Race Report- Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon

There’s something to be said about a hometown race. It’s good to be a local and I think it takes a lot of the stress out of the equation. I had a rather disappointing run at Myrtle Beach in January and I really wanted to have a positive experience with this weekend’s race. I knew that it was going to be my last half marathon until the Fall and I just wanted to end the season on a good note. I was a bit concerned since my last long run was almost a week and a half ago but I set the goal of running the whole 13.1 without walking.

Woke up to cloudy but not rainy skies which great considering the weather was calling for rain all day. Weather was 54 degrees, with light wind- a perfect day for a run. Met up with Paula and Julie and Julie’s track friends from high school who were in town to race as well. Piled into Julie’s car and went down to the beach for the start. This was the song that they were playing, which immediately put me in a good mood. My goal was to have fun and I was already off to a good start.

It’s hard to find people while standing in the dark surrounded by 5,000 other runners but we managed to find fellow Splash, Mash, and Dash members Stan and Jen. Before I knew it, we were off, heading out into the darkness.

Paula and I ran together and found Kate and her dad running. Kate’s dad is such a great inspiration. He has volunteered for the B2B med tent and when they asked if he was able to volunteer for this race replied that he was running and wouldn’t be available. How awesome is that. It was his first half marathon as well, so a big congrats to Dennis Murphy.

Other highlights include the awesome crowd support on one of the main roads (some of the race signs were so funny!), the guy with the great tattoos on each of his calfs (B2B and Kona), the woman who was drinking a Bloody Mary on her lawn and when I called her out came running up to me and let me have a sip(!)- you, kind woman of Landfall, know how to make a great drink!, and the cup of beer that was presented to me by volunteers at mile 12, and others whom we met along the course, some of whom were running their first 13.1.

I achieved my goal of running the whole time without stopping to walk so I was really happy. Hung out afterwards post race and then went to Front  Street Brewery with Paula for some pulled chicken nachos and my own Bloody Mary and my day was complete.

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Stan, me, Jen, and Paula post race carb loading

Photo: Post race fun

Post race fun with Paula and Jen

Filling out my dance card for some fall half marathons and ready to switch my training for some spring sprint triathlons and a whole lot of fun! Here’s to Spring.

You are a Runner

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

-Buddha

I didn’t fully comprehend last week’s race lesson until I was running with my friend Stan last night. I was bemoaning the fact that I didn’t PR (personal record), that I chose to walk during the race, that it just didn’t feel wonderful. We were discussing how we haven’t been excited about running in a while, which is ironic considering we were running in what I personally consider one of the most beautiful places in town, Wrightsville Beach. It was late evening, the temperature was 65 degrees, traffic was light (thank goodness it wasn’t summertime) and there was a heavy fog hanging in the air. The air was calm, and the horizon and the water color were monochromatic to each other. It was also the first time in weeks that we weren’t at the track, waylay-ed by ice storms, or snow, or general miserable weather. It was a perfect night for running. As we were talking I realized I needed to get out of my head and look. Look around Nancy, I thought to myself. People would kill to do what you’re doing right now, smelling the salt air, running with a friend, talking about life. Stan even said as much “some people would kill to be us right now” he remarked.

We have such expectations that are self imposed, we said to each other. We do two-thirds of an iron distance or half iron distance, and THEN RUN a marathon or half marathon and we therefore expect our next race to be a marked improvement. We don’t give ourselves credit for the 30 mile an hour winds that were gusting that morning, the fact that we had no tail wind, that the mile seven marker flag attacked us (Yes! I was attacked by a flag at mile seven. It caught me and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to get it off me. Thank goodness Paula was there. She grabbed that nasty flag and ran it back to the post). We think better, I could have done better. Why? Why are we so hard on ourselves? We get out there. We lace up our shoes and head out the door. It doesn’t matter if you run a 6:30 mile or a 12:30 mile. If you do it, you are a runner. Mile, 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, etc. you’re still a runner. Short, long, fast, hard, we’re all in it together folks. We head out the door and we get it done, but why shouldn’t we enjoy the process? Open your eyes, look around you. Talk to others. Thank volunteers. Love the run. Love the process. Be grateful. These are the words I need to remember. This needs to be my personal mantra.

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Kate, Stephanie, Me, Paula, and Jennifer. Missing is Tracy, our sherpa

I will say that I am so incredibly grateful for these women who ran with me this past weekend. Our tour guide, Paula, lived in Myrtle Beach for a while and directed us to the best food in town. “I’m eating a recovery meal” we’d say at every stop. That, coupled with the companionship, hot tub post run at the hotel, laughter, and flavored vodka mini bottles made for an excellent weekend. We’re already talking about next year, especially since we didn’t get to do the Skywheel, Jen’s only request. Sorry Jen! Next year, we promise.

This might have been our Saturday

Next is the Wrightsville Beach Marathon. A run, I promise to myself, that I will enjoy. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the run no matter what life throws at me.

We’ve been Skratched! (And that is a very good thing).

circle_S_blackRemember how I mentioned in my last post that over beers one night a few friends and I started some audacious planning? In the nonprofit world this is simply referred to as a BHAG- a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.Now, I’m all about some BHAGing, especially when I get more than five minutes of free time. Coincidentally, about the time that B2B was over was when I saw a notification from Skratch Labs.They were looking for ambassadors. I remembered all the rides and training when my friends and I would extol the virtues of Skratch labs and the whole food process. I’ve used their Feed Zone Cookbook on numerous occasions and everything I’ve made, either for breakfast, dinner, or a training ride, has been delicious. I even used their nutrition mix during race day and made some portables. Who better to be ambassadors, I thought, then us?

Well guys, this week I learned that we got it. Our very informal club known as Splash and Dash (now Splash, Mash, and Dash- get it? Swim, Bike, Run??) is now an unofficial, official club that is sponsored by Skratch. What does that mean? It means that we get to enjoy Skratch and continue to talk about how awesome they are for the whole next year. Easy and exciting.

For me personally, I hope that our club continues to grow and keep the spirit of inclusiveness going. Triathlon is such a wonderful sport for building friendships while building endurance. We’ve had a great year and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

And if you’re super curious, I’m now training for the Myrtle Beach half marathon in February. Got to keep those BHAGs at bay :-)

Beach2Battleship Race Report (but not really)

b2b imageConfession time. I hate other people’s race reports. Honestly, I don’t care how fast you were in T1, or how many watts you produced on your bike. What I like to hear about was your day, how cool your volunteers were, how you felt, so be forewarned, that is my race report.

Let me just start out by thanking Canada and the Gulf Stream for the lovely cold snap. Waking up to frost on one’s windshield on race morning is never pleasant. However, with cold air comes a beautiful sky of bright stars, so I took that as a good first impression. Still, 34 degrees on race morning is not a comforting forecast.

My folks came down Friday night to make sure I crossed the finish line in one piece since C and little C were in Winston Salem for a soccer tournament. It was wonderful to have them there. After trying not to wake them up, I was off.

What I loved about this day was the following. I loved the woman at the body marking who said to me “It’s so nice to see a familiar face!” and then she gave me a hug. It cracked me up but left me smiling the whole day. Did she recognize my thighs? My calf? Have I really done that many races? In any regard, it made me smile.

I loved seeing my friend Tracy at the swim start. She had problems getting to the start on her bike so she lied to the police and told them that she was heading home. She and I ran Thursday pm and that really helped center me. She and I go way back with races and our friendship and it was wonderful having her there.

I loved Gordon’s heated truck. Gordon is Paula’s husband. He was doing water support on the course, so while everyone else was freezing, we were nice and toasty warm. Thanks Gordon. That was awesome.

I loved the swim. Let me say that again. I loved the swim. The sun was shining and every breath I took I saw golden droplets. It was beautiful. It was thrilling to be in a pack (a first for me, a slow swimmer), and the water was the perfect temperature. I was sad to climb the ladder out.

I loved the hot showers after the swim. There is nothing better than getting salt water off your face.

What wasn’t optimal? The head wind. From the north at 10-15 mph, it slowed me down on the bike considerably. Once I realized that all dreams for a 6 hour time were over (realized it when I realized the current wasn’t optimal) I decided to settle in and just enjoy the day. I worked hard for my bike time, but had some tightness in the shoulders/back and couldn’t get super comfortable in the saddle. At transition 2, I was glad to be off the bike and thought that I’d be happy if I never saw it again.

The run was so much better than last year. The course directors removed the Bermuda Triangle (an extension of the course that went around three streets twice and formed a triangle) which was a huge improvement in terms of having a straight out and back course. Once I knew I reached mile 7, I knew I would be halfway done. What I didn’t know was that once you reached mile 7, you were entering Kona. The volunteers at this aid station (aid stations were every mile) had the whole area decked out in a Hawaiian theme. They even had a guy playing the bongos! The race director said that there were 1,500 volunteers for the race and I can honestly say that everyone I ran into was just amazing. It made me proud to call Wilmington my home.

Other highlights include seeing my mom and dad at the finish line. This is the second race they’ve seen me finish and it’s just so wonderful to have them there. Also seeing Tracy, Kate, Melinda, and so many other friends along the course was just wonderful. To say you feel like a rock start is an understatement.

After the race I went home, took a hot bath and then went back downtown to celebrate the full finishers. Two friends of mine and training partners, Stan and Lance, came in within minutes of each other to complete the full. I was in awe to watch them finish. After that I went to my friend Sara and Bruce’s house and a seed was planted. A friend of hers was talking through the logistics of doing a full Ironman and how long you would have to finish each segment. At dinner last night with Paula and Julie we started discussing upcoming races. The iphones came out and we started googling full Ironman race locations and dates. I have a nagging feeling that this is not the last time you hear me talk of a full Ironman.

In the near future I’ll continue training for the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon. My goal is to break a sub 2 hour. It’s achievable, I just need to step it up a bit. And it’s another half, something which apparently I’m fond of. Little C is talking about doing another 10k and working his way up to a half marathon as well. Maybe this winter I’ll take him on some longer runs with me and see how he does. As long as he enjoys it.

Photo: We don't look nervous at all!

Pre-Race at packet pick up. Me, Paula, Julie. The Three Amigos.

It’s time

This week is finally race week. Race week is akin to going on an unknown vacation. You don’t know what to pack, you don’t want to be at work, you just want to get there. I can only imagine how people feel who haven’t done this course umpteen times. I think I’d go nutso on Google maps. I am intimately familiar with the B2B route. I know all it’s slippery bridges, cracks in pavement, road that looks like it would be smooth for biking but jars the crap out of you (I’m looking at you, Pender County) and yet as I write this, I realize that I’m terrified.  Seriously butterflies, OMG, what have I gotten myself into. As much time as I’ve spent, I know that come Saturday morning I will be nervous as all get out.

Compounding on that fact is my foot, my skateboarding trip gone awry. Friends of mine are already all to familiar with this, but for the rest of you, let’s just say I’m not 20 anymore and road rash hurts.

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This is what an infection looks like

This is what an infection looks like

So there’s that. I was able to do the Color Me Rad run on Sunday with little C. He loved it but what eight year old wouldn’t.

I’m worried about my foot not healing in time and gimping through a half marathon after a 56 mile bike ride. I know that if my mind wasn’t preoccupied on my foot I’d be worried about something else. Like the fact that it’s going to be in the 30’s on race morning with a high of 62 (eeek!!!). Good thing for us halfers is that we don’t get into the water until 9 am so maybe the sun will warm things up for us a bit.

Tonight is an easy bike ride down at the beach and Friday the weekend begins with race meetings, packet pick up, expo, bike drop off, etc. C and little C are heading to the Piedmont for a soccer tournament but I have my mom and dad coming down to hang out with me. I’ll miss them, but I’m kind of looking forward to finishing a race and not having to go directly into “MOM” mode. Does that sound selfish? Probably, but how nice will it be to hang out and watch my fellow triathletes cross the finish line. I’m sure I’ll have one more post before race day. Until then…

Change

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Southeastern North Carolina in the fall is just lovely for a runner. After the oppressive heat of the summer, it feels like a joy to be able to run in temperatures in the 60’s or 70’s. It makes me yearn for a tri that I can train through the fall. It’s also time when people start getting serious about their training. With 26 days left, my friends and I talk of long runs, bricks, nutrition, currents, and race day conditions. We go to bed early on the weekends in order to meet up at 7 am for our long runs or bricks (bike followed by run). We get “on the wagon” and focus on eating healthy, eating clean. We see the irony that getting up during the week to go to work is considered sleeping in. I love these people though. They are new friends to me but they are the reason why I get up while it’s still dark. They challenge me, they push me, they laugh with me, they have become my family.

On yesterday’s ride we were dealing with quite the head wind. We pulled/drafted off each other, replicating geese, pulling for five miles then dropping back to rest. It was cold and my ambition was not present. My toes were cold, my nose was running, my core was cold. We stopped to use a gas station restroom and I complained about not being in the moment to which both Julie and Paula began lamenting with me. Standing outside under a very warm kitchen grill vent that smelled of butter and biscuits, we joked about how much the morning sucked and how crazy we were to not be in bed or eating breakfast. Julie said something to the effect of she wasn’t feeling it either, but she was going to push on and those were the words I needed to hear. It changed my outlook and made me realize how fortunate I was. I could be in a hospital tending a sick family member. I could have bad knees. I could want to go shopping instead. Instead, I chose to wake up and ride, and I might as well enjoy it.

This is Paula. She'll keep riding until her garmin says to stop.

This is Paula. She’ll keep riding until her Garmin says to stop.

With fall comes changes in daylight. We are now unable to swim Friday mornings, which saddens me. I love waking up early and meeting my friends in the dawn. To watch the sunrise over the channel is beautiful. Now, I watch it set, and race to get out of the water before it gets dark, the sky a ball of red, surfers in boats coming back from the barrier island beach. Last week I saw a tourist boat on a sunset cruise and wondered what they thought of the string of pink and green swim caps slicing the water. Where they envious? Curious? Did they think us insane?

The race booklet for Beach2Battleship arrived in my mailbox Saturday. It’s getting real, it’s getting closer, but honestly, I’m feeling stronger than last year. I’m not panicking like I was last year, worried about finishing in time. I’m putting in my time, I’m preparing my body and mind. I am thinking “I am strong, I am strong, I am strong”.

Wrightsville Beach Triathlon aka Oh Sh*t It’s Raining

Can you tell that it's dark o clock and raining?

Can you tell that it’s dark o clock and raining?

Rain. That’s what I found when I opened my garage door Saturday am at 5:15. In the past I might have said “forget it”, closed the door, and headed back to bed. But not today. Today was a brick, another training day, and an opportunity to do the same swim course as the Beach to Battleship (minus some distance). Plus, my friend Jennifer was driving down from Topsail Beach for her first open water swim so I had to be there.

Luckily for me it wasn’t a cold rain. And in a way it was kind of nice because it seemed to keep some people away. Usually this is a big race and once you get to the swim start it’s hard to find people you know. Fellow triathletes congregate on this beautiful green lawn and usually it’s covered with people, but this year it wasn’t. Tracy and her husband Steve came over via boat and was able to spot us right away which was awesome. She’s done the race and is a regular swimmer so we talked tides, wind direction, and the best way to go. It’s a straight path and then a bend kind of swim, but if the tide is pushing you need to take that into account.

I’m happy to say that my sighting was good (for me anyway- I tend to zigzag), and I was able to line up where I wanted to, make the turn, and continue around the bend to the finish line ladders. Although super slow, I felt good, just plodding away. Made it into transition one (T1), tried to get the grass off my feet and off I went.

The bike was a lot of fun. I got into a pack and tried to see how many people I could pass without blowing out my legs. I got passed on the right once, which freaked me out and I saw a guy skid out on a turn right behind me. Wet roads + turns= slow down! Funniest thing about the bike must have been my wet road shoes. They were squishy! It was kind of gross.

The run was just a normal 5k. Saw Tracy and Steve again by a coffee shop. They were in the “breakfast burrito” division, according to her, which made me laugh.  She refused to give me a cup of coffee.

Made it to the finish in seven minutes faster than the previous year which made me very happy. Wanted to stick around and chat, but I had to get home in order to roll into Chris’ car to head to Myrtle Beach for little C’s soccer games. I threw my bike in the garage, hopped into his car, tri suit on and all, and changed en route to the game. I’m sure I smelled lovely and looked even better.

A huge shout out to my friend Jennifer, who not only completed her first open water tri, but did it after being in New Orleans for a full week and to the 11(!) year old local girl who did her first WB tri as well. Solo. All by herself. Freaking awesome. To her credit, her parents are huge triathletes/runners as well. I told this to little C and now he’s all hyped up to do a relay. The part he wants to do? The run. Of course. Legally, he has to be ten, but I might have to send out an email and just poke around a bit. Maybe there’s one he can do when he’s nine? Hmmm…..

We're so sexy

Jen and I. We’re so sexy

Five weeks until Beach 2 Battleship. If I don’t start running some longer distances I’m going to be toast. Motivation, where are you?? This cooler weather should help me get moving. It’s perfect running weather here in the southeast.

Six Words You Should Say Today

Today is a big day for little C. Tonight is his favorite 5k- a scenic out and back run that traverses along the waterfront, and along our historic downtown. We’ll pass by restaurants with outdoor dining, and if I’m observant, I’ll see him on the way back. I loved watching him run this event last year. Since it was an out and back, I knew that I would see him, but the image is engraved in my mind, his small body keeping pace with runners much older than he, his grin on seeing me, the look of pride on his face at keeping up with all these adults. He told me he got so many high fives and “way to go’s” on that race and even caught up to a friend of mine and ran a portion of the race with him. My heart just swells with pride thinking of that image of him and I just want to cry.

 

That feeling of pride reminded me of The Hands Free Mama and her philosophies. Brought to my attention by my dear friend and running partner Tracy, she once mentioned an article she read about how children perceive parent’s comments. So often our words that we think are encouraging are detrimental. Think of a soccer game that you’ve watched children participate in. Parents are yelling on the sidelines, offering guidance, where to run, to kick the ball, to run faster. Rachel, of the Hands Free Mama, has this suggestion. Instead of telling our child to run faster, get to the ball quicker, make that landing in gymnastics, we should say these six words: “I love to watch you play“.  I love to watch my son run. I love to see the muscles in his body move. I love to see him grin with pride. I love to see his body that my husband and I created. I even love that he’s so much faster than me and that I’ll have to meet him at the oranges post race.  It’s a miracle in every way (except for him being faster than me).

So tonight, instead of telling him to run fast, or to beat out any kid in his age group, I will tell him that I look forward to seeing him run back to the finish while I’m still running forward. I will love to watch him play and I will be thankful that we can participate in this activity together. Image Continue reading