Wednesday, December 10, 2014

St. Jude Marathon Weekend Recap

The St. Jude Marathon Weekend was a lot of things.

Amazing.  Inspiring.  Exhausting.  Painful.  Incredible.

All of these things wrapped up in one weekend package.

I've been preparing for this marathon all year.  This was the main event of my racing year.

It really was amazing. Even the sucky parts when I was cursing running and cursing my stupid idea to run another marathon and cursing the blisters and cursing all of my crazy friends who encourage me to do such stupid things....even those times were still awesome. 

This event was huge. And not meaning the number of runners (20 thousand-ish). The cause is huge. Much bigger than my stupid blisters, much bigger than my pain. And there were reminders everywhere.

Nothing compares to children with cancer and their fight. My pain running is just a tiny taste of their own life "marathon" and in comparison, my 26.2 miles is pretty insignificant. (Thanks, Jen, for these words!)

Miles 13ish.
Photo credit: Jonna Stumpo.  It was so nice to see a familiar face in the crowd.
I could tell you all about the gigantic blisters on the bottoms of my feet and I could tell you all about the 20 mile an hour gusts of wind and I could tell you every terrible detail of my mile 23 agony...but instead, I'm going to tell you about Memphis.

I'll tell you about the man who had an unofficial beer stand in front of his house...his house with every window and door open so we runners could hear the Christmas music blasting from within.  

I'll tell you about all the police officers cheering on the runners while they blocked traffic...well, most of the police officers cheered.  There was Officer McGrouchyMustache....

I'll tell you about the backed up traffic.  Holy moly the roads were at a stand-still.  Instead of being cranky at the marathon road closures, most people had their cars in park and were honking and hanging out the windows to high-five the runners.

St. Jude has Memphis by the heartstrings.  Some of the spectators looked so out of place, yet, there they were, cheering for those running for St. Jude.  It was so cool to see the whole community come together to support this awesome cause.

I think I smiled for this whole race.  Even in my darkest times, there was something to smile about.

At mile twenty-something, I was reveling in my misery, promising myself that I was never doing this again.  I'm never running again.  I hate running.  Why do I put myself through this?

Then I saw a sign staked into the ground on the side of the road.
2.5 years of treatment.
32 surgeries.
26.2 miles?  Yes, you CAN.

Well, damn.  Now I have to quit bitching and keep running.

Mile 26 complete with Carrie on the sidelines yelling for me to GO GO GO!
Photo credit: Jonna Stumpo.
As I crossed the finish line, completely exhausted, elated and crying the ugly cry, my brain was already making my race strategy for the next marathon.

We should know by now that anything that comes out of my mouth at mile 23 isn't to be trusted.  There will always be another marathon.  It's what I do.  It's what I love.

Carrie and I had a fabulous girls weekend in Memphis.

We even have fun walking in the pouring rain! (Friday)
She finished the half marathon in 1:37 with a shiny 4 minute PR (personal record) and 5th place in our age group!

I finished the marathon in 4:33 with a 29 minute PR and a big smile that's still planted on my face.

St. Jude raised over 7 million dollars from Marathon Weekend, which is actually down from last year.  Our fundraising will end on December 31, so if you haven't donated, and would like to:
Click Me!

Celebrating a job well done.


Special Thanks
~to Randy.  For being my biggest cheerleader, supporting my dreams and keeping our children and pooches alive in my absence.
~to Carrie.  For this weekend.  All of it.  And for walking with me, post-race, really, really slowly.
~to my friends.  For your words.  I've never run a marathon this far from home and without my family with me.  It was so fun to read your texts, tweets, messages and Facebook comments when I finished.  It was like having you with me. 
~to Jonna. For being all around awesome.  Hauling two babies around to be a friendly face in the crowd and for taking pictures. 
~to every single person who donated to St. Jude.  Whether you donated to me or not, thank you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Single Digits

The St. Jude Marathon is in 4 days.

Four.  Days.

I'm down to single digits, people!  I am so excited.

My packing list has been made for months and I've already thrown a few things in my bag...

See?  A few things.
First thing Thursday morning, I'll get my little ladies on the school bus, then I'll hop in the car and head south to Louisville, Kentucky where my BFF, Carrie, is flying in (she'll run her fourth half at St. Jude).  Carrie will be with me for the rest of the drive to Memphis.

The weather this weekend (as of Monday night)...

The temps on Saturday are perfect.  Precipitation, however....

I love running in the rain.  For 10 or so miles.  Twenty six?  Holy chafing.  I'm hoping the rain holds off.

Fundraising has gone extremely well.  I've raised over $1200 for St. Jude.  I'm pretty thrilled about that.  If you want to get one last tax deduction in 2014, it's not too late to donate!
Click me!
For the next two days, I'll hopefully be crossing a zillion items off my gigantic to-do list, running my last couple of miles and hydrating my face off.

Wish me luck, I'll give y'all the low-down when I get back!

See you in one day and a wake up, Carrie!  Eeeeek!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

4 Weeks to Go!

Mileage for St. Jude training is ramping it's the perfect time to go on vacation, right?

Two weeks ago, we left happy, flat Columbus and went to super hilly Worcester, Massachusetts to visit my grandparents for a week.


Really, we had a fantastic time visiting with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins...but my legs took a serious beating.

I ran 36 miles while we were there and every mile was in the daylight.  Very abnormal for me.

I have to say: New England is gorgeous.  The view from the top of every hill...I was surrounded by fall colors as far as I could see, and at the bottom of the hills, ponds, lakes and more color.  I enjoyed my 16 miles run so much that I almost didn't notice the 1,100+ feet of elevation gain.


The top run was 16 miles with 1,183 feet of elevation gain.  Those little shark teeth in the first half was 3 miles on the high school track.

The middle run was 8 miles with 603 feet of elevation gain.  That one was brutal.

The bottom run was 8 miles with 454 feet of elevation gain.  I also ran a 4 miler that is not pictured.

As you can see, my grandparents live in a valley.  I started out uphill, got my heart rate up right off the bat and finished downhill to shred my quads just right.  When I came back to flat Columbus, I felt like such a beast!

Since being back home, I've had a 43 mile training week and I'm currently in the midst of a recovery week (less mileage) before my biggest training week followed by taper!

Taper, sweet taper.  My legs are looking forward to the break....before the shock of 26.2 miles.

Little story: When I get dressed for work in the morning, I think to myself, "oh, I have cute shoes that will look great with this outfit!"  Then my feet and ankles say, "Hell no you don't!  You have cushy, supportive running shoes that will not look great but will feel great..."  My feet win every time.

With these high mileage weeks, I'm consuming a lot of Island Boost.  It's the only fuel I'm using now.  Several months ago, I was alternating with another fuel, but with lots of miles to run and bathrooms few and far between, I'm not risking my belly with anything but Island Boost.

Wanna hear something cool?  Laura, the founder of Island Boost, gave me my very own coupon code!  Enter the code RRMR for buy 10 get three free!  So if you buy 20, you'll get 6 free.  Buy 100 and get 30 free!  This code expires December 31.  You better believe I'll be buying another case before the end of the year.  Quick!  Go order!

Wanna hear something else that's cool?  I have surpassed my wish for raising $1000 for St. Jude Research Hospital. 

One thousand dollars

That's airfare for a sick child and parent to travel to St. Jude.

That's infant care supplies for two hundred babies.

That's two days of oxygen for a kiddo.

That's toys.

That's wagons.

That's food.

I'm thrilled and humbled by the generosity of my friends and family and I'm so excited to run the streets of Memphis one month from today.

I've made my wish-goal, but I'm not stopping.  Please consider helping St. Jude make childhood cancer a thing of the past.
Click Me!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Powered by Island Boost: A Giveaway!

With St. Jude Marathon training in full swing, I needed to buy fuel (sugar energy) for my long runs.  Of course, Island Boost is the only fuel I'd consider buying.

I've been talking about Island Boost for over a year now, telling anyone who will listen how good it tastes and how easy on the belly it is.  All three flavors are great but the chocolate is seriously out of this world.  All Island Boost flavors are made with coconut water, glucose and fruit juices...the chocolate is made with premium chocolate and vanilla.  Nothing fake and the ingredients lists are short.  Less is more, people.

If you've tried gels, you may have gagged because of the consistency.  I'll admit it, I gagged.  It's like a wad of snot going down my throat.  So gross.

Island Boost is a liquid,  not a gel.  It goes down easy and it's the only fuel that doesn't gag me at mile 22 of a marathon.  Before I experimented with Island Boost last year during the Columbus Marathon training, I was nervous that, because it was a liquid, I would get hungry.  Not the case at all.  No hunger.  No running out of energy.  No vomiting.  No pooping my pants.  WIN!

I ordered a case of Island Boost last week.  The president of the company, Laura Mildon, included some extra packets in my order so I could share with YOU!  (Thanks, Laura!)

Disclaimer: I paid full price for my case of Island Boost.  I did not pay for the packets that I'll be giving away.  I am not being paid to share my love for Island boost but I'm more than happy to do so because I love it and think everyone else should, too.

I have three 6-packs of Island Boost up for grabs!  Two packets of each flavor: passion fruit, chocolate and blueberry-pomegranate, an $18.35 value.

Three winners will be chosen on Friday, October 10.

Just in case you don't win, you can buy a packet or two of Island Boost at your local REI store.  Try it and let me know what you think.  I haven't heard a bad word about it yet!

Good luck, y'all!
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Little Givers

Several weeks ago, while the ladies and I were eating lunch...

"I want to give St. Jude the money in my sparkly purse."

Side note: the Little Ladies have sparkly purses that we use as piggy banks.  If you knew my kids in person, you'd say, "Of course they're sparkly!"

Ellie's declaration caught me a bit off guard and I asked her why she wanted to give St. Jude her money.

I wanted to make sure that she didn't feel the need to donate because she overheard Randy and I talking about how much money I committed to raising and that if I didn't meet my goal, I would be paying the difference.

Her answer melted my heart, "Because I want the kids to get better."

Well, OK then. 

After the lunch mess was cleaned up, we got out the sparkly purses.

During lunch, Aleena had decided that she wanted to donate too and I talked the girls into donating half of the money in their sparkly purses instead of all of it as Ellie had originally suggested.

The ladies dumped their purses out on the table and started divvying up their money.

Ellie counted her money, "One for St. Jude, one for me...."

Aleena counted her money, "One for 'St. June', one for me..."

Ellie and I giggled at St. June.

Together, my ladies donated $8.90.  Not too shabby for a 7 and 5 year old.

This gives me happy tears.  My ladies are...well, they're children, therefore, they're giant pains in my bum at times, but they're also so kind and generous and thoughtful.  Their hearts are huge and they want to save the world.  I love that.

Now, we three ladies are wondering...would anyone like to match their donation?  I certainly will.  Join us!  For less than $10 you can help my little ladies save the world!

Between my online donations and the checks that I've received from family members and mailed in (not yet applied to my online tally), I've already surpassed my $500 goal.  However, as I stated earlier this year, I have no intention of stopping at $500.

St. Jude won't stop until kids no longer die of cancer so why should I?

Side note: I'm absolutely positive that I'm going to cry for 26.2 miles on December 6th.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Market to Market Relay Recap

I've professed my love for relays before.  After this weekend, I can tell you that I'm a relay junkie.

12-step program?  No thank you.

I'm a social creature and totally believe that running is a team sport.  Besides, several stinky people in a van eating Twizzlers and Cool Ranch Doritos just makes for awesome stories and memories.

Let me start from the beginning of my Market to Market weekend....

Friday, 4:15pm.  Kym picked Sarah and I up at my house and we drove, int he rented minivan, to Grandview to pick up the rest of our team, Doug, Aimee and Christie.  Once everyone was loaded up, we headed south to Milford, Ohio to pick up our race packets.

But first, let me take a selfie.
Funny story: While Kym drove, she had a little trouble with the windshield wipers.  Every time she turned on the right turn signal, she bumped the windshield wiper control (that is located on the turn signal lever) and the wipers would swipe.  Every. Single. Time.  After the seventh or eighth time this happened, we started cheering for the windshield wipers.  We'd be in mid-conversation, Kym would signal to change lanes, we'd all cheer then return to our conversations.  Maybe you had to be there.

After our team packet was safely in our possession, we fed our hungry bellies then checked into our hotel to rest up before our 7am start time.

We all met in the hotel lobby at 5:30am since we were advised to be at the starting line by 6:30am and that parking might be difficult as some roads would be closed for the event.

It turns out that parking was easy and we were early....which meant that we had plenty of time to "tag" the vans of other teams before we started.  I've mentioned that during road relays, everyone writes on other teams' vans.  Doug made it easy for us: he made little magnets to stick on other vans.

Our magnets.  Very clever, in my opinion.

This tickled me.  I had so much fun "pea"ing on all the vans.  Later in the day at one of the exchanges, we saw the race director pull into the parking lot.  When he left his truck, I tagged it with a magnet.  No one was safe from my pea. 

When I ran out of magnets, I drew peas on the vans using window crayons.

Every time I'd finish running, my teammates would tell me how many vans they pea'd on.  Such silly shenanigans.

We wrote on our own van too.

Finally, it was about time to start.

Team Princesses and the Peas at the starting line.
Saturday, 7am.  Go time.  Doug was our first runner followed by me, Sarah, Christie, Aimee and Kym.  Most of this relay was run on the Ohio-Erie trail system of paved bike paths.  Kym's second leg was on the road, but other than that, there wasn't much road running.

We cheered Doug off and loaded up the van to head to the first exchange.

7:29am.  Doug passed me the team "baton", a neoprene bracelet, that we quickly discovered got disgustingly sweaty.  I ended up velcroing it around my race belt.  I took off running on the Little Miami bike path.  I had a straight shot.  It was impossible to get lost.  At 5.5 miles, this would be my longest leg and since it was my first, I wanted to keep my pace on the conservative side so I didn't crash and burn on the next two legs. I intended to keep my pace around a 10 minute mile for the first 3 miles and speed up toward the end, but I went out a little fast, slowed down a little and picked up the pace at mile 4 as planned.

Leg 1: Milford to Loveland, OH
5.46 mi, avg pace 9:40

9:42, 9:47, 9:57, 9:42, 9:36, 8:40

The next few hours were spent cheering on the rest of my team, "pea"ing on other vans and eating Cool Ranch Doritos, gummy bears, granola bars and Island Boost.  Diet of champions, my friends.

11:22am. My next leg started from Fort Ancient State Memorial.  Before I could even get to the bike path, I had to climb down a mountain for this one.  It was so steep that there were steps built into the hill for hiking.  I loved climbing down and was a little jealous that Doug would get to climb up to get to the parking lot to find our van.

This leg was another straight shot up the Little Miami trail.  No turns, no chance of getting lost.  I'm a fan of that.  My strategy for this leg was to negative split (run faster at the end than in the beginning) but not wear myself out for my third leg.

Around mile 2.3, I was surprised to see my team driving by in the van, honking and cheering out the window for me.  I was thrilled to see them, but slightly confused as to why they were there....apparently, they took a wrong turn (navigator error) but they still made it to the next exchange before I did.  That's all that matters.

Leg 2: Ft. Ancient to Oregonia, OH
3.71 mi, avg pace 9:28

9:43, 9:37, 9:18, 9:06

By this time, I was starting to get tired.  And stiff.  All the sitting in the van was wearing me out.  I closed my eyes and took a power nap for a little bit at one of the exchanges.

3:30pm.  I told my teammates that I'd try to be done in less than 40 minutes, but I was tired and starting to get a little achy.  I had no idea if my legs would cooperate for this one.

What I did know, is that I was super excited for this leg.  I got to run through Xenia.  If you'll recall, Xenia has a special place in my heart.  I was hoping it would be kind to me again.  My strategy for this leg was to run progressive (each mile faster than the last), but since I was starting to get sore, I had no idea what pace that might be.

Unlike my previous legs, this one was not a straight shot.  Around mile 2.5 I had to make a left turn from Little Miami to Creekside trail.  This turn was well marked with Market to Market signs.  I had no trouble navigating this.  I did hear that some runners got lost on this leg, but I'm assuming they didn't read the race guide that we were all provided before we started.  If they had read it, they'd have known to watch out for this turn.

Leg 3: Xenia to Greene Co. Fairgrounds
4.14 mi, avg pace 9:06

9:31, 9:16, 9:06, 8:39, 8:16

I had no idea I had that in me.

I passed a lot of people on my last leg, so I must have done something right to have some speed left at the end.

After everyone else ran one last time, our whole team crossed the finish line together.  Our "medals" were pint glasses, which I prefer over medals.  Lord knows we don't need any more pint glasses in this house, but at least it will be seen and used rather than shoved in a drawer with the rest of my medals.

Finish line selfie!

About the Race

Back in July when my friends Doug and Kym asked me to join their Market to Market Relay team, I had mixed feelings about it.  Of course, I was super excited for another relay and I knew it would be a great time, but I wasn't sure about the distance.  Market to Market was "only" 76 miles long.  The other relays I've done were twice that distance.  I was afraid Market to Market would feel too short or wouldn't be as challenging or exciting.

Not at all.  My three runs, instead of being 10-12 hours apart, were about 4 hours apart.  That has a whole new set of obstacles as far as resting, fueling and hydrating are concerned.

It turns out that there were plenty of challenges, there was plenty of excitement and, bonus, by the time we were all exhausted and cranky, we were finished and it was time to go home.  No need to sleep in the van overnight or on a high school gymnasium floor.  I like the one-day distance much more than I thought I would.

This was the inaugural year for Market to Market in Ohio.  Often times, inaugural races come with unforeseen glitches and bumps in the road are to be expected.

Not with this one.

This event was flawless...and if it wasn't, they hid the flaws well.  Doug was a little concerned when we weren't provided with GPS coordinates or addresses to the exchange points, we were only given driving directions.  The driving directions were very detailed and spot on.  We never had trouble finding the exchange points.

I thoroughly enjoyed Market to Market Ohio and will totally be back next year.

Have you ever run a Market to Market Relay?  The other locations are Iowa (May) and Nebraska (October).  You should check them out if they're in your area.
Will you run Market to Market Ohio next year?  I think this one will catch on fast so register early!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Madison Mini Weekend

Well, hello, blog.  It's been a while.  And yes, it's been over 2 weeks since the Madison Mini.  I'm delinquent in getting my race recap posted.  I have a zillion excuses...the top two being that the little ladies are back in school, which makes mornings and afternoons a total circus in my house and I've started a new job.  I'm officially a part-time stay at home mom and my days have been busy with work stuff while the kids are in school.  This should settle down in the next couple of weeks.

Enough with the excuses.  Let's get to Madison!

I flew out to visit my BFF, Carrie on Wednesday night (the race was on Saturday).  We had lots of time together...there was a lot of eating, a lot of wine and way too much staying up too late.  It was wonderful to escape real life for a while and hang out with Carrie.

I know I've mentioned before that Carrie and I became best friends in fourth grade.  When we were in fifth grade, I moved away and we haven't lived in the same time zone since.  Our parents helped us travel to see each other several times from fifth grade through high school, but we lost touch for several years while we were in college.  It didn't matter.  Ours is the kind of friendship that no matter how long we're apart, when we finally get together again, it's as if no time has passed.  We're still the same friends we've always been.

I'm so incredibly lucky to have that type of friendship in my life.

Back to our weekend....

On Thursday morning, we drove the half marathon course.

It scared me to death.  I knew it would be hilly, and I'd trained for hills the best I could in pancake-flat Columbus, but actually looking at the hills in person....a few four-letter words may have escaped my innocent lips as we drove up the mother of all hills at freaking mile 9.

After the drive, Carrie took me to lunch carts (kind of like the food trucks we have in Columbus, but they're trailers, not trucks) for lunch.  We had the most delicious spring roll I've ever tasted.  And bonus: it was the size of my head.  I can't even describe to you how good it was...and it was only $3.  I'm not joking when I say that we visited this lunch cart three times while I was there...and I was only in Madison for 5 days.  It was that good.

Friday was expo day!  We visited the expo, where I bought 3 BondiBands that I totally didn't need--my name is Jamie and I'm addicted to BondiBands.  Friday night was the only night that we went to bed at a reasonable time.

At the Expo!
Saturday morning: RACE DAY!

We left Carrie's house around 6:15am.  Luckily, she lives really close to the starting line.  We nestled ourselves in our corral.  There were a few selfies and a lot of high-fives and fist bumps and at 7am, we were off.

Bring on 13.1!

We started off faster than I would have if I were running my own race.  Carrie is faster than I am and I ran with her for the first 4 miles to keep her from going out too fast.  By mile 4, I knew I needed to slow down or I wouldn't make it to the finish, so I sent Carrie on her way and I slowed to my happy pace.

I had no plan to PR this race.  I already had my big PR for the year and I hurt for 4 days afterward.  I'm not in a hurry to do that again.  Speed hurts!  Plus, it was pretty humid and getting hotter...I hate the heat.

I started walking through every water stop for Gatorade and water just making my way toward the chocolate milk at the finish.  I figured that I'd finish between 2 hours and 10 minutes and 2 hours and 15 minutes.  My actual finish time was 2:12:43.  Not a PR by a long shot. (1:57:48)

I found Carrie waiting for me at our planned meeting place--near the chocolate milk, of course!  She finished her first half marathon in 1:56:09!  Imagine what she could do on a flat course like Columbus...

We hung out on the Terrace for a while while Carrie drank her finish line beer (I don't like beer) and I refueled with pop corn and chocolate milk.  After we had sufficiently "recovered", we hit up the spring roll lunch cart for the second time during my stay in Madison.  I was starving and practically inhaled it.

We spent Saturday evening hanging out at Carrie's house...too tired for anything more exciting than Dating Naked.  Have you seen it?  Dumbest reality show ever.  And we couldn't take our eyes away.

On Sunday, we had a fun girls day.  We went to see a movie--complete with boozy smoothies--followed by pedicures and Mexican for dinner.


I've never had blue toenails before.

Monday morning, we did a little shopping in the downtown area so we could be close to the lunch carts for lunch!

Yes. Please.
We tried not to think about the fact that Carrie would be dropping me off at the airport in a couple short hours.

Our weekend had come to an end.  It was time to get back to real life.

Don't be sad, though.  We already have our next half marathon together planned!  We'll be meeting in Louisville in April for the Kentucky Derby Half.  We're already registered and our hotel is already booked.  I doubt very much that Derby will be our last destination half.

Our adventures will continue!  Right, Carrie?  (insert eyebrow waggle here)

Special thanks 
~to my awesome husband, Randy, for taking days off work to hang out with our little ladies.
~to my parents for parting with the frequent flier miles for my plane ticket so I didn't have to drive 8 hours.  (I'm so spoiled loved.)

I'm making a destination half marathon bucket list for Carrie and I.  What's your favorite half? And why?