Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds

I guess I wasn’t kidding when I wrote at the beginning of 2012 that I needed something to keep running interesting (hence last year’s 52 Weeks, 52 Runs). Two months into 2013 and in the absence of a bona fide wallet-busting, sleep-depriving challenge, I have not only slowed down on the blogging front (wrist slap), but also on the thing I am supposed to be blogging about.

I’m thinking I should rename this blog Stride and Tumbleweeds.

Tumbling tumbleweeds

It’s probably faster than me over 5K.

In keeping with the modern tendency to blame our failings on anyone/anything but ourselves, I have come up with the five causes of my recent lack of Stridery.

1. Winter

I ran in some truly biting New England conditions last year, but there was nary a snowflake let alone two feet of accumulation necessitating six hours of shoveling. We were supposed to run the Frozen Pilgrim 10K in Plymouth, MA, the weekend after Nemo turned my front yard into this:

Snowstorm Nemo

Nemo comes to town.

The Sunday of the Pilgrim we were hit with another storm, and conditions were perilous. We had optimistically picked up our packets the day before, but when we looked outside the morning of, we realized it wasn’t going to happen. Amazingly, the run went ahead, but everything about the conditions screamed “danger!” so we decided not to go. It takes a lot for Hubby to turn down a run.

A week later, the Half at the Hamptons was also canceled days in advance due to forecasts of another weekend storm (third in a row). Hubby dutifully went and picked up his T-shirt at the event the race directors held to make up for the disappointment. Sadly, the weather turned out to be OK (if still slightly miserable) on the day, but the organizers made the right call.

We’re beginning to amass quite the collection of shirts for which we didn’t do the run (there are also a few from last year). I’m not sure what to do with them. If I wear them, even in the house, I feel like a fraud.

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The inside story: 1st Veterans Inc. Indoor Half-Marathon and 5K

I guess it was a bit too much to expect that we’d get two nice, mild Northeast winters in a row. Granted, I’m not running races outdoors every weekend these days now that I’m done with the 2012 challenge, so I’ve been spared some of the horrible coldness of winter ’13. But not all of it. So when Hubby signed us up for the 1st Veterans Inc. Indoor Half-Marathon, Marathon Relay and 5K in Hartford, Ct., I was excited by the idea of a winter run that didn’t involve numb feet and 50,000 layers of clothing.

Apart from being my first-ever indoor race, this also checked off another box: It was my first event in Connecticut, bringing my U.S. running states total to nine. Yay! (My U.S. states travel total is 41, but that’s another story.) It was also for an amazing cause. Veterans Inc. is the largest provider of services to military veterans and their families in New England, helping out with housing, reintegration, employment, etc. There are very few other causes that would entice me to run a race with only six other people …

Veterans Inc Indoor Half-Marathon

My competitors in the 5K.

That’s right, I said six. The organizers of this half-marathon/marathon relay added a “no-frills” 5K at the last minute, and it didn’t attract much of a crowd. I initially wasn’t thrilled with the idea of being so, er, on display, or by the prospect of coming last. But like I said … good cause.

The run was on the concourse level of the XL Center in Hartford. So for the 5K, that meant 15 laps. That’s 15 times running past concession stands that normally sell beer and pricey hot dogs. And 15 swings by the small crowd of half-marathon spectators who had gathered. They were very polite and applauded every time I ran by. I wasn’t sure what to do. Smile? Wave? Smile and wave?

About five laps in, my face was on fire. I’m talking full-on inferno. It was crazy hot on the concourse track, and despite wishing there were beer stops each of the 15 times I ran by one of the closed concessions, it was not to be. There were 15 water stops though. I kept sneaking in a walk at the other side of the loop, away from the audience, but there was a lone medic there to witness my shame. About seven times. Oh well.

I was dying of heat exhaustion by the time I got to the final lap, having realized about 25 minutes earlier that I was overdressed for the occasion (note to self: no tights indoors), but I somehow managed to squeak under 30. Again.

And I didn’t come last! OK, so I was five of seven. But I’ll take it…

Veterans Inc Indoor Half-Marathon

Crowd gathers for the start of the half-marathon and marathon relay.

Oh, and Hubby, who decided to do both the 5K and the half that day (the only person to do that) won his first 5K ever. The half had considerably more participants, and it was dizzying fun to watch them do their 64 laps.

This indoor-racing business in the middle of winter is genius. For those in the area, Veterans Inc. is having another one of these, Dec. 28 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA. You should all go.

The event: 1st Veterans Inc. Indoor Half-Marathon and 5K
The location: Hartford. Ct.
The date: January 26, 2013
My time: 29.55
Hubby’s time
: 20.22 (5K) / 1.32 (half—a PR too!)
The T-shirt:
None for me; army green tech tee for the halfers
The cause: Veterans Inc.

Down with it: Second Quincy Frozen 5K

There wasn’t any doubt that Hubby and I were going to do the second Frozen 5K in Quincy, MA. For one thing, it’s right in our ‘hood, meaning we only had to drive for 10 minutes in order to be there 90 minutes before the start. For another, it is hosted by our YMCA, where we go every Tuesday night to be lovingly tortured by our trainer, Mary, in a class called Strength and Stride. Mary and most of our classmates were also doing this run.

And then there’s the fact that I couldn’t pass up a second stab at one of the most glorious downhills ever. Here’s what I said about it last year …

“… Which brings us back to the delicious descent that helped me feel so (briefly) speedy. Momentously, I had to stop for a couple of seconds at the bottom because I was going too fast, and was perilously close to falling down. But I stayed upright and posted a significantly improved personal record. In a shocking twist, I even felt as though I could go a little farther.

Hills, I think perhaps I have been too hard on you.”

OK, so I was obviously experiencing some kind of delirium when I wrote that final bit. But there’s no doubt that it was an epic descent.

2nd Frozen 5K Quincy start

Chilly, but the clouds burned off just before the start.

Seeing as I’d done this run before, I had a pretty good idea of how it was going to go down. Although, this time I had an audience so I wanted to put in a shame-free showing. But I was feeling crabby beforehand, and my IT band was still giving me gyp, so I didn’t have high hopes. (When do I ever have high hopes?)

The first mile was slow. I want to say it was because I was saving my reserves for the other side of that glorious descent, but, no, I was just slow. I started running with one of my Y classmates, but she was worried she’d hold me back and was keen to run her own race, so I slowly inched ahead. (I know how she felt; I’ve only run a handful of races with a buddy. I like to work alone.)

The second mile was better. Not in-the-zone better, but better.

The final mile contained the aforementioned hill, which looked like this:

ghgjhgjhg

Trust me, it’s steeper than it looks.

I would have snapped a picture as I was hurtling down the other side, but I was, er, too busy hurtling down the other side. The nice thing about a race you’ve run before is that you know exactly where it’s going to finish. (Better than a GPS any day.) It meant I could go like a bat out of hell over the final quarter of a mile. So bat-like was I that I somehow managed to squeak in under 30 minutes again for only the second time ever. I was very excited. My triumph was extremely hill-assisted, but I’ll take it.

The event: Frozen 5K
The location: Quincy, MA
The date: January 6, 2013
My time: 29.56
Hubby’s time
: 19.37
The cause: South Shore YMCA
The T-shirt: No T-shirt for me (I registered too late)
The aftermath: Bananas, oranges, chowder, Subway

I ran 52 races last year and all I got was…

… this massive T-shirt collection (nothing lousy about it, really).

Here they are, in all their frequently ill-fitting glory. This represents the sum total of all the shirtage from last year’s 52 Weeks, 52 Runs challenge. Yep, this is just 2012. There’s more from 2011 here. I love seeing what race directors come up with, hence my obsession with posting pictures of shirts.

Unfortunately, this also chronicles just how badly the majority of these fit me. I believe I have enough bedwear to last me the next three decades. From the 50 shirts I got last year (we missed out on a couple because we signed up too late), a few stand out. So, for the two of you who may be interested, herewith my Top 5, er, tops.

1. Shark Weekend 5K
2. Feaster Five
3. Super Sunday 5
4. Wineglass Half-Marathon
5. Stowe 8-Miler

Honorable mentions, because I love the graphic and color but won’t ever be able to wear them outside: Prone 5K, St. Charles Children’s Home 5K.

Because one New Year’s run is never enough: Lowell 1st Run + Millennium Mile

I’ve been thinking a lot about a possible “challenge” for 2013. Twelve half-marathons in 12 months, perhaps? A race in every U.S. state? A 5K every day? 2,013 miles in 2013? A marathon? A triathlon? A new Lululemon outfit every week? (OK, that last one is just wishful thinking.)

But so far I haven’t stumbled upon something that I feel like I can actually achieve. I have a half-marathon in March, so I’ll need to get my butt into gear for that, but I like writing about training about as much as I like doing it (which is to say not at all). So for now, I’m just going to keep running occasional races and writing about them. And who knows, I might run into something huge along the way …

After polishing off 52 races in 2012, I was ready to take a big old rest from running. I had already accumulated enough T-shirts to outfit a small country, and I was looking forward to getting my weekend mornings back. Which of course is why Hubby and I decided to start 2013 … with two races in one day. Makes perfect sense, yes?

First Run 2013 starting line

Lining up for the start of the First Run in Lowell, MA.

New Year’s Day race #1

We ran the 1st Run in Lowell, MA, last year in unseasonably warm temperatures. Some of you may recall this post! I remember being overdressed for the occasion and wondering how on earth my face could be so red despite the winter(ish) temps. (Very little has changed.) Still, it was a great run and we were excited to be doing it again.

The weather was much more predictable this year (read: nasty cold), which means I wasn’t as convinced of the merits of running at all. There had been snow over Christmas that had frozen into menacing ice, and I had mental images of spending a large amount of time on my butt. The start/finish was particularly perilous. Like I don’t have enough impediments already.

First Run 2013

The roads were pretty clear, thank goodness.

First Run 2013

Spot me! (Photo by Ted Tyler)

Anyway, I had the customary 90 minutes of pre-race wait time (thankfully in cozy quarters) to talk myself back into it, and by the time we lined up I was good to go, albeit freezing and wearing Hubby’s Will Run for Beer series jacket, which made me look like a kid dressed in Dad’s clothing. (I knew I was going to wind up having to take it off, but I refused to let the common-sense side of my brain win over the freezing-my-behind-off-at-the-start side of my brain, so on it stayed.)

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So many half-marathons, so little time

First, a HUGE shout-out to Jill at Jogging Jeans for the fabulous dedication yesterday. Jill is one of my favorite bloggers. She is hilarious and lovingly irreverent, and definitely gets where I am coming from when it comes to running. I can’t imagine that anyone reading my blog wouldn’t have already visited hers, but if you haven’t, do it immediately. I am very excited to meet her in May at the Pittsburgh Half. You should come and join us!

OK, back to business…

While I was turning many shades of red and cultivating my moose-running skills in 2012, my running buddy, a.k.a. Hubby, a.k.a. Mr. I Finished 20 Minutes Ago, a.k.a. guest blogger extraordinaire, was running 21 half-marathons. That’s right, 21. He initially committed to 12 in 2012, but got so into it that he wound up switching the digits. I think that deserves a moment, don’t you?

It’s pretty good for someone who only started running (and exercising, for that matter) at the end of 2010, when he joined the Massachusetts National Guard and realized he literally needed to get up to speed for the physical fitness test. If he hadn’t caught the running bug, I never, ever would have accumulated so much Lululemon put a toe anywhere near a road race.

Did I mention how crazy/amazing I think 21 half-marathons is? (This is in addition to a bunch of other distances, including two full marathons. He ran 68 races overall last year.) To celebrate, here’s some bib action from ’12, but it’s clearly not all of them. (Who knows what happened to those.)

bibs

Bibapalooza!

For the record, here are the 2012 half-marathons. They are all amazing races, should you feel so inclined to partake in one or two – or 21 – in 2013. The ones that are asterisked he is either already registered to run again, or they’re in his plans. Those with a double asterisk I am “running” too.

Smuttynose Palooza Indoor Half-Marathon 2012 (sadly, this one is not being repeated)
*Half at the Hamptons
*Quincy Half Marathon
**NC Half Marathon at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Great Bay Half Marathon

*Lake George Half Marathon

Twin Lights Half Marathon
*Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon
*Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon
*Bands on the Run
**Mad Half Marathon
*Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon
The Building Center YuKanRun Triple Threat Series
**Sea Wheeze Lululemon Half Marathon
*Applecrest Half Marathon
Run to the Rock 1/2 Marathon

Oceans Run Half Marathon

Leaf Peepers Half-Marathon

*Anthem Richmond Half-Marathon

* Wolf Hollow Half Marathon

Santa Hustle

It’s a wrap! A year of running mayhem, by the numbers

Farewell, 2012! Farewell, crazy running challenge! It was a great year, not only because I accomplished a big goal but, more importantly, because I came to meet and know some fabulous people. Thanks again to everyone who read this blog and supported me in various ways throughout the year. You all rock.

I’m not sure yet what the new year will bring, but I’m working on figuring it out, and looking forward to sharing my adventures with you. In the meantime, here’s a little 2012 graphical wrap-up, just for fun. Happy 2o13!

Stride and Joy 2012 Wrap-up