Monday, April 24, 2017

Two weeks till the Heartland 50

Well Hello!  Hopefully soon, my blog will be featured on the Hurtta blog!!!  I am SO excited. I am very passionate about running with my dogs and helping others run with their dogs.  I hope my tips on running and racing with my dogs helps others.  I also this week got my free photos from the marathon I ran in Jackson, the Andrew Jackson Marathon and am so excited!  Free photos from races are the bomb dot com!
Finally got my free photos from the Andrew Jackson Marathon!  How cool!


Monday:  Rest day. No track club so grocery shopping it is.

Who puts a giant hill (behind me) at the finish line?  Mean RDs that is who!

Tuesday:  5 miles and track club.  I am having SO much fun helping with track club.  While andrew wasn't really feeling well and didn't want to run, he did do a few sprints with me on the track and did the cool down.  I am not pushing him, he isn't old enough to do the track meets anyway, so we are just going to focus on going, trying the events and finding what he likes.  As always, we took our easy miles easy.  Miss stella ella and deucey doo ran with us, and we had an hour talking session.

Post track club smiles
Wednesday:  Cross training and track club.  I didn't get on my bike thanks to crazy wind, but I did get to do some track work with my track club kiddos.  I am trying to help them understand the importance of PACING, so that they can last a whole hour.  We worked on speed intervals (run the straights, walk the curves) and pace runs (I let them wear my watch and they had to sing to prove to me they were running easy).  Little red got to do his favorite event, the high jump, and while I didn't get to watch, Tony said he did great!  He did half a lap with me on the track and a few warm up sprints, but still not liking the running events.  Not pushing him, just letting him find what he likes to do.

Crossing the finish mat to head out on my next loop.  I looked confused because no one was telling me where to go.

Thursday:  6 miles planned.  Ended up doing 5 because I got in around 2 miles at track club with the kiddos.  Trying to take it easy and get to this ultra pain and injury free.


Friday:  Cross-training.  Taking stella to the vet. Falling temps and not feeling so hot thanks to this cold andrew shared.  Another rest day.  Stella got a glowing report, tapering down on her immunosuppressants, possibly tapering her enalapril, and keeping up her apoquel even if it means loosing her coat.  We would rather have a healthy and happy nakey puppy than a full haired not so happy  puppy.

Saturday:  Long run with Rocking Robin=9 easy miles.  We are going to run the Bill Snyder half marathon together and I am SO excited!!!!  Not sure how I will feel post ultra, but I am not running this race to race it anyway.  Going to take it easy and enjoy it and get my first power cat medal!  I finally feel like my legs are back to feeling good, but my dang hip is still being goofy.  Lots of stretching and foam rolling for me for sure.  We also had the Tulip Festival a block from my house.  Right now, most of my festival going time is spent at the bouncy houses and I am fine with that.  Less money spent right?  We ended up mining for rocks in the sluice tent, eating some tasty festival food, having a tall grass beer, and picking up a new photograph from our favorite photographer.


Sunday:  Tulip festival take 2 or should I say bouncy house day take 2.  Luckily they put them down one street, so we could sit at our little local bakery/eatery and eat and rest while they bounce.  Now if we could just move the beer garden to this side of the road:).


We also had our face painted and while I think this pickachu looks a little demonic, she did a great job and little red was super happy.  Mel and I headed out mid afternoon and while it was kind of hot, we made it about 4.5 miles.  I am praying that the weather report for this weekend kind of holds.  At the conclusion of writing this blog, it's suppose to be 55 and storming.  I will take it minus the storming.  Heat and humidity just kind of kicks me in the gut and we really haven't had much of hot and humid yet to train in and acclimate to.  

He was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow!


Another week of recovery and resting.  Next week is race week again EEEK!!!!!! Have a great week!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Stella update, April edition

Just a brief update of her highness, princess Stella since I am getting a lot of questions on FB.


This his how she feels about going to the vet LOL!  We went in for our normal check up yesterday.  We were testing for protein dumping in her urine mainly and talking about her allergies and hair loss.   The two theories were that the apoquel was causing the hair loss or the combo of azathioprine and apoquel was causing the hair loss.  


Stella is pretty much a celebrity because everyone knows her name at Vet med.  She loves going and they love seeing her!  Here is where we are at in bullet form and how we are moving forward:

IMPA still in remission YIPPEEEE!

Increase mileage carefully, YIPEEEE!

Cutting aza dose down by half again, YIPEEEE!

Pending urine results, cutting down enalapril by half, YIPEEE!

Apoquel, while horribly expensive, seems to not only be helping her allergies but making her feel overall much much better so continue the course.

As far as the hair loss, we are going to ignore it for now, because she is doing so well.  I will take a healthy naked dog any day.  Someday, she will have a beautiful coat again but for now, we are going to call this her "summer cut".  

We will go back in a month for another recheck to maybe possibly get her off of the aza completely.  While I don't like the aza, I think it was the key to getting this mess turned around and helping her get off of the pred.  

We celebrated with a shared wendy's hamburger and fries.  Yeah Stella ella!  Onward and upward!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Back in the saddle sort of

This week is still about recovery for me and seeing where my legs are at. I don't have much time to really do another build up and and then taper, so this may just be a super long taper.  As of this week, we are a little over 2 weeks out from the race.  I know I can cover the distance, so this time is more about recovering and staying injury free.  My right hip has been much quieter lately, but I know it still isn't 100 percent, so I am not going to push it.

I guess he passed testing because they didn't say anything when they brought him back to me?

Monday:  Rest day.  Andrew had his first track practice and kindergarten testing, all in one day!  I had intended on going and watching track practice, but the coach needed some parent volunteers, so I jumped in and took the running group.  My group was doing the centipede run, which is where they ran in a straight line and passed the baton and the person at the end had to sprint to the front to start it all over again.  The name of the game was pacing and I couldn't stay at the front to pace and watch them pass the baton correctly.  The little kids did well, the bigger kids ended up doing 2 laps (quarter mile track).  I am going to try and recruit Mel to help with this exercise next time, so one of us can pace and one can watch.  Both of us would have to run, but we could keep it slow instead of the sprint that the big kids wanted to keep up the whole time.  I think I ended up doing a mile total with all the groups that I worked with.

My pretty nakey girl
Tuesday:  4 easy.  I was surprised my legs weren't more hateful, but it seems recovery is going well.  I felt more stiff than anything.  Stella came with again and is doing very, very well.  No stiffness, no lameness, no issues.  Finger's crossed that she is over this mess!  Now if we can just get her allergies under control with a drug that doesn't cost 10 bucks a day, I will be a happy camper!

Love my students, especially when they make me hand made crafts!
Wednesday:  Cross train and hip mobility exercises.  Andrew was suppose to have track practice and I was going to help.  When we got there, the lightening had just started.  It never did fully storm, just lightening and occasional thunder, but enough to cancel practice and for me to not be able to walk or bike outside.  Did a new set of hip mobility exercises coach sent me.

Kind of looks like us right?

Thursday:  4 easy.  Again we took both dogs with us and they both did well.  Deuce seems to be having problems with the rising humidity, and I feel ya deuce because I am right there with ya.  Even though it was cool outside, I was covered in sweat and I was dressed in short sleeves and shorts.

Friday:  Cross training.  Sigh.  Some day I will be able to ride my bike again.  30 mph wind gusts from the south and no true east west routes I could do safely.  Stella and I opted for a pokemon hunt/walk instead.

Saturday:  6 easy/help with Trail marathon/50 miler.  Well, that was the plan, but when I got up early to go run, it was thundering and lightening.  On top of that, after watching april the giraffe obsessively for months, she was finally in true labor.  When I logged on while having my coffee, the sac was hanging out, and shortly thereafter, one hoof and then two.  I waited as long as I could (we had an easter egg hunt and hubby had a hair cut appointment) and then hoped on the mill and decided to do 4 with the walk run intervals coach had suggested I try.  I have to admit, I few times I had to stop the mill and run to the bigger computer screen to see what was going on, but I finally got it done and so did she.  I will admit, I was crying when that baby came out!


Post easter egg hunting and eating our friendship house cookie that we won via one of our eggs, I packed up and headed out to the aid station I was signed up to help with.  I was helping with the Flint Hill's 50, which was a 50 miler and a trail marathon.  I am so doing this race next year!  The course is about 10 minutes from my house and has several crew points or places to get some major cheering on!  I have never worked an ultra aid station before, so I got a ton of good advice on the hows and the whys.  I didn't even know that most ultras cook food for the runners at the stations, so had to have a crash course in using a camp stove and cooking LOL!  We had meatballs and ramen at our station along with water, heed, chips, m&ms, peanut butter sandwiches, and tortillas with nutella.   I checked runners in as my partner in crime assessed their needs, and then we got to doing whatever that wanted done, which was usually filling up their bottles with water or heed while they stuffed their faces.  I had such a good time picking my partner's brain about running and racing and all things trail and ultra.

Sunday:  4 easy.  Switched this one out for my long run.  It feels weird to call 6 miles a long run but still in recovery mode.


Easter sunday started out with an easter basket for the kiddo and a run for me.  It was cloudy and cool but the humidity was pretty high.  Not ready for humidity and heat and worried that we will have that very weather for our ultra.  I still don't feel like i am back to 100 percent from the marathon but certainly feel closer.  Another week of some easy runs and I should be ready for taper number 2 lol!!!!

22 miles for the week and getting closer to being fully recovered!  Hope you had a great Easter HE HAS RISEN!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Racing with dogs: My experiences and some tips


 

I have been running and racing with Stella, my 6 year old Australian shepherd for about 4 years now.  Lucky for us, more and more dog themed races are popping up, and more and more race directors are starting to be okay with people running their races with their dogs responsibly.  Races are a great way to raise money for good causes and humane societies and shelters are great causes to raise money for, for sure!  I know in our area alone KSU vet med, the Lawrence Humane Society, the Purple Power Animal Welfare Society, Wichita Humane Society and the Topeka Humane Society all have 5 K races that directly benefit their organizations or their partner organizations.  I wanted to write a blog today about how to race with dogs, including the good and the bad, and how to respect other runners and race directors if it isn't a dog themed race. By talking about my experiences I have had with running and racing with Stella, I hope I can give you some good tips about how to run and race with your dogs and have a great time!


First of all, let me talk briefly about training.  Just like humans, every dog is different in what they can handle weekly and monthly mileage wise, weather wise, and distance wise.  Please please, talk to your vet before running with your dog, as some breeds have specific issues that might need to be addressed before they start an exercise program.  Please, please be patient with puppies and wait till their growth plates are closed before starting a regimented training program (over a year for most breeds).  Just as you wouldn't want to be pulled off the couch and asked to run a marathon, don't expect just because your dog plays fetch or likes to run in the yard, that they will be able to incorporate directly into your weekly training plan.  There are pooch to 5K programs out there or you can simply use the couch to 5 K app to help train your dog.  


When I am training for a race, pretty much any distance, my dogs go with.  I run VERY early in the morning to avoid the heat and humidity of the Kansas spring and summers.  I do this to ensure my dogs get to train with me.  It's hard to get up so early, especially with two night owls in the house, but I do it so we can all train.  Stella and Deuce have both trained for separate marathons with me, and Stella started training for a 50 K with me.  Again, I know my dogs, I watch my dogs intently, and I make sure they are of good weight and good conditioning, and I run with a phone if anything happens and they need to be picked up quickly.  I don't have a set temp that they can't go out in, more like a combination of temperature, humidity, and shade/cover/standing water availability.  I do also highly encourage anyone that is trail running or running where there is standing water with their dogs to include the Lepto vaccine in your dog's vaccination schedules.  It is a vaccine given every 6 months, so don't let it lapse!  I also prefer to train and race in Hurtta padded Y harnesses versus a collar.  I prefer a harness because the majority of the pull is not on their neck but distributed on their back.  I like a dog that comfortably pulls and runs out in front of me and the harness allows that.  The Y function also keeps the shoulders free for full extension.  For my dogs that like to run all out, this is key!   Plus I love the bright colors and I love the fact that padding prevents chaffing.  


So let's talk about racing with your dog in a non dog themed race, or a dog friendly race I should say, where the majority of the runners do not have a dog.  Most race directors (RDs) have a policy that dog and human teams should start at the back of the pack.  Being slow, I don't mind this rule at all.  As the runners thin out, I work my way forward to where my pace is comfortable, but if it is a shorter race, I always know that that might not happen.  While my dogs run out in front of me thanks to the bungee part of the stunt puppy hand's free leash I use, in a race where there are many other runners around me, I will use the traffic loop at the bottom of the stunt puppy leash to keep Stella close to my side.  It's hard because she doesn't like being held in that position and will pull like a sled dog, but I do NOT want to interfere with anyone else's goals for the day.


I always try to be VERY aware of runners coming up behind me and trying to pass.  I try if possible to stay all the way to one side, so I only have runners passing us on one side.  Stella will range from side to side if I let her, and I don't want her tripping up any runners or cutting any runners off.  It is a privilege that an RD trusts me enough to let my dog enter, even if I pay a fee for her to run, and I want to keep that privilege for all other runners who might want to run with their dog. I don't want any of the runners speaking ill of us for any of our actions. Speaking of RDs, if there is no clearly stated dog policy, I always ask before I just bring her.  Lots of races have canine pacers as an option (like the Trail Nerds group in KC), but some don't, and I like to clarify and pay if that is an option.  I also carry poop bags in my running gear or tied to my leash, so if she can't hold it or if she doesn't go pre-race, I have it covered.  I also check with the RD about rules at water stops. Some RDs prefer the dog not drink directly at the water stops, so you must bring your own water your pooch and water bowl.  Some don't care and you can grab a cup of water and share, but I try to never let her put her feet or any body part for that matter (she can be a mountain goat at times) on the water table.  I usually drink first and then give her the rest of the cup.  If there are clearly stated rules about no dogs at the aid stations, I will just bring a hand held and collapsible portable bowl (the cloth ones that are meant for food work great) that I can stash in my pack or clip on to the leash.  


I love the comments I get at non dog themed races, but be aware that not all runners are thrilled about you being there with a dog.  I have gotten comments about it not being fair (dude I am super slow, not going to win anyway or come anywhere close) and I have encountered people who just don't like dogs period.  For that reason I try and not let her go up to people and visit unless they specifically ask to pet her.  


She also likes to run next to people matching them pace for pace when she gets in the zone, so I will always ask if they are okay with her running next to them.  


Trail races, especially single track trail races can get tricky as well.  Again, I always start at the back, and I encourage people to pass me by getting as far over as I can.  I am a slow and careful trail runner for sure so again, this isn't hard for me to do.  I do not let my dog off leash, even if it is allowed if there are other runners anywhere near.  I do not want to be the reason why someone trips or has a bad race.  


Now let's talk about dog themed races or races, where most of the participants will have dogs with them.  Sometimes these races can be very challenging.  Most dogs brought to these races have not been in huge crowds of other dogs, or around huge crowds of dogs all running at the same time.  The stimulus can be too much at times and fights can break out.  My dogs are use to going to agility trials with hundred of other dogs and handlers in tight spaces, so I have conditioned them to be okay with this type of situation.  Be aware that just as every runner might not like your dog, every dog might not want your dog in their faces and may react unkindly.  This does not mean they are bad dogs or aggressive, it just means they do not like dogs or dog handlers with no manners.  


The cool part of dog themed races is that they usually have water bowls at water stops for the dogs as well as baby pools post race on hotter days.  A lot of the dog themed races give out medals for the dogs or bandanas and prizes include dog treats, frisbees, or other dog related items and will sometimes have a human placement and a dog placement.  


Most of the local dog races have events scheduled around them for not only the four legged side of the family, but also the two legged and usually include bouncy houses, face painting, photo booths, and food and sometimes even beer YUM.  The humane societies or dog shelters sometimes have adoptable dogs for viewing and one of our local races lets you take a shelter dog out for the race!  


I hope I have given you some insight to racing and running with your dogs, through my experiences. I surely enjoy it and you can too!  The great thing about four legged running buddies is that they are almost always rearing to go no matter what time, temp, or distance.  Racing, while sometimes challenging, can also be fun!  Be respectful of others, pick up after yourself including poop and trash, and be prepared to bring water for you and your dog, and enjoy that post race medal and runner's high!  If you have any specific questions, leave me a comment.  Have an aussome day!








Sunday, April 9, 2017

A milestone

The crib we have pretty much never used!  It's pretty though!
I posted on FB today that we hit a major milestone.  Let me explain.  Andrew was never one to sleep in the crib or his own bed or even the pack and play for very long.

Other than my arms, the only place he would sleep as a newborn
As a little baby, he preferred his rock and play over his crib and then a bassinet a friend loaned me over his crib.  I honestly gave up trying.  If sleep happened and he was in my bed or the bassinet, so be it.  I needed sleep, because I was desperately trying to get back into shape and run (hello me time), and I needed to be up early to get those work outs and runs in.  We went through a period where we could get him to sleep in his own bed, but he would always wake up sometime in the night and then would not go back to sleep.  I caved and let him sleep with us at those times, and then eventually just went back to him sleeping with us all the time. I am not sad, nor do I regret letting him co sleep.  Honestly, I enjoyed having him next to me at all times, and I am a SUPER light sleeper.  I could always put my hand out, make sure he was breathing (new mom thing) or if he was sick, I could monitor him because he was right there.  Him being with me in the bed was kind of like a safety blanket in some ways.  I know a ton of people who don't like co sleeping and I get it.  I had hard rules on no drinking and sleeping in the same bed, no taking meds  that could make me sleep hard and sleeping in the same bed,  and no melatonin and sleeping in the same bed.  Like I previously said, I was a super light sleeper so I woke up at the slightest movement from him.
His preferred sleeping place.  On you.
 Well, the latest time change REALLY threw him for a loop.  Instead of going to bed around 10 or 10:30, which still is pretty late for a toddler, he has been going down around 11:30-12.  Here in lies the problem, or really two problems. One, I get up four times a week at 4:15 am to run.  I am getting between 4-5 hours of sleep on those days, which is NOT good for recovery or just existence.  Second, it didn't matter what our routine is or was, getting him up super early was corrected at daycare during nap time, so I can't offset the behavior, no matter how hard I try.  Now, I know that when he starts school, we will be getting up at 6:30 am as we do now and they DO NOT have nap time or rest time.  He already has many activities at night, so between getting up early, school all day, and then activities at night, I am hoping this will all be a thing of the past.



Here is another curve ball, other than the fact that he can catch up on sleep at daycare.  I was using his room for storage for all of his baby stuff.  His bed was actually covered in baby stuff (we converted it to a toddler bed a while back).  I am not saying we are not having another kid, but I will be 40 this year so I don't foresee if happening.  I am superstitious that getting rid of stuff = immediate pregnancy.  Now I am thrifty, most of Andrew's toys and baby stuff including clothes came from yard sales, thrift stores,  online sales lists, and consignment shops.  I hardly ever paid full price for anything, so getting rid of stuff shouldn't be this painful, but dang it,  it is!!!!  So anyway, his room really isn't set up to be used as a bed room anyway.  This weekend I bit the bullet, cleaned out his room, donated what I could, and re arranged to make it a big boy room.  We still have some decorating to do, but the baby crib sheets and puppy theme are put away and Thomas and Friends are on the bed.  He wants angry birds and pokemon posters, so we are figuring out a way for him to earn some decorations for his room.

Last night was the big test.  We had decided we would be sleeping at least part of the night in his room to make the change a little less scary.  We got a new night light (spiderman) and fan to round out the new stuff, and we denied any napping.  He went to sleep no trouble, with tony taking the first shift.  I of course the one night i could go to sleep early, was wide awake staring at the monitor.  After tony's shift, andrew stayed asleep and I finally drifted off.  Around 12:40, he woke up crying, so I took second shift on the floor by his bed.  He kept raising up, crying and looking for me, so I went and got the cot out so we would be level with each other.  I swear raising puppies parallels raising kiddos so much.  Anyway, I drifted off and he settled in and I woke up around 4:30 and snuck back to my own bed.  He stayed asleep and woke up around 6:30.  We tried to get him to come to our bed to get more sleep and he actually refused!  I am fine with getting up at 6:30, even on the weekends since I am usually up anyway to run.  I know every night won't be this easy but wow.  Of course I slept like crap because I am so use to him being there, but stella noticed the fact that he was gone, and slept next to me like a magnet.

I will admit, I think this milestone is harder on me than him.  I am SO use to him being in the bed.  Last night, when I was on the cot and he was in his bed and he would cry, I would cry too silently of course.  I am such a softie.  I have a feeling when this gets tougher and he doesn't want to stay in his room, or we have to keep him in his room, this will really suck for me.  I am a sucker and I will admit it.  Tonight is probably going to be hard too.  He wanted to take a nap, and we wouldn't let him, and he finally passed out around 4:30 pm and is now up at 7:30.  Sigh.  We tried and tried to keep him up and it didn't work.  I am super tired from being on super alert last night, so I feel like I am going to crash soon.  Daddy may be on andrew in room duty again tonight, at least for the first shift.

So I keep it real and there it is.  I huge milestone and I can't promise that we will back slide and go back to co sleeping, but hoping we are moving in the right direction, which is for him to find his own room and his own bed.  I think it will work so much better when school starts and he isn't napping during the day.  I will keep y'all posted as always!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Thoughts and recovery week

Since there is going to be a whole lot of recovering, cherry juice drinking, and possibly biking this week (if it ever stops raining), I won't do a day by day post.  I am still sore today as I start writing this (Tuesday) but it is getting better.  My main area of pain right now is my right hip and right quad, which is probably all interrelated.

Driving back, I had a lot of time to think about things and try and reason with what actually went wrong. I had such a strong first half, running all of the hills and honestly feeling really good.  As I said earlier, I have that I finished the first half in 2:12 (they had me at 2:25 and it honestly didn't take me that long to cross the start mat once we started), which isn't a PR for my half, but a good half time for me for a half marathon.  So what happened?  I fueled fine, taking my stinger waffles every hour on the hour.  I hydrated fine, taking a big sip of my nuun plus water every mile and then increasing that as I started to sweat more salty. I did notice even though the weather was coolish (i think it was 60 when we got done) and the humidity was low, I was super sweaty.  I chaffed HORRIBLY.  I will spare you the pictures I sent to my coach, but it was certainly the worst I have ever chaffed. I chaffed under my bra even though I had put on enough body glide to make a slip and slide jealous, under my left arm, and my back.  Like bloody chaffing that hurt SO bad in the shower, even with vasoline smeared all over the chaffing.
This is the only pic I have thus far from the race.  My MIL took it and I look ROUGH.  Notice Little red stealing my water immediately!

I know mentally when I caught up with those ladies, my mind kind of gave up.  Misery loves company and when they were struggling, I decided to struggle with them.  I honestly don't know if I could have finished without them.  A funny aside, we started talking because my brand new wireless fully charged headphones would NOT turn on, and I had my phone on listening to music.  I HATE when other people do that during a race, so I apologized and told them what happened.  We started talking and never stopped.  I instantly bonded with them in the throes of misery:).  I had already decided that hills would be mostly power walked the second time through, so we were on the same plan anyway.  When I got home, I wanted to check the head phones again and low and behold, they worked on the first try.  Weird huh?


I am just going to let any feelings of disappointment go.  There is no point in dwelling.  I have mostly spent this week trying to recover and get ready to get back in the swing of things training wise.  I still have my ultra coming up April 29th and this is kind of a test to see if can do both a marathon and an ultra in the same training cycle.  I am going to attempt a 3 mile walk run today (saturday) and see how it goes. I know both dogs are ready to get back to running even miss stella ella!  Next week it is back to the grind, but nothing too crazy.  Coach and I talked and we agree, there is no need to do anything wild and high mileage before the ultra. I know I can do it, I don't have a specific time goal, and I want to reach the line injury free, rested and recovered.

So have a great weekend and next week!  I am hoping to have some pictures soon from the race photographers that I will post if and when I get them.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Week 13: Marathon week!

Okay so last I left off we were splitting the trip from Wamego to Jackson over two days.  We are now here and enjoying our time with my parents and my in law.  Here are lots of pics and some words LOL!

Monday:  Since I didn't get a long run in last week, we moved my work outs to M, W, F and then race day.  Monday was 5 miles with some strides thrown in.  There were predicted storms all around us and even though they didn't hit till later, I played it safe and ran at mom's favorite gym, the Lift.  My watch couldn't pick up signal, so I trusted my map my run, which said I was running at 12:30 pace.  Um, I don't think so mapmyrun.  It took about an hour and we got er done. 


And bonus, I got to high five my mom every time I passed her, as she was walking on the same track.  We also got to have lunch at a local coffee shop that had the BEST chicken salad sandwiches and gave cupcakes with each meal deal.  Yes and thank you!


We also did some shopping for Andrew some school clothes at Kmart (ours closed in Manhattan), and got to see the new shoe store in town.  I got to meet the owner and got a West Tennessee Performance running shirt. 

Tuesday:  Rest day and day with Andrew's other grandma in Martin TN.  We hit up the discovery center and had dinner at a bar that served the BEST hamburgers ever! 


Wednesday:  3 miles with strides thrown in.  Mom and I hit the multi purpose trail in martin, but I totally forgot it is only 1 mile long, so had to do a down and back and back out.  The humidity was pretty high and it took me almost 2 miles to warm up, but got my strides in and my over all pace was pretty decent. I don't want to commit to a time goal, but the 4:30 time goal is looking more and more in reach now.


I had lots of company on my run:) This area has had TONS of rain and there were snails everywhere!  Mom and I finished and got some coffee at their local coffee shop.  I really miss my favorite KS coffee shop!  No one here can make Oles like they can!

Thursday:  Rest day.  Should call this visiting day.  I got to see two sets of people that I haven't seen in a while.  One was my almost in laws.  I was engaged when I was younger to a really nice guy, and I dearly loved his family.  We were planning a wedding when he called everything off out of the blue. Long story short,  it was super tough for me, but equally as tough for them, as I was already a part of their family.  They still love me and I still love them and we keep in touch.  It was SO good to see them.  We didn't get any pictures and I wish we had.  Then I got to see another favorite person after I picked up my packet. 


We have been friends since before I can remember.  SO many memories together that I could write a whole blog post about her.  I so wished we lived closer and could be in each other's lives more.  We spent a big part of the afternoon with her just talking like we never had been apart.

Friday:  25 minute run.  Whelp that didn't happen.  I was suppose to do a shake out run, but I had done some aggressive foam rolling and stick rolling and I was a little sore.  I decided to play it safe and just stay off of my feet as much as I could for the day, which meant play places and playgrounds. 


We had coffee first.


Then hit up Chick Fil A play place.


And Muse Park play ground.


And we made new friends and ran and ran and ran. 



We also took a power nap on the way to the pasta feed.


And then we fed on pasta!  I will do a full recap of all the events from the Andrew Jackson Marathon on a separate blog post so look out for that!


Saturday:  Race day!!!  Recap here

Sunday:  Rest and drive day! I am going to go ahead and post this before the day is out, so the plan is to get up, do some visiting, and head back to Kansas and make it part way.  As I type this, I am pretty darn sore, so hoping driving happens!


What an awesome week!  Not ready to head back to real life!

34 miles this week.  Whew.  Time to recover and get ready for my next ultra!





The Andrew Jackson Marathon

When I was looking at what I wanted to do for the spring, this marathon popped up on my radar. I had seen previous posts in past years about locals I knew running this race, but this year they had done a major overhaul on it and revamped the course and the events surrounding it.  I was intrigued because it seemed like a small race, and I am a sucker for small races.  Yes, it had loops, but two loops of 13.1 miles each and all through my home town of Jackson TN.

I decided to make a long trip out of the festivities and you can see how the week unfolded in my weekly recap.  I had originally planned on coming down on a Wednesday, and then going back the next Wednesday to kind of straddle the race, but Andrew's kindergarten school at the last minute scheduled a meeting for the parents Monday after the race that we needed to be at, including little man. 

 We had packet pick up starting on Thursday at noon, and I was one of the first in line. I was pretty excited about the super cute shirt!  It is hooded and made of the SOFTEST material EVER!  I resisted putting it on for bad luck!  Packet pick up was at the new to me shoe store in town Performance Running. 


 We also had a pasta feed at the LIFT which is the gym where my mom works out lives. The pasta dinner was really good and they had a speaker, who also sponsored the pasta feed who kept us entertained. 


Of course Andrew fell asleep on the way to the pasta feed.


But then woke up and had his happy meal while the speaker spoke.


He talked about guiding a blind runner at the NYC marathon.  The story gave me chills!  I think we need a speaker for our next Wicked marathon/half pasta feed!  Maybe I could do a comedy routine about some of my races :)


After the pasta dinner, I laid out flat michelle. It was suppose to be pretty cold at the start and hot at the end, so dressing myself proved to be challenging. I knew I was wearing shorts no matter what, but the top half was still up in the air.  I decided it might be warmer to go with a technical T and arm warmers, versus a tank and arm warmers.  I tried to get in bed relatively early, but my kiddo had other plans.  At least it was before 11 by the time we got him to go to sleep. 


We got up at 5 am and I did my normal routine of coffee and belvitas.  We headed down to the start line at 6 am.  It was a small field of runners and even smaller for the full.  There were a few porta potties and that was it, but it didn't seem to be a problem.  I had gone before I left the house, but I like to go one more time before the race if you know what I mean. 


So this is the power of social media.  I went to school with Vinnie and Jake all through high school (they were twins).  We were friends but not close, as we ran in different social circles.  I found him on FB a while back and we connected and I noticed he was a RUNNER!  I am pretty sure he thought I was crazy, as I kept commenting or liking or even loving his running pictures :)  We found out we were both running the same race, so we made sure we saw each other before the race started.  He is super speedy, so he probably could have lapped me! 


Like I said before, the race is super small, so no pacers.  I got where I thought I might be okay and told myself stick to the plan.  I had discussed a plan with my coach of doing 11 minute miles for the first half and then letting the hammer down for the second half if I so felt like it.  Well, honestly, I couldn't get in the groove.  One minute I would be in the 9s and the next minute I would be in the low to mid 10s.  I couldn't get my pace down at all.  I finally found a guy who was running his first half, and I liked his pace and we talked (we were both UTM graduates!), which helped me slow down and be steady.  I ran all the hills the first time around and did not stop at any water stops, since I had my water + nuun.  Let me tell you about this course.  Hilly was an understatement.  I think it would be a KICK ASS half course for sure.  Just enough challenge to make you dig deep to push.  My first half according to the clock when I passed was 2:12, but on the print out, it says 2:25.  Weird.  Anyway, I don't feel like I hit a wall, I just couldn't conquer the course.  I kept seeing lower and lower numbers on my watch and rather than fret about it or let it get me down, I just kept going.  I actually ended up running with two ladies that were struggling as well.  We kept talking about how finding each other was a godsend.  We walked when we had to, ran when we could, and finished with a big smile on our faces. 


To my surprise, I won third in my age group, but was too slow to make the actual awards ceremony LOL!



The after party was pretty much over by the time I got done. I am kind of disappointed as the finish line photographer had left, and my friends I finished with got no first time finish line photos.  The awards ceremony was finishing when I was crossing the line,, so no podium for me.  The beer tent and food vendors were packing up, not that I wanted any food, but others probably did.  The race had a 6.5 hour time limit, and I finished in 5:15.  There was NO reason why everyone needed to already pack up.  There were several runners behind me, as I finished 47 out of 65.  The good news, the bouncy house stayed up for a while after I finished, so little red could bounce while I recovered.  My stepdad found me a cold dr. pepper, which was the only thing that sounded good.  I was able to hobble to the car and my in laws took Andrew, so I could recover with my mom and step dad. 

Overall, a very well put together race.  If you want big crowd support, this is not your race, but if you want great volunteers, awesome water stops, a yummy pasta feed, and a very challenging course, this is your race.  Mentally, loop courses are tough and this one got to me.  I knew the hills that were up ahead and it defeated me.  I was able to run all the hills the first time, but the second time, nope.  These aren't monster hills, more gradual and forever, a lot like hospital hill, but a full.  I would do it as a half again in a heart beat, but as a full, one and done.  I will say it was SO much fun to run past so many memories like my old house I grew up in, several of my friend's old houses, my old church (which is just a lot now), and several of my friend's churches that I visited.  It really brought back lots of great memories!  I sure love and miss my hometown and thoroughly enjoyed running through it!