Monday, December 8, 2014

490 St. Jude Half Marathon 2014

Less than a month ago I got a facebook message that threw me for a loop. 

The owner of our local run shop, Full Motion Running and Cycling in Olive Branch, MS, posted on my Facebook page (Mississippi Running Momma) asking which distance  I wanted  to run. They had held a raffle to win a race bib for the St. Jude Full or Half Marathon. Five cans of canned goods got a ticket. Food for the food bank AND a chance to win a bib?! I was in! I dropped off 30 cans. But I didn't actually win. Matt Hall saw my post about it, and he decided to offer me one of  their bibs! I was over the moon, and it made me love their store even more! If you are in the area then definitely check them out!

I knew I had to be certifiable ... certifiably crazy that is! I was registered for my first half marathon on Thanksgiving, and the St. Jude was only ten days later! But never look a Gift Race Bib in the mouth! I think you should always run those opportunities because there is a greater reason  for you being there. And no one can argue that St. Jude is an amazing charity! Plus, I have some personal reasons for supporting St. Jude. I know too many people whose children have had cancer. Too many who have fought and fought. Too many who have been lost. Too many kids I will never meet or watch grow up. If I can even help one family as they go through this experience then it is worth the pain and sweat a million times over. I hope to be able to do this year after year in their memories.

I got a late start in my fundraising, but I was able to raise a good amount with donations from several generous people. I am doubly thankful for the donations. Not only did they go to help insure that the families of St. Jude are never charged a dime... they were also a high five and a pat on the back  for me. To have people who support me means so very much! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

The whole experience was amazing. This was my first race that was anywhere near to this scale! The expo was great! Packet pick-up was a breeze, and if I had brought more money with me then I might have been in trouble once I got through getting my bib and my Heroes singlet.

The pace car was wrapped with the names of  all St. Jude Heroes .... who had registered  before 10/20. I didn't make it in under the gun but it  was still great to see!
This was a "wall" that we could write on. It was covered with notes of  hope and encouragement!
And... the longest line at the expo? The one for your Beer Bracelet. I don't even drink  beer, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. They were very organized, and the line moved fast.

I came home with a  bag full of goodies. I entered drawings for more races... And I bought my first running skirt! I couldn't turn it down for $9.99 when they are usually closer to $40. It helps if you feel cute when you are running. I couldn't wait to try on my singlet!
The night  before the race I did what I have done the night before every major sporting event for my entire life... I carb loaded. Mainly, I ate a big bowl of  pasta with just a little butter and salt. And I drank lots of water. Then, I had to go in for my first official night of work. Yup... I headed back to work this week for the first time in 7 years. And my request for this date off was denied... I am SO THANKFUL for one of the girls at work, Lennie, for allowing me to leave early. I will definitely be repaying that favor twice over because it meant that much to  me. So, my warm up for my half marathon... I walked around in two inch heels for four and a half hours. I manged to make it home with enough time for a power nap, and then I was up again. Chip drove me and dropped me off, so I didn't have to  worry about parking the van and making it on time. He also kept me motivated the whole way, and he sent me off with a kiss for good luck.

The start was set up into corrals. I put myself in corral 13 because it was the pace range for my Thanksgiving half. IT WAS FREEZING! I know  it wasn't technically that cold,but the air was damp and the wind was KILLER! Especially being downtown with the wind tunnel effect going on. I didn't want to have to abandon clothing or tie a jacket around my waist, so I chose to suffer through being cold before the race. I definitely shouldn't have made that decision.... Next time I think I will decide not to worry about how silly I look. I could have had some fancy tube sock arm warmers at least.
Way down there.... Yeah, that is  the starting line!
Waves released every two minutes. It was very organized and it moved like clockwork. Great atmosphere! I couldn't wait to get moving... and not just so I could warm up!

This was a misfire! But I kind of love it anyway.
We were off! I felt awesome! I was moving well. I forgot how bad my feet were hurting from my heels. I forgot about  my new blister. I was swept up in the energy of all these awesome athletes around me!
This was also definitely the most scenic route I have run.
The Mississippi River
The Bridge... The Pyramid!
The half cross eyed pictures because my fingers were so cold that the screen wasn't registering... until I made a silly face trying to look in the corner to see if  it worked.
Here comes Beale!
I wanted this to be a fun race! I knew I wasn't going to PR this one. My legs were tired. Heck, I was tired all over. I also *whispers* hadn't run since Thanksgiving... don't tell anyone. I tried to stop and selfie with most of the people who came out to cheer dressed up. AND COME ON! How can you not take a picture with an  Elvis in Memphis!?
Running backwards up Beale... because, why not?
And the derpiest of derpy pictures... Another finger fail, but two more wonderful guys dressed up to cheer us all on!
This is just before we made it to the St.Jude campus. I decided to put my phone away so that I could fully experience this section of the course. I had heard what a  huge impact this section would have on me, and it was spot on. The families of St. Jude lined the street, and the sound of their cheers was such a lift. This is why we were running. These families and all the families that are impacted by St. Jude. It was such an honor to be able to run. Such an honor for THEM to cheer for little ol' me! A couple hours of sweating, and I was able to go home. When you think about  what they face daily... it is staggering. So much strength lined that section of road. I soaked it in and let it help me through the rest of the race.
Up... up.... up.... I had a friend, who shall remain nameless, tell me that the course wasn't too hilly. He clearly doesn't know who was talking to... Or I should  have realized  I was talking to someone who runs mountains for  fun. He was not running St. Jude... because he was running 100 miles in Louisiana!
We ran behind and around the zoo.
And through Overton Park.... where I found this guy!
And where I found this gal! Miss Tammie and some of her girl scouts were helping with the marathon relay. So proud of our girl scouts!!
I mainly took this picture because of the spiky ball thing... but this is an excellent opportunity to say "THANK YOU!" to the police officers and everyone else who helped out along  the race! I  know there were A LOT of disgruntled motorists, but they kept us all safe. 
FINALLY! This was the moment I realized that I was looking at the back of the Jumbotron in Auto Zone park... better known as THE FINISH LINE! It was an excellent finish! A slight downhill slope that funneled us right into the stadium. 
I FINISHED! I missed my PR by only 6(ish) minutes! Official time was 2:48:49 with a pace of 12:54. I was 520 out of 721 in my age group 35-39. And if I knew exactly what everything else meant on the read out I would tell you... 
My hubby! He ran about a mile himself to make it to pick me up. Parking was a bear, but he got there just as I  finished. I did try to get my print out of the results, but they were  waiting for  the system  to update... and I was tired. I  didn't even hit the food or the beer tent. Chip did insist that I wear his jacket on the walk back to the car. And we stopped inside a restaurant supply store, Lit (?), and I got a box of cookies. Also, it was warm. What I really wanted was a Summer Sausage! But no luck.
By 1pm I was home, showered, and in some warm jammies! I wasn't hurting too bad... yet. It did take  me quite a while to warm up though.

I didn't get to relax too  long though... I followed up my half marathon with 8 hours on my feet at work. I am counting that as my cool down. 

I had such a great St.Jude Half experience! I am already looking forward to next year! I need to find  some more races... fast!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

489 Needle Felt Fun

I finally broke out  the needle felting kit I bought a while back. I figured... why not. It isn't like I have enough craft addictions. 

The finished product..

The unboxing. It came with several molds, the felting needle, the foam you stab into (I am sure that is the technical term), and the felt.
First you fill the owl mold. You repeatedly stab the felt until it becomes flat and firm. 
Then you transfer  it to the  silicon mold to shape. And repeat. 
Then join the front and back together.
Next you are supposed to  add the white felt to make the face and chest... that was trickier  to get the solid edges.
I ended up rolling the felt between my hands to get a piece I could shape around  the edges.
Then it was on to wings and feet... and a tail.

One day I  will  remember to do these  things  during  the day so  that I can  take better pictures.  I  did make several  more pieces  that were free hand.  It really is quite addictive.

488 Tangle Foot Turkey Trot Half Marathon

My very first half marathon was on Thanksgiving morning in New Albany, MS. It was a 7am start, and almost an hour and a half from home, so I was so thankful that my in-laws came up on Wednesday and took the kids back with them after our Thanksgiving feast.

It was so hard to fall asleep the night before, and it was even harder to stay asleep. I managed to get enough sleep though, and we were able to make it in time to get my packet and to realize just how cold the wind was blowing! Soooooo cold! It was bitter, but at least it wasn't raining. Small favors.

The course opened on a hill. Hills are my nemesis. It was rough going, but eventually the course evened out for the most part. I went in planning to allow myself to walk when needed. My rule was not to walk more than a minute per mile. And I stuck to it. I tried to keep my walks in 20 second increments. Any longer and my muscles might have refrozen. 

I set a lot of small goals. "That mailbox". And "that light pole". Even "that piece of trash". Just anything to keep my legs moving. Most times I would just set another goal, but sometimes I would reward myself with a short walk.

My thighs were numb. I kept my jacket on until almost mile 9. I knew we were coming to the trail portion, and I was really expecting the trees to keep the wind off. I was wrong. So wrong. But I had already transferred my bib to my tshirt, and I just did not feel like putting it back. It just seemed like too much work at the time. I argued it out in my head for a mile or so.

I had slacked off on training at the end. Sick kids and I just let myself get discouraged, so ten miles was my longest run going in to the half. The first ten miles were not bad. They were my fastest to date... but then there were 3.1 more to go. And if you believe my MapMyRun, 3.28 miles to go. At 13 I tried to speed it up. My legs were so dead it was probably one of the saddest kicks ever. 

BUT, I did it! I finished! Official time was 2:42:43. My goal was 2:45, so I am pretty happy with it. 

Walking to the car was not the best feeling ever. Or getting out of the car when we finally got home. But after some Excedrin I really wasn't feeling too bad. Other than the hidden chafing that came to light when I stepped in the shower. Ouch!

Today (the day after) was a totally different story. I woke up with my stomach cramping, which lasted most of the day. I slept most of the day away just trying to avoid feeling all the pain and soreness. I have really been dreading the St. Jude Half that is just a week away... but I have been assured that I will be feeling awesome by then. I sure hope so. I will cross another finish line on Dec. 6th no matter what!

At the beginning of this year I couldn't run a full minute without hurting. I just ran 13.1 miles. It hurts, but I did it! So happy I started this journey.

-Mississippi Running Momma

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

487 We Have a Runner!

So... last I posted I was doing a runstreak and aiming to run a 10 mile race.

Well. Things change.

Oh, I am still running. But I called off the runstreak at day 133. More of a pause really. I knew my body needed a rest. My shins and ankles especially.

Why did I need to rest? Because I needed to be healthy... for a HALF MARATHON. And then ANOTHER HALF MARATHON just 9 days later!

HOLY WOW, Y'ALL!  I mean... I never imagined when I started running in January that I would even want to run further than a 5K. But then I saw a 10K... and then I saw a great price on a half marathon. I just can't turn down a great deal!

I signed up to run the Tangle Foot Turkey Trot in New Albany, MS on Thanksgiving morning. I also badgered my running buddy, Joe, into signing up, too. I knew a half marathon was on his bucket list, so it seemed like the perfect plan.

Then my local run shop, (Full Motion Running and Cycling in Olive Branch, MS) had a raffle for a St. Jude bib! The cost of each raffle ticket? 5 cans for the food bank. It was a win/win situation all around. Except... I didn't win. BUT a few days later I got a message on facebook from the owner of the store asking if I wanted to run the full or half marathon. I answered SO FAST! HALF!

I keep having moments when I know I must be insane. Not just to run my first half marathon, but to run my second half marathon less than two weeks later!

But I am beyond excited! I absolutely love the friends that running has brought me. And the opportunities to branch out a little bit.

If anyone is interested in helping me with my St. Jude fundraising you can hop over to my page. I would be so thankful, but not nearly as thankful as the families that St. Jude helps every single day. They are never charged a dime for their treatment thanks in large part to donations. They are able to concentrate on their fight to survive. What an amazing gift!

I am going to try to update more often... I know, you've heard it all before. The kids are old enough that I have to be selective in what I share, but I will be talking more about my training and my art. I hope you stick around!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

486 Running This Year

I turned 37 on July 2nd, and that night I started what is called a runstreak. I am planning to run every single day for the entire year. Some days that may only be a single mile, but overall I am working toward a TEN MILE run in November at the Gateway to the Delta run in Batesville, MS! At the moment, the thought of running ten miles is terrifying. I have only ever done 4 at one time, but I know I can do it with the proper preparation.

I have already made it 21 days! That is three weeks of running each day. My scale is down a consistent 5 pounds! It isn't a lot... but I have 49 more weeks to go! Maybe by my 38th birthday I will be to my goal weight.

There is added fun to running each day though... right now I am waiting on a grab bag of calf compression sleeves from Pro Compression. I can't wait to see if they can help my poor shins. And soon I need to start the Great Running Shoe Search. I know that doesn't sound so hard to most of you, but when your foot is a size 11/11.5 it makes it all so much harder.

Overall I am loving my runstreak. It forces me to at least take some time to myself each day. Even if it is only for 12 minutes... what?! I'm just not that fast yet! I am getting a little faster though. Slowly faster. Along with my year of running I want to get my mile under 10 minutes. And when I reach that goal I will set another.

That is one of the great things about running... you constantly get to reevaluate and set new goals for yourself. And those goals don't only have to be for faster or longer.

I always see the quotes about how it doesn't matter how slow you go as long as you are going... and it is so true. Just get out there. One block. One mile. Just two steps further than you went yesterday. Just try.