Monday, November 8, 2010

mmmmm......shiny medal

What motivates a distance runner?  Is it the accomplishment?  Is it the competition? Is it something in their makeup that pushes them onward?  What keeps them going through mile after mile as their bodies scream out "stop, you're killing me here"?  What makes them get up on a cold Saturday morning when most people are sleeping comfortably in bed to go out and run 13, 26, 50, 100 miles?

Motivation has always been my friend and enemy.  Sometimes I'll think about a marathon and just want to go do 1 or 2 or even 3 in a row, just to do it.  Sometimes, the thought of finishing and getting a medal has driven me onwards.  At least once when training for a NY marathon, the fact that I had raised $2,500 for the Sloan Kettering Children's Cancer center pushed me on, knowing that people had given me money to go out and do it, and I couldn't let them down.  During the Steamtown marathon, seeing all the people who had dropped out and were sitting on the side of the road waiting for the sag wagon pushed me on, just thinking about how horrible it would be to sit there for 2 hours to wait until the roads opened to be brought back to the finish line.  I realized i could get there faster even if I had to walk some of it.

On the other hand, sometimes motivation is fickle.  I can think of tons of times doing a training run of 18, when i got to 15 and just couldn't go on anymore.  I'll never forget running the Queens half marathon in the early 2000's and myself and a friend of mine talked each other into dropping out halfway through.  I've never forgotten doing that, and it's honestly haunted me ever since.  It actually placed the idea in my head forever after that it would be OK to drop out.  There's that little voice in your head that says it's no big deal.

Every time I train for a marathon, I find the actual training to be the worst part.  I get worn down and as the time goes on the aches and pains start to add up, and don't go away.  The real marathon is the training, staying healthy with no prolonged sicknesses, avoiding major injuries and keeping the minor injuries minor.

As usual, I injured myself this training season.  I fell about a week ago and hurt my ribs.  In addition to the fact that it hurts to run, and breathe heavily, it's really hard to sleep since every turn makes it hurt.  So I'm worn down.  But I can't stop now, there's a marathon in January with a Mickey Mouse medal at the finish line.

I took Tuesday off, but was back at it Wednesday.  Due to the pain, and not knowing how I'd react, I skipped my weekly run with the Davidson Area Running Team and hit the treadmill at work.  I managed 6.5 slow and painful miles, but I did it.  I got in another 4 Thursday.

Which brings me to Saturday.  Weeks ago, thinking (perhaps foolishly) that I'd be healthy, I signed up for the Dowd 1/2 Marathon.  And yes, part of the reason (besides the fact that it fits into my training program, and it's easier to run with other people) is that there is a medal.  In fact there's sort of 3 medals.  There's 1 for the Dowd 1/2, another 1 for the Thunder Road Half, and a special 3rd medal if you finish both.

Also, Jo had signed up for the race so we could do it together.  So I didn't see so much that I had a choice.  Plus I convinced myself that it would be like at least 2 of the marathons that i ran injured.  Just go out and see what happens.  

We woke up early, to quite a chilly morning in Charlotte-30 degrees.  My comment:   "If I wanted to be this cold I could've stayed in NY."  We headed down to the Dowd in downtown.  Luckily, it was a Saturday and the Y opened at 7, so we got to sit inside and stay warm and stretch (and hit the bathroom repeatedly).  Right  before the race started we headed outside with all the other folks.  Based on the turnout I'd say this is one of the big distance runs in Charlotte.  Quite a few people. We were all jammed into a side road next to the Y, until the go signal, and off we went.  

Jo and I brought our full water bottles with us, since it's easier to get water on a long run when you need it as opposed to when it's available.  So we had our water, gu, and in my case, sports beans, which rattled the entire way as I ran.

I tried to keep it a little bit slower than my normal pace, since I knew there was a long road ahead.  I seem to be able to slow down OK, but Jo was having a hard time governing her speed a bit, and was trying not to race ahead.  It's hard at the start of a race not to get pulled along with all the other people, but I just kept saying that we'd wind up passing a lot of these folks as long as we took it easy.

Considering how cold I was at the start, I warmed up pretty quickly.  By halfway through the second mile, I was already starting to be warm.  I was a bit concerned that I was overdressed, but as the race went along, the wind picked up and we cooled back off.

Bingham signs about 5 times during the run.  I guess they cut through.  As we got to the last mile, I was expecting to go right up the hill and finish at the Y, but there was one last surprise.  Right before the Y, we made a left and went rambling a little bit before coming back to the Y.

About 1/2 mile from the finish, a pair of women who had been going back and forth with us, tried to pass us, to finish ahead of us.  I was having none of that, and put it on to finish.  Jo's comment was "now you're going to speed up?", but I was motivated by the fact that I ran the whole way, while these women ran fast ahead, then walked to fall behind all day.  I wanted the medal and childishly wanted to finish ahead of them, which we did.

Slow and steady followed by....more of the same...until the end

We got our shiny medals, which now just motivates me for the Thunder road and my 2 more medals. 

The rib was painful at first, but loosened up, but towards the last 2 miles, really started to tighten up and hurt.  Had to go home and take some pain meds, and woke up pretty sore Sunday.  Still managed to run 6 on Sunday though, even though it was quite painful.

On to the next goal.

Got my shiny medal

Thursday, November 4, 2010

8K, 5K, 10K...Ouch!

The town of Mooresville had it's annual Halloween 8K (what is it with 8k as a distance anyways?  it's.....weird) this weekend an due to the fact that I actually read the Mooresville newspaper a few weeks ago I was fired up and ready to go.  However, a week ago a co-worker gave me the link to the NODAween 5K happening in NODA, Saturday night.  Faced with the choice of these 2 races, I decided both!  My training program had a step back week for this week, and I only had to do 6 on Saturday and 8 on Sunday.  I decided to switch up the days and do the 8 on Saturday with the 8K + 5K making a almost perfect 8 miles.

The Mooresville race is decidedly lower tech than most races.  There was no online entry form so I had to show up extra early and sign up.  The other funny thing was, that in this age of technology, there were no chips.  When you crossed the finish line you had to rip off the bottom of your bib and that was your finish tag. Haven't had that experience in quite some time.

As we lined up in front of the Mooresville Recreation department (which I only found because my daughter had swim team there this past year), I ran into people I knew.  The first person was someone I knew from taking spin class at the YMCA.  The second, Wendy, I knew from daily mile.  I knew she'd be there and I recognized her from her picture.  It was interesting actually meeting someone that you know only from online. 

Overall the race was great.  Not too hilly. Temps were good.  I went into the race planning on just taking it easy since I had a 5K later in the day.  Went out pretty good, kept it going, and just had fun.  It was a beautiful fall day.  I was running down a road with the leaves falling and the smell of fireplaces in the air and wished I had a camera with me to take a picture.  Overall just a good time.  I finished in just over 47 minutes, which wasn't bad considering I was taking it easy.  And the fact that I had the neighbors Halloween party the night before and was exhausted. As a bonus I got a $15 gift card to Road ID, which I used as soon as I got home to get Jo a new Road ID for her new shoes.

The only picture I have from the Mooresville 8K

I went home, hung out for a few hours, made some cookies and treats for the kids Halloween party and headed back out to go to NODA.

For those of you that don't know, NODA is an area of Charlotte a few miles away from downtown.  It used to be where the textile mills and mill workers homes were.  It has been turned into an arts center with funky shops and cool restaurants.  It reminds me a bit of a much smaller Woodstock, NY.  If you're in the Charlotte area check it out at

Old textile mill re purposed into homes and a great restaurant.

Yes, I'm not wearing a costume

Making my way to the theater to pick up my number and shirt, I got to walk past a lot of interesting buildings and people dressed up.  I was really beginning to feel like I was grievously under dressed.

The pumpkin-mobile

The....batmobile?  Not the one I remember!

Once I got my number and shirt I was given my chip along with the type of band that usually goes around your wrist for a bar.  I had to ask what it was for.  Apparently, the plan was to tie the chips around your ankle with the strap.  Um, ok.  So i did that.  That was a new one on me!
OK, what?  The chip ties around your ankle?

While waiting for the race to start, I got to go into the historic theater, where they were having a pumpkin auction featuring pumpkins made by local artists.  It was pretty interesting

Somebody's angry

The pumpkin totem pole

Funky pumpkins

Yes, that is a Peter Criss pumpkin

About 15 minutes before the race I headed outside to check out the costumes.  Again, quite an interesting experience (see below). 

Running with scissors and the skeleton

Yes, she says she's a badger.  


Please don't let me finish after the woopie cushion

She ran with the dog too

So many comments, so little time

As we lined up to start, I saw a lot of cool costumes, and was hoping that I didn't finish behind some of them, as they looked pretty big and bulky, and that would mean I was really slow.

The race start

Yes, I passed them in the third mile!

The race started and we were off.  Once again I was surprised at how hilly Charlotte is.  The race consisted of a up and downs  (so it felt) around the Noda area.  Since I hadn't seen too much of the area outside of the main part of town, it was nice to see some of the other areas.  I felt that I was struggling a bit throughout the race, which seems to be the way my evening runs go these days.  Interestingly, there were no mile markers, which made it hard to get a feel for how fast I was going.  I tried to keep passing people and not have them pass me.  There were a couple of water stops during the race, and it seemed like the folks from the neighborhood were manning them.  Thank you!  I went back and forth for a while with the Jelly Belly's before finally passing them for good in mile 3.  I guess my runs with the Davidson Area Running Team are paying off, as I stayed strong throughout the race.  I finished in a shade under 27 minutes at 26:58, which is somewhere around a 8:41 pace.  Not bad.  PS the woopie cushion was way behind me.  Sweet!

After the race was over, my car happened to be in front of Cabo Fish Taco, so I went in and got the BBQ mahi taco's to go.  Awesome, though the guy dressed as Borat that insisted on talking to me was first.

Sunday morning Jo had to do 9, so I figured I'd go the first 6 with her.  And 2.5 miles in I tripped on a raised sidewalk and went down hard on my ribs.  I was down for a good 5 minutes, but got up and finished.  However, it's safe to say that the ribs still are not feeling too great.

Got the Dowd YMCA 1/2 marathon coming up saturday, and I'm a bit concerned.  We'll see how it goes.