Pretty. Dang. Good. My “real” pants & shorts (the kind with zippers and buttons) have made a comeback. One pair is so loose I need a belt. Do I even own a belt anymore? Enquiring minds want to know! I may have to find one. A total of three pairs of pants and five pairs of shorts that are back in the rotation after sitting in the closet for over a year. It’s pretty cool!
Judging from my weigh-in, I’d say pretty much everything worked. After a month it’s becoming second nature. I haven’t had any real cravings to speak of, and dare I say that my sweet tooth has settled down a good bit. If I really have to have something, 3 of the tiny York Peppermint Patties seem to hit the spot.
We’re still rocking along with the Martha Stewart/Marley Spoon meal delivery service. I’m taking the time to run the meals through the WW app before I make my selections. All things are not equal, and things that I thought were on the healthy side really aren’t. (Beware of the added oils and butters!)
On the exercise front, we’re slowly amping up the walks/runs and we start tearing out carpet from the bedrooms this weekend. Not all workouts happen in the gym! I’m really looking forward to getting the weight equipment set up as well.
What Didn’t Work:
Surprisingly, things are pretty good on this front. We had our long-awaited Warhammer reunion over the weekend, minus a few players. I made turkey chili for the group and we had the left-overs for lunch this week. This weekend we’re getting together with our D&D group and have planned turkey tacos with grilled veggies. The rain has impacted a few of our scheduled group runs, but it’s easy enough to hop on the treadmill if that happens, and it’s not something I’m going to stress over.
The Plan for Next Week:
Keep on keepin’ on. Lots of chicken and turkey, and I’m planning on portobello mushroom burgers one night this week. Our group runs on Tuesday nights are coming to an end in a few weeks, but I’m sure we will continue on our own at the track.
*Disclaimer – this post is not sponsored by or affiliated with WW/Weight Watchers. Your results may vary based on your physical health, diet and exercise, and adherence to the program.
Three weeks in and I’m down exactly 10 pounds. I’m speechless. I don’t know how it works but I’m not complaining. I wore REAL jeans last week. With a zipper! Not leggings. I couldn’t believe it. I can wear my rings again. There are shorts in my closet from two summers ago that fit. It’s like getting a new wardrobe!
Pretty much everything worked this week. We made a surprise trip out of town to visit our daughter last Friday night and ended up having dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant. That was followed by two nights of gaming with friends and making good food choices.
Grilled chicken and fish are my new BFF. I know more healthy recipes for vegetables than you can shake a stick at. And I turned down french fries last night. We’ve been eating a lot of chicken and fish since I had my thymectomy in March, and thanks to using a meal delivery service (Hello, Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon!) it’s even easier to control portion sizes and make healthier choices.
On the exercise front, we were able to fit in a couple of outdoor runs. In addition, we’re working on renovating two rooms in our house and moving furniture between three different rooms. The joys of the empty-nester! 13/10 would recommend.
What Didn’t Work
I think I’m finally back “on schedule” after the 4th of July holiday and working an extra day at an orientation event. I am a creature of habit, and when my routine gets out of whack it drives me nuts. I’m working on being a little more flexible, I promise!
The Plan for Next Week
Second verse, same as the first. Stay active, drink water, eat better, sleep well. I finished a six-week wellness challenge at work last week and won a few cool prizes, one of which was this shirt. I think it will be my new mantra!
Disclaimer – this post is not sponsored by or affiliated with WW/Weight Watchers. Your results may vary based on your physical health, diet and exercise, and adherence to the program.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a chunky gal. I survived breast cancer and developed some pretty good health habits that I continue to use. But age has a way of slowing things down, and the addition of myasthenia gravis made things worse. I take a handful of pills over the course of the day, and the side effects have wreaked havoc on my waistline.
Once COVID hit and we went into lockdown, the gym became a no-go for me. On a good day, I lost count of the number of people who walked away from equipment without wiping it down. My weakend immune system wasn’t about to take that on with the added risk of ‘Rona. Motivation, however strong, is easily lost when your routine is pulled out from under you.
We’re in the process of setting up a home gym and purchased a nice treadmill that I use regularly. More free weights and a cable weight machine are on the horizon, along with a trainer stand for my mountain/trail bike.
In the meantime, neither of us were getting any thinner or healthier. I decided it was time to make some changes, and signed us up for WW (Weight Watchers). I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well it’s going and the ease with which we have adapted to it. At the risk of sounding cliché, it really is shifting your mindset from what you can’t have to what you can have. And there really isn’t anything you can’t have, as long as you allow for the point value. My husband spent a few minutes at Publix scanning his favorite beers to find one that was “points-worthy.”
In a two-week span, I’m down 7.3 lbs and my husband is down 4.1 lbs. Not too shabby for a couple of former couch potatoes. We’re also stepping up our activity, weather permitting. Summer in the south is a violatile shift between blazing heat and torrential late afternoon thunderstorms. Yesterday we took part in a running meet-up at our local sports complex. It was nice when we started but by the time we left for home, we were dodging a downpour.
My goal is to post my progress weekly, and include some of our favorite healthy meals and snacks. Join me, won’t you?
June is myasthenia gravis awareness month, and as it draws to a close I thought I would share my experiences with this rare auto-immune diseease.
First of all, what IS it? Myasthenia gravis, commonly abbreviated as MG, is an auto-immune disease that affects the communication between the nerves and muscles at the neuromuscular junction. When a person wants to move a voluntary muscle, the nerve endings release a chemical called acetylcholine that is picked up by receptors in the muscle. In patients with MG, the immune system produces antibodies that attack the receptors. This action causes a reduction in the number of receptors and results in weakness and fatigue. These symptoms increase as more demand is placed on a particular muscle.
Once of the earliest and most recognizable symptoms of MG is ptosis, or drooping of one (or both) of the eyelids. The muscles surrounding the eye contain the least amount of acetylcholine receptors, and damage to them is more apparent than other muscles.
This is where my MG story begins. In 2014, after a long recovery from breast cancer, I decided to make a New Year’s resolution to start walking. I didn’t set any crazy diet or weight loss goals, or plot out an elaborate fitness regime I knew I would never keep. I just decided to walk a mile three times a week.
By April of that year my husband and I were putting in laps at the local track on a regular basis and thought it would be fun to do a 5K. What started as a trail run turned into a mud run. We were soaking wet and freezing cold by the time we crossed the finish line. And it was then that we fell in love with running.
What does this have to do with MG? I’m getting there! If there’s one thing a runner loves as much as running, it’s posting on social media that they run. And they have to post a selfie.
My selfies were all over the place. Red-faced. Sweaty. Hair in various stages of disgrace. But a common thread ran through almost all of them: drooping in my right eye.
I thought I was catching myself mid-blink. But why wasn’t my other eye that way? After a while I started making faces to distract from it or wearing my sunglasses for camouflag
It was around this time that I started to notice I was exhausted at the end of the day. Some days it was all I could do to make dinner and eat before falling asleep in the chair at 7:30. I put it down to what had become a crazy workout schedule and a stressful job.
A few years went by and nothing improved. I was still tired. I felt like it was a struggle to lift my arms sometimes My eye was still droopy. And sometimes it felt like I ran out of breath when I talked.
My husband convinced me to visit my eye doctor. After a brief discussion of why I was there and a few tests, he sat down across from me and said “Lisa, you have one of four things going on. Either you’ve had a stroke, you have Bell’s Palsy, you have a brain tumor, or you have myasthenia gravis. And I believe it’s MG.”
He set up a referral to a neurologist. Lab work confirmed the diagnosis of MG and I was prescribed Mestinon (pyridostigmine) to help control the symptoms. My local neuro thought that my MG was confined to my eyes, which is known as ocular MG (OMG). He didn’t do any muscle resistance testing and brushed off my questions about immuno-suppressants and removal of the thymus gland, both of which are common treatments for MG.
The Mestinon did improve my symptoms and I felt marginally better, but I wasn’t satisfied and asked my friend, who is also my primary care provider, to refer me to the University of Florida neurology department. That was the best healthcare decision I have ever made.
The neuros at UF were nothing short of amazing. They did a gait analysis. They checked muscle resistance and reflexes. They listened. And they decided I should be taking an immunosuppressant drug called Cellcept.
Suppressing the immune system can result in an improvement of symptoms. The drawback is that patients are more vulnerable to infections and illness – imagine dealing with THAT during a global pandemic!
But it worked. Very slowly, but it worked. And I felt better. Better than I had felt in a long time. We talked about removing the thymus gland (thymectomy), since I was an ideal candidate. Removing the thymus can improve symptoms to the point that many patients are able to reduce the amount of medication they take, and some go into complete remission.
After a consult with a cardiothoracic surgeon, we made the decision to move forward. I had a robotic-assisted thymectomy at UF Health in March, and I have seen a slow but steady improvement in my symptoms.
Looking back, I think of several instances that make me think I have had MG for a while, possibly since childhood. In PE, when everyone else ran a mile without issue, I struggled to get through one lap without feeling like my legs were going to buckle underneath me. Feeling like I couldn’t chew my food. Double vision. And the fatigue.
I remember feeling so tired, like I would rather lie in bed and let the house burn down around me than try to get up and escape.
I was told I was lazy. That I was sleeping my life away. Other people commented that they were older than me and still had more energy than I did. I questioned myself a lot. Was I really just lazy? If I’m honest, I’m a little resentful about that and it’s taken time to find some peace over it.
Fast forward to now – my overall health has improved and I have an amazing support system of family, friends, and health care providers. I feel like I have a better grasp of my disease and prognosis, and that I’m much more proactive in terms of making decisions related to my heath.
It’s been quite an adventure, and I’m just getting started!
Last weekend we ran the Breathe Easy 5K, sponsored by the lovely ladies of the Valdosta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. Proceeds from the event were donated to Children’s Medical Services of Valdosta, an agency that helps children in our area receive treatment for asthma.
It was a beautiful morning for a run and many of our regulars were in attendance. Of course there were plenty of pictures. After all, if you don’t post it on social media it didn’t happen. Amirite?
Although this was the first time we have participated in this race, the course was similar to a favorite route. Delta Sigma Theta did a wonderful job with race support. Their volunteers were placed at every turn to cheer on the runners, and they had two water stops. It was fantastic!
The first mile turned out to be my strongest. My usual pattern is to get faster as I go. I’m not sure what happened with this run but that didn’t happen. Joey started out ahead of me again. I think he had ideas of crossing the line ahead of me. He could have all the ideas he wanted but it wasn’t going to happen. I caught up with him at the end of the first mile. We played “cat & mouse” for about half a mile, and then I pulled away. The road was shady and there was a little breeze coming through the trees. Life was good.
But the second mile…brutal. I don’t know why. I wasn’t hot or tired; something was just “off.” I pressed on, waving at the volunteers and giving them a thumb’s up. Despite not feeling quite right my time was good. Very good, in fact. On track for a PR. How awesome would that be? Two back-to-back PRs.
I caught up with another runner and we yo-yo’d from the halfway point to the end. She and I were pretty evenly matched and it was great to battle through the last half of the race with her. As we came down to the last half mile, I saw another friend up ahead. His running pace is very similar to Joey and I, and it’s always fun to compete with him. This time I couldn’t quite catch up with him. Better luck next time. I’m coming for you, Alex!
The final stretch was a gradual downhill. I knew from Runkeeper that I would PR. The clock came in to focus and I saw 37 minutes. What the what?!? Where did that come from? I put everything I had into those last few yards and crossed the line at 37:30 (Runkeeper’s time).
I just couldn’t catch my friend. One more bite of Wheaties and I might have passed her.
Wow!! 38 seconds faster than my previous PR. I gladly took the water and cold-pack from the volunteer and basked in my accomplishment. Joey was just over a minute behind me.
We found our friends and parked ourselves in a shady spot. Picture time!
Finish time: 37:30 (Runkeeper) 12:05 min/mile pace
Mile One: 11:51
Mile Two: 12:24
Mile Three: 12:15
Through Glass (Stone Sour), Dreaming (Blondie), Over the Hills and Far Away (Led Zeppelin), Hey Jealousy (Gin Blossoms), Desert Rose (Sting), Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin), Nothin’ At All (Heart), Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel), Midnight Blue (Lou Gramm)
As always, #werun4Chasten #alpha1awareness #alpha1antitrypsindeficiency #whoirun4
It’s the Little River Run 5K! We made our way north to Adel, Georgia to run through Reed Bingham State Park. The race was previously known as the Road Kill Run, which is exactly what you feel like when you’re done. But all good things must come to an end and someone decided that wasn’t the most PC name for a road race. It’s now named after the river that flows through the park and heads toward Valdosta. Incidentally, we kayak on the Little River quite a bit!
We’ve done this race twice before, and my times were less than impressive: 50:25 in 2015 and 51:30 in 2016. I was pretty sure I would do better this time around. At least I hoped so.
We got to the park early – we always overestimate how long it’s going to take us to get anywhere. Well…at least Joey does. I, on the other hand, prefer to live on the edge and come squealing in on two wheels with a minute to spare. Oh, wait. That’s when I go to work. Never mind.
Being early does have its advantages. You get a front row seat to a beautiful sunrise.
There’s also plenty of time for pictures and warm-ups, and boy did we need a warm-up. I was very grateful to find a long sleeve shirt lurking in the back of my car. Joey wasn’t as lucky and broke the unwritten rule of wearing the race shirt before you run the race. I know. Oh, the shame.
After trotting up and down the road for a little bit the cold wasn’t as bad. The sun was climbing higher in the sky and we shed our extra garb. We’ve learned the hard way that by the half mile mark that you come to regret the extra layers.
Once again, Runkeeper decided to act a fool and didn’t start exactly on time. It could be operator error or I may need to tweak the settings. Hopefully I can figure it out before the next race.
Joey started out with a pretty good lead. I was feeling great as we crossed the bridge and looked out over the water. The course went around the edge of the lake and through the campground. It’s fairly flat, which is nice after all the bridges we’ve been over in the last six weeks, and we were at the first mile marker before I knew it.
He was still ahead of me at the water stop, but his lead was beginning to shrink. By the time we hit the turnaround at 1.5 miles I was closing in. His game was strong and I didn’t know if I could catch him. But as we approached the second mile I started to reel him in. I’d catch up, he’d pull away. We went back and forth for about half a mile, and then I kicked it into high gear. Tom Petty was dancing with Mary Jane one last time as the final stretch approached.
My lead was still slim as we came up to the bridge. I knew my time was pretty good and I might even have a chance of a PR, so I decided to run all the way across. It’s nothing like the bridges at the Gate River Run or the Tomoka Half. It’s flat as a pancake (mmm…pancakes!) and the finish line was about 1/4 mile from the end. It would be close.
The run interval ended just as I got across. I was about thirty seconds ahead of Joey and within sight of the time clock. Thirty seven minutes and change. My PR was 38:28. So close.
I started to run. I saw the clock hit the 38 minute mark. Almost there! My unofficial time was 38:09. The final results haven’t been posted yet, but I was almost 20 seconds faster than my previous PR. Oh happy day!
But the best was yet to come. Turning in my results card, I discovered I was second in my age group. And the medals went two deep. Guess who was going home with some hardware? As it turned out, I hadn’t figured on the master’s award and I ended up getting FIRST place in my age group.
Let’s recap: 1) a new PR, 2) first in my age group, and 3) I beat Joey. Again. Admittedly it was by a much slimmer margin than last week but who’s counting?
The Splits: (slightly off final time as previously noted)
Mile One: 12:23
Mile Two: 12:17
Mile Three: 12:12
Average Pace: 12:12
King of Pain (The Police), I Would Die 4 U (Prince), I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty), Mary Jane’s Last Dance (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), Zombie Zoo (Tom Petty), Let’s Go Crazy (Prince), A Passage to Bangkok (Rush), Baby I’m A Star (Prince), Hearts On Fire (Bryan Adams)
As always, #werun4Chasten #alpha1antitrypsindeficiency #alpha1awareness #whoirun4
Has it really been three weeks since the half marathon? Time flies when it’s spring break and you decide to paint every room in your house. And then get sick. Good times, you guys. Good times.
This weekend’s 5K was a fundraiser for the James Eunice Charity Fund, created in 2011 by John and Tammy Eunice in memory of their son, James. After suffering an unimaginable tragedy, John and Tammy chose to honor their son’s memory by setting up a fund to provide scholarships and donations to many worthy charities in our community. Joey and I have had the privilege of meeting them at the 5Ks, “Grilling for James” at Sam’s Club, and accidentally stalking them at Publix. They are, without doubt, two of the nicest and most humble people you will ever meet.
Funny story – the second time we did the 5K, I ended up walking with Tammy . As we approached an intersection, one of the policemen providing assistance for the race told us to turn right at the traffic light. Turns out we should have turned LEFT. Yeah…that was awkward. I ended up wandering the streets near the route to make up the distance that I didn’t cover. I am both slow and honest, and I wasn’t about to turn in my finisher’s card without putting in 3.1 miles. Even if it wasn’t the same 3.1 everyone else did.
It’s been a while since we saw our “crew” and it was great to catch up with everyone before and after the run.
I have to admit that I had been dreading the running part – we slacked off a LOT after the half, both in running and cross-training. All week I dreamed that we overslept and missed the race, or that I got lost (again) and didn’t finish at all.
But for a slacker, I did alright. Official time was 39:09. I had a little trouble starting Runkeeper so my info is a little off. The takeaway from all this is….I beat Joey. Not by much. But I beat him.
He was ahead of me for the first mile or so, then I started to gain on him as we passed the university. We were neck and neck at the water stop and then I started to pull away. Around the two mile mark we hit the jasmine wall. All of the sudden we were engulfed by the heavy scent of jasmine. Coupled with the humidity it was almost overwhelming. And then, just as quickly as it came, it was gone and we were in the home stretch. I had about a sixty second lead over Joey. I knew he was there but he couldn’t catch me. It was just me and Geddy Lee, cruising through the countryside in a red barchetta (there’s something for you to Google…).
Once we crossed the line and turned in our cards it was time to relax and scarf down a Chick-Fil-A biscuit. We took a lot of pictures and accidentally loitered in front of the porta-potty. Thankfully we didn’t have any potty photobombs.
Info below is from Runkeeper and not official.
Mile One: 11:56 (Photo on the left)
Mile Two: 12:47 (Photo on the right)
Mile Three: 12:50
Mile One – Look How Happy!
Mile Two – How Much Longer?!
Wishing/If I Had A Photograph of You (Flock of Seagulls), Through Glass (Stone Sour), Little Red Corvette (Prince), Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel), Red Barchetta (Rush), Running on Empty (Jackson Browne), Talk of the Town (The Pretenders), Call Me (Blondie)
And last but not least, this is for everyone who ran the Boston Marathon! Valdosta was represented – we’re so proud of you Debbie G!!
Next Up: The Little River Run 5K (Formerly known as The Road Kill Run) at Reed Bingham State Park
Who decides, out of nowhere, to run 13.1 miles for fun?
Normal people don’t do that. I know, because I used to be normal. I would see people all hot and sweaty, running through town in the middle of summer. In the rain. In the cold. In the dark. Normal people would be at home, on a comfy sofa. Not sweating.
One day, I casually mentioned that I might like to do a half marathon as part of my “I’m Turning 50” bucket list. Big mistake. Huge. Everyone started posting links to half marathons and tagging me. Oh, and Spartan races too. Spartans? Really? Do I look like I need to be committed? If I ever post that I have signed up for a Spartan, that is your signal that I am being held against my will and need help.
So our friend Lisa G. posts a link to the Tomoka half marathon. Price is reasonable and it’s not too far away. The course looks really pretty. Oh, did I mention there was a bridge? And you have to go over it twice?
We hemmed and hawed and finally registered. And then reality hit. In four weeks we were doing a half marathon. Um, WTH?
It turned out that getting there was as much of an ordeal as the race itself. We took the wrong exit in Jacksonville and found ourselves in a sketchy Burger King that couldn’t serve food. How does that even happen? Apparently their systems were down, and without technology you’re not getting a Whopper. Or even a drink. But it did remove the guilt we may have felt for using their restrooms and not buying any food. Thankfully there was a Mickey D’s nearby so someone-named-Lisa-that’s-not-me could get her caffeine fix.
Back on the road, we found the right exit and were heading for Daytona. We cruised along, 80s music blasting and coffee flowing. Life was good. We had 2.5 hours until packet pick-up ended. And then it happened. Traffic slowed to a crawl, and then stopped all together.
This was not good. SO not good. We inched along. I could run faster than we were driving, for crying out loud. The lady in the car next to us was making all kinds of crazy gestures. She was over it. We all were over it.
We waited. And waited.
Finally, things began to move. Once we got moving again our ETA for pick-up was 5:30. We pulled it off with 25 minutes to spare! From there it was on to the hotel and the Great Unloading began.
Funny thing about runners. We have a lot of gear. Before I got into this I thought all you needed was a pair of shoes. But I’m complicated. I need options. We were gone for just over 24 hours. I brought three pairs of shoes, at least three complete outfits – not counting what I was wearing to the race – and more technology that NASA used to put a man on the moon. (As if that weren’t enough I came home with seven new shirts, eight pairs of socks, two bras, and a hat. SMH…)
Fortunately, Lisa G. has a “three body trunk” so there was plenty of room for everyone to stash their luggage. And yes, it’s comforting to know that you have friends who measure trunk capacity in the same terms you do.
With bibs in hand and gear stashed, it was time to find some grub. After striking out a few times, we came across a place called Charlie Horse. It was FABULOUS! I already want to go back and eat there again. If you’re ever in Ormond Beach, you need to go. The seafood was amazing. Heck with carb-loading the night before a run…
Back at the hotel, it was time to get it together. The shuttle left at 5:30 (OMG…), which meant we got up around 4:45. AM. Before the sun even thought about coming up.
Yeah…Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam are in the house. Totally.
And before we had time to think about what we were doing, we were on the shuttle heading to the race. The moment we had dreaded and looked forward to was here. Before we left on Friday I posted a quick picture on my Instagramfeed with my time predictions. I had no idea what to expect. My friends told me about hitting the wall at mile 10 or 11. There was the bridge to think about – twice – and my worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep up my intervals for 13.1 miles.
Even if I had to walk it all, I was going to finish. Of that I was certain. I halfway thought I could finish somewhere between 3:30:00 and 3:15:00. My pace at Gate was 14:20, so it was possible.
We started in the dark. It’s a weird feeling, running over a bridge in the dark. There’s a definite advantage in not being able to see how high up you are, especially if heights make you nervous. The cars stopped in the other lane clapped and cheered as we went by and I waved to a few of them. Joey and I were using different run/walk intervals, so we would catch up with each other at random points. We were evenly paced until the three mile mark, and then I slowly started to pull away from him.
There were water stops a’plenty, and I took advantage of every one. The volunteers were all encouraging and supportive. The sun began to rise and I stopped and looked back toward the bridge for a quick shot.
But there was no time to linger. I had ten long miles ahead of me. The run/walk intervals clicked along, and at every mile marker the Race Joy app chimed in and let me know where I was. This was my first time using Race Joy, and I really enjoyed it. We were able to track each other’s progress during the race and would get a text message when we hit a mile marker. After a certain point, I think it was mile two, it started to announce our estimated completion time – 3:01:50. I shook my head. “There’s no way,” I thought to myself.
The road went on. And on. There was a long straightaway from the bridge to the state park entrance, probably a good 3+ miles or more. Finally, I made the turn into the park. There were several runners coming out and heading back to the finish line. “You’re almost there!” called one of the volunteers. “Liar!” I yelled back, laughing. She waved back.
Once inside the park, the paved road gave way to dirt. There was an aid station ahead fully stocked with drinks, gels, and bananas. As I came around a bend in the road, I looked up and saw him: it was Elvis! We saw him at Gate and now he was here, decked out in his white Vegas jumpsuit! I tried to get a picture, but it was like trying to photograph Bigfoot. Come to think of it, you never see Elvis and Bigfoot at the same time…
Not long after the King passed me by, Lisa G. was running toward me. She gave me a huge hug and I was back on my way. The turnaround point was at mile 7 and there was supposed to be a statue of Chief Tomoka there, and a good spot for a selfie. He was there, but too far away for a selfie. Instead I found a pretty tree with the sun coming up behind it. Sorry Chief.
Mile nine came up just as I was leaving the state park. My hip flexors and knees were beginning to ache a little, and my friends’ warnings about hitting the wall echoed in my head. I brushed them aside and turned up the music. Once again Tom Petty came to the rescue. The Race Joy app was consistently telling me that I would finish close to the three hour mark, and I was consistently telling myself it was a big fat liar. I still had the bridge to deal with, and I had no idea how I would feel at mile twelve.
I didn’t hit the wall at mile ten, but delirium set in for a few minutes. I imagined that I was at mile nine, heading toward mile ten. In reality, I was at mile ten going in to mile eleven. A brief wave of disappointment washed over me. I was over it and wanted to be finished. Thirteen miles was just too much. But a soft, electronic voice whispered in my ear and told me that I was at mile eleven with estimated completion time of 3:00:33. Yeah baby!
Two more miles were all that separated me from the finish line. I forgot about my hips and knees. I passed people. I had to go off the road and into the grass to do it, but I passed them. Runkeeper was set to update my distance and pace at each quarter mile. My pace had been 13:50 for so long that I thought something had gone wrong, so I opened the app on my phone for a few seconds to watch the clock. There was no mistake – I really was that consistent. Holy cow…I just might pull this off!
Just before mile twelve there was a beer stop. An amazing bunch of guys from a local mechanic’s shop were passing out paper cups of beer. Ben Franklin allegedly said that beer was proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. At that moment I was ecstatic and I told one of the guys that I thought I loved him. He laughed. I had never been more serious in my life.
And then I was there, at the bottom of the bridge. As much as I wanted to I knew I didn’t have enough left to run the whole thing. So I did intervals on the way up. When I got to the top I looked out over the water. “It’s now or never,” I thought. I couldn’t run up but I darn sure could run down. All the way to the bottom and around the corner. It was a slow, ugly run. I caught up to a couple of young women and we ran under the bridge together. Then it was a slow uphill turn to the left. There was a wonderful older gentlemen standing near the sidewalk cheering us on, and he came over and high-fived us as we passed. One more turn and there was the finish line.
I had all but ignored the timing apps, but as I crossed the line Race Joy announced that I finished at 3:02:52. I looked up and there was Lisa G. holding my medal! I have never been so happy to see that crazy, coffee-addicted woman in my life.
We checked Race Joy and saw that Joey was on the bridge. The volunteers at the finish ine were absolute sweethearts and let me give Joey his medal. He came in at 3:15:10, a good fifteen minutes ahead of his goal.
Two days later I’m still a little in awe of the whole thing. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t started looking for another half to do sometime this year. But not just yet. There’s a mountain of laundry calling my name and our running clothes should be classified as biohazards.
But we did it!
Overall time: 3:02:52
Average pace: 13:57/mile
Mile one: 14:05
Mile two: 14:15
Mile three: 13:45
Mile four: 13:49
Mile five: 13:42
Mile six: 13:49
Mile seven: 13:54
Mile eight: 13:48
Mile nine: 13:33
Mile ten: 13:39
Mile eleven: 13:39
Mile twelve: 14:18
Mile thirteen: 14:24
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin), Talk of the Town (The Pretenders), Kyrie (Mr. Mister), Time Stand Still (Rush featuring Aimee Mann), Ramble On (Led Zeppelin), Higher Love (Steve Winwood), The Chauffeur (Duran Duran), Wishing – If I Had A Photograph of You (Flock of Seagulls), Mrs. Robinson (Simon & Garfunkel), Little by Little (Robert Plant), Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen), Hey Jealousy (Gin Blossoms), Let’s Go Crazy (Prince), Nothin’ At All (Heart), Fat Bottomed Girls (Queen), Layla (Eric Clapton/Derek & The Dominos), Can’t Stop This Thing We Started (Bryan Adams), Stand Back (Stevie Nicks), Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin), Heat of the Moment (Asia), Misty Mountain Hop (Led Zeppelin), Desert Rose (Sting), Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel), I Would Die 4 U (Prince), Solsbury Hill (Peter Gabriel), Call Me (Blondie), Your Love (The Outfield), You Wreck Me (Tom Petty), Can’t Stand Losing You (The Police), Only Time Will Tell (Asia), Now It’s My Turn (Berlin), Take Me To Heart (Quarterflash), Little Red Corvette (Prince), Don’t Box Me In (Stewart Copeland), Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (The Police), Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin), Into The Groove (Madonna), Zombie Zoo (Tom Petty), Our Lips Are Sealed (The Go-go’s) New York Groove (Ace Frehley), Radar Love (Golden Earring)
Mom always said don’t play ball in the house. Wait. That was the mom from The Brady Bunch. But I’m sure at some point, knowing my mum, she said not to run with scissors. Until a few years ago I didn’t run at all, much less with scissors. Ah, the good old days.
We’ve done this race four times now. There is always a huge turnout and everyone has a great time. But the best part of this event is the artwork. The race benefits the Visual Arts program at Sallas Mahone Elementary School. Paul B. serves as both art teacher and race director extraordinaire. I don’t think he gets a wink of sleep in the weeks leading up to the race. Each mile marker gets a custom sign, painted by him, in honor of the sponsor. The awards are painted by the students. Of all the local races we do this is definitely one of our favorites.
After being left for dead at Gate last week, Joey was pretty confident that he would be faster than me. I tried to downplay my concern but the truth is I was pretty sure he was right. It had been a busy week at work and my brain was already looking ahead to the half marathon.
He was up with the chickens dogs Saturday morning. I don’t know what possessed him, but it certainly didn’t possess me. I laid in my warm, comfy bed until the last possible minute and scarfed down a granola bar on the way to the race. Meanwhile, Mo Farah made himself eggs and toast. Did he save any for me? Pfft.
It was cold and kind of cloudy, so of course we took the MG. “You’ll be warm after it’s finished,” Wonderboy declared. “Of course I’ll be warm,” I thought. “I’m a peri-menopausal woman. I have hot flashes that could power the eastern seaboard.”
We chatted with some friends who were there and then it was “go time.” The race started and I fell in line with a large group of children and adults. I wasn’t sure if Runkeeper and my watch had kissed and made up after their episode last week. I didn’t trust it to work properly so I manually started Runkeeper myself, like some kind of caveman.
Joey had positioned himself ahead of the crowd I found myself stuck in, and I could see him beginning to pull away. He wasn’t too far ahead, maybe 60-90 seconds, but I just couldn’t catch him. We crossed over the highway, entering a neighborhood near the school. The road had a few twists and turns and after a few minutes I lost sight of him. It was just me and Tom Petty, running down a dream. Or a 5K. Or, whatever.
Tom hung out with me for a little while. Things were going along pretty good, but I just wan’t feeling “it.” I was a little tired and my hastily ingested granola bar wore off five minutes after I got in the car. My time was okay but not on track for a PR.
As I approached the two-mile mark, I saw Joey up ahead. With just over a mile left, I wasn’t sure I would be able to catch up. There was always the chance that he was getting tired, and then I could make my move.
We left the neighborhood and were back out on the road to the school. I started adding a few seconds to each run interval, trying to close the gap. He was about a minute ahead of me, but still going strong. It was the scrambled eggs, I just know it. If I’d had another half a mile (or a real breakfast) I might have caught him, but I ran out of road. He crossed the line about about 30 seconds ahead of me.
It would be a long day.
As luck would have it, a little cloud passed overhead not long after we finished and a few drops of rain fell. The top was down on the MG, so someone-who-didn’t-make-me-eggs-and-toast had to run down the street to where the car was parked and put the top up. What a shame.
I waited for a few minutes, then retrieved our jackets and went to find him. He was all but finished when I got there. The 1 mile fun run was about to start and the awards ceremony would follow. Neither of us were in the running for anything, so we decided to call it a day and went home.
Next time, buddy. Next time. See what happens at the half…
As you may know, I participate in a group called Who I Run 4. Runners are matched with children and adults who have special needs or health concerns. I signed up a few years ago and was matched with an awesome little guy named Chasten. This is the second year we have been able to hang out with him and his family for a little while. We celebrated his little sister’s birthday while they were here!
Last year he barely came up to my shoulders, and this year he is almost as tall as I am!
He gave Joey and I a bracelet that he earned in basketball this season, and we will wear them with pride when we run for him. The waiting list to be matched with a buddy is long, but it’s SO worth it.
Overall Time: 39:58
Average Pace: 12:47/mile
Mile One: 13:02
Mile Two: 12:51
Mile Three: 12:38
Into the Groove (Madonna), I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty), Never (Heart), Don’t Box Me In (Stewart Copeland), King of Pain (The Police), Running Down A Dream (Tom Petty), Tainted Love (Soft Cell), Mary Jane’s Last Dance (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), You Wreck Me (Tom Petty), Zombie Zoo (Tom Petty), Don’t Come Around Here No More (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), I Would Die 4 U (Prince)
A couple of weekends ago we did a little run in Jacksonville. Nothing big, just 15K. A few people were there with us. You may have heard of it – the Gate River Run. Twelve thousand or so of our closest friends and a 9.3 mile street party. You want a mimosa at 8:45am? Mile three has ‘em. Rice Krispie treat? Mile seven just before you make that final turn for the bridge.
THAT kind of party.
Last year was our first experience at Gate, and we had a blast! As we limped back to the hotel we were already planning our strategy for next time. We stumbled into the lobby and saw one of the elite runners – we think it was Sam Chelanga – standing there, fresh as a daisy in a nice suit wearing his elite singlet and a medal the size of a dinner plate. No doubt he finished while we were crossing the first bridge! He pointed to the medals hanging around our tired and sweaty necks. “Good job,” he said, smiling. We nodded and said “thank you.” I would have asked to take a picture with him, but we looked like the sweat monsters from Hades by then.
Which brings us to this year. We’re pros now. We’ve got the Hokas and the Camelbaks, the tech shirts and compression shorts. It’s on like Donkey Kong. Our strategy this year was to start at the end of wave 3, putting us ahead of the walkers but far enough back that our intervals didn’t interfere with anyone. Usually when we run out-of-town we follow the Lost philosophy: live together, die alone. (You watched Lost, didn’t you? Didn’t you???) Chehaw was the first time we split up during a race. We decided that if one of us felt like they were faster/stronger than the other we would do our own thing.
Starting in wave 3 was genius, if I do say so. I have nothing against walkers and slower runners – I still consider myself a slow runner. However, there is a tendency to spread out and take up as much real estate as possible, which makes passing difficult. When the road narrows it’s even more awkward and it’s easy for your intervals to get out of whack.
The first bridge came up early in the race and was a piece of cake this time around. I learned a valuable lesson last year: don’t look down. The blue bridge is all metal and if you look down you can see the water. Plus it’s a lot easier to see how high up you are. And then there is my irrational fear that my toes will get caught in the metal grating and I will trip. Because I’m clumsy like that.
Keeping my eyes straight ahead, we ran over the blue bridge. Wait, what? The whole thing? Yep, the whole thing. How did that happen? Being 41 pounds lighter (me) and 25 pounds lighter (Joey) than last year and a lot of hard work. That’s how it happened. As we made our way along the “downhill” side of the bridge we looked at each other. We weren’t red-faced and gasping for breath. It was almost, dare I say it, fun. Who knew?
Making our way between miles two and three, we hit a water stop and gave a round of applause to the bands keeping us entertained. The first time check was coming up at the 5K mark. Considering the course and crowds we were pretty pleased with our first check-in: 44:03.
But the crowds. Oh my, the crowds. You remember the story in the Bible about Moses parting the Red Sea? Well, we had our own Moses moment. Joey, being bigger and much more intimidating than me, parted a sea of sweaty, smelly Spandex. I followed in his wake, in awe of the volume of people. There were short people and tall people. Like, crazy tall people. Lurch from the Addams Family tall. I swear I saw a guy whose legs were longer than my entire body.
Finally things cleared out a little bit and we passed through a little bo-ho business district, full of supporters lining the streets. Then it was on to San Marco. The St. John’s River was to our right and we were surrounded by gorgeous old homes. The streets began to narrow and were full of twists and turns. Residents sat in their front yards, passing out drinks and food. Our pace slowed, due to the crowds and my need to critique each and every house we passed (hate it…love it…nice but wouldn’t want to live in it….OMG I need to win the lottery to buy that). You know how it is.
The houses slowly changed, morphing from those that looked like they belonged on the Kennedy-compound to something us mere mortals would live in. Gradually the neighborhood shifted back into a business district. As we approached one of the larger intersections, we saw the traffic backed up for miles. I felt a little sorry for the people who were caught unawares and were wondering how long they were going to be stuck. A long time, buddy. A long time indeed.
The second 5K checkpoint was just around the corner. Despite my rubbernecking in San Marco our time was within 34 seconds of the first 5K, 44:37. Not too shabby! But it felt like we were starting to hit the wall. Joey had muscle cramps in his calves last year crossing the Hart Bridge, so he loaded up with pickle juice and tried to stay hydrated this time around. But it wasn’t enough. At mile seven he told me to go and wait at the finish line for him. I felt bad – this was supposed to be a joint effort – but I was really hoping for a finish as close to two hours as possible.
Runkeeper and my new-to-me Apple Watch apparently had some sort of falling out during the race. I don’t know who said what to whom, but it was clear they weren’t speaking to each other at that point. Which meant no data – and goodness knows I love some running data. Mumbling obscenities to myself, because right then it seemed like the appropriate thing to do, I hit the 80s playlist in iTunes and decided to handle my business. The entrance to the bridge was just around the corner and my two-hour goal was looking pretty far out of reach.
I missed Joey and at some point probably should have looked back to check on him. But Madonna and I were getting into the groove by then. That long, gradual turn to the bridge was at hand, and as I rounded the corner I saw the Green Monster looming in front of me. Since the Runkeeper/Apple Watch debacle I’d been counting out my run/walk intervals in my head. I’m no stranger to talking to myself and as I started the climb to the bridge Me and Also Me struck up a conversation, kinda like the Kermit/Dark Kermit meme. Me: Hey, so what if we run/jog all the way across the bridge? Also Me: Are you nuts? It’s almost ¾ of a mile. Me: So? Also Me: Whatever. You go on with your bad self. See if I care.
What did I have to lose? Worst case scenario, I would end up walking. Or possibly hanging out with some potentially attractive paramedics. I had the emergency number in my phone, all ready to go.
I paused for a quick selfie (because nothing really happens if you don’t get a selfie). As soon as I passed under the first green truss I began to run. I say “run” but it was a slow trot. However, it wasn’t walking. The bridge was rising in front of me as I began to pass the walkers. The 8.3 mile marker fluttered in the breeze. One mile left. In the distance I saw Everbank Field and the crowd of people approaching the finish line. “I can do this,” I thought to myself.
Eventually the bridge leveled out and I was able to increase my pace ever so slightly. Less than a mile now. Just keep going. I pulled out my ear buds for another selfie at the top of the bridge. I was halfway there. The worst part was over, everything was downhill from here to the finish line. I passed between a group of three or four ladies who were walking. As I slowly pulled away I heard one of them say “look at her! She’s still running and doesn’t even look tired. Are her heels even touching the ground?” Day officially made. Me, who used to lumber along like an injured water buffalo. I couldn’t slow down after that, even if I wanted to!
I passed under the last metal truss. Goal achieved! I hit the final water stop and slowed down to a walk just long enough to take a drink. Faster runners began to pass me as we came down the final stretch behind the stadium. Less than .25 mile was between me and the finish line. My two-hour goal had passed, but I was well ahead of my time from last year.
I was swept up in a crowd of people and all of a sudden it was over. There was my sweaty, happy face on the Jumbo-tron as I approached the finish line. 2:13:17. My last 5K time was 44:38, one second slower than the previous. Overall pace was 14:17 and my last mile was 13:25. I finished fourteen minutes ahead of last year!
A volunteer shoved a bottle of cold water in my hand. I was unaware that I had reached out for it. I looked around for a place to stop and catch my breath, and was ushered through a gate by another volunteer who handed me my finisher’s medal. I tried to go back toward the finish line to look for Joey, but was told I had to wait behind the barricade for him. He appeared out of nowhere, in a group of people who crossed the line a few minutes behind me.
Another 15K in the books and it was time to celebrate. I left Joey in the beer line while I did a quick run through the expo. He found me a few minutes later, a beer in each hand. He was in his happy place. After paying for a couple of tech shirts and a 15K magnet it was time to go. The walk from the expo to the car was slow and peaceful and the parking area was almost deserted. I felt the first tingle of a sunburn as I leaned back against the car seat. Joey and I looked at each other and smiled. We were tired and sweaty, and if I’m honest, a little stinky. All was right with the world.