I ran Falmouth again this year. This is the second time I’ve run this one. I don’t run it for the medal because they don’t give medals usually as I learned the hard way last year. Come to find out they give medals at this race every 5 years. This year was the 45th running of this bucket list race so guess what I got! Yep a medal! It’s beautiful and so worth the 7 mile struggle over hills in the heat.
ANYWAY… Today was many things. It was definitely all about the bling and the experience. As those of you who know me well understand, I love me a good medal! The race itself is always a hot one which makes it harder than other races. IT took us 25 or so minutes to actually walk from where we hit the main drag TO the starting line because in this race they do a pulse start which just means we set of in groups of like 50 at a time then they wait a minute and send the next group. It spaces us out and helps keep things moving. Even this small detail is just one of the many things that make this my all time favorite race ever! I wasn’t sure my race would be a good one because of the time of month it was. I’m always slow just before the blessed event so I was expecting it to be hard, but went into it just wanting to have fun at the very least. That I did achieve with no problem whatsoever. I wanted to beat my 1:18:15 time from last year and amazingly I did!!! I finished unofficially at 1:15:51! I believe 100% that that accomplishment is directly attributed to all the core workouts I have been doing. It definitely paid off because the hills were a bitch, especially the one at the very end that made 7.1 miles feel like 13.1. Over the 7 .1 miles I was perpetually stuck in a large group of runners the entire way so it was nearly impossible to run swiftly when you’re crowded in. I was grateful that that I couldn’t “take off” because it forced me to run a better more controlled race. Probably why I finished two minutes faster than last year. The feeling of struggling for 7 hilly hot miles seems to fade away as you give that last and final ounce of energy to push up that last horrible hill. When you crest it you can see the gigantic American flag that is hoisted above the finish line by a crane just a hundred yards below. You somehow find strength as people are cheering and shouting and you see the Jumbotron with the life finish line stream for those waiting for their loved ones to cross. The air is electric with excitement and you run to that beautiful painted word on the street “FINISH” that sits under the banner just above that signals the end of your 7 mile journey marked by a stomp on the timing mat to seal your race time. You can’t explain how it feels, you have to experience it yourself.
The Falmouth Road Race organizers, volunteers & medics are outstanding! They should get their own medal for the perfected work of making this race such a smooth well oiled event! I’m not kidding you, it is so well organized, you don’t have to search for porto o potties because there are literally about a hundred in the waiting area. Medics were visible with clearly marked signs at several points along the way ready to help those who needed it,. The police rode bikes along the route to ensure things moved along nicely. The people of Falmouth and friends / family of runners literally just line the streets cheering for you, soaking you with their hoses, giving you oranges and ice and 5 bands set up along the route and played music for us as we passed. There weren’t just a few… there were people that in some places were several rows deep just watching us come through. Some gave high fives (the little kids are my favorites to high five. They are wonderful cheerers!) Many blasted the radio, some had cow bells and others had horns. There were so many this year, more than last I thought. Any time I thought I might do some walking beyond just stopping for water I just couldn’t do it because the excitement of being there was compelling. I just cannot say enough good things about this wonderful race.
When you use the word Chaos mostly you think of confusion and craziness that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The gathering spot after the race can only be described as chaos. I’ve never seen or experienced organized chaos until I ran Falmouth. So many people all in the same spot but it’s oddly and strangely organized. From the pick up letters at the back of the field where families go to meet runners to the guys handing out the Yasso bars by the way, is by far the best at the end of a hard race! The band and the tent volunteers handing out post race goodies somehow swiftly corral all those people through with no waiting line. The whole race was start to finish amazing and something that you should do if you want to see how a good race is run. I can’t wait for next year!!
One of my favorite parts of my experience lies outside the race itself. I run this race with my friend Barbara and we stay with our friends Gary and Gail who live in Falmouth. Staying with friends who give you a ride to the busses and fight the crowd to pick you up from the finish line, who feed you and give you a place to lay your head for free absolutely makes the experience just that much better. Running this race with my friend, even though we don’t run together, is the BEST! knowing that I’m sharing something amazing with her is special. Taking selfies and pictures throughout our days there are memories that I cherish. Having someone to share what will become a tall tale that I tell my grandchildren later in life is one of those things that money can’t buy! I really love my running friend(s). This part of the experience and not having to worry about crowded restaurants, overbooked hotels, driving to the start or finding parking or worrying about my belongings while I’m racing turns what could be a crazy stressful weekend into a wonderful weekend of memories instead!
There’s just something peaceful about morning running. Maybe it’s the quiet of the day or the darkness that hasn’t quite conceded to the bright glow of the majestic day ahead. There are not many cars around nor other runners where I am or even people walking dogs. It’s just quiet almost to the point that I can hear my thoughts out loud. I love that first breath in of fresh crisp air that purges my lungs of night air and fills my soul with brightness. It calls me to it, envelops me and makes me its own for 30 minutes of bliss. I can see the glow of a dawning day in the windows of my neighbors and see those who have started their day. I can smell those ambitious enough to cook something that appeals to my palette as I run on an empty stomach thinking about the pancakes and eggs I’ll make when I return. As dawn lights my way, revealing my form I realize this is the best run that I’ve had in many days. I enjoyed it a lot and am happy I didn’t wait until tonight to go. When I run in the morning I have no worries, no problems, no distractions. My phone isn’t ringing, I’m not tied to the internet and I’m not trying to organize anything. It’s just me, in the dark blending in with what remains of the night. Free as a bird and not weighted down by life at this very moment.
Today as I make my way through my neighborhood wondering who knows I’m passing by, my mind is on my race on Sunday. I’m running The Falmouth Road Race and thinking about how the race will go and whether it will be my race. It may not be. Because of the time of the month it may have to just be fun. I’m not expecting it to be a stellar race because I just don’t do well a few days before I get my period. 2-4 days prior, my legs are heavy, it’s hard for me to breathe and it’s just a struggle. Even if it’s a struggle, I’d like to beat last years 1:18. I’m much stronger this year in my core than last year which will be helpful. Nonetheless, if I go into it not expecting too much and not trying to be faster than last year I think it will be fine. Slow it down and I’ll have more fun. My friend who runs this race with me might like company for the entire 7 miles rather than being dumped at the starting line like I usually do. I well know how not fun running alone is so that might be the way to go I think. It’s all about the fun and the experience.
I have had a much more aggressive workout routine now for 10 months. Except for this week that seems like a struggle to get any double sessions in but I’ll just roll with it because Sunday is The Falmouth Road Race and I don’t need to have a exercise injury now simply because I am only giving half effort. Anyway, compared to a year ago, I bike, I run, I do strength training too. In my strength training, I have about 15-20 exercises that I rotate between when I work out, not all of which get done every time. It’s good to switch it up so your body doesn’t ever really plateau. I know continuing with the same exercises is still good but for fat burning it is not. I try to switch it up without building so I don’t use heavy weights or too many reps, just heavy enough to be some work without exhausting me. A few days ago I randomly added a few rounds of boxing to the Tabata workout that I was doing and today I can feel it in my back and chest! My abs have that “Please don’t cough” pleading going on which makes me laugh so hard…but not because it hurts, in a good way. It feels great to be sore because I know I am making improvements which get harder and harder to make the older I get. AAhhh the joys of aging! Next up on my radar is trying something from Les Mills called Body Combat which looks like kick boxing which I suck at but really want to try out! Just gotta keep switching it up!
Today’s blog isn’t about running really as much as it is about a runners mentality and how we sort of avoid judging each other or getting wonked out talking with complete strangers. It’s about a double standard whereby runners have a wide berth to just be who we are while the rest of the world stands in our very critical judgement.
Runners are super friendly for the most part I find. They smile, they help you finish races if you are struggling …or LOST like I was one time and they almost always greet you with good morning or a hello or a supportive “you got this”. I myself say hello to nearly every runner, biker, dog walker that I see on the road. Not everyone is responsive but that’s ok. I don’t find anything weird with talking to a running stranger anywhere or any time.
Today I had an experience as I put together my @cumberlandfarms iced coffee, which has stolen my business from the @HoneyDew_Donuts and @DunkinDonuts crooks who think asking $3.68 for a mostly ice, iced coffee is ok. It’s not but I’m no longer your customer so whatever!
Anyway, I was at the counter mixing my flavor into my coffee and went looking for a lid. I didn’t see one in front of me (couldn’t have looked hard!) so I had to encroach upon the space of this nice girl making her own iced coffee to find a lid in front of her. As I leaned back to put the lid on my treat and realized that I had actually had 3 stacks of lids right in front of me. How did I miss that? I don’t know but moving on…. She said something that sort of eluded to the fact that she may have missed the stacks too or maybe something insinuating that CF didn’t put them in plain sight even though they were. Then came the part that made me feel really wonky. This sweet young bleach blond girl with the tiny little nose ring, no make up and a cute outfit randomly says to me “you look pretty today”. I’m now in the Twilight Zone. She looks at my sundress and says “I like flowers”. I say thank you, she tells me to enjoy my day and I return the sentiment to her. I pay for my coffee and gas and head out to my truck. That’s all there was to it. She was sweet and lovely and simply nice and I got all weirded out by it like she was hitting on me or something. I truly felt out of place and in a rare moment, didn’t know what the hell to say to her. WTF! Why is it that I’m totally comfortable talking about nothing to any running stranger yet a very nice person takes a moment out of her day to try and minimalize my irritation at myself for not finding what I wanted and I’m Wonked out? I’m not weirded out often in situations like that but maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting that conversation to go beyond “Excuse me” and “no problem”. “You look pretty” feels like something I’ve stereotyped coming from a close friend, daughter, mother, co-worker or family member. Maybe we just don’t do things like that enough which is probably what is wrong with this stupid world anyway! So, even though I do not know who she was, I want to thank the nice young girl in Cumberland Farms in Bridgewater MA who was simply as nice as nice could be to me. You made my day and made me want to try to be nicer to some stranger some day soon. Maybe my head is too far stuck up my running butt and I’m only super accepting of runners and critical of the rest of the world. I should watch that from now on don’t you think?
I woke up today and wondered where the truck was that ran me over was. The only thing I did yesterday was run. I ran 3 miles after work, nothing new or difficult or unusual for me. It wasn’t fast or slow, just average for me. Today it felt like I did something out of the ordinary, enough so that I laid in bed wondering if I really wanted to go work out. I didn’t just wonder if I should run, I wondered if I should even work out. At first I thought I would go work out but if I do Tabata I like to have at least an hour in which to spend working all my junk out. So I kicked my ass into my running clothes and when I was finished getting my husband ready for work and making his breakfast I headed out. I decided to run a harder route but one that I’ve run before. It started with a big ass hill which always makes you feel awesome once you crest the top of it. As expected, mile 1 was slow with the typical “why are you doing this” and “you’re super slow, just go home” conversations in my head. The Ukrainian pressed on to finish and as it always does my running knocked the shit out of the tired feeling that was taking over just 30 minutes earlier. Now right now I’m suffering from the post lunch food coma married with the sitting in the sun for :45 minutes slump which has nothing to do with my slow starting morning. I always feel better when I go for a run when I’m tired in the morning. Not every run is great or even good for that matter but every run that happens when your just tired always ends up with me being happy that I went and much more awake. I’ve never been sorry that I’ve gone for a run tired because I feel not only stronger but better and healthy and good. The mental happiness from running is ridiculously addictive and makes me want to do more following every time I buckle down and just get it done. If you don’t love it, don’t do it but do find something that you do love and do that. Strive to be as healthy as you can and as strong as you can every day.
On Saturday I did my long run. It was 8 miles for some undetermined reason that popped in my head. I have a 7 mile race in two weeks so if I was truly “in training” mode I would have just run 5 but I wanted to keep my miles up for long runs above 7. Maybe it’s random or maybe I’m stepping into a better, more experienced runner. I’m going with the first answer because well, you’re always hardest on yourself. So I invited my wingman to ride while I ran and he agreed. I like it when he goes because he talks to me, encourages me, holds my water and keys and food should I need any or all of those things. We run 4 and with every mile I feel better.
Mile 1 for me always feels like a challenge as I prime my joints and warm up into the pace I’ll hold onto most of the run. At 4 we decided to hit the local convenience store for more fluids. Wingman can drink all my hydration in an innocent gulp and we were a little low because of it. So at four miles he told me to wait while he biked the less than quarter mile to get our replenishment. I walked that way to keep moving and then we walked back to our stopping point. We fueled and then set off but no sooner had we embarked on our return journey it began raining. At first it was light rain then heavier and by the time we were a mile into the 4 mile return trip, it was down-pouring on us. I am accustomed to running in the rain as I’ve done it many times and in many different types of rain from Forest Gump “big ol’ fat rain” to driving rain to torrential downpours. I in fact like rain running because it makes me feel strong and tough and cool actually…cool like temperature cool but the other kind as well. As we moved along my wingman started off complaining about being wet and his pants and underwear getting wet and water in his eyes. Not long into the rain, which didn’t continue in the downpour way for long, he began to realize that it was kind of fun getting wet. When did kids forget the fun in getting wet? Remember jumping in puddles and standing with your face to the sky and your tongue hanging out catching rain drops? I do. Every time it rains and I get caught in it, it makes me smile. James came round and was laughing and woo-hooing all the way home and it made me laugh inside to see him having a good time with his soggy pants and shoes. He even took off his shirt that was weighing him down and said that we should do this more often…. Yes Buddy we should. We all should! There’s just something peaceful about being in the rain that if you can get your mind there, is calming and happy and joyous especially when shared with someone.
Just WTF! I need a new watch! I just have to break down and buy one because mine is dying. First I cracked it, then it stopped syncing properly and now it won’t even record a run. It goes to that screen and connects to the GPS but then it won’t turn on. It must have gotten wet on Saturday when my wingman and I did 8 miles and got drenched in a downpour on the second 4. GRRRR but that’s fine because I have the Map My Run app on my phone so I turn her on, flip my watch off and away I went. All is well, I’m kind of struggling through tired legs in mile one but nothing I’ve not worked through before. Today it’s cold but with every step I’m warming up and waiting for my assistant to start reading off my stats. Now she tells me I’m at a mile before I know that I’m at my true 1 mile mark. Ok, it wasn’t far off so I stop the app and and stretch my shins that are protesting a bit. I don’t stop long and head on my way through mile 2. That is where the arguments began with the stupid app. As I approached somewhere in the vacinity of 1.75 miles she lowers my music and announces that I’m at mile 2. NO I’M NOT you stupid lady in my phone! Now I’m irritated but all i really need to know is the time because I know the distance by heart. Whatever, I keep going pausing just for a few seconds to again stretch my shin then move along to finish mile 3. The thing that bugs me is that she tells me I have these rediculously fast times that i know I can’t hit. Irritating. Half way through mile 3 she says I’m at 3- LIAR! It doesn’t matter really, just bugs me. So now I need a new watch and potentially a new app as backup. The run was ok overall but just took my mind off my running focus. Some days it’s just the little things that drive you crazy especially when it’s the stuff that you rely on to keep tabs on your progress.