Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Solstice Half Marathon- another free TanKa event

Last Sunday my friend Katharine and I put on the Winter Solstice Half Marathon.  During our first ironman training together back in 2006, we put on a half-iron race for ourselves as part of our training. We needed to do a half to test the waters for our ironman, but there weren't any halfs nearby, so we put on our own race.  We called it the TanKa Tri (for Tanya and Katharine).  The name has kinda stuck ever since. 

We put on our free run last weekend at the trails.  Much like the Ho Ho Half we did last month, this event was free, but there was an "entry free" that had to be "paid" upon your arrival.  We asked each participant to bring 4 canned goods to be donated to the Regional Food Bank in OKC.  We figured that the food pantry would likely be drained somewhat for the holidays, so we wanted to help replenish it.  Plus, it's always nice to be able to do something good for your community and give back just a little.  The canned drive was a smashing success with almost 300 canned goods donated to the RFB.  Runners are the best!!

I showed up at the trails about an hour and a half early to get in a few miles before everyone arrived.  It was soooo cold tho.  I ran almost 4 miles but hardly warmed up much. Any exposed skin I had was instantly red and painful.  It was really quite chilly.  Even though I didn't get in quite as many miles as I'd hoped, I was glad to get in some before the group started arriving.
I don't know for sure many people showed up.  I know about 55 were signed up online, but I forgot my camera so we didn't take a group shot before the start.  There were probably close to 40 people total.  Like last time, there was an assortment of snack goods that people brought to share with everyone. Pringles, cookies, some heavenly pretzel peppermint stick creation, fruit, etc.  Biff was sweet and brought a HUGE jug of warm cider that was simply divine (and some rum if you were brave enough), and Rocky brought his iPod and speakers to give us music to bop along to. 

Kat made medals for all the finishers.  Big balls for the half, small balls for the shorter distances. She just used clear ornaments and put glue and glitter on the inside. They all turned out really pretty!!
(photo: Jennifer Fletcher)

Like the Ho Ho Half, there was a sign-in poster where you could keep track of your mileage in case you didn't have a Garmin (13 loops around is a bit much to keep track of in your head).

(photo: Jennifer Fletcher)
There was even that big sweet dog that I see all the time out there (although I don't think he knew he was part of our race).  He always has the BIGGEST sticks in his mouth when he's out there with his owner.  Cracks me up everytime!!
(photo:  Jennifer Fletcher)
All in all we had a blast.  It was VERY cold at the start, but it warmed up to managable temps as the morning wore on.  We had to leave a little early to get to a family function, but  there were still lots of people hanging out when we left.  And look at all these cans we got:
When we got home, the organizing neat-freak in me kicked in and I had to sort them by kind and organize them.  I couldn't leave a mess like that in the back of the car.  Much too OCD for that.
ahhh.... much better
All in all it was another great TanKa success!!  We have another run this weekend:  a New Year's Run.  I have to keep the events's the only way I'm going to make it through these long cold months!
Yours truly hamming it up in my awesome homemade running sweatshirt dress.  I'm going to put a stocking on the front of ALL my running shirts. You have no idea how handy that pocket was.  Kept my inhaler in there, some gels, my car keys, etc.  I only manged to get in 10 miles before we had to leave, but I'm OK with that.  10. 13. Whatever.  Close enough for a non-race.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tulsa Turkey Mountain Half Marathon

I guess running a half marathon doesn't exactly make me an endurance junkie, does it? 
Does it count if it took me as long as some people take to run a full marathon? 
OK- so this race qualifies as an endurance race of mental agility- perhaps not physical longevity.  The race was held on Turkey Mountain in Tulsa.  I've heard things about Turkey Mountain- most of them revolving around the crazy difficult ascents and descents up and down the various ridgelines and mountainous bumps (to call this hill a mountain is embarassing to actual mountains, but it's as close as it gets in OK).  I was warned and I was afraid.  Rightfully so.  Although to be honest, much of the course was on flat or slightly undulating terrain.  There were only a handful of really steep, really technical climbs and descents.  The majority of the run was on the top of the mountain and didn't require a lot of effort.  From normal people, that is.  It still required a great deal of effort from yours truly.
We lined up at the starting line.  There were two races that went on simultaneously.  A trail half, a road half, and then those crazy people that did the marathon (trail first, road second). Trail lined up on this side, the road runners lined up on the other side of the finish line here and we went in opposite directions.

the start/finish line

The gun sounded and off we went.  I placed myself near the back of the pack, which is where I rightfully belong.  I know this, so I place myself accordingly.  I knew that we would hit single track soon and that I didn't need to be near the middle or closer to the front.  Well, when we all took off, somehow I ended up in the middle.  I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but it did.  And it was not good for me.  The first steep ascent happened almost immediately and there I was- stuck in a line of people.  Sometimes walking in sections, but mostly running WAY too fast for me.  I didn't really have a choice, so I just stuck it out.  My lungs were burning and I was struggling to catch my breath.  I really couldn't step off the trail or move over.  I was in a conga line and there was no way out.  So I stayed.  And suffered for a good 1.5 miles.  I finally was able to move over and let some people by.  And the people just kept on coming by.  I would move over, but I never totally stepped off the trail.  First of all, that is exactly what ended my Palo Duro (stepping off the trail to let someone by and falling and injuring myself) and there was no way I was going to ruin this race just to let someone pass.  I would move over- sometimes not far enough for someone's liking- then move back when it was clear again.  I walked from about mile 2-3.  I tried to be as courteous as possible, but often I held people up for a bit until I could move over.  I don't think it's fair that I should totally stop, hang off the trail and have to wait for 20 people to pass me everytime a group came by.  The crowded trail REALLY stressed me out. 
In my opinion, if you are passing, you should do your part to get a little off the trail, too.  If I move over a little and you move over a little then there is plenty of room to pass (clearly not everyone felt that way, but I digress).  Whenever I passed someone, I would move off the trail to pass.  On the downhills I came up behind people and I would ask if I could pass.  If they said yes, I did (thankfully nobody said no, but I would have waited if they had).
I made it to the first aid station in  32 minutes.  That was pretty fast for me- almost 5 mph.  WAY too fast for what I'm used to running on the trails.  I walked the next couple miles (up a crazy ascent and then through a flat part) while I caught my breath and tried to settle my heart rate.  It takes me a good 1-1.5 hours to even warm up, so I knew I needed to slow it way down in order to not burn all the fuel up at the beginning.
The race was an out and back, so all those people that passed me would soon be coming back at me.  The race leader passed me when I was at about mile 4.5  He was FLYING (that would make him about 4 miles ahead of me going at an unbelievable pace).  I moved over for all of the fast people in front.  If I was running, I would just move over as much as possible.  If I was walking, I would get off the trail for them as they passed.  Then I met the majority of the people and we would both kinda take sides on either side of the (sometimes) narrow singletrack.  It wasn't nearly as bad with people coming at me as it was with people coming up behind me.  I was much less anxious about the crowds as I neared the turnaround.
I hit the turnaround at 1.5 hours.  Not bad for me on the trails.  Sadly, that's about 4 mph, which is about what I average on normal trails- not to mention steep trails with lots of climbing.  The second half of the race was uneventful.  Just the way I like it.  I was alone for much of the time and had plenty of time to just listen to nature, look around (when not looking down) and tune my thoughts out.  For me, that is the most blissful part of trail running; listening, turning my brain off, and just floating along. 
At mile 10 I got really excited because I knew I was almost done.  I was also a little excited because I had managed to not bust my head open on the rocks so far. You have to celebrate the little things in life.
properly kilted and moustached and happy to be (almost) done
The best part about the last few miles was bombing downhills like a runaway truck.  I'm telling you, my Hokas are THE BEST!!! I have never been good at flying downhill without losing control and almost tripping and killing myself.  Not in the Hokas.  I FLEW!  I was not out of control, but I was not totally in control, either.  The Hokas were so good at absorbing the rocks and ruts that I never almost twisted an ankle, never almost tripped, never felt like the ground was reaching up to yank me down.  I truly felt like I was flying.  I had brief moments of what it must be like to be a fast runner, and it was heaven.  I have to admit that being fast might be fun.  For a little while anyway, but then you'd really miss so much because you don't get the chance to take your eyes off the ground and look around at your surroundings.  I truly appreciate that the most when I'm on a trail.  The looking around and taking in all the eye candy.  If I were fast, I would have to miss all that-and who wants to do that???
From the top of Stink Hill
(not the official name, just the name I gave it in honor of the treatment plant below)
I made it across the finish line in 3:19.  Heck- some of you would be appalled with that time and never tell another soul about that horrid finish.  I'm the running turtle- I'm PERFECTLY happy with that time.  As in all my races- I was proud to not come in DFL.  I was 41 of 50 women and 90 of 103 total finishers.  I'll take it!!!  My nickname isn't the Running Hare.  Or Run Speedy Run. 
Most days I'm just glad to finish without bleeding.  This race was no exception.
My medal was pretty cool.  It was one half of the ying/yang design.  My hubs ran the road half, so he got the other half of the ying/yang.  Together we had one cool medal. 
Tulsa Double Half- the easy way.

Run on, turtles!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tulsa half marathon on Turkey Mountain tomorrow

Tomorrow we are running two separate half marathons.  I'm doing the trail on Turkey Mtn and he's doing the paved on the river trails.  Both will be loads of fun.  I had *almost* considered doing the double half (trail first, then road), but thought better of it since my training hasn't been much in the last month.  I hate playing it smart, but sometimes I actually make the correct call.
Each race has half of a cool medal.  If you do them both, together they make a ying/yang design.  Turns out I don't have to do both to get the ying/yang.  We'll combine our medals and have one really cool super medal.  Best of both worlds (with about half the pain).  Will report on it tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Upcoming event: The Winter Solstice Half Marathon

This year our no-fee "race" will be at Bluff Creek on Sunday, December 23rd at 8:30 am.  The temps are getting cooler and it's time to start thinking about running in brrrrr...colder weather (it's about doggone time, right?).   And you know the best part about celebrating the Winter Solstice, right?   Of course you do- the days begin to get longer again.  And we ALL are excited about that!

So put it on your calendar and join us for the Winter Solstice Half. 
Entry fee is 4 canned goods to be donated to the Regional Food Bank. If you want to bring some snacks to share with other runners that would be great, too!  Like the Ho Ho Half, this will be a self-supported event so bring all your own nutritional needs (water, gels, etc). 

See you then!
Let's hope it doesn't look like this---------->

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Product Review: Amphipod 20oz handheld

I'm no stranger to handhelds.  I've tried a few over the last couple years.  And I haven't really liked any of them.  I've been disappointed to say the least. 
The first one I tried was the black Zoot on the right.  The strap pinched my hands where it tightened and it wasn't comfortable holding on runs.  Then I made my own handmade one (the little black neoprene guy sitting in the front) and it works pretty good, but it's only 8oz so it doesn't come in handy for long stuff.  Then I tried the pink Nathan one.  I liked it at first, but the elastic is starting to stretch out and it's not holding its shape like it used to.  Plus, again, it's not super comfortable where the strap tightens, and it's not comfortable to hold the round bottle with my miniscule hands and their pathetic grip-strength.
I finally broke down and bought the Amphipod 20oz.  I tested it out at the store (walked around with it for about 10 minutes trying to see if it would fit my rather small hands).  I really liked how it felt in my hands.  The bottle isn't round, it's more oval I liked and it enough to want to give it a try.
The good:  it's really pretty comfortable to run with.  My hands are small and I don't have a very strong grip, but I can run with it for about 10 miles and not feel any discomfort in my hands.  I haven't run with it longer than 10 so I don't know how it will hold up in a marathon or in an ultra. I also REALLY like the neoprene sleeve.  I can see that being nice in the summer and winter, but more importantly, I like that I don't have to grip the slippery plastic.  The neoprene gives my hand something soft and grippy to grab ahold of.  It means my hand can just kinda sit on the bottle comfortably without slipping around.  I also really like the shape of the bottle.  It conforms to your hand, and even tho my hand doesn't come close to going all the way around, it feels like I have a good grip on it even when I'm not really trying.  The strap that tightens is also very comfy.  It doesn't dig into my hand and I hardly even notice that it's there.
The bad: the pocket is terrible.  But to be fair, I think all handheld pockets are terrible.  It can hold 2 gels.  Or my car key and some pumpkin seeds (a lot of pumpkin seeds), but that's about it.  It's pretty useless, but at least it can hold my key which is mostly all I need it to do.  I also don't care for how big around it is, but like I said- I have tiny little hands and I don't know that there is a bottle shaped good enough to conform to my hand.
As you can see- the bad list is a lot shorter than the good list.  That means I like it A LOT more than I dislike it.  I haven't been able to say that about any of the other handhelds I've tried.
So far I've really enjoyed running with it.  I ditched handhelds and went to just a hydration pack this summer, but now that winter is here, I don't really need to carry a giant bladder on my back.  And soon the temps will (hopefully) start dropping and I really don't want a sweaty back that will freeze up on runs with the hydration pack on.  I may wind up getting another Amphipod handheld for the winter for when I do really long stuff.  I give this handheld 2 thumbs up.
The Amphi and I on our inagural run together.  Love at first run!
Just so you know, I was not paid to do this review, nor was I given the product free to try out.  I bought it, I liked it, so I reviewed it.  My review is totally unbiased.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ho Ho Half Marathon: our final farewell to Hostess snacks

Who doesn't love a fun, free event?  I know I love them the best!!!  I wanted to run a half in late November, but there wasn't one nearby so I decided to create my own event- and invite all my friends to join me.  I organized, planned, made awards and prepared for a BLAST with friends for a Sunday morning of fun!  
Welcome to the inagural Ho Ho Half Marathon (and 5K and 10K) in honor of the demise of Hostess snack cakes.  Everyone had to pay an "entry fee" of one box of Hostess snack cakes and they were to eat one snack cake every 2 miles of their run.
all the entry fees laid out on the table- sooooo many snack cakes...

Well, it turns out Hostess goodies became too scarce to find, so instead most everyone wound up buying Little Debbies instead (and Little Debbie says "thanks again for going out of business, Hostess"). 
It was a blast.  About 40 people showed up to run.  Some ran on the one mile paved loop, some ran on the trail, some ran on both the pavement and trail.  Everyone seemed to have fun.  I only made it 7 miles and 1.5 snack cakes before I stopped, but it was a fun time, and I enjoyed hanging out, taking pictures and socializing with old and new friends.  We'll definitely do more of these potluck running events.  I'm getting REALLY tired of paying $65+ to run a half marathon and $90+ to run a marathon.  I truly understand why it costs so much, but I like to do lots of races and the budget doesn't always allow for me to race as much as I want.  If I can do 3-4 choice races a year, then do some of these casual races with friends, I would be a happy girl.  Real races are fun, but there's something to be said for lacing up your shoes and spending the day with people you know and enjoy hanging around with.  A great time was had by all.

Jack the dog did his first half marathon today, too!
yours truly turtle pacing it on the trails (with my new Amphipod handheld that I LOVE)
Rocky made home-made Twinkies.  They tasted MUCH better than real Twinkies!

Well hello there, Rico Firmshooter (a whole crew had some very creative stripper names
on their bibs- it was HILARIOUS)

Foxxy Puckerthighs and Sephora Silkhooters showing off their best moves

post-race socializing and relaxing

everyone kept track of their miles on this chart
I made awards for all the finishers.  5 and 10K awards are on the left, and the half marathon awards- shaped like Ho Hos are on the right.  The big thing on top was for the person who ate the most snack cakes during the event (turns out it was an awesome 11 year old girl)
the snack champ playing with her prize
Being out there and having fun is what it's all about.  Seeing the joy of a friend who completed her very first half marathon today (woo hoo), and seeing the playful spirit of an 11 year old girl makes you remember how much fun it is that we get to do these things.  Even when it hurts, even when you want to stop, and even when you question your sanity and wonder why you even bother.  It's all worth it. 
Happy running!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Taking offense...and probably taking it too personally

I've been trying to find some blogs about slower runners/ultrarunners lately.  I have a handful of blogs that I follow from endurance athletes who are regular people, but most of them I can't really relate to on a Darwinian level.  I mean, they might be ordinary people, but when I read race reports from them and they talk about the major struggles and how they had to walk and it was a slow death march to the finish, and then they report that their really tough mountain 50K finish was 5 hours- I just cringe. 
Surely there are people out there like me (women espeically) who are not the fittest, not the tallest, not the fastest, who struggle along at the back of the pack- sometimes bringing up the rear- who blog.  Surely.  Right?!?

So this all leads me to this blog post that I found from some yayhoo.  Perhaps this was written as a joke, but it struck a chord with me that really, really bothered me on a cellular level.  He was writing about the Top 5 Things to Hate about Marathon Runners.  ha ha- ok, poking fun at some of our idiosyncracies.  I get that.  But he went too far when we wrote #4:
4. Fat Runners:How can people who fully train for a marathon still be fat? Oh yeah, because if you are running 15 minute miles, you aren’t exactly ripping through calories. And fat marathonites constantly make you put your foot in your mouth. The fatty approaches you and says “I am training for the marathon,” to which you reply, based off their physique, “oh yeah? When do you start?” And then fatty hits you with the bomb, “I am trained, the marathon is next week.” I have to imagine it is a lot like accidently asking a married lady who recently put on weight when the baby is due.
Perhaps I'm just a little too sensitive about this to take this with a grain of salt, but the sad truth is that I KNOW people feel the same way, and I KNOW some runners even feel the same way. 
And it's just sad.
No, we're not exactly ripping through the calories at 15 min/miles, but it sure beats the hell out of just sitting on the couch like other skinny or fat people who do NOTHING athletically.  Right?!?
I am a good 20 lbs overweight. My doctor would argue that at 5'3" I should be in the low 120's (and all the charts say at my height my ideal weight is in the one-teens), but that's simply impossible for me. For this particular body with this particular genetic makeup. 

I've never been thin.  I've struggled with my weight my ENTIRE LIFE.  I will ALWAYS struggle with my weight.  So many of my athlete friends are thin and have always been that way.  They are fit and have always had an easyish time maintaining their weight.  I know some who were heavier but are thin now.  I know very few who constantly struggle to stay out of the "obese" category on the charts.  Hell, I'm happy that I'm only in the "overweight" category on my doctor's chart.  That's a victory for me. 

When I was at my lowest adult weight at age 31, I was 122 lbs.  I was a size 4.  I was thin.  I looked good.  I felt good. I had just lost 60 lbs. I felt alive and sexy and just like every media message told me I should look to feel attractive.

But I was starving myself and I had to continue to starve myself to maintain that.
At the time, I was training for my first marathon. Sure, I looked the part of a marathon runner.  I was thin, light, looked good in spandex and probably could have even gotten away with running in just a sports bra and shorts if I wanted to.  But I was miserable.  Know why?

Because I was starving myself.  I was hungry ALL the time.  I was still going to Weight Watchers and losing weight and trying my damndest to count every frickin calorie that went into my mouth.  Want to talk about an eating disorder?  Yeah- I most definitely had one.  I wasn't throwing up or not eating, but I was SOOOOO incredibly obsessed with every bite I took.  I would obsessively plan my day around points so I knew just how many points I would have left for dinner, or more importantly, how many points I would have left if I skipped dinner and just had dessert.  WW didn't teach me how to eat, it taught me how to eat carrots and other "free" foods so I could save enough points up for the pizza or the other shit I ate that I really wanted.  It wasn't healthy physically or mentally.  And it did nothing but allow my body to lose weight, then destroy my self-esteem when I quit counting and gained back 50 lbs. 

Now that I'm 158 ish, I know that I'm a bit on the chubby side.  My thighs have cellulite.  My belly is paunchy, my arms and tummy aren't defined.  And I have chub-rub again. 
My ideal weight is about 145-150.  Not according to the charts, but according to how I feel when I run and ride and swim.  How my body feels.  I was 145 when I did my first Ironman, and I was soooo strong then.  Perfectly strong.

But I'm still an athlete.  Still strong.  I just did my first 50 miler last month.  I can show you ten dozen skinny bitches who can't run/walk one mile, let alone 50.   I get so angry when people criticize "fat" people for getting out there.  SOMEONE has to be at the back- and it's not always the fat people. Sometimes I'm running along at a race and come across someone who is obviously faster than me who outweighs me by 100#s.  More power to them. 

Here's an example of how people criticize based on looks. Last year I did the Memorial Marathon and I did the early start since I was a little undertrained and needed some extra time.  That was the year it rained and hailed and the start of the marathon was delayed.  It was cold and the rain was freezing and my muscles cramped up at mile 13 and would not get loose again.  Hypothermia was starting to settle in, and as much as I needed to run to get my core body temp up, my muscles were having none of it.  So I had to walk the last 13 in the freezing cold rain.  It was miserable, but I was moving forward and making progress.  And I was out there.  Coming down Broadway into the chute before the finish line my calves seized up.  I had to stop along the cattle fence and stretch.  Someone nearby made a comment along the lines of "how can she be finishing so fast- she doesn't look like she's that fast" and someone else commented "yeah, she had to have done the early start that's why she's finishing now".  I was the only one around, so they had to be talking about me.  Had my teeth not been chattering so hard, I would have given them a piece of my mind.  How did they know I wasn't that fast?  I could have finished in 3.5 hours.  What- because I'm chubby I had to be an early starter?  Whether I did the early start or not doesn't matter.  I moved myself in crappy conditions over 26.2 miles.  What did they do?  Cheer in the cold rain?  Whoopdeedoooo.  That hurt my pride a lot at that particiular moment, but it didn't hurt for long. 

Chubbies can run, too.  We might not be fast, we might not lose a ton of weight in training, but we're out there.  Isn't that what everyone encourages chubbies to do- get out there and move.  Chubbies get knocked for sitting on the couch and then get mocked for getting out there and doing something about it.  Sigh... people really suck sometimes.

Never mock an overweight person for being active.  Whether or not they drop poundage, maybe they're just doing it because it makes them feel good about themselves.  Maybe they like being out in nature.  Maybe their goal wasn't to lose weight, maybe it was simply to feel better about themselves or to see what their body is capapble of in its current state.  Not everyone needs (or wants) to be a skinny bitch.  Sometimes they just want to do something they love... just as they are.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hooray for National Hug a Runner Day!

Yay!  Hooray!  Yippee!!!

Today is National Hug a Runner Day.  Sure, why not!  Share the love, share the sweat, share the stink. 
If you know any runners (ahem... hint hint), you should go out and hug them today.  Hugs are free, but sharing the love is priceless. 

Let the hugging festivities commence!

of course, if you can't find a runner to hug, a runner can always hug a tree instead

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday...

Creature comfort goals
They only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see
My thoughts all seem to stray, to places far away
I need a change of scenery

-The Monkees Pleasant Valley Sunday
It was another pleasant run on the trails at Bluff Creek.  My first run since last Sunday's marathon.  The wind was blowing rather fiercely today, so I was glad to have the coverage of the trees protecting me.  Things felt good out there.  Slow, but good. 

I noticed the tree up above a couple miles in.  How have I never noticed how MASSIVE it is before?  It has to be at least 5 feet in diameter.  I don't think I could even put my arms out and touch it from one side to the other.  I never remember seeing it before.  I mean really *seeing* it.  I know I've seen it, but I've never paid attention to it.  It's beautiful in so many ways.  I guess I need to look around more closely when I'm out there running.  Not just look around, but REALLY see and pay attention to things.

Like Ferris Bueller says: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fort Worth Marathon 11-11-12

Happy Veteran's Day, America.  Wanna go for a little run? 

This weekend was the Fort Worth Marathon in, well, Fort Worth, TX (that wasn't really necessary to mention, was it?).  It was an easy course.  It wasn't easy on this particular day, but the course itself is flat and easy. 
I went into the race with a bit of a chest cold starting.  Coughing, tightness, coughing up my lung, etc.  I knew it would be a long race and it was.  But really, what's a triumph if you don't struggle a little, right?

You'd like for me to describe the course?   Well, OK.  It was 9 miles of the suckiest/strongest headwind, on a course that was poorly marked for those doing the early start, a nice 8 mile wind-block through a neighborhood and park, then a great tailwind for the last 9 miles, with a little coldfront/storm that moved in with heavy, cold rain, and really poorly stocked aid stations.  There you have it. Ta-da!!
The aid stations may have been very poorly stocked by the race staff (some had only a bowl of pretzels, others had bananas and oranges, others didn't have anything but water).  The volunteers were AMAZING, tho.  They were out there with smiles on their faces and cheers for us- even in the freezing cold rain! Thanks to the fantastic volunteers!!!

But I still had fun!  Even between the crying episodes I still had fun.  In the end, all the discomfort is worth it.  But this one was ESPECIALLY worth it because this marathon made me a Marathon Maniac.  MM# 6109.  Woot!!
I had to do 2 marathons within 16 days to qualify.  And that's to qualify for the lowest level of Maniac stature.  That's the basic.  So I did a 50 miler and threw in a marathon 2 weeks later for kicks and giggles.  Only there wasn't a lot of kicking or giggling.  Mostly just shuffling, crying, questioning my sanity, and praying that my body would hold up to get me across the finish line.  The kicks and giggles were all in my head.  They had the voices up there to keep them company.

But lets start at the beginning, shall we?

 Ready at the start (what is with this pose?)
 the early start had about a dozen starters
a blurry Fort Worth skyline in the dark
 most of the course was on the Trinity Trails- flat and smooth and fast (except for the 30mph headwind bitch-slapping me in the face)
 ouch ouch ouch ouch   This is FUN!!!  ouch ouch ouch ouch  I really do love running!!
I remember most of the course looking like this: blurry and unrecognizable
Wait... is that Bigfoot I see in the bushes back there??
  the only downhill and uphill part of the course
ruh roh!!!  The storm is moving in.  Heavy cold rain is on its way.  Batten down the hatches.
 My savior!!! There was only Gatorade at the turnound (13.1).  No other stops had any, or they ran out.  And it was REALLY humid and I was super crusty with salt.  I was even taking endurolytes and drinking plenty of water from my hydration pack.  I texted him telling him I really wished I had Gatorade and POOF! There he was.
He surprised me with 2 bottles of the good stuff at mile 22.  I love him!!!
Like the Kool-Aid man said "OH YEAH!!!!"
 Some crazy weird contraptions floating in the river- and there were more- these were just the few I took a picture of

My favorite bridge of many on the course.  It was so giant and majestic.  It also signified the last mile of the race.  Woo hoo!!!
 walking in to the finish.  I really didn't even have enough juice left to pretend to jog across (but I mustered up just enough to wog across the finish line).  A wog is a jog so slow it's almost a walk- in case that term wasn't obvious to you.
 DONE!  This marathon made me a MANIAC!!!  MM #6109 reporting for duty!
Holy Heck, Texas, that's one fine belt buckle.  My first belt buckle.  Pow pow (that's me firing off my pistols).  It's actually one of the cooler finisher medals I've ever earned!  It takes second place to the Tiffany silver necklace I earned in San Fran in '05.
We went back to the hotel right after the race, I took an ice bath and then we checked out and went to find something to eat.  I was starving, but nothing tasted very good, so I nibbled and we headed north back to the homestead.  On the way home we were behind this gem:
Yup, that's a dead deer wrapped in a giant brown tarp with it's hooves sticking out.
Keeping it classy, Texas.
I just imagined the horror of little children passing this thing yelling "Why is that deer riding on the back, Mama?  Is that Rudolph Mama?"
Poor damn deer.