Running the Middle Half (Murfreesboro Half Marathon)

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Oct 24

Murfreesboro Half Marathon

Stephanie running pic

About a week ago I ran the Murfreesboro Half (also known as the Middle Half) for the fifth year in a row. The best part about it is that I always go with a few of my friends. That always makes getting up at the crack of dawn a little easier. Registration for this race was over four months ago. It fills up in just hours so if you want to run it, you have to register the day it opens. What I didn’t know when I registered was that I would be in Philadelphia the whole week before, flying back home the night before the race. I am not going to lie, I was dreading it and even slightly considered not going. I had planned to be at my friend’s house at 5:15 which meant leaving at 4:45 and waking up at 4:15. Thank goodness for Jenifer and Ashley because meeting them helped me motivate myself to go.

Gearing up for the Middle Half

 

Saucony Ride

Stephanie’s Race pick – Saucony Rides!

Running the Middle HalfThe weather was extremely cloudy to begin the race. It looked as if it was going to rain at any second so I came prepared in my Nike Dri Fit hat. (A necessity for running in the rain!) I chose my Saucony Rides over my Brooks Glycerin because they are a little lighter and with the potential for soggy shoes I wanted my shoes to be as light as possible to begin with. I also kept my clothes light weight with a dri fit tank and shorts. I made it about 4 miles with no rain and then it rained consistently until the end. It was a good rain though, not too terribly hard. (And nowhere near as bad as the Country Music Marathon two years ago.) I felt so much better this race than the Women’s Half two weeks prior. The weather during the Women’s Half was sunny and a little warmer. Probably due to the fact that the majority of my miles are run in the dark, I feel and do so much better in overcast or even rainy races. I finished in 1:37 and was second in my age group out of about 275 and 11 the female out of about 1300. My finish time was two minutes slower than when I ran the race last year. Last fall I was coming off of my fastest full marathon ever at the Nashville full. I had worked the hardest I have ever worked and I am trying to build back up to where I was. My goal is to qualify for Boston again and go back to Boston in 2016 for the 120th anniversary. I will try this December in Memphis and if that doesn’t happen I will try again in the spring.

There isn’t a ton of spectators in at this race, but there are definitely some. And of course at any race in the rain there isn’t as many people out. (Which is totally understandable!) The shirts are always great at this race. This year they were gray and yellow and it was a half zip. I love half zip pullovers for running. You can layer to wear running in colder weather or where them alone when it isn’t as hot. However I do have to say I was a little let down by the runner’s food at the end. Normally Jim N Nick’s is at the end with some bbq tacos and the amazing rolls they have! Last year they also had mini Gigi’s cupcakes!!! They were amazing and it was such a great surprise! This year….totally different story. There was neither of those things there. There was Domino’s pizza and some not so great donut holes.

cute dog with second place race plaque

Second Place, good job Mom!

We were soaking wet and freezing cold after the game. We almost passed completely on the food but grabbed some fruit and donut holes for the road. Aside from the big bummer that I didn’t get my Jim N Nick’s…….I loved the race and would do it again in a heartbeat.

 

Have Something for Yourself: A Reason to Run

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Oct 11

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority.”

–Author Mandy Hale

runningA few weeks ago I was shopping for some clothes for my kids and along the way I saw a blanket that caught my eye. It was gray and white chevron print (which matches everything in my house) and it was super soft. The best part about it was that it was only $17! Bargain, right? Let me back up and tell you that all of the other people that live in my home, including my husband and the dog, have their own special designated blanket. This is a blanket they use to sleep with in bed, to watch TV on the couch, and anytime they want to just for overall comfort. I usually just grab a corner from whoever is willing to share. So I decided I deserved this blanket.

As soon as I got home and my kids saw the blanket, they immediately started asking for it and then proceeded to argue over it. Before you knew it my husband was sitting on the couch with MY new blanket. This went on for days and finally I stopped and thought…….This was supposed to be my blanket. It was supposed to be something for me and I have had it for days and I haven’t even used it! Right then a thought crossed my mind. As a mother and a wife we sacrifice so much and have very little time and very little things for ourselves. And this I thought….is EXACTLY why I run. It is the one and only thing in my life that is just for me. It is time alone, or time with friends….it’s time to think, get in shape, and decompress. It is time to better myself in more ways than one. I have a friend who recently started getting up early before sunrise and before her kids got up to walk with her dog for some exercise. She told me that she couldn’t believe how peaceful it was outside that time of morning. Those are my thoughts exactly, it is such a great way to start the day.

So when people ask me how I do it? How do I get up so early and work and have 4 kids? It is really me hanging on to the one and very important thing I do just for me. I deserve that and so does every parent out there. However I do have to say, I did decide that I was going to stand my ground and take back my blanket. (I deserve that too)….I am ok with an occasional trade, I can deal with a Cinderella blanket that is equally as soft. (It’s better than a little corner of a Minnie Mouse blanket).

marathons

Next up, Saturday October 11, is the Murfreesboro Half Marathon. I love this race because it is reasonably priced, flat, the shirt is always great, and I always go with a few of my favorite friends that I don’t get to spend enough time with. Another plus, Jim N Nicks usually had food at the finish line for the runners. They happen to have the best rolls in town. And if you know me, I judge a race heavily by the food at the end. Whatever motivates you right? I am looking forward to all of it…..food, fun, friends, and running. All things that I love. I saw this quote and it cracked me up, yet it was so true. I actually feel this way every time my alarm goes off at 4:30….EVERY TIME. But I get up any way and every single time it is worth it.

 

 

The Nashville Women’s Half Marathon-A Great Race

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Oct 02

Womens Nashville Half Marathon StartThis past weekend I participated in the Women’s Half Marathon here in downtown Nashville. It was the second time I have done the race.  It was my first half marathon in over three months and I was honestly pretty nervous.  This is a fairly hilly race and I knew it would get a little sunny.  Since the Boston Marathon last April I have really struggled with a long term goal for my running.  For five years it was all about qualifying and then re-qualifying. And then re-qualifying again!  So I have kept up with my miles since April, I just really haven’t pushed myself as hard with speed work.  I have really just stayed in a very safe and complacent running spot in my mind.  The last two weeks had been a little bit better because I knew I had this race coming up.

So the race was exactly as I remembered.  It was fairly hilly, got a little hot but not terrible, and the crowds were fairly slim compared to many other races. I ended up running a 1:38 which was two minutes slower than I ran it last year, and 5 minutes slower than my best. I ended up 2nd in my age group out of 370 and 10th overall out of almost 2300.  The first place winner of the whole race was in my age group and was 39!  I think that is so awesome and it gives me hope that even though I will be 37 in November, maybe I still have a little spunk left in my running!

Blogs are supposed to be honest right?  So here was my one problem with Saturday’s race.  Let me start off by saying that I am VERY directionally challenged.  I always have been.  As a teenager my father got me a personalized license plate that said “WICHWAY”. Once in high school I tried to take my car out to Rivergate and somehow ended up in Kentucky. I use my iPhone map all day long because I am in an outside sales position. (I feel like the app was made for me.) For about the first 3 miles I was running behind about 5 or 6 women and a pacer group.  They were ahead of me and were at the very front of the race.  Eventually at about mile 3, I just couldn’t see them anymore.  As I turned around I could barely see anyone behind me.  So there I was running literally all alone. (Kind of boring).  For fear of making a wrong turn I had to pull my ear phones out several times to ask the volunteers to verify “which way” was the correct turn.  It was blocked off with cones but there were several times it just didn’t seem 100% clear which way to go and I had no one to follow because those speedsters up front were long gone.  Then about mile 8 or 9 two more women passed me and then I was alone again.  Right at mile 10 another girl passed me but I could still see her ahead.  Then I noticed that I never saw the mile 11 sign and time clock. I thought it was strange because every single other mile had a sign and a clock, as most marathons do have them at every mile.  So then the lady that passed me at the end finished right in front of me.  She stopped me to say good run and also informed me that I and the other girl ahead of me had taken a wrong turn.  She apparently had started to follow us but the cops very loudly informed her that we had gone the wrong way.  They were yelling for us but I guess we were into our music and heard nothing.  She was not from around here and was worried we would be headed in the completely wrong direction.  Luckily it seems we just ran an extra block or so.  I am really, really bad about zoning out in a race.  I am probably the only person that ran the St. Jude’s Memphis marathon and completely missed when we passed the gigantic St. Jude’s hospital.  I miss 90% of what goes on in a race because I get so deep, too deep, in my zone.

This race is a good time of year because it gets me back in racing mode after what is usually a slower, tough to get motivated summer.  In two week I will have the Murfreesboro half marathon which will be flatter and probably cooler.  I am looking forward to that.

The highlight of my run was having my friend Kelly, her daughter, and her mom and dad come to watch me race.  I met Kelly when I was 11 years old. My husband was home with our kids and a friend’s son as well getting everyone ready for soccer and flag football. After Kelly read my recent blog about the power of spectators at a race to support you (glad to know people actually read them!) she immediately called and asked ‘when is your next race?’  Kelly not only packed up her 17 month old, but she is also pregnant.  So she is a real trooper.  All of my friends and my family are always so supportive and for that I am lucky.  Even running down Belmont and seeing two of my favorite friends on the other side gave me a little pep for the next mile. Races are early and it really is hard to get up and down there.  There is never a race though where I don’t get several encouraging texts from family and friends.  I do have to say that knowing I would see Kelly and the fam at mile 10 helped me break up the race in my mind.  Then I got to see them again at the finish, it truly made my day!

Kelly and Company Womens HalfNashville Womens Half 2014 Medal

This is definitely a race I will do again.  The medals are HUGE!  I mean weigh your neck down kind of huge!  And they are pretty cute, shaped like a pair of shiny cowboy boots. (Very Nashville!) For me it is a great kick start into fall racing season.  I would like to say that maybe next time I will study the course map a little better, but it is doubtful.  Maybe it will give me some motivation to try to keep up with the runners in front of me, so I don’t end up making wrong turns again.

Stephanie Nashville Womens Half Marathon 2014Womens Half Marathon 2014 Music City Center

 

Rebecca’s Run

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Sep 26

Rebeccas RunThrough the years I have often had friends of mine show interest in starting a running program. Well there is no better motivation than to run for a cause.  Coming up this October is the perfect time to start.  I would love to ask you all to join us on Saturday October 26, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. at Rebecca’s Run.  It will be open to everyone, pets, kids, etc. and the cost is only $15. You will get a t-shirt and a bracelet for participating in the run. The run is a 5K and will take place on the Richland Creek Greenways.  Sport Seasons will be providing water for the participants.

Rebecca Vandemark is currently battling Lyme disease.  The goal for this race is to raise $300.  Half of that will go towards Rebecca’s treatment and half will be donated to the Lyme Light Foundation.  They provide grants to children 3-25 years of age to help cover their costs of Lyme Disease Treatment. To register for this race you can go to the gofundme.com page that has been set up for this run.  Then you can email Emily at evandemark@sport-seasons.com and let her know you are in, and also give her your t-shirt size.  Even if you cannot run, we will still send you a t-shirt and a bracelet for your $15 donation. Just email Emily and let her know!

http://www.gofundme.com/rebeccas-run-2014

This is a very laid back run and is the perfect time for anyone who has considered getting into races to get out in this fall weather.  You can also help by spreading the word.  Like the Rebecca’s Run Facebook page  and ask your friends to do the same.  You can also follow Rebecca’s blog about and learn more about her struggle at caravansonnet.com. Emily, Rebecca’s sister will be at the race along with her parents.  Whether or not Rebecca will be there will depend on her health at the time…but she plans and hopes to come!  If you have never walked or ran the greenways, this is your opportunity to start!

So register today!  $15 is a very inexpensive registration fee, yet if we all give it will add up to a significant amount of money that will go towards a great cause.  We hope to see you all there!

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The portion of the race proceeds going to charity benefit The LymeLight Foundation. For more information about them, please visit www.lymelightfoundation.org

Why do you run

 

The Power of Spectators at a Race: Why You Should Show Up

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Sep 19

With several races coming up, I thought I would share my thoughts on the benefits of having people there to support you at a race.  One of the things that makes big races fun is the vast amount of spectators.  The masses of people bring huge amounts of energy to a course. I definitely loved the spectators this year at Boston, they were excited and they were loud.  However, if I had to pick a marathon I have done that I would say had my favorite crowd, I would pick Chicago without a doubt.  There was literally not a moment on the course when there weren’t rows and rows of people.  Often times they were six rows deep.  If you ran beneath an underpass you could look up and see rows of people above you as well.  My first trip to the Chicago marathon was with a group of friends that were also running.  We wrote our names down the sides of our arms with a Sharpie marker. That was my friend’s idea, and the first time I had ever done that. Although I was at first thinking it was kind of silly, I went ahead and did it. Well let me tell you, it worked.  Although I didn’t know personally anyone out there cheering, when they yelled my name I actually felt a connection.  I felt like the people were actually there for me and it instantly put a little pep in my step. It gave me that feeling of accomplishment, like a little reminder that I was actually doing something really great. (Something I had worked hard for!)  Another thing that can be motivating, as cheesy as it sounds, is a high five. I really love high fiving the kids with their hands out.  I still remember one thing my friend told me after she finished her first marathon. She said that when the crowd cheered for her, although there were thousands of runners ahead of her, they made her feel as though she was winning.  I think that is very inspiring.

If having someone you don’t even know cheer for you is motivating, can you imagine how amazing it is to have people you do know out there?  Although Nashville is not a favorite marathon course, I love it because it’s the marathon where I have the most people I know cheering for me.  Many of them are out there to see other people as well but knowing that they will be there gives me something to look forward to. In 2013 when I ran Nashville, I had my husband and a few friends standing in the pouring down rain at mile 20 and mile 25 with some of the most amazing signs cheering for me.  Yep, I said pouring down rain.  Most spectators back out when it rains, which is understandable!  So, having people there for you in the pouring rain is pretty special.  Even knowing you have someone waiting for you at the finish line helps. Marathons start early so with small children and road closures it can be hard.  Many of us crazy runners will of course tell you that it isn’t a big deal if you don’t come for the race, but deep down we really love and need the support.

So what makes a good spectator? Here are just a few tips on what may be helpful or motivating for the runner you are watching.  Funny and personal signs are great.  I even love reading other people’s signs.  For my last Nashville marathon some friends of mine made a sign that said “Run For Adam” (as in Adam Levine) because they know he is my celebrity crush.  They also made giant signs with my kids’ faces on them, it was great!  Signs that aren’t as motivating are ones that say things like “almost there” or “just around the corner”.  Sometimes the timing of these signs isn’t very accurate.  No runner wants to see that when you really have miles left to go.

Race course signs

It is also a good idea to have cold water or Gatorade in case your runner is between water stops.  Plus you may have their favorite.  Having something salty, like a bag of pretzels, can help with dehydration and usually is not found on the course. Too, having a camera is a great idea!  It is a good idea not only to take pictures of the runner you know, but other funny or inspiring things you see that they may not get a chance to see while they are racing. One last tip is plan ahead on where you are going to be.  This way the person you are there to see knows where to look for you.  Sometimes it is easier for the runner to spot the spectator than vice versa.

I could share so many funny and inspiring signs that I see.  Things like “Who needs toenails” and of course tons that say things like “We are so proud of you mom”.  But I have to share with you the coolest sign I may have ever seen.  It read “I’m proud of you, perfect stranger”.  It moved me because I realized at that moment I was really doing something special.  It was something recognized by people who didn’t even know me from Adam.  Maybe, just maybe, on that day I had actually inspired someone I didn’t know at all.  That is a pretty cool feeling.

So if you are on the fence about whether or not you are going to show up this time around to watch a race, whether you know someone or not….consider showing up.  Your presence really does matter.

Boston Race SignBoston I Love my Mom