Friday, May 31, 2013

Running Couple: Training with the a Reluctant Runner

Well, the husband and I have finally fished his third half marathon and now he is Half Fanatic #4235. This means that I should be working on my marathon training while the hubs continues his half marathon training since my very first road marathon and both of us will be doing half marathons in July 21 in Idaho. We'll be visiting my mother in law and staying with her since both the races are about 30 minutes away from her house.

10K in Albuquerque back in 2011 when he was training.
The Color Run 2013 had not been hardly training.

Now, the hubs while finishing his first 3 half marathons was not well trained. He had trained and run shorter runs 5K and 10K back in 2011 but since then he's only done  The Color Run this year and he walked for most of it. For months he knew that these was coming and he chose to sleep in more times than not and when he did "train" it mostly consisted of a 3-5 mile walk on the treadmill. His longest outdoor runs were about 3 miles up until about 2 weeks prior to the Oklahoma City Half Marathon. At that point, about 2 weeks out, I wanted to see how far he would get on at 12 mile run and he actually gave up at mile 6.5. I was really worried that he wouldn't finish so I never got too far ahead so that I go back an push him if he did give up. I only had to push him a little and by the time the last mile happened we were both slow for me due to cramping while he was complaining about his knees. He finished so that was good, but he was pretty much dying the next day. I think it was then that he realized that he had to actually train.

OKC Half Marathon, his first road race/2nd half marathon.
I really think he would finish due to poor training.

His second road half, he had done the Bataan Memorial Death March as his first,  wasn't much better. Again his knees began bothering him and he slowed down much more that he did at the previous race. I finally got tired of waiting for him to catch up with me that I let him get about 2 blocks before me so that I could get a longer interval in. We both ended up walking the last 5K due to his knees and my accursed cramping at mile 10. I've offered to tape him up but he's refused because he would have to shave his legs.

So, for him to train I have to be awake and either going on my runs in the dark/barely light (see next paragraph) or chasing him out the door. He's always been one of those guys who wants to do everything with me, I on the other hand am usually a very independent sort who likes to go on adventures by myself. He's gotten particularly worse about being a bit glued to me since he retired. I know that I told him I'd train with him, but I didn't realize that he was quite a bit slower than I am! That's saying a lot because I am slow. So, what I do now is wake him up and make sure he's out of bed before I go run or leave early come back home when he's supposed to be awake getting ready just to make sure that he is doing so then return to my run sometimes running a few miles with him. That's really not very convenient since my longer runs take me miles away from home. Instead I end up doing loops until it's time to ensure that he's awake. This helps a little because sometimes he wants to do a run and actually gets up other times it's like trying to wake up a 10 year old. I even told him that he needs to wake up on his own because I won't always be around such as when I'm gone to a race. His training when I'm gone is hit and miss.

Right now in the late spring/early summer it's not bad because he only works 2 days a week and is out of school, but when school is in session he has to run when it's barely light or still dark. I, on the other hand, have to run during the day due to medical almost non-existent Vitamin D level. I don't know why I have that problem considering that I take a multivitamin with double the recommended dose of Vitamin D and the amount of dairy I digest but I have to run during daylight most of the time.

I've started telling him how many miles he has to run and even give him the routes since I now have short runs of 8+ miles (aside from "rest" days when I do a mile for the Runners World Streak Challenge). Once he is able to meet my short runs, I'll let him start running with me until he gets to 10 or 11 miles then he's on his own to continue training. I on the other hand need to step up my game so that I can be on track to finish my marathon training by mid-July. I do wish he'd start using his MotoACTV so that we can track the actual mileage and get other stats to see how he's doing, but so far he hasn't used it (he's had it for probably 5-6 months).

So for now, we'll stay with what we're doing and hope for the best for him. Myself, I'm finally back up to 12 mile long runs and short runs of 6-10 miles. Hopefully, I'll be ready to go by July.

Have you trained with someone who was slower than you or who just didn't seem to have the drive to train? Or who just didn't seem to have the necessary commitment? What did you do? I'm looking for ways to motivate him but at the same time my training cannot be sidetracked trying to get him where he needs to be. Help!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Clovis Area Run/Walk Club Meetup: Memorial Day Flag Run/Walk

A few days ago I posted about organizing a last minute ( a few days warning) Memorial Day flag run similar to what I had done the day after the Boston Marathon bombing. My goal was to have a group of runners and walkers participate rather than being a lone runner and to do something physical to remember those we have given their lives and those who are still serving. I wasn't disappointed.

We live in a small city and you really don't see very many runners out here. For this even we had a nice turnout of 14 people from my USAF retiree husband, myself (an 80's era vet), currently active duty USAF, spouses, friends, family and even a K9 supporter! :) Here's our group for Memorial Day...hopefully we'll see them on a regular basis!

We hit a slight snag at 7am for the initial meetup because I had stated meeting at the "spa store" which in my mind I saw as the local pool/spa store at the corner of the parking lot where we were meeting. I had forgotten that there had been an actual spa in the shopping center and when no one showed up I realized that they may be there, so I jogged up and sure enough found everyone waiting. We broke up into 3 groups...walkers who were led by my husband, slower runners or run/walkers led by myself and faster runners who were led by my friend, Teresa, each with a large flag and some with smaller flags as well. We all wore, without planning it, either red, white and blue or military related shirts...that was pretty cool!  We got started with the walkers doing a 1.5 mile walk, my group doing a ~5K and the faster runners going off in another direction...I never did find out how far they had traveled, I'm guessing probably 5 miles or so.

Pace group >10 min/mile (my group). There were only the two of us!
Photo courtesy of Meaghan (bottom left). 
I was happy with this turnout considering that most of our meetups, other than the post Boston meetup, usually has 5 or less participants. We had a nice turnout of about 29 at our #RunnersUnitedforBoston meetup.  Thanks all for coming out!

OCR Toys: Practice Spears & Tires

I, with just a little help from the hubs, made a new obstacle course race (OCR) training toy today and I'm so excited! Ya'll know that I started doing Spartan races this year, at first reluctantly but now I'm enjoying them...a lot. So much so that I've already planned 6 Spartan races for next year in hopes of earning 2 Trifectas (completing a Sprint, Super and Beast in one calendar year). But enough about that...back to my toys...

One of the obstacles that I have never succeeded at at a Spartan race is the spear throw ("Spearman"). In fact, when I did my first Spartan Sprint in Arizona my right leg cramped up so bad after throwing the spear that I couldn't even catch my balance and landed on my back screaming and cursing bloody murder. The poor volunteers at first didn't know what was going on and then they came and asked if I needed the medics and I was like, "NO! Cramp! Cramp! I just need to stretch my f*#$(@&g leg out!!"  I finally got most of the cramp out, did my 30 burpees (they weren't pretty) and hobbled along on my way. Needless to say that throw was an epic fail...I don't think it even got near the straw bales. At Super it was just a bad throw period...did my 30 burpees with the help of the Weeples and finished up. At Military Sprint I got the closest of all with the spear skimming too low on the bottom of the target. I'm hoping that with the ability to practice that I'll be able to nail the spear throw at Beast at the end of June!

So, here's the video that I followed but I'll also be putting step by step instructions in this post as well.

Let's talk price first. There are kits that you can purchase online that have everything that you need to make a spear. These run approximately $35. For my spears - yes, I made two - here are my costs:

One Time Use Items:
3/8" by 12" bridge nails - 2 each x 67¢
60" Rake handle with ferrule - 1 each x $14.99
60" Rake handle with ferrule - 1 each x $10.44

Multiple Use Items:
Mini Hacksaw - 1 each x $6.28
3/8" by 12" drill bit - $11.22
Liquid Nails - 1 10oz tube  x $2.27

We had to go to three different stores until we found the rake handles and I didn't realize that when we finally did get them that they were 2 different/types (the store we ended up had merged with another store thus the difference in price). So, for one spear (most expensive) the final cost of having to buy everything the first time was $34.50. The second spear (less expensive) came out to $11.11. Based on that price I may have my own little arsenal of OCR spears in the near future! lol!

So here's what I did:

1. Collected all the items and tools I needed. The battery for the drill was charging so that is missing.

2. Used the hacksaw to cut off the head of the nail. It helped having two of us to stabilize the nail but you could do it yourself with it clamped in a vice.

3. Used the drill and drill bit to deepen the hole at the lower end of the handle so that I could sink the cut end of the nail to the depth of the ferrule.

4. Removed the staples that were used as display hangers.

5. Insert some of the Liquid Nail putty into the drilled end of the handle and inserted the cut end of the nail.

6. Tap the end of the nail on the ground or use a hammer and repeat until you no longer get excess Liquid Nail putty coming out. Clean off the excess.

7. That's it! Just need to let the Liquid Nail to cure and they'll be ready to go! Now I just need to find some straw bales to put up as a target!! Woot!

All in all, the whole project for both spears only took about 20-25 minutes total. The hardest part was sawing off the nail heads but even then that only took about 5 minutes. If you were to use an electric reciprocating saw it would probably take half as long.

I'm adding these to my current OCR toys tires to flip, drag, push, whatever... Meet Momma (right, 95#) and Daddy (left, 113#)...

I'm hoping to add to the family of tires with Granddad (top, ~140#) and Great Grandad  (bottom, ~200#) this week...

Two new toys to play/practice with...easy peasy. Hopefully, 2 more free toys to play with too!! AROO! AROO! AROO! (Spartan battle cry...)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Honoring Our Heroes - Memorial Day Flag Run Planning

The day after the Boston Marathon bombing, I took to the pavement and did a 10 mile flag run as part of Team Red, White and Blue to remember the victims of the bombing. I was a lone runner on a windy day in a small city on the eastern edge of New Mexico just proud to be doing something to support the people of Boston even though they'd likely never know about it. The following weekend I got a group of people together through our local run/walk club to do a group run/walk again to support Boston, but also to show our support to the town of West, Texas after the fertilizer plant explosion.

With Memorial Day coming up in just a few days, I had initially considered driving to Lubbock to attend a WOD (Workout of the Day - Crossfit) for Warriors organized by Team Red, White and Blue but I was suddenly struck by the desire to do another flag run locally. This time, I am determined not to be the only one out there. I've posted to our club Facebook page, to the local newspaper's Facebook page and to one of the larger radio stations announcing a Memorial Day flag run with groups for walkers, slower runners or run/walkers and runners with a pace of less than 10 minutes/mile. I've only got 4 of us so far, but I just posted about it this morning so hopefully some more people will come out of the woodwork before Monday. This is not a Team Red, White and Blue event, although I will be wearing my Team RWB singlet, but rather just a group of like minded athletes (and yes, the walkers are athletes in my eyes) who want to do a small something to show our pride in country and to honor all our veterans past and present.

Monday, May 27, 2013 - Memorial Day

7am - 10am

Meet at Hilltop Plaza, in front of the spa store. Look for the Explorer with all the running stickers on the back window.

Walkers led by Troy - ~1.5 mile out and back (from start to Prince) may go farther if you wish
Slower runners/ run-walkers (slower than 10 miles/minute) led by myself - ~5K (3. miles) loop from start going West then back to Prince and back to start.
Runners (faster than 10 miles/minute) led by Teresa - Route to be determined but at least a 5K distance

  • Please bring a flag if you have one, of ANY size.
  • This will be a self-supported activity, please bring your own hydration/nutrition as it still gets pretty warm even that early in the morning.
I'm pretty excited to see what happens, I mean we are a military community lots of active duty and retirees. As a veteran myself I understand to the depth of my core what Memorial Day means. I've lost friends during the duration of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom. I've had loved one's caught up in the initial bombing raids of Baghdad and my husband served several tours during these operations. So yes, Memorial Day has a great meaning to me of those who gave their lives to secure our freedoms. So, that's how I'll be spending my holiday...and maybe driving up to Albuquerque to attend a Newton shoe test run (get to do a 2-5 mile run to test out some Newton shoes)...that's still up in the air though.

USAF Basic Training - 1982

April 2013
What are your doing on Memorial Day to remember our honored veterans?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Race Recap: 2013 Hope & Healing Place Amarillo Half Marathon

Race Date: Sunday, May 12, 2013 (Mother's Day)
Race Location: Amarillo, Texas

Well, since this was a repeat race for me I won't quite be following my normal recap format. I really hadn't planned to run this race but at the last minute, literally about 4 days prior, I decided to run it with the husband because he is using it to qualify for Half Fanatic membership and I wanted to be sure that he finished. I took up the role of just being around to keep him moving just like I did at the Oklahoma City Half Marathon. 

Race Day -1: Travel Day

We took the trip up to Amarillo on Saturday morning so that we could stop and pick up our packets early as well as to stop at the local running store to look around for some possible new shoes for me (Mother's Day present). At packet pickup I was wearing my Tough Mudder In Training t-shirt and one of the volunteers was a chick who had done several Spartan Races and 2 Tough Mudders. We sat (I stood) there talking about the races and how to get over the fear of different obstacles for over 20 minutes before the husband and I finally left. At Get Fit, the local running specialty store, I did end up getting some Saucony Pro Grid Ride 5's and my first pair of Zensah compression calf sleeves (I usually wear ProCompression knee high socks).

Since we were staying overnight, we would usually go watch a movie but we had just seen Iron Man 3D in IMAX a couple of days before and there were no movies that tickled my fancy. Instead, we just picked up our packets, did some carb loading at Fazoli's (Italian fast food) and hung out in the hotel room until I realized that they had a hot tub and I had of course forgotten my swimsuit. We headed next door to Burlington Coat Factory to see if we could find a suit for each of us with no luck. My back was aching pretty bad so instead I had to settle for a hot soak in the bathtub.

By the time dinner time arrived, we both still were not hungry and I ended up continuing my (not so smart) carb loading by eating a couple of the cupcakes that we had picked up at The Ruffled Cup earlier in the day to finally satisfy a several week craving for cupcakes. I also took the time to get my gear ready for the race the next morning.

I had the vanilla and chocolate ones.
Flatrunner Beth.

Race Day:

We woke up early so that we could hit up IHOP for a light breakfast. Evidently, the husband has a different idea of "light" than I do. Whereas I ordered 2 English muffins and a side of bacon with OJ he ended up ordering a full order of Eggs Benedict. All I could do was warn him that I thought it would be too heavy of a meal to run on and just hope for the best. 

We headed over to the starting point and I was surprised to see that the field of participants seemed smaller than when I had run it last year. I was figuring that there was just over 130 participants and after the race I found out that there were just over 150 total. As I was jogging around to warm up, doing some stretches the husband was hoovering behind the port-a-pots trying to keep warm. I told him that he had to start moving to warm up and all he did was pace back and forth behind a couple of the units. I finally gave up and we went to sit in the car for a few minutes. 

When the start was close (only about 5 minutes later) we took our places at the back of the pack because we are slow and it was very easy to see that most of the people in the race were faster runners. At the start I began a slow jog so that he could warm up a little bit. I don't think we got more than a couple of blocks before he was already walking. At this point I knew we were going to finish at the back of the pack for sure. 

Throughout the first 1/3 of the race I kept running ahead of him by about a block or two and ended up waiting for him to catch up. During these little waiting breaks I'd listen to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' Thrift Shop or Can't Stop Us while bouncing or dancing around. At one point during the race I was dancing around so much to Can't Stop Us that my phone jumped out of my skirt pocket (I listen to music on my MotoACTV) and fell apart! lol! I finally just started to take longer walk breaks so that he could get about a block or two ahead of me so that I could just get some longer run intervals in. 

This race is mostly flat with just the exception of about 3-4 small/moderate hills. The first section of the race is through older neighborhoods with established yards, parks and a lot of shade. At 2 points we run under I-40. As we go past the golf course, which last year was being redone and is now totally green, we headed over towards (but not into) the MediPark area we ran on the beltway/greenway into the neighborhood that had all the hills. We kept to our walk up and run down/flat as usual and at the top of the last hill I saw the chick I had been talking to at packet pickup and stopped to chat with her for a few minutes while I let the hubs run/walk ahead. It was at this point that the hubs breakfast started to disagree with him. The next area is not a so well maintained area of Amarillo which eventually landed us on Historic Route 66 in old town Amarillo. 

By mile 10 my chronic calf cramps began even though I had taped up, was wearing my compression sleeves and had been taking Endurolyte since the night before (2 before bed, 2 at breakfast, 2 before the start and 1 every hour during the race) as well as trying to hydrate. The old man had been having some knee issues so we ended up walking the last 5K or so. We got back into the downtown area to finish up the race with about 6 people behind us. 

We headed back to the hotel so I could do a quick cold soak for my back/calves and shower before heading home for the 1¾ hour drive home. A quick stop for gas and some lunch at Popeye's and we were on the road home (I slept almost all the way!).

Official Time: 3:14:25 (both of us)

What do I like about this race?

Mostly flat course, nice views for the most part considering the urban setting.

What did I not like about this race? 

Nothing really, but I wish there were a bit more participants.

Would I do this race again?

Yes, but maybe not so close together. Maybe once every few years just because it's so close to home.

Race Recap: Spartan Military Sprint - Colorado

A little nod to my own military
aircraft maintenance background.
C/W = Complied With

Race Date: Saturday, May 4, 2013Race 

Location: Fort Carson Army Base, Colorado Springs, CO

Race Day -1: Travel Day

Thankfully, this was one of the closer races to home...only a mere 6½ hours away. I was able to drop my long haired fur kids off to be groomed (their daddy picked them up) and leave town mid-morning rather than before dawn. This was a route that I had taken many times in the past 20+ years so there was little chance of getting lost. Aside from getting caught behind a semi towing a double wide house on a two lane road that went up and down hills and had no way to pass which extended the trip by about 30 minutes just outside of Logan, New Mexico the trip was rather uneventful. There were more deer along the drive between Logan and Springer than I had ever seen in the past.

We (myself and my race partner, Jeff) arrived in Colorado Springs at about 4pm and found our way to the hotel. When we went to check in the clerk couldn't find my reservation and I ended up having to call their toll free number to find out what was going on. While I was on the phone the clerk did find my reservation, but I had made it for April rather than bad! I first tried to call the USAF Academy to see if they had any temporary lodging facilities (TLF) open where we could have a full kitchen, but they didn't. Luckily the Super 8 where I thought I had made reservations had rooms open and the clerk gave it to us at the price I had made the original reservation for.

We drove around to find our way to the two entrances to Ft. Carson (somewhere I had been back in 1985 on our way to New York to drop our car off at Bayonne and fly out of JFK to our new duty station in England). Unfortunately my navigation program was no help to find the main gate and I knew that Gate 20 was a ways down the road. Listening to my navigation set to "Fort Carson Gate 1" ended us up at the Colorado Springs airport! I finally figured out how to get to the main gate and estimated the travel time needed to get there at 6am on a Saturday morning to be about 10 minutes.

Now that we knew where we were going we made a trip to the mall so I could get a warmer shirt for the race (Underarmor mock turtle neck long sleeve) and then headed to dinner at Famous Dave's. We just hung out in the room for the rest of the night since we needed to get up at 5am to go grab some breakfast and then head over to the venue to volunteer at 6am the next morning.

Race Day:

I woke up bright and early, even before my alarm and got ready to allow Jeff  time to sleep in a little before waking him up. I have to say that I wasn't quite sure of what to expect for this race as I hadn't even looked at the previous year's video, so I was just a tad nervous. I also didn't know what to expect for volunteering all I really knew was that I'd be racing for free for half a day of work. We headed to breakfast at a nearby Denny's where the chicks sitting in back of us were talking so loudly that I was able to discern that they were both exotic dancers, one had a kid, the other hated one of the dancers at the club for thinking she was better than everyone else, etc., etc., etc. I mean  really, the few people in the restaurant probably knew these girls life stories since they had been there before us! lol!

We made our way to the base and checked in at the volunteer tent. We ended up in our stations at the registration tents. I was going to bail a little early to go run with the Weeple Army at 10:30, but the Army ended up being spread out throughout the day so I just opted to finish my half day and run the last volunteer heat at 4pm instead. The weather was a bit cold in the early morning, but the job I had at the volunteer registration table was pretty low key and we were next to the gas area heater so that made life better.

Spartan Race volunteer t-shirt - Front.
Spartan Race volunteer t-shirt - Back

We finished our shift at 1:30 (I think) and left the venue to go grab some lunch and a nap prior to our 4pm heat. We planned on heading back to the venue at 3pm which ended up being a good thing because when we did return at 3:20pm we found out that the last heat was at 3:30 instead. Talk about not being psyched up!! We rushed to check our bags and get to the start. I forgot to take off my sunglasses and to grab my gloves out of my bag. We literally got to the start and had about 30 seconds before the heat took off! From here I'll go thru the race (~4 miles, 28 obstacles) obstacle by obstacle:

1. Moats - A series of 3 muddy pits one of which was wide enough to jump over (for those with legs longer than mine) and the other 2 pretty much requiring one to settle in and hopefully be able to climb out. A lot of people needed to help each other out of a couple of these moats, Jeff and I included. The water was cold and was pretty much a shocker at the beginning of the race. This obstacle took a toll really early on some of us. I heard later that a chick had broken her ankle trying to jump across the moats. If you're not positive that you can make it take the safe route and suck up the wetness and the mud...heck, that's why your doing a Spartan Race right? To get muddy?

2. U-O-U-O-U-O (Under-Over series): Simple obstacle to go under some hanging mesh and over a short 4' wall three times.

3. O-U-T (Over-Under-Thru): Go over a 6' wall (couldn't use the side braces for support), under a wall and through a square hole in a wall about 3' high.

4. Monkey Bars: This is always such an epic fail for me when I try by myself that I just opted to do the burpees right away when I found out that no partnering would be allowed. I regret that decision. I mean, I was already the last one in the heat so I may as well at least have tried. lol!

After this we had to slog our way under a wet, slimy, stale smelling underpass and a little mud...I was still in last place and was walking and talking with the elite runner who was doing the route to let the officials know as each obstacle was clear of racers.

5. Hobie Hop: This was a little different from the hay bale jumping at Super. This time you still had to put the narrow exercise band on both legs above the ankles and below the knes but instead of hay bales, we had to jump over wires or duck under them on an uphill mini course. This was quite a bit easier than the bales IMHO.

6. Weaver: Basically a tall A-frame ladder build with cross beams about 3' apart. Climb up, over and back down.

Back under that soggy overpass..

7. 6' Wall (if you're running alone and need help, don't be afraid to ask for it!)

8. 7' Wall

9. 8' Wall

10. Atlas Lift: Carry a concrete weight across to a marked point (maybe 50' away) do 5 burpees and return the weight back to the start.

11. Log Hop: Logs on end, spread out at varying widths/heights. Step over them without losing your balance from one end to the other. I've seen some fairly nasty falls on this and I have terrible bet I accepted a spotter when offered!

12. Barb Wire Crawl: This one was fairly low...keep your butt down!

13. Spearman: Yet again another epic fail, but probably the closest that I've gotten the spear to actually hitting the target so far.

14. Traverse Wall: A longitudinal climbing wall with wooden blocks instead of climbing holds. Always an epic fail for me, but I did at least try. The blocks were covered with piles of mud and footing (at least for me) was impossible. As usual, couldn't even get on the damned wall! 30 burpees for 60 total so far.

15. Trenches: Water filled trenches with the occasional netting above. Easy peasy.

16. Slip Wall: A frame wall with a slick, muddy uphill slant and ropes with knots and cross beams on the back side to climb down. OMG!! I swear I did not think I'd get over this. Luckily the volunteers were helping almost everyone. This was the slickest slip wall so far...and I thought the one at NV Super was bad! The mud at the base had to be about 6-8" deep of clay mud and even with bungee laces my shoes almost came off many times. A volunteer was kind enough to support the rope in such a way that with a lot of work and coaxing I could push myself up with my left leg then pull up until I could get my foot to the next knot. I really felt like giving up on this obstacle but stuck it out and eventually got over. By the time I got off this one, my feet were covered in that heavy mud making even walking difficult.

Start mile 2...

17. Herc Hoist: One of my favorite obstacles! Pull a concrete weight attached to a rope/pulley about 20' high and slowly lower it. Just dig in, plop your butt on the ground and pull. Easy peasy.

18. Tire Drag: Pull a tractor tire out to the end of a rope and then drag it back to the start. The tires were smaller than at Super where I couldn't even budge the stupid thing. Part of it may be because we didn't have the deep sand in Colorado and the surface dirt was fairly even but I was able to do this unassisted.

19. Tractor Pull: Pull a concrete weight (deck pier) on a chain up a steep hill and back down. This was also easier than Super because the terrain was fairly smooth (even on an uphill) compared to the rocky terrain in Nevada but it was a hell of a hill!

Start mile 3...

20. Sandbag Carry: Sand filled "pancake" to carry up the other side of the steep hill and back down. Again a hell of a hill. By this time I had passed several people and was no longer the last in the heat.

21. Tire Flip: Just what it says...flipping tractor tires. Only 2 flips required which surprised me because at Super it was 3 if alone or 6 if partnered up. The tires seemed smaller here as well and I didn't have any problem doing this myself.

22. Rucksack Carry: Pack a weighted ruck up a very steep hill and come back down. The downward trip was much easier. This just about killed my back as I didn't stop to take the time to adjust the ruck. My least favorite, but doable obstacle.

23. 5' Wall

Start mile 4...

24. Rolling Mud and Balance Beam: A long barb wire crawl with steep hills and areas that were really close to the ground. A lot of water involved including getting sprayed over and over with the fire hose. I ended up getting caught up a couple of times and ended up with a nice hole in my new $50  UA least I was expecting that as a possibility when I bought it so no worries. At the end of this was a moat where you could either go over a balance beam or just slide in and climb out. I love the barb wire crawl, but this one was long and tiring. I can't roll for too long because I just get too dizzy, but that's the way to go especially when things get really low.

Here's mud in your eye!
Contacts & mud don't mix.
I'm bringing swim goggles to Beast!

25. Rope Climb: 20' rope climb with knots. I so suck at this and by the time I saw how muddy and slick the ropes were I decided just to go straight for the burpees. When I finished the race Jeff told me that most people had done the same. 30 burpee penalty = 90 burpees for the day.

26. Cargo Bridge: This is becoming one of my favorite obstacles. Climb up and down a 20' high cargo net on either end and cross another 20' net at the top. A crab crawl using the net to sit on and crawl sideways works for me.

27. Fire Jump: I was tired, but nowhere near as tired as when I did the Arizona Sprint.

28. Gladiator Pit to the Finish: I think they took it easy on us back of the packers. ;)

I didn't finish last...not that that would be a bad thing just as long as I finished. Got my medal and headed to the "showers" (just hoses on platforms with sprayers). The water was fiercely cold and it was already just a bit cool out as well but at least the changing tent was heated...yay! I ended up talking to another girl there who had moved to Colorado from about a small world (I'm originally a NorCal girl).

Considering that I wasn't quite ready to start the race so quickly after we arrived on site I'm pretty happy with my 2:28:55 time. After returning to the hotel and taking a real shower we ended up eating dinner and doing our laundry before turning in early (or at least trying to) for a full day of volunteering the next day.

Sorry, between the sun flare and wiping the lens
with a muddy finger this came out terrible.
The muddiest I've been after a Spartan Race.
Military Sprint - Fort Carson, CO medal mud and all!

Race Day + 1: Volunteering for a Free Race

Again we were up at the crack of dawn. No race to worry about on this day, but a full 12+ hour shift of volunteering instead. We had breakfast at the Village Inn before heading back to the base to check in. The weather was significantly colder and windier than it had been on Saturday. I ended up getting a Spartan Race hoodie (using a $50 gift card for volunteering a full day) and wearing that plus a thermal UA mock turtle neck, a volunteer t-shirt and occasionally a sweater that I had brought. The wind was blowing things around and I was glad that I was assigned to the spectators registration table right next to the table with the gas powered heater.

I really felt sorry for the folks that were running on Sunday. I mean, I thought it was cold at the Arizona Sprint, but I think this one actually got colder than that one. I had heard that there were people being pulled off the course or just not finishing due to hypothermia. We had many more participants stopping by our heater just to warm up than there had been the day before.

With the weather turning bad, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that we'd be getting off early. After packing up the registration area we were sent down to the volunteer area to help unload a truck and then we were cut loose. We ended up getting off at about 3pm instead of 6 or 7pm as we had anticipated. It had been so dusty out that we had to take another shower before heading out to On the Border for a late Mexican lunch to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We got back to the room and just chilled and packed until it was time for a late dinner at Arby's. The plan was to leave by 10am for the drive back home.

Race Day + 2: Travel Day

No major problems after leaving Colorado Springs at about 10:30am after breakfast at Denny's. It was a smooth cruise home and the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be. We managed to make it home by about 5pm and I was basically a vegetable the rest of the night.

All in all it was a good trip. When we started out I was feeling a bit travel weary and really wasn't "feeling" the trip but by the end I had had a good time and enjoyed the volunteer experience. I really recommend that if you can volunteer for a race in exchange for a free race to do it! I mean it literally saved me nearly $300 and I was able to race the Military Sprint and will be running the Utah Beast next month for a day and a half of volunteering.

What did I like about this race?

This is what most Spartans would consider a runner's race. Most of the obstacles were spaced fairly far apart with only a few exceptions...usually after obstacles that were expected to wear you out. The trails were pretty tame compared to the whole of the Arizona Sprint and some areas of the Nevada Super. The hills for the obstacles were the killers.

What did I not like about this race?

The race itself was fine. I was just a little concerned that our volunteer heat was at 3:30pm instead of the 4pm that had been noted on our volunteer emails. It would have sucked not to be able to do the Military Sprint because there is not another one close enough for us to do. Luckily we got back just in the nick of time!

Would I do this race again?

YES!! From what I've heard there were more obstacles last year including a grenade throw (fake grenades) and I think a shooting obstacle as well. I'd love to do those! Jeff wasn't able to purchase a Military Sprint shirt so we'll probably head up here again next year.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On Running, Pain and Mental Health

I was just asked by one of my Twitter followers why I keep putting my body through the pain that I encounter from running. I guess that was the impetus I needed to get over a little writers block, even though I should be doing race recaps instead. Some writing is better than no writing, I guess! lol!

I replied that I had two simple reasons for continuing to run...

1) Even though I'm slow, I do enjoy running.

2) The activity helps to control (not stop) the massive depressions that I encounter with my bipolar disorder. I'd rather be in pain from running than suicidal again.

OK, so maybe Lance isn't the role model he once was...
but his words still ring true.

But these really aren't the only reasons that I continue to put my body and mind, because there is a definite mind game going on at times, through the rigors of running. I can go into a Tumblr like image heavy posting here...and I still may...since there are so many quotes out there that can apply as to why I push on.

You see, because I didn't enjoy running as a kid or young adult...other than my days in USAF basic training when we ran in formation...I guess I'm making up for lost time. I used to avoid running by almost any means necessary but now if I go too long without running I really miss it and tend to go stir crazy plus a becoming a bit irritable if not impossible to live with due to a drop in my moods. Running literally gives me the opportunity to keep/control my sanity.

At least for the most part...

That being said, I'm almost 49 years old. I don't know how long I'll be able to run. It may be a few months or many decades, but I want to keep going until I can't run anymore for whatever reason. The challenge is to push  myself as far as I can without going over the proverbial edge. I can tell you that the chances of me becoming an ultra runner (greater than 26.2 miles) is highly unlikely, but I will (technically I have) accomplish(ed) the marathon distance. I may try one or two ultras but that's probably going to be it. I do see some duathlons/triathlons in my future for sure though.

I also run to remember those who can't run anymore. Those fellow veterans who have given of themselves, those individuals who have died in horrific terrorist attacks, those whose lives were taken much too early, those whose ability to run was taken away from them. The two races that I plan to do annually for as long as possible, the Oklahoma City Marathon and the Bataan Memorial Death March, are just part of my way to remember those who have gone before me.


Another reason is that I enjoy (usually) a challenge. Having been a non-runner and now being a runner lets me get over hurdles either athletically or mentally that in the past I probably would have simply said, "I can't..." Now I'm willing to try and I'm finding that I enjoy some of these challenges. For instance, I probably never would have tried obstacle course racing. Yes, I totally suck at it but it's fun! I remembered enjoying the obstacle course in basic training but then that was also 30 years before I began running. Thankfully a friend, nearly 30 year my junior, got me wound up to do a Spartan race and even though I'm as slow as some of the mud I've encountered at these races I really do enjoy them along with the cuts, scrapes and bruises that I always get. I'm famously pessimistic, but running has at least cut through some of that pessimism giving me at least an "OK, I'll try it at least once" attitude.


Probably one of the biggest reasons I keep running is for the travel. Since I went on full VA disability back in 2011 the options for travel had dwindled due to a significant lack of income, but with running (and some advance planning) I can still travel, see a few sights and basically get out of the house and out of town before getting depressed. We live in a small town and there's not much to do so it's important for my sanity to get away as much as possible. Everything is almost always done on a strict budget and I do a lot of driving since it's cheaper than air travel in most cases. I love to go to new places and even if the trips may be really short, just to be able to say I've gone somewhere I had never been to before is always a bonus. In the two years since I've been running I've gone back home to California several times, Florida twice, driven to and run in 14 states some of which I had never been to before. I've also made some great friends who I never would have met if I hadn't started running.


I'm sure there are more reasons that I keep running through the aches and pains but these are the ones that come to mind readily. While I can be...well, in truth I am...just a stubborn old broad I'm not totally stupid. I do rest when I need to, I go see the medical professionals if I can't figure out what's wrong myself (yes, that self diagnosing nurse part of me still exists) and I do try allow for healing when I can although we nurses can be our own worst enemies when doing what we know we should do to take care of ourselves. Am I right? lol!

I guess that really the easiest and most comprehensive answer to the original question would be "Because I can." I'll stop running when I have to, but for now I'll keep on chugging along because I can.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!!

Just a quick post to wish all the mom's out there a Happy Mother's Day!! Enjoy your day!!

I'm not a jewelry chick, but I do love shoes and needed new running shoes so the hubs got me some new Saucony Progrid Ride 5's and some Zensah calf sleeves...perfect presents for a runner! LOL!

Race Recap: 2013 Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon

Race Date: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Race Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This isn't going to be my normal format for a race recap. This race wasn't about me but rather running in the memory of all those who have been victims of terrorism on U.S. soil as well as getting the husband through his first on road half marathon. I ran this race in honor of all veterans, past and present, as I do all my races. However, this time I also ran for those runners who were unable to complete the Boston Marathon due to the tragic bombing that took the lives 4 individuals who were simply doing their job or out enjoying the marathon. I also dedicated the run to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing which occurred just over 18 years ago as well as to the victims of 9/11. Lastly, I dedicated this run to the victims of the Newtown, CT shootings on behalf of the marathon runners who were unable to run mile 26 which had been dedicated by the race officials to the victims of Newtown.

Dedication bib I wore on my back during the race.

This was my second time participating in the OKC Half Marathon. There was definitely a different vibe at this race compared to last year. There were at least 2 helicopters flying above the downtown area before and just after the race began. There were military members in uniform, sniffer dogs, bomb squad personnel with bulletproof vests on and access to the starting line was limited. While the overall buzz of a race still remained there was a certain restraint in the air. Everywhere you saw reminders of the Boston Marathon bombing...from the Runners United to Remember bibs to red socks (a call went out in the 2 weeks prior to the race for participants to wear red socks in honor of the Boston Red Sox who after the bombing in OKC made a similar gesture for OKC) to green shoelaces (something I read about only after the race).

One highlight of the race was the fact that the husband was running his first road race here. This would be his second of three half marathons required for entry into Half Fanatics. I was worried because prior to this he had only hiked the Bataan Memorial Death March short course (14.2 miles) and his longest run was only 6.5 miles. I had taken him on what was supposed to be a 12 mile long run the week before OKC and he quit at 6.5 miles...I really wasn't sure that he'd finish this race, but I was going to do everything I could to make sure he did even if we had to walk the last half. I won't lie, I was a bit exasperated that he didn't train properly or listen to my recommendations for training...but one way or another he was going to finish this race. I was thinking that we'd be lucky to finish the race in under 4 hours...I was in for a pleasant surprise.

We arrived at the Memorial at about 5:20am so that I could meet up with some other Half Fanatics so that we could take a group picture at around 5:45am. We had originally planned to do the photo at the Survivor Tree but there was a sunrise service happening at the time so we decided on doing the pic in front of the Memorial's chairs for the victims of the bombing 18 years prior.

Free expo pic!
My gear for OKC Memorial HM.
This was an amazing picture taken by an unknown
photographer as we waited for the rest of the group.
Photo courtesy of RNrunnerdiva,
a fellow blogger and Half Fanatic (3rd from the left).
Group pic of the Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs.
My husband has been fired until he takes a photography class!
RNrunnerdiva/Theresa has the black Nike cap on and
I'm next to her in the Team Red, White & Blue singlet.
After the pic was taken, we all went into our separate directions and corrals. The hubs and I took our place towards the back of the pack and awaited the start of the race. Now, I must admit that I always get teary eyed when the national anthem is played before a race or any event. This time I went into a full on crying fit. It was the first event...probably since 9/11...that I had heard the majority of the participants and spectators sing along with the anthem. I'm not talking just an under the breath sing along, but rather at full voice with pride and reverence. I seriously lost it when this happened. The anthem was followed by  168 seconds of silence to honor the victims of the OKC bombing plus another 3 seconds for those directly killed in the Boston bombing. I swear those seconds lasted forever...

Waiting for the start.

Finally the race started...the wheelchair athletes took off first at 6:25am with the first runners taking off at 6:30am. It took about 20 minutes for us back of the packers to finally cross the starting line. The hubs and I had driven the course the day before so that he would know what he was getting into. It actually was pretty funny because there were at least 2 other cars doing the same thing...hubs made the comment that we should have all just carpooled! The first obstacle in his (and my way) was the first hill/train overpass coming out of Bricktown. Gorilla Hill, which happens about mid-race, is way more tame that this particular hill. The plan for us was to walk up and run down any hills and that is just what we did. The old man was doing okay during the first 5 or 6 miles of the run but at that halfway point he started fading. I made him use one of his Honey Stinger gels as a pick me up and started pushing him more to keep moving and keep doing intervals versus walking more and more. I had, and always seem to, hit my stride after the first 3-4 miles. I was feeling good and it was taking some restraint not to take off ahead of him and wait until he caught up. There were several times that he looked at me like he wanted to kill me for pushing him and other times that he looked like he just wanted to stop...but I kept pushing and made him keep going.

Probably the one thing I was hoping to see on the course was a couple of girls who last year were handing out bacon and Snickers. Unfortunately, they weren't there this year. Down in a couple of the neighborhoods, they had the houses that that were handing out shots of vodka, Jim Bean and other beverages. This year at Gorilla Hill they had an inflatable gorilla as well...something I don't remember from last year. We kept pushing on with me taking off ahead of the hubs every so often to catch a pic of him doing his first road race. It wasn't until about mile 10 that I started having my usual calf cramping and fell behind him catching up with him during his walking breaks. By the time we hit mile 12 I was feeling alright just having to walk of the cramping early on just enough that I could run for short distances. By this time I was thinking how odd it was that I felt that this race was much feeling much shorter than it did last year! I don't know if it was because I was in a different role and running with the hubs or if I have just become used to doing the distance. As we came into the last 500 yards or so of the finish line, the cramping started up harder and I had to do more of a wog (walk/jog) than a full run because the faster I went the harder the cramping occurred. We made it over the finish line together in 3:11:56...much better than the 4 hours that I had anticipated.

My favorite sign of the race.
Hubs at the base of Gorilla Hill...really it's not that bad.
Hubs posing in the International District.

This is one of two races that I'll be doing annually...the other being the Bataan Memorial Death March. Next year my plan is to do the full marathon. At this point I have no idea what the hubs is planning to do. I think it would be safe to say that this is one of my most favorite races that I've done in my short running career.

Until next year, OKC!! Hopefully under better circumstances...