Sunday, July 5, 2015

Marathon Training Continues

On July 3rd, I set out for a 17 mile run. The weather was perfect, 65 and sunny. Cool for July, but excellent for running. To avoid having to run on a main road, I decide to rack up as many miles around my house as I could before I set off on the real adventure. Having a destination to run to is more fun than just running in circles. My destination was a small lake named Stanley Lake at the top of a mountain.

Loaded down with 42 ounces of water, Hammer electrolyte drink, and some honey stingers, I first ran up the road and stopped just short of a major hill. I then ran down the road past my house and turned onto a dirt road. Once again I ran to the start of the big hill (same hill, just different road), then turned around and ran back. By the time I got to the start of the real run, I had racked up six miles. That left just 11 to go.

The Endless Mountain of Pennsylvania.
Living in a very hilly area, I really can't avoid the hills if I want to go anywhere. After a two mile uphill run, I turned right onto a dirt road that would take me to Stanley Lake. Dirt roads are great. They muffle the sounds of my feet and are usually tree-lined and peaceful. Only one car passed me the entire time. I saw several deer, a fox, and million of butterflies.

Stanley Lake is a 30 acre lake with a  limited number of homes and cottages around the lake.  Being 4th of July weekend, there were lots of people mowing yards and starting cookouts. The smokey smell of hamburgers and hotdogs was in the air. At the end go the lake, I stopped to take a picture and empty another water bottle. I was at mile 12, but had quite a bit of water left. The temperature had gone up a little bit there was a slight breeze and it felt great.

Stanley Lake
Getting to Stanley Lake had been mostly downhill. This meant the return trip would be mostly uphill.   I walked the steepest hills and took my time on the downhills. At mile 14, I was back on the paved road and had several small, but steep hills to negotiate. I again walked the worst of them, but chose to run the downhill. This may have been a mistake because by the time my watch beeped 16, my quads were sore and tight.  At mile 17, I pushed for two more tenths and then called it good. My 17.2 mile run was complete. I was still a half mile from home and slowly walked the remaining distance.  Walking after a long run really helps the legs feel better the next day. This is something I did not do last year and had very sore legs for two and sometime three days after. I also did very little walking. Just waking for 20 to 30 seconds gives the legs a break and makes the run more enjoyable.

My next long run will be 18.2 miles. Because I'm only doing a long run every other week, I have a little time to plan out my next destination.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Race Bling

Race Medal Holder Complete with Race Medals
I ran my first race on May 6, 2012 at the age of 47. It was a 5K and I finished with a time of 30:36. I knew there were awards for winners, but I never paid any attention to them because I was way too slow then to even be in the top ten for my age group. I also never intended on running another race. I had signed up for the 5K as motivation to start running, but never thought I'd want to run with a group of people again.

In July, I ran my second 5K and finished with a time of 28:41. The improvement in time was enough to make me sign up for another race. By the end of 2012, I had run 12 races and improved my time to 26:15.  I had yet to win any kind of award, but had come in fourth for my age group.

In 2013, I ran a very chilly and very snowy 5K called Cupid's Chase. My time was 28:08 which was terrible, but everyone ran terrible and I managed a first place age group win and a medal. My first medal.  By the end of 2013, I had four medals.

In 2014, I again won the Cupid's Chase with a time of 24:59. My medals were starting to accumulate.  I looked into race medal holders, but they were expensive - $40 to $50.  I could run two or three races for that amount of money. So I did what many people do and put some hooks in a piece of wood and hung up my medals.

Last month I added two more medals to my collection for a total of 19. I again looked into race medal holders which were still $40 to $50 for something decent. I found a plastic one with a female running figure on top for $18, but it wasn't much better than my strip of wood. 

I saw a lot of very nice homemade medal holders on runner's blogs and thought about buying the supplies to make my own, but the cost was still around $20 and I still had to make the thing. I just needed something "nice" to display my medals. It didn't need runners or inspirational words or anything on top. It just needed to hold medals.

A search of "hangers" and "hooks" on ebay brought up all kinds of holders for coffee cups, towels, coats, ties, and hats. An antique store had a very nice wooden tie rack for $15 which I nearly bought, but everything in my house is wood. Then I found an interesting metal towel holder for $10 which looked perfect. I read a review of the holder on Amazon where people said it wasn't the best towel holder, but I wouldn't be using it for wet towels. It measured 18 inches which was just right for the 22 inches of space available on the wall over my work desk. The seller was offering free shipping and had a great rating. Several mouse clicks later, the hanger was on its way and is now mounted on my wall. 

If you are interested, it is called a Sweep, Five Hook Holder. It comes in three different colors. You should be able to find it for around $10. For the price, it is a great race bling holder.

June Races

For June of 2015, I ran two 5K races. Both were evening races. Although I usually run after work, running a race at the end of the day was kind of strange. I was tired and just wanted to go sit and relax, but I had a race to run.

Paul Kearns
The first race was a fundraiser and memorial for a guy named Paul Kearns. I graduated high school with some of the Kearns family, but Paul was five years older than me and I didn't really know him.  He died from a battle with cancer at the age of 55 and was well known in the community.

The race was an out and back, flat course that I have run many times. Rain was predicted, but never showed which was good. The temperature was 82 degrees, but it felt hotter. 140 runners showed up to pay their respects to Paul Kearns. I started out the race fast, like I always do. By mile two, I was dying from the heat and humidity. Apparently, so was everyone else. I finished with a time of 25:36 which was good enough for 18th place overall and third place female. I have run this course much faster so I was kind of disappointed with my finish time. One thing that I am slowly learning is that every race will be different.  Weather, time of day, the number of runners, it makes every race different even if I've run the course 10 times before.

The cost of this race was $15 which usually means bananas and water. Being a fundraiser, I wasn't expecting much. I hadn't eaten dinner because I didn't want food in my stomach, so I was hungry.  When I walked up to the food table, I saw a hungry runner's dream spread. Pizza, subs, bananas, oranges, watermelon, bagels, popcorn, cookies, brownies, and water. And piles of it! There was so much food runners were encouraged to take food home. Many organizations had donated food for the event. The awards for this race were great. In addition to the usual age group awards, there were awards for the most courageous runner, first 5K, anyone who set a PR (not me), and the half way point runner (number 70).  A far as 5K races go, this one was excellent. I think Paul Kearns would have approved.

My second evening race was part of a strawberry festival in the town of Owego, NY. This race has gained in popularity over the years and attracts about 700 runners and walkers. This was my first time running this race as I usually don't like any race associated with a festival. Too many people and nowhere to park. The place I found to park turned out to be perfect because when I got out of my car, there was a $20 bill on the ground.

Like most races, this race featured a one-mile kid's run which took place before the 5K race.  There were over 100 kids in this race.  When it was time to line up for the 5K, I was surprised to see so many kids lined up with me. Some of these kids were little and unfortunately, at the front of the pack.

Part of the attraction of the strawberry festival is fireworks at sundown. The fireworks company was setting up in a park not far from the start line. Apparently they needed to test some of their fireworks. As the race director was explaining the course and rules of the race, a loud kaboom came from the park. Many runners thought this was the start of the race and suddenly we were all running. I found this slightly amusing. For the first mile, I was dodging kids who had no idea how to run. This was not amusing. They were zigging, zagging, stopping.  The rest of the race was better and it was actually a nice run through the streets of historic Owego. Toward the end of the race, there were groups of teenagers who were cutting through lawns and acting like idiots to get ahead of each other. For as large as this race was, there were very few road marshals. I did my best to ignore the cheaters. My finish time was 24:54. There were a lot of turns in this race and I lost time at the start trying to avoid all the zig-zagging children. This race was also huge - 816 finishers. I was running with other runners for the entire race. There was never a spot where it thinned out and I was on my own. Having no idea how I placed, I fought my way to where the results were posted. Most of the people were gathered around the sheets at the end. I was happy to find my name on sheet two which had me at 119 and third for my agree group. The age groups for this race were strange, 46-50. Being at the end of the age group, I was happy with third place. The two ladies who beat me where less than a minute ahead of me so I did good. I also got a finisher medal for this race which is always nice.

The after-race food was nothing special.  There were too many people milling about and pouring in for the fireworks so I left before the traffic got any worse and went out for a late dinner at a quiet restaurant on the day home.