Shamrock Half Marathon 2014 RR

This is my second favorite yearly race which I did for the first time in 2010.  The Wicked is my favorite.  The Shamrock after party is always awesome.  The volunteers for all of the J&A races are just so happy to be there and make you smile at times when you may be feeling exhausted and ready to quit.  It really makes a big difference to every runner that passes by them.  I will always muster up a smile and a thank you to each and every one of them.

This year was no different.  I had been looking forward to the bands, drinks and friends all running and gabbing together during the party.  Unfortunately my fate was sealed the day prior and I was not changing fate’s mind.

This is the first year that hubby has run a Shamrock and he decided to do the 8k.  So we get up around 4:30 AM and head out the door an hour later.  Luckily Saturday was very nice.  Cool enough during the race then warmed up for the after party.  It was very nice and odd for me to be a spectator.  But I enjoyed cheering everyone on from beginning to end instead of just after I cross the line.

Once we get home, I have dinner cooked by 5:00PM and am in bed by 7:00PM.  I have my alarm set for 3:00AM on Sunday to give myself an hour and a half to move around, eat a decent breakfast of toast with Nutella and a banana and drink some water.

We arrive and park and begin the walk to 42nd street.  My feet and both knees start to ache already.  This is a first.  Not quite sure why but I mentally chopped it up to mind tricks.  We hop in the corral and are off.

Before I even hit mile marker 1 my “first layer” of pants begin to fall to my hips.  WTHeck?  So I am running struggling not to look ridiculous trying to pull them up.  Then not 10 seconds after I get that straight my nano starts to fall off it’s clip and I am yet again struggling to keep that fastened.  All of this within the first mile.  And it does not stop here mind you.

I decide to take a quick walk break after mile 5 because my training the last couple of months has suffered due to all of the snow and ice and my new goal was to just finish the race upright.  After walking for 1 minute I slowly take back off only to find that I have trouble getting back in my groove.

Then my gut decides to put its two cents into the basket and around mile 7 inside of the base I stop at the porta potty.  Up to this point I was in the group with the 2:15 pacer.  I was doing an easy pace and not pushing at all, even with all that had happened up to this point.  This was a long set back.  15 minutes it took to stand in line and get back out there. As soon as I step out, here comes the 2:30 pacer.  I silently cursed and took off behind her.

Now after that long of a “cool down” I had to start all over with getting my breath under control and form back.  Now for those who ran this race note I said I stopped at the potty  line on the base.  This was at the entrance.  The next two miles the wind just kicked my butt.  This must have lead to me running oddly because my left knee started to join the destructive party.

So between the gut and my knee it continued throughout the remaining miles.  I had to take several walk breaks because the pain was just so intense.  I tried to pay close attention to my form and just when I thought it must really be sucking I was tapped on the shoulder.  I removed my ear plug so that I could hear the lady who had come up beside me.  She stated “you have the best running form I have ever seen.  I just wanted to tell you that”.  Running angel?  I can only imagine the look on my face as I gave her my thank you.

Not too long after we approached the clock around mile 11.50 and I noticed I could still hit a 2:30 if I just kept going like I was going, snail pace but forward.  But that was the positive push I desperately needed to put me back in the race mentally.

About .75 miles from the finish I had to walk again.  Blasted knee!  So I walked for a minute then approached that last water stop and just kept going through it.  Then I began to run again to finish out the boardwalk.


…even with all the trouble I had and the very very long pit stop.  It could have totally been worse so I will accept that time with only a little grudge.

The most unfortunate part of this whole day?  The after party with our group which I had been so looking forward to for months, I had to skip out on.  Once I crossed that line the stomach decided it was not done with me and we left immediately.  I slept the rest of the day through the night.  I also did not get any picture for this race.  My scrapbook page will be faceless (as well as this post).

Today I am giving all my attention to my long lost buddy, my foam roller.  I find walking to be way too painful.  Dern knee!  After almost a year and half of no IT Band issues it decided to hit me all at once during this race.  I guess it just did not like all the concrete and the sloped roads.  I usually do all of my long runs on crush and run and never have an issue.

Now I will just look forward to next year and concentrate on getting this knee better before the Flying Pirate Challenge coming up in May.


First year of participating in the Virginia is for Lovers 14K.  It was really nice to race on a different course.  I have now run and can say that I love all of the J&A Racing sponsored races, and stepping away from the boardwalk was a nice change.

Here is our 14k group just before heading out to the corrals


We did not plan the wardrobe match I swear, but we looked like a team smiling and ready to go.

It was really nice that we were able to wait inside the convention center with our families in the warmth prior to our race start.  My 10 year old was especially grateful.

Yes it was quite a chilly start but it warmed up quickly and the sun was shinning brightly.  We still had a few icy spots which looked like affected the 5k’ers harder than us.  I’m sure quite a few of them switch sport for a few seconds sans skates.  One area while entering the Amphitheater about took me out for which a loud “whoa” escaped.  But with as much grace as I could munster I righted myself avoiding contact with the ground and proceeded to the “hill”.

The path to the Amphitheater was very muddy but the softer terrain during a race was an unexpected delight.   Also not having to navigate my way through “group walls” was very nice as this was a smaller race.  I could just enjoy my run for which I did not push and kept it steady.  Whatever time I finished in would be a PR for a 14K so I had no virtual little shady guy to race against.  The only mantra I had to repeat, especially toward the end, was ‘just keep moving’.

I crossed the line basically by myself and smiled hard as I heard my name called.  It is always a great feeling and you know for a fact you’ve made it once the announcer very cheerfully proclaims your finish.  I give that guy credit.  He does that for hours and I have never heard him sound bored.  That just proves those J&A folks love what they do and it shows.

So after crossing the line our 5K group runner had a beer on hand and ready for me.  That was a nice change.  I am usually the first of our group to cross and would have the beer in hand to pass to my sister after she crossed that line.


It was a great race and a fun day for us all.  I cannot wait to do it again next year.  Oh and this is race #1 on my way to a cooler.  After running J&A races for five years, this will be my first attempt to tackle them all in a single calendar year.  Gives me something to look forward to.  It’s a small thing but to a runner it means a lot.

Training the Revolving Door

Training for a race can be daunting.  Especially those with any distance to them.   You come up with a race day plan, draw up a calendar with training distances, speeds, hills, etc.  Then out of the blue without any warning, BAM!  You have to change your plan.

This may be due to injury, work, anything that interferes with the ability to mark through that days square.  Maybe a few weeks later the interference goes away and again you pick back up the first calendar.

This door can swing either direction and many times around.  There is never any certainty that you will keep to the same training schedule.  This revolving door has become my life with distance races.

I am currently training for the Shamrock half marathon followed six weeks later by the Flying Pirate Challenge.  My plan was to run my first half without including any walking at all.  I’ve trained for a marathon so I know I can run that distance plus a few more miles tacked on without stopping but for some reason I have yet to participate in a race and get it done.

There is always some reason, all of them so far injury based.  I guess this may be why I am not so upset that yet again I have run into a hill I cannot sprint up.

My first and only marathon to date was in January 2012, the Disney Marathon.  The day before getting on the plane I discovered after rushed bone scans and MRIs that I had stress fractures in both knees.  Very disappointing.

Now two years later after an icy 11 miler this past Sunday it seems it has reared it’s ugly head again.  There is no ache, it is full blown all out pain in the knee bones on the left side.  It is always the left side.

So while I was walking the last two miles in pain I decided to just do a run/walk in March.  No biggie I guess as actually my half PR came in 2012 still healing from the stress fractures doing a run/walk without any time goal.  I also walked every water station and took my time.  So I figure I can do the same thing but not lallygag around the water stations.  My goal was to hit a 2:15.  This may still be possible as I did a 2:30 without trying.

Hopefully by taking this door I will live to do the same six weeks later during the Pirate Challenge then try to figure out why it reoccurred in time to train for the full in November.  In the meantime I already know my left hip is very tight and inflexible which may have a little to do with why I keep hurting my left knee whether stress fracture or IT Band Syndrome.  So I have begun to incorporate daily yoga into my training.  And not really to my training, just my daily routine.

2014 Running Goals

Since my life has so many different facets I have decided to split my 2014 goals into categories.  I already feel better about them by doing it in this fashion.  Instead of one long daunting list, I have three smaller lists which seem easier to tackle and complete.

So for my 2014 running goals I only have a few:

  1. Hit 1000 miles for the year (will be my first time)
  2. Run my second marathon in November
  3. Get the cooler for running all of the J&A races in 2014
  4. Hit a 25 minute 5K
  5. End the year uninjured

I have many more smaller goals that I would like to make along the way but these are the stickers I want to stamp with a smiley face.  This is definitely doable and not scary to look at in the least.

Reflections in Running 2013

2013 started out with four months off from running due to an injury in December 2012 followed by physical therapy.  Not the start I wanted by any means.  It also forced my very first race deferment ever, the Shamrock Half Marathon.  This would have been my fourth year in a row doing this race.  Very sad moment for me.

It actually took me until June to ‘fully’ recover from that injury.  That poor ankle just seems to take the punishment over and over again.  I’ve since rolled it a few more times at the trail for which surprisingly it survived.

The hardest part of it all was having to almost start over from scratch.  All the work I had done for the past year to get my 5K times down in the 25 min range was gone.  I was now struggling to hit 30 again.  For anyone who has been there, you completely understand how emotionally draining that is to an age competitive runner.

I did however finish out the year with two PRs and the drive to get back that 5K time and even surpass it by two more minutes.

I learned the importance of varying your running surface by adding those hills that make us work so hard but seem to be the hidden key to increasing pace and help to prevent ankle injuries.

I take away from 2013 the knowledge that even though it felt like I had lost what brought me so much thrill that if the desire still remains as the smallest spark you can return with a vengeance.  It just takes a little patience and a slight kick to the ego to get you where you want to go by knowing you can do it.  You can do anything.

Altra Torin My First Run

I had a few firsts ending with my run today.  All of which have a little story that gets me to this point and thus my Altra shoe review.

A couple of years ago, I like so many others, jumped at the chance to try out the barefoot running phenomenon.  I had been running in Asics and Wave Riders, both of which I had several pairs over two years.  But while participating in a popular running online community I purchased my first pair of Kinvaras.  I loved these shoes, still do even though they mean something different now.  I trained many miles with no run being over 6 in length with these pink beauties.  These had become my 5K-10K go to shoe.  Today I use them mainly on the treadmill as they really are quite comfortable but not substantial enough for me to tackle my daily runs outside.

Unfortunately I ended 2012 with two stress fractures in both knees and shins so decided I may need just a little more cushion for my street runs.  I bought a pair of Pure Flow 1 shoes.  These to this day are my favorite.  Unfortunately the mileage has added up and when I went to buy another pair found there are none anywhere.  I tried on the second version and just do not care for them.  The change was too drastic between 1 and 2.

I had seen the Altra commercials many times on TV and those folks earned their money as my interested was peaked and I began to ask around about them.  I searched for a store which sold them and found none within driving distance.  This meant I would have to buy them online.

I had never bought shoes online before.  I am one of those runners who will spend hours in a running store trying out shoes because my arch is high enough that it is difficult to find a good match.  But when I saw the Torin on sale as well as free shipping and more importantly free return I decided to take a chance.

I had read the many reviews prior to making my final decision.  Many users reported being injury prone and the Altra Torin working for them for high distances.  As I am looking to do my second marathon (hopefully uninjured this time around) in 2014 I made up my mind and ordered a pair.

1492690_10201684192844651_272224711_oToday I laced up for a lunch run and was pleasantly surprised.  Walking around the house they did not feel as if they would have the support I need but while hitting the neighborhood streets they felt very adequate.  Even quite comfortable.  Granted this is my first and only run in them.  I have 6 miler this weekend planned with the group so I will definitely know more by then.  But after the first trial I am happy with the chance I took with ordering shoes before trying them myself.

Would I recommend these to others?  Yes.  I am very injury prone as my body cannot absorb calcium like it should, I have high arches, most of my runs are on asphalt and even though I do not have wide feet I am unable to wear regular width shoes.  These fit all of the requirements so far and I look forward to my next run.

The Story of a Disney Marathoner

Chapter 111                                 The Final Chapter

Ok, so I’ve never said I always make the best decisions in terms of my health, but this was the best decision I ever made for me. I’ll pick up where I left off on Thursday night.

As you may recall, Thursday was a hectic day and one that only leads to this being that much more of a grand acheivement. Two stress fractures in both knees. I fully believe that both the Ortho and my FP new I would toe the line and give my best regardless. I did promise everyone that if the pain became too intense I would quit. No questions asked. I had no intention of permanently injuring myself. But I had to try. Or should I say, I had to at least start.

Let me just say that the whole RunDisney experience is one everyone should experience. This was the best one yet for me from the moment we arrived in Florida at the airport. If you’ve ever stayed at a Disney resort you know they take care of everything, and it is so worth staying at one, even the economy ones. We arrived at the airport and our bags are magically already transported to our rooms. We hop on a bus and are whisked away to our home for the next three nights. No messy lines. Travel already arranged. It’s great.



We arrive and check-in. Then immediately hop on another bus, provided for us already, to the expo. This was awesome. We grab our bibs and goody bags. No lines. They are very efficient. We head to the runners shopping mecha.


The first thing I did was go sign my name up on the waiting list at the KT Tape booth. I thought if I taped up both of my legs for ITBS that would greatly help. 2 1/2 hours later it was my turn. This was a very busy booth. Let me just say, this is a magic tape. I had been hurting constantly for days and as soon as I hopped off of the table I immediately felt better. It was not mental I swear.


After which, we did some more looking around, which was way more walking than I wanted to do, but I seriously felt better. We returned to the resort, got some dinner and turned in by 8:30PM. We had to wake up at 3:30AM the next morn for the half marathon for my sister.

So I woke up around 3AM because my internal clock is more than efficient. We were out the door and heading to the bus by 4:15AM. We arrived at the race. They had a party going on. DJ spinning music, characters dancing and taking pictures, many food options, humongous TV beside the DJ.


But it was COLD. By mid afternoon it was around 70. After she finished we headed back. Again, I did more walking and standing than I would have liked, especially with my current physical condition and 26 miles in my immediate future.

After the 1/2, we went back to the expo where I listened to a star studded (at least to runners) panel speak. Jenny Hadfield, Susan Paul, Kevin Hanson, Jeff Galloway, Hal Higdon


and the Hanson Team, you may recognize Desiree Davila who placed 2nd at Boston.


The next morning, we woke at 3:00AM (I was awake by 2:30AM) and headed to the buses by 3:45AM. Once we arrived, same setup but a whole lot more people around. I bid DH and sister farewell and starting making my way to the corrals. 30 minutes later I arrive. This was a long walk and they herded us along the way. Once there they had a stage up with a monsterous TV with Mickey, Donald and Goofy all on stage dancing. It was great. With every corral they let loose we had fireworks. Absolutely exciting! By this time I was sitting waiting to cross over to the other side where where the starting line awaited. I wanted to stay off my feet as much as possible since I woke up this morn with pain. I was definitely not expecting to get any mileage under my feet. But decided I would go until I could go no longer.

Not even into mile one I was worried I wouldn’t even make it two miles. But I had decided the night before to do a 1:1 shuffle. This would keep my feet very low to the ground to help alleviate constant hard impact and conserve energy. I mean lets face it. I hadn’t done a long run since Thanksgiving weekend and that was only 18 miles and probably should not have been there to begin with.

I was able to maintain the pain level low throughout the whole race. I was very surprised.  Maybe it was the adrenaline.  It all went by very quickly. I never got tired even at the end. If it was not for my right foot, I probably could have kept going. But the last two miles were the worst only because the top of my right foot started to ache and it just did not feel right. My mind was telling me to take it easy so I stayed around a 17 minute pace for the last two coming in. I did not care about time so was not worried. My only goal was to cross the line before the sweepers. And with that in mind, it allowed me to stop multiple times throughout the race to take pictures of the course as well as wait in lines to take pictures with characters. More than I have here. Most of them Disney took and I cannot wait to see. But I will post what I was able to take with my phone.


The big Mickey hands waving to us and jamming


Come on, how many times do you see this?  Runners under and on the bridge.


Ahhh the castle!


Running through Epcot.  All we heard was “runners watch you step, speed bumps ahead”.  It was quite funny.


Running through Futureland


Hollywood Studios


Magic Kingdom


Main Street was still decorated


You gotta hate the shorts! They did not make for a photogenic picture.



I did make a few aid stations stops to rub down in BioFreeze. This is some good stuff!

A wonderful mile marker to see


And with all of what started out on Thursday as a useless year of training, ended up with what I wanted most….. the medal!


Now to anyone thinking of doing a Disney race….. Do Not and I repeat, Do Not do it for time. There are several bottle necks that are almost less than two person shoulder to shoulder wide. This is for fun only and fun you will have. They did a great job. There are adequate hydration stations and even two banana stops (for which I was grateful). They even toward the end had three stations that gave out candy. There was music and characters spread out all along the course. I will definitely do this again, hopefully uninjured going in. Do I think it was worth the risk? Oh Heck Yeah! I can walk around today, albeit slowly, but am doing very well. My knees did me justice and I am still smiling.

I have cried a weeks worth of hydration away

Chapter 110

Guess a years long journey toward a Disney first marathon has been stolen. At least that is how I feel. I went to the doctor yesterday to see options for me to be able to complete the race even if pain occurs. He decided to call an Ortho. From there I went directly to the hospital and had x-rays done on both knees. This came out normal. A little hope returns.

Today they scheduled me for a bone scan. This was an ordeal. Luckily there was a very very nice Ortho in this area. He agreed to see me today even though his office was closed. After the bone scan, they called him to see when he could see me. It was 4:30 PM by this time. They told me the scans looked normal so I was very hopeful. A little more hope returns.

I get to the office and he asks me to explain where the pain is exactly. I show him both spots on the outside of both knees. He pushed on them and they were very tender. He did other tests which caused no pain. Then he looked at me and told me that he is aware that the x-ray tech told me my bone scan was normal and that he did not agree. My heart sank.

He walked me to his office and showed me the scans. He noted the white spots exactly where I showed him I had pain. Then he gave me horrible news. I have two stress fractures in both knees.  We could also see white streaks down my shins from fractures.

At least that explains why even with all of the rolling and yoga and ice the pain has been progressively getting worse over the past couple of weeks instead of better. We talked about what could happen if I attempted the race anyway and how long it would take to heal as it is right now. By this time the tears were streaming down my face and I was apologizing profusely for being such a baby.

I asked about a run/walk plan and if he felt I’d be okay. He mentioned that runners will run through extreme pain because it is in our nature and that he knows I’ll probably give it a try anyway. I did say I would take off a full six weeks after the race but I did want to give it a try doing a run/walk. If the pain hits like it did this past weekend, I would sit my red puffy face on the side walk and cheer on everyone else as they passed me by.

As I was checking out, it took everything I had not to just burst out from the pain I was feeling and not the knee pain but emotional.  A years worth of training and high hopes are now gone. I barely made it out of the office door before I lost it. Unfortunately the poor lady at the desk shared some of my pain watching my extreme disappointment.  I thought she was going to cry right along with me.

I can not begin to explain the pain I am feeling. I feel like my dreams have been crushed. And I do fully understand that by doing the right thing and not pushing it during the race I will heal to race another day, but a year!!!!!  Training and excitement for a full year.  All of the sacrifices by me and my family so I could train.  I feel like it was such a waste of time.  The closer I got home the further I spiraled.  And unfortunately we had a house full of people when I crawled into the door.

First marathon, you only get one… DISNEY!!!

Originally posted on The Loop January 5, 2012

Taper Friggin Crazy

Chapter 109

So we login to the Loop and read all about runner’s experiences to hopefully gain insight into our own path of enlightenment that we have all chosen. We talk about training, we give race reports and sometimes a few blogs about ‘how absolutely friggin crazy you feel during a taper!’

We all sit down and read these posts when we come across them, give encouragement, let them know we believe in them and the big day is almost here but you really really really cannot understand until you experience it yourself. I so feel for everyone now whom I have told that they are great, their training has gone well and they are definitely ready. Now I know all you are actually thinking about is, I want to run today…. CRAP it’s not on my schedule, I’m cutting back. How about a quick ride, CRAP another rest day??? Really?

So how do I handle all these nerves usually? I RUN!!! How am I actually handling it in taperville?

That’s right. I’m so hungry I am eating anything and everything whether I like it or not. Or at least I think I’m hungry. I sure do feel hungry. And what a horrible time of year to go through taperville! There is always something nutritious laying around to grab. So not the case…..

And where did all of these aches and pains come from? I mean I’m doing nothing comparitively and yet I hurt more? Logic please???? Man my brain is in overdrive and what do I want to do? RUN

CRAP… it’s not on the schedule.

Originally posted on The Loop December 27, 2011

Christmastown Dash 8K 2013 RR/PR

This 12 month in advanced planned race ended up being a two week event with a happy unexpected ending.  Let me explain.

First weekend in December 2012 two of us take off for our first mini racing weekend vacation.  We arrive early in Williamsburg on Friday, hit the outlet malls and meet the rest of the family for dinner. Saturday we all roll down to the Winery for lunch and an awesome wine tasting tour.  Then head out to Colonial Williamsburg for site seeing, tours and dinning.  We never did make the tours as they were all booked up and promised we would sign up early for next years mini vaca.  The race on Sunday topped off a fantastic weekend with after race party at Nascar.  We all looked forward to the same mini vaca this year.

Unfortunately it never happened that way.  Educational finances changed my plans so we were unable to take the trip as well as a few others in our party this year.  So my plan was to drive up Sunday morning just for the race.

We got to bed early Saturday night after eating my normal pre-race dinner of chicken, jasmine rice and cream of mushroom soup.  Around 9PM running buddy texted me alerting that they postponed the race due to the icey weather report.  I had two bags packed for the following morning.  One with a full change of clothes and a second with another set of running attire for anything Mother Nature wanted to throw our way. I was fully prepared for rain, cold and wind.  The ice on the other hand was a little scary.  So the fact that they postponed I still believe was a very wise decision.

Although saddened by the let down, the following weekend’s weather forecast was looking much more promising.  Mid week they began to say it was going to rain and be in the 40s. Okay, I can still deal with that.  However Saturday they began to report the rain may stop by the beginning of the race. Oh yeah, this weekend was looking even better.

So I popped out of bed around 3:45 and started getting ready.  It was 45*.  I decided to change my running outfit and pack to carry the preplanned one.  I would have roasted had I not done so.

On the two hour trip there it sporadically spit and the temperature seemed to drop the closer we got to Busch Gardens.  Luckily I was ready for 50 – 20, no rain – rain.  I stuck with the capri tights, Santa shorts, short sleeve shirt and green arm sleeves.

It was cold!


But I knew without a doubt I would warm up and be sweating buckets one mile in.  So true to running form I froze for 45 minutes so that my run would be more comfortable.  The things we do for our run 🙂

Finally Santa Cow let us loose


Anyway, we were finally off and climbing that immediate steep hill.  No problem.  Half way through the race I remembered last year being much harder…  I had decided earlier in the week with weather stats to just make this a fun run through the park.  I wasn’t going for any PR or even attempting to hit my last year’s 48:48 which I had to work for.

So you can image my surprise when I crossed the finish and Xena said 47:16.  I was floored.  Who knew?  Training on hills for three months really paid off.  I was able to enjoy the run completely and still hit a PR.  Guess what training session I’m NOT removing from my half schedule.  That’s right.  Hills.

As soon as I crossed the line and thanked every volunteer I approached handing out our goodies, we stood in line to take the final pick and head to the car.


Our next stop was Nascar for burgers and fries.  There were no lack of TVs in this joint.


They even had individual TVs at each of the booths.

So even though I ended up a lonely racer going at it alone with hubby in tow as my cheerleader (and stuff holder) it was a great race.  I enjoyed every hill and pebbly step of it.  There were a few slick areas only because the pebbles were smooth and still very wet but much safer than it would have been the previous weekend with ice.  But the park is beautiful this time of year and being able to enjoy it by doing the thing I love just makes it even more so.

So I’ll happily take the PR, the very pretty medal and memories of gorgeous scenery throughout the year as a promise for things to return to next year.