So these days I look forward to runs because I’m not in training. I can run whatever I want and mostly I choose to run 3 miles because it’s fast, easy and enough to make me feel like I did something. Today it was 25 degrees so I layered up probably just shy of too many layers but it was ok. I headed out knowing they were running the Frosty Half Marathon which goes right past the end of my neighborhood on two sides. I wasn’t sure I’d see the beginning or any runners at all since it was past 8 o’clock. When I got to the end of my street one of the race volunteers laughed and told me to join the race and run in the other direction. I giggled and told her I would be first….yeah for about 5 minutes until they caught up to me! So down the road I go and there are cop cars with their lights on which tells me they haven’t started yet. BONUS! I’ll see the beginning of the race and maybe i’ll stop to cheer. When I see the first runner I decide I’m not stopping to cheer…. I”m running right through the crowd of runners cheering and hollering and giving high 5’s to everyone and that is exactly what I did! It was so much fun! Everyone smiled and gave me a high 5 back and I like to think I helped start their race off on the right foot. The penalty for screaming and running and high fiving is that I lost my breath control for most of the rest of the way home, but it was worth it! I wish I had my Frosty Half hat on today because then it would have at least told them that I was a fellow Frosty alum but no one cares anyway so it’s all good fun. I can’t help myself when it comes to being excited and animated. I’m not very grown up for my age but I wouldn’t change a thing. My son tells me that I need to tone it down at his wrestling matches too. I’m not real good at being quiet but why should I be? I’m animated and loud and sarcastic and funny and that’s what I like best about me. I’ve passed the time where I care what people think of me. I’m past trying to make other people happy all the time. I’ve learned to love life, people and the moments in life, like today, that become something you hold on to. If you get the chance, run through a pack of runners in a race cheering. It’s a refreshing and somewhat exhilarating experience that shakes out the ordinary in a day.
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.
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.
So my friends and I finished the “Run The Year” challenge yesterday. We did all the miles on our own mostly although cumulatively we did some together in race miles and some fun miles too. The last 12 miles we did as a group and it was just great! It was 3 easy miles at breathing pace so we could talk and laugh and just make the most of something fun that we did together. When we finished we took a picture with our medals and felt accomplished and good about ourselves as individuals and as a new group of friends who most definitely will do other things together. We went to dinner, laughed and shared stories and future goals and had ourselves a little celebration of ourselves.
I really like running with friends and feel like I could do so much more with them than I could alone. One of us is a super athlete having run marathons, triathlons, iron man races, brave unique races and just some crazy things. She makes me feel bold and is the reason I consider running something further than a half marathon. Another of us used to smoke like a chimney and has come back from ill health to someone who reminds me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to do. The last of our quartet is someone who makes reminds me that no one can take my cookies away from me and that I deserve to do anything I want to do because this is my life. You see my friends, although they may not know it, are the glue and strength in my everyday life. Each day I know them I realize how fun life can be and how much I have needed friends. These ladies are my special friends and my crazy friends and my supportive friends. They make me strong, make me laugh, keep me realistic but brave and are the piece to my puzzle that has been missing. I love my girls because I am a better person because I know them.
We are the Bad Ass B’s!
Today I did it! I pulled the trigger and signed up for two races that I have been eyeballing. That makes 4 total that I’m signed up for and one left to register for when they open up registration. It’s an inaugural race in VT which sounded nice and although the new ones don’t always have their acts together, they can be run by people who do know what they are doing. It should be fun to find out. I’m more excited because I’m running with my friends and because the VT race which is a 10 miler will be a weekend getaway for the girls!! I don’t really go away much because most of my “getaways” over the years barring a few real vacations and getaways have been simply labelled vacations but were really weekend stays for the kids tournaments. We did what we could while we were away to make it as fun as we could for kids so they have fun memories even though they aren’t Disney every year or the Bahamas or somewhere on a boat. So I’m so excited! Another reason I’m pretty pleased about this new Jam Packed running endeavor is that it’s the most races I’ve run in a year since I started running. I’ve run as many as 3 half marathons that were spaced out but this schedule is as follows:
June 10 mile race, July half marathon, August Falmouth Road Race 7 miles, October Half Marathon ending the year with the new November 7 mile Inaugural race. All in all I will have run 6 races including the half I did in April and 7 if I get ambitious and run one in December too! I feel really strong and super capable so why not strike while the iron is hot and I feel like I can take on the world! So this will keep me busy and focused to keep my miles up and keep up the weights, cycle, resistance bands and Jump Deck to have races that are as good as they can be. I’ve already set my goal for Falmouth this year and I know I can do it and after all….the fact it’s just miles and time sacrificed so I can have fun and the bottom line is:
Runners are friendly people there’s no doubt about it. We support each other during races, on the streets and in the stores. There’s just something wonderful about being part of this friendly group. I almost always say good morning to everyone I see on the road when I’m running. I cheer the ones running up the hill and give kuddos to those who are out early like I am. I find that I run faster when I greet someone or wave to someone I see. Today I passed another runner who made his run look effortless. I hate that because I NEVER feel like it’s that. I look to see if I know them because that would be a different conversation and perhaps a pause in my run like Sunday when I stopped for just a moment to talk with someone I knew walking with her friend. I didn’t know this guy but I said good morning because that’s what I do. It makes me feel good. He too must subscribe to the runner philosophy of philanthropic happiness because he said as happy as could be “Good Morning Runner”….. good morning runner. That was me, The Runner who although a stranger to his world, became a fellow in that instant. Someone who shares struggles and success alike despite their most assured differences on paths that most likely never crossed. I Am The Runner and I am proud to be A Runner. My life changed because of running and it makes me happy and makes me want to share it with as many people as I can. I Am The Runner and I run at ridiculous hours and horrible heat. I run in pain, rain and snow because once you really commit to running it takes on a life all it’s own and becomes like air to you, you need it because without it you would slowly suffocate and die. I Am The Runner and I am strong and beautiful and happy.