Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Blessing Recap

Do you get nervous before a race?  I do, but usually it is just the night before and the morning of.  This race that I did on Friday, The Blessing of The Fleet, was at 6 pm.  My nerves got the best of me starting Wednesday.

I am not really sure why.  Maybe the distance.  I had only run 10 miles once before.  Maybe the crowd, there were over 3000 of us.  I think a big part of it was that Mr. RWM was not going to be there and neither were the kids.

The Blessing of the Fleet, has been a tradition in Narragansett for thirty five consecutive years.  I have never run in this race before, but I have been to the festival and it has always been a good time.

Back to Wednesday, I did not sleep.  Thursday, I had an upset stomach all day.  Thursday night, no sleep.  Friday morning, right off the bat, my stomach was queasy.  I had two cups of coffee and some water.  The thought of food made me sick.  This is not good, I need to eat.  Around one, I had a chicken salad sandwich.  It did not sit well but at least I got some food in.  At 4 I was in the car driving to the race eating a banana.

I usually eat a banana before I run.  It didn't upset my stomach and I was feeling better now that I was on my way.

Parking and the shuttle to the start was easy and when I got there I found Bria.  I knew a few other people running but could not find any of them.

We were supposed to start at 6, but at 5:20 the sky opened up and they said they were gonna delay the race until the lighting and thunder passed.   At 6:30, we were off.
Before the race.

I was told this race was fun, well run and had great crowd support.  All of this was true.  People had parties  on their lawns with music and water for us and some with hoses.  They were all cheering and it was awesome.  The first couple houses had the theme from Rocky on and well, if you know me, I love anything Rocky.

When we hit the water, there was the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen.  I wish I took a pic, but I am sure someone else did and I hope they share it with me.

Half a mile in, I started to get cramping in my stomach.  Oh, no!  I am not sure why, I am guessing the lack of food, but it is too late now, I got to keep on trucking.  I was running with Bria and she told me to stand up straight and take deep breaths.  I didn't realize I was leaning over a little.  Can you say bad form?  I did as she suggested and it helped a little.

One of the cool things I noticed was the little kids standing on the sidelines, cheering us on with their hands held out for a high five.  I was surprised to see so many people just pass these kids by without putting their hand out for them.  I was wearing my Run Like a Mother tank and I thought to myself, what kind of mom would I be if I didn't play along with these kids.  I am not going to win so what if it takes a few seconds off my time.  I did my best to high five everyone who had a hand out, big and small.  I found motivation in that, which I really needed.

I had cramping for the first 4 miles.  I took some time to walk and got water at every stop.  I lost Bria somewhere around mile 4 and about 4 1/2 miles, I finally found my groove.  Better late than never.

It was here that we passed a house with a group of people playing bongo drums and cheering us on.  It was pretty cool.  After that, I met Sam.  We chatted for about 5 minutes.  He has only be running for 2 years, and completed his first marathon last year.  We talked about my upcoming half and he was sure I would want to do a full when I was done.  Doubt it, Sam, but I never thought I would run a mile let alone 10, so I guess never say never, right?

Right after Sam moved on, I heard the siren of an ambulance.  It passed me and turned at our next turn, I prayed that it was not a runner.   As I rounded the corner, I saw the ambulance and as I got closer I could see the man on the stretcher.  He was indeed a runner and he looked to be about 27.  I do not know what happened but I hope he is ok.

Speaking of praying, there were a group of runners wearing yellow shirts that read, Pray for Ali and a Cure.  I don't know who Ali is but every time I saw one of those shirts I said a prayer for her and her family.  Also, it was another source of motivation for me.  I ran for Ali because I am guessing, she can't.

Mile 6 and 7 were uneventful.  More cheering and little kids.  I was surprised my knee and back were feeling so good and this made me happy.   Happy until mile 8.  Right after I hit mile 8, I wanted to cry.  Not because I was in pain, but because I was exhausted and starving!

It was here, I realized I had Sport Beans with me and I was kicking myself for not eating them earlier.  I walked while I ate them and then had some water and off I went.  I felt better almost immediately, but I was still tired.  It was getting dark now too.

At the end of mile 9, the sign marker read, 1 mile to the beer tent.  That was my favorite sign!  This, I think, was my fastest mile.  I ran with out my GPS, so I can't say for sure, but I know I was moving faster than I had the whole race.

Somewhere in this last mile, I heard my name and saw my neighbors who were at a Blessing party.  It was so nice to see someone who knew me and cheer for me.  Thank you neighbors!  To see the finish was beautiful. I couldn't get there fast enough and I was so happy to cross the finish line alive.  Bria was there waiting for me, she finished 4 minutes before me.  Way to go Bria!

I had two goals for this race.  Have fun and finish.  But deep down, I knew I wanted to finish in two hours.  I thought with my issues in the first 4 miles that this would be impossible, but guess what?  I finished in 1:58:09!  However, I just checked the official results and noticed they have me as 39 years old.  We all know I am 40, so what do I do about that.  This messes with age group awards, not that you get an award for number 300, but you know what I mean, should I let someone know?
The after pic.

As soon as I was done, I hurt and I got cold.  It was dark and I just wanted to go home.  I skipped the beer tent that I was so looking forward to, because it was a warm shower and food that I really needed.

I met all of my goals.  I finished and did it under 2 hours and most importantly, I had a blast.  Would I do it again?  Probably.  Next year though, I will hope Mr. RWM and the kids can be there.  I will also eat better the day of the race and now that I know what to expect, I am sure I won't be as nervous.  Plus, I hope to make it to the beer tent!

I would like to thank everyone who posted comments on my FB page.  When I finally sat down and put my feet up, I was surprised to see so many of you had been thinking of me and took the time to say so.  You are the best readers and supporters anywhere!  You all rock!

Run Strong, Think Big!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Run Strong, Think Big Virtual Race Recap

Well, the Run Strong, Think Big Virtual Race is done!  Everyone did a fantastic job and the pics I got have all been awesome!

I said this before, that it is hard for me to put into words how thankful I am for all the love and support I have gotten, but it's true.  I have been sitting here for 40 minutes and this is only my fourth sentence.

So lets start with the stats.  We had 58 runners in 4 countries participating.  Together, we raised $1385! I was hoping for a minimum of 50 racers which would of been $1000.  You have exceeded my expectations and for that I am grateful.

Your donation for the race is going towards the research for a cure for Blood Cancers.  Just so you know, every dollar you gave went straight to LLS, which is why I had you sign up via my fundraising page.  The cost of the medals and shipping is mine and Mr. RWM's way of saying thank you for your support.

By running this past weekend, you supported me and my friend Shawna.  But most importantly, you ran to remember Haley.  She is the reason I am here writing this.

On to Saturday!  This was race day for me.  I was thrilled to have 6 of my friends come and run with me.  On friday night, Elaine and I went out with sidewalk chalk and made a start and finish line along with mile markers and a few encouraging words along the route she had mapped out for us.  Thanks Elaine!
Before the race.

We were a mixed group of runners.  We had a couple who have run marathons and we had one who never completed a 5k and everything in between.  We ran together for the first 2 miles and let me tell you, there is nothing better than running with a group of your friends.  We talked and laughed and it was everything I hoped it would be.  After mile two,  we spread out a bit, but not by much.

My driveway was the finish line and there we were greeted by two husbands and 4 kids holding signs, ringing a cow bell, taking pictures and handing us our medals.  This to date has been my favorite finish line.  It may not be an official one, but all my favorite people were there and I can think of nothing better than that.
After with our medals!
Me and my babies!

I have spent a lot of time this weekend on the computer waiting to hear how everyones race went and see the pics.  I have not been disappointed.  You all did a fantastic job and I love every picture I got so far.

Please feel free to add pics to my FB page and don't forget to let me know if you write a blog about it.  I really look forward to reading each of them.  Here are a few of my favs so far:
Happy mommies and kids running in Flordia!

Mrs. Run, Find Your Happy Pace

Big Andy

My friend and rockstar runner, Barb!

Pictures and stories are still coming in and I promise to comment on all of them.  I started addressing and stuffing envelopes last night with your medals and hope to have them all in the mail by this Friday.

Thanks again for participating my friends!

Run Strong, Think Big!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Humbled By Your Generosity

When I started on this journey with Team in Training, I was nervous.  The thought of running a half marathon, 3000 miles away is scary enough.  When I learned I had to raise $3200, I just about died.

Wow, $3200, is a lot of money.  I have never raised money before and was already feeling bad for asking for money, even though I didn't even start asking yet.  How does one do this is today's world.  Things are tight everywhere.  This just isn't a good time to bug people.  But really, is it ever a good time to ask for money?  I am guessing no.

You all know why I am doing this.  I want to support my friend Shawna and her family.  I want to honor the memory of her daughter, Haley.  This cause is way bigger than my fear of running 13.1 miles and raising $3200.  In fact, my fears are silly compared to having to live without one of your children.  I want to make a difference.

When you sign up with TNT, you get a folder filled with all kinds of ideas on how to raise money.  The night I came home with that folder, I sat down and looked at it all and felt extremely overwhelmed.    Ok, calm down, you can do this.

The next day, after a good nights sleep, I sat at the computer to compose my letter that would be sent out to my family and friends.  I am not going to lie to you, this took me 3 days to compose.  To put into words, my feelings about my friendship with Shawna, her losing her daughter and how I was going to run my first half marathon so far away from my family, was almost impossible.  Almost.

When it was written and I figured out how to include Haley's picture, (almost another 3 days, LOL) I felt relived.  According to TNT most of your donations will come from these letters, so make it good.  I felt good when I hit save and print.

Within the first week of this journey, my letters were in the mail.  Now what?

I had to come up with a fundraising idea.  I came up with more than I thought I would, some good, some bad.  Then I remembered a Virtual Race that I participated in this past December.  It was a race to raise money for the same charity as me, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  A virtual race is a race that you can do from anywhere.  You can run outside or inside on a treadmill.  You can be registered for an official race and that would still count.  I pick the date, you pick the where and time of day.

After a few days, I had in place the Run Strong, Think Big Virtual 5k Run/Walk.  I chose a date and set up a FB page for the event.  I will be ordering medals for all finishers with the name of the race on them.  This will be happening this weekend and there is still time to sign up.  As of right now, there are 45 people signed up in four different countries.  Those runners have brought in $1075 so far!  Thank you does not seem like enough but, Thank You!

As back up, I looked in to other things to raise money, including a tupperware party.  On one of our early morning runs, I mentioned this to Ethel.   A Tupperware party did not thrill her.  The next time I saw her she said she was planning a fundraiser for me, at her home with different vendors that will be donating some of their profits to me.  What?  That is awesome!

And let me tell you, this past Thursday, at Ethel's, was one of the most fun evenings I have had in a long time.  There were five different vendors there, a make your own jewelry station, raffles and all drinks were $2.
Mingle while shopping.

Sweet Lu Photography

Make your own jewelry station.

She had invited friends and neighbors and the generosity of others humbles me.  She put on a fabulous party and the outcome was huge.  I am happy to say that once the checks clear, I will have reached my goal plus a little more.  I am not ashamed to say, that I have tears in my eyes writing this.

You just never know how what you are doing may affect others.  I have met people who have survived cancer and people who have lost someone they love.  One of Ethel's neighbors, Rebecca, is a Leukemia survivor and has been for the last 17 years.  She said to me, "Thank you for doing this, it means so much to me."  Really, no, thank you for inspiring me to be a better person, for working towards something that is bigger than me, for doing my best to make a difference in someone else's life, for finding my strong when I think I have no more to give.

My financial goal is met, but I hope that does not stop you from still donating.  Every dollar is a blessing and will make a difference in someones life.  I hope you will still consider a donation or signing on for my Virtual Race.

I would like to say thank you again, to those of you who have supported me so far.  Those of you who have donated, those of you who are racing with me this coming weekend.   Ethel, for such a fun evening that exceeded my expectations.  The vendors and contributors for the raffle.  My friends who I miss because I am running instead of going to the playground or beach.  My parents, who have bugged their friends and co-workers.  My readers for your encouraging words.  And mostly, Mr. RWM and my two little angels.  You have put up with my non stop talking about running and fundraising, my early mornings and time away from you while I run for 2 hours and then have to sit and ice.  Your patience is unbelievable and so very appreciated.  You just have to put up with it for 89 more days.

This continues to be an amazing journey and with each day, I get more excited to be at the start line in San Francisco.

Run Strong, Think Big!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Half Marathon Training Week 7 ( With A Couple Races)

One of my favorite blog writers hosted a Virtual race to celebrate her birthday.  Hiker Mom has put together a 10k and 5k with fabulous prizes.  I, of course, Mrs. Virtual Race Crazy, did the 10k and the 5k.

The 10k I doubled with my TNT training run on Sunday.  Seven miles were on the schedule for this run and I was worried about it.  The Friday before, I went out for 4 miles and my knee started to really hurt and by the time I was done, my ankle was swollen.  I do not know why.  I iced and took some ibuprofen and was fine the next day.  I did, however, take Saturday off.

Not thinking when I was getting dressed on Sunday morning, I put on a black shirt and black capris.  Hello, did you not see the weather!?  90 degrees today and you are wearing black!  Yes, that is right, silly girl running.

I talked to the coach about my knee and he recommend a few stretches and told me to go out slow.  I did and the first 2 miles were nice.  It started to get warmer in the third mile, but I was still good.  At the water stop, I stretched and then moved on.

I have been running with some great people and Bria, in particular, has been awesome.  She runs at my pace and I enjoy talking with her.  She is also training for the Nike Women's Half and is a relatively new runner.  Today's 7 miles was the longest run ever for both of us.

I had to stop for a potty break in mile 4 and it was then, I realized how much my knee was hurting.   I stretched while I waited for Bria and then off we went.  This is when I started to think that I will not make it.  My positive self was fighting with my negative self and at this point I did not know who was going to win.

Mile five I had to walk.  Not long, just a few little walk breaks that lasted only 10 to 15 seconds.  On top of that, it was really hot now.

Mile 6, I stopped at a stone wall and stretched my right leg.  Coach also drove by to see how I was making out.  I told him I was struggling but that I was gonna make it.  Bria was just slightly ahead of me and I caught up with her after that and we finished up the 7 miles together.  My positive self won!

We got water, stretched, chatted and snapped a picture.  It is funny that I felt so bad for so much of this run,  yet when we were done, I felt awesome!
Bria and Me

Here is the even crazier part.  I started to think to myself that I should change to the full marathon.  I don't know if I will ever do this again so my logic is, if you are only going to do one, then make it a big one.  Give it your all, think big!

Don't get me wrong, 13.1 is big, and this is just talk.  I don't know if I am even allowed to do that.  I think I will wait it out and see how the next month goes.  The half marathon training brings me to 14 miles, my guess is if I feel the same way I did today on the next several training days, then I will stick with my original plan.  Besides, how many of you said one and done?  I bet not many, right?

Monday, I set off for a 3 mile recovery run doubled as the 5k portion of the Birthday Virtual 5k.  I was happy to be able to do this run with a friend who is also a neighbor so it was nice just walking out our door to start.

It was a rough start as my knee did not want to run.  My first few minutes I ran with a limp.  Half way up the hill, I had to walk a little.  I am pissed friends.  I don't know why this is happening.  I have an appt. with my doc on the 9th to see what is going on.
After the Birthday Virtual 5k

After I warmed up, my knee started to feel better.  I stopped limping and we ran.  It was not fast but it was a beautiful morning and I loved the company which made it all worth while.  We ran 3.21 miles in 38:05, not great time, but there was walking and technically, it was my recovery run so why kill yourself, right?

On Wednesday, July 4th, I took part in the Camire's Firecracker 4 Miler.  Woke up bright and early to rain.  Oh, well.  My friend and neighbor picked me up and we got there with plenty of time to kill.  That is the thing with small, local races.  No real lines.  I kind of like that, which is why the NWM freaks me out a bit.  I am finding it hard to wrap my head around what it looks like to have 1000's of runners, running at the same time, let alone the potty lines.

Right after we started, the rain stopped.  It was nice not to get super wet and the temp stayed cooler than I think it would of if it didn't rain.  I was thankful for this.  I kept an eye on one of my friends and stayed behind her for just under the first mile.  It spread out quickly and I ran most of the race alone.  I did not have my music because of the rain, and I was wishing I had taken my iPod with me.

When I hit the first mile marker, I was told I was doing a 10:16 pace.  This for me is fast, but I was feeling good and kept it up.  The course was described with rolling hills and boy, they were not kidding.  I am happy to say, I made it up and down every hill, running.  I walked through both water stops because I wanted to actually drink the water and not wear it.

At mile three, the guy told me my time, 32:06!  This would of been a PR if I was doing a 5k, but I knew now that it would also be a PR from my previous 4 mile race, which was 4.2 miles and I finished in 50 minutes.

Crowd support was not great, but the people that did show up to cheer us on, were all very encouraging.  I got a lot of compliments on my on my outfit, which was red, white and blue, of course.  I told people that if I was going to come in last, at least I would look cute.  LOL

I knew that I would have my two girlfriends at the finish to cheer me in, but I was also disappointed because my husband and the kids were not going to be there.  They have never seen me race yet and it saddens me every time I think about it

When I rounded the corner of the finish, I saw Jenn first, then I saw Jackie.  I love that feeling, hearing your friends and some strangers cheering you on.  I looked one more time at Jackie and there he was, Mr. RWM was smiling and taking a picture of me.  I couldn't believe it.  He has never seen me finish a race before and immediately my eyes started to well up.  I wanted to finish strong and that was the motivation that I needed.  I was expecting to finish in 45 minutes and my final time was 43:01!  I am thrilled.
Just before crossing the finish line.

This was not the easiest race I have done, but it was a nice course and well run.  I would definitely do it again.

All in all, week 7 of half marathon training has been really good.  My next run with TNT will consist of 8 miles.  I still think I may be a little crazy, but here I go.

Till next time, Run strong, think big!