Category Archives: 52 Weeks, 52 Runs

52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 47: Grrrrrr

There are so many Turkey Trots around this time of the year that we decided to go against the grain the weekend before Thanksgiving and run a Tiger Trot. Those cooked-turkey hats scare the crap out of me, but tigers are OK. Not that there were many people sporting novelty headwear at this small event in Hampton Falls, near Exeter, NH (which seems like our second home these days). There was, however, a tiger mascot doing the rounds, as well as a priceless kid stumbling about in a fuzzy Dunkin’ Donuts costume that was far too big for him (he had to look out the arm hole). I don’t know what I was thinking, but I failed to snap a photo. You’ll just have to imagine the hilariousness.

Tiger Trot

Check out that sky!

Hosted by the Lincoln Akerman School, the Tiger Trot had lots of kids and parents, and a fun community atmosphere. I love these kinds of runs. There was a 5K and, oddly, a 10 miler, which was pretty adventurous given that this was a first-time event with a smallish crowd (although they had a pretty good turnout, considering). I ran the 5K, and Hubby the 10 mile. I don’t think I was mentally ready for another 10 after my last disaster over that distance (although I have run a half since then).

I would normally insert my customary weather rant here, but it was actually a gorgeous day for a run. My ideal running weather window is definitely anything between 3 and 10 degrees Celsius (36-50 F for all my American friends). Got to be sunny though. I’d happily run in those conditions all year round.

My performance expectations were high. After all, last time I did a 5K, I set a PR by more than 20 seconds and ran under 30 minutes for the first time. I just assumed that now I had managed that once, my legs and lungs would naturally rise to the occasion and let me do it again.

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 46: In your face, 30 minutes!

Much like running itself, I am hot and cold on blogging. Sometimes I appreciate it as the wonderful creative outlet that it is, one that I don’t really have anymore in my professional life (I used to write headlines; now I write emails). Other times it’s just a huge pain in the butt, requiring more time and maintenance than I’m willing to give. I’m sure my fellow occasional bloggers would agree that the activity also comes with its fair share of nagging self-doubt. (Where did everybody go?) The blogosphere is a mercurial place to inhabit.

I mention this for two reasons. One is by way of explaining my recent on-again, off-again approach to S&J, which has been driven by my lingering IT injury, work and life busyness, and the reasons I mentioned above. The other is that I was doing a sweep of all the blogs I have followed over the past 12 months and was astounded by how many have just fallen by the wayside. They were good bloggers writing about interesting things who obviously just decided they didn’t have the time for it, or that directing valuable effort to something that, for the most of us, winds up in an internet vacuum is rather a waste. Motivation to write, or run, for that matter, is a tough thing to maintain.

Indeed!

For those of you fabulous folks who have been following me during the year, I haven’t given up. In fact, my run last weekend, No. 46 in the 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge, was my best 5K yet. I have no idea how, and have decided it’s probably better not to think about it too much. The words “course not measured properly” keep entering my mind.

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 45: The mandatory Color Run

It occurred to me soon after I started Stride & Joy that one of the requirements of the runblogosphere is that you MUST participate in at least one Color Run. Two if you want to be taken really seriously.

I kid. I do admit that the run appealed to me. But I’m not sure why. I wouldn’t have thought being sprayed with colorful crap would be that enjoyable. But I was completely sucked in by the marketing: Happiest 5K on the Planet!!! The planet!! The folks on the Color Run website may look like rejects from the Rainbow Brite factory, but they’re all having So. Much. Fun.

The Color Run

A sea of white to start.

Lest you think this is going to devolve into a rant about big, expensive, soulless running events, it’s not (although the Color Run does fall into each of those categories to varying degrees). I did indeed enjoy being covered with colorful crap, OK cornstarch, even though I didn’t emerge from the melee as colorful as I thought I would, and the wave starts took an eternity (diminishing my fun at the outset). The Color Run is expensive, but it does donate to local charities in each city it’s held in, so there’s that. And it gets people out running who may not normally do it, so there’s that as well.

The Color Run

Lovely day for it.

However, mostly what I enjoyed about this event was Hubby’s get-up. When we signed up for the Washington, D.C., Color Run months ago (actually held at National Harbor in Maryland), he declared his intention to do it in a white Root Suit. The run suggests you wear white to maximize the impending colorfulness, so, he figured, why not go the full blanc?

Made sense to me.

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 44: Quick, call the help desk!

Eighteen months ago, if you had asked me what an IT band was, I would have told you it was a group of musically inclined computer nerds. I know better now, of course. Running has, if nothing else, given me a new understanding of bodies, and what they can ­– and can’t – do. Before this 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge, I had never, ever put my own under so much stress. (It’s important to know that prior to my first 5K in May 2011, I would have considered it a huge accomplishment to run for two minutes on the treadmill without stopping.)

This past weekend, we headed to Vermont for the 29th Leaf Peepers Half-Marathon and 5K, timed of course to take in New England’s brilliant fall colors. For the second weekend in a row, it was pitch black when we departed, although this time there were no school buses involved (phew).

Leaf Peepers 5K

Starting crowd. You can’t really tell here, but the fall colors on the hills are lovely.

The first thing we noticed when we got out of the car in Waterbury, Vt., was a tantalizingly sweet aroma hanging in the air. The start line was at the headquarters of Green Mountain Coffee, and it turns out they were brewing their dark roast that morning. Nothing like coffee in vapor form before a run. I was feeling the shame because I got out of the car with an empty cup of Newman’s Own from McDonald’s, but then we discovered that Newman’s Own is brewed by Green Mountain, so all was forgiven. We also got vouchers for free cups of coffee, of which we availed ourselves after the run. Talk about a caffeine-fuelled adventure.

Alas, all the coffee in the world couldn’t help me out on this particular day. The weather was perfect (cloudy and 7C/44F to start), and I had high hopes again that all my summer running would pay off and I’d finally finish in under 30 minutes. My start was fast (for me), and I felt good …

Leaf Peepers 5K

This way to Camel’s Hump. I have no idea what that is.

That was before the pain in my right knee.

Uh oh.

It was a vaguely familiar pain. I felt it around mile 10 of the Wineglass Half-Marathon last weekend, too. But I had chalked it up to my body reacting to an unfamiliar distance, and finished the run without incident. I stretched a little afterwards and went to my regular Strength and Stride class at the Y during the week. I thought my knee still seemed miffed, but I chalked that up to ongoing recovery and put it out of my mind.

That is, until mile 0.75 of the Leaf Peepers, when mild knee annoyance turned into full-blown knee rage. Concurrently, my right hip decided to also join the pity party. I knew these were the telltale indicators of an unhappy IT band, Hubby having gone through his own IT woes last year. Crap.

Not interested in pushing myself while parts of my body were staging a protest, I slowed. Every few minutes or so I’d try to pick up the pace, but the pain would pop up again. I didn’t want to tempt a full-blown knee revolt, so I walked for the last two miles, with a few minutes of lame jogging here and there. I did run across the finish because I have never not done that, even on the toughest run.

Leaf Peepers 5K

This is where we walk.

Funny thing is, I felt OK with the walking because I knew it was for a tangible reason and not because I was a loser with no endurance. And, I kept reminding myself, I had done a half-marathon the week before. If only that could have been on the front of my shirt. Like those bumper stickers that say, “My Other Car Is a Corvette,” my T-shirt would read, “My Other Run Is a Half.”

Leaf Peepers 5K

Coffee and maple syrup awards!

I was scheduled to do the Tufts 10K for Women the next day but decided to opt out; it’s the first time I have done that since I started this challenge at the beginning of the year. I’m still on track though, as we have done a number of two-run weekends. I have no doubt I’ll reach my goal, even if it’s at walking speed, and I plan to get my naughty knee/hip seen to this week. I was taking next weekend off anyway as we’re escorting my Aussie parents to New York and Washington, D.C. I’ll report back.

By the way, while I was limping through my run, Hubby was doing his 18th half-marathon of the year. He began 2012 with a goal of one half every month, but has far surpassed that and now has his eye on 20 by Dec. 31. Impressive, no?

The events: Leaf Peepers Half-Marathon and 5K
The location:
Waterbury, Vt.
The date: October 7, 2012
My time: 38.38
Hubby’s time:
1.38.47
The cause:
Vermont flood relief
The T-shirt:
Blue long-sleeved cotton
The aftermath: Bananas, bagels, cheese

52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 43: My second half-marathon. I’ll drink to that!

I have been known to whine about running. This past weekend, my running was all about wine. It was bound to happen eventually.

Wineglass Marathon

“It’s just a 5K with a 10-mile warm-up.” Heehee.

We had been very excited about the Wineglass Marathon and Half-Marathon in Corning, NY (the town that glass built). Not only was this point-to-point event associated with sparkly adult beverages, it promised a mostly downhill route. That’s right: wine, and hills at the good angle. It was already my favorite run. The fact that it was another half-marathon had somehow managed to escape my addled 5K brain until last week. I really wasn’t prepared for it.

We made the 6.5-hour trek from Boston on Saturday to pick up our goodies at the expo. The organizers were clever. They had orchestrated it so the runners collected their packet in one location and their souvenir wine glass and bubbly (that’s right: wine glasses and bubbly!) at a separate spot, in downtown Corning, thus ensuring a steady stream of people that day onto the main street. Genius.

I knew we had to get up before the roosters the next day to drive, park, and hop on a bus to be shuttled to our respective start lines (me: half; hubby: full—his first!). But that advance knowledge didn’t make it any easier when morning came around, neither did getting smooshed on to a smelly school bus in the dark. (My early-morning grouchiness and anti-school-bus sentiment—I have no nostalgia for American school buses, for obvious reasons—are no reflection on how amazingly well this event was organized. It was brilliant all around.)

Wineglass Marathon

It’s waaaaay too early for this!

The half-marathoners were dropped off at a high school a couple of towns over, where we were ushered into the gym to wait (it was 6.30). It was beyond chilly outside (can you believe it?) so I was grateful for the indoor holding pen even though it was rough on the keister (I realized later there was a huge pile of gym mats outside the door that some people had availed themselves of to take a nap; dang my lack of knowledge of American high schools). By the time we were told to line up at the start, I was ready to sleep for a week. An enthusiastic early-morning runner I will never be. How the heck was I going to stay awake let alone upright for 13.1 miles?

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 42: Double trouble

We had originally signed up for the WOW Fest, in Laconia, NH, to run with our friend Courtney. So it was sobering when we arrived last Saturday morning knowing he wouldn’t be there. (In fact, his service was later that day.) But he was on our minds, and he wouldn’t have been happy had we decided not to do the run on his account. (Still pushing us!)

Taking a leaf out of his book, we also completed an event the day after — the Ocean’s Run in South Kingstown, RI. It’s a lovely area, one we hadn’t visited. Something I love about this running business: It definitely gets us around.

WOW Fest

The Laconia Fire Department went all out for the WOW-festers.

Ocean's Run

South Kingstown Town Beach in Rhode Island.

Lululemon arm warmers

This isn’t me and mine are a much more awesome color, but you get the idea.

It’s amazing how much the weather has turned in the past couple of weeks, seemingly in the blink of an eye. It makes me giddy, because not only is it much more comfortable for running, I can now bust out the Lululemon arm warmers I bought at the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon. I can’t say enough about how fabulous these things are. You’re nice and warm waiting around at the start, but then, presto, you roll them down as you start to heat up along the way, and then you’re nice and cool. Arm warmers, where have you been all my life?

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52 Weeks, 52 Runs. No. 41: That familiar feeling

There’s a smorgasbord of runs to choose from every week in New England, so we’d managed to steer clear of repeats from 2011. But I was keen to do one to really get an idea of how much I have improved. Or if I had at all … The Officer Jamie Cochrane Memorial Road Race was perfect. It’s right on our doorstep in Quincy, MA, and last year it had a great raffle and terrific food. All excellent reasons to run. No beer though, but that’s OK. I guess free ale and law enforcement don’t really mix. There were lots of cops around.

This run honors Quincy officer Jamie, who was killed on his motorcycle while off-duty. It’s been going for five years and attracts a sizeable local crowd. Last year I showed up solo (pre-52 Runs, 52 Weeks), so it was great this time to not be the loser sitting by herself on the grass at the end. I talked Cute Dogs & Hugs blogger Tiffany and her hubby into it, as well as my running buddy from the Old Fashioned 10 Miler and Flat 5K, which seems like eons ago. And of course my own hubby was there. It was a merry gathering.

I was particularly merry when I realized the weather was going to play nice. I’m still so shell-shocked from the long hot summer that anything that seems remotely cool is making me completely giddy. I recalled that this course was relatively flat. Hmmm, could this be the day I set a PR (30.02, for those keeping score)? If nuns can’t get me there, maybe cooler weather and trainee cops in formation can …

Jamie Cochrane Memorial Road Race

On your bike!

There was a good amount of pomp and circumstance at this event. The cops rode though the crowd on their fancy bikes and we got a low-level flyover from a helicopter with its sirens blaring. There was also a lovely rendition of the anthem from a cop and his two daughters. I love that kind of stuff. This is an especially poignant race as it involves law enforcement and happens near Sept. 11 (last year it was right on that date).

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