Thursday, November 16, 2017

Half Marathon #30 - RnR Las Vegas (Run the Strip at Night)

Run the Strip at Night! Half marathon #30 for me!

I had never been to Vegas so to say I was excited for months about this race would be an understatement.  However, 2 weeks prior to the race we lost my stepson.  It has been devastating to our family.  It was totally unexpected.  A freak accident!  So the week before the race I told my husband I would not go with my girlfriends to Vegas and stay home.  He told me there was no reason for me to cancel.  I had the trip planned for months and there was nothing I could do at home.  So I decided to go on with my friends in hope that it would take my mind off the situation for maybe just the weekend.  My husband's dad had just passed 3 months prior and now my husband's son.  Seems we've done nothing but cry at our house for months.  I even tried to get Gary to go with me so maybe he would get his mind off things for just a bit, but he said there was nothing going to help him.  He's lost a big part of himself.  He says he'll never be the same.  And I feel that I'd feel the same way if it was one of my kids.  My heart is just so heavy for the whole Clayton family.  I didn't even pack until the day we left for the trip.  Once on the plane I was so afraid I had left something because my mind just wasn't on the race.  I discovered I did actually leave something! My GoPro!!  I had charged it all morning and had a brand new memory card it in ready to go.  I was so sad because I had heard how much entertainment would be on the strip as we ran.  

We arrived late Friday night in Las Vegas.  We were tired and ready for bed.  A couple months before the half they offered a remix challenge.  If you did the 5K on Saturday night and the half or full marathon Sunday night, you would get an extra medal.  Of course us girls signed up.  This pictures says it all:

We LOVE some medals. :>) Penny would be doing the full marathon and Jennifer and I were doing the half marathon and all 3 of us were doing the 5K... so we all did the Remix Challenge. 

Count down till race time.  Jennifer is like 11 years younger than me, but she still allows me to hang out with her. :>) We had a blast! She helped take my mind off being so sad. 

Jennifer had not been to Vegas since she was a child and since I had never been we ended up walking like 15 miles Saturday during the day touring the city and getting to the expo which took forever!  The expo was so crowded when we got there that you could barely move around.  

Our view from our room... notice the coaster!

Our hotel / Casino ... we were directly at the start line for the half & full marathon on Sunday night. 

Beautiful statues all around town! My post would be huge if I posted all 350 pictures I took. LOL

Then we did the 5K that night.  Boy I was exhausted!!! I had no idea how I was going to do the half the next night! But we all 3 did!
Our 5K start photo.

Jennifer and I had someone capture this at the elevator going back to our room after the race.  Our 5K medals.  The 5K was not on the strip.  To me it was boring.  There were like 2,700 people in the 5K so it was not your normal little 5K back home.  I only did it for the extra medal. ha

We decided after cleaning up to go down to Fremont street.  Penny had mentioned it and of course we wanted to try to see everything in our short weekend.  I suggested an Uber so we would not have to walk.  Fremont Street was way down the end of the strip which meant about a 5 mile hike there and a 5 mile hike back.  That wasn't happening after all the miles we had already done on our feet that day! 

Fremont Street to me is just a party area... or it appeared to be that way Saturday night!  We saw some things that I'd rather not even mention. LOL  One lady was dancing in the middle of the street with nothing but a pair of shorts on.  And let's just say that she needed something to hold her top half up! 

You can zip line down the street at Fremont.  The roof is pretty cool.  We didn't zip line.  We basically just walked through to see what was there. 

We took a taxi back to the Belliago to see the fountains and the cost was almost double the Uber cost and the fountains were like half way to our hotel! So go Uber if you can! 

Oh the Strip at night is beautiful 

Everything was so CLEAN!

The fountains were amazing! You must see them at night!

We walked back to our room trying to find a place to eat.  Everything was so crowded.  We needed up at Taps in the MGM.  The hamburger alone was $19.50!  I was starving so I gladly paid the $19.50.  I knew I needed to eat because it had been hours since we had eaten anything and we had a half marathon to run the next day! LOL  

Sunday when we got up we decided to use the monorail to save our legs.  We also didn't try to rush around to see so much.  We only had a few places that we didn't get to on Saturday so we took our time.  I have so many pictures I could post, but I'll spare you. :<>)

Inside the Bellagio... you must go see.. they change it out every season.. nothing but flowers!

Inside Caesars Palace... the statues are amazing. 

 Our plan was to go back to our room around lunch time and maybe take a quick nap before we had to go to the start line for the half marathon.  They required everyone be at the start gates no later than 4:10pm for the 4:30pm start.  We go there around 3:30pm and it as so crowded and so much security due to the recent shooting in Vegas.  Took us forever to get inside our corral and then we were so tight in the corrals you could not bend/stretch or anything.  You just had room to stand.  My knees were killing me standing for like 35 minutes straight before starting.  Here is a video of the start:

As you can see we were in there like sardines at the start line! 

 Penny was in corral 5.  She was doing the full and wanted to stay in that corral so she could make her 5 hour time limit.  Jennifer moved into corral 11 with me.  I told her she did not need to stay with me.  I planned to do my jog/walk program.  She said she wanted to practice that program in case she decided to use it for her first full next year, so she ended up staying with me the whole time.  It was nice to have someone to talk to especially around mile 10 when I was getting tired.  It was strange how I was able to run after all we had done sightseeing.  It was mainly just the bottom of my feet that were just plan sore.  Like they were bruised.  LOL  

The first 4 miles were quiet.  No bands, no entertainment, just quiet..... because we ran directly by the place where the shoot happen a few weeks ago (Mandalay Bay).  At the expo they had this huge banner made that people could sign and they placed in on the side of the street where we ran.  It was so cool.  I prayed for the victims families as we past this part.  What is the world coming to with all these shootings?  It's got to be close to time for Jesus to come back!

After the 4 quiet miles we were on the strip with all kinds of entertainment and people were lined down the streets cheering for us.  It was AMAZING.  Probably the most fun besides the NY marathon that I've ran.  So much crowd support.  It made it easy to run. I so wish I had my GoPro!  I could have made so many cute videos of the strip!  Oh well.. maybe next time. :>)

We finished in 2:36 (I believe... I forgot to stop my watch when we crossed).  The time surprised me with my jog/walk program.  

 Jennifer and I after the race.  Penny was still running... doing her 26.2 miles!  She did finish in her time limit!  I'm so proud of her! I don't think I could have ran 26.2 miles even if I had been in better  shape after all the sightseeing we did. 

 Our half and remix medal. 

We had booked a show close by our hotel.  I had thought we would have plenty of time after the half to get back to our hotel for a nice shower.  That didn't happen!  It took forever to get out of the race exit and back to our hotel.  We had like 45 minutes which included 15 minutes we needed to get back over to the MGM.  You couldn't just walk across the street! You had to take these fancy stairs/escalators and walk ways over the road so it was like a maze getting every where.  We had not eaten any supper either!  We took a quick spit bath.  We just barely made it to the show on time.  It was Fabulous! 

I highly recommend seeing a show if you go to Vegas.  I would have loved to see Celine...but we just didn't have time!

It was midnight by the time we got back to our room.  We didn't even eat supper.  We had popcorn at the show. LOL  Our tour bus for the Hoover Dam, Route 66 and Grand Canyon was picking us up at 6am on Monday so we needed to get in the bed. 

All I can say about our tour is ..... IT WAS AMAZING!!! I was in awe the whole time!  First the Hoover Dam!  Amazing ... man made!  Then Route 66 that use to be the main highway from Illinois to California! And then on to the Grand Canyon where we got to hike for 2 hours.  One of the 7 natural wonders of the world!  It was breathtaking!  I could not believe that I had never been there before!  Several times Drew's (my stepson) smile flashed in my mind and I fought back tears.  He loved planning trips with his girls.  I know he was smiling down at me being in such awe of everything. 

If God can create something this beautiful, I know that one day all our broken hearts will be healed.  We've just got to find the faith to stay strong in God's word.  

I had a fabulous time in Vegas with my friends.  But I was also ready go get home and check on my husband.  The grief of losing a child is just wrong.  It should not happen.  I pray for strength for Drew's wife, his 3 girls, his mom & dad, his brother, his grandmothers and everyone else that LOVED him.  He was a rare gem! I will forever miss him!

This is one of my favorites of them on one of their trips. 

They had just had their Christmas photos made before his accident.  Drew... I've told your dad he must continue to tell your girls stories about you so that they will always have a strong memory of their wonder dad!  Drew always had a smile on his face and was so kind and humble to every person he meet.  So many are mourning him.  I'm not sure my husband will ever get over this loss.

I want to say thanks to so many friends that I know are praying for the Clayton family! MUAH


P.S. The St. Jude Memphis race weekend is just 15 days away.  This year I'll be doing the half.  Due to all that's been going on in my life recently, there had not been enough time for me to train for a full.  I will however run strong for those precious kids of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital!  As of today, Team Run4TheKids has raised slightly over $26,000!  That makes around $130,000 over the 4 years that I've had this team.  Thank you God! We owe it all to you for allowing us to run and raise money for these kids.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

Hub City Hustle ~ Swim - Bike - Run ~

Hub City Hustle TRI -- last TRI for me in 2017 


  I was actually registered in the past for this race and decided not to do it at the last minute.  I believe because the MCM (Marine Corps Marathon) was the same month and I didn't want to risk a bike wreck.  I had heard the bike course was tough and hilly.  So this year I was looking forward to doing the race with no marathons directly after it.  It's local which meant no travel expenses. Yippie.  And the swim is in a lake where I skied almost every weekend as a teenager.  Race week however, I began to get nervous.  Everyone was talking about how hard the bike course was going to be.  So that plus me not really running (still doing my jog/walk intervals)... made me nervous about finishing within a decent time.  

Kathy texted me the night before to see what time I would be at the race site the next morning.  She likes to be early.  She always says she has nervous energy she needs to work out.  Heck... so do I when it comes to a TRI! I wish I could remember her exact words to another girl during the run segment.  The subject came up about how hard the run is and Kathy reminded the lady that the run for a TRI is not like a typical 5K race where you line up and just run.  We had to swim, then bike, and run last.... so it's basically a Swim, Bike, RUN. ...   Your legs feel differently after you've done two other sports before the run.  And they feel really different after a hard bike ride!
I arrived at race site .. Paul B. Johnson state park and Kathy was already basically set up and ready. :>)  She wanted to go jump in the water and get a little warm up swim so I quickly got my stuff in transition and we headed to the water.  Here's a picture of her by our bikes.
 She was pumped and ready to go.

My Bib

The water felt great.  Several people were out testing the water which made it nice.  I tend to get scared in dark water all alone.  I mean there are fish and stuff in there that can bite you!  I figure the more people in the water scares them away.  LOL  I remember when I was a teenager skiing in the lake, I would pray not to fall because the whole time I had to wait for the boat to turn around and come back and get me, I was kicking my feet / skis like crazy to keep stuff away from me. :>) 

Soon it was time for the race start.  We had to line up in number order.  Somehow I was in the 30s and they (Kathy, Serina, & JoAnn) were like in the late 70s.   I told them not to drown me as they swam past me. :>)   The swim started ok and then I was pushed under by another swimmer that was almost swimming on top of me.  I took in a ton of water and got chocked! It was all I could to to catch my breath.  I knew I didn't need to be up front with those fast swimmers!  Anyway, I turned over on my back and reminded myself of what Frosty said in the movie Chasing Mavericks.... Fear is ok, put Panic will kill ya.   So I begin taking deep breaths while still coughing from choking and trying to relax.  I spotted a canoe coming over and told myself I had to get a grip or he was going to pull me out.  So I turned back over and began swimming again.  I told myself to count 15-20 strokes and then raise my head to sight and just keep it steady.  Once I begin counting and focusing on that, I relaxed.  I didn't push it and just swam steady.  You may be physically strong, but you've also got to have your mind right to survive.  That's one reason I always talk about having a positive outlook.  Think positive .. no negatives.  When I exited the water my watch said 14 minutes.  I'd love to be around 10-12 minutes, but was happy to be at 14 at the moment.  We had to run up a hill to transition and the clock was still going on swim time because they didn't have the timing mat until the top of the hill before going into the transition area.  Oh it hurt my feet going up that hill! There were acorns and stuff on the ground.  Thankfully they had a few pieces of carpet at the very top to help.  When I finally crossed the mat, my watch said 14:50 on time.  I also noticed that none of my friends were in yet because their bikes were still on the rack.  I quickly got on my helmet and shoes and took off on the bike.  
Everyone said the first hill going out was a monster.... and YES it was!!! I was almost to the top when I passed a young guy .. His calf said 32 (yes, they put your age on your calf in TRI races) and he was huffing and puffing.  Which so was I, but I was still climbing.  I turned and told him they were not joking about the hill and he grinned and said GEEZ this is hard.  It made this 51 year old feel good to know that a younger person also had the same thoughts I was having at that moment.  :>)  
The bike course continued with continuous hills for 20 miles! I kept expecting Kathy to pass me at any moment.  She's very strong on the bike and I figured Serina may be hanging with JoAnn since this was her first TRI.  I finally pulled into transition and as soon has I got off my bike running in.....guess who came in behind me.. Kathy! We congratulated each other on a great bike ride and begin getting our running shoes on.  I left out of transition slightly ahead of her but knew she'd catch me on the run before too long.  It was probably about 3/4 mile into the run and she came up behind me.  I was stopping to walk some and she stopped too.  I told her to go on and not wait on me.  She just smiled and we walked together and then ran together.  We did this the entire run.  I ran way more than I had expected too.  I ignored my beeps on my watch which tell me when to walk and when to jog.  I so enjoyed having company and even when I wanted to walk, I continued on with her.  It's been so long since we ran together.  We chatted off and on and even meet up with Amanda who ran with us for a little while too.  Finally we had one more hill to run up with the finish line at the top of the hill.  Kathy asked me if I was ready to just run it on in and I told her I'd try my best.... she was  slightly ahead of me crossing ...... because boy I was tired by this point.  :<>)   I was so glad to cross that finish line!  This sprint TRI is slightly longer than most and I was thrilled to finish in 2 hours 3 minutes.

Kathy and I hung out at the finish line to cheer in Serina and JoAnn.  Serina wasn't too far behind us!  The three of us cheered JoAnn in and it was so nice to see her complete her first.  I had no doubt she would finish.  Heck she was in the military so I know she's tough!  We grabbed a couple of pictures afterwards.  

Waiting at the finish line for Jo Jo

All 4 of us .. Kathy, Serina, Me, & Jo Jo

Me and Serina

Kathy took this and said.. "you'll love the background". :>) 

JoJo Finishing! So Proud of her!

Serina coming in to the finish!

Me, Kathy, Amanda, & Serina ..... We took Amanda in... she was missing her swamp donkeys. :>)

Kathy placed 3rd in her age group.  Serina got 1st place in the Athena Division and Amanda and I got placed 4th in our age groups.  Below are my times.. I'm in age group 50-54:

Didn't even notice until I looked at this pic, but my cousin that is in age group 55-59 got 1st place.  I talked to her briefly at the race and wish I had grabbed a picture of us.  I was so focused on waiting for Jo Jo to finish I totally forgot about Pam being at the race after it started.  I have a one track mind sometimes. :<(

So that's a wrap for TRIs this year for me.  Not sure which ones I'll be doing next year .... however I sure hope to do Augusta next year.  It will be the 10th anniversary for the ironman race in Augusta, Ga and I'd love to be there.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Southern Magnolia Bike Ride

The day was finally here...... BIKE RIDE! A couple of us had decided a few months back to do the Southern Magnolia bike ride.  Not sure why I kept calling it the Mississippi Magnolia.. ha  Anyway, ride day was bright at early.  We elected to drive on ride morning to the coast which meant getting up at 3:30 am for me and leaving the house my 4:15 am to meet my group in town to leave at 4:30 am.   You got to love biking riding or running to get up early on the weekend.  

Originally Frank & Krista had signed up for the 40 miler and Me, Melodye, & Sonya signed up for the Metric century (62 miles).  However, Frank started having some back issues recently which forced him to back down to the 25 miler.  When this happened I kind of took Krista under my wing.  She wanted me to do one last long ride with her to prepare her for the ride.  Well, I convinced her to do 50 miles instead of 40 that day.  I needed 50 and I knew she could do it.  We had a little issue on like mile 40 where she had a flat.  I was so sad.  We (Mel was with us on the ride) didn't have enough stuff to fix her flat so we ended up leaving her to go get car to pick her up.  However an angel showed up and fixed her tire so she was able to complete the 50 mile training ride.  I knew then I had to talk her into the metric century.  There was no need in her backing down to the 25 with Frank and no need in her doing the 40 alone.  She was ready and I knew she could do the 62 with us.   

I tried to give gentle hints to her... well... maybe not so gentle.. ha  However, she was questioning herself and her abilities.  I kept telling her positive thoughts only!  I even reminded her of the 4 pillars of strength (Physical, Emotional, Mental & Spiritual) from the moving Chasing Mavericks.  Oh how I love that movie!!

Frosty from Chasing Mavericks

I wasn't absolutely for sure she was going to do the metric until ride morning.  All week she had kind of been going back and forth between the 40 and the metric.  I was thrilled when she even told the registration table she was moving to the metric group.  

We asked a guy in the parking lot to take our picture before we started.  Boy it was MUGGY! It was already like 78 degrees and 100% humidity!  People standing around were all talking that had done the ride several years that this year was the hottest by far.  One day even said that 2 years ago they all had on leg and arm warmers it was so cold.  

Sonya, Krista, Frank, me, & Mel

I don't know how many bikers exactly did the ride, but I heard one person say that 500 had signed up.  It was very crowded when we started!  I couldn't even clip in my pedals because it was stop/start for a good little piece before you could actually ride.  I could tell Krista was nervous.  Heck even I get nervous when it's crowded especially with clip in shoes!  

We were finally off and able to ride without total congestion.  The first 20 miles were TOUGH.  However, due to some great downhills after the long climb, we averaged 15.9 mph.  I kept watching Krista with awe.  She was really doing great!  However, we had not seen a rest stop!  Usually on long bike rides they have them like every 15 miles.  Krista has not learned to drink and ride yet so I knew we needed to pull over and let her drink.  I sure didn't want her to get dehydrated on us.  So I told her at the top of the next hill we would stop.  No need in stopping at the bottom.  Trust me you needed that momentum you gained going down to help you go back up. :>)  So we stopped and we were at mile 18.  Another biker came by and told us that the rest stop was 2 miles ahead.  So yep... the first rest stop was 20 miles into our 62!  So we drank quickly and decided we would stop and stretch in 2 miles.  

I was glad to see the porta john at the rest stop. :>)  We all got off our bikes and grabbed some goodies and Krista filled her water bottle.  There was a big group riding together that had stopped.  We overhead them talking about which way they were going next.  There were 2 roads ... you had to go down each of them and turn around and come back to the same rest stop.  The ride map had you going down the road on the right first, but they said they were doing the road on the left first because it was the harder road and they wanted to get it over with first.  Most of them were from that area and I had started noticing that the place look familiar.  We decided to take their advice and do the road on the left first.  It was 5 miles out and 5 miles back.  and YES it was hard! Not as must downhill as we had in the first 20 miles.  It seemed to be just a steady incline.  I recognized the rode about half way.  It was one of the roads that I had trained on with the Wiggins group to get ready for the ironman race last year.  I went there several times because the elevation was very similar to Augusta.  Melodye and I talked several times during this stretch of the ride.  We both felt like Krista was going to kill us when it was over. hee hee   But we were both also so impressed with Krista.  She was leading our pack most of the time.  We drafted off of her many times. :>)  She hasn't learned to draft yet and Mel loves to draft so we took advantage of Krista being in the front.   Thanks Krista for the strong pull! :> )   I'll say again.. the ride was TOUGH. Check out our elevation map:

Notice that good downhill... this is probably where we averaged that 30 mph! That might not seem fast to you, but on a road bike with skinny wheels coming down a hill that is fast and boy it's FUN.  There were many rolling hills.  Constant up and down.  In the beginning I told Krista to not focus on the up but remind herself that after climbing we would get a downhill where we could rest. :>)

The next road was 10 miles out and 10 miles back.  We took a nice little break at the next stop.  Mel even did her usual laying on the ground to stretch her back. 

 All 4 of us at the rest stop... we were about mile 40 here I believe.. 22 more to go

Krista and Mel taking a break 

Not sure if Mel was offering me her Oreo cookie or just enjoying being off her bike. :>)  

Krista stretching.... at this point she said she had about as much FUN as she wanted.. hee hee..... I had sent this pic to our group before the ride for a good laugh:

We soon took off to try to get in those last miles.  I was glad that for most of the day it was overcast.  If the sun had been beaming the entire time, it would have been unbearable hot.  

We had said we were not going to stop again and just ride to the finish.  However, when we came to the last rest stop we were 12 miles out from the finish, Krista asked to stop to drink.  I keep forgetting that not everyone drinks while they are riding.  So we stopped one last time.  My neck and shoulders were killing me.  I was so ready to get the last 12 miles over.  I need to go get properly fitted for my bike.  I got fitted over 2 years ago when I first started riding by a friend who knows a lot about bikes, but I've never been fitted at a bike store.  I know over time with riding your position of your seat and handle bars can change.  They can drop from the simple pressure of your riding and not to mention the road conditions.. bumpy roads....  It's good to always make sure you are properly fitted.  That is on my to-do-list very soon!

I never saw the camera person on the road coming in to the finish.  I'm glad Robbie saw these pictures on fb and tagged us.

Krista leading us in.... She had been our lead person for probably 70% of the ride so I told her she had to take us in to the finish.  Notice Mel is giving the turn signal.  She's very good at giving all the biking signals which I tend to forget.

I think Mel is glad we are finishing..... HUH? :>)

Frank captured several pictures of us at the finish line:
I'm trying to get a selfie of me and Mel...

Love these girls!

 So proud of them!

Me and my spin teacher... MEL...she often kicks my butt in spin class, but I can honestly say I owe her so much!  She's really been a positive impact in my biking and running thanks to her class!  If you ever get a chance, join us for a spin class.  You'll LOVE it!

Robbie, who did the 25 miler was also still there.  I was glad to see her at the finish.  I'm so proud of  her too.  She just started riding recently and she's improving more and more each day.  Maybe one day she'll do a long distance ride with us.

All 4 of us that completed the Metric Century (62 Miles).  As soon as the ride ended and I got off my bike my shoulders and neck quit hurting.  I felt great.  You can tell by how silly I'm being in the picture.. hee hee

We received an email the night before the ride that the medals they ordered did not come in.  They said they would mail them to us later.  I did however get my finisher jacket and cycle jersey.  I just love this jersey!

 Zip up jacket

Front of Jersey
Back of Jersey... pockets for food, etc.

Mel and I both asked each other if we wanted to do another 38 miles to get to the 100 miles and we both said NO.  LOL  Neither of us were feeling 100 miles ...... especially not on those hills.  ha  However, I think if we had signed up for 100 and been focused on 100 miles, we could have done it.  Our "mental" state plays a huge role in what we accomplish.  For months I had been telling myself it was just 62 miles and not 100.  I was only focused on finishing 62 miles.  I'm a firm believe that our minds have to be focused on what we plan to accomplish. :>)  Positive thoughts as I had told Krista all week before the ride.

Here's our speed chart:
 I'm just so proud of Krista... we were right in between 15-16 mph average most of the ride... that's awesome for a first timer!!!! I knew she could do it!

Our overall ride time.  I'm very happy with the time.  I haven't trained much on speed in a long time.  And doing this time with Krista, a first timer, was amazing! I love riding in groups.  Makes the time go by faster. :>)  Not to mention these 3 ladies are amazing women.  My only thing I regret about the bike ride was the fact that Frank was not with us.  I hate he's having some issues lately which has limited his biking and running.  However, because of the kind of friend that he is to us, he offered to drive us to the ride.  He waited until we finished and drove us home. :>)  I don't know what we'd do without him always taking care of us! Thank you Frank!

Well... until next time.  I've got a sprint TRI coming up in 2 weeks, Duathlon end of October and then a half marathon in Vegas in November.  What's on your schedule?


Half Marathon #30 - RnR Las Vegas (Run the Strip at Night)

Run the Strip at Night! Half marathon #30 for me! I had never been to Vegas so to say I was excited for months about this race would ...