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.

Just Can’t ‘head’Stand It

Headstand day; #21 of the yoga challenge.  *sigh*

My shoulders and core are weak.  I’m a runner so all I want to do is run.  That’s my thang.   I neglect all of those other muscles that seem to want to participate in my daily movements.  They take me away from my run.  Not acceptable.

Oh that leads me to my second thang, injury.  I’m an injury prone runner.  You would have never guessed huh?  So when today’s challenge came up I gave it my all.  I’m sure a hidden video would have gone viral.  But what ev’s.  I have tackled each days challenge like a toddler trying to walk for the first time; with zeal, skepticism, but determination.

So I cannot do a headstand…..yet.  Will I let it stop me?  No.  There was a time when I could not do pigeon.  I learned that pose two years ago just for an IT Band stretch.  Now I’m a pigeon posing fool.

We shall see how long it takes this injury prone, inflexible, weak from the hips up runner to conquer the mysterious yogic headstand.

Letting the Yoga In

I have off and on throughout the years tried my hand at yoga.  In my early 20s I even used to meditate with a tape from Dr. Andrew Weil nightly to help mediate my stress levels.  Yes at 20 something you can be stressed.  I was married, young child, working 2 to 3 jobs at any one time, bills, yada yada yada.  You get the picture.

Just prior to Thanksgiving last year I guess everything I either did not realize was seriously getting to me or I unconsciously denied finally decided to show its face.  My eye started twitching non stop, every day without fail and my jaw locked up on me.  This continued honestly until about four weeks ago when I decided to go full force into my yoga practice and really get serious about it.

I had been going to what I call the Thursday mega class weekly which is 40 minutes of spin followed by 20 minutes of weights/core work followed by an hour of yoga.  I was mainly doing this to hopefully improve my flexibility which is severely lacking to aid in my running.  Every year I suffer an injury by December on the left side.  Either my IT Band or ankle.  I’ve come to believe it is a tight hip on that side.  So getting into yoga started out as a means to an end.  But it has become something more.

I started looking up classes on youtube and found a few to do at night to help me sleep as that was also suffering by this time.  It seemed to help immediately.  So I began to incorporate a short 10 minute ‘yoga for runners’ routine to my mornings.  I was hooked.

I then found the 30 day challenge with Erin Motz.  I love it.  On day 18.  I do it every morning before work.  They are each only 10-15 minutes so instead of sitting on my butt watching TV I whip out the mat.  I really like the way she teaches which may be one of the reasons I have decided to go a little further in my practice.  If she had stunk I might still be an on again off again wannabe.

I admittedly bought the book ‘Yoga for Dummies’ for background and lifestyle information.  I’m sorry, but those are some really good books.  I have them themed from yoga to goldfish to programming.  I am not ashamed to admit it.  A good book is a good book.

What really struck me however was two weeks ago my youngest daughter had two friends stay over and they started talking about yoga for kids.  I had been trying to get her into that for a couple weeks.  Well earlier that day they hunted one out and did it.  Then decided to do an hour video before bedtime with me.  They actually asked to do it.  I was so impressed as they did so well.  Much better than I expected for such a calm routine which lasted 60 minutes.  To 9 year olds that is usually a lifetime.

So here I sit today after doing an hour of morning yoga fully relaxed and ready to tackle the day.  I now know when the day gets tough and people get under my skin to just stop, take a few deep breaths and it seems to help me push through with a smile instead of cursing under my breath and straining my eyes from all the rolling.

I have let the Yoga in with a welcoming embrace.

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.

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.

On the Twelfth Day

Chapter 108

Current note:  by this time I was full in taperville and the jacket was a little tight

(Sing to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas)

On the twelfth day of taper
Rundisney gave to me

Infinity and beyond,

An apple for some sleep,

Pixie dust for travel,

Mufasa – oooooohhhhh,

A thumping foot of nerves,

A ladder for that tower,

A carpet ride adventure,

Ba-lloons to lift me uuupppPP,

A push in the rabbit hole,

A visit from Sulley,

Honeybees in my feet,

AND fairy butterflies internally.


But what is it that I really need? A fairy godmother to help me cross that line:

I wish I wish upon a star

For healthy knees to take me far

And if they try to fade away

I’ll wish to play another day

Originally posted on The Loop January 4, 2012

Experience Plays a Role

As my first marathon adventure comes to an end,again, it has gotten me thinking that I may be ready to tackle number two.  At the Surf n Santa Expo I approached the OBX Sporting Series booth and grabbed a few of their race course maps, including the Triathlon.  I also spoke with one of the representatives and asked questions about each event.

My very first race ever was at the Outer Banks;  no medals, no flash, just a small running community.  There was an after party (and an after after party on the beach) and I had a blast running the reserve trail which hooked me into racing from that finish line on.  But I haven’t been back since sticking to the VB races which I thoroughly love but feel it is about time I return.

So why not make my come back a mission.  I am even thinking of attending two OBX races in 2014.  The Flying Pirate half in May which I have heard nothing but good things about for a couple of years and then the full in November.

Now that I have trained for and completed a marathon (sorry no spoilers as the end is coming) I feel better equipped to handle it more successfully.  Hopefully without all the drama.  Again, sorry no spoilers.

I will still be going at it alone but it is not an unknown path where decisions made were based on erratic emotions but on experience.  Who knows, I may add a third expedition in 2014 by doing the Sprint in September.  You never know.  I may push down the nerves and jump in the pool any day now.