Sunday, 23 October 2016

Famously Hot Pink Half, Columbia SC 2016

How's that for a half marathon name...Famously Hot Pink! It was on Saturday here in Columbia. I signed up the day before. I wasn't sure how I'd feel after Kentucky but when I was feeling good, I decided I couldn't miss a race right outside my door in aid of breast cancer. The 613k raised by this race went towards the purchase of a digital mammography machine for a local hospital. Since early detection is so key to beating any cancer, what a great cause!!
*My phone died a little into the race so I don't have a whole load of pictures*
The race started at the new Spirit Communications baseball stadium. The expo was also there but I was late for the expo (leaving work and got lost), and subsequently late picking Boomer up from the vet, and literally ran to and from getting my bib so I can't comment too much on its size. I did really like the tshirt tho. 
The combo of the stadium and course was really good. We passed the stadium a couple of times and also finished there. It's also a nice spot for supporters; seats, concessions and wifi. I know Martina appreciated all three (she was a wee bit hungover but still came out). 
The first 10 miles did an almost miraculous job of avoiding any steep hills. This was helped by 2.5 miles at my favorite flat running location along the river. Then it got hiller. Slightly longer, steeper hills but only one really bad one. That bad boy was a struggle just to walk up! There was a little crowd support but also a few spirit stations with cheerleaders etc. Less aid stations than last week but it was also a lot cooler, around 55F my favorite temps to run in. I felt pretty good throughout. More tired towards the end than I'd like but feeling better and better. I think my back and hips are starting to loosen up again as I didn't have any pain in my hips, knees or back. Winning! 
We finished in the middle of the stadium. I got a medal that is probably my favorite Columbia one as it has a lot of elements I'll remember about Columbia when I leave. Like the bridge, canal dam locks, the sun and the breast cancer ribbon (reminding me of some of my research here and Martina''s all about me, joking obvs)! However, the first finisher got a medal encrusted with topaz and diamonds...they must have been donated because those bad boys were valued at 6k each. Now that medal would deserve a whole case to itself!!
I finished at 2.16.49, faster than Dublin and Kentucky. Mostly down to weather and course rather than fitness related but still nice and done at a much more consistent pace. We went and got brunch after and then a nap. I've felt really good after so a nice fun race, I wasn't sure I'd do, but it worked out well in the end :) 

Half number: 34

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Iron Horse Half Marathon, Midway KY, 2016

Finally, Kentucky and I got it together for a race after I missed out on a half I'd registered for there in the spring. Admittedly, I'm not in great shape but I think the timing of this was better than doing the original Kentucky race because we had a gorgeous drive there, mostly through mountains, looking at all the reds and yellows of fall colors. We also had more time to explore the area and see all the beautiful horse farms, as well as do some hiking (well more like hobbling) on the trip home.
On Friday night we drove as far as Asheville, NC and stayed in the KOA on the west side of town. Other than a bit of highway noise it was by far the nicest KOA I've been to. I passed out hard in our cabin by 9pm, WTH! The next morning commenced our long winding drive through the mountains.
We arrived in Lexington, KY for the expo at around 3pm. It was a small expo but I got another long sleeve tech t-shirt for my collection, now I just need to move somewhere with a cooler climate. They also had posters (I have to stop collecting things). That afternoon we spent driving around looking at horses..wishing I had one!! It was really nice to be somewhere that looked so different to the southeast just for a change of scenery.
Sunday morning we paid $5 for parking, in what I think was someones front yard/front field?, which was going to charity. Other than that, parking was a free for all, with a warning not to park near the many churches in town. It was totally worth the money easy in, easy out within walking distance of the start and finish. The race started at 8am, so I did not show up a bazillion hours early like my last race, ha ha. There were portapotties etc at the start but it was pretty low key since this was a smaller race in the tiny really cute town of Midway.  
The course was two out and back stretches in opposite directions, so even though the course was quiet, except for the awesome aid stations, we got to run through Midway at the midway point (puntastic). I saw Martina there and she rubbed out some knots from my dodgy left shoulder that had been annoying me before I continued in my merry way. The aid stations were nice and frequent. Most had water and then some had a sports drink I'd never heard of before, it wasn't bad but the first one had been made so strong that I almost spat it out because it was so salty.

 Like most races I've heard of in this area it was so pretty, especially the first out and back, but also hilly. I know I'm not in great shape right now so I ran small hills and walked big ones. So even though I felt a million times better than I did when I ran in Dublin, in September, I ran even slower. It was only really the last mile that I got sore enough to want to just walk the rest....much better than half way through the race :)
I finished just under 2.25 but I'll get that down in the next while. After next week, I'll be working part time until Thanksgiving. That'll give me more time for the gym, running etc. and now that I don't have to deal with the crap I've been dealing with for the last while my motivation should also come back...the lure of the hiding on the sofa and not dealing with anything might actually go away.
After the race they had some food and drinks at the finish line and further away near the start there was more food, a band and free massages. Of course with a 7 hour drive in front of us I got a massage. It was very light, I'm not even sure if it did anything but better than nothing right. 

I started off the drive home, after some food, with a 2 hour stint to Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. We got out and had a good walk around here. The falls were huge. The river was also really green, maybe from algae, regardless it was pretty. Weirdly, it was super hot that afternoon, high 80s, so we left after an hour and got back on the road with Martina at the wheel. I put my feet up and closed my eyes for a while. A ten minute nap and I felt like a new person. That did not last long lol. We hit so many delays on the way back that the drive took an extra hour. Other than food after the race I didn't eat anything until almost 7pm because of the way the drive was going. Eventually I got so hangry that Martina couldn't take me bitching anymore and got me some food :p We made it home at 9.30pm and everyone was really happy to get into bed and sleep. 

Half Marathon: 33
State Number 15 (+DC)

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Adulting is hard

I did probably one of the hardest things I've ever done today. I handed in my resignation at work. I've stuck it out for over 6 months and I'm not happy. Really not happy. I've toughed out jobs I didn't like before, as if leaving would mark me as some kind of failure, and it made me beyond miserable. 
I refuse to do that to myself again. I don't need a Ph.D (hello did that), a visa or hell even a big academic career out of this job (it's just a job while we are stuck here). So, I put on my big girl pants, had an incredibly awkward conversation and the result is I won't have a job in 6 weeks. 

A less than ideal work or management situation is one thing but when the other people you work with are actively watching, talking about you(proven for a fact) and hoping you'll fail = 0% support + 100% stress, to me that's the tipping point. In good news until I get another job and my stress dials itself back down I'll be able to refocus on running and other good life stuff again. 
It's been a funny year and a half. Stressful, sad at times, and wonderful (hello getting married).  I think even though this time has knocked my confidence, as losing jobs and being unemployed does, it's made me remember that things do work out, it'll be ok and that's given me the confidence to prioritize my happiness. 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Dublin Half Marathon, Ireland Sept 2016

The Dublin Half Marathon, not to be confused with the RnR Dublin Half Marathon, is part of a race series that leads up to the Dublin Marathon in October. The races go all the way from 5 miles up to the half marathon in an effort to give people some good milestones during their marathon training. Entry for the half marathon was 30 euro (around $34) and I think you can get special prices if you register for the entire series.

When I realized I was going to be there at the same time as the half marathon was on, I decided this was as good an opportunity as any to finally run a half marathon in Ireland. The race registration was surprisingly cheap. The packet is mailed out, so no expo, or if you don't register on time I saw some people picking them up that morning. Despite the excellent price, I still got a nice tech t-shirt and medal.
The race was on my last Saturday in Ireland and of course that day was part of a Dublin Bus 48 hour strike. The easiest thing to do was to get a taxi out to the Phoenix Park (where the race was). Unfortunately, I was super stupid ( I blame jet lag) and despite reading multiple things with the start time on it I somehow got it into my head that the race started at 8am. It didn't start until 10 am because you know in Ireland any time is good weather wise for running. We arrived in the park at 6.45 with nothing to do but watch the sunrise (it was really pretty), and try figure out why no one was there. Martina was not impressed...I wasn't either but all you can do is laugh.

Eventually the race start was set up and people started to trickle in and before we knew it the place was overrun with 9,000 runners. 
Around the start area were port-a-potties, not a whole lot but just about enough and a really nice touch was The Last Lap Cafe...hello coffee (as soon as it opened) and last minute tea and granola bar when my tummy started rumbling about a half hour before the start. They had wave starts after the elites and I put myself into wave 3.
It was pretty crowded for most of the race but after the first mile or two it wasn't bad. It was also rainy for most of it...welcome to Ireland he he!  I saw Martina around mile 7 and I was already suffering by then. I was slightly under trained for this race and my hips and back were not in good shape after traveling so my IT bands played up big time after around 5 miles. The scenery in the park was really nice and one of my favorite moments was seeing the parks' herd of deer at around mile 11. Another nice moment was chatting to a older man who has run all the marathons to date (since 1980). He eventually kicked my ass but it was a nice distraction for a while.
The course was a little hilly but none of the hills were bad except for a really long one close to mile 12.
There were aid stations every 3-4 miles. Most handed out little bottles of water, weird after so long in the US where everything is cups, and one handed out Lucozade sport which is like orange gatorade.
What really surprised me was the number of people who I saw with real medical problems, not just sprained ankles or a bit tired. I saw at least 4 people being tended to and I know one person had heart failure but luckily was reached in time to be revived and taken to the hospital. At one point we had to make way for the ambulance for that. That definitely made me feel a lot less sorry for myself!

By the end of the race I was alternating between running, walking and stopping to try stretch myself out. I was very happy to see the finish! After crossing the line I got a bag with a few sports bars etc. and my t-shirt. Further along the finishers shoot I got my medal and some food. 
We had a long hike back home as we used what little public transport was available that day (normally great). That evening, holy crap, my knees hurt. A bath and ibuprofen got rid of that by the next day, still I wasn't entirely in good condition for 16 hours of traveling :) That night Martina's mom made us a huge dinner and dessert in honor of Martina's brothers birthday...the perfect finish to the day!

Finish time: 2:17
Country No: 2
Half No: 32