Medal 25

It’s A Wonderful Run has been on my running list for over a decade now. I’ve been keeping an eye on it and either the weather does not cooperate or it is too close to my fall marathon. This year everything came together perfectly so I was finally able to complete this race on my Bucket List!

The town of Seneca Falls, NY was the setting for Bedford Falls in the Wonderful Life movie. The location is just over an hour from me. While I really wanted to be able to do the race in person and run over the famous bridge in the movie, I did the Covid-safe virtual option.

Using my Garmin, I submitted my official results for the race. I am quite proud in that I was the first female Masters finisher and the second overall Masters finisher! This is the second time since I achieved Masters running status in 2019 that I have come in first place in a race! 

The bell on the medal really does ring. It is most certainly a cherished medal. I am so happy that for medal 25 I was able to finally participate in It’s A Wonderful Run.

If you would like to support my race, please consider a donation to my favorite charity for homeless humans, Back on my Feet, or donate to your local no-kill animal shelter.

Completing It’s A Wonderful Run is a huge accomplishment for me. As I look to retire from competitive racing, I am so glad I was able to meet my goal in finishing this race.

For 2023, I only have one more medal to earn to achieve my life goal of 26 medals. I want to be able to retire from competitive running on my own terms before distance running is taken from me either from Covid or some other unfortunate health means. 

I am feeling pressure in choosing a race for medal 26. I feel like it has to be something meaningful. I am reviewing my running bucket list to see what is feasible for 2023. In the meantime, I am so happy that It’s A Wonderful Run was medal 25.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my running journey thus far all these years. As the movie says, “no man is a failure who has friends.”

Medals 22, 23, 24

In 2012, I completed my Canadian Hat Trick in Montreal. This year, 2022, I completed my American Hat Trick thanks to Philadelphia! A few weeks ago, I completed the Italian Stallion Challenge portion of the Rocky Run! In completing the Italian Stallion Challenge, I ran a 5k, a 10k, and a half marathon. This medal trinity is meaningful in a few ways.

First, I now have a hat trick in both Canada and the USA. Luckily, I completed my Canadian hat trick a decade ago when I was still able to travel without much difficulty. Completing a hat trick in both countries checks off an item on my running bucket list.

A second item was checked off my running bucket list with the Rocky Run achievement. I have now achieved 8 medals from Philadelphia. Why are 8 Philadelphia medals significant? 

When I chose my running tattoo, I chose the Philadelphia Marathon logo. Philly was my first half marathon. Philly was my first full marathon. At the time I had my running tattoo done, I had 8 medals. So when the Philly logo was tattooed on my arm, I had the artist add stars so that there are 8 stars that matched my 8 medals. My thinking at the time was that I would keep adding stars on my arm – one star for each medal. I would add stars in batches every few years to match my medal count.

Adding more stars to my existing tattoo has not been an option, for multiple reasons. Suffice it to say, I have 8 stars, and it will remain at 8 stars. Thus, the 8 stars needed a new meaning.

Since my running tattoo is to commemorate Philly being my first, I decided that the 8 stars would represent each one of my Philly medals. In completing the Italian Stallion Challenge portion of the Rocky Run, I now have 8 medals from Philly to match the 8 stars of my tattoo.

This is a huge item checked off my running bucket list.

My ultimate goal is to achieve 26 medals. Once I have achieved 26 medals, I will retire from competitive running. I will still run, but I won’t be focused as much on medal achievement. My goal for retirement is to be able to keep running until I die. My focus will change from full and half marathons to medals to being able to run the marathon of my life – I want to run until I die. 

I am now registered for a race in December 2022 in which I will earn medal 26. The race I have scheduled for December is another race that has been on my running bucket list for a very long time.

That means that as I head into the 2023 running season, I will look to earn my 26th and final medal. That’s a tall order. I started looking at races for 2023 for medal 26. I did not realize how difficult it would be to choose a “final” race to earn medal 26. While I will continue to run even after achieving 26 medals, it will be the end of an era. It makes my choice of race for medal 26 feel like it is so significant. It is actually quite daunting trying to choose a race for medal 26.

For now, I am proud and content in the 24 medals I have earned. By the Grace of God, I look forward to earning medal 25 in a few weeks.

Once 26 medals have been achieved, I will have new running goals. I may try to run a certain amount of miles in a year, or a certain number of days in a row. We will see. I will keep running, but I will have new goals that no longer include chasing after medals. For now, though, I am still on the path of medal achievement. Here’s to medals 22, 23, and 24. 

Medal # 21

Rejoice! I have conquered! That is the phrase reportedly exclaimed at the end of the first marathon. This past weekend, I completed a half marathon to earn medal 21.

I had originally planned this half marathon benefitting Ukraine for last spring. Needless today, the weather and life did not cooperate for me to train and complete a spring race. Fall is traditionally running season. It is much easier to train through the summer for a fall race than it is to train through snowy and icy winters for a spring race.

The race benefitted United Help Ukraine, which is a charity that is sending medical supplies to Ukraine. I used my Garmin, and running around my village, completed the 13.1 miles to earn the medal.

I have now earned 21 medals on my way to my 26 medal retirement goal. I have another race this fall. I am hoping to run that race this weekend. The race is supposed to be in November, but given weather and my training schedule, I may be able to complete the distance early. 

If all goes well, the “November” race will be my American hat trick. It is a race that will see me earn three medals if I am able to complete the Italian Stallion Challenge. 

There is a sense of urgency to earning my 26 medals. The big unknown is how much longer I can do this. I am very fortunate in that I have not had covid. However, the American government not only expects everyone to get covid, they want people to get covid multiple times until it either kills you or permanently disables you. This is not a prospect I am looking forward to. I am trying to earn my 26 medals before I get covid. When American society refuses to mask and has a ”you do you” philosophy, it is only a matter of time before you get covid. No place is safe. The hospital has said repeatedly that if you don’t have covid when you go there, you will get it while you are there. We can’t even get healthcare without being exposed to covid.

Medal 21 is special to me, as I wanted to do something to help Ukraine. If I did not have the cats depending on me, I would have volunteered to go to Ukraine to fight. The American government has me on the euthanasia list in the pandemic, so they are completely fine with the idea of me dying in Ukraine. As much as I want to help, I do have three young ones depending on me.

While I am very proud of medal 21, I still have five medals to go to reach my retirement goal. It seems like it is always the times when you are so close to realizing a goal that it is precarious. 

Hopefully this weekend the weather and my body will cooperate for me to complete my next race. 

For today, we can Rejoice! I have conquered! Here is to medal 21. 

Running Season 2022

Running season 2022 is officially here! I rarely do spring races, but when I do, it is for charity. Fall races are my preference, as they are easier to train for with the weather conditions. This spring, I am running a half marathon benefitting Ukraine.

Proceeds from my spring half marathon are benefitting UnitedHelpUkraine.org. If you would like to support my efforts, please consider a donation to a reputable charity providing aid to Ukraine.

For the fall, I am very happy to announce that I am officially registered for the Italian Stallion Challenge as part of the Rocky Run 2022! I will be chasing down a hat trick of medals as I go 13.1 miles long.

The Rocky Run has been on my bucket list for quite a few years. This year is going to be really special. Once I complete the Italian Stallion Challenge and earn all three medals, I will have reached my goal of 8 medals from Philadelphia. I currently have 8 stars surrounding my Philly Marathon tattoo on my right arm. My goal has been 8 Philly medals.

This year is also significant for another reason. Once I have completed my Ukraine race and the Rocky Run, that will add four medals to my total this year. By the end of 2022, the goal is a total of 24 medals!

In recent years with my health, disability, and the pandemic, I have been looking at the reality of retirement from the competitive running circuit. My goal is to earn and achieve 26 medals when I enter retirement. 

If I am able to earn and achieve all 4 medals this year, then I only need to earn 2 more medals in 2023 to retire. Retirement does not mean that I will stop running or that I will stop racing. For me, retirement means that I will not need to push myself to compete at the same level I have been competing. To be honest, I’m not sure how many more miles I have left in me. Of course, I am going to keep running until I die or otherwise cannot. 

For me, retirement means that I will not be chasing down medals. I may do more 5k races than marathons. I will do more charity runs. I will not worry about my speed, time, or placement. If I am lucky enough to earn more medals than 26, that is fine. It is my competitive racing days that will be over. Once I’m retired, every mile will be the frosting on a cupcake.

Of course, this is all wishful thinking. I currently have 20 medals. I have to earn 6 more medals to achieve my retirement goal. All of this is dependent upon remaining healthy and COVID-free. 

The big excitement is that my goal is in sight. If I can achieve the 4 medals I have planned for this year, then I only need to earn 2 medals in 2023 to reach my goal.

In addition to my action packing running season this year, I am also working on my memoir, titled: Always Pee Downhill: Tales of Running, Life and Love. I am about halfway through the first draft. My goal is to finish as much of my memoir this year as possible. Each chapter details one of my marathon medals. Not only does it look at my training and race day itself, but also the events in my life that were happening at the time. 

To add a little excitement to this year’s running season announcement, here is a never before published sneak peak of the first few paragraphs of my forthcoming memoir, Always Pee Downhill.

November 18, 2007

Philadelphia Half Marathon

Time: 2:21:29

Age: 28

Medal # 1

At mile 6 of the 2017 Philadelphia Half Marathon, the infamous runner’s grid kicked in. I was at the furthest point from an aide station or a porta potty and I had to pee. On one side of me, cars whizzed by at 70 mph on Interstate-95. On the other side of me there was a sea of runners in the race. Right up ahead, I saw a small grouping of trees. I could squat behind one and hide myself from the other runners. I would still be in full view of I-95, but those cars are going 70 mph. They will go by so fast; they won’t have time to register someone squatting to pee on the side of the highway. 

I ran over to the tree, and squatted to go as quickly as possible. I just needed to get it done and hope I was not arrested. Just as I was almost done, someone ran past me and stopped at the tree next to mine. The back of his shirt said “FBI.” I was pretty sure I was about to be arrested for public urination and indecency. 

The man did a double take look at me, apologized, turned, and whipped his out to pee on the tree in front of me. I was done peeing, so I pulled up my shorts as quickly as possible. I got back into the race. Little did I know at the time, this was common practice for marathon runners to just pee as discretely as possible where and when you needed. Runners in sanctioned races are exempt from public urination laws, yet we are still supposed to use a porta potty as much as possible. Peeing where needed is for emergency use only. 

I ran the next mile like I was being chased by the cops. I was still thinking there might be a slight possibility of getting in trouble for my little pee break. But then I figured Mr. FBI man was doing the same thing. I just kept running. I ran like the cops were chasing me. They weren’t, but I had not seen the guy in the FBI shirt pass by me yet, so you never know.

This has been your exclusive sneak peek at my memoir, Always Pee Downhill! Thank you for reading. It’s time to Cowgirl Up! For running season 2022. 

Will Run for Peace

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Ukrainian President Zelensky announced that if anyone wanted to go to Ukraine to help them fight, they would give you arms. I would love to go. The only things preventing me from going are my cats and the fear that they would not take me to fight in Ukraine.

Ukraine is worth fighting for. Their freedom is worth fighting for. Would I fight for America? No, I would not. America is not worth fighting for anymore. America put me on their euthanasia list.

Both the President and the CDC say that I am they type of person that should die in the pandemic. They want me to die. As part of the vaccine mandate, there was a euthanasia plan for those medically unable to be vaccinated. My euthanasia appointment was immediately canceled as soon as the Supreme Cout struck down the vaccine mandate. The hospital told me that as medical professionals, their first duty is to “do no harm,” and they did not want to euthanize anyone if they were not mandated by politics.

In America, I am condemned to die. In addition to the euthanasia list, we have not had a single mask mandate or lockdown. America is trying to make our COVID death toll as high as possible. I don’t want to die of COVID. I would rather die fighting for something in which I believe. I would rather die fighting for Ukraine. Those people deserve freedom.

I try not to get political on this blog, but it is hard with the times in which we are living. However, it’s a wonder Putin does not have the chutzpah to invade the USA. If the USA was invaded, I would not fight. A country that has condemned me to death for my medical conditions is not worth fighting for. If we were invaded, I would surrender. The healthcare as a POW would be a significant improvement over American healthcare. It would be free.  

Healthcare in America is not accessible. It is not affordable. Whether you realize it or not, as soon as the USA declares the pandemic over or downgrades it to an endemic, millions of Americans will lose their healthcare coverage. We will all be back to paying for healthcare 100% out of pocket. We will continue to die because we cannot afford basic care we need.

My life goal is to leave the USA once the cats are gone. If I could figure out how to leave sooner and take the cats with me, I would leave in a heartbeat. I am 100% willing to relinquish my American citizenship to leave the country. 

Immigration to other countries is impossible for low-income Americans. The immigration regulations for American citizens moving to other countries is strict because other countries know we are leaving because we don’t have access to healthcare here. We can’t afford healthcare. I would love to be able to access the NHS or any other functioning health system. As I stated earlier, even healthcare as a POW would be better than what we have available in the USA.

I digress.

I want to help Ukraine. They are worth fighting for. Since I can’t take my cats to a war zone, I need to come up with something else. So, I’m going to do the only thing I know how to do.

I will run for peace.

I have registered for a virtual half marathon this spring benefitting UnitedHelpUkraine.org. This non-profit organization helps provide medical supplies to Ukraine. 

I am a fall racer. I don’t typically run spring races, but when I do, it’s a charity race.

Medal # 21 will be arriving this spring as I prepare for another half marathon. Please consider a donation to UnitedHelpUkraine.org to support my efforts and assist the people of Ukraine.

Ukraine is worth fighting for. Their people did not ask for this. If I did not have 3 cats depending on me, I would volunteer to go fight. I doubt they would accept me, since I am on the American euthanasia list. Or maybe they would, since the USA wants me to die anyway. However, my cats are my only family. I can’t abandon them to fight.

So I will run. I will run for peace. Here comes another half marathon training. This one is for Ukraine.

Medals 19 and 20

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Medals 19 and 20 have been earned! The 2021 running season was one of my best in nearly a decade. For the first time in my running career, I ran two half marathons in one month. While I have completed two half and/or full marathons in a year before, I have never done two in one month. My races have always been spaced several months apart.

This year, both races were virtual and I ran them roughly 6 days apart. I completed both races at the very beginning of November due to concerns about weather and some other things that were going on in life. 

My first race this year was supporting one of my favorite charities for homeless humans, Back on My Feet. Back on My Feet has chapters in several large American cities. I know of their program in Philadelphia.

My second race was the virtual Philadelphia Half Marathon, While I have officially completed the race, I am still waiting for my medal. They were supposedly sent out at the end of October.

The Philly Half was done in support of homeless animals. If you remember from my prior post about the 2021 running season, you could donate to the Humane Society in Honor of Jude, the ASPCA in Honor of Jolene or a small non-profit animal shelter in Honor of Simon.

I am especially antsy about my Philly medal not being here due to it’s meaning. 

In 2007, Philadelphia was my first half marathon. In 2008, Philadelphia was my furst full marathon. In 2021, Philadelphia was my 20th medal. Out of the 20 medals I have earned, 5 are from Philly. 

You just never forget your first.

So, I am anxiously awaiting receipt of medal 20. I will feel much better once it arrives. I have plans for the special medal as far as photos and display. 

This also brings me that much closer to my goal. Once I achieve 26 medals, I plan to “retire” from the professional race circuit. I will still run. I just won’t be as competitive or as adamant about earning medals.

I have already chosen my race for the 2022 running season. It is one that has been on my race bucket list for quite a few years now. 

The miles are in and complete. Medal 20 has been earned. Now I am just waiting for it to arrive. 

Running Season 2021

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It’s official! Training has started for running season 2021. It does not seem possible, as we are still in the grips of a deadly pandemic. Thankfully, the race for which I am training is virtual. It is way too dangerous and completely irresponsible for any races to be held in-person.

As we all know, the Philadelphia Marathon was my first half marathon and then my first full marathon. Of my 18 medals, 4 of them are from Philly. I love that race so much that their logo was tattooed on my arm in 2012.

When I originally got my tattoo, my intent was to have a star for each medal. Well, I have 8 stars and 18 medals. I do not see the possibility of adding any more stars to my tattoo. So now I have to be creative with the meaning of the 8 stars.

I have decided that I want the 8 stars in my tattoo to represent 8 medals from Philly, since it is the Philly logo that is the design. I currently have 4 medals from Philly, so I am half way there.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this year for the first time, the Philadelphia Marathon has offered a virtual option! I can still run and do it safely!

I am currently registered for the VIRTUAL Philadelphia Half Marathon this November. I will be participating from my home area and using my Garmin to confirm my mileage and time.

My 19th medal overall and 5th medal from Philly will be coming this fall!

Training has started this week. I take longer to train due to my disability. I build my mileage more slowly and have more rest weeks built into my training schedule. 

I have always used my races to support some sort of charity. Whenever I have ran Philly, I typically support their homeless services programs. The city of Philadelphia has some of the most innovative programs to combat homelessness in the country.

This year, since I am participating virtually, I am fundraising for a cause near and dear to me – animal shelters. I am still running Philly for homeless services, but this year is for homeless animals, not homeless humans. The cats are the only family I have and my only goal in life right now is to be able to outlive them so that I can care for them and keep them all together.

Therefore, if you would like to “support” me in running the VIRTUAL Philadelphia Half Marathon this November, I ask that you do so in one of the following ways by making a contribution to a no-kill animal shelter:

  • Jude was adopted from a local Humane Society. If you choose to make a donation to a Humane Society near you in order to “support” my race, please do so “In Honor of Jude.”

  • Simon was adopted from a small, local non-profit animal shelter. If you choose to make a donation to a non-profit animal shelter near you that is not associated with either the Human Society or the SPCA, please do so “In Honor of Simon.”

  • Jolene was adopted from a local SPCA. If you choose to donate to a SPCA near you, please do so “In Honor of Jolene.”

Finally, I would like to bring your attention to a great program that gives beds to shelter beds that you can use in conjunction with any shelter. There is a USA company called Kuranda Beds that makes chew/scratch resistant, orthopedic beds for cats and dogs. Consider giving a shelter animal the gift of a good night’s sleep by donating a shelter bed so that they are not sleeping on a hard floor.

If you go to shelterbeds.org, you can choose a local animal rescue near you (Humane Society, SPCA, non-profit). Each shelter has a “wish list” of what size beds they need for their residents (ie. cat beds, large dog size, etc.) Choose a bed size on their wish list and checkout. The bed will be delivered directly to the shelter with a card saying that the bed came from you. It is a wonderful program that gives pets some comfort while they spend time in a shelter waiting to be adopted.

We have been overwhelmed with how much kindness total strangers from across the country and all over the world have shown us in the few months I was unemployed after losing my job. I would like to make my race this year as a way to give back for all the love and support we received.

My only wish in life is to outlive my cats so I can keep them together, cared for, and loved.

Please consider either adopting a furry friend or making a donation to your local no-kill animal shelter. I would be honored to “celebrate” my race this year with you by having donations go to shelters in Honor of each of my cats – Jude, Simon, and Jolene. 

Here’s to hopefully a safe, fun, and productive training season for my November race!

Pandemic Winter Running

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Jolene in the cheese toy.

We have been getting a steady series of ice storms the past few weeks. I don’t mind snow. Snow provides traction. I can run and walk in snow. Ice poses extreme challenges. I do not balance well to begin with and ice is very hazardous for me.

One of the goals for the pandemic is to not fall down. When I fall, I have a tendency to get hurt. With the status of our health system, the goal is for me to need as little health care as possible. 

Last winter, I had a gym membership so that I had treadmill access for when it was ice outside. That all ended in March once I was put into quarantine and am still not supposed to be indoors with anyone else. That means I must run outdoors.

In trying to figure out my pandemic winter running strategy, I have felt a little like Goldilocks when she was trying out porridge. It has taken time for me to figure out how to safely run when there is ice outside.

Last week I was fortunate we had a brief warm up. I was able to run outside on December 30 for my last run of 2020. We have since been continuously pummeled with ice.

A few weeks ago, in an ice storm, I decided to run inside my house. I ran through the various rooms upstairs, This was a disaster. It was slow because there was a lot of weaving in and out of rooms and around items in the rooms. It made me dizzy because there was a lot of turning around. I only got 1 mile in on that “run.” Running inside my house was not going to cut it.

I thought about running around inside the garage, but the car needs to be in there for the men to come help me with the snow and ice. So inside the garage is out as an option.

Since running upstairs did not work out, I decided to do the opposite and try running downstairs. I figured the basement would be ideal because I could just run in large circles around the entire footprint of my home. 

While this was a great idea mentally – no dizziness, no boredom, it was a horrible idea physically. The basement has a concrete floor and it literally killed my knees. I was in pain for days after. I only got in 2 miles on that run. Basement running is out because my body can’t take the pounding.

A treadmill is out for numerous reasons. First, this house is over 100 years old. While everything is up to code, it is in the older end of code. I know that neither the electrical nor the flooring would be able to take the pounding of a treadmill. Second, I looked at treadmills online. They weigh at least 50 pounds. Even if I had it delivered to the house, I would not be able to get it inside and set it up. I am unable to handle anything more than about 20 pounds or so. Even when the cats’ Chewy boxes arrive, I have to open them outside and bring in the contents one at a time because I cannot lift the box to bring it inside.

With upstairs, the garage, the basement, and a treadmill all out, I was running out of options.

Then, somehow it dawned on me. I am not sure if it was inspiration from other people in quarantine across the world or what, but as I was looking out my front window at the ice covered street, I got the bright idea to run around my front porch.

The front porch is one of the reasons why I bought this house. I have a glorious front porch that fully spans the entire front portion of the footprint of the house. It is probably as large as both my living room and the cats’ play room combined. It is wood, so no concrete floor. It has a carpet on it, so no ice.

I ran outside on my front porch today and it was just right!

I successfully got in my first 3 mile run of 2021. Yes, I had to run circles around the porch, but it is large enough that it did not make me dizzy. I was sure to change direction every once in awhile like you do on a track. I was able to be outside in fresh air, which I love. While my running pace was a little slow, it was only about 30 seconds slower than if I had been running on the roads. So the fact that I was running in circles and doing frequent turns did not slow me down that much.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have figured out my running in winter dilemma. 

I am pretty sure that the front porch took the pounding of my running fine. The front porch feels a lot more stable than some of the floors inside my house. Even if the front porch did have problems, it would be easier and cheaper to have the front porch floor repaired than the floors inside my house.

Not only did my run on the porch go well, but I also have a light on my front porch. So I will be able to run either before or after work, even in the dark, just by turning on my porch light. It will be a lot safer than running in the dark on the roads. Safety running outside is always a challenge this time of year due to daylight hours.

My pandemic winter running plan is to run outdoors on the roads as weather permits. As long as there is not ice, I can run the roads. If there is ice, I will run on my front porch.

Another plus to my front porch running was that it started to rain freezing drizzle on my run. Luckily, I was on the front porch, so the precipitation didn’t bother me one bit. I did not get any on me because I was on the porch. My footing was sure and I had a great run.

I have always said that as long as the cats are ok, I am ok. This is true.  My second saying is that as long as I can run, I am ok.  I am so glad to have figured out a winter running plan. If I can do my 3 miles a few times a week, then I know I’m okay.

Running on my front porch is just right. I didn’t get bored or dizzy, and the surface worked well for my body. As long as I keep the snow off the front porch (I do), then I do not typically get ice on the porch due to the carpeting there.

What strategies have you found for pandemic winter running?

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Medal # 17

Last weekend, I participated in my first 5k in about a decade. I started out running 5ks back in the early 2000s, and when it got to the point that I was running over 30 races per year, I figured that I needed to run longer. I have been running half and full marathons for the past 12 years.

The 5k last weekend was a fundraiser for a program very near and dear to me, given my educational and professional background. The 5k raised funds for our local community policing initiative. Having completed the Run to Remember half marathon a few times, and numerous other races that support our emergency responders, I was totally on board to do a 5k for community policing after a 10-year hiatus from the shorter distances. Plus, this one supports our local community police officer, who is an all-around amazing person.

I just ran the 1812 Challenge half marathon a few weeks ago, and signed up for this race totally in support of the cause. I did my Canadian 10:1 run:walk method that I instituted this year. This meant I had two walk breaks for a 5k. I also had an unanticipated third walk break in this race, as there was a hill on one of the streets. I don’t do well with hills, so I walked up it. In total, I had 3 walk breaks over a 3.1 mile run.

The weather was perfect. It was 55 degrees at the start, which is my favorite temperature in all of life, and also optimal race weather. Given my hiatus from the 5k distance, I was just treating this as another 3 mile run. I was not expecting any certain time or accolades. The only expectation I had for myself was to finish in under 30 minutes. Based on my race pace a few weeks ago in my half marathon, I was hoping for about 27 minutes, but I figured under 30 minutes was a reasonable expectation.

My fastest 5k time back in my 20s was 25:10. Now at age 40, I knew I would not get near that. I just wanted to run a decent 3 miles. 

I crossed the finish line in 26:17, far exceeding even my wildest expectation of 27 minutes. 

When checking the boards for race times, which were marked “unofficial,” I was surprised to notice that I had placed 2nd in my age group!

I was surprised and elated! While I consistently perform in the top 10% of runners in half marathons, this was the first time I have ever placed in my age group in any race ever. Well, not in the top 10 anyway. 

At age 40, a 5k time of 26:17 is a new PR (personal record) race for me. Placing in my age group was the icing on the cake. When I turned 40 this year, I have now entered the Masters category of running, and I finally feel like I am coming into my own. I may not be as fast as I was in my 20s, but I am a well-seasoned, experienced runner, and to place in my age group felt amazing. I was so excited. I could not wait to tell everyone.

Running awards were announced at the end of the race. The first place finisher in each category received a prize. As second in my age group, I knew I was not going to receive anything, and I was totally okay with that. I was so happy to place second and have bragging rights. I ran a good 5k and then stayed near the finish line to cheer for everyone who came in after me. It was a great race and just a happy day to be part of the running community.

Imagine my surprise, when the female age 40-49 age group first place finisher was announced and it was me! Apparently, the other woman in my age group was the first overall female finisher, which bumped me up in the standings to be the first finisher in my age group. When I looked online later this week, I also noted that I was the third overall female finisher for the race! 

Welcome to medal # 17! This is my first 5k medal and the only medal that is for a distance shorter than a half marathon. However, I am so honored to have placed first in my age group! I am so proud of this 5k! I had a great time and a great run on an awesome course with amazing people! 

I will now officially say that my 2019 running season is over and I am in the off-season. Medal # 17 was a complete surprise, but definitely one of my most favorite medals. I am so looking forward to planning the 2020 race season over this winter and to resume “recreational running” for the duration of the off-season.

Thank you so much to all the volunteers, the spectators, and every one who has supported me in the 2019 race season. This is the best race season I have had in 5 years and I am so grateful to be able to continue to compete in this sport. I truly consider my ability to run to be a gift from God and every step I take is a blessing. I love all my medals and consider it an honor and a privilege to have earned each one. I’m so happy! Medal # 17 rocks!

Five Reasons the 1812 Challenge Rocks!

So if you haven’t heard, I ran the 1812 Challenge half marathon on September 1, 2019. It was my comeback race. It was amazing. This race is so awesome, I decided it needs its own “Rocks!” post similar to the Garmin one. In random order, here are the five reasons why the 1812 Challenge is my new favorite race. 

  1. Volunteers

Any runner from 1 mile to a full marathon will tell you that every race is about volunteers. We cannot run without them. No volunteers, no race. Kind of like mornings – no coffee, no workee. Yeah, yeah, we hear it all the time. 

Seriously, this race has the best volunteers. It has an army of volunteers. The race field was 1,200 runners. There were 200 volunteers. Our every need was taken care of in every way possible. Not only were the volunteers plentiful, but they were insanely happy. You could tell they genuinely wanted to be there and cared that we had a great race. 

These volunteers did not need coaching to smile, cheer, or encourage us on our way. They just did it and it was genuine. They wanted to be there and the runners were the center of the universe. I have never before gotten that vibe from race volunteers before. 

By the way, have you ever volunteered for a race? If you haven’t, then you should. Don’t be that runner that just races all the time without giving back by volunteering for someone else’s race. We’re the ones that know all the little tricks like how the person with the box of kleenex is an angel because when your legs run, your nose does too. If you are racing, you should be volunteering too. Give back. Pay it forward.

  1. Spectators

This course has the best spectators. It was the first time I ever had people say “good morning” to me on a race course. There were people outside in their yards with a mug of coffee (as in the ceramic 12 oz mug from your kitchen, not a travel mug) enjoying watching us go by. People turned up their stereos for us. 

One person was playing violin on course. Another person played the bag pipes. None of these people needed to be outside. But they were. They were cheering us on. They were awesome. I especially enjoyed all the Disney characters at mile 12. There were people of all ages from children to adult, and everyone was happy to be there. It wasn’t like in the big cities when you get the feeling that the spectators are just there to party. These people were spectating the 1812 race for us. Now, its possible some of those coffee mugs held vodka, but I don’t think so. 

This course was pretty rural. If it wasn’t for the spectators, it would have been lonely and boring. Thank you to everyone who came out to sit in their yard and watch us. You’re awesome. 

  1. Organization

The 1812 Challenge has flawless organization. From the expo to the finish line, everything went off without a hitch. I’m sure there was a lot going on behind the scenes, but from the runner’s perspective, this was a perfect race. 

First, the Expo was held on Saturday at the same location as the start/finish for the race. I’m so glad this was the case. I probably would have gotten lost on race morning if I had not been to the Expo the day before. The Expo had plenty of things to do and was not boring like some other expos. There was swag, music, and running gear sales. 

Parking was surprisingly easy, free, and did I say easy? For both race start and also for leaving the race location afterwards. One of the most stressful moments of race weekend is getting to the starting line on time. It can also be stressful trying to leave a race to get back to shower, rest, and have a full meal. The parking for this race was amazing. It was easy in, easy out. A big part of why race day went so well was that I was not stressed and frustrated trying to get to the start line. Finding the start line was easy, so I could relax and focus on my race.

Another impeccable part of organization with this race was directions. You would not believe how many marathons I have been in and the runners are frustrated because we get confused on turns and where we should go. This course was very well marked and very well staffed. There was no question at any point in time regarding where we should be. We knew at all times that we were on course and were well aware of turns. 

Especially for a race with multiple distances where the 13.1 runners sometimes diverged from the 18.12 runners, there was no question about who was supposed to be where. This is in marked contrast to large races I have ran where we get confused on where the full marathon splits from the half marathon. If it’s not organized well, that’s a horrible mistake to make. Luckily, the 1812 Challenge is organized with precision at every aspect.

Another thing that was impressive was porta potties. Porta potties were plentiful and had short to no lines. I used a porta potty at mile 5 and really appreciated it. This was one of the very few races where I did not just run behind a tree somewhere and squat. I am super impressed with the porta potty situation for this race. 

  1. The Course

When they say this course is flat and fast, they mean the course is flat and fast. I have ran races listed as “flat and fast” only to have the huge hill from miles 10-13 completely slow me down and cramp up my legs. The course map was also posted well in advance of the race. I often use course maps when considering a race to decide if it is something I can do based on elevation. 

The course was also well laid out. I was not bored. I had plenty to look at. I enjoyed having multiple turns. I tend to get bored if I’m just running a straight-away for 4 or 5 miles. We were able to see the beauty of Lake Ontario, the tranquility of cows on a farm, and the gorgeously quaint main street of Sackets Harbor. One of my favorite activities is learning about a new place by running their race. This course definitely allows you to see the sights.

  1. Timing

Apparently, this race used to be at the end of August and was moved to Labor Day weekend this year. Some people have complained about the change, but personally. I love it. Even though the change is only one week, pushing it a little into the fall brings me hopes of lower temperatures. My optimal race temperature is about 55 degrees. If it is 70 degrees or above, then I need to use my MS cooling vest and we may be looking at physical problems/symptoms.

The weather was perfect for this race with 56 degrees at the start and a high of about 72 for the day. I liked having it Labor Day weekend because the end of August tends to be feast or famine – everyone is either running around trying to get ready for back to school or every one is on vacation. For me, Labor Day weekend was perfect because I had the time to enjoy the race without needing to worry about idiots around me. 

I was really happy with the 7:30 am race start time. Again, this is for temperature reasons related to my functioning. Some half marathons start later in the morning and it is too damn hot! The 1812 Challenge has nailed the timing aspect. 

I was also impressed with the on the course race timing. When finished, I was able to punch my bib number into a little machine, and it printed me a slip of paper with all my race stats. This is one of the most incredible pieces of technology I have seen in the course of my running career. I love it! No more standing in front of boards and saying excuse me to the group of people around you trying to find your bib number and times. Then try to find a pen to write it down because who carries a pen to a marathon? I love the new timing technology. That race stat slip is my favorite piece of paper.

Bonus Reason why the 1812 Challenge Rocks! Because I could not stop at just 5 …

Bonus = Theme/Swag

I love how this race commemorates the 1812 theme. From the medals to the race swag, the theme is just awesome. The visuals are great. I love the artistry of a patriot from that time period. 

This race also ties in with the 1812 beer and has pint glasses and other swag that goes with the theme. Not to mention, an 1812 beer is included with the race. The beer ticket is attached to the bib. 

The challenge theme is awesome because 18.12 is an unusual distance. It’s more than a half marathon, but less than a full marathon. It’s the perfect way to challenge yourself for those scared to make the jump between distances. While everyone else has stickers that say 26.2 or 13.1, you can have one that says 18.12. Just so that people are like what? And it will be cool. Do the 1812 Challenge. Put the 18.12 sticker on your car. You will start a thing. You’ll see. 

I am so looking forward to returning to the 1812 Challenge in 2020. I can’t wait to figure out which challenge is in store for me next year – 13.1 or 18.12!