Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Elf Edward arrives ready for the Mojo Loco

Three years ago, our first magical elves arrived at our house. My daughter was in 4th grade and she came home from school one day saying that Grace said that if she wrote to Santa and requested an elf, he would send one to her. So that very night, she wrote to Santa. I had never heard of magical elves and had to do some quick research. Santa wrote her back with a photo of the elf he was sending. I thought she would be thrilled, but she was upset. It wasn't the elf she was expecting. So that elf became my elf Edward. (I was reading the Twilight series at the time.) And the next day, her beloved Elf Kendall arrived; she was exactly what Kyra wanted. If you'd like to read more about our first year of elf adventures, click here and browse through December 2008 blogposts. And if you're really into magical elf adventures, click here and scroll down from 12/24 to Thanksgiving 2009 for last years antics.

This year, she wasn't as eager to write to Santa for the elves to return. But I missed my elf and sent a letter to Santa. Elf Edward arrived during the night and I found him ready to run this morning. He wore my MOJO LOCO headband as a tube top, was in a festive pair of running shoes, had my Garmin 310XT on his arm, my recent half marathon medal beside him, and my running log book open to the page reserved for the MOJO LOCO relay race. Woohoo!!! This is going to be so much fun!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Atlanta Half Marathon - bittersweet

Ahhh... traditions... changing for the better...

I registered for the Atlanta Half Marathon because of tradition. I ran it first in the mid 1990s and numerous years after that. Now I'm on an alternate year schedule...  when my daughter is with her dad.  They changed the course this year; I was sad to hear. I have such fond memories of running the same course over the years with a variety of friends, my ex-husband (when we were still married), and sometimes alone. I know that course like the back of my hand. I had a bad experience two years ago and wanted to beat my time...  But... they changed the course route so I can't compare.

My alarm clock was set for 4:30 a.m., but I woke at 4:17 on my own (or maybe thanks to the pups or kitties). I always fear oversleeping my alarm clock and set back-ups, but more often than not I wake earlier.  I showered, ate, and left home early because I hate being stuck in traffic. Traffic was exceptionally light at 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. Why did I think it would be like rush-hour?  I made it to Turner field and into the parking lot with no delays! I sat and waited...

At 6:50 a.m. I made my way to my starting corral, just a short walk from the parking lot. I kept looking around hoping to see someone that I knew. No luck. Guess they were in a different corral. They did a wave start and I was in wave 4 of 5. They announced 12,000 runners for this morning. Wow! This race has grown significantly; I remember when there were less than 2,000 runners in the 1990's.

For decades, the race began near the Chamblee MARTA train station and went down Peachtree eventually ending in Piedmont park. I used to park at/near the MARTA station, run the race, and would hop on MARTA after the finish to return to my car. While waiting in my starting coral this morning I saw a couple wearing t-shirts that said, "In memory of..." and then had a map of the former route. I smiled nostalgically and totally sympathized. I felt the same way.

They started the waves about 3 minutes apart; at least that's what I'm guessing by comparing my Garmin time to the time I saw when I crossed the finish line. The first mile flew by way too fast, and the second and third as well, despite stopping a few times to try to stretch out my shin cramp that began in the first mile. During mile 5 I settled into a more realistic pace, and was HOT.  It was 57 degrees and foggy when the race began and the forecast was for a high of 60 during the race times, so I wore shorts, long-sleeves and a hat. But the weatherman LIED. 66 degrees and sunny and I desparately wished I had worn short sleeves!

At mile 6, I HAD to stop at the porto-potty.  I hated to lose so many minutes, but I run more for fun than for speedy times, and the much needed relief was well worth the added minutes.  I felt so much better physically, as well as mentally, afterwards! 

Around mile 8, I was gaining on a man wearing a prosthetic leg and a Sports Medicine South t-shirt. I was in awe and my self-defeating thoughts floated away. As I ran past him, I said that Dr. Levengood and his wife are close friends of mine. He lowered his head and then said sweetly, "They are great people." I regret not slowing down and talking with him more. I wish I had asked his name and his story. But I trotted along instead thinking about my amazing friends: Gary & Lisa Levengood and their incredible children. I've known them for 6-7 years now; our girls are best friends; Gary surgically repaired my torn ACL/meniscus in December 2005, as well as treated my IT band, hamstring tendonitis, plantar faciitis, etc.; and Lisa is one of my best friends and we ran the Chicago marathon together with our other BFF, Ty, in 2009. They truly are great people!

The new course brought back memories. We ran past Georgia Tech, where I went to college in the late 1980s. We ran past Ikea, where I bought my couch before knee surgery in 2005 and spent many days/nights recovering on and now the pup has chewed out parts of the cushion (repaired with duct tape). We ran through Piedmont Park which has been a part of many races I've run; most memorably the pup runs with my daughter and our oldest dog, Tasha. We ran past my old office building and later past my current office building.

I slowed again near the end when I saw a co-worker; she was jogging slowly and I slowed down and chatted with her for a while. I couldn't remember her name and was relieved when she asked me mine again; we've only met once or twice briefly, but I recognized her. Caroline... I'll remember her name now. As the end neared, I couldn't help but pick up the pace and finish strong.  2:46:51 according to my Garmin.  Back-of-the-pack, not my fastest or slowest, but I'm okay with it considering the effort. The medal is so much better than the last time I ran this race, 2 years ago!

After showering, I went to one of my best friend's lake house for Thanksgiving. I have the best friends ever! I had such a relaxing afternoon hanging out with Ty, Will, the kids and their relatives. I knew most of them, but enjoyed meeting others and getting to know the rest better. The only thing that would have made this day any better would have been to have my daughter there. The girls have been close friends since before kindergarten. I had so much fun helping cook, playing corn hole, relaxing, chatting... We made plans to do it again next year, and Ty and Cassie said they'll run the half marathon with me. I wonder if Lisa will join us? Looking forward to it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stone Mountain Cherokee Trail

Well, once again I find myself a month or so behind on blogging. I need to mow the grass and clean out the garage, but think I'll catch up on the blog instead ;-).  I had a great trail run/hike at Stone Mountain along the Cherokee Trail this afternoon. The temperature was a perfect 66 degrees with the sun shining brightly. The trail was shady with lots of people out walking.  I was surprised to pass my neighbor and his daughter about a mile into my run. The best part, however, was getting a cool-off shower from two golden retrievers that came out of the lake as I approached. They showered me with water as they shook beside me wanting to be pet. The owner said, "Thanks for being tolerant!" after he reprimanded the dogs. I laughed and said it felt good and that I have a golden retriever at home.

At about 3.5 miles I passed a woman and dog that I had seen earlier. She said, "Don't tell me you've gone the whole way around." I said yes and she responded, "Wow, I'm in awe." I said thanks and kept going but was thinking to myself... it's only been 3.5 miles, what's so impressive about that? Then I came back to reality and remembered that most people don't run at all, so I guess it would be impressive to a non-runner or a beginning runner. Glad even my slow pace inspired someone today.

Hmmm... Guess it's time to retire these compression shorts, huh? They've served me well over the past few years.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Zooma Atlanta half marathon

I arrived at Chateau Elan early before the start of the Zooma Atlanta women's half marathon. Traffic was light and I had plenty of time to spare. Since I pulled into the parking lot over an hour before the race, I sat in the heated car for a little while; it was 33 degrees Fahrenheit. I saw my neighbor's car pull into the same parking lot. After visiting a port-o-potty in the dark (quite an experience), I met her near the race start and we chatted with her friends. She's walking the event with several of her work buddies.. I enjoyed hanging out with them before the race start! They postponed the start from 7:30 to 7:45 because a long line of cars was still coming in. We were freezing and have things to do later this morning and were a wee bit disappointed since we had arrived early. I jogged with them at the start and when the slowed to a walk at the first hill, I kept running. I started at a faster pace than I had planned, but it didn't feel fast. I thought that maybe it was because of the cold temp and mostly downhill route rather than overexertion. The first 10 miles were great! and even thought a PR would be possible. But what goes down, must come up... I slowed down on the last three miles which were mostly uphill.

I finished in 2:38; not my fastest nor my slowest half marathon finish time. I enjoyed the race and the post-race Expo. Instead of a medal, finishers received a necklace. It's kind of plain, but then again, it's something I can wear anytime without being to ostentacious. It has "Zooma Atlanta" and "11.06.10" engraved on the back and a runner girl on the front of this peach shaped necklace. The post-race Expo was inside (where it was warm) and included a bagged brunch, free glass of wine or champagne, a live band and cool stuff to purchase. The course wasn't as scenic as I had hoped, and finished uphill, but overall, I would rate this as an event to repeat or recommend to a friend.