Thursday, October 24, 2013

A new perspective.

This past Saturday, Mr. Awesome and I participated in the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon 5K. What a great experience!

When we arrived in the Crown Center area to park at 6:45am, we were surprised at how many people were already around. Hundreds and hundreds of cars were looking for parking. Luckily for us, the UMKC Hospital Hill campus is a short walk away, so we parked in a nearly vacant lot and walked a couple of blocks to the race area.

When we got to Crown Center, there were so many people. It was hard to tell where the starting line was, and people for the marathon, half-marathon and 5K were all milling around near the buildings to stay warm - upper 30s with no coat is cold!

Eventually, the marathoners and half-marathoners cleared out, as their races started 20 minutes before the 5K. As we made our way to the starting line, we realized that we were a good 2 blocks from it - and there was a sea of people between us and it. So. Many. People.

We prepared our running clothes for the cold weather - I had on running pants, two long-sleeved shirts, and a balaclava. Mr. Awesome had shorts, two shirts, and gloves. Both of us decided we needed more clothes next time - he needs some earmuffs and I need some gloves - but we weren't too bad off. The balaclava saved me - I pulled it up over my mouth and nose like some sort of running outlaw ninja and breathed warm air for the entirety of the race.

It was a little short, though, and didn't cover my neck, so I have since bought a Buff and it works much better.

Anyway.

The race started and there were so many people that it took us about a minute to get to the starting line. Lots of people in matching shirts for various causes, young people, older people, people with strollers, with artificial limbs (! talk about inspiring!), even a dude (?) dressed as Gumby. Hurray for timing chips on shoes - our personal times don't start until we cross the starting mat, no matter how long after the "start" of the race we manage to get across. Mr. Awesome passed me pretty quickly, and I settled into a good pace. I passed lots of people - walkers mostly, but some slower runners, too (I know, right?! I'm not the slowest runner anymore!).

As I passed the first mile marker, my calves were a little tired, but not too bad. Heading up Oak Street was a bit of a challenge, though - it's all uphill! I was lucky enough to be running next to a young woman and her mother. The young woman kept encouraging her mom to do all she could - "Don't look back - it's just a little hill - you got this!" She was encouraging me, too, although she probably didn't know it. About halfway up the hill, I looked ahead and saw Gumby making his way around the corner on 11th Street. You've got to have confidence that you'll finish in a good time to dress up like a cartoon character for a race. Good on him.

I made it to the top of the hill and rounded the corner to 11th Street where the course started going downhill. I passed a couple more people, and some more people passed me. As I ran down Grand towards the finish line, I tried to take in the sights - The Sprint Center on my left, the Power and Light District on my right - running down the middle of streets I've driven countless times was really exciting and gave me a different perspective on the city. And I kept passing people. There were people who would walk a bit and run a bit, and I set mini-goals to pass them when I could. When I reached the finish line, I had no idea what my time was, because the race clock that I saw started when the first 5K runner crossed the mat.

Mr. Awesome met me at the finish. While we originally planned on sticking around to see some of the marathon runners finish the race, we were hungry and instead headed back to the car and drove to The Farmhouse for a really great breakfast.

We shared everything, and all of it was delicious.

During breakfast, we checked the Waddell & Reed Marathon web site for our times.

Drumroll please...

We both shaved a minute off of our best 5K time!

Out of 1,232 timed finishers:

Mr. Awesome finished 251st with a time of 28:18!

I finished 845th with a time of 37:53!

We rocked!!

The next morning, I read about a guy in the paper that ran the marathon while knitting a record-setting 12-foot-long scarf.

Challenge accepted!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Going strong!

Hey - guess what? I ran again this weekend! Mr. Awesome sat out this week because he had some bursitis in his hip and needed a week off. But he still got up bright and early with me last Sunday so that I could participate in the Bill Cross 5K for BackSnack.

BackSnack is a great program: "In the Northland, more than 3,900 children are at risk of going hungry over the weekends. Northland Childhood Hunger Initiative Fund & Harvesters have partnered to provide BackSnack, a backpack filled with nutritious, child-friendly food for these children to take home at the end of the week."

By the way - I really like participating in these 5K events because it's fun to combine exercise, personal accomplishment and great causes.

Before I go into details about the race, we did some other great stuff this weekend, like...

We bought season passes to Worlds of Fun for next year, and as part of the deal, we got to go to the park once this year. So on Friday, we went with our friends The Andersons, who are WoF veterans, after having season passes this year. The park puts on The Haunt in October, and we had a great time. It wasn't as scary as when Mr. Awesome and I went last year, but this year, the thrills came from rides. Last year, we stayed off of them. This year, we rode the Mamba and Patriot roller coasters and the Detonator, all for the first time. I was terrified, but loved them all the same. The Patriot was our last ride and it made all of us dizzy, so we headed home after that.

Saturday found us sleeping in, running errands, and eating dinner at Stroud's. Carb load, y'all.

The race was held at Zona Rosa on Sunday morning. After getting some coffee, we headed to the race site and got prepared. I was number 300!

The race started at 8am. The other runners and I headed off. The race ran through the shopping district, and while I was chilly at first, I warmed up quickly. My asthma was a little touchy at first, but I practiced breathing through my nose and that really helped.

To keep my mind busy, I sang Monty Python's The Galaxy Song over and over:
Whenever life gets you down, Mrs.Brown
And things seem hard or tough
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
And you feel that you've had quite enough

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power

The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour
Of the galaxy we call the 'milky way'

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide

We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point
We go 'round every two hundred million years
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, the speed of light, you know
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is

So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely is your birth
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth

Fun facts - here's an analysis of this song, as it relates to the actual facts, and here's a new version of the song based on biology that Eric Idle wrote for the recent BBC series, The Wonder of Life.

During the race, one particular lady was ahead of me most of the time. She ran for the first part, but eventually started walking. I run pretty slow, so it takes me a bit to catch up with some of the faster walkers. As I would get close to her, she would run just long enough to keep me from catching up for a bit, then start walking again. As we neared the end of the race, I got closer and closer to her as her bursts of running became shorter and slower. There was no way I was going to let this woman finish before I did - I ran the whole race, dagnabit! Rounding the last turns, I kicked it into gear and sped past her, then sped up even more when I saw the finish line - and my finishing time.

So how did I do?

Three weeks ago, I finished my first 5K in 42.03 minutes.

Two weeks ago, I finished my second 5K in 41.44 minutes.

This week, I finished my third 5K in... wait for it... 38.52 minutes!!

Behind me is the walk/run woman I crushed in the final stretch of the race. Let's just ignore that she is ten years older than me, okay?

After the run, Mr. Awesome and I ate breakfast at The Big Biscuit. It was really good! Afterwards, we ran some errands and headed home to clean and rearrange our garage.

It was a full and productive weekend.

This coming weekend is the Waddell and Reed Kansas City Marathon. As part of that, there is also a half-marathon and 5K race, and Mr. Awesome and I are participating in the 5K. It's going to be really, really crowded, and we are so excited! I hope to improve, or maintain my time, but that depends on the temperature, the terrain and the crowds. Whatever the outcome, I think we are going to have a blast!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Still running...

Mr. Awesome and I ran again this weekend, but this time, because I had other plans during the day on Sunday, we ran in two different races.

On Saturday, I ran in the second-annual Heart and Sole 5K to support mental health services provided by Tri-County Mental Health. The run was held at Happy Rock Park, which is "my trail" - the one Mr. Awesome and I walk on at least three times a week. I really love this trail, and was so excited to participate in a run for a good cause on my favorite trail. About 60 people participated, and it was not a timed event. However, Mr. Awesome timed me and I finished in 41:44 - about 15 seconds less than last week!

It was still cold, and my lungs fought back most of the way. I don't have any muscle pain like I did last week (yay!) but I still have some breathing issues (boo!). I'm working through them - breathing through my nose, breathing through a buff or my shirt, drinking warm liquids before and after running, using my inhaler more, etc. I'm hoping as I run more these issues lessen. We'll see...

On Sunday, Mr. Awesome ran in the 17th-annual Gladstone Scarecrow Run 5K to benefit the Northland Christmas Store. The course ran through Gladstone, Missouri neighborhoods and the morning was chilly. Mr. Awesome finished 35th out of 104 participants, with a time of 29:19. This was a few seconds more than last week, but he was running with a sore hip this week.

Heading to the finish line, Mr. Awesome was neck and neck with a young girl who was running just as hard as he was. They finished at exactly the same time.

I watched him finish, then we went our separate ways - I picked up my sister and headed north to visit my dad, and he went home to do lots of things that needed to be done around the house. When I got home several hours later, there was a big pot of chili ready to be eaten for dinner. It was delicious.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wheeze easy.

On Sunday, I participated in my first-ever 5k run, the first annual UMKC Regalia Run. This was the first time I'd run any distance on a hilly surface, and let me tell you - the hills on campus are a total bitch. The course was an out-and-back, meaning that we ran to a halfway point, then ran the course in reverse to get back to where we started.

I had one goal - to run the entire course - and I met it. I ran slow, but I ran the entire 3.2 miles and finished in 42.03 minutes, and finished 149th out of 199 participants.

Mr. Awesome ran the course in 29.04 minutes, and finished 60th overall. He's a natural born runner.

Afterwards, we ate a hearty post-run breakfast at Eggtc. Biscuits and gravy, pancakes, breakfast tacos, coffee, orange juice. Yum.

The run was as hard as I expected it to be. My legs and shoulders still ache two days later. But worse than that is that running in the cool of morning in the outdoors really aggravated my asthma. I've had to use my inhaler more in the last two days than I have in months. Lots of coughing, wheezing, and general chest tightness that I haven't really experienced since... well, high school gym class.

But the run... the finishing... the sense of personal accomplishment... that is worth the wheezing.

I've been reading up on how to run with asthma, and found some great advice at Life's a Wheeze. There's also some great training information at http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/index.html. Jeff Galloway's method is a run-walk hybrid, and apparently works great for asthmatics. We'll see - I'm planning on giving it a closer look this week...

...because I think I might be addicted to this whole running thing. I'm already thinking of entering another 5k this weekend...