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Rusted Runner

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2001 when I was 32, and have been struggling to maintain control of my body ever since. I began running in 2007 and have gone from not being able to run for a minute to running a full marathon. I hope my story

Updated: 2018-03-06T08:43:02.355-05:00


Disney World Marathon 2016


Disney World Marathon 2016            This fall my running training totally fell apart, but that was okay, sometimes other things in life are more important than running. I headed to Disney World with my only expectation being to have fun and it came through for me in spades.             I have to admit that by the time I crossed the start line, I was sure I would never run Disney again. It is expensive and the logistics are mind boggling, but once we got moving, it truly was a rolling party. From the very start, I stopped in nearly every character line I saw, (skipping only those that were long and for a common character like Goofy.) Needless to say, this made for a very long time on the course, but it was so fun I didn't care. My second 5 miles took over an hour and 20 minutes, LOL. It was worth it though. Through the whole race I was texting my daughter about what line I was in and she was amazed at the characters, (she works in costuming at Disney World so she is hard to impress! ) Still dark            I stopped worrying about run/walk intervals and just went to running from character to character, walking water and snack stops, and occasionally walking with people to chat with.                        Finally!        We entered the Magic Kingdom with cheers and lots of spectators! The next 5 miles were my slowest as I stopped at the many character spots. I told Alice I felt bad because we all smell so bad, LOL. The camera lady said, "No comment."I was hoping for Sebastian, but he walked off set just as I got to the front of the line :-(  Is there something behind me?Out the back door and into the behind the scenes area with parade floats.Hades' line had just closed so this was the best I could doComparing our gnarly handsNot sure if Shan Yu was confused or trying to scare me, LOLThis was a major score, Barbosa never does meet and greets, only parades. When I walked up I said, "Pirates! The only people that smell worse than runners :-D " Barbosa said, "That would be you, Jackie!"Some characters had really elaborate back dropsOur only character stop in Animal KingdomBrother Bear characters. My daughter didn't think these costumes existed anymore!   It got tough about half way through, not quite a wall, but my lack of training kicked in. Stopped for these guys because I needed a break :-) Disney did an amazing job of making the lines go fast so it wasn't much of a break.     These guys were awesome! There was one with green face paint that was doing a full drill sergeant routine on the people that were walking up a small hill. Some were even dropping to give him 10 push ups!I almost missed this one because there was no line. The runners were getting tired of stopping I guess.Hollywood Studios! Getting close to the end!I choked up a little.No clue, but she waved her wand to make the pain go away. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to helpEpcot at last!!!Last characterBa-Bling!!     I finally looked up my results two days later, LOL. I finished with a 5:55:49. This, hysterically, put me in the top half of my field for my age group and gender and nearly so in the over all! So, if you want to feel REALLY good about your finish time, run Disney, hahahahahaha. Granted, it is nearly impossible to actually run because of all the people walking. I heard some discussion about some huge snafu where many people with confirmed marathon finishes got stuck in way back corrals so I wasn't the only one with this issue.       After a shower and nap, we headed to Magic Kindgom to ride some rides, stuff ourselves stupid at the Liberty Tree Tavern (one of my favorites,) and visited Mickey.Mickey and I played cards and had a great timeThis was my first time seeing the fully animated[...]

London Marathon


The following is the race report I wrote immediately after the London Marathon. It was one of the worst weekends in my life thanks to an incident that foretold the end of my 27 year marriage. When running a marathon, you get boiled down to crude bodily functions and raw emotions, unchecked and bouncing around your brain like a rubber ball shot out of a cannon into a small room. Reading back over this a year and a half later, I realize it isn't one of my better examples of prose, but it is real, it is heartfelt, and it is me; imperfect, over-exuberant, emotional, and wearing my heart on my sleeve.London Marathon race reportPre-race: I’M FREEZING TO DEATH! Tea, yes, hot tea is good! Must drink hot teaMile 1 Really? Seriously? I forgot my Garmin for LONDON!!! Okay, no biggie, they have kilometer markers, I’ll walk one minute at each kilometer marker.Mile 2  Crap, what did the clock say when I crossed. Was it 10 minutes, 8 minutes?Mile 3 Hot tea was BAD, now I’m going to have to find a pit stop. All the porta-potties have really long lines. Okay, I can wait for shorter lines.Mile 4 First 5K done, whoo-hoo, handing out bracelets is fun!Mile 5 Okay, tossing bracelets to the crowd is a bad idea, they all ended up in the bushes :-pMile 6  Oooo, running low on bracelets, better slow down on handing them out.Mile 7  Wow, some of these kids are really out to lunch. I can press it right into their open high-5 hand and they look at me like I’m from outer space and let it fall. Mile 8  Those kilometer markers are really tiny. How many have I missed?Mile 9 Sports drink would be really nice. Shame they are handing out crap with artificial sweeteners. Like, who is worried about calories in a marathon? Mile 10  Okay, I’ve passed the 5:00 or 4:30 pacers for all the start groups. That’s good, very good. I hope I don’t see those 4:30 guys again. Doubt I’ll ever see the 4:15 guys. That would be awesome though. I’ll have to shoot for that next time.Mile 11  I really have to pee now! Don’t want to stop in the second half, it will mess up my negative split! Yes, a place to hide and pee in tall weeds. There certainly are enough men watering the weeds. Great, now I can’t pee. Come on, you can do it,    AAAAhhhhhhhhhhhhMile 12 Wow, the Tower Bridge! “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down,………..” OOooooooohhhhhh, there is the big bullet thing. Hmmm, how do I get pictures that include the bridge. Click, click, click, click…..Mile 13 Okay, charged and ready to roll! Nearly out of bracelets, but the kids have lost interest in being spectators and aren’t even looking at runners anymore. I need eye contact if they are going to grasp it.Mile 14  The tough miles. Past the half way point, but not yet to the final stretch. Focus, Wendy, focus!Mile 15 There are some spectacularly funny costumes around here. How do they run in those get-ups?Mile 16  Family drama is starting to creep into my mind. Must….fight….the …..drama! Mile 17 Cool, a bag pipe band, hey, I’m really going fast. I may PR if I can keep this up, Mile 18  Drama, drama, drama, drama, I can’t control the demons any more. Focus, Wendy, one step at a time. Run to the next kilometer marker. Run Run Run, push push push, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot.Mile 19 Dang, where are those stupid kilometer markers. Ah, there is one, but I’m on a down hill. Okay, keep running, it buys you a walk break on the next incline. Yea, right, flat my butt. Mile 20  Good grief, I’ve never been stepped on, tripped over, kicked, or body checked so many times in my life.Mile 21  Wow, still on track for a PR, WHOOOOOTTTT!!!! Focus, Wendy, Focus.Mile 22   Hmmm, big walls, really big walls. Was that the Tower or London?Mile 23  Yes, that was definitely the Tower of London. I probably should be paying attention to a few things.Mile 24  Something big ahead, little voice in the back of my head saying, “Notice this, [...]

Athens Marathon 2014


The Athens Marathon     I had the great privilege of running the Athens Marathon in November 2014 with many wonderful friends, both running and spectating. I have been overwhelmed by emotion at t he end of many marathons, but this is the only one so far where I have cried at the start. Being there was so spectacular!!!!!Despite the thousands of people that swarmed the expo, I managed to spot one of my favorite Marathon Maniacs, Lichu Sloan. Lichu is an inspiration in so many ways!! Athens was her 170th marathon and she went on to run the Istanbul marathon the next weekend.       The start of the race was so exciting. The swarms of people, the Olympic flame burning, and beautiful, clear sky promised a wonderful experience.       People were hiking up and getting pictures with the Olympic flame!!!       Every race start is nuts and this was no exception. Trying to get my bag to the transport van was one of the bigger challenges of the day! I ran into a fantastic number of Maniacs. It was such great fun!!!       All along the race route people were handing olive sprigs to the runners. I took one early on and managed to finish with 2 out of my 3 olives, LOL. You can see one just below the white of the hat band.         When we stopped to get pictures with the statue, a Greek yelled at us, something about "no photos, MARATHON!!!" I guess he hasn't heard of Maniacs yet, LOL. I couldn't resist stopping for this shot.          I can't imagine running pushing a baby in a stroller, let alone a nearly grown child! These runners are amazing!!       I don't think I've run a marathon yet where there weren't at least a few people in costume. Athens did not dissapoint. This sweet priest was so patient with me! My phone was not cooperating at all for pictures, but he just kept smiling again and again :-)        There is great signage alone the entire route. These aren't the usual temporary distance signs, these are permanent signs that are up all year long.        Athens is well known for its 13 mile uphill slog. I trained for it by doing most of my mileage on either a 4% incline on the treadmill or on a nearby hill with a nice 2% grade that matched the average for Athens. Thanks to that preparation, it wasn't bad. Not that I wasn't very happy for my walking intervals, but other than a couple of short bits, (up from an underpass, etc.) I was never forced to walk by the angel of incline. It definitely added 10-15 minutes to my finish time, but considering how much time I spent stopped for pictures, it didn't matter much.        Nothing beats a great camera man on the side lines! Big thanks to my parents for waiting for me in the sun to get a perfect race shot.        Coming into the stadium is so incredible! So much history, so much emotion, and so much cheering!       Yes! I stopped for  a selfie right before the finish, LOL. After all the time I had spent taking pictures, another minute wasn't going to matter.        My good friend Elizabeth and her Husband Antonis were waiting for me at the finish too! Elizabeth assure me next year she will be IN the marathon instead of watching it. This will definitely remain one of my favorite medals and memories.Walking around town that night was so cool. Nothing like the acropolis lit up on a clear night! [...]

Yorkshire Marathon 2014


Yorkshire Marathon 2014In October of 2013, Yorkshire held its very first marathon. It sold out almost immediately and was a huge success. This year, 2014, the race sold out the 4,000 or so slots in a few hours after opening. Yorkshire is shaping up to be a key event for running in England! It is a fast, flat course in an incredibly beautiful setting. Definitely a worthy destination race!Looking so excited to be here.Watching the Jumbotron from the start corral in the fog.York is a great tourist destination, filled with history, museums, and events all year long.Medieval buildings attract huge crowdsThe Jorvic museum is a Disneyland worthy ride and museum that teaches about Viking life in York.Old fortifications are everywhereThe River Ouse runs through York and is still a very busy waterwayTourism attracts a bit of hilarious Kitsch. I've never seen a "native American" dressed in Pheasant feathers, or looking so Peruvian, LOLHitting the wall can be a bit different here. I've run trail races that included climbing over these walls more than once. Not and easy thing to do when you are past the 20 mile point! The Yorkshire Marathon was, thankfully, free of walls.       Since I live about 25 miles from York, this was a must do race for me, but it was also very low key. I didn't carry a camera because I already have hundreds of pictures of York, no one came with me, and despite the fact that this was a milestone race for me, (30th marathon/ultra,) I didn't have any fanfare or celebration planned. The last couple of months of my life have been an emotional and mental train wreck so while running has been a good escape, I wasn't enjoying my training at all and every mile was forced and hard. I toughed out Loch Ness in September on painfully low mileage and did not have high hopes for Yorkshire. Despite really not wanting to run, I knew I either had to do this race, or do a 20+ mile training run alone in order to be prepared for Athens in November. Running with thousands of people, cheering spectators, water stations, timing mats, and a well laid out, traffic free course, that I have already paid for, will always be preferable to running alone so I headed for the race start.      The set up at the university was great. They took wonderful care of the runners, there were an incredible number of volunteers, and the campus is stunning. It was just as well that I didn't carry a camera as we ran in a thick fog the whole way that covered everyone and everything in tiny drops of water until we looked like we were all covered in watery pixie dust. It was perfect running weather though. Having so much water to breathe meant I needed very little water to drink and my lungs weren't parched dry at the end.        Although my heart wasn't in the race at the start, the spectators, views though the mist, and the other runners carried me along in the flow. I socialized, helped cramping runners with salt, checked on people that had stopped, and ran at a comfortable 4/1 run/walk pace. Since I wasn't in a hurry, I too it east at the start, which lead me to a nice negative half split :-D I shocked myself by being able to maintain my pace throughout and realized, with a few miles left to go, that I had a shot at a personal record. Apparently, between the speed work for the half marathon in early September and the marathon in Loch Ness two weeks before, my training was just what I needed. Not orthodox, but good enough to sharpen both my speed and endurance.       I felt great after the race. Of course, I was tired and hungry, but nothing felt injured or wildly over used. Even the day after I was not sore, only a little stiff the next morning, but by Tuesday I was totally over it. To me, that is the biggest win! At the rate I am improving, it will still be a long time before I run the coveted sub-4, but as long as I keep improving and my rheumatoid arthritis stays [...]

Loch Ness Marathon


Loch Ness Marathon 2014  I was really excited about the opportunity to run the Loch Ness Marathon. I had heard so many wonderful things about the race and it was a great excuse to venture farther north into Scotland.  The race and the city of Inverness was everything that was promised!  To begin the race, all the 2,500 or so runners were loaded on buses of every sort and shipped up around Loch Ness to the race start. It took nearly an hour, but the mood was wonderful and it is always fun to be on a bus full of runners!  When we arrived at the start area, there were lots of porta-potties and, of course, free hot tea with all the appropriate fixings.   The runners spread out to enjoy the views and prepare for the race. It was a perfect, misty morning on the moors. I was quickly hailed by a group of Maniacs, two from the US, and another from Canada. Later we found a 5th from Edinburgh that was running her first race as a Maniac.Waiting for the start gunEn Route entertainment was great!This silly horse was trotting up and down the fence matching the pace of the runners. He would hit the end of his pasture, race back to the other end, and do it again.Maniacs are always fun :-) The weather brightened as we wound our way through the country side.Loch NessWhere?The dark, mysterious, loch looked just like I expected!Yes, the course is a "Wee Bit Hilly", but it is far more downhill than up so still a reasonably fast course and there were always lots of people to chat with during the uphill marches"Humpty Dumpty had Wall Issues" The signs were very creative!Had to stop for a spectator photo with the "Invisible Boy" LOLIt was great having my daughter at the finish line with the camera readyJust a few more yards.......Such a spectacularly beautiful town alone the River NessTah-Dah! All doneA bit of local colorWee Nessy looks a bit like a dinosaur, hmmmmmm  It really was a great race and wonderfully managed. Even the safety pins for our bibs were great quality, (a first!) The expo was nice and the town really turned out for the runners. [...]

The Great North Run, Newcastle, UK half marathon


Stock picture from the website    The Great North Run in Northern England is one of the biggest races in the world. Since it started in 1981 with its first 12,000 runners, over 1 million finishers have crossed the line. It is the first IAAF race to reach this milestone. Picture from the paper. The runners were thin at this point!       The 13.1 half marathon route runs from Newcastle, over the Tyne Bridge and, after some surprising hills, ends in South Shields on the coast. The route was lined with spectators the whole way and seemed to fulfill the descriptions I have read of the top marathons in places like London, Chicago, and New York. So British to have red, double decker buses as our baggage transport :-) Patient bus drivers that gave up their Sunday morning off to haul bags for us   It was amazing being in that big of a field and despite the crowds I was able to stay on pace pretty well. There is always a few walkers to get around, but for the most part I was seeded extremely well in my corral and felt like I was just carried along on the tide. There were a couple of bottlenecks, but we never came to a complete halt. Entertainment in the start corrals   My pace was the best it has been in years. Although it wasn’t a PR, it was my fastest finish in 3 ½ years and my second fastest over all. I supposed if it had been cooler, the course had been flatter, or the crowds had been thinner, it might have been a PR, but I don’t really care, it was my 3rd sub 2-hour finish out of 14 half marathons, I wasn’t going to worry about the details. He actually finished the race in that!Wondering why all the crazy people are on his street   I didn’t take pictures on the course since I don’t take walk breaks in half marathons, but I wish I could show everything some of the crazy people and things I saw. There were costumes, funny signs, and fantastic spectators, (especially the ones handing out orange slices!) Everything from “Elvis” in full regalia crooning as we passed and the Pink Lady for Breast Cancer, to a 7 member steel drum band without a drop of ethnic blood amongst them. They all whizzed by as I pressed myself to maintain my heart rate, basing my pace off of that, rather than how many minutes it was taking me to cover a mile.     By the time we hit the finish, the crowds had really not thinned out. I was in the thick of it as hundreds of runners crowded to get across the finish line. Owing to the chip collection, there was already a backup bad enough that we were having to wiggle in like sardines to actually get our body over the final timing mat!  I guess crossing it slowly is why my Garmin and my official time agree to the second.Where?                I went through the usual steps; turned in my chip, got my goodie bag, stopped for my finisher photo, and followed the crowd on our march to the baggage busses. Along the way I managed to score a pint, and a seat on a hay bale in front of a live band playing American Western Music, long enough to cool down and enjoy my tasty beverage.     One big cultural different that surprised me was that British runners are even less body conscious than American runners. I’m used to runners being a bit more comfortable, women stripping down to sports bras, everyone in revealing compression shorts, but I was caught a little off guard by women stripping naked to the waist in full public view and guys stripping down to less than a Speedo. Not that I mind, but my run-addled brain took a little more time than usual to process the images. “Did I just see that?” “Did Winnie the Pooh just disrobe to a thong?”  Hard to see here, but there are solid people all the way to the finish arch and beyond  Eventually I made my way to the bus that would carry me back to my car in Leeds. It was[...]

Wales Marathon, Tenby, UK


Wales Marathon, Tenby, 2014Tide out        Military wives at the race start :-)     The Wales Marathon is part of Tenby’s Long Course Weekend. It is a series of races that mirror the Ironman, but the swim is on Friday, Cycle on Saturday, and run on Sunday. Needless to say the whole town was packed with amazing athletes. Doing the Asian salute with Katrina who had just arrived from Okinawa, Japan    The Marathon course was lovely. It was a tough one with lots of hills, but with about 600 runners and gorgeous scenery, even the low hung skies could not dampen our spirits. We were fortunate in that it never really rained on us and the clouds never really cleared so it stayed in a comfortable zone.                 The support was great from the crowds, spectators and the race organizers. Gels were in abundance, as was water and porta potties. Everything was well marked and the red carpet finish at the end was really cool.                 I did reasonably well considering the hills, and two days of driving and sightseeing beforehand. I was tired, but in no hurry and enjoyed chatting with the people I met on the course. He has my smile :-)                 I know my race reports have gotten shorter, but it is less frequent that a race really stands out or has a story. It was great to see a new area and we had fun being tourists. The food was wonderful, as were the people. Other than that, it was a peaceful, lovely race J Endless coastsand Castles!Red carpet finishSight seeing on the "sort of" way to Wales, and representing my CharityStunning moon on the evening after the swim.A very rural drive home through Eastern Wales (Cows crossing holding up traffic). [...]

Midnight Sun Marathon, Tromsø, Norway


Picture from Wiki, scroll right to see it all!Hamming it up for Race4ACure                 The Midnight Sun marathon in Tromsø, Norway caught my eye as soon as I knew we were moving to Europe. A full marathon, inside the Arctic Circle, during the Summer Solstice, how cool is that!             Cadets that had fun the 10K earlier in the day   It was every bit as spectacular as I had hoped! Tromsø is a darling town with a rich history and thriving present. Fishing, fur trading, ship building, down collecting, and Arctic Exploration got this town off to a booming start. Now tourism, university, and other industries keep it going strong. Thanks to The Gulf Stream, Tromsø is much warmer than you expect with average summer highs in the 50’s (F) and average winter lows in the 20’s (F), quite temperate for being almost 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle!There were lots of cute traditional houses lining the courseLove the sod roofs!His parents were so tickled I stopped for a picture :-) Sadly, blurry, but it gives a good idea of what most of the course looked like with the green grass and snowy mountains.In the second half I spotted the lad on the right, his companion had dropped out, but Jakob finished with a few minutes to spare :-) I can't imagine those slate steps covered in ice!Even the manhole covers are cuteThe water was crystal clear everywhere!              To experience the Midnight Sun, the full marathon starts at 8:30 pm and immediately heads over a huge bridge to the Arctic Cathedral for an out-and-back before going back over the bridge and passing through Main Street. The second half is around the edge of the island for a second out-and-back, with the half marathoners that were started off 2 hours after the full start. The course was beautiful and there were a surprising number of spectators for so late at night, but then time seems to be irrelevant when the sun is up around the clock. Thankfully, I had managed to take an afternoon nap so between it staying bright out and being rested, running until just after 1 am did not bother me like it has during past night runs.The view from the southern edge of the island       After the race I hung out, chatting with other runners and sipping at a beer before heading back to my room for a quick 3 hour nap before my shuttle pick up for the airport. (I’ll leave out the debacle of being bumped from my flight and adding an 8 hour bus ride that made a 7 hour journey into a 16 hour journey.)     It was a wonderfully operated race with a beautiful course, in an unforgettable place. This should be a bucket list race for everyone!The Arctic Cathedral, inspired by ice flowsSo many charming boats in the harborAboard a (now retired) seal hunting ship[...]

Edinburgh Marathon 2014


Edinburgh Marathon A fine Scottish MorningAwesome photobomb by Elizabeth's sister in the start corral       I had heard a lot about the Edinburgh Marathon and none of it was good, but when a long time running friend of mine asked me to train and pace her for her first marathon I could not resist her request. The training would be via email as she lives in Greece and I am in England, but we would meet for race day in Edinburgh while she was home visiting family in Glasgow.        Her training went great! I was so proud of how she stuck to her schedule, got past minor aches and pains, and only missed a couple of short runs. Her heart was absolutely in it from day one and never flagged. Happy, excited runners at the startOff to a good start       By the time we met, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival was in full swing. All over town were people wearing their 5K and 10K medals and shirts from the Saturday races and the happy parade of runners with their expo purchases were streaming away from the Hub. My trainee, Elizabeth, was very excited to see her first expo. Unfortunately, it was comprised of one tent with a weak assortment of items pulled from a local running store. She was able to pick up a couple of items though and we were having fun taking pictures and chatting about our plans for race day.                Race morning went fine. We met to walk to the start with what seemed like the usual butterflies in our tummies. Despite dozens of races, I still get butterflies at the start line, especially with a big crowd and this one had about 8,000 runners in 4 corrals. It was a bit grey, but the low hung sky and mist was beginning to break up with the promise of a nice day.Elizabeth blending in with all the runnersAlong the coastLots of cool waterfront housesRunning strong!                Then the trouble started. As we approached the half way mark, Elizabeth was beginning to flag. I thought this was odd since her training should have carried her much farther at her planned pace. It turned out that the fluttering stomach that morning was not only nerves, but also either a virus or food poisoning taking hold. She kept plugging away though, not wanting to stop. I stopped at a porta potty at one point and was horrified to find 2 out of the 4 over flowing to the point where waste was piled higher than the seat! This became a consistent theme on the course, much to our dismay.Threatening skies            Gosford House    The course itself was better than I expected. Pretty ocean views and the loop past Gosford House were lovely, but the wind off the North Sea was stiff and this was a good day. I would not want to run this course on a bad day! The volunteers were wonderful, as was the crowd support.                 I won’t go into detail about the events on the course, but suffice it to say Elizabeth was amazing. She became more ill and distressed (but not in danger of dehydration, I would have made her stop if that had been the case,) but refused to give up. She told me to go ahead and leave her, but there was no way I was going to abandon a sick runner on the course. We passed many aid stations, but she pressed forward. Thankfully, I was in contact with her sister, via cell phone, who was waiting at the finish line. She was worried sick, but ready and waiting with everything her sister could need. Elizabeth perked up for a picture with the 20 mile sign                We were down to a walk as we approached the 20 mile[...]

Brathay Windermere Marathon 2014


When my alarm went on at 5:30 am on May the 18th, I was not mentally ready to run a marathon. I still feel like I have not fully recovered from South Africa and the 3 weeks of high activity that went along with it.  My body had a laundry list of physical and mental complaints, but I knew that if I missed this race I would regret it deeply. Hot air balloon rides! The grounds for Brathay house are extensive and they were put to good use for race day. The Brathay Trust is a charity for helping and inspiring at risk youth and this is their big fund raiser for the year. In addition to the nearly 1,000 runner that ran the Marathon on Sunday, there was a small group that had been running the marathon course daily for 10 straight days! To celebrate their big finish, the Trust held a family fun day with food and activities that even included a hot air balloon. Lake Windermere is in the heart of the English Lake District and its namesake marathon goes all the way around it, including the nearby Esthwaite Water. The numerous old manor houses with mature English gardens are wonderfully charming, set on the backdrop of the lake which was a riot of sailboats zipping past one another in the stiff breeze.                 The marathon itself was a tough course. We were always either going uphill or downhill so, of course, it seemed like it was 80% up and 20% down. Towards the end the volunteers would solemnly tell me the hills were behind me and it was flat for the rest of the way. Clearly we have different definitions of flat. A fun moment on the course came when I was running with a chatty group and after overhearing me a guy yelled, “Hey, I remember you! You were at Malta!” LOL. The British running world is small indeed. Perfect preparation for Edinburgh                Since I have Edinburgh next week, I did not want to make myself particularly sore or wear myself out too badly so I tried to keep my heart rate under 80% of max by walking up the hills. It slowed me down a bit, but also made it easier to enjoy my beautiful surroundings and keep from overheating. The temps were in the 70’s, which would normally be just fine, but after a long, cold, English winter, the runners were not acclimated to the warmth and there were an awful lot of ambulances on the course.                  Next up, Edinburgh![...]

Two Oceans Ultra Marathon 2014


Two Oceans Marathon                We arrived in Cape Town almost a week before the race to do some sightseeing and soak up the atmosphere. It was absolutely fantastic! We saw wildlife, toured wineries, and gazed at the end of the continent. I won’t pretend I got much running in, but I did a lot of walking and early mornings.                Race day was so exciting! The runners at the start sang popular folk songs and they took cell phone pictures in the dark. The vast majority of runners were South African, yet they were just as excited to be there as I was. Finally, they whole group fell silent before belting out their national anthem. I have been brought to tears many times at race starts from singing my own national anthem, (yes, I am a patriotic mush,) but it was no less moving to hear the South Africans raise their voices in song. If anything, it was more powerful knowing their own freedom is so recently won!                 I always hang back at the start of a race because warming up is very important with my rheumatoid arthritis. Knowing I would be finishing close to the end of the time limit, I kept an eye on how many runners were behind me. At first, there were not many and I was spooked into picking up my pace, but within a couple of miles I made myself relax and ran the pace I had planned.                 The first 18 miles were kind of a blur. We ran through cities and farms, waving at spectators, and getting our early miles in at a brisk pace. There was an occasional slight incline or decline, but no hint of the hills that lie ahead.                 One of the really fun things about this race were the bibs. Each runner had one in the front and on the back. Along with the number were the runners first name, how many times they had completed the race before, (half or full), and if they were over 30, their age group. I don’t think I have ever been in the company of so many 40 year olds at once, LOL. This was Johns 29th ultra run!                I did meet a barefoot runner on the course. He was from Amsterdam and this was his first time going over 50k barefoot. I was a little worried about him when we hit a patch of older pavement. He seemed to have a hard time with it, but I saw him again many times on the course and that seemed to be the only time he struggled.                 The water packets were a bit of a surprise. When I heard the description of them, I thought they would be like the ones I have seen in England, but these were much smaller and simpler. Each one had about 2 ounces of water in it and the bag had no designated opening. To get the water out, you had to rip into it with your teeth and hope that, in the process, you did not lose most of the water. I did not mind getting covered in half a baggie of water when I blew it opening the bag. I did not even mind all that much when a runner next to me would squirt half of it on me opening his own bag, or even when someone stepped on a full one and it sprayed 3 or 4 runners since it was hot and the water was generally cool and refreshing. The baggies of Powerade were another story. That stuff made everything it got near sticky!Water baggies                   We dipped down a[...]

Manchester Marathon 2014


2014 Great Manchester Marathon       When I registered for the Manchester Marathon, I was not expecting much. Manchester is not exactly a top tourist destination, but it fit my schedule and I had a friend that wanted me to pace her through her first full. Despite this, driving to the race and hearing the radio DJs wish all the runners luck, gave me nervous butterflies in my stomach. Running marathons hasn't gotten old yet! Despite my excitement, I wanted to run this one at a comfortable pace to practice my splits for Two Oceans 2 weeks later, and log the needed miles while looking for friends from my on-line running groups.  I love a bold look! To an American, this is gritty, city, England, LOLSo cool meeting Jay who was taking pictures and cheering from the sidelines for his wife and her friendsMark went on to have a fantastic run in London! Thumbs up to his buddy on a great photo bomb, LOL         Queuing up for the race was a bit of a zoo. There was no clear organization for where to stand for your corral and as the start approached, the MC kept calling the runners forward so we would be close for the gun. Somehow, this resulted in me being WAY to far up in the crowd. I took off at a pace I knew I could never sustain, but the crowd of 8,000 runners was so thick I could not really slow down without causing people trouble. Fortunately, by the time my first 1 minute walk came up, I was able to get off to the side, but each time I ran, I was jumping back in with people moving too fast for me. I even ran through my second walk break because I could not hear the timer beep. Best camera angle ever in a race photo, thanks to Jay!       Despite the pace, the race was a ton of fun. I found friends, met new ones, and enjoyed the scenery in a surprisingly charming city. It also had a few out and back sections so we got to see the front runners, I love that!       Despite my way too fast start, I managed to hang onto to some of my speed and ended up finishing at 4:25:14! That is within a minute of my finish in Malta that I had attributed to the last half of the race being downhill. Although I pushed too hard for a race that was only 2 weeks before my big ultra, I think it gave me huge confidence towards finishing Two Oceans. I finished 26.2 in near record time without feeling totally spent so I knew that backing off on my pace would give me what I needed to add an extra 9 miles.Cute cadets helping with our bags. Manchester has an arch?Buildings along the canalWatching the elites run byInto the cityBummed this was blurry, he was swinging fireballs!Patient, and a few not so patient, cars sitting at a dead stop waiting for the runners to clear.The finish line, YAY!Slogging through the finishing chute. That is my post race "ecstatic" look, compliments of Jayand his magic camera that makes me look good :-)       All in all, Manchester is a great marathon and I highly recommend it!  A big city race with a small town feel.[...]

Coastal Trail Series: Sussex


Another Saturday SunriseCoastal Trail Series: Sussex I was pretty excited about this race on the Southern coast in Sussex, across the Seven Sisters. Not only did I want to run a March marathon, but I wanted to see this area, and it fit perfectly in my training plan. If I said to my husband, “Hey, let’s drive all day on Friday, walk around on Saturday, and drive all day back on Sunday to see some pretty cliffs,” he would have looked at me like I was crazy and said, “No way.” Fortunately, if I say, “I want to go run a marathon in Sussex,” his response is, “Have fun, I’ll see you when you get back.” So off I went.Storm brewingIt was a lot colder and windier than the weather report had proclaimed, but I was prepared for every contingency. At the race start I was bundled up with multiple layers and looking around at the people with me, some of whom were bare legged and hatless, thinking half the group was nuts, but I was not sure yet which half, the over-dressed half or the under dressed half..We took off and things were going well. I went right into my power walk for the up hills and laughed at all the people that had taken off at a fast trot and were now lined up waiting for a turn to go through a small gate. (English trail races include a multitude of livestock corralling, narrow gates to pass through and fences to climb over, via an assortment of slats and steps.) Everyone stood around waiting their turn and even the walkers with trekking poles caught the runners. From the take off though, I realized it was going to be a definitely “back of the pack” day. Oh well, I was not here to prove anything to anyone but me. I watched the line of runners stretch out before me, thinking either they were all very ambitious, or I am a horrible trail racer.Then the storm hit. I had decided to wear my gloves, ear band, and buff and was very glad I did. We had watched it coming across the ocean, bringing winds that knocked us backwards. Ice pellets and rain hammered us as we slogged up the first set of hills. Up is usually good when you can run down the other side, but running down was very dicey. The grass was slick with rain and ice, and very steep and uneven, so we were picking our way down trying not to fall, rather than galloping down like we wanted. At one point, I lifted my foot to take a step up and a wind gust hit so hard I was suspended in mid air, unable to move forward to put my foot down ahead of the other, and desperately trying not to get tipped backward for a tumble back down the hill I just climbed. This seemed like it went on forever. Finally, the rain stopped and the sky began to clear. That is when I realized we had been out there 40 minutes, and had gone 2.5 miles.  Not a good sign!    The next few miles were kind of a blur. Cute towns and villages with cute buildings and pretty flowers. I ran for a couple of miles with a young graduate student from Malaysia. It was his first full marathon and he was soaked and freezing in his sweats. He did not finish. England never ceases to amaze me in its ability to be totally stormy and over cast one minute, and have nearly clear blue skies the next, but that is how it went. Looking back at pictures, it is hard to imagine they were all taken within a few hours.  The grass and dirt isn't thick, chalk is just beneath the surface and makes the stickiest mud I have every encounteredBack out into farm country I was battling with the mud made of chalk that hangs onto your shoes like super glue and is the consistence of potter’s clay. On the up side, the clouds had moved off and it seemed like the weather would finally be decent, and maybe my camera would dry out enough to start working properly again. I [...]

Malta Marathon 2014


What a way to start the day!       I am struggling with where to begin for this one. We had spent two days touring the island nation of Malt and although we barely scratched the surface, we fell in love with it. I looked forward to race day with a mix of elation and the normal anxiety of race day. The views promised to be wonderful, but the wind was wild and black clouds skittered at the edges of the sky threatening to envelop us in a dismal storm.I was determined to be prepared for any event so with my camera in one hand and a rain poncho in the other, I ran while enjoying and documenting the course I hid from the wind up on the Mdina waiting for all the runners to be shuttled up from the port. Reluctant to give up my windbreaker pants and long sleeve t-shirt, I put off checking checking my bag to the last minute,  .   I found Donald, a fellow member of both Marathon Maniacs and the Marathon Globetrotters so at least I wasn't alone with my chattering teeth :-) And we're off! Winding our way through tiny streets full of cute windows and doorwaysThis guy was resplendent in his new jeans and fashionable collared shirtI wish I could look him up by his bib number because I'm dying to know what his finish time was! I think he finished shortly before I did :-)The views of the Mdina were wonderful, but those black clouds were a little scary. I was sure we would get rained on before the end, which explains the yellow rain poncho in my hand in all my race photos, LOL.A few of the Portsmouth runners. There were a lot of them and I heard their flight was a rollicking good time!Grandpa in his jeans is still keeping up with the whipper snappers. I hope I can run half as well at his age!I stink at selfies,  but I try :-)I was tempted to take a snack break!There was a trio of runners from Greece and the guy in the group kept insisting on taking my camera to run ahead and take pictures of me. This is my "can we get this over with please" smile. I think he was pacing the two ladies behind me bored with their slow shuffle.Scary clouds getting scarier. The cacti, which are all over the island, are to break the wind.     It didn't take long for the approximately 500 runners to thin out. I was lost in thought and enjoying the scenery when I passed the 21K sign along with another pair of runners. I heard one say we had been running just over two hours, WHAT? I looked at my interval timer and then, in disbelief, asked what time it was. At 10:10 am we had been on the road for 2 hours and 10 minutes, the fastest I have ever hit the halfway mark in a marathon. I was worried, knowing I had gone out WAY too fast, but I also knew the second half was almost entirely downhill. The negative split ship had sailed, but the PR was coming into view!The kids handing out sponges were adorable. These three took their marshaling and cheering very seriously!Most of our running zig-zags and loops were in MostaThe map worried me since that is a lot of potential for missed turns, but it was very well marked and marshalled so there were no problems at all.       The whole race was a swirl of things to look at. Every inch of Malta seemed exhotic, from the carefully tended vegetable gardens and vineyards to the spires of the many churches, it was all new and interesting. I love this picture because it has everything, the Mdina, the cactus, the grape vines, and the stone wallsMalta is the most bombed place on earth, thanks to the Nazi's in WWII. A bomb dropped through the roof of this church in Mosta and landed in the middle of 300 people waiting for Mass to start. IT DID NOT EXPLODE!Viewing the Mdina again and getti[...]

Newcastle Racecourse Marathon 2013


     I realized today that I never wrote a race report for the Newcastle Racecourse! Although, considering the experience I had, it is not particularly surprising that I would try to forget it.     The race was held December 8th on the High Gosforth Park Racecourse. The competitors, all 100 or so of us, ran around the service road that is normally reserved for ambulances and grounds keepers. To get in the appropriate mileage, we started part way around the track with different start lines for the half, full, and 50K so that everyone would finish up at the same place. It was almost 16 laps for the full marathon, 19 for the 50K runners.    You really get to know the terrain when you go around so many times. I tend to stop looking around and focus only on what is on or next to the track; the hay bale that is ½ way around, the billboard that is ¾ of the way around, the crest of the hill, the beginning and end of the section into the wind. It all becomes very redundant. It was not an ugly course, there were trees and hills, but it was foggy with occasional rain and incessant wind. I would get a bit too warm running with the wind, and then freeze running into it so I was shucking or donning my jacket every 10 minutes or less.  There were also golfers in the center of the track.  I don’t know how anyone could play in that wind, but these folks North England folks are tough and a little bad weather does not keep them from their weekend golf game! On many occasions I would hear that sickening thwakthat sounds like impending doom, but to the best of my knowledge, none of the runners were hit with golf balls.     The 50K runners really impressed me. All of them finished their 19 laps before I finished my 16, whizzing past me in happy chatty groups. My head and my heart were simply not in this race and it showed in my slogging steps and downcast eyes. I ran it just to run it, an intermediary step between Dublin and Anglesey in January (which I did not end up running at all.) I think 26 miles on the treadmill would have been easier mentally and certain logistically and financially.      Another nasty surprise came when I realized the drink I had been chugging each lap had artificial sweeteners in it. They make me very sick and normally I can taste them in the first sip, but everything tastes odd to me in England so I did not think much of the flavor. It never occurred to me that anyone would give low sugar drinks to runners, but after asking about it on the Marathon Maniacs’ page, it seems this is becoming more common so I will have to keep a sharp eye out for it. It really crippled me for the race. My stomach was killing me and my mood turned even darker and angrier. The food dye Red-40, and artificial sweeteners have the same effect on me. They do something to my nervous system that makes me want to jump out of my skin and rip peoples’ faces off. It is a horrible feeling and one that is very hard to overcome in order to finish a marathon. A very hard day turned into a completely miserable one.      I really only needed to run 20 miles to get in the time I needed on my feet so I could easily have walked away after 12 or 13 laps, but I was so mad at how poorly I was doing that I was determined to stick it out and get my lousy medal. When I finally finished there were only 4 or 5 people left on the track, all full marathoners duking it out with the wind. I really appreciated the volunteers that stayed at the finish line/lap station, making off runners as they came through and manning the drink table. The emergency workers on bicycles had long since[...]

Jacksonville Bank Marathon 2014


        It has been a while since I had a really great race, but Jacksonville was one of them! Since I had been on the road for a week, living in a hotel and eating in restaurants, I did not have high hopes for a great finish, but I knew it would be fun with lots of fellow Marathon Maniacs and it was my 20th lifetime race of marathon or longer distance.Pouring rain, but beautifulPhoto credit:  Jurgen Englerth      A few days before the race, my husband checked the weather forecast and told me, in a very grave tone, that it would be in the upper 60’s (F) and raining. Clearly he is not a runner because that is an awesome forecast for a marathon!  Near the beginning of the race it was a bit warm, but I never felt over heated or cold, just excited, it was awesome! Several times we got a full on Florida downpour, but once you are soaked with sweat, rain water, or both, it hardly makes a difference to get soaked again when you are warm. I did have a bit more chafing than usual in some pretty unpredictable places, but nothing that was a problem during the race. The one down side being the weight added to our shoes from running through ankle deep water.                 Jacksonville is a truly beautiful city and the race course did not disappoint. We ran through gorgeous residential areas of multi-million dollar homes, lined with ancient trees that were hanging with Spanish moss. Often, I am so focused in races that I hardly look at where I am, but this time I enjoyed the views immensely.  Although there were quite a few turns, it was a pancake flat course and is a Boston Qualifier so a good one for folks with an eye on qualifying. Photo credit:  Jurgen Englerth                Of course, one of the best parts of the race for me was the Marathon Maniacs!  Being able to look ahead and see 3 MM singlets at once was such fun! When you see that shirt, you know you will find a good attitude, a smile, and all the encouragement you need.  Jurgen himself! It was awesome to meet him in person finally, but better to beat him to the finish line :-D                Once again, I used my Galloway style run/walk with a 4 minute run and 1 minute walk. I spotted a couple of official Galloway pace groups, but when they run they run too fast for me so I stuck to my own pace and intervals and it worked really well.  Jacksonville was my 4th fastest marathon to date and my second fastest for the year (my all-time personal record having been set in March.) I have tried dropping to a 3/1 interval, which is closer to the interval recommend by Jeff Galloway, but it just slows me down and does not help me recover any faster.                 My last couple of marathons have been plagued with a weird soreness on the top of my ankle, but I seem to have resolved it as there was no tenderness there at all this time. Matter of fact, I was only a little sore from the race and the soreness was spread evenly over my body, including my core muscles. That is my next focus area, abs and back! I have been terrible with my training the last few months, particularly my core training, so it is time to get my plank time back up and start hitting the stability ball more often.Loads of MM's and HF's on the coursePhoto credit:  Jurgen Englerth             [...]

Dublin Marathon


Dublin MarathonSight seeing before the marathon and learning to draw our own Guinness             We had a good couple of days before the race seeing the sights, but the weather was awful so I have almost no pictures. It rained, the wind blew, and it was COLD! I was seriously worried about this race. There was a storm brewing that had the news channels all warning everyone to batten down the hatches, they were saying it would be the worst storm since 1987. I had not packed particularly warm running gear and thought perhaps I would have to drop out with hypothermia. I bought a pack of disposable rain ponchos and headed for the start line. Fearing rain, I was prepared with a poncho, if I could get it open!Reluctantly shucking my coat and revealing my goofy outfit                 Despite the dire warnings, the morning dawned brisk, but beautiful with the promise of a great race. My husband stayed with me at the start until the last minute so I could keep a coat on as long as possible and then waved me off to join the throng of the third and final wave. I was a little sad that I had missed the group picture for the Marathon Maniacs, but I spotted Anders in his red shirt, standing up on an island, surrounded by a sea of people. Even though he had a bib for the first wave, he had waited to look for other Maniacs (have I mentioned what awesome people Marathon Maniacs are?) Anders had run Frankfurt the day before so he was ready to take it easy and hang with the slow pokes at the back. Dublin was his 112th marathon and also rounded out 12 marathons in 12 countries in 12 weeks. (At the writing of this blog, he just finished the New York Marathon so that all bumps to 13!)                ALL of the following photos were taken by Anders  Forselius. He is an awesome Marathon Maniac and writer for Runner’s World Sweden! He was such fun to run with and totally kept me going with his boundless energy, (despite his having run the Frankfurt Marathon the day before!)Anders has fun with the spectators and helpers                A short time later, we heard a shout and found Danielle “T-Rex” Hastings catching us up. Wow, another legend in the Maniac community! This was shaping up to be an amazing day! Not for my running though, I seemed to be struggling from the get go. Thanks to two days of speed walking though rain and wind to get from one tourist attraction to the next, my legs were far from fresh and I was totally exhausted. Anders and Danielle, on the other hand, were fresh and daisies and chatted along like they were out for a walk in the park, LOL. It was so awesome to just be able to listen to them. They stuck with my through my Galloway style run/walk with 3 minutes of running to 1 minute of walking even though they could have gone much faster.      I also met Lichu Sloan. She has run over 150 marathons all over the world, including the amazing feat of 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 weeks (I’m seeing a trend here, LOL)!  I can’t wait to see her again in Florida when we run the Jacksonville Marathon!                There were so many Maniacs on the course it was fantastic, I met another when I was looking for my start coral, and ran a bit with James Daly who was having a blast taking in the sights. I really do love finding Maniacs at races, they are alway[...]

Robin Hood Marathon, Nottingham


The Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham     This run sounded like so much fun! Unfortunately it ended up being pretty run of the mill. The scenery was so-so. We had some nice park mileage, but mostly it was industrial. I thought they would play up the Sherwood Forest theme and that there would be more people dressed as Merry Men, but it was not so. They sold costumes inexpensively, but they were fleece and it was a warm day. Anyone in a fleece tunic and hat would have been pretty miserable in it.                The weather was pretty good. Mild temps, but with a stiff breeze at times. A lot of people were cramping, probably because you do not realize how much you are sweating when the wind blows it all away. I went through way more water than usual and was very glad I had carried a few doses of Salt Stiks. I gave away one dose about half way through to a kid that was already cramping. It was his first marathon and he was clueless. I hope it got him to the end, but I’ll never know since I do not remember his number.                 One interesting feature of this race was the way they handed out water, in Iconiq water bags. At first I thought this was kind of cool. Less waste, easy to hang onto when the water stops were 3 miles apart, and fast to hand out which kept the water stops from being such a bad choke point. With the wind, I ended up going through 15-20 ounces of water every 3 miles so my small hand bottle was not enough by itself. With the baggies of water, I was able to grab two at a water station and wait until the next scheduled walk break to empty one into my hand bottle, and drink the other on the run.                 There were some serious down sides though. Near the beginning, when the course was still packed with half marathon runners that had taken off with us, someone stepped on a full water bag and it exploded, spraying me from head to foot in water! I was very glad it was not something with sugar in it and I dried out pretty quickly, but it still sucked to be sprayed down like that. Next, they are not easy to get the water out of. You have to squeeze hard and make sure the little tab/spout stands up right. Once you get the water flowing, it squirts out with such force that more than once I managed to shoot it straight down my throat and into my lungs! At one point I did such a nifty job of it that I had to stop until I could catch my breath while every muscle around my ribs cramped up from the coughing spasms. My ribs were still sore the day after. I supposed they take less plastic and so should be more eco-friendly than bottles, but the way they were blowing about and lying in the gutters, I could not help but think about how much harder they would be to pick up and how easily they would wash down the storm drains. It was an interesting innovation, but one I hope not to see in a race again.                Near the end we ran around a lake that was man made, so not very interesting, but it had more swans than I have ever seen at once. A pair came in for a landing very near me and that was pretty cool. They sound like helicopters and skied for a good 30 feet before settling down on the water.                 The race ended pretty uneventfully, I was ahead of the [...]

Yorkshire Tough Mudder 2013


 Yorkshire Tough Mudder 2013The wall we climbed to GET to the start!My game faceMy "OMG, what am I doing?!" faceClean and smiling :-) I kept smiling, but definitely did not stay clean long    The Yorkshire Tough Mudder was a blast! I won’t do a blow by blow of each obstacle, since you can easily Google images and descriptions for each one, but I will say that, despite the difficulty of some of them, the hardest part was the mental aspects of talking myself into continuing on when I was cold, wet, exhausted, and spent.Ice being added to the water for Arctic Enema, the second obstacle of the morningMy "OMG that was cold!" face  I know it sounds crazy to voluntarily put yourself though something like this, but it is one of the many ways to test your metal in a non-threatening, and fun atmosphere! Knowing you can quit at any time and be picked up and driven to the finish (minus the t-shirt and head band,) give you a safety net that can be good and bad. Good because if you truly can’t go on, you have an exit, but bad because you have any easy way to quit.    Even though I was a lone runner, I had plenty of help when I needed it and everyone was wonderful. That being said, I don’t know that I will do it again alone. Listening to the banter of the teams made me feel a bit lonely at times, wishing I had a team of my own, but it is tough to get involved when you register from half a world away! I was invited to join a couple of teams, but they had very different start times. So nice of them to invite me though :-)Another lone runner that I teamed up with for the "Buddy Carry"Yes, I carried this guy piggy-back for a good 25 yards!  As for doing a Tough Mudder with RA, I won’t lie to you, it was not easy. Cold makes my joints ache and I spent a lot of time in icy water. Plus, I was covered in bruises by then end. Bruised elbows from pulling myself along on them through pipes, bruised knees and thighs from climbing over walls, and other assorted bruises that I can’t even guess the origin. I don’t know how it could all have been worth it, but it absolutely was. I supposed proving to myself that RA does not stop me from joining in on the fun stuff is the big draw. I like scaring myself with new challenges and some of the obstacles were definitely scary!  I have not jumped off a high dive in years and I have certainly never pulled myself along a horizontal fence with just inches between it and muddy water!  I only really failed at one obstacle, the monkey bars. I was just too cold, numb, and tired to grip the bars and hold myself up, so I fell off the second rung and swam across. Hey, at least I tried! I also only made it to about the second block on the one where there are floating squares, strung across water on a rope. It did not occur to me to climb back up and try again, probably because I was so shocked when I went straight in the water and never touched the bottom, with a huge rush of mud up my sinuses.   How this company makes being totally miserable so much fun is beyond me, but they have definitely found a gold mine! While I’m at it, I should point out that my husband, who is specializes in logistics in the Air Force, said it was incredibly well organized and operated, and he is a tough guy to impress! Getting zappedFinished at last!"You are the first woman across the finish line""Seriously???"[...]

Northumberland Coast Marathon, UK


Northumberland Coast Marathon      The minute we found out we were moving to England, I started looking for marathons. In my search, I managed to stumble across the Northumberland Coast Marathon, which was a small club race put on by The Northeast Marathon Club. The race was billed as the most scenic in England and was capped at 100 runners. I signed up immediately since the fee was small and I was afraid it would fill up. It was a smart move since it definitely filled up quickly.     This was my first trail marathon and since my mileage had been paltry at best during the move from South Korea to England I didn't have high hopes, but I figured I could finish inside the 6 hour cut off.     I won’t type much about the race, I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves:The start and finish area3 - 2 - 1 GO!All 72 of us :-)It was a muddy startDown the first of many beachesDunstan Castle The ridges in the sand were deep and brutal, I turned my ankle on every step     I don't have any finish line photos since my husband was in the pub enjoying a pint (phone reception was terrible so he missed my 1 mile out text.) It was a fabulous race though, and it truly was one of the most beautiful races I have ever run. I’m so glad I didn't blow it off when my training had shriveled so badly. Despite the terrain and poor preparation, I managed a 5:15 finish so I had maintained at least a little of my conditioning.  Also in the area is the Alnwick Castle where several movies have been filmed, including the scenes where Harry Potter learns to ride his broom. We decided to have a go at it ourselves.Pick up your broom...  It was a wonderful introduction to England and running through the English country side. I can't wait for my next trail marathon, Anglesey at Holyhead in January! In the mean time, I have several road races planned and next up is my Tough Mudder race report![...]

75 Miles for Cancer


In Memory of Bruce RobinsonFeb. 7 1952 - Jan. 29 2012                After two previous Relay 4 Life events, my third effort came on May 5th, 2013. Since the last Relay 4 Life, my good friend and running mentor, Bruce Robinson had passed away from cancer. It gave a new level of purpose to my run to have him and his family in my thoughts and prayers.                The track it was to be held on was not really a track, but cones laid out on a football field so I knew it would be small. What I did not know was the field would be lined with tents, and more tents down the middle so that we were running on a track that was about 7 laps to the mile, YIKES! I was immediately concerned knowing the problems I have had before with track running and constant, tight turns in the same direction. Oh well, nothing to it but to do it! I was also a bit worried about the mental aspect of running the same little circle hundreds of times, it would be a challenging race indeed.0900 0 laps                Unlike the Relay in Virginia where the ceremony/explanation of the rules started at 0700 and the running started at 0730, this event is not run by Ultra-Marathon runners so things went off a bit differently. The opening ceremony was lovely, but did not start until 0900 and the running could not begin until the ceremony ended so the run did not really get started until almost 0930.  Despite the late beginning, it was off to a fun start. We had a stage set up with lots going on, live music, games, announcements, and constant barrage of sound and activity. The track was packed and the walkers, who vastly outnumbered the runners, at times were hard to get past as they kept drifting into the inside “lane.” I don’t really blame them since it was not really marked. They were pretty good about gracefully getting out of the way when asked, but at one point I was walking myself and yelled at a whole group because I guy running and wearing a 70 lb. Explosive Ordinance suit was having to go out and around the walkers in a turn! The other road hazards included small children darting through the runners and walkers, and flying footballs and Frisbees. It was total mayhem, but very entertaining.1224  100 Laps       By noon it was starting to heat up, but the enthusiasm had not slowed down one bit. My daughter had been dropped off after an overnight camp and hung out to support me (by cheering, not running.) I sent her to make a Luminary for Bruce and then she hung out and ate my snacks until her dad came to pick her up. I got a pat on the back and a peck on the cheek from Hubby as they went home to relax.1715 200 laps                As the crowd thinned out it got easier to run, but after about 200 laps, my knee was beginning to balk at the tight turns.  I changed gears and began running the straights and walking the curves, which meant a lot of stopping and starting, but helped. Then I figured out that my knee did not hurt if I ran at least a 9:15 pace. I certainly could not maintain that pace for dozens of miles, but I could between walks! So my running got faster and my sit down to eat or drink breaks drug out a bit, but I kept at it. When I could not run, I walked fast, probably a little too fast since [...]

Bundang Half Marathon


       On some race days everything comes together. On some race days everything falls apart. Sometimes things start falling apart long before race day! All runners know the agony of an injury a week or two before a major race, or some annoying person scheduling a wedding last minute the same weekend as that marathon you had to register for 10 months in advance and had to book non-refundable rooms and flights around. Sometimes it just seems like the cards are really stacked against a race. The Gungpo Bundang race was one of those for me.        Part of the problem was me. I went on vacation for a couple of weeks and didn’t run a step. I did power walk a couple of times, went kayaking, and swam, but I totally failed at getting a run in. Okay, no big deal, it is just a half marathon, and didn’t I just PR a marathon a few weeks ago? That should count for something. The trip was great, the flight home was rough; it was one of those cheap all-nighters where we left the hotel at noon (10 am home time), had a 6 hour layover in the Bangkok airport, and didn’t get home until 10 am the next day. So needless to say, by Tuesday, April 16th, I was pretty beat.       Then things started going downhill. The day I got home I heard about Boston and like all runners, it really hit me, I spent the day poring over news reports on the edge of my seat waiting to hear if my friends were okay. Then, although totally trivial by comparison, but no less stressful for me, I found out one of my email accounts had been hacked by someone in Bulgaria who had the correct password. I then set out to change pretty much every password in my life, while keeping one window on the news.       On Wednesday, we finally got our long awaited orders. For you non-military types, this is the little piece of paper our whole life was on hold for. With this paper magical things happen, you get to arrange dates to have movers come take all your stuff away, for other movers to bring borrowed stuff, what day you will fly, and it all takes a lot of running from office to office and making stressful decisions. The biggest twist with this was that we would be packing up in 9 days, UGH! Not a good weekend to be headed out for a race!      Next, on Friday, I found out my credit card number had been stolen while on vacation. Thankfully, the bank figured I probably didn’t apparate to New York and charge $5,000 at a chocolate factory so it didn’t go through, but it did mean I had to wait for a new credit card to be sent to Korea. I know exactly where the card was stolen, it was the restaurant I ate in in the Bangkok airport. I guess that is what I get for pointing out that my food wasn’t cooked. I use my credit card like a debit card so I was really hamstrung and worst of all, missed entering the lottery for the London Marathon, ARG! I was only going to have 3 chances to begin with so now my chances of getting in are significantly lower. Anyway…       Did you catch that part about the food? The veggies in the curry were raw. Okay, no big deal, I don’t mind raw veggies. However, food that has not been cooked, in a third world country, tends to have things living in it that one is better off not ingesting. So yes, the symptoms to Giardia surfaced within a couple of days. I am now up to a 50/50 average on Giardia and third world co[...]

Seoul International Marathon


       What a fantastic and crazy race the Seoul International Marathon was! Marathon Maniacs group photo, I know we missed at least 2        The day started early, as usual, and my friends Diane and Rhonda drove up to the finish area, parked the van, and then hopped a cab to the start. The timing went perfectly and we weren’t rushed to get drop bags in, group pictures taken, or hit the porta-potties.       I wish I had gone with throw away clothes instead of the plastic bag I was wearing over my running clothes because I was shivering violently by the time our wave started. It was about 20 minutes after the initial start so we had been standing around for an hour in too little clothes at that point. I kept thinking about how much glycogen I was burning with all the shivering!       Once we were on our way I started immediately into the Jeff Galloway run/walk with a 4:1 ratio. It was slow at the start with all the people so tightly packed and dodging runners and walkers was a constant battle that got a little better, but not much. It didn’t take long to be warmed up and in the end I was dressed perfectly for the weather. A few times I started feeling a bit warm, but then we would pass into the shadow of another sky scraper and I was glad for all I had on. She had too be on the warm side!This is really typical here, it is all about protection from the sun to stay young looking       I was so focused on running and following my intervals that I didn’t even see a distance marker until the 14 km sign! I was surprised and happy to be well on the way. The next one I saw was 24! I had my Garmin set so I could glance at it and see how much time I had on my interval, but I purposely didn’t want to look at my pace, time, or distance covered. Once I happened to look down as it flashed 8:23 for my run interval and thought I’d better take it down a notch, but that was the only split I saw. It really helped with the mental struggle I usually fight during the teen miles.This guy was close to me the whole race, no idea how he ran in that costume!       Somewhere around 25 km I had to make a restroom stop. I had been looking for porta potties, but quickly realized there were not going to be any on the route. Instead, people were ducking into coffee shops and gas stations. I followed suit into a gas station and stretched while I waited for my turn. I lost over 2 minutes at that stop that I would regret later, but I really had no choice. I’m not sure where I went wrong since I don’t usually have to stop, but I was definitely over hydrated. I was also queasy and my tummy was threatening to revolt one way or another. I really worried that my great start would be ruined by G.I. distress, but I kept plugging on.I love seeing older runners, it gives me hope that my days as a runner are not as limited and people would have me think       Around the 32km point I spotted another Maniac singlet. The poor kid, who I later learned is from Singapore, had totally hit the wall and really fought for the last 10K. I saw a ton of other people I knew on the course from our base, the Seoul Flyers club, Marathon Maniacs, and other runners that have been in many of the same races. It was so much fun to see so many familiar faces! They are all credited[...]

New Year's Day: The Marathon that Wasn't


In the blogging world, everyone is quick to post about their successes, struggles, triumphs and utter disasters so we rarely hear about those moments when things just didn’t work out. I had one of those lately and it has taken me almost 6 weeks to finally blog about it, but I still think the tale is worth telling.Ready to start. The man on the left was headed back to sit in his car, LOLFor 2012, I was riding a real crest, marathoning at the drop of a hat and having a blast. Unfortunately, I got a little burned out when it started getting cold and the only races were on the same old bike path along the Han River is Seoul, South Korea. When I cut back on my mileage, my sinuses acted up, which turned into my lungs crudding up, and then I got the stomach flu that was wiping out the military community where I live (seriously, one afternoon at the child care center 17 kids started puking at the same time, ACK!)Needless to say, when the New Year’s Day marathon rolled around I was not in peak condition. It was bitter cold, the sky was slate grey, and my head was barely in the game. Then, they changed the course. Instead of 13.1 out and 13.1 back, the marathoners would turn around with the half marathoners and do it twice. Granted, it is the same distance either way, but somehow that was the final blow that took the wind out of my sails. Then it started snowing, UGH! From the start, each step we slipped back half a step so it was battle royal just to keep moving forward. I was toast 8 miles in and decided there was no way my body was going to take this one gracefully, even if I slowed down. I sent my buddies ahead secretly hoping they would decide to quit at the half way point when they had to go back out into the wind. Of course, they didn’t and they handed me the key to the van so I could wait for them to finish. I kept myself busy. A friend was running the half so I got to see her finish, hobbling because the Yack Trax she was wearing messed with her gait. Then I got the frozen wiper fluid going again so our drive home wouldn’t be as scary as the one there with all the muck splashing up from the road and obscuring the driver’s vision (we also saw a van spin out on the ice and slam into a guard rail, facing traffic by the time it was done.) One good thing was the fantastic, traditional New Year's Soup being servedAll in all, it was a miserable race. Diane, who has run marathons in thick mud and on the beach, said the slushy snow was the worst. So, I walked away without a finisher’s medal for the first time. Fortunately, I didn’t have much invested in the race so I didn’t really care all that much, other than it threw off my marathon-a-month plan. February was a bust too, both available races fall on days that I am already committed to something else, but I have my sights set on the Seoul International in March. I got in a good 20 miler a couple of weeks ago and plan another this week so I’ll keep moving forward! My buddies enjoying hot soup after their successful finishEveryone has a bad day once in a while and knowing that something is not the best thing for your body and listening to that inner voice is an achievement of its own. I don’t regret my decision, and I still got in a nice 13 miler.[...]

2 Marathons in 2 Days


The Maniacs of South Korea (one more was added shortly after this pic was taken, Congrats Cate!)       Insanity is definitely contagious and the arrival of two more Marathon Maniacs at my base made the contagions overwhelming. Somehow I found myself toeing the marathon start line two days in a row, EEK! I would never have considered this if I had been on my own, but having a veteran of the challenge with me and a buddy to run with the whole way both days, made all the difference in the world.       The races themselves were not particularly interesting, but doubling is a special event. Both races were along the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, in very brisk conditions. Our first started with the thermometer dipping to 23F. I think it may have made it slightly above freezing in the afternoon since the puddles started to thaw, which slowed my, “Slip and nearly bust my behind” ratio. The second day was warmer, but the wind was a bit sharper so it was pretty much a wash. Both days were very cold, but manageable with the right layers and the cheerful sunshine made it seem a bit better.       Rhonda and I decided that even though we hadn’t trained with a run/walk plan, we would take it easy on Saturday and take a one minute walking break after each 5 minutes of running. The plan was a Godsend because not only did we manage to keep it up the whole way, we finished way faster than expected (4:48), feeling very good, with minimal soreness and energy for day two. We were served Tofu Gruel with a spicy salty sauce, which I gobble up with alacrity before digging into the food stashed in the car. I ate my 2 boiled and salted eggs with my Salt & Vinegar Pringles, washing them down with coconut water and then green tea with tart cherry juice. Dinner was steak and salad with lots more salt even though I had gone through 10 Salt Stix caps and 4 or 5 gels during the race. I really thought I would need less electrolytes in the colder weather, but I took as many as ever. Perhaps I just finished less depleted than I do during the summer.        That evening we kept each other laughing with our Facebook messages about ice baths, dinner, and planning for the next day. Having the first race behind us really lifted our confidence. We just had to get to the start on Sunday and let inertia take over.       Thankfully, Sunday’s race started an hour later than Saturday’s had so we didn’t have to be on the road until just before 8am for our 10am start. Using the same 5/1 run/walk ratio, we managed to keep moving forward, albeit at a significantly slower pace than the day before. There was no published cut off time for the race, but Korean marathons tend to roll up the sidewalks around 5 ½ hours after the start so we didn’t want to be too terribly slow. Our finish time for day two was a pleasant 5:02:58, YAY!! Diane beat Rhonda and me to the finish line by about 15-20 minutes both days. We are very proud of her!       I did a few things different over the weekend. The run/walk combo felt so good and was so successful that I doubt I’ll run another marathon without walking every 4 or 5 minutes! I’ve heard for years from people that swore Jeff Galloway’s methods made them faster, but I just couldn’t wrap my [...]