A Season of Firsts

As the temperatures tentatively begin to rise and I feel the slight hope burgeoning that I have run my last training run for the season in sub-30 degree weather, I look back fondly on the many “firsts” that happened this fall/winter running season.

I completed my first Tough Mudder
Ran my first marathon
Had to jump out of the way when a passerby tried to spit on me and another runner in my group
Had my first ice-covered toboggan from my first sleeting training run
Won my first age group prize
Threw up for the first time during a run
Discovered the joys of a post-marathon hotel heated lazy river

Bring on spring!

What was your most memorable “first”?



2013 Schedule and Quest to become a Marathon Maniac!!!

Here’s what’s in store for 2013!

A1A Marathon (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
On Feb 17th, I ran running the A1A Marathon in Fort Lauderdale, FL! Now, anyone who knows much about me knows that I’m pretty attracted to the race bling. Check out the medal for this baby!





This was an amazingly good time! Recap in the works. But 2013, if this is how you’re starting off then Woo HOO! Matt and I made a whole weekend out of it. We got to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday, spent Saturday at the expo and on the beach, ran on Sunday, spent Sunday afternoon on the beach. Then we’ll be drove across state through the Everglades and stayed a day in Manasota Key hunting sharks teeth.

ORRRC Marathon (Xenia, Ohio) April 7th
Now begins my 3 marathons in 3 months quest to join the Marathon Maniacs. If I’m going to be one anyway, I might as well officially join the club! This marathon is a winner already because the registration fee is a bargain $25! Seriously. You get a tech shirt, a medal and food all for $25. And I have a place to stay for free in that area, so Win-Win-Win!

2012 Bling.

2012 Bling.

Flying Pig Marathon (Cincinatti, Ohio) – May 5th
By this time, I will be 33.3% maniac. Bring on round 2. This marathon registration pretty much happened because Glenn signed up for it and waved it in my face, then Matt and my friend Stephanie signed up and as much as I’m a medal connoisseur, I also cannot be left out of anything fun that my friends might be doing. So there. On top of that, I came across the medal from 2003 and if there is even the smallest chance of winning a medal (2-sided) with a little pig butt on it, well, I just can’t say no to that. This one is going to be tough. I’ve heard about the hills.

See you at the Finish Swine!


Oh for cryin’ out loud, how frickin cute is that???

Hatfield and McCoy Marathon (Eastern KY and West Virginia) June 8th
This race makes me happy for so many reasons other than it should complete my requirements for the Marathon Maniacs.
1 – As a native Kentuckian, I have always been fascinated with the Hatfield & McCoy feud. 2. The race course takes you through some pretty historical areas. 3. From the race director…”This year when you register, unless you are a “True Hatfield” or a “Real McCoy,” the field of runners will be divided in half and designated Hatfields or McCoys.” I cannot WAIT to see which side I’m on. We will win, of course. 4. The age group trophies are mason jars. 5. There is a pasta dinner before and a pig fest after and it was $50. I could go on. Here’s the bling from the 2012 race (Click the pic for a review of the race).



July and August are wide open! Probably because it’s going to be 95 degrees around here, but I’m open for suggestions if you have any.

Air Force Marathon (Dayton, OH) Sept 21

Between Hatfield and McCoy and Air Force, I will have 15 weeks to rest up and train up. I’m going to attempt a fast time on this one. That exact time will be determined at the start of training for this race. I’ve heard nothing but good things from others that have run this before and so I’m very excited about it.


Outer Banks Marathon – November 9, 2013

I’m super jazzed about this one. I’ll be running the 8K/Marathon Challenge. 2 races/2 shirts/3 MEDALS! It’s on the water, it’s going to fill up my medal rack and it’s pirate themed. Yes, yes it is. My blogger “friend” Danielle (we’ve corresponded on Facebook, so we’re friends, right?) a.k.a. T-Rex Runner had a blast at this marathon last year, and I totally take her word for it. She is also a Marathon Maniac. Until I can don the super-cool singlet, I will be super jealous of her.

So that’s it so far!
What do you have on tap for 2013?

Ditch, Please! conquers Tough Mudder, KY – October 20, 2012

Sorry it has taken so long to get this posted, but here it is! The Tough Mudder Recap!

I trained for 10 months and every sweaty, painful moment was worth it. Some said it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done. But it was done. And I live to tell the tale…

At 6am on that cold Saturday morning, me and the posse gathered to head to Maysville, KY. It was 45 degrees. Yikes.  Originally, I signed us up for the 10:30am wave for the event because last year it was 90 degrees in October and there’s not much I hate more than exerting myself in the heat. Except maybe in the extreme cold. It was not to be a worry.

My Emergency Contact Extraordinaire, Amie took the wheel and with my son and his best friend Brenden, passed out in the back seat we took off. The car behind us held some of my very favorite people. Amy, Glenn, Eileen and Matt. They were coming along just to cheer me on. Amy L. had made signs for her and the boys to wear. I was very touched and a little intimidated by this. I hadn’t expected anyone else to go watch me attempt this madness and with this many witnesses, it was going to be really difficult to wuss out. Seriously, I have the best friends ever. The rest of our team “Ditch, Please!” would be meeting up at the registration area.

Two hours later we had driven through the true heartland of Kentucky. There were farms and rolling hills and lots of fall color. Amie and I chatted like old ladies about the scenery. What lovely trees, Edith. Why yes, Myrtle and just look at those wildflowers, and giant buzzards! (Amie hates birds.)

She hates them, like, THIS MUCH!

She hates them THIS MUCH!

The event did not have on-site parking so we parked at the local fairgrounds and were shuttled in. The lines moved quickly and soon we were on a school bus headed for Big Rock ATV Park. At the park, I went through registration and had my number written on my thigh and forehead as is customary for the Tough Mudder. They want as many identification points as possible. That’s when the nerves set in. I started shaking. Amie had to help me pin my bib on. I was, so far, not holding up my self-proclaimed bad-ass-ed-ness. Ridiculous. The inner monologue started up. Shake it off , killer, you have a wall or three to climb.

the posse

The posse, except Matt, who was to my right and didn’t get into the frame.

My hands were shaking so hard!

My hands were shaking so hard!


Seth adding UK eye-black stickers. BBN is everywhere.

We soon hooked up with Joel, a co-worker and teammate who had driven up the night before and he was quickly signed in, his forehead sharpied. Then we waited for the others to show up. The four remaining members of my team were 3 of my favorite cousins and a buddy of theirs.  Michael, Josh, Luke and Darren. All of them are at least a foot and a half taller and at least 13 years younger than me. They showed up a wee bit late, but raring to go.  They signed in and the team and our supporters headed to the start line.

We took some “before” pictures in front of the wall we had to climb just to get to the start line. (I have to stop here and point out my cousin Michael’s biceps. Do you see how massive they are? Good grief.) Later we found out we were in one of the most crowded waves to go through the event and there was some waiting around that would support that. It seemed to take forever to get started, but it was probably more like two minutes. I gave my crew a thumbs up as the national anthem began to play and was not surprised to see that my son had already hit the food area and was cheerfully snarfing down a bratwurst.



The National Anthem wound up and a chorus of WWWOOOOOOOOO!! and OOOORAHHH! rippled through the crowd. The gun blew and we were off!  I stepped up to the wall and it hit me that this was what I had been training for for all these months. This was it and everyone was watching. My giant cousin Michael offered to heave me right over the wall, but again, everyone was watching. With what I hope sounded like supreme confidence, I said, “Nah, I got this.” (I am Chuck Norris) and I somehow was over the wall and off down the trail!


My First Wall

The first obstacle came up after a short jog. #1 – the Kiss of Mud. You had to belly crawl under some barbed wire in mud. But this really wasn’t mud. It was more like clay. Like you were crawling over soft silly putty. About half-way through, one of the cousins shouted, “I sure hope they have some real mud around here somewhere.”  Aw, hell. He just had to say that out loud. I knew at that moment that we were completely screwed.

After another short jog came obstacle #2 and the one I was actually worried the most about. The Arctic Enema. Yeah, that’s it’s real name. What it is is this: A dumpster filled with ice and water where you have to jump in and completely submerge yourself to go under a wall half way across and then pull yourself out. I trotted right up to it and jumped in before my sensible self could say “I don’t know about this, Dawn!!!”  I found myself in a state of shock that I have never before experienced.

This is where I discovered something about myself. I had the ability to compartmentalize for survival. I could now separate myself into two parts. One part, the rational Dawn was over to the side, just watching what was going on to Physical Dawn and wanting no part of that crap. Physical Dawn simply gave simple commands that moved the body through the obstacle, knowing that I wouldn’t die and that it would all be over in a moment and that I would be stronger for going through it.

So, I ignored the cold. I was in it. The only way out was on the other side of this @$%*! dumpster. I wasn’t about to whine. I slogged to the wall, ducked under the water, came up on the other side, reminded myself to breathe and then tried to get my frozen arms to pull myself out of the pool of icy hell. My arms wouldn’t work. Great. I pulled and pulled on the edge of that dumpster, but couldn’t lift myself out. I started hearing shouts of “MOVE! GET OUT!” from behind me and I just couldn’t. Then I felt arms lock around my thighs and I was forcibly thrown out of the dumpster. Thanks and I’m sorry to whomever that was!


Out of the dumpster!

I made it!!!! Yeah!!! YEAHHHH!!!! That was the one I was terrified of! If anything was going to beat me this day, it was going to be that dumpster. I wanted to turn around and give it a big double bird salute, but there was a photographer right there and I am a lady after all. I straightened up, tried to smile, look good sopping wet and started running to get warm. I was freaking freezing. NEXT!

After about a half mile run, we came to the first of what would be 2 sets of The Berlin Walls. I was pretty excited about the walls because I had put in a lot of work on my upper body strength and I’d already climbed one, this one was a piece of cake, too. It was higher, but there was a small ridge of wood to get a foothold. It was pretty muddy, but I hoisted myself to the top, slid over and slowly lowered myself down. That’s the trick on the walls, folks. SLOWLY lower yourself down off the other side. Don’t jump or drop. The ground is muddy and possibly uneven and you can snap an ankle in an instant.

Right after the walls was the Dirty Ballerina. No big deal really. You just had to leap over some water-filled ditches. Easy peasy. Onward to Bale Bonds which was several stacked hay bales that you had to climb over. This one wasn’t a big deal either mentally, just a bit physically. Actually, many of the obstacles were no big deal. It was the terrain in between that started to kick our tails. It was raining off-and-on and it was 45 degrees. The hills were STEEP  and slick and there were a lot of them. There were a couple of hills that I wouldn’t have made it up if it hadn’t been for Joel and his spiked trail shoes. And there were a couple of long hills that I slid down like the cave/waterslide scene in Goonies. I hit a couple of people on the way down and took them to the bottom with me. And boy did they throw in the mud. Waist-deep mud that wasn’t officially listed on the obstacle course. My cousin got his wish.  We heard later that the officials said that TMKY was one of their hardest courses to date and at some point (after we went through, of course!) they cut out over a mile of the path because so many people were dropping out from injuries and hypothermia. We toughed it out for the whole thing. And in between the toughest parts, we completed most of the obstacles.

Up next was the Fire Walker. This required jumping into a pit of water, climbing out, jumping over a low row of wood on fire and back into water. Then came the Mud Mile which had us tracking once again through waist-deep mud through the woods and sometimes hanging on to trees at the edges to pull ourselves along. I remember laughing a lot through this one as my whole team looked pretty ridiculous. We came out the other end with all shoes upon our feet!

Log Jammin‘ was next and it was a lot of fun. It was a series of fences that were crossed and built lincoln-log style and you had to climb over or under based upon signs that were tacked to them. TIP: The easiest way to get through this one is climbing at the corners! On to King of the Mountain which was another climb up and down a huge mountain of hay bales. This one was memorable because as I was trying to climb up the 2nd or 3rd level, my cousin Luke must have thought that I needed a boost up, so he grabs me around the knees to lift me. But I didn’t need a boost necessarily and would have still been grateful had he not been repeatedly slamming my head into the bale above me. I had to shout at him..”LUKE! ::slam:: PUT ME ::slam:: DOWWWNN! ::slam::”  Put me down he did and over I went.

After the King, it was another Kiss of Mud. This one MUCH muddier than the first and the crawl under the barbed wire across the pit was sloppy. TIP!!! Watch out for safety pins in the mud, this one is a race number ripper-off-er!

Following the KOM, we went on to Hold your Wood. Here we found a much needed water/food station and we all stopped for a few minutes to down some water and snarf down some bananas. I have to say, this obstacle was a slight disappointment to me. Maybe we got there late, but the only wood to carry through the obstacle were  round “slices” of logs, no real logs. They had two or three really long logs that required multiple people to carry them, but my team had gone on ahead so I was left with a disc.

Ok – so we’re over 2 and a half hours in to this shindig and we discover on our way to the next obstacle that we are just NOW half way through. Yikes. I hate to keep harping on the cold, but we were frozen to the bone by this point and while I tried to keep the excitement level up, we were a little disheartened to discover that we were so far from the finish. Being able to handle some long distance running is definitely a plus in this event. Lots of large, muscular people were starting to cramp up and fall by the wayside. It had to have been a combination of the cold and the endurance that this event requires. It’s not just about strength, you have to be able to handle some distance.

As we came upon The Electric Eel, I saw a familiar face. My friend Kim had made her way across the land to find us and her husband who was running the course with his sister. It was great to see her and get some encouragement before we took on the electrified Slip-n-Slide. And that’s exactly what this obstacle was. You had to get across a long, low swath of mud, water and black plastic, staying under a wooden rail barrier from which hung electrical wires. Joel and I stood back for a bit to watch the other competitors and strategize. It became clear quite quickly that the best way to handle this one was at a running start. The people who were slowly trying to scoot their way slowly around the wires were just prolonging the inevitable. You WERE going to get shocked. It was best to just grit your teeth and pull off the band-aid. So I steeled myself and took a running leap under the first barrier. I made it about half way across before I had to start using my arms and legs to push myself forward. I remember getting shocked 3 times. None of them were painful. The third one, though, hit me square on the back of the neck and every muscle in my body contracted and released. It was the most bizarre feeling, but it didn’t hurt.  And the girls seemed to have an easier time of it than the guys. Maybe it was all that upper body mass. Oh and big TIP!: If you are bald, be sure to put on a cap or cover your head somehow because a wet, bald pate is a prime shock zone!


Thanks for the pic, Kim! That’s me, in the middle.

After the Electric Eel, it was quite another jog to the next obstacle. And once again, there were some pretty steep hills. Unfortunately, this is where we lost Joel to muscle cramps. I have never, ever seen someone fight through as much pain as he was going through to try to keep going. But with several miles left to go, he knew it was safer to withdraw, heal and start training for next year. He will do this and get that headband, I know he will!

As the rest of the team and I headed to the next obstacle, we met up with our supporters! Seth, Brenden, Eileen and Matt were waiting for us at the top of a hill. Eileen stayed with Joel to make sure that he got back to the start safely and Matt, Brenden and Seth trekked on with us to the Berlin Walls 2. It was great to see them. Matt took pics and they all cheered us on just when we needed it most. And the guys and me? We scaled those walls like it was our JOB. Michael, Josh and I took a moment to yell at each other about how awesome we were.



Who’s the man??? We’re the man!!! Hell’s Yeah!!


Still Smiling!

We were up to obstacle #15 and we were getting tired. Did I mention that we were wet and cold? I did? Ok. Just didn’t want you to think we had dried off. In fact, every time we seemed to start to feel minimally soggy, the TM dunked us again. Up next? Hanging Tough – a.k.a. The Rings. While the Arctic Enema intimidated me the most, the Rings and the Monkey Bars (Funky Monkey) are the obstacles that I really wanted to do well on. There was a bit of a line when we got there so we were able to stand back and watch how those before us handled the challenge. The rings were coated in mud. The competitors were coated in mud. Gloves were coated in mud. There didn’t seem to be any way to get a good hand grip on these rings. The trick to this one was to slip your whole arm through up to the elbow and swing like that. Luke made it across, no problem. I grabbed the first ring and got my arm in, stepped back and took a leap. I was out of reach of the next ring by quite a lot. I swung back to the platform. My cousin Michael offered to throw me out. Great idea! Let’s do that! I was hanging on tight as he picked me up and threw me toward the 2nd ring. I grabbed it!!! I tried desperately to get my arm into that ring. Momentum swung me back and forth a couple of times. Then the mud won. I took a beautiful header into the pit. But right before that, Matt snapped the below pic of me. I could have just posted the pic and let you guys think that I made it across in spectacular fashion, but honesty won out. Josh and Michael both made it across with Michael taking a lump on the bicep as he fell and hit the platform on the other side.


For a moment, all was glorious!

Once again sopping wet, we set off for The Boa Constrictor. This obstacle turned out to be one of my favorites. It was a series of two long tubes. One pointed down into a pit of water, then you crawled across the pit into the other tube  and upward to the other side. On this one, the gloves I was wearing were indispensable. My shoes were caked in mud, so I was able to pull myself through using my hands. Crossing the pit, I went headfirst into the 2nd tube. As I got near the end, I encountered the feet of my cousin Luke. He was shouting at me to grab his ankle and he would pull me out. Sounds good. Let’s do that! I grabbed on and before I knew it, I was shooting out of the other end like a rocket. I hit the mud and went sliding across an embankment laughing myself silly. I couldn’t stop until I hit grass and I tried. And then I fell down a few times trying to get up. It was just that slippery. I was covered head to toe in mud, but no worries; the Walk the Plank would take care of that!


Halfway through the Boa

Walk the Plank is another water obstacle and challenges ones fear of heights. You have to climb a slanted wall up to the top of a platform and jump off. It’s that simple. For some people. I’m not scared of heights. I have gotten a thrill out of free-falling ever since I was a kid leaping off the Crow’s Nest at Allen’s Lake. However, there were some poor people who stood at the top of the platform for a very long time, I’m told, confronting their demons. My only goal was to jump before the guys.


What goes up…


…must show up all her guy cousins and jump first!

After we climbed out of the pool, our posse was waiting for us. I got some hugs and, I think, a solar blanket from Amie. I’m not sure about that part, my brain was frozen. We chatted for a few minutes, they told us some stories of the previous competitors that had come through, reminded us that we were completely nuts for doing this and wished us well for the rest of the course. They’d be at the end waiting for us. I have the very best friends in the world. The BEST.

I can’t remember what time it was after the Plank, but it was getting late. Our bodies had reached the limits of what we could take. We could no longer properly move our hands. So I’ll just get right to this one. We skipped Everest. I kind of hate that now, but in the moment it was quite alright with me. The line was 30 people deep and if you missed, you seemed to have to go to the back. People were landing on their heads and backs and it looked painful. I hope my Tough Mudder friends that I made won’t judge me too harshly and IF I ever do another one of these, Everest will be my #1 goal. Promise. So then we jogged off to…

The Funky Monkey – The Monkey Bars. WHY did these have to be right at the end when my limbs had ceased to function? WHY? I did not make it. And I really wanted to get across those stupid bars! Luke was successful and so was Josh, I think. I don’t remember if Michael and Darren made it or not. That’s how dumb I was getting. But at last, we were headed to the finish! Right after a half mile trek through more mud and hills. What I remember from the walk to the end was that this guy in front of me fell backward up a steep climb and elbowed me right in the face. I dropped in my tracks. Michael was right behind me and caught me and stood me back up. I was beyond capacity for either pain or rational thought so it didn’t faze me much. The guy turned around and apologized. I saw that he was wearing a UofL shirt and I had on my UK face stickers so we made a joke about him punching me on purpose, ha ha.

Finally, FINALLY, we had the end in sight. Only Electroshock Therapy remained. I had read so many times that the electricity bothered the guys more than the girls and I hadn’t had an issue with the Electric Eel, so I just took a deep breath, covered my face (didn’t want to take an electrified wire to the eye) and barged through. I made it! And the promptly fell on my butt in the mud. All Class, Everywhere! I got up, hoping that the photographer missed that one, (he did not) and much to my complete irritation, was looking right at a bunch of giant muddy tractor tires that I would have to climb over to get my headband. Those turds!


Right before the tires.


This is what I look like when I laugh & cry simultaneously.     It ain’t pretty. I don’t care.

The guys disappeared after we got our headbands. They were just too cold to regroup. I hit the showers and the dressing tent which was one big open tent with everyone changing together. There was one girl shouting for everyone else to not get mud on her clothes! Sorry, sister. That really wasn’t an option. Amie gave me her yellow North Face jacket to help me warm up and Eileen gave me an orange Tough Knots necklace that her husband had made for us. Hugs, pats and cheers were all around. Someone gave me a diet coke and I remember being led like a puppy with Amie waving a cheeseburger under my nose to a picnic table to sit down for a minute and eat. My poor friends were starving. This was supposed to take around 2-3 hours and we were out wondering the wilderness for six. We took the shuttle back to our cars and hit the nearest Pizza Hut.

::Queue soft epilogue music::
Getting my headband was one of the proudest moments of my life. I had worked harder than I ever had in my life to get there. Some people doubted I could do it. Some very concerned friends worried that I would injure myself and cautioned me to think twice. But I have never really been able to turn down a challenge and when I started training for the Tough Mudder I was at a point in my life where I desperately needed to feel strong and self-reliant. Training for this event certainly did the trick. The very next Saturday I ran my first marathon proudly wearing my Tough Mudder shirt.

Snowman Shuffle 4 wait, no…3.6 miler – 2/9

I have a love/hate relationship with winter. I love snow. I love watching big, fat flakes slowly fall to pile up on the ground in pristine piles. I love the gorgeousness of a while expanse meeting a crystal blue sky. I love the snap in the crisp air, the quietness of a winter’s night. I love it. The complete opposite side of this is that on October 20, 2012, I spent 6 hours sopping wet and freezing during the Tough Mudder and still have not completely warmed up. I am so sick of being cold, I could just throw up. And we have super-crappy weather here in the Ohio Valley. In the last few weeks, I have trained in sub 20 degree wind chills, sleet, snow, cold rain; you name it. And I’m tired of it. DONE. Give me some sun. I’ll settle for mostly cloudy as long as it’s over 50 degrees, please. However…being in marathon training, as I will be for most of 2013, I pretty much have to suck it up, Buttercup and get my happy butt out the door and on the road.


I’m ready!

So in early February, I decided to battle the “no, no, no, no, no” feeling of the seriously cold training run a couple of weeks ago by letting Matt talk me into running an actual race. Prizes, you say? Ok. I’m in. And yes, I really am that easy. Did I really think I was going to nab an age group prize? Kind of. I’ve been steadily getting faster and I’m on the cusp of being in the running for medals. And you never know when the fast people are just going to decide to stay home or have an off day, right? So, that morning I dressed in tights, pants, wool socks, long sleeved tech shirt, jacket, headband, gloves and toboggan to go show the Snowman Shuffle who was boss. I mean, I can run a PR while dressed like Christmas Story Randy, right?

We actually needed to get in 6 miles that day so we parked a mile from the start line close to where our running group would be having coffee after the regular Saturday run so that we could meet up with them after the race. We ran the mile in fairly easy and I tried not to whine about the cold too much. It’s coming back to me how much of a grumpy, PITA I was that morning. The race started at Hogan’s Fountain in Cherokee Park and is at the top of a pretty decent hill. I knew this would be the finish line, too but I let that thought just slide right back out of my head. That would be a problem for Future Dawn. On the way to the start line we ran in to Karen and waved hi. Karen writes this blog and is super-speedy. You should follow her. I wasn’t sure she recognized me, since we had only met face-to-face once and I have this delusion that anyone who’s blog I follow will immediately know who I am on sight. That’s not at all ludicrous. But she did recognize us! I love making runner friends. Her friend that was there to support her graciously agreed to watch my bag while I ran the race. Thanks again!!! I shed my jacket and prepared for the start. That was as far as I was willing to go. Matt was in shorts. Serious badass-ed-ness going on, made even more so for the fact that he absolutely refuses to do the pre-race bounce that you see all the mostly naked runners doing before a race. I admire that. Very gangsta.

It took all the way up to the start gun for me to convince myself that I too, was a badass and to shake my cold-crankiness. I wanted to kill this race and I didn’t want to ruin it for the guy who very nicely had been trying to get me out of my funk for the last hour. I put on a smile and we wished each other a good race. I had a goal time of 36 minutes in my head. 9 minute miles. That’s fast for me. I hope to get faster. I started at 13+ minute miles, so yay! The gun went off and I discovered why it was kind of an awesome idea to put the starting line of a race at the top of a hill. The first 3/4 of a mile were downhill. And the decline was kidlike euphoria inducing! WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! I felt the sun on my face as I ran fast down that hill. And I didn’t hold back either, I let myself run as fast as I could so that I could soak up that feeling. I think part of the way, I was laughing out loud and I sincerely hope that the other runners were getting as much of a kick out of this as I was. I bookmarked that mile as one of my favorites running ever so that when I am running one that I absolutely hate, I can refer back to it. I hit mile 1 at a 7:58 pace. Wha what??? Woo hoo! Only 3 more to go. I settled down at the bottom of the hill and took the 2nd mile at 8:51. Still under pace! And then we hit the hills.


Will our intrepid heroine EVER take a good race pic?

At this point, I had to start some internal dialogue. These are serious hills, to me. You have to lean forward and just keep trucking. They wind around, too, so it’s best to not try to look up toward the crest. It’s always a long way off. I was getting pretty warm in my getup, go figure, so I took off my gloves and tucked them into my waistband. Bad idea. They were expensive, so of course, when they fell out as I topped the hill, I had to stop and run back to get them. Crap. Mile 3 – 9:47. Crap, crap, crap. I trotted down the hill as fast as I could and started up the last hill where the finish line awaited. But hang on, there’s not that much race left and I just hit mile 3…did they move the finish line? Are they going to make us turn somewhere that I just wasn’t thinking of? No! I came to the top and crossed the finish line in 32:48. I was gleeful for about half a minute. I got out of the way of oncoming runners and pulled out my iphone and checked my app. 3.68 miles. Matt and several other runners also verified that they clocked at most 3.7. Hmmm.

Matt and I grabbed some bananas and grabbed a seat to wait for awards. I figured I was out, but you never know and Matt is always in contention, so we were hopeful that one or both of us would walk away with some bling. This was the third race of a series and he had run the other two, so his age group placement depended on this race, too. Again, he was in line for a medal. So we waited, and waited. And it was so cold once again. I had thrown on my sweatshirt, but there was a pretty good breeze blowing and it cut right through. As we waited and watched the other runners come in, it was kind of nice to realize that I definitely had been more in the front of the pack than the back. I have yet to write my whole story, but I started running to lose a major amount of weight and it turned out to not only help me do just that, but it was a form of therapy that I desperately needed at that point in my life. More on that later. It’s enough now to say that as I lost weight, I have gotten faster and stronger and I have to stop every so often and remind myself about where I came from.

Finally, the award ceremony started and before they announced the awards, they let us know that yes, one of the “turns’ had been placed in a wrong spot and we actually ran 3.7 miles. Sigh. The awards were announced and neither Matt, nor I placed, but our friend Karen won her age group! Congrats girl! Matt ended up coming in 4th in his group and I was a lowly 18th/54 in mine. Wah wahhhhhh. 225 out of 772. And so ended the Snowman Shuffle. We jogged the mile back to our starting point and was warmly embraced by our regular running group and hot beverages.

Next up…The A1A Marathon in sunny, warm Fort Lauderdale.

Training Schedule – Week of 8/6 – 8/12

Mon – Rest/Sick
Tues – Run (3 miles)
Wed – KB Bootcamp
Thurs – Run (6 miles)
Friday – KB Bootcamp
Saturday – VACATION!!!
Sunday – 12 miles

This week has been weird so far. I ran on Sunday and didn’t feel well after. I didn’t have it in me to go to my Kettlebell class on Monday night. I’m going to run 3 miles after work and be back on track for tomorrow. On Saturday, I leave for Gulf Shores where I need to make the hard decision to run on the highway (they have a bike/walk lane) or chug it out on a treadmill, which IS facing a glass wall overlooking the ocean.

The Otter Creek 8 Miler, July 14, 2012- My First Trail Run!

The Otter Creek 8 Miler Official Time 2:04:05

This was my first official trail run. I decided about a month ago, that I’d better get in some serious trail running if I knew what was good for me. The Tough Mudder would be here before I knew it. The Zombie Run that I did earlier in the year had some trails on it, but it was mostly pavement. And the Muddy Fanatic also had trails, but it also had a lot of obstacles. So, without thinking much about distance or difficulty, I signed up for The Otter Creek 8 Miler pretty much as soon as I found out about it. I talked my friend Matt into running with me. The conversation went something like,

“Trail run?” I says.
“Yep.” He says.*

Summation due to lack of memory of how this came about.

It wasn’t until the day before the race that I realized how woefully unprepared I was for it. Usually, and this may not be good, the nonchalant approach works for me. I obsessed back when I ran my first half-marathon about preparation so now I feel like I have a pretty good pre-road race mental checklist. And work/life/training has kept me so busy that I didn’t stop to think that I was running an 8 mile trail race until the day before the actual event. Then I happened to google “beginner trail race tips” and hooooo boy did I freak myself out. I found out that I had picked what is considered a pretty long distance for my first run and that everything I was planning on wearing was wrong.

On any given day, I run in the Saucony Kinvara, which I love. Love, love, love. They are so comfortable and low profile and seriously, I love them. But they aren’t technically a trail shoe. Now, less than 15 hours before this race, I HAD TO HAVE a trail shoe. But I wasn’t in a position to lay down $100 for new shoes. But don’t worry Saucony Trail, we’ll be seeing each other soon. By luck and last hope, I found a pair or Toothpaste Blue Nike Free shoes on the Clearance rack at a sports store. I remembered that I had read in Runner’s World that a lot of people were using those as trail shoes. I tried them on and the heel was kind of thick, but they would do ok. I gave the Self in my head that was screaming “Nothing new on race day!” a pat on the head and sent her to her room.

I also knew that my one-bottle race belt wasn’t going to cut it. There was only 1 water stop planned on this race and it was right in the middle of the course. This month of July has been the 2nd hottest on record ever so far and I knew I would probably need more hydration than 1 water stop + 1 water bottle. As luck would have it, Matt had been to a sidewalk sale at one of Louisville’s awesome running stores (Woo! Ken Combs!) and had picked me up a Camelback waist belt a couple of weeks earlier.  I called him.

“Can you bring the Camelback?” I says.
“Yep.” He says.
“Nothing new on race day!!!” Self says. She worries too much.

I headed home to prep for the race and get a good night’s sleep. Before I fell asleep I decided to read a few more articles. Why? I don’t know. I guess I just like the torture. Long sleeves would apparently be good? Nope. I’ll chance it. I am not putting on long sleeves in 98 degree weather. My first trail run should be 20 minutes or less? Hmmm. Oh, well. I guess if I have to walk a bit I have to walk. Look down while running. Watch the trail at all times. OK. Got it. Having blown out my ankle by playing tour guide on a run earlier that year, I was all for watching the ground. Tips on where snakes like to hang out. Oh. Sweet. Lord. I hadn’t even thought about snakes. Stupid of me, I know. I was going to run in the woods after all. But snakes scare the living snot out of me. What’s worse than coming upon a snake on the trail? Nothing. I’ll die on the spot.

By morning, I hadn’t really slept well so I was a bit on the anxious side. I met Matt and we left town for the race. It was about an hour drive to the park and we had plenty of time to chat about the run and change our minds 15 times on whether or not we would run it for time or just have fun. He’s fast. I knew which one he would land on. I stuck with the “I’ll be glad to just finish in an upright position” stance.

We got there and found the sign-in table. This was a relatively small race. Only 87 participants. We got our numbers, hit the restrooms, made sure all of our gear was in place and headed toward the start line. At the start line, we were told by the announcer that the race was actually 8.4 miles and jokingly told us he didn’t want to hear any griping about it. The horn blew and off we went.

I was dutifully looking at the ground and running when I realized that this race would be conducted at times in a single-file line. Wanting to be able to run slow and take my time, I used the opportunity of the first available clearing and step aside to re-tie a shoe and let the majority of the runners pass me. Then I looked up. The forest was beautiful! I took a picture which doesn’t do anything justice and kept running. I started to fully enjoy running trails. Dirt and pine needles to run on. Rocks and tree roots to hop over. The terrain was never flat or hilly for long. Lots of twists and turns. Completely different than road running.

Soon I caught up with a group that included Kim, a co-worker friend of mine. She was super-encouraging. I ended up sticking with her and her friend for quite a while. We ran single-file through the woods, the path marked here and there with either signs or bright orange streamers in the trees to mark the way. Mostly. We came upon a stream where the trail abruptly stopped. You could turn left or right, but it wasn’t marked in any way to indicate which to choose. (We found out later that some kids had been hiking through and, not realizing what the markers were, ripped some down.) Thanks to Kim who had run the race last year, we turned left and after I almost walked off the edge of a drop off into the river while warning runners behind me which way to turn, we were once again on our way. Eyes on the trail at all times!

We made it to the halfway point and the water stop. We chatted with the race organizers there for a bit, caught our breath and was off again down a short gravel path back into the woods. I was still feeling really good and made it until mile 6 before I started to feel fatigue. Not bad for a first timer. Then, there was the massive, kiss-your-knees hill that really wiped me out. Half-way up I had to stop and catch my breath. A man 20 years my senior at least gazelled by me and shouted “It’s better if you run!” Mmm hmmm. Yeah, he did.  When I was able to start running again, I made it to 3/4 of the way up when he zipped past me going the downhill and yelled, “I’m going to do that AGAIN!” Sigh.

After the hill, I was between 6-7 miles and I was wiped. I started to stub my toes against tree roots, but thankfully never fell. I walk/ran the remaining distance. I could hear cheering and knew that I was getting close to the finish. After several more small twists and turns and with fatigue setting in a big way, I finally popped out of the trees, ran across a small clearing and to the finish. It took a few minutes, some water, a banana and a PB&J sandwich to recover. But soon the pain was forgotten and even before we pulled out of the parking lot, Matt and I were discussing our next trail run.

And all the new equipment? It all turned out fine. The full Camelback waist pack was heavy. I see why people use the shoulder packs, but it was nice to have that much hydration on hand. And the shoes performed just as the reviews said they would. My Kinvaras would have been fine, though. No real mud or water to run through on this one.

Morning Run – 8/2

For the short runs for this training program, my running partner Amie and I usually meet at 6:30 or 7:00 am at a nearby park and run laps of the 1 mile track there. This morning’s run was a little difficult. I had some aching in my left Achilles tendon that made my left calf hurt before the 3 miles were up. I was very grateful for the drop in humidity, though, so I wasn’t as nasty and swampy as usual. I’m hoping that stretching will take care of the aches. If not, I’ll move on to some ibuprofen.

The other two short runs this week were really good. Easy and smooth, so I hate it when one that I think is going to be good doesn’t quite go that way.


Tough Mudder Obstacle Preview – #2 The Kiss of Mud

The Kiss of Mud
“Eat dirt as you crawl on your belly under wire set only 8 inches from the ground”

Good times. This one is to get the dirty out of the way fast. Like jumping right in to the cold, deep end of the pool. Mud is in the name of the event, after all, so we all expect it to show up pretty quickly. Now…the wires only 8 inches off of the ground? Mayyyybe…if that allows you to sink a few inches into the mud, then I can see it. Otherwise, my booty will get snagged once or lots.

Stragegy: Slither like a lizard as low as I can go while belting out “Shake your Rump” by the Beastie Boys.