I’m a grandma who has already completed three half marathons. I might be slow as a turtle, but I'm determined. I completed my first two half marathons at 3:46 and 3:40 and was on a mission to break 3:30. I did it! Half marathon #3 - 3:28:44! Join me on my journey.
The year 2017 is in my rear-view mirror. Not many races, very little training, even side-lined with plantar fasciitis. Of course I ran the usual suspects…the Marine Corp 10K, the Semper 5ive and the Across the Bay 10K. I even finished my first Disney Princess Challenge. My times weren’t great, but since my goal was usually to finish, I can proudly say, “mission accomplished”.
Yesterday was the first day of 2018. My first grandchild is in kindergarten, so his energy is limitless. My second grandchild is on the way so I guess, in my mind, I have something to prove. I’m only as old as I feel and I’m feeling kind of spunky…the possibilities are feeling endless in the coming year.
My daughter and I joined Planet Fitness a couple of days ago (barely avoiding the January rush). One thing I discovered at this gym, was I don’t really mind the treadmill all that much. (Wait…did I just say that?) The treadmills are conveniently located at the back of the gym…a “no judgement zone” gym by the way…the time seems to pass by quicker – I’m sure it’s just my imagination. the price is also very right at $21.99 (plus tax) a month.
I guess all this to say, I’m looking forward to 2018. There may not be as many races, but my goal this year is quality, which means longer…slightly faster runs. I have so many races on my bucket list that I won’t get to in 2018, but my goal is to have them all completed by December 31, 2019 – budget willing. I think I can do this…says my little engine.
OK. Recovered and ready to write about the experience.
The Fit Foodie 5k, from here on affectionately referred to as FF5K, has been on my redemption list for a year. I had signed up last year (who can beat a $25 entry fee?), but the weekend called for heavy rain. The FF5K was also one of those races I thought would have a very small field and I like getting lost in a large crowd. Figuring it was time to start addressing that increasingly long redemption run list, however, I signed up for the FF5K again for $25 before the prices increase ($55 race day registration). To be honest, the hype for the race sounded quite delicious. “Bites at every mile”, cooking demos, great food….etc… yum-my!
One important fact to mention about this particular race, however, is that everything costs extra…from the t-shirts to the special wine and beer tasting, but for the $25, I was OK with the lack of another technical shirt.
The good stuff:
There was a pretty decent-sized field of runners of just under 1000. All were welcome runners, walkers, strollers, pets. I find most runners a friendly bunch, however, this particular set of runners seemed friendlier than in some races. There were no corrals, so people lined up where they were. I was quite impressed that the faster runners were much kinder and did not bowl over the slower runners that ended up in the front of the field.
The not-so-good stuff:
The race started on a hill. Not only did the race start on a hill, the entire course was much hillier than I had anticipated. What made me think “flat and fast”? A few parents were running with their children, unfortunately several of those children were crying after the mid-point.I saw parents giving piggy back rides, stopping to give their kids a much needed rest. Hot AND hilly is never a great combination.
Bites at every mile? Depends on your definition of a “delicious bite”. We were provided packaged beef jerky at the first mile and a Kind bar at the second, not quite the “delicious” I had in mind. Frozen mini/MINI smoothie pops greeted us at mile 3.
There was only one water stop, but that is pretty typical for a 5K, but the race started at 8:00 a.m. so the heat was already picking up for the day which made the lack of water a bit hard to handle. I accept responsibility, however, since I chose not to carry a water bottle.
There was little direction at the finish line. I ran across the line, received my medal and followed other runners to the right. I was finally stopped by a very helpful volunteer who re-directed me back to the finisher’s area to get my water and swag bag.
There was no crowd support. Families and friends running together provided their own cheer squads. Strollers and pets were also allowed in the race wherever , they were allowed in intermingle anywhere along the start line instead of starting at the back of the pack.There were a couple of overly-excited dogs, which made the starting line crush a little challenging.
Post race fair had many free bites including a delicious salad, flatbreads, prosciutto and cheese rolls tropical smoothie drinks and frozen smoothie pops. Very filling! This definitely made up for the “bites at every mile” hype.
Overall, the FF5K Festival was a lot of fun. Tired from improper hydration, I did not stay long, but headed back to the car with my pineapple medal and filled swag bag. The Fit Foodie Race is a pretty interesting race, running up the last hill I tagged this as a one and done, but it might not be. Though I’m not sure why, while it does look like there was more bad then good, I could possibly add this to my race budget expenditure list.
The Marine Corp Semper 5ive.In 2016, the Marine Corp ceased the 5K and 10K components of the Historic Half and introduced a race that kind of met in the middle – the Semper 5ive. It’s a 5 mile race that starts somewhere around the 8 mile marker for the Historic Half, runs 5 miles through Historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, proceeds up Hospital Hill and shares the same finish line as the half marathon.
This year the Marine Corp introduced a Devil Dog challenge, with participants running both the five miler and the half. These hard-core challengers toed the start line 20-minutes before the official start of the 5 mile race. When it was our turn, it was a pretty low-key start. A couple of announcements about the oldest and youngest runners, the sponsors and then a count down to the start. In fact, the low-key start definitely helped to calm my nerves. There were no corrals so people pretty much started where they were as they walked up to the start line.
Running the Semper 5ive takes you through beautiful neighborhoods. Homeowners along the route come out of their homes, cheered runners on, and gave out water and treats along the way.
My favorite part of the race, was definitely the Wear Blue Mile paying tribute to fallen soldiers.
Unfortunately, a couple miles in we hit Hospital Hill which runs past the Mary Washington Hospital Emergency Room. The elevation of Hospital Hill is the equivalent of climbing a 10-story building so it felt good to know that there was help close by. Conquered the hill, however, after a deceptively flat moment, the route continued to climb over the I-95 overpass. Pretty huge crowds lined the final mile, which was pretty encouraging since resolve started to wane.Closer to the finish line, marines provided much needed encouragement to lift those knees just a little bit higher, make my stride just a little bit faster…definitely the motivation needed to “sprint” across the finish line. A second Marine Corp Semper 5ive in the bag. A beautiful race, great “right on time” crowd support when I needed it the most and medal that made me proud to earn it.
Great race moments – Fantastic crowd support, the Marine Corp runs extremely well-organized events from the expo to the finish line. The race is point-to-point, but there is plenty of free parking less than two blocks from the start line with a return shuttle, after the race.
Not-so-great race moments – With less than 2000 participants in the 5-mile race, there are no corrals so people pretty much start where they are, so faster runners in the back pretty much pushed their way past some of the slower runners.
In this case, I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Semper 5ive 2017? Yes, I did that. Semper 5ive, 2018? I’m there!
What? Where do I get off reviewing a famous running magazine? Full disclosure, I cancelled my subscription to Runner’s World in March when I received the obligatory auto-renew post card, letting me know that my account would be automatically debited in April. I must admit, I have waffled over the decision to cancel for a couple of years now, but the deciding factor were the inserts that fell out of a recent issue that offered the magazine several dollars cheaper than I was about to be billed. I can be cheap like that sometimes, but after a more introspective look at the magazine it suddenly became even clearer to me. I am not their target market.
I think secretly I always knew. I’m not a slim, nimble 20-30 year old elite runner. I don’t have tons of money to buy the latest sneakers, nor to purchase the products that lurk in their glossy pages. Despite their one cover story issue last year of the plus-sized runner, there is very little for me. I’ve learned to stop drooling over the things I cannot have, nor will ever be (again). I have none of the characteristics that represent their true target audience.
I was thumbing through one of the last issues, looking for one of their cover stories and came across a story about a Couch to 5K success. It was supposed to be a motivating story about a 42-year old mom with two young boys. She wanted to shed a few pounds so she started with the C25K and now holds a trail run record, despite her busy schedule. She is a lawyer. My average woman-self, with a government job thought…mmm…she can afford things I cannot. I couldn’t connect when I thought of the advantages she would have over my own struggles. How about the advertisement to “Cheat Your Way to Lean”?Second paragraph, “Last Tuesday was especially hectic, but I’d booked with my $200 per hour personal trainer…” Again, not me. How about Best Foods for Runners? There wasn’t a cheap item on any page.
All of this may sound negative, but it’s really not. I truly believe that Runner’s World has a niche market that works well for them. At my grandma age, I have no desire to be the elite “running with the 20-30 year old” market, nor the well-to-do older set. That is not my reality. I’m basically a barely paycheck to paycheck, grandma enjoying the run. So with that said, it’s important to realize that glossy pages, pretty pictures and well-toned bodies is not something that everyone necessarily needs or wants to see.
Does this mean that I will never pick up another Runner’s World magazine? No, there will still be some occasional interest…a headline that sparks my curiosity. To my friends, in that niche, it is definitely a good magazine for you, lots of helpful advice and exercises you can probably still do.
I think that one day, someone will come out with a publication aimed at the beginner runners, the slightly over-weight runners, the older runners, the back-of-the-pack runners, the “not in my budget” runners – to let us all know we can still enjoy the sport too. It’s still a great magazine, but I am not their target market and I’m OK with that.
Neighborhood tracks are the most convenient place to run for most. Whether you’re taking your first steps or wanting to improve your time, it’s easy to check your pace by timing each lap. Because I’ve spoken to many runners who mistakenly feel that they are not fast enough to run at the local oval, here are a few simple guidelines:
What is the distance of a lap? Standard distance is 400 meters (@ .25 mile).
In which direction should I run? In most cases, run counterclockwise. A few tracks alternate direction from day to day, so follow the direction of the other runners.
What lane should I use when running slow or walking? The inside 3 lanes are reserved for faster runners and those doing speed workouts. Most runners should use the 2 outside lanes.
How do I pass slower runners? Assuming a normal, counterclockwise pattern, move to the right to pass, with a smile.
Is it OK for kids to ride bikes and skate on the track? This is not a good idea. Try to find another place near the track for these activities.
Do I have to pay to use a track? Most tracks are free, but the hours of use may be restricted by the school.
Can I run on the track with an iPod? This is up to you but be aware of your surroundings and possible threats or faster runners coming up behind you. Keep one ear uncovered.
Do I need special shoes? No—you can use the same shoe for road, track or fitness trail—unless you are a competitor doing very fast speedwork.
Are there any times that I should not use the track? If there is a track meet or organized track practice by the local team, find another running area. Some track teams allow recreational runners to use the outside lane during their workouts.
Repeats—These are the fast segments during a speed workout. Each repeat (usually about 3-5% of the distance of the goal event) is run slightly faster than goal race pace, followed by a rest interval of walking or slow jogging. Through a series of workouts, the number of repetitions gradually increases.
The Fix I always lose count of how many times I’ve run around the track! How can I keep track of it better? Office supply stores sell “counters” that keep track of the number of laps as you click each time you finish a lap. Another method: time yourself for the first 2 laps, for two laps in the middle and 2 laps at the end. Compute an average of the lap times. You can compute the number of laps by dividing the total time run by the average time per lap.
There are lots of fast-looking people at my track; I’m scared I’ll get in their way. The inside lanes are for faster runners. If you run in the outside lane, you will not get in their way.
“One and done!” I remember my sister uttered those exact words when she finished her first marathon in January. Pretty much how I felt by the time I finished the Glass Slipper Challenge on Sunday. For those who may not know, the Glass Slipper Challenge consists of a 10K on Saturday, followed by a half marathon on Sunday. I must say I fought signing up for the Glass Slipper Challenge for several years, happily instead, running a 5K on Friday and the half on Sunday, but for some reason I was feeling Iron Woman-ish and decided that this was the year…this was MY year!
A couple of things I have learned in just two short weeks:
1.(Yes, there will be more than one). If I spend the entire week before the challenge walking an extraordinary amount, my legs WILL actually be tired after the 10K and be too tired for a half marathon the following day. In other words, roaming the parks probably wasn’t the best idea.
2.Don’t stop hydrating after the 10K, replacing those fluids lost during a hot 6.2 miles is doubly important. Remember the challenge isn’t over until after the half.
3.Go easy on the 10K and save some “leg juice” for the half. I was so concerned because I was starting in the last corral of the 10K and not being swept after the balloon ladies, I exerted myself more than I probably should have. I should have saved some of that leg juice energy for the half.
4.Bring the necessary amount of electrolyte replacements. I was good this time and made sure that I drank something at each water stop, but I ran out of salt tablets, gummy bears and pickle juice by mile ten. I made it all the way, but when I tried to put on a burst of energy to triumphantly race cross the finish line, the dreaded leg cramps set in. So my finish was more of a limp than the Iron Woman moment I envisioned.
5.Most importantly, have fun. 19.3 miles in two days truly IS an accomplishment and something to be proud of. I finished!
6.Never say never! My “one and done” mantra, lasted about seven days and I’ve already texted my sisters that I am ready for next year’s challenge. Sore muscles and pain are only temporary, bling is forever.
This year my plan is to not take a three month running hiatus! Training starts today.
Not sure why it took me so long to share my story about Disney Princess Marathon Weekend. Shock? Tired? Not really sure. Perhaps just because it felt sort of like a weird, misplaced weekend for a race I never felt really ready for despite the fact that I trained more in the past year than I ever had on any previous year.
It started innocently enough, pretty much like my annual February junket to my favorite place, except this time I rented a pint-size car for the trip and for a woman standing almost 6 ft. tall, it was constant challenge to maneuver, but it was fun.Perhaps it was the extra-long, 45 mile per hour maximum speed through all 198+ miles of South Carolina. This was particularly painful since there isn’t a stop light or sign on I-95 for its entire approximately 1920 miles.
I digress, back to the race at hand. I had originally signed up for the marathon, but knew that was not going to happen, so when RunDisney opened up spots for the half, I immediately jumped on it. Most people complain that RunDisney does not give refunds, but imagine my surprise when my transfer was actually approved and money refunded despite the fact it was after the proof of time cut off. The only drawback was I was assigned to corral P because my registration for the half was after the cutoff, therefore my proof was entered after the cut-off. Despite many warnings to contrary about the lack of willingness to allow corral changes, my wishes were granted and they agreed to move me up a corral. Sometimes miracles do happen. A refund and a corral change! What next? Wrong question.
For the entire week leading up to Saturday, threats of impending inclement weather threatened race day. The forecast called for lightening right around the time volunteers would be setting up for the half marathon.Despite the fact that we were assured by the many seminar presenters there would be no chance of cancellation (and of course they couldn’t be wring, right?) the lightening started as predicted so the race was cancelled. While it gave me the opportunity to sleep in, it was kind of sad. I was feeling pretty positive about the race and wasn’t even too concerned about the corral.RunDisney was a champ, not only would we get our medals, but they also offered reimbursement in the form of a free registration to a future half marathon, $180 gift card (the cost of registration), a chance to run the full or even two-one day park hopper tickets. What amazed me is despite their generosity, considering the waiver we all signed about non-reimbursements, people still complained. There were even some that wanted taxes and Active.com site registration fees and travel fees reimbursed.What can I say…. It takes all kinds.
After the overnight storm, Saturday dawned clear and cold…and what sight did my well-rested eyes see? Hundreds of half marathon runners running the lake around the hotel wearing their costumes and bibs getting the miles in to earn their medal. Hotel guests and staff set up water stations and cheered runners on.Of course, I couldn’t be like everyone one else (besides I wanted to get in and out of ESPN to collect my gift card).
Sure, I wanted to be different.I waited after dinner, about 30 minutes after eating a steak and egg sandwich with double fries, to embark on my 13.1 miles in the cold, dark night. My sister came out and ran a mile with me and brought Powerade. I got to watch fireworks in the distance.It took me forever – possibly my longest 13.1 EVER, looping and looping around the hotel well-lit pathways, the parking lots and the lake. I actually got cramps at mile 3 until my sister gave me Sportlegs which I HIGHLY recommend.
The path in the daylight.
Imagine seeing this on a night run. 🙂
Caught some fireworks!
Things to look at on the run. Not sure who the lady is posing for my pic.
My Garmin threatened to run out of battery at mile 12.75, so I stopped and restarted it and ran for another half mile. Even though there were other runners on the lake, it was cold and dark in spots, but I finished. One thing I can say about this medal? #medalearned! Next month? Disney Princess Weekend! Bring it! Congratulations to my sisters for running their marathon the next day!