Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March Racing Madness Part 1

After missing the Long Play Half due to car troubles on the morning of the race, my March Racing Madness started with the Armadillo Classic 10K on the waterfront streets of Oldsmar with lots of Strider friends. (FYI: the Long Play race director was gracious enough to transfer my registration to next year's Long Play race!) Packet pickup had long lines, but they moved quickly and there were public bathrooms for those of us who have a phobia of port-o-potties. 

Hundreds of runners were there and apparently an abundance in my age group. While I did not get an age group award this year, I did have a great racing experience. I started off with my sis and a few friends, but slowly pulled ahead to get some alone time. As I passed a few others I knew, I made sure to say hello and offer some sort of encouragement. Somehow these encounters energize me as much as it may encourage others. I enjoyed the course as the sun warmed my poor icy hands (yeah I'm a Florida girl!). I kept a steady pace while making sure my sis did not slow down. I knew she had the strength and determination to finish with me. At the straight-away she pulled up next to me, in her speedy Brooks driven wagon, and powered ahead and crossed the finish line one second (count it) ahead of me. 

We heard the screams and cheers of so many people as we raced down the home stretch. I am so proud of my sister, making sure I told everyone that she beat me by one second. I will admit to NOTHING Rachel! She came away with an age group award and I went home empty handed, but we all need to be humbled by the ability of others and learn from it. When we do our best, but feel knocked down, we get back up, brush ourselves off, and celebrate other's accomplishments as if they were our own. With my sister, her accomplishment WAS my own. I felt like I won an award that day!

Florida Beaches Series Bling!!
FL Beach Halfathon was my second March race. While the bulk of our running group spent their morning on the streets of Sarasota, my brother Aaron and a few Striders enjoyed the sun rising behind the Sunshine Skyway Bridge - it was gorgeous. I finished the FL Beaches series (4 races) and have the bling to prove it. 

What other race director would fall and bust his eye open before the race even begins and refuse to go to the hospital? The answer is Chris Lauber. He has such a passion for the running community that he would sacrifice his own comfort to make sure his runners were cared for at the post-race party and awards ceremony! Thank you Chris for all that you do for the running community, despite other race directors infringing on your predetermined race dates. You are truly appreciated!! 

My brother, Aaron ran a PR by almost 4 minutes. After I finished my race and spoke to a few other Striders, I went back for him and found him running strong. We knew he was going to get a PR and I cheered him on all the way through the finishing line. Again, I found myself extremely proud of a sibling. He is creeping down in his race times and will see a sub-2:00 half in his future! We enjoyed an abundance of post-race nutrition while cheering on award winners before making that hour trek back home. 

LESSON: These two races showed me that I must take the time to focus on encouraging others in every aspect of life. As a result, I am energized and inspired by the accomplishments of others and he or she do not even know it was HIM or HER that encouraged ME! 


Friday, March 22, 2013

Iron Girl Weekends Past & Anticipating the half this year!

Come find your Iron Core!!

My very first experience with Iron Girl was back in 2006 with my sister, Rachel. I had been running for about a year and a half and found a postcard advertisement for this race and thought it would be a great one to get my sister to join with me. She took the bait and we set off for the 5k. I was so very proud of her for completing this challenge and in a time of 38 minutes. We both still have this photo to remind us of the bond we share, not just because we came from the same loins, but because we share the same passions - a.k.a. being a great Mom and running. Both of us have come such a long way since then, and as with any journey one accomplishment leads to another challenge. We will both return this year to display our sharpened Iron Core and at a MUCH quicker pace.

My daughter's very first 5k!!

My 2007 Iron Girl date was with my daughter, Shay, who was 6 years old at the time. I had started running a year before my initial Iron Girl with my sister due to a challenge to run the Gasparilla 5k with a friend. I quickly became addicted to races and I enjoyed Iron Girl so much with my sister that I signed up for the Mother/Daughter 5k team run and we were anticipating a beautiful run. My daughter talked about running the whole thing and all I said was, "Let's have some fun!" We had loads of it as we climbed and descended the Memorial Causeway with our hats and sunglasses on for the warm journey ahead. There were struggles, laughs, some piggy-backing, and some tears as we took each and every step TOGETHER! I feel the welling up of tears of joy as I remember those 3.1 miles we spent together, just my daughter and I (and a few thousand other girls). In just under 58 minutes we sprinted across the finish line like we were in first place with someone hot on our tails. I saw her IRON CORE that day!! Ever since then it has been showing itself more and more with each accomplishment she reaches!!

These two past Iron Girl races are what plays in my mind when I think of Iron Girl, dominating many other races I have run since then. This year I am registered for the half marathon and I look forward to the challenge it provides to show my IRON CORE again!! I encourage you to sign up for either the 5k or the Half marathon and find your Iron Core!
Happy running my friends!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Running for the Booty at Gasparilla

2013 Gasparilla Weekend Festivities

 At first I wasn't feelin' Gasparilla weekend because there were many friends and a brother who could not run their registered race. As I arrived late to the start of the 15k on Saturday morning, I found another brother Aaron pulling into the same parking lot right after me. After our taking pic we set off to find our Strider friends at the start. Literally at almost the last minute we found our friends and grouped into our pacing abilities to walk to and cross over that starting line. Thousands of people set off to see what they had.

Sister catching up to me at mile 9 = priceless!!
Races test us, but we love them. They test our determination to start, our muscular abilities, our desire to be alone or surrounded by others, our determination to finish, and our mental stability. These tests come about throughout the course with no warning at all sometimes. In mile 1 I wanted to be alone (as much as that is possible with thousands of others), so I sped up. I find that in races if I start out at a faster pace it is easier for me to keep that pace up as long as possible than to start slow and speed up.

As I passed my brother-in-law, he told to me I was running well and to stay strong, but that second comment was for my sister, his wife, who  just then realized that I was not far in front of her. She caught up to me, touching my shoulder, and said, "Hey" with a smile. I got so excited I wanted to stop and hug her, but we were on our way to a double PR. We ran the last bit together and STRONG, finishing with a 1:15 personal best. Then the hugs ensued! Also, my brother Aaron was pacing a Strider and PR'ed. This reminded me that it pays off to sacrifice your desires to help others in any aspect of life. The post race food was good, as I always leave with my hands full of bananas.

Next on the agenda: the half marathon on Sunday. Still feeling the pounding on the legs from the day before, I decided to run a comfy half, which ended at 2:11. The weather took a turn toward hot and humid for the weekend and I sweat like a dude. Therefore, I carried my water bottle, walked through water stations, and even made a potty stop. Highlight of the race was running with birthday boy, Mike, and then running with him again for a deja vu conversation.

Jodi reaching out to pull me in!!
Feeling the miles on my legs told me to stop and walk..that it would be okay and nobody would care. You know there are times when you it is good to stop, but this was not one of the those times. I rolled me eyes at that little voice in my head and kept on until I heard some awesome Striders yelling at me and then later saw this hand reaching out for me with Jodi & Gene's smiling faces. You know it is ALWAYS awesome to have someone yelling your name, telling you that you look great and to finish strong coming up to the finish line. Always love seeing their happy faces, especially multiple times along the course.

Finishing the Half!
Always happy to see familiar faces and hear those encouraging voice cheering me on. It reminds me that smiles and encouragement are contagious and we should always remember to pass it on!!

Made my way through the food line before changing and forcing myself to get back out onto Bayshore to find my friend, Jen. She had to change her race from the 15k to the 8k due to the passing of a very close friend of hers. From what I have heard, I wish I had been blessed to know Anne Marie. She must have been an amazing woman. I found my struggling Jen two miles out from the finish. She looked up and screamed my name, excited to see me. I decided this was the opportune time to "Pass It On!" and stayed with her, stopping when she felt the need or yelling at her to run strong if needed. Yes, it was hard, but SHE did it and I am extremely proud of her perseverance even under the tremendous stress of grief and loss. We all can learn a lesson from this strong woman of God. Faith and love carried her through. Love you JEN!

Next up, Long Play Half marathon in the frigid, windy 40's temps. While I could have used that last weekend at Gasparilla, I am going to enjoy it in the Withlacoochee Forrest. For sure I will be the one with four layers, a beanie, tights, and gloves under that race bib!! Bring it on!

Happy running, encouraging, and loving to all!