Girl’s Weekend Redux

On Saturday morning May 13, I (Sue) had the luxury of waking up in my own bed, eating breakfast from my own kitchen, getting ready in my own home, and driving only a few minutes through my own town to join a small group of runners for the half marathon portion of the Hope Starts Here Challenge, a fundraiser for the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center.  The race was rather routine for me as we headed out and down the local bike/multi-use path I run regularly.  But routine doesn’t necessarily mean boring.  The majority of this portion of the path runs along the shore of majestic Lake Superior and we even ran the loop around Presque Isle Park.  Although the portion around “the island” is quite hilly, the entire route is gorgeous and I never tire of this route.  Around mile 8, I started to feel the right hip/glute discomfort that began to bother me during the Mainly Marathons Independence Series a couple weeks earlier.  The pain was minimal enough that I was able to continue using my normal run/walk intervals and finished in an average time (for me) of 2:19. This had me placing 24th overall out of 26 runners…the consequence of running a small race. I stuck around for an hour or so to see my daughter-in-law, Sarah, finish the 10K and visit with a few friends before heading home having chalked up #57 of my 60 half marathons for ALS.

output1

Six days later, the afternoon of May 19, I was at our local airport picking up my Best Running Buddy!!  Woot, woot – Rhonda and I were back together again!  On our way back into town, we made a stop at the local running store to pick up my new Oofos (no, they are not the most attractive sandals, but work wonders for recovery).  If ever in Marquette, MI, Queen City Running Company is a must visit. Kevin, his father John, and all the staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful and accommodating to the quirkiness we runners often exhibit.  After chatting with John a bit and trying on a couple pair of shoes, we headed to my house for meatloaf dinner.  Yes, that is what Rhonda requested – homemade venison meatloaf.  It was an early night since she’d been up since wee hours of the morning to catch her flight.

At noon on Saturday we picked up Sarah and the three of us embarked on the three hour drive to Green Bay, WI, where we would run the Cellcom Green Bay Half on Sunday.  This is a familiar/favorite race for all of us.  Rhonda and I have run it the past two years and this third year in a row was the culmination of the medal trifecta. Three individually beautiful medals that, put together, create one large image of Lambeau Field on the back.  Since we wrote about this race in our blog last year, there’s no need to go over all the details again.  The difference this year was that we had a third Sole Sister with us (I just knew those two would get along swimmingly); and then of course, the weather.  This has been the year of weather cancellations and wet runs for us so far and this weekend held that possibility.  It poured most of Saturday and by 8pm, organizers had already posted that the race would begin at EAS level yellow.  All we could do was hope there wouldn’t be lightning and the rain would end by start time.

There were a couple downpours outside the hotel windows while we were getting ready on Sunday morning, but in the end, only a fine mist a few times during the race.  Other than the fact that the air was heavy due to the wet conditions, it was a perfect day to run.  As has become routine for us, the miles ticked by; we talked, laughed, and ran silently; we danced to the music of a couple bands; had pictures taken with Darth Vader; and most importantly were thanked by several who had a personal connection to ALS.  Soon it was time to enter the tunnel and make that special loop around Lambeau where the three of us had spread out some; each keeping our own pace to the finish. We gathered our medals, water, and Tru Moo then headed to get the traditional beer/root beer and brat before heading back to the hotel for the traditional nap.

That evening we met Sarah’s nephew and wife at Caliente La Fiesta Mexicana for some tasty margaritas and Mexican food with the mandatory fried ice cream dessert.  After some shopping on Monday and an impromptu stop at Hinterland Brewery we made it back to Marquette in time to feed Rhonda a traditional Upper Peninsula pasty from Lawry’ for dinner.

As always, our time together slipped by way too quickly and it was soon Tuesday afternoon and time for her to board the plane again.  (But only after a Pilates session at Bird on a Perch, bruschetta at the Vierling, chocolate and caramels from Doncker’s, and a quick ride through Lakenenland.)  We said our goodbyes, knowing we’d be back together in just a week….to run our last two of the 60.

 

Advertisements

8x8x8

On April 29th, Thelma and Louise set out to tackle 8 half marathons in 8 different states in 8 days.  Starting from SC and MI, we met at the Detroit Airport and then flew to Providence, RI.  After landing and getting the rental car we drove to our first race in Cheshire, CT – the ION Bank Half Marathon.  We had an amazing meal at a local Italian restaurant and then we were in bed early.  The next morning we were off and running……literally.  Once we found parking we set out on the 1st of several days running.  Knowing that we had so many miles ahead of us this week, we took each race at an easy pace. 

Each day became like Groundhog Day – we ate, ran, slept, ate, drove, ate, slept.  Occasionally we would even get a nap. 

We won’t bore you with the day to day routine.  However, after the ION Bank Half we headed to the Mainly Marathons Independence Series which would give us our next 5 races in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.  We really love running with this group.  The downside for Sue was that several of the races were more trail like but what is a downside for her has turned out to be a plus for me as I have really come to love the trail atmosphere.

We had a long drive to Massachusetts on Friday after our last race in NJ.  What should have taken 4 hours or so ended up being 6 and half hours.  The weather was atrocious!  Heavy, heavy rains and winds caused traffic to be snarled and visibility near zero.  We were very thankful to get to our Air BnB for the night.  We had an amazing hostess (Emily) and settled in pondering how to tackle the race (the Twin Lights Half Marathon) as the weather was not supposed to let up until after noon.  Well, we got our answer prior to going to bed – the race had been cancelled due to the heavy flooding in the area.  Although we were disappointed, we know that race directors don’t take that decision lightly and we are firm believers that everything happens for a reason.

Taking advantage of the extra sleep and not having to rush, we went for a walk at Halibut State Park before heading back to Providence for our final race – the Rhode Races Providence Half Marathon.  The drive was smooth and we were ready to run the next day and to finally get back home.  As much as we hate our adventures to end, we do both love our families and look forward to seeing them. 

We ended up with 7 half marathons in 7 different states in 8 days – running with ALS on our mind.  Not too shabby and next up is Cellcom in Green Bay.

March & April Race Update

 

During March and April, Sue and Rhonda continued their running for ALS Awareness.   Combined we ran 9 races and 5 of those we ran together. 

Our races included Run Hard Columbia, Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon, Seneca Half Marathon, First Watch Sarasota, Run Skidaway, Chick-Fil-A Half Marathon, Raleigh Rock and Roll, Run for the Nurses and Gulf Shores Pensacola. 

 

Each race had its own unique challenges but as always we know that it is nothing compared to the challenges of those with ALS. 

 

The highlight of these past 2 months was participating in the Run for the Nurses Half Marathon in Tifton, GA.  It was a last minute addition to both of our schedules and for a great cause.  An added bonus to the day was Sue placed 2nd in her age group and Rhonda placed 3rd in her age group.

 

Closing out February with a Single Double

While Rhonda continued to take some necessary time off, I headed out for a double the last weekend in February.  I approached this one pretty relaxed because of the short travel distances.  My husband and I left our GA home mid-morning Friday and within a couple hours had arrived in Valdosta, the area where Saturday’s race was scheduled.  After a little shopping and checking into our hotel, we made the 20 minute drive to Dasher for packet pickup for the Hospice Half, which is a fundraiser for Hospice of South Georgia.  This was clearly going to be a very small race with a table set up in the parking lot of the local church/school.  I later learned there were 56 runners in the half marathon, but there was also a 5K color run that followed it with many more participants.  Packet pickup took all of a couple minutes and I was super pleased to receive both a long-sleeve cotton t-shirt and a pullover hoodie sweatshirt for the small registration price of $40. 

On the return trip, we stopped for a burger and shake at Steak and Shake, making my tummy quite happy.  Back at the hotel, we settled in and I began my routine of getting my clothes and gear ready for the morning.  Suddenly my husband asked where his phone was.  Ummm, it’s your phone…..after a rather frantic search and continued attempts to call it, we decided to go back to the restaurant and yes, luckily, they had found it and put it in the back.  WHEW!!!!  First Rhonda a few months ago, then Bud; I sure hope I’m not next.

I slept really well that evening and was refreshed and ready to go on Saturday morning.  It was a warm morning and I was already down to a tank top by the 7:00 am race start.  That is very uncharacteristic of me as I usually have multiple layers.  This did not bode well for the next couple hours.  We were lucky enough, though, to have cloud cover for almost the entire race.  Therefore, it wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been.  But it was rather humid.  The weather definitely slowed me down some, but not significantly.  This was “just another race” – although I tried to keep up a good pace, I was not pushing every single minute.  In fact, at one of the water stations, I stopped and washed of my hands from carrying a sticky gel packet.  The volunteers were rushing around trying to help me and I told them not to worry, “I’m in no hurry.”  The strange looks I got!  I clarified, “Sure I’m in a race, but I’m not really racing; just running it.”  LOL.   It was an out and back course and I was able to enjoy the views of the Georgia countryside.  Traffic control, law enforcement, and volunteers were plentiful and I realized again how much more enjoyable small races are for me.  Crossing the finish line, I was pleased to see 2:17:43 on the clock.  One of my best times over the past few years.

Suedbl

Hot, sweaty, and tired I filled out my card, collected my medal, drank some water, ate a banana, and grabbed a pack of cookies and headed back to my car for the 20 minute drive back to the hotel, where I showered, changed and we hit the road again for another two hours on our way to Gainesville, FL.  We went directly to the expo for the Five Points of Life Marathon/Half, another race with a worthy beneficiary.  Here we had to fill out a medical information form before we could get our bibs validated.  No problem, but a small section made me chuckle.   

“How many races of this distance have you completed?”  Ummm, not sure, sixty-something .

 When was the last one?  Six hours ago.

It was then on our way to find the hotel.  OooEeee!  Traffic, confused GPS, and other issues made for a long and trying trip of only a couple miles.  I was starving and starting to get a nasty headache, so we had to stop along the way.   After finally making it to the hotel, checking in, and getting a little rest and regroup, we went back out and found a much shorter/easier route to the race location (same as expo) and an abundance of shopping.  The only store we went into was Trader Joe’s – one of my favorites and I seldom get to visit.  CiCi’s Pizza for dinner (mistake) and we were back in for the night with no phone mishaps.

This race was definitely larger than the day before (pretty much had to be, huh?), but still not a large race. I believe there was somewhere between 500-750 total runners between the half, full, and relay.  It was still a comfortable size race.  However, the temps were quite a bit cooler than the day before, making it quite comfortable for running.  Only about a mile into the race, I spotted a 2:15 pacer who was running intervals and asked his ratio, to which he replied 3/1 – running 3 minutes/walking 1 minute.  Hmmm, maybe I could do that.  Whoa, it’s amazing how changing up a ratio can be so different (I normally run 2:30/:30).  He walked at a quite leisurely pace, but when he ran; HE RAN!  We did jackrabbit for most of the race, but I slowed and lost him over the last few miles.  Throughout most of the race, I was feeling good, so decided to keep up a good pace as long as I could.  That was probably not a smart decision.   Running a race the day before and the hills on this course took more out of me than I thought it would.  It was not really a hilly course, but there definitely were more hills than I anticipated.  There aren’t supposed to be hills in Florida! When I finished the race only 20 seconds longer than the day before, I was still feeling relatively good considering what I’d put my body through the past couple days.  However within only a few hours the knee pain started to sit in and has not completely subsided yet.  Yes, hills are my downfall.  Hills and my periodic bad decisions. 

Suedbl2

This, too, was an enjoyable race and geographically very easy to complete as a double.  I would definitely recommend both to anyone who enjoys smaller races and is looking for a simple way to execute a pair of races in two different states in one weekend.  I had a good time running both, but missed my Sole Sister by my side.  I can’t wait to be back by her side for our first race together in March.

Two Weeks……Two Islands

February is in full swing and our running is following suit.   

On Saturday, February 4, I (Sue) made a two-hour early morning trek northeast to Tybee Island in the Savannah area.  Since the race was not scheduled to start until 8:30, my wake-up time was actually not much earlier than a normal race morning.  Overnight rain, the temps forecast to stay in the 40s, and steady winds in the 20mph range all led to my decision to dress warm and bring extra layers for before and after the race. 

The drive was uneventful and after taking advantage of the free parking at the YMCA, I walked the 1.3 miles to the start.  There was parking available closer, but fees on Tybee are a bit pricy and I didn’t want to get mixed up later in the day trying to get out with races still going on.  The concept of the Critz Tybee Run Fest is somewhat unique and intriguing with a series of races starting with a 5K on Friday night through a one-miler Saturday afternoon.  If you run all five races, the total mileage adds up to 26.2 or a full marathon.  I, however, chose to run only the half marathon on Saturday morning.  Once at the start area (which was also the finish for the 10K which had started at 7:00, I picked up my bib and shirt and watched the 10K runners come in until just a few minutes before the scheduled start of the half.  I then begrudgingly removed my extra warm layers, checked my gear bag and wrapped myself in a mylar blanket I’d saved from a previous race for just this purpose…shedding that only a minute or so before the gun sounded. 

The race itself had little of interest to relate.  To me, the course was mediocre and it seemed we were just weaving back and forth and across approximately the same two to three square miles, with the cold headwind around every other corner.  Ironically this same race last year was my first in the quest to complete 60 for the Sole Sisters Running 4 ALS endeavor and the weather was almost identical.  I believe this could be an enjoyable race if it was warmer and calmer, but all I could do is count down the miles in my head until I’d be finished and able to put my hoodie and extra pair of warm running pants back on.  My iPod died about a month ago and I haven’t managed to replace it yet and I didn’t have Rhonda by my side, so there were no distractions to make the time go any faster.  But eventually I heard the familiar cheers and my name called out as I crossed the finish line in almost exactly my “usual” time even if it seemed like nearly an hour more.   I retrieved my gear bag and found a somewhat sheltered corner to add the layers back on, eat a banana, drink some water, text my husband and Rhonda and then walk back to the car.  Another one in the books!

tybee

The following Friday (February 10), I packed my bags and got back in the car to cover many of the same miles, but this time to meet Rhonda (YAY!) on Hilton Head Island.  The trip for me was again two hours, but almost twice that for her.  We met up at our hotel right around 3:00pm and just in the nick of time as our hydration efforts and lack of facilities enroute were having an effect.  Stop lights and traffic were Rhonda’s nemesis that afternoon.  Once we were checked in and settled in our room, we drove over to the hotel hosting packet pickup for the Hilton Head Island Marathon/Half/8K.  There was no actual expo, so once they opened the doors, it was a very quick turnaround.  Although it was still early, we realized we were both quite hungry so we set about to find some pizza and bruschetta at one of our favorite places, Mellow Mushroom.

Bellies full, we got back in the car and decided to scope out the race location on our way back to the hotel.  I kept missing either the entrance or exits to various traffic circles and the GPS would “recalculate” eventually sending us down a good portion of the route we would be running in the morning, even if we didn’t know it at the time.  Back at the hotel, we followed our usual routine of prepping clothing, gear, and fuel and hydration for the following morning then settled in early as usual.

On Saturday we followed our usual race morning routines and left the hotel on time for the short drive to Jarvis Creek Park.  The thermometer read 50 degrees, yet it seemed much warmer and we were both happy we had chosen short-sleeved shirts with arm sleeves we could take off, rather than long-sleeved tops.  Anyone that knows me knows that for me to say I was not cold in 50 degrees is an oddity.  We had timed our arrival so that we stood around before the start for only a short five minutes or so.  Unfortunately, we were in that park for only the first two miles (a one mile out and back), then it was out onto the Cross Island Parkway (four lane highway) for another out and back section that was well over half the total distance of the race.  We did run through another park and some additional scenic areas at the far end of that section also, but it was quite disappointing that we were running a race on Hilton Head Island and most of it covered major roadways with little to no scenery to speak of.  I felt sorry for those running the full marathon that had to cover that same portion of the course a couple more times.

Earlier in the morning my stomach was feeling upset, but after popping a couple Pepto tablets, it had mostly settled down.  But a couple miles into the race, Rhonda’s started acting up and eventually she had to stop drinking or eating to keep it settled.  Hmmm, maybe we need to rethink this pre-race pizza thing.  Although neither of us was on top of our game, we were happy to be together and able to chat and support each other through those 13 miles.  We again entered Jarvis Park and after a few turns, crossed the finish line, collected our medals, grabbed water, juice, fruit, trail mix and donut holes. Then back across the street to the car and a short return trip to the hotel where we cleaned up, packed, checked out and met up again a few miles down the road for breakfast at IHOP.  The weekend – or actually less than 24 hours – had passed much too quickly and it was time for a hug and goodbye.  But we’ll be back together in three weeks.

Slipping and Sliding Into 2017

After a few weeks off from running, Rhonda and I were scheduled to be back at it with a double in Mississippi and Alabama on January 7 & 8. Rhonda had run both races a couple years ago and loved them, so I was excited to run them with her and add two states to my list.  Bud and I had left home in Michigan earlier in the week and drove to Rhonda’s in South Carolina.  We left our husbands there and on Friday and headed toward Jackson, MS for the first race of the two – Mississippi Blues.  The weather was cold with possible rain/ice in the forecast, but the race was still a go at that point; so we went.  Most of the drive was uneventful with some rain off and on, but that changed an hour or so out and poor Rhonda was white knuckling it through freezing rain and slush into Jackson.  We found our way to the packet pickup/expo location, picked up our bibs, bags with some nice swag, and wonderful full-zip jackets, and then headed out to find our hotel.  When we spotted a Whataburger just a block from the Hampton Inn, Rhonda made a quick left turn and voila – dinner!  Now we would not have to venture back out once we checked in.  The evening was spent fervently checking for updates on the race and trying to decide what we would wear IF  it actually happened. But as the temps sunk, so did our hopes; and although disappointed, we were not surprised to be notified around 9:00 pm that the race had been cancelled.

When we finally ventured out the next morning, it was crystal clear the race director and committee had made the right decision.  Streets, sidewalks, everything were glare ice.  There is no way a safe race was possible in those conditions.  After the dust had settled and the race organizers had time to process the entire situation, they certainly did right by us and offered several options to make up for canceling.  We chose to apply to run another race this spring; hoping both our requests will be granted and the logistics will work out.  And although it won’t officially count, we have both committed to running our own Mississippi Blues virtual race to maintain the integrity of accepting the medals and displaying them with the appropriate disclaimer.

Realizing traffic could start backing up, we decided the quicker we got out of Jackson, the better off we would be; and that was certainly the case as we crept up an icy slippery on-ramp, dodging semis and two-wheel drive trucks with wheels spinning.  We had made it in the nick of time. Looking at the ramps on the opposite side of the interstate, it was solid lines of stopped traffic as far as we could see.  Again Rhonda expertly maneuvered through traffic and along the route to Mobile, AL.  Luckily we drove out of the poor weather and road conditions relatively quickly and had a pleasant drive that day.

mib3

Once again we went directly to packet pick up where we saw several familiar faces of other runners who had been in Mississippi and signed up for this back to back series.  We all had interesting tales to share of sliding along the sidewalks, traffic issues, airport and car rental snafus, and a multitude of other issues that pop up when a race doesn’t go as planned.  The expo was small, but quaint.  The First Light Marathon’s main beneficiary is the L’Arche community and the finisher medals are hand made by the members.   Even with the cold temps I was looking forward to it since Rhonda recommended it highly.  But cold it was…more on that in a minute.  We then drove over to our hotel where they allowed us to check into our room early.  We followed our now usual routine of piling a luggage cart high and finding our way down the hall and elevator to our room with a few stray bags over the shoulders.  When you stop to think about it, it is never a light trip when we are traveling for our runs.  A little down time in the room and we decided to find dinner.  We ended up at Mellow Mushroom for one of our favorite pre-race meals of a meat lover’ pizza and a yummy bruschetta appetizer.

These two wild ladies were back in our room, in jammies and bed by 7:00pm. We chatted and did a little race planning while the Detroit Lion’s game played in the background.  About an hour later, Rhonda said good-night and what seemed like two seconds after that I turned to say something to her only to learn she was out like a light.  I think that poor girl needed a good rest after all the stressful driving.  The next morning we woke up to temps in the 20s – NOT the kind of weather either of us likes to run in.  Layering was the name of the game. I was most concerned about my hands as they often get cold even with running gloves on.  As a last minute thought before leaving home in Michigan, I had grabbed a couple pair of wool mittens out of the closet.  That turned out to be one of my best decisions.  Although my dexterity certainly took a hit throughout the race, the only time my fingers got cold was when I took them off toward the end to be able to stop my Garmin when crossing the finish.

We had found a convenient parking lot only a few blocks from the start and sat in the car until it was time to make our way over.  It was cold – there’s no denying that at 26 degrees and windy; but as usual, we acknowledged being cold for a short time was nothing compared to what those with ALS and other disabilities endure on a daily basis.  The start gun sounded and we began the now very familiar task of trying to settle into a pace while working our way through a pack of very different paced runners at the start.  Luckily, this is a smallish race, so the field soon opened up and we felt comfortable enough to start our normal 2:30 run/:30 walk intervals.  Other than being really cold (have I said that enough?) the race was rather uneventful.  I am sure I would have thoroughly enjoyed it in warmer conditions.  As we clicked off the miles, Rhonda’s back began to tighten up…probably exacerbated by tensing up in the cold.  By the last few miles, whenever she would slow for our walk break, it became increasingly painful to start the run cycle again.  Although we always start and finish together, I knew I would not be comfortable running straight through the last 2-3 miles but also knew she needed to.  She finally agreed to keep going and meet up at the finish after I almost threatened her with bodily harm if she did not.  I knew I would only be a few minutes behind her.  And she was right there to greet me once I collected my hand-crafted medal.  She had already met up with Kevin, a fellow Half Fanatic and  100 Half Marathon Club member, and the three of us took a quick picture together before making our way to the food line.  Warm red beans and sausage over rice, corn bread, various other goodies and hot chocolate were just what we needed.

ala4

We then headed back toward the car, stopping to take a few pictures at Mardi Gras Park.  Back to the hotel, shower, change, pack up and hit the road for the long drive back to Rhonda’s house.  We arrived later that evening and after relaxing and visiting with her family and my husband, went to bed relatively early.  We already knew school had been cancelled the next day for her kids because of the lingering icy patches in some areas, so we all slept in a little before Bud and I decided to get up, packing our car and completing the final leg of our journey to our winter home in Georgia.  It’s time to rest and regroup before we start up again next month.

Final Race for 2016

Dec. 10th, I, Rhonda ran my final race for the 2016 SoleSistersRun4ALS campaign.  Lisa and I traveled to Kiawah Island, SC.  Kiawah is a private gated community and breathtakingly beautiful!  It is also the home to world renowned golf courses with the PGA  Championship being held here again in 2021. 

We arrived on Friday and were staying in a condo.  We made a few stops for food and water, then packet pick up and quickly got situated for our evening.  We went out for a delicious dinner at King Street Grille and with full stomachs we were ready for bed.  Because we were within walking distance we didn’t have to get up quite as early. 

We woke up to a cold SC morning!  It was around 34 degrees at start and I was freezing!  I was still nursing that sore ankle so told Lisa to go get her PR as I needed to take it easy.  Once we started I realized that my IPOD was officially dead (I had washed it in the washer after our Southwest Adventure and it never recovered although it appeared it had).  Bummed I didn’t have any music, it did give me time to really think about all the different races Sue and I have ran this past year in honor of Tim Shaw.  I am still in so much awe of him and the inspiration he gives me to go on race after race. 

Around mile 2 I recognized a dear friend, Andrea, and caught up with her for a couple of miles.  It was really great to see her and it always amazed me when I run into someone I haven’t seen in a while from another part of the country at a race.

The race was otherwise uneventful which is not a bad thing.  I finished up and went in search of Lisa.  I stopped by the amazing food tent.  Kiawah Island Marathon and Half knows how to feed its runners!  I then found the results station and saw that Lisa was not only done but had smashed her PR!  I was so excited for her.  After not finding her I decided to head to the condo……where we ended up meeting each other in route.

ki

After a shower and a yummy breakfast, a nap was in need.  We took full advantage and slept for a bit.  We then decided to go get an early dinner so we could come back and relax before heading home the following morning.  We chose to go to Red’s and it did not disappoint.  We even got to see the boats decorated  with Christmas lights cruising the harbor.  It was the perfect ending for the weekend.

The next morning we made the trip home to our wonderful families.  I am so appreciative of my family’s support over this year and am so thankful they were able to meet Tim as well.  They supported my racing from Day 1 but meeting him gave them some perspective as to how devastating ALS is. 

nash12

As we close out our 2016 running year, please remember why we are doing this…effective treatments and a cure must be found for ALS.  We would be honored for you to make a contribution to our fundraising toward ALS research at www.classy.org/20for20