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Another weekend, another 5K. What can I say? We’re in love.

This time, it was the JayDoc 5K in support of the JayDoc Free Clinic. JayDoc is a student-run dental care clinic that provides non-emergency urgent and preventative care to uninsured and under-insured people in Kansas City. A great cause, right?! Since the cause benefited a student-run clinic, most of the participants were students who were almost all younger than us. We weren’t too intimidated, though: these races, at this point, aren’t about competing against other people. They are about competing with ourselves to do better than we did last time.

The race began at the Kauffman Memorial Garden and headed west along Brush Creek, turned around on the west end of the Plaza, headed back towards the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, and finished at the starting location. It was a fun course – I’d never been on the portion of the Brush Creek trail west of Kaufffman, and the Discovery Center is where I walk almost every day during work. The weather was perfect – about 50 degrees and sunny – if not a bit windy.

Besides the great cause, fun route and good weather, Mr. Awesome and I ran our best races to date!

Mr. Awesome finished 40th out of 76 participants, with a time of 25:25 – that’s 1:25 better than his previous best time! He told me that he didn’t think he was going to finish in as good a time as he did, because the running was a bit hard at first. But he was able to keep a good pace and it paid off in the end.

I finished 69th out of 76 participants, with a time of 36:40 – that’s 1:16 better than my previous best time! I focused on a couple of things. First, I really tried to stay positive and have fun. I smiled at people, said (breathlessly) hello to people as I encountered them, and kept a good attitude. I must say that improved the experience tremendously. Second, I tried to keep a good pace. When I knew I was slowing down, but was comfortable, I tried to speed up again. I kept constant assessment of my breathing and speed, adjusting to the needs of each. The end result was that I tried to push myself just a little more, and it shaved time off my PR.

YAY US!

No pictures from this one. Maybe next time…

… which will be the Thanksgiving Day Pilgrim Run in Hyde Park. Can’t wait!

This past Sunday Mr. Awesome and I participated in the Cliff Hanger 5K in the Northeast neighborhood of Kansas City, along historic Cliff Drive.

But before that…

Friday night we headed to Alamo Drafthouse (best theater in the universe) to see Ender’s Game. It was really good. So were the pickle fries and chocolate chip cookies. :)

Saturday we went to Garry Gribble’s Running Sports to pick up our race packets for Sunday’s Cliff Hanger run. What a great store. I took the opportunity to talk to a running shoe expert about a problem I’ve been having: after about 2.5 miles of running, my left foot goes numb, like it’s asleep. I read it could be caused by my shoes being too tight, as after a bit of running one’s feet can swell. My current shoes are Brooks PureConnect2 – they have a high arch, which I love, but are also pretty narrow, which could be causing the numbness. The expert talked to me about my options, and had me try on several pairs of shoes with each other – kind of a “better one, better two” scenario, but with left and right feet. In the end, he introduced me to the Saucony Kinvara 4:

They fit great – lightweight, wide toe box, a good arch, some spring. I didn’t buy them… I wanted to sleep on it.

After picking up our packets, we hit some stores in Overland Park – Penzey’s, the yarn shop – before heading to RA Sushi for happy hour, Ben and Jerry’s for dessert, and REI for some wishful imagining.

Sunday morning, we got up bright and early for the run. Dressing in layers was essential, as it was pretty chilly outside. There was an 8K race before the 5K, so lots of people were already around.

We started the race at about 9:20am. The course took us along Cliff Drive, which is closed to cars on weekends. It was an out-and-back course, meaning that you run halfway out, turn around and run back the way you came.

Leader of the pack!

There were a few hundred participants in this race, and Frank lead most of them!

But I held my own…

Making my move…

…like an running outlaw-ninja!

See that woman behind me? She’s a race walker. More on here later.

The course was way hillier than it looked. The first half was downhill halfway, then uphill to the turnaround… so the second half was downhill halfway and uphill to the finish. I really tried to push myself, but it was hard!

Truth time: I got a little crabby on the course. I snapped a sarcastic, “good for you!” at a woman who ran past me with a friendly, “pulling ahead!” I’m not proud of that. Running is hard, but it’s also supposed to be fun. I’m going to work on my attitude as well as my time in future races.

I digress.

Frank ran an excellent race.

Focused.

He finished in his best time ever – 26:40! This is over 1:30 faster than his last race! Here are his other stats:

  • 54th out of 316 finishers
  • 37th out of 126 male runners

And… he finished 3rd in his age group, so he gets a prize! We didn’t stay for the awards ceremony, so we’re going to pick it up at Garry Gribbles this weekend (I think it’s a shirt). I’ll also probably get my shoes – yay!

As for me…

I maintained a steady pace, in spite of the hills.

The race walker passed me at about the halfway point, and remained ahead for the remainder of the race. She crossed the finish line a few seconds before me, prompting the announcer to say, as I crossed the finish line, “that race walker walks faster than some of these runners, folks.” That sort of pissed me off. But looking back, it really is pretty cool that a race walker in her late 60s/early 70s can out-walk runners.

My goal for upcoming races: beat the race walkers.

In the end, I finished in 37:54 – one second slower than my last run. Damn those hills!

“I’m gonna throw up!”

My other stats:

  • 196th out of 316 finishers
  • 101 out of 190 female runners

Not bad, really. I would have liked to improved my time, but the fact that I did as well as my last race with added hills is pretty good.

We’ve got two more runs on the books – the Pilgrim Run on Thanksgiving Day, through Hyde Park, and the Christmas Light 5K in North Kansas City on December 14th.

Exciting!

The trees are like fireworks. Such brilliant color… So many shades combined by shadows and sunlight and swirling wind. It’s truly remarkable.

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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 course was like so:

marathon

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.

Breakfast of champions!

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!!

Finished in record time!

The next morning, I read about this guy in the paper:

He ran the marathon while knitting a record-setting 12-foot-long scarf.

Challenge accepted!

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!

Consuming fuel.

The race started at 8am. The other runners and I headed off (I’m on the left side of the picture with a goofy grin).

The sign says “Finish” on both sides. Must be easier that way.

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.

Here I am just before the 2 mile mark:

Go, me!

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.

Here I am crossing the finish line…

I look like I just ran a race.

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!!

Here I am getting my timing chip cut from my shoe:

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!

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!

Mr. Awesome took a great photo of me crossing the finish line:

Superstah!

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:

Go go go!

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 delicious chili ready to be eaten for dinner. It was delicious.

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.

map

Check out that elevation change – a 210 foot change. That’s serious business for a novice runner.

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…

This week I’ve been attempting to cut out processed foods and sugar. Not easy, but aside from my Better Oats oatmeal for breakfast and Starbucks soy lattes, I’ve been successful. Here are my last two dinners:

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This is seared salmon on top of a spicy tomato balsamic sauce, and roasted broccoli with prosciutto.

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This is whole wheat spaghetti with organic no-sugar-added tomato sauce, and roasted broccoli with little tomatoes.

Good, good stuff.

It’s so easy to eat better this time of year, when the veggies are plentiful and using the oven or stove makes it hot in the house, so fresh is better. But when winter comes, and all I want to do is bake and snuggle up with hearty dishes… that will be a challenge I’m looking forward to facing!

I’ve been away… doing things… living life.

Spent a glorious week in Colorado. Vail is exceptionally beautiful.

Ate some terrific meals in Kansas City and out of Kansas City.

Planted heirloom tomatoes in containers on my deck. They didn’t do so well – suffered from blossom drop – until some fertilizer kicked in. As of last week, I have about a dozen little green tomatoes trying their hardest to grow into plump, juicy Brandywine, Black Krim and Nebraska Wedding tomatoes. Which I will then make into caprese salad.

I love caprese salad.

School has started again. I’m taking my last class. C’est Francais. Merde.

Going to a movie tonight.

Dinner tomorrow.

Who knows what else.

Until next time…

During the second week of April, Mr. Awesome had an opportunity to attend a conference in Orlando, Florida, and I got to tag along. The weather was perfect, and we made the most of our time with lots of fun, food and relaxation.

Day 1:

That’s a big-a meat-a ball!

Day 2:

  • Mr. Awesome attended conference sessions, and I got a pedicure and spent most of the day by the pool, reading A Game of Thrones.

My day was spent under the umbrella in the middle. Divine.

  • Dinner at Downtown Disney’s Bongo’s Cuban Cafe. The food was surprisingly good. Beautiful night to walk around.

 

Day 3:

So pretty!

Bella note.

  • Lunch in France at Chefs de France, followed by dessert at Les Halles. At lunch, the “chef” – Remy from Ratatouille – toured the dining room on a cheese tray. It was great!
  • Dinner at a ho-hum restaurant in Italy, Via Napoli.
  • At some point during the day, my phone decided to stop functioning properly. Sadness.

 

Day 4:

  • Had to get the phone replaced – new iPhone 5.
  • The Magic Kingdom! What an incredible and memorable day. They made the day feel so special – three parades, lots of characters, good food – everything was amazing. We walked in right as a parade was passing by – just in time to see Mickey!

The first parade…

The second parade…

This guy.

The third (and my favorite) parade!

  • Mastering the FastPass system was easy – we didn’t wait in line more than 15 minutes for any attraction.
  • Favorite attractions: Space Mountain (we surprised ourselves by going on it in the first place. It’s terrifying, but fun), Haunted Mansion, Swiss Family Treehouse, Hall of Presidents.
  • Lunch at the newest restaurant, Be Our Guest. The restaurant is designed to be like Beast’s castle in Beauty and the Beast, and it was so cool! The food was good, and very reasonable.
  • Dinner was the best hot dogs we’ve ever had, at The Launching Pad in Tomorrowland.
  • The Electric Light Parade was my very favorite experience – when I was a kid, I had a picture book of the parade, with a record that played the theme song as I flipped through. The parade this time had the same music, and some of the same floats from my book. It was incredible.

My favorite float!

Main Street at night.

The picture that pretty much sums up our experience at Disney World.

Day 5:

  • Headed to Cocoa Beach before catching our return flight home.

Beautiful day.

The trip was a memorable adventure. Orlando is a great place, and we’d go back again should the opportunity present itself in the future. As for Disney World, I went when I was eleven (with my family), at sixteen (with a showchoir camp) and now in my thirties. I can honestly say that I had the most fun on this visit. So, so much fun.