Planning my Runcation.

I have mentioned that I am signed up for Rock + Roll St. Louis on 10/15, and I am finally getting around to planning my time in St. Louis. I am working to balance having fun, yet not wearing myself out before the race. I tend to do that. A lot.

While I was researching running vacations, I also asked a few friends for recommendations on what to do in St. Louis… and also, what to do on a runcation in general. I have a couple friends who always seem to be jetting off to somewhere for a race, and figured I would get some pointers.

My friend, LaRisa, is doing Tulsa Run 10/28, which is around the same time I will be in St. Louis. That race sounds really fun – and this year is it’s 40th anniversary, so I am guessing the swag will be extra cool.

First up is considering what race you want to run. We all have different reasons for signing up for a race. Course? Location? BQ-rate? Weather? I factor in everything.

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Start line in St. Louis

I think the most important factors for me in signing up for Rock and Roll St Louis was the race series and location. I have always wanted to do one of their races, and St. Louis is the closest race to KC. The swag for the races has always made me jealous. The medals?? YASSS.

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As far as location goes, St. Louis will be an easy commute. Instead of driving, I plan to ride the Amtrak. I have never taken a train before and it seems like a fun idea. I won’t have to stress about driving out. I can just sit back and relax. And I plan to get there in plenty time to hit packet pick-up, eat, and get a good night’s rest.

 

 

 

I plan to stay at a hotel close to the course, and bonus: it has a view of the Arch! I like to stick close to the race so I don’t have to worry about a long drive over in the morning. Since I am riding the train out, I won’t have a car to get around.

 

In Tulsa, there are a lot of hotel options as well. LaRisa stayed in the Brady Arts District but added that Guthrie Green is nice as well.

One factor that Tulsa Run has going for it is the course. LaRisa had good things to say about the race course. The race seems inclusive of all ability levels as it includes 15K, 5K, and 2K, as well as a 15k/5k combo option. (Running the combo will get you an special ribbon to go with your medals).

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LaRisa post-race in Tulsa

The Rock and Roll Half Marathon in St. Louis includes a 10k in addition to the 13.1, as well as a 5K the night before. Running the combo will earn you an extra medal. There are bands all along the course to keep you pumped.

Being out of town, there is a certain level of apprehension, maybe? You need to plan well and make sure you pack everything you might need. I always remind myself that I can purchase many supplies, if I forget them. But one year I did forget my water bottle and had to pick one up at the expo.

One they that can make you feel at home is hospitality from event staff. Smiling faces along the course. People jumping in to help you if you hit a bad spot. LaRisa said she had run the Tulsa Run twice before and said the race directors and volunteers were great. That definitely makes a difference with your race.

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St. Louis course includes some amazing views

Something both races can boast about is their after-party. LaRisa said Tulsa’s a lot of fun. (A DJ and bounce houses!!) And although I haven’t done a R&R Race – I am really looking forward to partaking in all the post-race fun. The band Fastball is headlining!

Interested in signing up? Run with me by using   BIBRAVE15 which gives $15 off the Half, valid until 10/8. Run with LaRisa by using bibravetr for $5 off your race entry.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock and Roll St. Louis race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

 

2014 Boots n Daisy Dukes 5k

Date: June 1, 2014
Location: Independence, MO

(Belated race report)

This was my second year running Boots and Daisy Dukes 5k. (2013 here.) … and they discontinued the race in 2015! When I asked KC Running Company, they said that they were going to be helping out the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead with their race instead. I am actually bummed about that. I really liked this course. And even thought I grumbled last year about the country music, I bought an awesome outfit for the 2015 race (which they didn’t have. Boar’s Nest t-shirt, Ink N Burn Daisy Duke-style running shorts and tube socks. Epicness.)

But back to 2014. I felt pretty good going into this race. It was HOT out, which is a given in Midwestern summers. But my legs were feeling strong and I felt I could do well on the hills. I know I say I hate hills, but I always seem to do a lot of passing on them. (So I guess other people hate them even more?) Train the hills = Passing people at races. Check.

Again the course would wind around Bass Pro Shops Waterfall Park. I actually enjoy this course, as far as road courses go. It is really scenic with little waterfalls, ponds and gardens. There are some nice hills. There is a fair amount of shading on some of the course. They don’t include a course map on the website, but it is the same for all the races held there. I’ve included a map from my Garmin.

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My Garmin Course Map

They had the cowboy boot contest again. I really cannot fathom how some people “run” in cowboy boots. Just wouldn’t happen for me. If I didn’t destroy my legs, I would busy my butt falling. I think the boots thing only appeals to fun runners since they are the only ones who would risk their legs like that. Also ,they tend to line up at the front, go out in a sprint, and then are walking in a block. (Which makes it more difficult to get a good tempo going on the course.)

Nothing out of the ordinary happened at this race. After 2.5 miles, I was really wishing I brought a handheld since it was so hot. I grabbed a cup at the aid station and tried to drink while I was running and ended up choking on the water. I had to stop for a moment to walk and catch my breath. After I decided I was not dying, I ran again and headed into the homestretch to finish.

After I crossed the finish, I visited the portapotty. A girl came up to me and thanked me for helping her finish. She said she was just concentrating on keeping up with the girl in the white skirt. (That was so sweet of her!) Glad I could help, random stranger!

Time: 27:37
7th place AG

2014 Chiefs Finish on the 50

Date: May 10, 2014
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, KCMO
Another belated race report.

My sons were really excited about this race. I had some reservations. First, the race time started at 9:00. I knew it would be toasty. Second, the race was entirely run in the stadium parking lot on blacktop. Again, toasty. The race was to finish on the football field and the boys were pretty excited about that. There were also to be players working the aid stations and taking pictures with fans. Also cool.

My two sons and I met up with my friend Vicki and her son before the race. We took a few pictures with the Chiefs mascot and headed to the starting line. The start seemed rather unorganized and had a pretty big delay. Bowie, Dane and I took off a bit faster than Vicki and her son. (Her son was a newbie runner. Note: he had more fun than we did). We made our way through the parking lot, and I have to say that there was really nothing remarkable to note. It was blacktop. And a stadium parking lot. We stopped at the aid stations for water because it was blazing hot, and there were no Chiefs players. (But thank you, volunteers!)

We did get to run on the field for our finish and got our medals which were neat. The race was not timed (the first finisher won a prize based on who crossed the line first).

Afterward we could tour the stadium and locker rooms. We did look around the displays abut did not go to the locker room because the line was ridiculously long.

Vicki reported back later than when she and her son stopped at the an aid station, there was a Chiefs player there. So the early bird didn’t get the worm, in this case. Very neat that Nate got a picture with a player. (I think they also did the locker room tour and said it was still packed).

So on the upside, if you have a young sports fan who just wants a fun run and likes football, this is a nice race. If you care at all about timing or scenery, notsomuch.

2016 Skyline Shuffle

Date: May 7, 2016
Location: Lawrence, KS – Clinton Lake

It was a toasty morning on race day. We made it to Clinton Lake, Campground 3 a bit early and talked with a few friendly Trail Hawks before the race. At race time, I put Bowie in line behind my friends, Nicole and Trudi, and got in line a bit behind him.

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Photo courtesy of Gary Henry

I didn’t stay with Bowie long – he was running strong! I find grass the most difficult to run on. It is lumpy and soft. I am always cautious about twisting an ankle or losing my footing. Add in the hills, and this was a challenging course! (Details here.)

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Photo courtesy of Gary Henry

I made it halfway through the course before I needed to start taking walk breaks. A combination of morning + heat + hills just was a lot for me. I didn’t want to blow my adrenals out on a 5K!

When I made the final decent of Bunker Hill, I asked a course marshall if Bowie had come through OK, and he reported that Bowie had gone through looking strong. I turned on to the home stretch and just held on. Bowie and Tatum joined me in the finishing chute! Actually, Tatum stopped in front of me to give me a hug and I told him to keep running. He turned around and ran so fast, he passed right by me!

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Photo courtesy of Gary Henry

It turns out that Bowie blew the course prediction I had made for him. I guessed 33:00, and he ran 28:34!!! Holy smokes! A PR for Bowie on a tough course. And he has only been running off and on for a couple months. Go Bowie! He came in 13th out of 60 runners. There was only one other child runner out there.

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Photo courtesy of Gary Henry

I did slightly faster than the time I predicted for myself so that was nice. I have a long way to go before I am back to really racing — but I had such a good time and was there to support Bowie.

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Photo courtesy of Gary Henry

While we waited for the awards ceremony, we got to talk to so many friendly runners. Tatum asked when he was going to get a number so he could race, and an awesome woman gave him her number. He had a blast running back through the chute!

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Gary “Story Hawk” was about, snapping pictures before and during the race. (Thank you, Gary, for the awesome pictures!)

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I had a long bike ride on my plan (the 5K was just a bonus), so late that night, Steven and I hit the trails for an evening ride. I am not a fan of rides requiring headlamps — too many bugs! I had not ridden since last year so my butt was also not happy about the ride. We ended up going from Ottawa to Princeton and back. While I am (not so) patiently awaiting a new cyclocross bike, I road my “Comfy Cruiser.” I’m afraid even the cushy seat didn’t save my butt! Ouch.

Have you gotten back out on your bike yet?

 

 

Lincoln Marathon

May 1, 2016
Lincoln, Nebraska

Lincoln Marathon marked my return to racing, and really more importantly running in the morning. I had not run road since October 2015 (Monster Dash 5K). Or morning since Pi Day Half in March 2016 (when I bonked). Or completed a half marathon since April 2015’s Rock the Parkway.

I had been successfully completing my long runs on the trail in the evening, but I had no idea how my body would react to running in the morning. My strategy was to run my easy evening trail pace and hope my tired-morning body could handle the road.

I had signed up for Lincoln Marathon months and months ago, thinking surely I would be “better by race day.” But like many race entries over the last year, it was not the case. I dropped to the half in April when it was evident that I wasn’t going to have a dramatic recovery. I have a lot of family in Lincoln and was very excited for them to see me run a marathon. (This will for sure happen next year!!!)

After a delay due to the rental car company giving our mini van away, we found another van, loaded up the kids and were on our way late Friday night. We made it to Lincoln LATE and checked into the hotel. Saturday, we puttered around Lincoln and visited family. Saturday night, I took an Ambien and hit the bed extra-early to be ready for race morning.

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I ended up wearing a warmer option instead…

Sunday morning, I was awake long before the alarm went off. I had plenty of time to change into my race outfit and start waking my body up. Since it was cold and rainy, I decided on a long sleeved singlet, capri pants and a light rain jacket. I also grabbed gloves and a hat to help with the rain. I wrapped my phone in a Ziploc — keeping it classy there.

I ate a cinnamon raisin bagel and sipped on tea, hoping for some caffeine kick. It didn’t seem to work and I was still hungry, so Steven bought me a donut and a Coke Zero on the way to the race. I was actually still hungry but I couldn’t handle the thought of eating the GU I had thrown into my pocket.

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We could not find parking anywhere, so I jumped out of the car at a red light and followed the other runners to the start. I was really not sure where I wanted to line up, but then I saw Gay, a pacer I knew from KC, and decided to run 2:30 with her. (She is seriously an amazingly enthusiastic and sweet pacer!)

After 45 minutes or so, our wave started. Serious kudos to the event staff for managing that giant start. Very well done.

Right away, I was in awe of the amazing spectators along the course. Seriously. Even in the rain, there were people cheering for us at every block like we were running Boston. The aid stations were very frequent and well-staffed. The cups had lids and straws, which made it very easy to grab a drink and keep going without sloshing and choking down a drink.

And let’s just talk about the bands set up along the course… So many bands, from polka to rock. One that really stuck out for me was one called “The Polka Police,” who were wearing cut-off police uniforms and rocking out heavy polka. Very cool.

There were many aid stations beyond the standard Gatorade and water stations. One was handing out jelly bellies and fruit. (Those orange wedges at mile 9 were magical!) One was GNR themed and Slash was handing out drinks. One had guys dressed like penguins firing confetti all over us.

I just can’t say enough good things about this race. (View the course map and essentials here.)

The only downsides I can think of was the narrow bike trail that made it difficult to stay with the pace group when it was hard to get around the walkers, and the finish at Memorial Stadium.

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About that finish… It was really cool to run up on Memorial Stadium, home of the Huskers. They had a big screen outside as we approach the stadium and that was neat. then we turned and ran into the tunnel where we were shown on the jumbotron as we took the field. And how cool was it running across the field? I received my medal from a uniformed National Guardsman who even took the time to put it around my neck instead of just handing it to me. But then, we were herded into the stadium, packed in like cattle. It took forever to navigate through the blankets, water, milk, yogurt, chips, etc. I just wanted to leave! I was so cold!

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Finally I made it outside and found my family waiting for me. I was so cold and shivering, but we eventually made it to the parking garage where I could change out of my wet shoes. (And later to a gas station to change into dry clothes).

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I really had a wonderful time at the race and can’t wait to be back next year, in better health! I was happy simply to finish this year. I ran 10 miles without stopping, and ending up walking up the hills on the last 3. Given that I wasn’t even sure I would make it 2 miles — I was take it! 🙂

 

2016 St Paddy’s 5K

Date: March 5, 2016
Location: Lawrence River Levee Trail

I could not seem to stay asleep Friday night. I woke up a few times on Saturday morning and knew by looking out my dark window that it was nowhere near time to wake up. But I was nervous. And it wasn’t the happy-excited I used to have before races.

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Ceremonial laying out of the outfit the night before

 

Last year, I ran the St. Patrick’s Day race on fumes. I hadn’t eaten or slept in a week so I had no idea how I would do. I knew that end of February, I was in fantastic shape. Then, March 1, my world imploded and I was not coping well.

Last year, I ran the St. Patrick’s race balls-out, guns a-blazing. I listened to an aggressive playlist and mostly just thought about running over the top of people I didn’t like. My lungs burned and kept my arms pumping so that my legs would match.

Last year, I took second place in my age group, with a 27:03. I knew with good sleep, and running a paved road, my time could be so much faster. I never had the opportunity to see how much faster because I got sick before I could run another 5K.

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Amazing teammate Lisa sent me a lucky blue button for my shoe!

 

Saturday, I drug myself out of bed. I got dressed and focused on how my outfit didn’t fit as well as it did last year. I had gone up a size in shorts and my skirt and top were fitting tighter. I ate a banana and made myself a cup of tea. I should have had a second cup, but I didn’t have time.

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Hoping for super powers from my tea

 

We stopped at Panera so that I could get my customary bagel and cream cheese. I managed to eat half of it, but my stomach felt terrible so I gave the rest to little Tatum.

We parked at the lot across from Johnny’s Tavern and made our way over to the race. I used the restroom and noticed I was still hungry so I ate half an orange. I still felt hungry. I was dreading the run. I knew it would be soul-crushing when I would get passed. I wanted to go home and sleep.

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Starting line – ready for some dirt!

 

The 10K started before the 5K. When they called the 5K, I headed over to the line and tried to find a good spot. I wanted to be ahead of the walkers, so I lined up somewhat toward the front. When the race started, I found myself still having to weave around walkers and slow jog-walkers. This was unfortunate since the trail was so narrow, I had to run off into the grass to get around. I probably burned up some energy with all that jockeying around at the starting line.

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So, cheating. This is toward the end.

 

I set in at 9:00 pace and it felt OK. It felt reasonably hard, and I knew that running levee trail would be slower than a road race, obviously. The problem came at about a mile in. a nasty twinge that I had noticed the day before. A twinge in my right shin that made my leg buckle under me. I had this happen at work on Friday and ignored it. I stayed on my feet and decided to just slow down a little. Maybe that would help. But it didn’t. It twinged and hurt and I really started thinking about the odds of being able to push past that much pain for 2 more miles.

I slowed down and dropped off onto the grass. I tried stretching my calf out on the edge of the trail but it didn’t seem to bring any relief. I tried to walk it out, but it brought on horrible shin splints that made my clench my teeth. I would start to run again and tough it out as long as I could until the twinge would make my leg buckle again.

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This one, too.

 

We reached the turn-around point and I continued to run. I thought I could just tough my way thru it. Once I hit 2 miles, I knew I was fooling myself. I t wasn’t going to happen. I looked at my watch and knew that there really wasn’t a point to torturing myself, so I started taking walk breaks. Just doing anything I could to finish the race and not cry.

I spotted my children right before the finish line and managed to wave as I jogged by. My son Emery had made some pretty epic signs for me and seeing their little faces and hearing them cheer genuinely made me smile.

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Home stretch

 

After the race, I helped the boys make plates of pancakes, sausage and fruit. Once I made it back to my car, we wrapped my right leg with Arctic Ease wrap and I headed home to rest.

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I didn’t teach him to eat like that.

 

Running a race 4 minutes slower than the previous year was a painful reminder that I am still not well. But… I did get up and race. I am still fighting, and that is something I can hold my head up about. It was a stake in the sand. I did it. Onward from here.

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Emery looks excited to be with his mom.

 

Saturday afternoon, I took Emery to the democratic caucus to support Bernie Sanders. It was an amazing time but wow, sitting for hours on the hard bleachers did nothing for my back. Bernie won our district 78% to 22%. Yay! J

2014 Sweetheart 5K

Event: Sweetheart Run 5K

Date: 02.16.2014

Location: Overland Park, KS

The first time I ran this event was last year in Lawrence, KS… but they moved the race to Overland Park, KS this year. The course was a big square, which was actually kind of nice when it came it pacing distances and not having to fight through crowded corners as much. The event was hosted by the Ritz-Carlton Overland Park, so the restrooms were quite nice and packet pick-up seemed easy. Due to a recent car accident, I knew I needed to take it very slow. I signed up my 6 year old Bowie as an insurance policy… pacing Bowie would force me to keep it to a jog. Bowie had ran 5K on a treadmill once before, but we hadn’t been doing any training lately, due to said car accident, but I was confident that if we took it slow, Bowie would be just fine. It was a little cold out, and some icy patches were still around, but I assured Bowie that we would warm up once we started to run.

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The race photographer snapped this photo of us at the starting line.  I soon learned that a long tutu wads up between your legs when you run. Bowie mentioned after the race that he couldn’t run beside me because the tutu kept getting stuck on the velcro of his glove.  Sorry, kiddo! But note my super cute Pro Compression heart socks and new Skora Running black/pink shoes The race started on time and we were off! I didn’t bother to wear my Garmin so that I wouldn’t be tempted to speed up. We ran totally by feel, and that was nice to not feel stress from staring at my wrist! I had no idea how fast we were going, but we started nice and slow the first mile and I slowly sped him up a bit through-out the race. There were a couple hills, so I encouraged Bowie to pump his arms to pull himself up the hill. Bowie did a great job of chugging along even when I could tell he was getting tired. When we rounded the last corner and we saw the finish line, I yelled at Bowie to floor it! He started passing people like they were standing still.  I was his own private cheering section in that last sprint but I couldn’t help being so proud of my little rockstar runner!

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I was certain that not many little boys were before us so I thought Bowie had a good chance of placing.  We hit the results line and found our time was 33:08 (10:41 pace) and that Bowie placed 3rd. Later, when I looked up the results we found Bowie (6) was the youngest male runner, so all the other boys in 0-10 were older than him. The two boys finishing before him were 9 and 8. We headed inside to get his medal and he was so proud of himself. This is his second timed event and he is 2-for-2, having finished first in AG for Double Road Race’s Kids Cup Mile.

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I asked Bowie how it felt to be passing all those grown-ups and he just shrugged and said, “I never looked back, Mommy. I just wanted to focus on my own race.” He’s a good little egg.

Time: 33:08

My Place: Don’t even ask! I was there to pace for Bowie :)