Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Continuing my race-a-weekend pace, I raced the Philadelphia half on Sunday. I had such a severe migraine the day before that I was unsure I'd race. I went to bed in the afternoon, slept through dinner, the night, and my 3 a.m. get up time, waking instead at 4:45 for a 5 a.m. departure! Yikes! I dashed around, and my poor mother drove me into the city at o-dark-hundred. I didn't even have time to get nervous, but I did start to feel excited when I saw Boat House Row.
I lined up with nearly 23,000 other runners next to the Art Museum, where Rocky famously ran up the steps.
Mayor Nutter greeted us at the start and made it clear that Philly is aiming to win the coveted Best Host City title this year. I was in the last corral (surprise), but the race was very organized (lots of port-o-loos at the start!), and my corral crossed that starting line 30 minutes after the first wave. Walking purposefully through Center City, the spectators were kind of done with the cheering and we looked sort of lame just walking or shuffling after the faster runners had dashed by. Still, I was stung when a stereotypically attired South Philly chick loudly complained in a nasal voice, "Look at them. They aren't even running!" I wanted to step off the course, grab her by her faux leopard lapels, and give her a shake!
Most of the spectators were super friendly. One man was handing out bananas. Down on the waterfront, I ran into some revolutionaries, dressed in period costumes. (Yeah. No idea, but they looked cool.) One of them was eating a famous Philly soft pretzel -- and he gave it to me! Sweet! Having not eaten either dinner or breakfast, I was really feeling the caloric expenditure!
The race route was fast, hilly, and scenic. We ran all on the waterfront,
up some beautiful old streets,
past Betsy Ross' little house,
past the Liberty Bell and City Hall, along some delightful shopping areas that made me want to peek in all the windows as I passed them, next to the zoo, through stunning Fairmount Park, and down along Boat House Row before finishing where we began.
Great race! The volunteers were amazing, there was great race support, even though I fell behind the pace car. Technically, the roads were open, but there police at every intersection, and they'd stop traffic so that I could cross. The sag vans never even hassled me. They were just there for runners who couldn't continue. The pacing monitors who were on bikes were super enthusiastic and encouraging, and even when they broke down water stations ahead of my arrival, there were always cups of water remaining for laggards like me.
When I crossed the finish line, I received a gorgeous medal - and in true South Philly fashion - it was wrapped in plastic to keep it from getting dinged or nicked. I've never seen that before, but it's a great idea! Most races offer a slice of orange or a piece of a bagel. In Philly, every person who crossed the line was greeted by a team of medics with trolley beds waiting. The medical tent was right across the line - along with more port-o-johnnies. We then received a BAG of food - including water, two bananas, and a Philly soft pretzel. WOOT!
The blues band playing just beyond the finish line was terrific, and I examined my many bloody blisters as I listened to them. My wonderful Philly friend met me at the finish line, gave me her coat because I was hypothermic, and then got the car and drove right to me so I wouldn't have to take another step.
Philadelphia really is the city of brotherly (and sisterly) love!
My friend I ate lunch and then headed over to the Four Seasons for massages. I so needed one, too! And then we were off to see the new Harry Potter film at the local IMAX.
No complaints. It was a wonderful weekend! Oh, and I burned 7000+ calories for the day!!!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
As many of you know, I was supposed to be in Harrisburg this weekend. It would have been great, but some other year perhaps. In the meantime, on the spur of the moment, I decided to do the Outer Banks 1/2 Marathon because I was in Washington, DC for work and thought that North Carolina was "close". What can I say? I live in a country the size of a bread box, and it's distorted my sense of distance.
The expo to pick up my racing bib closed at 6 p.m. At 5:30, I was pulled over by an extremely handsome, very polite state trooper who courteously introduced himself before inquiring as to why I was doing 75 in a 45 zone. So I told him. And he let me off with a warning. Clearly this man understands women and their need for bling!
In fact, I didn't get to the expo until half seven, but thankfully, there were still a few people there. I got my bib and set off to find my hotel. Mapquest obviously hates me and sent me up a flooded back road, but I eventually located my temporary home.
I'd never visited the North Carolina before and was unprepared for how lovely everyone is. So polite! Such a cute accent! And everyone is very friendly here. I hadn't been sure what to expect, what with names like Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Pirates Cove!
I popped awake at 3 a.m. and got ready to race. I drove all the way from Sanderling to Manteo to park at the finish line and then shuttle back to the start in Kill Devil Hills and line up by 6:30. The weather was perfect, and the sunrise was one of the prettiest I'd ever seen.
Now it would probably be overstating things to call myself a veteran, but I have raced enough times to have a sense of things, and this was an interesting crowd. I am usually the largest competitor, and not only was I not the only super-sized racer, in general, it was something of a ... how should I put it? A crowd that knew well what biscuits and gravy taste like! They weren't *fat* per se, but they were all a but curvier than I'm used to seeing. The atmosphere was relaxed. We half marathoners knew that there really weren't pacing requirements because the marathoners were starting 13 miles and 20 minutes behind us, so there would be course support for us for at least six hours. It felt great not to worry about being swept for a change!
I started in the back, settled into a comfortable pace, and chatted with other racers. Nancy Griffin of Manteo cruised along with her son, who sported a t-shirt that read, "Nancy turns 64 today" and had an arrow pointing to her. He also carried a sign wishing her a happy birthday. I wanted to get a picture of them, but Nancy was moving, and I couldn't keep up! Somehow, during the race, I got ahead of them and never saw them again, but Nancy finished in 4:34, her son finished one second behind. So sweet.
For several miles, I chatted with Lana from North Carolina. She used to weigh 500 !!! pounds and was down to 300. She had attempted this race last year but failed on the bridge in the 10th mile and was seeking redemption. She seemed to be struggling, and after a while, I needed to move on. I waited for her later on but didn't see her again.
The course was flat and fast, and the spectators were very kind and encouraging. In mile 6, I got passed by the elite runners, who were in their mile 19!!!! Talk about humbling! Plodding on, I faced the bridge, with its steep incline late in the race. My knees were really unhappy by then, but thankfully, no blisters this time. Maybe I've finally found the right shoes?
In mile 11 for me/24 for the marathoners, a one-legged women raced past me. The crowd went wild. Someone told me that she was just recently voted off Survivor, so maybe you know who she is? Anyway, she looked great and was running easily, finsihing with a sub 4 time. Amazing.
In mile 11, I got a bit of a jolt. I saw some of the finishers wearing their medals -- which were completely different from last year's and not nearly as nice! I was so disappointed that I almost quit! No, I'm not joking. I actually walked off the course for a few minutes. Last year, we got pirate gold. This year, it was a generic sort of medal. So lame.
I continued because I've never quit, but I wasn't nearly as excited. I finished in 4:10 and checked out the after party. Fun! Lots of people in fancy dress, free beer, good music, and dancing in the streets.
Later, checking the stats, I saw her! Lana Lambert of Sylva, North Carolina - good for you! Lana DID finish at the 5:10 mark. It takes such courage and perseverance to push through pain and fatigue for more then FIVE hours. I am so tremendously proud of her and hope she likes that medal more than I do. Well done, girlfriend!
GO, LANA! GO, LANA! GO, LANA! Go, Go, GO!
Overall, the race was so much fun that I already signed up for the Flying Pirate next April, after I was ASSURED that the bling would look like this:
WOOT! Can't wait!
Saturday, November 06, 2010
The Beirut races are tomorrow. Along with all my friends here, I signed up for the 10k. I didn't know how excited I was to do this race until the company's security chief said it was a no-go. At first, I thought I was ok with the decision, but as the day wore on, I just got angrier and more upset. I met one of my friends for lunch yesterday, still feeling salty and bitter two days later. We talked about all the cool things they were planning to do on race day, and it bothered me even more. I'm going to be traveling for the next few weeks, and she's transfering to another region before I return. So it's going to be a long time before we see each other again. The race was going to be our farewell hurrah.
All of the sudden, I found inspiration: just because I couldn't go to the start line and run the race didn't mean I couldn't *experience* the race.
My friends are all lining up tomorrow in downtown Beirut. ... And I am, too -- in the gym! We're going to use our mobiles to keep tabs on one another -- and I'm going to virtually race with them!
A 10k is 6.2 miles. Who wants to virtually race with me? Run, jog, walk, stroll the course and then post back to let everyone know how you did. C'mon, Sparkers - let's all race in Beirut tomorrow!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
I took my monthly measurements today. I only lost a few pounds all month and have been cycling the same few pounds for a while now. But the good news? I'm down 9 inches! People have been saying I look better, but I thought they were just being encouraging. Maybe it's true? Dare I hope?
Happy Halloween, everyone!
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