Saturday, October 13, 2018

Water Tower 10k

Oh, where to begin? Some of you may know that I started blogging in 2006. The other 99.9% of you reading this now likely came here via social media, and that's quite alright. 

Once upon a time I blogged every.single.run. Yep, I composed several posts per week. Then I stopped because, 1) I had a baby, and 2) social media took over. I have the fondest memories of blogging, though. That's how I have made DEAR running friends all over the globe, literally.

Long story short, I have not run consistently since *gasp* early 2014. I'll spare you the details of that. Today's race, though, has more or less been 18 months in the making. I'll get right to it!

Today I checked off a local bucket list race: Hernando Water Tower 10k! Why was it on my list? Because it is nearby AND it has a very cool medal. There ya have it.

Once I got my act together and committed to training for it (after recovering from an injury that postponed marathon #14), I printed out a Galloway training plan. I adore the Galloway method of run-walk-run. I am currently using the 10:30 method, which means I run for 10 seconds and walk for 30 seconds. 

One Friday I did something COMPLETELY out of character for me: I asked on Facebook if anyone would want to run-walk-run 3 miles with me the next day. (I always run alone. Always.) Lo and behold, my old friend Alison said she would. I was shocked, as I had no idea she was in to running. As it turned out, she really wasn't. The rest, as they say, is history!

I showed up to Alison's that day, and we got the job done. I told her I'd be running 4 miles the next Saturday, and she agreed to join me. One thing led to another, and we got up to 6 miles together before family vacations and other travels stopped us. 

Recently I asked her if she would like to join me for the 10k. She actually said YES! So, we made it happen. We both arrived in Hernando at about 7 AM today, and we went to get our packets. Being a rather small race, it was super easy and fast to get our goodies.

See, easy peasy! I was pre-registered, and Alison registered on-site.

It was chilly out this morning. I'd say it was in the low 50F range. I wish I had brought a jacket for all of my walking around. Alison was definitely smarter than me in that respect!

 Here we are before the race began. See her coat?

I saw a few people I knew, which is always nice. We made our way to the back of the pack. All I wanted to accomplish today was crossing the finish line. The mere fact that I had gotten my act together to make it to the start line was a victory unto itself. Oh, if you only knew!

When the race began, I almost missed pressing start on my Garmin because the start line was literally a small line and the word "start" written on the asphalt on one side of the street with orange spray paint. Gotta love a small race! FYI the finish line was the typical large ordeal.

We began passing people immediately because of our very efficient run-walk-run method. I told her that would happen because lots of these folks would go out super fast and then regret it. Ha! I then began to tell poor Alison about my history with running. People, we are talking about 15 years of running tales including 13 marathons and one or two failed attempts. The next thing I knew, we were at mile 4.3! If you know me well, then you know I do NOT tell any short stories because I do not like to leave out a single detail. 

It was a lovely course. We started near the town square. Hernando is the county seat of DeSoto County, Mississippi. Both Alison and I live roughly 25 minutes from there. Once we left the square, we went through lots of neighborhoods that were new to me. With the exception of going to certain restaurants, I rarely get down to Hernando. This was quite a treat. It was definitely hilly, but we really didn't mind. The weather was overcast and less than 60F, even at the end. I felt like I didn't even sweat! 

We agreed that we would run through the finish line, even if we were technically amid a walking portion of my Galloway ratio. And so we did! We finished strong. Might I add, we finished with an average mile split faster than I anticipated! 

 Here we are just past the finish line.

The surprising thing was that it never occurred to me to eat during the 6.2 mile race. It finally dawned on me as we were walking to the restroom in the nice, clean, and warm country building. I mean, who wants to use a port-o-potty if you don't have to?

 Here we are a little bit cleaned up after our restroom stop.

We walked back to our cars and parted ways, but not before discussing our running future together. I am so, so, so stinkin' proud of Alison! How amazing is it that her very first race was a 10k?!?!

 Here is my awesome race shirt. I love it!

 Here I am, all cleaned up, sporting the race shirt and medal.

 We got a great, well stocked goody bag.

Check. Out. That. Medal!

I am definitely on cloud nine and ready to move forward. Running was such a HUGE part of my life for so long, and I couldn't be happier to feel like I'm "back," in a way. Here's to a great end of 2018 and an epic 2019! 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Is This Thing On?

I'm baaaaack! Well, maybe. I firmly believe that social media has killed the majority of all running blogs. I used to blog after every.single.run. I enjoyed it tremendously. I enjoyed the camaraderie of it all. So, we'll see if anyone even notices this.

I have been back on the roads for just over 18 weeks now. I have a LONG way to go, but I am enjoying the journey!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

How I Do It

People ask me all the time how I handle Chasen being gone for so long on his trips to China. At this point, I'm an old pro! He started going 2-4 times per year when Isaac was 20 months old, so I have plenty of experience. Here's what I do.

Before he leaves, a few things must be addressed.
  1. The exterior lights on our house must all be working. Safety first!
  2. The yard must be in tip top shape. It must look well cared for and occupied!
  3. Any minor household repairs must be completed (slow draining showers or finicky toilets, etc.).
Once he is gone, the work on the inside of the house begins.
  1. I thoroughly clean the house, and I try hard to keep it that way. It makes life easier. 
  2. I do all of his laundry, so that his closet is clean as a whistle. I'm a recovering neat freak, you know.
Our lifestyle changes a bit when we are alone, mostly for ease and safety.
  1. I cook a big meal every three days or so. Leftovers are key!
  2. We spend a lot of time outdoors, weather permitting, and then we bump up bath time to before dinner (of leftovers!) to make for an easier evening.
  3. I try to not overload myself with extracurricular activities. The simple life is best.
  4. We almost never go out after dark. If my car is going to break down somewhere, I'd rather it be during the light of day.
  5. To that end, we almost never leave town while Chasen is gone.
  6. I take advantage of my big, empty bed (in which I sleep like an "X," according to Chasen) and go to bed as early as possible.
That's really it. It's easy peasy. Even so, concerned people always come up to me (especially at church) and ask how we are "holding up." It makes me laugh. We've definitely been around the block. We've only had trouble twice, and each time someone from our church has quickly come to our rescue, as well as my neighbor (who is better than 911). There ya have it!  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Land Between the Lakes 23k

Back in December, my casual (read: 99% on Facebook) friendship with a woman named Kathlene turned into an actual, real friendship when she began asking me about CrossFit. We worked out together a few times, and we even went running together. That's right -- yours truly kinda sorta has a running partner after all these years. Sometimes we'd run together and then do CrossFit afterward. I know, I know... we might want to get our heads examined. I've heard that before!

She knew I was training for the New Orleans Marathon, and she asked me what my plans were after that. Since I had recently found another "driveable" race to possibly check off my 50-states list, I told her: the Land Between the Lakes Trail Run (marathon) in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. It wasn't a done deal, though, because a) I needed to see how NOLA would go, and, b) Chasen would likely be out of the country, which would present a childcare problem. Lo and behold, Kathlene's parents have a nice RV setup really, really close to the run, and she could accompany me and keep Isaac. Hmmm... the wheels started turning.   

After NOLA I hemmed and hawed, and I even contacted the race director, since the deadline for a guaranteed medal had passed. He gave me his word that, if I signed up by the weekend from the link he personally sent me (!!!), I'd get a medal. By golly, I pulled the trigger. I wasn't sure how it would go, as I have very little positive experience on trails (yes, you need to read that post from 2007!) but I wasn't going to let that stop me from this red carpet trip. 

Isaac and I picked up Kathlene and her son, Jack, and we headed to Kentucky. We saw lots and lots of snow (for these parts) along the way. It was bewildering to me, as ours was long gone. 

Here we are outside the small, friendly race expo.

I got a nice zipper bag.

I've never had a hot pink race shirt before. I love it!

After the expo (Kathlene's first!) we walked down to the lighthouse/marina area. LBL is simply gorgeous, snow or not. 

You just can't beat that view.

Both Isaac and Jack were given nice, green caps. Isaac tossed his in the water (and got in big trouble).

Here's my sweet pal who made all of this possible.

And here is the lighthouse of "Lighthouse Landing."

LBL is a boater's paradise.

After being blown away by the scenery, we headed back to Kathlene's parents' RV. I had never actually stayed in an RV, so I was quite excited. Isaac was even more excited and actually referred to it as "his dream come true."

For two nights we got to call this place home.

It was snowy, slushy, and muddy. Naively, I thought the trails would be OK. The communication from the race director indicated that they were in decent shape. Nonetheless, my boy needed something other than running shoes to romp around in. So we went shopping. 

My Mississippi boy insisted on camo rubber boots. Whatever floats his boat... and keeps his feet dry.

I had my more-often-than-not pre-race dinner at Cracker Barrel.

The next morning, Kathlene drove me to the race start (at Lighthouse Landing) at 5:40 AM. The race was to begin at 6:30 AM. Why so early? Because there was also a 23k race (14.291 miles), a 60k, and a 50 miler. Phew!

There go the runners, ready to face the trails!

Even though we stopped at a McDonald's on the way to the start, because the camper did not yet have running water hooked up for the season, would you believe that I had a Code Brown as soon as the race began? NOT GOOD. Believe me when I tell you that I ran as quickly as I possibly could to the first port-o-potty, which was at the end of the asphalt. So long, asphalt. 

I decided a few days ahead of time that I was going to run Garmin-free. After all, this was going to be a new adventure for me. And, per my post from 2007, I needed to pay attention to nothing else but the trail ahead of me. 

Look.At.That.Snow.

Here I am just before the asphalt ended. Asphalt, I'll miss you.

The port-o-potty and the first water stop, as I said, were at the end of the asphalt. This is what I faced next: hard packed snow with patches of ice, slippery slopes (there is no such thing as a flat trail at LBL), and very, very slippery mud. Sigh.

Miss Priss was jumping streams left and right! This one is tiny, by the way.

It was very pretty, I'll give it that.
 
The entire course was 1, 2, 3, or 4 loops. The marathon was 2. 

Untouched.

Navigation. No miles markers, but signs here and there.

This is an example of "easy mud."

I only took photos in the beginning, when I found the whole trail thing to be novel and interesting. I was initially among some other slow-ish trail people, but it quickly turned into me being, as I have since said, "all alone in the woods like Grizzly Adams." It would have been OK, but I was having an extremely hard time staying upright. If I wasn't sliding down into a stream, unintentionally, I was turning both ankles, slipping and sliding, and getting sopping wet feet in the process. That wouldn't have been the end of the world, mind you. However, with no Garmin and no mile markers, every time I'd approach a water stop as the trail approached some asphalt (thank God!), I'd be shocked by how little progress I was making. I knew I'd be slower on trails, but man oh man... this was going to take all day. And that'd be fine.

Or so I thought.

Once I got to the other side of the lake, the trail actually got worse. At this point the super fast people had looped me, and they were zooming past me like this was no big deal. Mind you, I was having trouble just walking. Seriously. I was only at mile 7.something when the volunteer asked me what mile I wanted to be at when I looked shocked to find out my location. I said "26.2." The whole table chuckled. 

Back into the #$%& woods I went. I had been talking with Kathlene from time to time, and she'd ask "Where are you?" (meaning, which mile?) I'd answer "I don't know... somewhere in the @&*$ woods." That's the truth. It seemed to be getting steeper and steeper, muddier, slicker... you get the picture. Never one to quit (never!) I thought "I can't do this. I've got to get out of here." But there was literally no way out. At the very least I had to complete the 23k loop. I called the race director (from the $#@* woods) and asked if I would be permitted to drop back to the 23k distance. He said that lots of people were doing so. That was comforting, but I still had miles to go. Miles. In the $&%* woods. 

Just after that I fell in the mud and jarred my back something fierce. Ouch. It really hurt. I thought "Girl, you might have to crawl out of these $%&# woods." 

Finally, by the grace of God, I hit the asphalt. PRAISE HIM!!! There was a man who would alter my bib to indicate the 23k distance. Happily, sir... mark that baby in red!    

Two loops happily became one. 

Kathlene and the boys were waiting on me. Awww!

I still had 1.7 miles to go (on asphalt!) and Kathlene said she was going to go with me. I thought that meant she was going to follow behind with the boys. Nope! She walked and ran that final 1.7 with me. Her hubby and mom (known affectionately as Mimi) drove the boys.

There's me and my camo boot wearing baby crossing the finish line.

I was given a key chain for the 23k distance. Yes, a key chain.

Dried mud. This actually doesn't look that bad.

Nor do these shoes. The iPhone has a way of prettying things. 

It's a pretty key chain, at least. And hard earned, for darn sure. 

We all went to get some lunch, including me and all of my mud. Then I finally got to take a much needed shower at the campground's bath house.

It says "MAW" on the wall. The men's side said "PAW." Cute!

Here are my dirty feet and swollen ankles. 

Here's my recap. If I had known just how treacherous that trail would be, I would have never signed up for this race. If I had know about the severity of the snow and ice, I would have never signed up for this race. If a course elevation map had been offered, I would have never signed up for this race. Alas, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Are trails for me? N-O. Now I know. I thought my Missouri and Idaho races had prepared me. Nope. They were just rural... not "real" trails. Again, nothing ventured, nothing gained. While this is technically a DNF, in this case I believe it stands for Did Nothing Fatal. It took me 5:00 to make it 23k. Yes, FIVE HOURS. That's a 21 minute pace. I would have been out there over 10 hours  for the marathon, most likely, and who knows what all kinds of injuries I would have sustained. 

Want to know what good came from this? I had a fantastic time camping with some awesome people. Isaac had the time of his life getting filthy dirty with Jack. I've found a gorgeous area for a family vacation. I now have a very easy to beat 23k PR. See, all is not lost. And, it was a pretty inexpensive weekend. 

His shirt, a present from Kathlene, will be applicable another day.

Marathon #14 looms ahead, and it may even be in Kentucky. Who knows? I can't wait. I'm gonna kick some asphalt!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Double Unders

Ever since I began doing CrossFit, I have struggled with my capabilities. Believe me, I have a LONG way to go. L-O-N-G. But, occasionally, I do something that really surprises me. Back in December I discovered that I could do a handstand. Yep, me, the 39-year-old who has never taken a gymnastics class. 

Thank the Lord my coach snapped this pic. Otherwise, I'd never believe it. Ha. 

That's the thing about CrossFit. It's all about doing things you never thought possible in a very supportive community/environment. Trust me - everyone there was cheering me on. 

CrossFit is also about finding your weaknesses and working on them. As I said, I have LOTS. In particular I couldn't squat worth squat! My coach has worked tirelessly with me on that. I'm happy to report that I have improved quite a bit. 

Contrary to popular belief, it's not all weight lifting. In fact, it's only a third of it. It's about combining Olympic lifting elements, gymnastic movements, and metabolic conditioning. So there's a lot to focus on! I'm not the strongest person out there, but I am improving. I've worked myself up to a 165# dead lift, a 135# back squat, and a 100# front squat. And, I can now easily swing a 35# kettle bell. 

Like the handstand above, for me in particular, some of the more fun things to work on require only your body weight and coordination/balance. Come to find out, I don't have a lot of coordination/balance, which is why the handstand was so shocking. 

One thing I did NOT take to instantly is called a Double Under. It's a jump rope movement in which the rope should pass under your feet TWICE during one jump. Tough stuff! Mind you, prior to 2013 I hadn't jumped rope since probably 1987. Since it's such an excellent conditioning element, I asked for my own jump rope for Christmas. I was, by golly, going to work on my double unders.   

I only got my first double under back in January. I was so excited about it that I screamed and did my "only at CrossFit happy dance." Last Saturday I actually surprised myself and did sixty of them, one.at.a.time. I was so proud. I really didn't think I could do it. 

With Chasen traveling in Asia for the longest period of time ever, 14.5 days, I decided that I needed a special project to keep me busy. I call it "Susan's Double Under Camp." Each day I am working on my double unders. 

On day 1 I tried desperately to get two consecutive DU's, but I couldn't. My goal, period, is two. I came close, but I just couldn't get the right rhythm. On day 2... I got two!!! I did it multiple times, in fact. I was on top of the world. Today, day 3, it took a while, but I got three. Three! I did it a few times, to my amazement, and then decided to try to video myself so I could figure out how to be more rhythmic and efficient. You'll never guess what happened next.      

I got SIX in a row!

I believe the video speaks for itself. I was shocked! It goes to show that practice and perseverance pay off. My technique has a way to go, but I am going to continue to try to improve, day by day. Mark my words. I'm fired up about these doubles!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Baked Cilantro Lime Herbed Chicken

I have come up with another super easy, nutritious chicken recipe! Per the usual, it's an adaptation of someone else's recipe. My BFF sent me this link. She's always on the lookout for paleo-friendly recipes for me. Love her!

We had snow today in North Mississippi, and, trust me, that's rare. It's way below freezing, and I wanted a dinner that would both warm me up and stick to my ribs. This adaptation was a home run! Here's what I did:
  • In a gallon size baggie, I sliced and squeezed a lime, as well as a few tablespoons of cilantro.
  • To that I added about a quarter cup of olive oil and a bit of garlic.
  • Then came the motherload of spices, all "just a dash" or so: oregano, basil, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. 
  • I put four chicken breasts in there, shook it all up, and let it sit on the counter for an hour or so.
  • Into a 9x13 pan it all got plopped. Easy peasy!

 I baked this for AN HOUR at 400 degrees. 

At the halfway point I added one sliced sweet potato. Remember me wanting something that would stick to my ribs?

Ah, the finished product!

People, this.was.good. Even 5-year-old Isaac loved it. I can't wait to have leftovers tomorrow. I'd venture to say that it'd still be delicious (and oh so moist!) if you left out a spice or two. Happy cooking!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Isaac's Fifth Birthday

Well, folks, we've hit another milestone. My sweet, little Isaac is now a big five-year-old. I won't say the usual "Where has the time gone?" Truly, it seems like five years. Five glorious years, that is, of being a stay-at-home mom who has not missed one moment. Thank you, sweet hubby! 

We settled on a minion theme this year, as in the minions from Despicable Me I & II. Isaac LOVES those movies, as do most small kids. Heck, I love them, too! And, minions are the bomb diggity. So, as a non-Pinterest person, I immediately started googling "minion party ideas." I knew what had to be done.

 Minion cupcakes! Yes, with Twinkies. Easy peasy.

My big boy helped me make those cupcakes. His official duty was to press the eyeballs onto a dab of black frosting. He loves to be a helper.

He woke on his birthday (2/15) and I presented he and Chasen with matching Spider-Man ties. A fellow stay-at-home mom in Georgia makes them (affordably!) and takes custom requests. 

 Look at those two. Am I lucky or what?

We headed to our church about two hours ahead of the party to set up. I had been working for over a week on all of the decor. Phew - a "home grown" party is a lot of work. 

 There's my tippy-toed fella standing underneath a minion welcome sign.

 Food table. Yep, I painted that sign.

 I love the minion lemonade dispenser.

 The goody bags look like the evil minions. Notice the innocent looking popcorn.

 Two long tables were plenty to seat the minions... err, little boys.

 Chasen worked many nights painting all of these "minion bowling pins."

 Family selfie, aka the calm before the storm.

The next thing I knew, we had thirteen little boys running around! Literally, they did almost nothing but run around. It made me wonder why I put so much time into decorations and games. But, Isaac had a great time, and that's what counts. 

 Pin the goggles on the minions got a lot of laughs.

 Those guys loved the sparkle candle!

 Here's most of the crew. This was before they ground popcorn into the carpet. Ugh!

These boys' lives were enriched on this day, as most of them experienced Twinkies for the first time! If you ask any of them, though, I bet they'd say their favorite parts were the minion cupcakes and running around playing tag. Ah, little boys, gotta love 'em.  

This is most of Isaac's loot.

We're so fortunate to have so many sweet pals for Isaac, most of whom attend our church. I know they're about to become a bit "scattered about" with everyone attending different kindergartens in the fall (yes, this fall!) but I hope some of these little guys will be his lifelong friends. And I look forward to many more birthday parties!