Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Monday, March 4, 2019

Humble Half

This weekend was the inaugural City of the Palms Half Marathon.  Scott and I were looking for a race to keep us motivated, and this distance and the location felt right.  Running almost anytime in this southwest region of Florida is hot and usually humid.  This blog post is not to complain about those “captain obvious” facts.  This blog post reflects how humbling this race was for me.

Back to the “captain obvious” facts.  First, I was under trained.  Once again, I had high hopes, created a training calendar, and then peetered out when it came to the actual training part.  Secondly and related to the first, I was beaten by the heat.  Half way through the race, my melt-fest was in high gear and I began to feel like I was running through molasses.  The combination of lackluster training and full sun and heat found me grappling with rare mid-race calf and toe cramps from mile 10 through the finish. 

I finished with Scott screaming my name and catching my finish on video.  I found Scott (who won his age group!!) and we cheered friend Erin’s finish.  A mountain dew and a bag of chips helped me quickly feel more like myself, and a bee sting at the finish made me forget about the calf pain!

Also at the finish was Jeannie Rice, a local 70 year old runner who a) kicked my butt, and b) continues to kick butts all over the place!  She set an age group world record at 2018 Chicago Marathon as part of her amazing repertoire of running accomplishments. 

Once reunited with Erin, we cheesed for the camera with our over-sized medals and waited for Scott to collect his age group award.  As we started the trek to our cars, we noticed a runner finishing - dressed in full firefighter equipment!  Several of us stopped to cheer her finish and awarding of her finisher’s medal. 

I was humbled the fact that after more than 30 years, Scott is still my biggest cheerleader.  I was humbled by the woman who ran 13.1 miles in full firefighter equipment.  I was humbled by witnessing Jeannie Rice’s continued success as a runner – and breaking age barriers one race at a time.  I was humbled by the runners around me who were battling the same miles and heat I was.  

So as hot as I felt, the firefighter runner's layers of clothing and equipment had me beat.  At 52 years old, I got my butt handed to me by a woman twenty years my senior.   I was humbled by my own body and mind, that even though I gave less than I asked for, both showed up and got me through the race.  

And the bee sting?  I'll survive.  

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Power of Kindness

Today, I found myself in that in-between space of wanting to crush a run and wanting to curl up on the couch.  I got myself moving by way of walking Bella and, out of the blue, received a text message from a friend up North:

Friend:          About to go for my first run since November and thought of you!
Me:              [ immediately inspired to choose the run over the couch ]

The text conversation went further, but that was the crux of it.  Someone ready to go out for a run (in the cold NH weather) thought of me and took a minute to tell me so.  Shucks.

Heading out for my suddenly-a-great-idea run, Scott offered up, “Hey just take it slow if you have to”.  I overdosed on Valentine’s Day homemade fudge the night before, so was definitely feeling it today.  I replied, “Definitely” as I hit start on my watch and left the house.  No expectations; just getting out to move.

Almost immediately, my run felt easy.  I glanced at my watch a couple times and noticed it was hanging in the 8:20/8:30’s range.  My negative talk shouted, “Your watch is always screwed up; that can’t be right”; my positive talk whispered strongly, “Let the run come to you”.  I respond better to the strong whisper. 

Running within the confines of my gated community, I end up running several loops – albeit changing up the direction at times to keep it somewhat interesting.  Because of this, I passed the same couple people walking.  Several times.  Each time, the man with the salt & pepper beard smiled and cheered, “Nice work young lady, keep it up!” and “Great job!”.  I think I passed them four times in total.  By the last time I saw them, he cheered harder, “Wow, doing great….keep it up young lady!” while clapping and making quite a big deal of my running.  That made me smile so hard.    
I’m big on telling people I appreciate them or something they did.  I also strongly believe in building people up.  When I find myself on the recipient end of that, it really makes my moment/day/run.  Kindness is awesome.  It takes nothing to deliver and BOTH sides reap the reward.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Everyone needs a "Papa"

Whenever I meet someone new, I wonder why that person has crossed my path and becomes a part of my journey.  Twenty or so years ago, our paths crossed with Sue and Wynn.  Liked them from the start!  We share a love of running, enjoyment of Patriots football games, and just being in each other’s company.  Through the years, we’ve been a part of countless parties, football gatherings, running events, important family moments, and endless days at the beach.  What we hadn’t counted on when we gained such wonderful friends was that we also gained a “Papa”.

Papa is Wynn’s dad.  This man welcomed us into his family with hugs, with stories, with generosity, with kindness, and with a hearty laugh.  Whenever we arrived at a family event, he smiled broadly and welcomed us as he’d welcome the rest of his family.  When they lived in Jacksonville, he insisted we use their car and their house while we were there.  We even had our very own “height measurement line” drawn on the garage wall, next to the other family members’ height measurements.

Papa passed last night.  It’s never enough time.  There are never enough smiles or hugs or stories to be told.  Everyone should have a Papa, whether by blood or by friendship, to show them the value of family, laughter, and love.  I know this is exactly why he was part of my journey.

Thank you Papa, I’ve got a special place in my heart and memories just for you. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

How do YOU respond when things don’t go according to plan?

It’s easy to respond positively when things go according to plan.  The race you want to PR at; and you do.  Perfect weather for your vacation; and it happens.  It’s when things don’t go according to plan that the response speaks volumes about the person or the organization.

I’ve been running somewhere around 20 years.  That’s 20 years of running clothes, running shoes, and miscellaneous running accessories.  I’ve been a loyal Asics customer for that same period.  I did try a random New Balance and a Saucony shoe, but the Asics just fit.  So, I stayed with what worked for me.  Back in August, I ordered my next pair of shoes, but due to some pretty low mileage (and throw a state relocation from NH to FL in the mix), I really wasn’t covering the mileage I usually would. 

Over the last couple weeks, I noticed part of my shoe seemed to be separating.  What?  First, I hadn’t been running a ton of trails or rocky areas and generally, I hadn’t been hammering my shoes like I have in the past.  What gives?  In no time, the separation grew into a 1-inch sized hole!

With only about 200 miles on my shoes, I knew this wasn’t normal.  So, I jumped onto Asics’ website, easily found their ‘warranty claim’ link, and filed a claim.  I needed to include some photos and a receipt, but the process was very easy.  Within a very short time, I received an email:

The process to order my new shoes with the promotion code was also quick and easy.  Now, I’m excitedly awaiting my new shoes, being shipped in 2 days with free shipping.  The easy warranty process, the fast response, and the fantastic customer service makes me not only want to continue using their products, but also makes me want to share how great they are.  

Well done Asics!  And just in time for my registration for another race....:)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Expect the unexpected - Caloosahatchee Ultra

Last spring when we moved to southwest Florida, I found the Caloosahatchee Ultra and decided it would be a great goal race to keep me moving.  Within a drivable distance, its three 10.5-mile loop course sounded like a perfect opportunity to play on the trails on a Saturday in December.

I put together a standard training calendar and set out to train for the 50K distance I hadn’t run since Ghost Train (30) back in October 2017.  I quickly realized the heat and humidity of southwest Florida was no joke.  Scott and I slogged through many training runs, but I struggled with sticking with it. 

Team Smedz!
In July, our friends Brad and Jenelle were lured decided to register for this race.  Brad was ready to tackle the ultra-distance and Jenelle was ready to tackle a new long distance.  A fun long weekend began to take shape that would include carbo loading, running, and celebrating.  This is also when Caloosahatchee Ultra was fondly nicknamed the Hootchie Cootchie Ultra.

Race day morning felt oddly comfortable, with a light shower early on, lots of cloud cover, and a refreshing breeze.  The forecast warned that would be short lived, so we came armed with all the fluids, all the salt tabs, and all the attitude to cover a hot 50K.

Although Scott and I scoped out the trails about a month prior, we only covered about half of the trails.   The portion of the trails we didn’t cover were the hardest portion.  There turned out to be lots of ups and downs, with a healthy number of switchbacks.  At one point, I had to use my hands to steady myself on the steepest climb.  Yes, I said climb.  In Florida. 

Team Action Jackson
I expected it to be warm, but with everyone telling me “It’ll cool off and be beautiful”, I wasn’t quite expecting humid mid-80’s on December 1st.  I also expected this run to be hard.  Remember the difficult training cycle previously mentioned?  Yeah, nothing like feeling undertrained for a 50K.  There’s no avoiding that level of ouch.

I hoped I wouldn’t see any scary wildlife and although there was a rattlesnake sighting (quickly relocated by a park ranger), I only saw one other snake sunning himself on the trail.  I tip toed right by him.  After the first four miles, I essentially ran this race solo.  I enjoyed the peaceful trails, but I don’t know what I would’ve done had I come across the rattlesnake on my own.  EEEK!

One of these is real.....

Award time!
The four of us set out with our goals and left it all out there at Caloosahatchee.  Brad nailed his first 50K distance and Jenelle rocked her distance PR with 21 miles for the day.  And Scott?  He killed it, placing 3rd overall and top master finisher!  One of the beautifully handmade awards I had been drooling over at the start of the race was now coming home with Scott.  Me?  I finished with tears in my eyes.  Physically, I was ill prepared for the distance and the course.  Mentally, I felt like I broke through a mental wall that had slowly been building over the last two years.  I’m thrilled with my day.

Expect the unexpected at Caloosahatchee Ultra!  The race director and team put on a great race!  I highly recommend it – whether the 50K or the 25K option.  There’s no way to get lost and there’s a very generous time cut-off.  And as hot as it felt when we were running in the fields, we had significant tree cover during much of the course.   They offered maximum food, beverage, fun, and personalized attention.  Brad’s day was made when a volunteer had a coffee waiting for him the next time he came into the aid station!  And how many race directors sign your friends in and immediately recognize them as “Hey, it’s New Hampshire!”

Caloosahatchee Cheers!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A dose of mental training

I remember the first time I ran a double loop marathon.  I thought it would be hellish.  I remember when I ran my first ultra, Stonecat 50, comprised of four 12.5 mile loops in the woods.  And who could forget Ghost Train, where I ran/walked/slept-walked 100 miles via 6.6667 out-and-backs on an old rail bed.  Physical training is key, but mental strength is what I rely most on.

This morning, I decided to run my ten miles within the confines of my little community.  That meant loops.  Three loops to be exact.  I had that same hellish thought about running loops, but figured it could only help me continue to strengthen my mental toughness as I head to the Caloosahatchee Ultra (a three loop course) next week.

The transformation in my thoughts from the first loop through the third is pretty typical –

Loop 1:

- OMG, I suck
- And I call myself a runner
- I give up
- Why is this so hard
- And I have a race in one week

Loop "split": 

Stopped at my house, took a few moments, received encouraging words from Scott and a tail wag from Bella.  Time to get my body AND my mind in gear!

Loop 2:

- OK, nothing hurts so lock it up
- Whoa, this feels better
- GU & salt tabs are indeed magical
- Starting to feel strong again
- I may actually make ten miles afterall
- No I WILL make ten miles
- I’ve got this

Loop "split": 

When I returned home for the second time, Scott commented about my smile.  #thingsarelookingup

Loop 3:

- I can’t believe I feel so much better
- I’m so proud of turning this run around
- I'm so glad I pushed past the 3 mile mark
- Hm, pace feels comfy
- I could definitely go farther
- Can’t wait to rock tomorrow’s run
- Go me

Now if someone can just remind me next Saturday to skip right to Loop 3 thoughts, that'd be greatttttt!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The power in "missing"

Sleeping in.  It’s finally cooled a bit in southwest Florida, but for a solid seven month stretch, if we weren’t out running by 6:00 am, game ovah.  And an extra long weekend provides that feeling of leisure.

Running.  This morning, we opted for a nice walk with Bella and will get out there again later.  We’ll give it hell tomorrow on the trails!

Chill.  When we headed out for our walk earlier, it was breezy and almost felt a bit chilly (my New England friends are likely rolling their collective eyes).  It’s nothing like the cold frigid temperatures they’re experiencing, but I enjoyed donning a long-sleeved shirt! 

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  We realized today that we haven’t cooked Thanksgiving dinner since we’ve known each other.  Gulp, that’s over thirty years!  We’ve always joined Scott’s brother and family for Thanksgiving.  I’ve always supplied the apple pie (mostly baked; sometimes bought).  We'll always be there for Thanksgiving, whether physically or in spirit.   

Family & Friends.  I’d give anything to be able to spend every day, not just holidays, close enough to see everyone anytime I wanted – from all my different lives.  I’m enjoying new friends but missing old friends.  When I do connect with family or old friends, it’s that much sweeter.

Listening to old songs.  While preparing our turkey and fixings today, we tuned into old Casey Kasem “countdown” of songs.  From 1972!  Here are some notables heard today:
  • “Sunshine go away today, I don’t feel much like smiling”
  • “Precious and few are the moments we two can share”
  • “Song sung blue, weeping like a willow”
  • “Been through the desert on a horse with no name”
  • “I’ve got a brand-new pair of roller skates, you got a brand-new key”
  • “Who can make the sun rise, sprinkle it with dew…the Candy man can”
  • “Bye, bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry"

Dare I even say…cold/snowy weather.  I don’t miss that as much as the other things I’ve noted, but there is a certain vibe that only a cold and snowy winter day can provide.  Cranking up the pellet stove was one of my favorite moments during the winter months.  Applying and then peeling off multiple layers of running clothes go in the notsofavorite things during winter.   But the vibe?  It’s a combination of cozy/badass/harsh/peaceful.

My blog.  I’ve missed writing in my little corner of the blog-o-sphere!  I love to write in a way that entertains, makes people laugh, or even provides some piece of wisdom I’ve learned.  But simply, I love the act of writing (thanks Mom!).  I also love being able to look back occasionally to reflect on where I’ve been, what I’ve done, what I’ve learned…and how far I’ve come.

Missing all these things could and sometimes makes me sad, but the simple act of missing makes me appreciate them even more.  Even the cold.  OK, that might be a stretch.

Happy Thanksgiving to family, friends (old & new) and everyone in between!