Monday, October 27, 2014

Running for the bay

Another bridge story this week. I just could not resist the challenge again.This week I found myself on Florida's northwestern peninsula. They called it Running for the bay and it was held in a very cold Apalachicola. Certainly was worth the drive but yikes winter in north florida by the water is no joke. I almost froze to death there. They said it was in the fifties but it felt colder then that the night before to me.
The temperature was still low when i woke up the next mornings . It was around 4am and i would have welcomed a warm bowl of cream o wheat. Instead my early morning breakfast consisted of a few bites of watermelon and cantaloupe leftover from my yesterday's lunch. I know it wasn't the kind of fuel i needed but it's all i had.
I made sure to double layer but not bundle up. I can't move if I'm freezing but couldnt run if I was weighted down in warm clothes either. I had my running jacket and pants over my race clothes, yes it was that cool. I know it would have been wrong but if they had a dunkin donuts I'd have stopped in. A hot chocolate and a plain cake donut would have done the trick. Alas the area is still rural in terms of businesses, i saw no fast food joints. I stayed in the next town down from Apalachicola and it was rural to say the least.There were plenty of vacation homes on the water though. After hurricane Katrina many had to be rebuilt. I noticed most were up on stilts don't know if that was the case before. I do know little towns don't have many lights and it was definately pitch black. The night sky was lit up with stars, something lost to me in my piece of suburbia. So when i left the resort for the race I was glad there was only one road into the town. Thankful that I couldn't get lost by taking a wrong turn down an unlit street, I eased out of the resort and drove slow on the dark and curvy road. I was not going to miss a turn and end up in the bay. When i arrived in town to look for a place to park i found noone the streets we empty. I decided to drive over near the startline and thats where i spotted the volunteers setting up. One early bird told me he couldnt tell me where to park ask the police up the street. It was so dark i couldn't really see them but i rolled down the window and asked for a good place to leave my vehicle and they responded right across the street. It was perfect and well lighted plus close to the start. I was the first one to a good spot, it's the little things that make me happy ! I could make a quick exit after the race so that was a bonus too. I smiled thinking one worry down, i fret over finding parking spaces all the time. It's an expected task when your ride is large but comfort on the road is always worth it, except when its not.
The race was planned to start just before the sun came up. There were ultra marathoners as well as the usaul distances. I toyed with the idea of doing the half but wasnt sure at the time i signed up if i could complete one. I know better now that i can. While waiting i met members of BGR from Tallahassee. They asked but i declined to get in their pictures. I can't stand looking at my fat girl pictures, an issue i need to deal with i know. The race started in time, i waited in the back with the 5kers to take off last towards a looming adversary. Just before the bridge those of us in the back of the pack group consisted of myself, a mother with her young (maybe 6 years old) daughter and two old men. There would be a few late stragglers but they were serious runners who caught up to and pasted us. I over heard the mother tell her daughter who questioned if they would finish,  "we have seven hours". Then they sprinted off never to be caught by me.
As I watched them run/walk just out of sprinting distance in front of me, i thought what a wonderful mother daughter memory to make. I wished i could have caught them, walk faster i tell myself.
Then I thought of my own mother at home not doing well. I wished we could have done something like this when i was young. Through the years she worked night and day ,weekends, holidays you name it to provide for the two of us. Now she is paying the price. Her body is slowly breaking down after years of strong willing it to get up everyday  and struggle on.  Yet when she'd asked me if she could ride along, I'd said no.  It was a long ride and i was leaving late, there was no time for rest stops. Sometimes she becomes violently ill quickly when out,  i didnt need more stress or to see her suffer like that.
When i signed up for this run the plan was to take her as a surprise. I looked into making reservations but a week before we were to leave she was sick again. "I feel weak" she said in a low and labored voice. I decided not to go and told her so. She lied and said she was fine but i waited till the last minute to leave just in case. How could i take her,  there are no bathrooms around finish lines except portable ones and certainly the spot o pots were not an option. It was cool in the morning and hot as the day went on, she doesn't tolerate the extremes. I would have had to lug a chair for her to sit on while waiting for me but no big deal i thought. Once again the battle in my heart that wages daily over wether i am doing enough to care for her or if i should be driving around the state doing 5k's while she's home sick began. I know in my heart these walks are my stress relievers and that every caregiver must take "me time" but it still bothers me. I've just started to take back my life after stepping off it seven years ago but in doing so i only feel guilt.
I kept up a good pace as i became lost in those thoughts. The steep grade on the bridge was no joke but unlike the previous week i was making smooth strides. I pulled even with an old man who had a gentle Charles kuralt voice. I wasn't fooled though, a lady told me once people pretend to be nice then they try and smoke you. I was ready for his move as we had a friendly conversation towards the top of the bridge. He told me it was his first race back from an knee injury. He took a year to heal himself  up and wanted to stay on a steady pace himself. I also learned that he was a widower with grown kids. The other older guy bringing up the rear with us bid us good morning as he passed by. When we arrived at the crest of the bridge the sun was just coming up. What a joy to view a beautiful sunrise across the bay.
My phone rings, it's mom. I tell her Im in the race and she says have a good day. As i hang up feeling glad she sounds good it puts my spirit at ease, she is fine. The old man says "thats why i turn my phone off during races". I say it was my mom and fret over not telling her i love her.
We move on across the bridge now and I stop for a second to take a picture, then continued moving. As i walked I allowed myself the pleasure of watching the orange tinge bounce off the water as a group of birds skimmed along the grass patches on the water and circled to do the same all over again.Before i knew it i was at the decent, it was time to move. The old guy said go for it as if i needed his approval, i wasn't there to wait for him. He was walking  when i took off jogging but i heard foot steps approaching behind me. It was him of course but he didn't catch me until after the bridge decent. He was doing a longer race so i kept focused on the 5k as he picked up pace and passed me.
A few feet in front of me I saw a lady cut the miles short and turn around, hope she didn't get an award. I wave to another lady i met at the start line, she was on 13 minute pace and on her way back up the bridge on the other side of the road. I stopped jogging and pushed my walking speed but i was flat. Keep moving baby i repeated in my head. I was enjoying the challenge then i looked up. The return trip back up the other side of the bridge began.
Thinking the assent would be tough i mentally prepared to work that thing as Mary J Blige would say. The cars were more noticeable to me on the way up.  The slant of the emergency lanes made me work harder to climb but i had a target. A walker with a knee brace that passed me on the other side was about a hundred feet in front of me.  I made up my mind i would pass her on the way down. She could feel me i know but everytime someone passed her it wasn't me. Until i made my move it was slow but steady. Finally midway down the deal was done. I jogged to the bottom and around the corner to finish. Walking just a bit before i scouted to the finish strip. I loved this race they annouce you as you cross the finish line it felt good. After all i already finished last wothout the finish being there, this made up for it. I walked over to get my medal and put it in my pocket. It was a little thing compared to the half and up medal which had a spinner. I saw people marching about proudly displaying it around their necks. I don't know why i felt like i didn't deserve it. My heart wants to run but my body is only about to do walk/run and more of the latter. I'm not happy about the situation. As of yet i still haven't unwrapped the medal. That race is behind me its on to the next thing.

I saw no all the way walkers at this event, mostly run/walking so sad it was a great race more people should be out doing this.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bayway Bridge Bash

I could not resist the chance to walk the now opened bayway bridge in Pinallas county. I like bridges, well actually i love the fact that most of them span waterways. I'm not so keen on the ones that cross gorges no matter how spectacular the veiw. My paradoxical fear of heights  would have me paralyzed at the thought of looking down into that kind of abyss. Just give me the soothing effects of h20 with the sun bouncing off of it and Im happy. That's why i traveled across central Florida to get my walk on in St Petersburg. This one time only race over the areas newest bridge seemed worth the effort to me.
Everything went well from the dieections i got off google to the packet pickup.I made it to St Pete arriving at the downtown location of the regional running store sponsor. It could have been a nightmare as the street it was located on was a construction zone. Luckily there were plenty of parking meter spaces on the adjacent street. I thought i would zip in and get the packet but nooo. The shoes (in my best mars blackman voice), i couldn't resist them. I have wide feet and that makes finding shoes tough as most companies seem to think women only need medium widths. While sitting in the store waiting to get my goodie bag I looked around at a shoe selection larger than what my local store offered. I might add their service was better too.That resulted with me being fitted and taking home two pair. Even with my shoes being on clearance i left nearly two hundred dollars lighter, ugh. The lady that waited on me was surpised i got two but no regrets on my part. I needed them and gas to drive over fifty miles each way to the closest city to me and look for and purchase shoes comes to about the same thing if im lucky enough to find a pair. Plus i hate shopping especially for shoes. Thus the reason running stores sponsor races and running groups, it brings in sales chi chang right out of my pocket. Mission accomplished i hit the road to find a parking space at the free lot organizers assigned us and headed to the race.
First impression of the event was it was not organized well. They had shuttles but it dropped you off at the location of late registration and pickup at a coumtry club close to the race start. To think i sweated over parking only to find out unlike what was stated on the website i could have gotten closer by parking on the greens. I thought that was a little odd because most places are extremely protective of there golf courses but perhaps they planned to resod in the future. With an half an hour to spare I walked around a bit which meant navigating around a pool (who throws a pool party with no food just drinks). I was crowded i was bored so i decided to make my way towards the bridge. You had to walk to the start line across a busy highway but the real disappointment came when i found out we would not run the bridge as advertised. It was supposed to be a one time thing yet when the horn sounded, off we went up the bridges pedestrian walkway. Major dissatisfaction boiled within me. I didnt drive all that way to do a bridge crossing that could be made at anytime. It was billed as a once in a lifetime chance to run the actual bridge and false advertisement wasnt the only mishap.
I managed to sprint to the structure but the steep incline to me out and i started walking. I struggled to make it while dodging people who were not in the race but standing on the bridge watching us, the sunset and boats. They were on bikes and some had kids and or dogs running about . Honestly it was a free for all but on the decent it was cool as the spectators cheered us on. I will say the overall course was plesant dispite the above stated but not even the fast dowm hill and the beautifull sunset as we made our way over the dunes could erase the hazzards on the beach itself. If you were fast you got a nice run on the shore, if not like me you got a dark beach. It was pitch black out there no stars and I would have welcomed a full moon. A runner next to me kept me company and used her phones flashlight app to guide us (thank you Katarina). With limited visability i had to walk the last mile. I did have my own headlamp but thought the course would be marked with at least some glow sticks or border lighting,i mean it wasn't a trail run. It was my biggest mistake of the day,there were no markers or people to tell you where to go. We dodged holes large enought to lose small children in. I have never been on a beach with that many holes. The lights from some of the hotels lite the diatance not the beach, thank goodness for an "anr trail" of walkers to follow or it would have been worst. I was at that point amongst the party people and fun bunchers. They weren't using timing chips so it didn't really matter when they arrived back. I finally made it to the dark finish line glad it was over and sorry about the time.
After getting my medal which had a ribbon that was to short to fit comfortably around my neck i checked out the food line. It was one line that was way to long and it was for both food and beer. Both race participants and spectators were in line. You could buy food if not in the race and i ean into one girl wirh a big plate of bbq she was taking home to her boyfriend. She told me at one point she was confused and had free dood from a private party. Noone was around to tell her which line she was supposed to be in. I ended up leaving thirsty and looking for the shuttle.
After walking from one side of the building to the other i found people i caught the trolley down with waiting in the parking lot. Enjoyed stricking up a conversation with an older man in his eighties while waiting on the ride. We talked about Tony Bennett, retirement and staying healthy in later years. I don't know it I'll be active let alone running at his age but ita something to shot for. After about twenty minutes a lady in the crowd waiting with me yelled we were in the wrong location we had to make it to the front of the hotel. During the crazy scramble that ensued to the front of the hotel we realized there was a gated garage the bus couldn't get through between us and the front of the hotel. It was 8:30 and the organizers said 9 pm was the cutoff time, not that any of them were around. That episode was followed by false hopes of the shuttles arrival as one guy standing by the curb thought a city shuttle was ours and over fifty people crammed up closer towards the driveway to get on. When we learned it wasn't ours there was a mad dash by many for minivan taxis" charging four dollars a head plus fare. I decided to take my chances on the free ride. It was the right call, i made it back safely, thanked the driver who did a heck of a job and headed home.
Overall it was not a totally bad time, i did managed to run a mile and change before walking a first. Alsi got new shoes but still feel jipped about the bridge. I could have done the virtual version but its like that sometimes. I entered and finished a 5k received some bling and got new kicks not to shabby a day, life is good

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pink heels

From time to time I'll check the local run shops website to see if there are any runs that are special enough for me to enter in my area. The definition of "special" to me just means it's a cause that is very worthy of my support. Right away after reading the details of the Pink heals event i knew i had to signup. I had soured on breast cancer "fund raising " in recent years, because most of the money goes to salaries not people who need the help or research. Some runs even have the nerve to charge high fees to enter them and require you to raise x amount of dollars lest your credit card be charged the difference! So when i read about the organizers of this breast cancer event information detailing what they do and how the money stays local it was a no brainer. I hurried over to the packet pickup location to sign up. I knew i was taking a chance after a two week hiatus during which time i did not course train. I did wear my trusted pedometer and seek out spots at the end of parking lots. The time spent away from doing all those miles helped me though as these old knees needed the rest and my attitude towards participating in races needed to be adjusted. I wanted this race to be my big redemption or at least a new lease on a walking journey. Don't call it a come back (sorry could not resist) but it marked a change in my goals. Now instead of working towards a set number of races I'm looking for how my time is improving and what i must do to obtain my end of season goals, now about that race. Oh how good it felt to get out and compete against myself again. I was excited to go at this 2 miler, after all it wasn't a 5k but the perfect distance for reentry. The crowd was small and yes there were plenty of walkers. Some did the jog/walk others just walked fast. I was encouraged by an old woman who said "you can do it baby" when i complained it seemed like a longer distance than a three miler. It really did, i guess i went in thinking 2.5 was going to be so mucj easier. Ha i have to laugh at my own self for that one. At the one mile mark the clock read around seventeen minutes.Instead of being disappointed i was encouraged. I was ahead of my last official race pace. I was not having negative thoughts or wishing the race was over. I was focused on making the finish line and from that point until the end i pushed to make it happen. I had only one surprise and that was my energy level was flat. I had the endurance but i usaully get pep at mile two this time around nothing. It probably was that publix chicken finger sub i fell off the bandwagon with just before the race. It was to big to finish with four jumbo strips of deep fried whole chicken breast, a large sliced tomato, four slices of cheese and enough lettuce to make a salad. I called myself being good becuase i didnt get any mayonnaise, oh well i won't be doing that again. It was my only meal of the day, i going to make it a point to work on my nutrition. Overall it turned out to be a good experience for me for a couple of reasons.First of all i wasn't last and while i didn't win a medal award my time showed an improvement .Plus not once did i day dream about riding a motorcycle but i did see a cool one.

This one was oseceola county sheriff's bike. They also had cool fire engines signed by survivors and well wishers.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

lost but now Im found

There are all kinds of programs out for a person to learn how to train for any distance race. If you add in the explosion of running and walking groups fueled mostly by baby boomers there seems to be ample avenues to trek along on ones way to enjoying the marathon and 5k life. For me there is no better way to enjoy the weekend.Participating in racing events has given new spark to my life.
Im not a run fanatic or a speed walker and I never bothered with training progeams. Instead i prefer to tailor my own regiment. It worked for walking but somewhere along my way i joined to many run groups.  I not only pushed myself to hard to have a runners time while walking i demanded it. Ive paid the price with a sore knee. Now Im back on track as i resolve to walk the rest of the season like i originally planned. My body had to remind me I walk with purpose for causes and people while obtaining better health for myself.
As i enter into the month of October I have two weeks rest then it is another 5k before i begin the training schedule for a few half marathon. I want a light holiday season because surpassing my limits would set me back and i really dont want that to happen.The number of entries i submit to end of the year races could all change. I will have to see how well my workouts progresses. One obstacle i find hard to overcome is leisure walking. It seems i either push to hard to stay on other peoples pace or walk to slow trying not to over heat. I'm making it my mission to learn the art of pacing. In the meantime I might catch up on some things i put off so i could walk it wont be easy as my heart is truly on the road. Dreaming of walking some distance somewhere. I might be experiencing withdrawls!