warm for running, but I will do my best to hydrate each loop.  I will be armed with lots of fluid, Fellow Flower in my hair (black one), Marathon compression socks,  and my Runningskirts skirt!

It feels great to be back writing, so I plan on setting aside some time each week to recap the running adventures I call life.  Catch you on the other side of 90!

Get Real.  Get Moving!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Tale of Two Legs

How can 1 body feel like 2 different people....what I mean is my right leg has disassociated with my left leg and I'm in a tizzy trying to mend the fences (or the space between).  I have been keeping detailed exercise logs (which is new to me) and there is still no rhyme or reason as to the source of all my angst.  My piriformis likes to rear its ugly head these days without warning me.  I can be going along fine and then WHAMMO!  out of nowhere I succumb to limping with electrical currents coursing down my leg. The currents all ball together in my heel making me feel like there is a stone lodged under my skin.  I can be running, sitting, stretching or doing just about anything when it hits.  Sometimes I tune into what's going on when I'm running trying to find that magic moment when the zingers start.  This is a sneaky syndrome!

Let's recap since I ran Diva half marathon.  I took 3 days off to rest and recover because my leg was a little twingy (is that a word?) on the way home from North Myrtle.  When I say I took 3 days off of running, that does not imply that I was simply sitting on the couch eating bon-bons and watching tv.  No.  I took a break from running and taught 4 Les Mills BodyPump classes, 1 Silver Sneakers Cardio class, 1 Yoga class, and 1 Pilates class.  Yes.  I took it easy. :)

I ran 6 miles with Catherine (affectionately Cac) on half trail, half crushed gravel at 7:34 avg mile.  Felt great.  Did 10 sets of stadium steps that night at our youngest son's Lacrosse game during half time to stay warm.  Felt great.  I actually LOVE doing stairs & hills.  I am not so keen on flat, where you can see for miles and miles knowing you have to get there at some point.  Ran a recovery run with Christie (one of my Sole Sisters) for 4 miles and ended the week with an 11 miler on the greenway at a 7:58 avg. mile.  I limped a little Saturday afternoon so I decided that from now on I will just not sit down (except to type blogs!) unless I'm watching a movie.  I think people would be afraid if I stood up in a movie theater and just stood there the whole time.  Besides, people think runners are pretty weird interesting anyway.  That ended a nice, sweet week with a little aggravation, but not much.

On Monday I ventured to the track.  I love the track.  I think I have finally figured out why I love the track so much (I'm 47 now, so I'll let you do the math).  I don't mind that "out of breath" feeling on the oval.  Wanna know why?  Even if I have to stop, bend over and try not to throw up, I'm right there. I'm not a million miles from home/car.  Okay, a million is an exaggeration, but you get my point.  Somehow my brain has decided that it is okay to work yourself to death on the track, but not okay out on the open road.  Maybe I need to find a treadmill race and I'd be 'all over it'?  I might have something trend sweeping the country......treadmill races!  That would be pretty boring, but it might just happen.  Back to the track:  1 mile warm-up, 12 quarters, 1 mile cool-down.  I picked a ridiculously humid day.  I was all by myself.  Fun times, although I think I usually run a little faster if there are people around/with me.  Anyway, I was just excited to get them done: 

Warm-up mile:  8:10
First 4 laps (30 seconds rest in between each lap)  mile 1:  6:27 (conservative so that I could assess the sneaky piriformis)...took a minute break after 4 th.
Second 4 laps (30 seconds in between each lap)  mile 2:  5:49 (opened up even more and felt pretty good.....took a minute 10 seconds break after 8th
Third 4 laps (35 seconds in between each lap)  mile 3:  5:43 (hung on and gutted it out, sweat flying)
Cool Down mile: 8:00

I am grateful I was only doing 12 400M because the skies opened up just as I was walking to my car.  Some rain would have felt good but the torrential downpour would have been messy.  I feel like my speed is coming back and I feel like I'm ready to be in the 5:20's again in the mile.  My left leg is ready for it, my right one still has not committed.  Ran great on Tuesday and Wednesday and did a recovery run on Thursday. 

Friday I did zero. nada.  It felt great.  It was a fabulous day because we got to spend it with Danielle (our daughter) at her graduation from UNCW (Wilmington).  She graduated from the Teaching Education Department and we are very, very proud of her.  She is currently job if you know of any elementary schools hiring, send me a note!

I will get back to running now so I can end this blogpost with one last personal story.  Pretty uneventful week after returning from the coast.  Then I decided to run a local 8k on the greenway (the same greenway that houses the majority of my long runs).  Everything started out so well.  Saw lots of friends and learned a few things about racing locally.  First and foremost:  an 8k is equivalent to 4.96 miles.  After conferring with several friends afterwards, the race was 5.34 miles.  But, it was for a good cause, so all is right with the world unless you were dealing with an angry piriformis.  Here are my splits:
Mile 1   6:39 - about 3/4 mile into the race, my piriformis said hello and I was in pain trying to push that right leg alongside the left.  I pulled back in my comfort zone and proceeded to smile and wave because I knew it was not a day for opening up. I had so many zingers I actually jumped 3x.
Mile 2   6:54- great chatting along the course because it was 2 out and backs.
Mile 3   7:01- trying not lament that my half marathon splits are faster than what was happening
Mile 4  7:11- excuses here. I thought they forgot to put the turn around people out there because I knew we were going well beyond where we were supposed to go because I know every quarter mile marker on the greenway.  I kept slowing down until I finally saw the leaders coming towards me because I kept thinking they were lost.
Mile 5 6:57- least I picked up the pace because there was a nice steady uphill during that mile. 
.34  mile 1:28- 36:12 Official Time (2nd Female overall)

Evidently I didn't look all rosy coming up the hill to the finish

                        I wore one of my favorite Lululemon tops with some comfy Adidas shorts

I have taken some time off of running this week to cool down my leg a little.  I taught 3 yoga/pilates classes this week which has helped.  For my next race, I'm going to KT tape my piriformis even if it is feeling great.  I will not trust that right leg for a while.  I will continue to stretch, ice and roll (SIR) and be glad that the pressure of having a bad race is now over.  I will not let this define me.  I know I have lots left to do in the running world.  I'm looking at my track meet schedule and looking at my entries into 2 - 24 hour ultra races this year.  Hinson Lake in September and Crooked Road in November.  I'm ready !!

On a personal note, my daughter, Mandi, just got engaged last night to her boyfriend (Jordan) of almost 4 years and we couldn't be happier and prouder of her.  She continues to be a shining light in my life and we are incredibly happy.  I hope she doesn't mind that I posted this photo of her teary eyed but extremely happy!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DIVAS Half Marathon in North Myrtle Beach

It's already Wednesday, but Sunday's race is still VERY fresh in my mind.  It's another Sole Sister invasion of Myrtle Beach.  We stayed in Myrtle Beach but raced close by in North Myrtle.  This is a picture of us getting ready to depart from my house.  I travelled with half of my Sole Sisters on Saturday morning.  The race was on Sunday morning.  If I didn't have Christie telling me what day we were leaving, what day/time the race was, and what day we were coming home, I'd be lost.  The devil is in the details and she's the detail girl and I'm on the fun committee.
Sole Sisters (from left to right) Christie, Sarah, Christine, Kristen & Cindy                               
My first seeded race in years....I'm Bib #5!
We were DIVAS!

Christine got us to the expo safely and we picked up our packets and our shirts.  We took quite a few photos, but here is a sampling: 

There was a slight issue with the shirts.  Well....I'm thinking it was a major issue.  The shirts looked like they were Child Sizes and not Women's sizes.  The volunteers at the Expo looked a little dumbfounded and really thought they were Women's Sizes.  I beg to differ.  I felt like a rolled sausage. 

When you travel with the Sole Sisters, you are most certainly are guaranteed fun and a good time.  We can find humor in just about everything.  They ground me and help soothe my nerves before a race.   Aside from someone setting off fireworks at 11pm Saturday night, we actually got a good night's sleep.  It was a 7am start.  I made my way to the starting line in the Elite section.  Usually I am situated right BEHIND the elite section.  I was actually feeling pretty good at the starting line and then this happened........ZOLA BUDD!  I am standing next to an Olympic Athlete!  She is only a few months younger than me.  She was in the 1984 Olympics!  She is famous for racing barefoot and more famous for allegedly tripping Mary Decker Slaney in the 3000 meter finals. Notice I wrote, "allegedly".  She is in the White Newton Shirt (#31) wearing SHOES!

All opinions aside, I started shaking with nerves.  Many of the young athletes around us probably had NO idea who she was.  I tried to be as cool as possible and shook her hand and wished her and everyone around me, "Good Luck".  I love talking to other runners around me.  After running over 35 years, I still find runners fascinating.  Then again, my running friends in Greensboro hear me talk all the time on the greenway. 

The race itself went.....well, it went pretty well.  I had only brief arguments with my piriformis and after looking at my splits, I stayed relatively consistent.  It was a warm, humid day.  It was supposed to rain, but luckily it didn't.  Here were my splits for the race:

Mile 1   6:57
Mile 2   6:56
Mile 3   6:56
Mile 4   7:01
Mile 5   6:55
Mile 6   7:03
Mile 7   6:56
Mile 8   7:13
Mile 9   7:00
Mile 10 7:01
Mile 11 7:04
Mile 12 6:52
Mile 13 6:51
Finish Time:  1:31:33

They give you a tiara and a boa near the 13 mile marker.  My tiara dropped and I was certainly not going to stop to retrieve it.  I was so relieved to be done!  There either wasn't a 13 mile marker, or I missed it.  I didn't realize I was so close to finishing when I made that turn.  We were told at the start of the race that the awards was placed on gun time and not chip time, so I didn't kick it in like I would have because I didn't see anyone behind me.  This is probably why I am SMILING.  My Lululemon outfit didn't even look that sweaty.  I can assure you I was sweating a ton. Which brings me back to the finish....there is a young woman who's chip time was 1 second slower than mine.  Yikes!  I guess I was very lucky to get third! Glad I decided against stopping to retrieve my tiara!

Back to my hiccup was during mile 8.  I started to feel the heat.  I was very, very alone from mile 3 on, so I didn't have people to focus on around me.  My piriformis acted up a little, but I could control it by changing my gait.  I felt a little nauseous, but didn't think about it and whammo!  Right after I crossed the finish line I took 2 steps and (how do I put this delicately) heaved a little.  I don't recall ever getting sick after a race and I was completely fine afterwards.  I did, however, profusely apologize to all the spectators lined up to cheer for their loved ones.  Then the partying began. 

One of my Sole Sisters, Sarah, PR'd by over 4 minutes!  We had fun dancing in the streets to DJ Loquacious.  Here are a few more photos from DIVAS....and then I will put away my tiara and boa and start working on gaining speed!

Couldn't quite get the leg thing right!

Sole Sister Rock Stars!

                                       DJ Loquacious just told the crowd I was 47.  Gulp.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston: One Week Later

It has been a whirlwind since that fateful Monday afternoon where 2 young men (let's hope that is all) took lives and injured many along the streets of Boston.  Running Boston is like participating in the SuperBowl of football.  It is an honor and a privilege to be able to participate in the sacred event.  Many runners will never qualify for this prestigious event.  Most runners who participate in Boston know they are part of something magical. 

I watched every minute of the Universal Sports Network (Channel 625 on DirectTv) coverage of the marathon.  I got butterflies in my stomach before the start of the race.  I got goose bumps while watching the runners do what they do best; run.  I emailed my husband at some point while watching and wrote, "I think I want to go back to Boston".  He first emailed me a response saying yes, let's go back.  And then he asked me, to run?"  I responded with an emphatic "Yes".

.....and then the explosions occurred.  I know I said I was retired from marathons (but not half-marathons or ultra marathons) but I don't think I am done.  I am a very proud American.  No one is going to make me cower.  What transpired INSPIRED me...

It was really nice getting facebook messages, emails, texts, etc. from friends far and wide making sure I was not there this year.  I am part of a fantastic community that cares.  It was nice hearing from teammates from my Hood to Coast, Bourbon Chase,  and American Odyssey Relay. Most runners I know have hearts so much bigger than their physical counterpart. 

My heart is saddened by all the tragedy and my soul is determined more than ever.  I have a wonderful family and the best friends anyone could ask for.  I know they understand.  Am I still having some piriformis issues?  Yes.  Does that matter? NO! 

Hug those close to you a little harder and pray for peace.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Piriformis What? As Sweet Brown would say, "Ain't nobody got time for that"!

I finally have the diagnosis to my excruciating leg/foot pain......Piriformis Syndrome.  Here is what WebMD says about this condition and then I'll add my 2 cents worth of what I'm feeling:

Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder that is caused when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance. It is also used in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs -- in short, in almost every motion of the hips and legs.
The sciatic nerve is a thick and long nerve in the body. It passes alongside or goes through the piriformis muscle, goes down the back of the leg, and eventually branches off into smaller nerves that end in the feet. Nerve compression can be caused by spasm of the piriformis muscle., there was your short lesson in this uncommon neuromuscular disorder.  Here is what I was feeling:  Getting out of bed in the morning I feel great until my right foot touched the floor.  Then, I couldn't walk to the bathroom, I was hobbling and stumbling.  After some brief stretching, I was able to walk almost normally.  I was walking as if there was a large stone under my heel (not the arch, the heel).  The muscles of my lower leg would tighten and tense.  The muscles in my upper leg would feel as if they were being pulled into my hip socket.  My inner thigh muscle, part of the adductor group would periodically spasm and cramp.  I kept a good secret for days (although my hubby knew I was hurt) because I was so excited to be racing in the Wrightsville Beach half marathon.  My leg would actually feel better periodically throughout the day and felt great once I was warm.  Hence why I didn't see anyone about it.
This wasn't an overnight thing.  There was no defining moment.  There have been moments for the last 3 months that I have ignored.  I think I thought if I just pampered my leg all would be good.  I hung upside down on my inversion table. I rolled my leg & butt with my foam roller. I used my marathon stick on it.  I have been teaching yoga consistently at least once a week.  Why am I telling you this?  Because at 47, I thought I was better at listening to my body but now I realize I need to be not only better at listening but also obeying my body.  My livelihood has depended upon me being in relatively good shape.  I am not in my 20's or 30's anymore.  Am I still trying to be faster than women in those age brackets?  Yes.  Do I need to do more than the average runner to stay healthy?  Yes.  I tend to overload my schedule with teaching classes, running, and tennis.  No more.   I am mortal (although it pains me to say it) so I have started to scale back a little (notice I said little.  Hey, at least I'm trying!)
There is a reason I have been running for 35 years now.  I have always taken care of myself.  I have been blessed with virtually no ailments (solid knees and good hips).  This is a short term setback to my training, but a long term wake up call to be a better steward to my body.
Dr. Jeremy Phillips has not only fixed my leg, but I feel pretty confident I could audition for the Rockettes.  Just kidding.  He has helped tremendously and a week and a half later I am now running a little each day.  Yesterday I ran 2 miles.  Today 3.  I'm going for the big 5-6 tomorrow.  I have a little over a month till my Diva Half Marathon in Myrtle Beach.  I realize I may not be able to PR (1:27), but I feel good about flirting with 1:30:00 again. 
So....I'm excited to unveil my new slogan:
Get Real.
Get Moving.
I can't wait to blog about my new adventures in the making!
Stay healthy!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recap of Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon

Here it is already Tuesday and I've already fallen behind in my race recap!  Wow...what a whirlwind.  Let me try and find some chronological order to my chaotic thoughts!  Kind of like A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".  Charles Dickens had no clue that I would define my whole weekend by his opening sentence.  As many of you who know me, I'm not one to make, I'm not going to start now.  I did not do what I set out to do.  Period.  I was not trying to PR, I was merely trying to drop below 1:30:00.  I did a 1:30:42 at Richmond without much effort.  I was ready for effort this time.  I had a plan.  I deviated from the plan.  As usual, let me back up and start from the relative beginning.

One of my dearest friends, Trish, and I left Friday morning from Greensboro.  It was a beautiful day, albeit still rather chilly.  Actually, Friday would have been perfect racing conditions.  Warm with a breeze.  We drove to Wilmington to stay at Josie Whitmore's gorgeous home in Landfall.  How great it was to be staying in a house where several miles of the race was in her neighborhood.  When we arrived around lunchtime, we all went to Dockside in Wrightsville Beach for lunch.  Here is the gang:
From left, we have Trish, Patty, Chris, Josie and me.  I know these girls from my tennis life.  Many of you don't know that I took up tennis a while back.  Anyway, what a pleasant Friday afternoon eating, shopping, picking up our race packets, etc.

Saturday morning I got up and ran a few miles to loosen the legs.  I've been having some issues with my right leg from my hip to my heel and it remains happy when I am constantly moving and stretching it.  More on that later.  We played tennis and did a little more shopping.  We ended up having dinner in downtown Wilmington Saturday night and walked around the city a little bit.  Here are our Saturday night dancing shoes (there was no dancing, we had a half marathon very early the next day!)

I will let you decide who's foot belongs to whom.  Anyway, we tried to go to bed early, but sleep didn't happen till after midnight.  The 4:30 alarm went off and we all rose and scampered around in a hurry.  Here is what we were wearing for our race:

I guess my shoe is easy to spot because I had my "Sole Sister" charm from Christie on my shoe.  We walked outside to 61 degree little after 5:30am morning.  It was a great morning even though the temperature was 10 degrees warmer than predicted. 

We made it to the starting line with ease and didn't freeze waiting for the gun to go off.  Here is where I should point out that there were 3 waves and they put the slowest wave first.  Besides a 24 hour relay, I have never seen this done before.  I actually liked it because it gave you people to look for.  I had some friends that were great about cheering me on.  They didn't realize how important that was to me during this race because I was trying to ignore the pain I felt in my right leg.  I will go over split times at the end, but suffice it to say.....they energized me to spring forward :)

The pain I've been feeling has been a tightness that occasionally throbs, occasionally feels like a zinger, and occasionally feels like I'm running on a rock on my right heel.  It appears to be a piriformis issue that travels down my IT band which makes my soleus super tight which tugs at my plantar region.  The good news is that I'm done trying to diagnose myself and I am ready to admit that after 35 years of racing, I'm going to see a qualified professional for the first time.  Literally, tomorrow.  I'm still hobbling until I get everything 'loose and lubed' as they say. 

Back to the race.  I finished with a 1:32:30.  Although I didn't do want I had anticipated, it is still a respectable time.  I realize that.  I think the sadness I felt afterwards was more because I couldn't turn my mind off during the race.  I felt every blessed mile.  Most races there are miles where I have no recollection of running.  You have to love it when you have one of those type races!  I tried not to look at my watch too often because I had my Garmin set for my 6:55 average mile pace to get me there in 1:30:00.  I heard the mile beeps on my watch at every mile.  I tried to dig deep because I'm the motivator.  I'm the life coach.  How do you motivate the motivator?  Quite frankly I think I told myself to shush several times.  Well....maybe it was a little more harsh than shush.  I'll never tell.

After finishing, I practically ran to the massage part of the tent and 2 very, very nice people tried to work on me as I was in a love/hate relationship with my leg.  I think I catapulted off the table several times and swatted the table with my hand (which I think I bruised a little).  They got me moving and grooving again.  Luckily I had friends that I ran into after the race while waiting for my house buddies:  I ran into Melanie who I paced in the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon for a PR.  Well.  She PR'd again!  I was so thrilled for her success, it was hard to not be totally happy! 

I also ran into one of my sole sisters, Lori.  Tiffany and Lori were smart enough to wear a hat with the sun blinding us.  I know I was not feeling great on my right leg, but I looked absolutely pained in this picture!
Photo: Wrightsville Beach 1/2marathon.

The cotton tank I wore during the race was a "one and done" for me.  I wanted to give my brother-in-law's bar a shout out because we basically ran right by Fibber's.  I, however, did not realize how hot cotton is to run in.  I was beyond sweaty!  Luckily, my skirt and my flower kept me looking cool!

So....back to my Dicken's quote.  It was the best of times because of all the great fun.  It was the worst of times because I did not accomplish my goal.  One of the lucky things for me about racing is that I am cognizant of competitors around me, but I am truly out there for myself.  I was lucky to earn some $$$ for my efforts and I am more determined to heal and then train for DIVA half marathon the end of next month!

Here is a photo of my tennis girls who all PR'd.  I couldn't be prouder of ALL of them.
Photo: So proud! Pr for all

Even though it was a girls' weekend, my hubby came down and watched me receive my award.  He means the world to me.  I was thrilled he was there.  Well....there's the's the splits, according to my Garmin:

Mile 1  7:07 (I started my watch when the timer started...)
Mile 2  6:59.98
Mile 3  6:59.17
Mile 4  6:52.02
Mile 5  6:54.26
Mile 6  6:50.79
Mile 7  6:52.51
Mile 8  7:02.35
Mile 9  7:05.97
Mile 10 7:03.48
Mile 11 7:09.11
Mile 12 7:00.81
Mile 13  7:07:05
Mile 13.21  (My Garmin had me at .21)  1:21:16
Total:  13.21  1:32:26    7:00 avg/mile

For not looking at my watch, I was happy with my consistency...even with discomfort.  Hope all of you who raced this weekend had a great experience.

Thank you, Josie for a great weekend!

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.......