Thursday, September 22, 2011


Well, I am very wary of writing this post because I am not certain that I'll be able to do my little Suki justice!  She was a very special friend to me and losing her has left an indescribable hole!

I met Suki 9 years ago.  She was 4 years old and belonged to Marcia, my friend David's girlfriend.  When I moved in with him I had no idea the bond that Suki and I would develop.  I don't know how it began or when it began, I just know that it did, and we really did develop an incredibly tight bond!

I have said to many people that I may not have made the move to Tennessee without the very wonderful birthday gift that Marcia gave me in 2006.  That's when she said that I could bring Suki with me.  I know how much Marcia loved Suki and I know how hard that must have been for her, and I'll be forever grateful to her!

Suki and I had a wonderful 9 years together.  I wasn't the best mommy in the world but I loved her so much!  I looked so forward to seeing her when I got home at night!  There was nothing more special than her waiting for me and greeting me at the door!  Suki was paper trained, and every night I would come in and ask her if she'd been a good girl, and she couldn't wait to take me and show me that she had!  Please excuse the mess that my house was this day, but this is what we did every night when I came home:

Suki couldn't jump up on the furniture so I built 'steps' around the furniture to help Suki climb on.  When she got too old to use those Ray, my friend Debbie's husband, built her a ramp to use.  They have no idea how much it meant to us because it gave Suki her freedom back. 

A lot of people didn't get to see the energetic side of Suki, so here is a little video to show that.  I was trying very hard to get her to bark but she just wouldn't cooperate.

I'm not exactly sure when things changed, it was very gradual.  She stopped barking at me when I came home.  I really miss that attitude bark I used to get when I left her alone too long.  Oh, she would tell me all about it!  We stopped going in to see what a good girl she was, although she always was!  There was no more licking me in the face in the morning when she wanted to get up!  Back then I just wanted to sleep but you had to love it when she did that!  Eventually she loved to sleep even more than I did as you can see in the next video; one of my all time favorites...

What a sweet little angel she was!!!  I took her to get groomed the week before she passed.  She was so exhausted after that she came home and took a nap.  She didn't even eat the treat I gave her.

I had a book club meeting that night and believe it or not, Suki slept through the entire thing even as Tamara and I passed her back and forth, taking turns holding her.  I had spent the whole morning telling her she was getting all gussied up for the ladies, and then she slept right through the entire meeting.  About 5 minutes after everyone left she woke up and I took this picture of her and posted it on the facebook page so that they could see her awake.

Frankie said that it looked like she was saying 'hey, did I miss something?', and I think Frankie was right!

I've got a ton of pictures and a ton of memories that I clearly can't put into this blog, if I did it would quickly turn into a book!  This won't be the last you hear of her or the last pictures that you see of her.  I am certain there will be more from time to time.

It's been a month since I lost my little Suki Luu.  I want to thank everyone for their support during this time.  The facebook comments, the flowers, the calls, the cards.  They all really helped a lot. 

Suki has found her final resting spot inside our air conditioned house, of course.  I can't pick her up and hold her anymore, but she's here; I can feel her.  This is my memorial to Suki. 

The red bracelet that says "Bark Loud" was given to her by my neighbors, Holly and Shawn. The necklace was made by my friend Donna.  I know that she made it for me, to help me get through this time, but I decided to let Suki wear it first and now I just don't have the heart to take it from her. 

I don't know if there really is a Rainbow Bridge but I'd like to believe there is.  I look forward to the day I'll be able to hold my baby again and she can give me the kisses that she always saved just for me.  Until then, I will have the memories and plenty of pictures to remind me of the good times!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Longest Run So Far

It's been awhile since I have blogged!  I'm not sure why because I have been staying pretty busy, but for some reason, I was having a hard time getting back to writing.  But, I figured now that I am in full blown training for my first full marathon, it was a good time to get back to it.

A couple weeks ago I ran my first run with the Nashville Striders.  It was a 14-mile run, one of a series for their fall marathon training.  It was a hot day, although thankfully from what Inez told me, it wasn't as hot as the year before, and the second time I've ran that distance.  The run didn't start out very well because I arrived just as they were taking off.  We got a few blocks down the road and I realized I hadn't even turned my Garmin on, and then when I turned it on it was still set for cycling from the day before!  Long story short, the run didn't go that well.  One of those "hit the wall" kind of days.  The bright spots were getting to run with Inez again because we hadn't ran together in a long time, and Rachel joining us for 5 miles of the run.  Oh, and discovering Bongo Java.  Their coffee is better than Starbucks and I can't wait until I'm in Nashville and I get to try it again.

Last week was an 'easy' week, if there is such a thing when you're training for a marathon and then today was our 16-mile run, the longest run I've done to date!  I was really struggling with the thought of running this run.  I think I was trying to think of any reason I could to get out of it!  I rode 16 1/2 miles on the bike yesterday (tough ride!!!) and my knee was kind of hurting.  I twisted my ankle on a trail run on Thursday and that was really hurting yesterday!  I had to get up at 4:30.  It looked like rain, whatever I could think of!

Anyhow, the alarm went off at 4:30 and from what I could tell there was no rain so that excuse was gone!  Ankle was still sore, but what are you going to do?  Anyhow, I got up, got myself ready and headed to Cool Springs for the 6:00 start.  I was early this time!  Gave me a chance to get to the bathroom and get situated before the run.  Much better than seeing everyone taking off the second you get there! 

Inez left me in the first mile for a bathroom break and said she would catch up, so I kept going.  I was running basically by myself as the rest of the group is much faster than me, but there is something about running with a group, even when you're not 'with' the group, that makes the run better.  It was hot at 6:00 and there was no breeze!  I was really hoping that the 35% chance of rain that Weatherbug was predicting would come through!

Well, Inez didn't catch me and I ended up running the first 8 by myself.  Luckily when I turned the corner onto Carothers there was a good breeze picking up!  It made all of the difference!  I wasn't running fast and I took some walk breaks, but I was feeling pretty good during the first 8.  I tried to pay as little attention to the Garmin as I could.  (Inez had basically asked me to leave it at home, which of course I refused, but I promised I would not mention how far we had gone or how far we had left to go. -- Did I mention how tough the 14-mile run was for me 2 weeks before??)  I did sneak some peaks though, of course!  I tried to pay attention mostly to my heart rate and was pretty impressed that so far I was staying in my aerobic zone and I tried to concentrate on that.  I have to admit I probably used that as an excuse to walk a hill or two, but a friend told me yesterday it was about time on my feet so I took the walk breaks in stride!

I took a couple of photo ops during this run and this was the first one.  This is the hill on Liberty Pike that is part of my Nissan 5-Mile Loop!  Although normally I am running down it!  When I saw it I had planned on running the entire thing but I didn't!  I don't think I even ran half before walking the first time!  Then I employed my run to the next light post strategy and that got me up and over it just fine.  However, one of my new goals is to run this entire hill during the Viva la Diva in November.  Mind over matter, right!?

I took this picture while I was running.  My phone was in a ziploc
bag and I didn't bother taking it out so it's not the best picture
in the world.

I took this one on the car ride home. Oh yeah,
the car behind me was really enjoying that!
On the other side of the hill was a water stop provided by the Striders.  Did I already tell you how great that organization is?  After that about a mile until the turnaround and halfway point!!!!  This is the portion of the run where I saw most of the rest of the group.  Yep, you got it, they were on their way back!  Oh well, I kept my turtle pace and just planned on finishing the run!  I was actually feeling really good at this point.  In fact, except for the first mile (11:16) this was my best mile (11:18), that's how good I was feeling.  I don't think that it hurt that there were major storm clouds in front of me! 

Yes, I wanted rain, but this was screaming major downpour!
Luckily this storm passed us up.  I made my turnaround at mile 8 and hooked back up with Inez.  We ran/walked the last 8 together and it did rain which was awesome.  I never once mentioned the mileage or pace which I know she was grateful for!  (I was watching though!!!)  I didn't hit my goal pace, but as someone (Gail Lage) pointed out yesterday, it's not the pace I need to be worried about but logging time on my feet!  That was a big mental help for me!  The other mental help came from Donna who told me to concentrate on tomorrow's run and not the 18 or 20 that I'm doing in the next few weeks.  I can't tell you how much that comment helped my psychie!

Anyhow, I'm still not sure I've got this 26.2 in me, but I'm not giving up!  (Yep, my friend Jill pointed out that I'm not one to give up on something. -- aren't friends awesome!!??)  I do feel a little better about it after getting this 16 in the books!  I can't say I'm looking forward to 18 next week, but I'm ready to get out there and try it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weather Radio -- Friend or Foe?

My mother used to live in Hampstead, NC, right outside of Wilmington, NC, and there was lots of weather there; hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.  I used to visit her and inevitably at least one night during my visit her weather radio would go off warning us of some impending disaster.  Although it usually wasn't for her area, it still scared the crap out of me whenever it would go off in the middle of the night!

Fast forward about 10 years... I move to Murfreesboro, TN.  Apparently tornado alley!!!  Who knew!!!???  And, what do you think is one of the first things I do?  Yep, I buy one of those stupid weather radios!  Now, I know they are good, and one day it is going to save my life, but nights like last night really make me question whether it is my friend or my foe!

So this morning I'm sound asleep and what do you think happened?  That's right... at about 3:00 a.m. the radio starts blaring that awful warning and when I jump out of bed with my heart pounding out of my chest to find out what terrible thing is headed my way, it is a thunderstorm warning, and not even for my county!  Now, I know that severe thunderstorms can bring hail and strong winds, but I don't think my house is going to blow apart or away because of a severe thunderstorm.  So therefore, I don't really want to be awakened at 3 o'clock in the morning to find out there is a warning in the next county!  Or 10 minutes later when it gets closer.  Or 15 minutes later when it has reached my county but not my part of the county!  The fourth time was a generic thunderstorm watch which did include Murfreesboro and finally, the fifth time... yes, I said the fifth time, the thunderstorm warning was in my area.

So, yes, my weather radio does warn me of impending tornadoes in the area which makes it my friend, but please, please, please let me sleep if it's just going to be a thunderstorm! By the way, this is where I was going to say something funny and witty, but I've got nothing.  I just want to sleep through one of my favorite things... a thunderstorm!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

RC Cola and Moonpie 10-Mile Run 2011

I thought about signing up for this race last year.  I went on to register and while reading the information for the race came to the warning that said something to the effect that this race is hilly and will be hot and if you are not in shape for it you should not sign up for it.  Well, that was enough to scare the crap out of me, so I skipped it!   I did, however, make the drive to Bell Buckle for the RC Cola and Moonpie Festival so that I could partake in one of my favorite things; the deep fried moonpie.  I went with my friend Julia and arrived just as the last runners were coming towards the finish line.  It must have been close to 100 degrees at that time and I was so glad that I had come to my senses and not signed up to run it.

Julia cooling off from the 100 degree weather!

Julia eating her first deep fried moonpie.  I thought
 she had enjoyed it but I found out this year
that she didn't like it after all!

Well, fast forward a year and I decided I wanted to brave the heat and the hilly 10 miles!  I knew my friend, Inez, would be running it, although she almost didn't because of her heel.  I begged and begged my friend Kay to run it and she finally agreed!  And it took right up until the day before the run to finally convince Letitia to do it, but she signed up as well!  Inez's daughter, Elizabeth, was able to run it too and her son, J.B. went with them and rode his bike.

Here, I'd like to say that I can't blame Kay for not wanting to do the run.  She was moving to Mississippi and had to get packed, moved, move her sister, etc.  But, I finally convinced her this would be a good farewell run for us and luckily everything worked out and she was able to do it.  When I finally registered I was disappointed that the warning was no longer there!  Maybe they had an "in" with Mother Nature and knew the weather would be good.

So, on a not so hot day in June, we all converged on the small town of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, ready to tackle the 10-mile run.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't cool and it was definitely humid, but it wasn't as hot as it has been in past years.  Check in was quick and easy leaving plenty of time to prepare for the run and take a few pre-race pictures.

This is Kay, ready to rock n' roll!

Wow!  That is a lot of pink!!!!!
 So, I mentioned earlier that this would be my last run with Kay. Well technically that isn't true because we will be running our first full marathon together in October, but with her moving to Mississippi it is definitely our last opportunity to run together for a long time!  I've gotten used to our weekly runs after work, and have mentioned that her patience running with me was instrumental during my heart rate training!  I'm going to miss that so this seemed like a good way to end that era!

I really liked the route, and I didn't think the hills were too bad.  Add 10-15 degrees though and it might have been a different story.  I love running on country roads, which was one of the best things about Ragnar Tennessee last year, so this was a really nice route for that!

Inez just ahead of us in her patriotic red, white and blue!
I was actually taking a picture of the cattle crossing sign;
Inez just happened to be near it!

These cows were running with us at first but by the time
I got my camera out they were taking a run break!
I also assume they are the ones using the cattle crossing!

I guess the cows belonged here at
Happy Valley Livestock, Inc.

And the people of Bell Buckle are great!  At the top of the hill at mile 4 1/2 the family who lives out there was outside with ice water and a hose to cool us off!  They weren't an official water stop, they were just out there helping us out!!!! 

Just before the hill at mile 4 1/2. 

I don't think the picture does the hill justice.  Let's just say there
were a lot of people walking up it!
There was also a nice man out with his hose around mile 7!  It wasn't as hot as it has been in past years (from what I've heard) and the hose felt good so I can only imagine how great it must feel on those hot days! 

I was having a lot of fun with this run, as you can tell by the pictures.  It's not often that I stop on a run to do that.  I think Kay's expression says it all right here...

She kind of looks like she's saying "Enough with the pictures!", doesn't it?
But that didn't stop me.  I took a few more...

Letitia's Happy 40th birthday sign that we posted
just after the turn onto Liberty Pike!

And I even had her run ahead of me to get these shots of me running!  LOL

Crossing the finish line at the 2 hour mark. 
(Thanks Julia for the picture!)

It was a very fun run and I am looking forward to tackling it again next year!

Inez, Kay and Letitia enjoying the great spread the Moonpie Festival provided!

And I finally got my deep fried moonpie!  Yummy!!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

... Tempo Run -- Fail

It's been a rough week trying to get my runs in with bad weather and adding swimming into the mix.   I was pretty tired today and I had a bad feeling about this tempo run tonight, but I felt I would have been madder if I hadn't attempted it at all.

SmartCoach plan had me doing a 1-mile warm-up, 4 miles at 10:18 and a 1-mile cool down.  The weather wasn't too bad so I can't really blame it on that.  I think it was mid to high 80's at the start with a nice breeze.  It felt really good in the shade but it was a little warm in the sun.  I was supposed to meet up with the other NoBo mentors and run and then have dinner and drinks with them but I even failed that tonight!  If my speed work had been out of the way I would have met them and ran with them.  As it is I was going further than they were so I planned on heading out early and then hopefully running into them after.  Then as I was driving over to the trailhead where they were meeting I remembered that the bridge was being repaired and was closed during the week.  I didn't think I'd have enough greenway to run from there so I went to Old Fort instead and ran to Cason and back.

My warm up was okay but going my 11-11:30 minute pace my legs were feeling tired and I was already worried about the 4-mile tempo portion of the run.  I'm not sure if I was too tired to manage it or if I psyched myself out but it was a fail.  I successfully completed the first mile on pace but strugged during the second AND third miles.  I started the fourth mile out walking; not a good start, and I even think I walked some more in there but knowing it was the last fast mile I had to do I was able to put mind of matter and run that one on pace too.  Sometimes I think the hardest part of my speedwork and tempo runs is jogging out that last mile cooldown.  I'm usually sufficiently tired that the pace feels okay, or even hard, but after pushing myself fast for the other miles, the last mile just seems to drag on and and on and tonight was no exception.

I'm not sure if I'm more upset because I knew I wasn't up for this run and tried it anyway, or that I failed at maintaining the goal pace.  I guess ultimately it's better to have attempted something and failed than not even attempt it but at the moment that doesn't make me feel much better.

My mile splits were 11:16/10:13/11:03/11:36/10:16/11:51.  The one upside is that somewhere along the run I decided I would be happy if my finish time was 66 minutes and it was.  1:06:21.

I'm thinking tomorrow would be a good rest day and hopefully I'll be more successful during my long run on Saturday or Sunday.

Happy running.

... To Do My First Tri!

WTH????!!!!!!  I'm beginning to rethink this whole "it's never too late" thing! 

Two weeks ago I was convinced to sign up for my first triathlon.  I believe this would be considered a sprint triathlon, but it's quite a huge feat if you ask me!  Swim 300 meters, bike 16 1/2 miles, and run 3 miles.  Even though every run I do is somewhat of a challenge, I'm pretty certain I can run the 3 miles, however, I haven't been on a bike in years and I really don't know how to swim!

I finally made it to the pool for the first time tonight to see what I can do.  I was so nervous when I got there.  Walking into the pool area for the first time to swim laps I felt like all eyes were on me.  Of course, nobody was paying any attention to me! Whew!  I got in the pool and as God is always taking care of me, I just happened to strike up a converstion with someone who used to teach swimming.  She gave me some good advice and we laughed at my decision to do this but she said that I could do it!  So, off I went doing my best impression of a free style swim!  At least I think that's what it's called!  It actually felt pretty good and I think I even surprised the swim teacher that I could do that.  However, weak arms didn't even get me a full length of the pool before I reverted to my version of the breast stroke.  I finally made it to the edge and I had to stay there for awhile to get my heart rate back down.  I spent the next 15 minutes trying to free style my way across the pool and then reverting to whatever method got me the rest of the way and then resting on the edge of the pool, but I managed the 300 meters! 

Since I had paid $3 to get into the rec center, I decided I needed to get my money's worth so I changed my clothes and went upstairs.  I rode the stationary bike for 20 minutes and made it 3.69 miles.  After that I hopped on the treadmill for 20.  I set it to rolling hills to try to make it a little bit interesting.  I made it 1.75 miles there.  So that was my first attempt at my own version of the mini-sprint triathlon.  It was a good workout and I really hope that 2 months is enough time to get me into shape to do the real thing!   Me, my pathetic version of swimming, and my hand-me-down Wal-Mart bike are on our way!

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Somebody's Birthday!!

Right after the Country Music Marathon in April, Letitia's first half marathon, I brought up the idea of running the Moon Pie 10-Mile run in Bell Buckle this past Saturday.  She told me that it was on a significant birthday of hers and that she thought it would be a great way to celebrate!  Now, of course, when she told me I thought she was talking about her 30th!   Surprise!  I was wrong!

I promised her when she told me that I wouldn't tell anyone about it.  I kept the secret until the day before the run and then Inez and I planned the surprise!  I found this lawn sign that we posted on the run route just after we turned off of Happy Valley Road:

And Inez and her kids made this one that we held up during the last mile of the race:

And then as she ran past we put her birthday 'medal' around her neck and of course missed the picture so Kay ran after her (because she could!) and got this great picture of the birthday girl...

Happy Birthday Letitia!  I hope you had a great one!!!!  Kay, Inez, Elizabeth, J.B. and I enjoyed celebrating it with you!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My First Sub 30 5k (Two Years in the Making) -- Part Two

So, I finished my first 5k in 2009 in 39:05 and managed to run the entire thing.  I met some great friends and definitely got the running "bug"!!!!  That's how it all started and led to this point.  There were several 5ks, a 10k, a few half marathons and a Ragnar Relay in between.  I'm not going to bore you with all of that though.  Let's skip forward to the summer of 2010. 

A friend at work was doing the No Boundaries program through Fleet Feet Nashville.  For those of you who don't know, No Boundaries is a program that takes beginning runners and trains them to run their first 5k.  It's an awesome program and I was very excited that she was going through it.  After she ran her 5k she sent me a picture and she was wearing her program shirt that had the phrase "Running Changes Everything." on the front.  The phrase said it all!  I decided then to sign up for the next No Boundaries program in the fall just because I wanted that shirt!  Silly?  Maybe, but the phrase really said it all!  And maybe it wasn't the entire reason.  I liked the interval idea as well.  This is how they take you from not running at all to running a 5k.  You start 30 seconds at at time and gradually increase your running time and then decrease your walking time.  At that time my only goal was to be a faster runner and I thought that if I could train my body to run faster in those smaller increments that as I increased my running time I would be doing it at a faster pace.  That was true, but it wasn't the best way to do it and I'll get back to that in a bit.

So, the training started in September 2010.  After paying the money and deciding to go, I did feel a little silly about it.  After all, I'd been running for almost 2 years at that point.  But, funny thing happened...  the first night of training Matt (the coach) went over proper running form.  I learned something!  And, I felt that little bit of information was worth my $75 right there!  The first couple of weeks of training were relatively easy for me, but as the run intervals grew longer and we increased the repittions, it did get harder.  I listened to most of what Matt said except for the most important thing which was HR training.  I don't think he specifically called it that then, (who knows because I wasn't listening to that part) but he was very clear that if you couldn't hold a conversation while running then you were running too fast.  But my goal was to run fast and so I ignored that piece of valuable advice!

I'm going to try to make this long story short (who knew I was so long winded?  I didn't until I started this blog!!!), and summarize my No Boundaries training.  First and foremost, I met some great people there who I hope to be friends with a very long time.  Second, I was running faster!  While doing the training I finally ran my Middle Half, the race that started it all!  I ran 3-1 intervals (run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute) for the entire thing, and I PR'd with a time of 2:36.  I also ran the Ragnar Relay Tennessee.  And, I was running faster.  The Jingle Bell 5k finally came (this was the run we were training for) and I had my heart set on a sub-30 5k at that time.  Matt was pacing us at a 30-minute 5k but he was running straight through and not doing intervals.  I was fairly certain I couldn't do that so I stuck to the 3-1 intervals.  It started out ok, but I was pretty wore out by mile 2 and just tried to stay as close to Matty B as I could, but I didn't make that 30-minutes.  I did PR with a 31:26 though so that was the upside.  I can't say that I enjoyed that run very much.  I was proud of my time, but as I was running I wasn't enjoying the run, I saw none of the scenery around me, and I just wanted the run to be over with!  Not much fun!

After No Boundaries, I continued running through the holidays and planned to start training in January for the Blue Ridge Half Marathon in April.  I decided I was going to try to run with the East Nasty group on their Sunday morning marathon training runs.  Oh, and I should also mention here that I had won a heart rate monitor from the Fitness Center at work.  On the first run with East Nasty I was wearing my heart rate monitor.  I had noticed that I was rarely "in the zone" when I was running.  I thought I wasn't running hard enough and that my heart rate was too slow but after further examination I realized that pretty much from the beginning of my run on I was way over the top end of that zone!  When I went to the first East Nasty training run in January I ran into coach extraordinaire, Matty B!  I mentioned the problem with my heart rate monitor and he started explaining how important it is to train in your aerobic zone (Zone 3) and I finally understood what he was talking about during No Boundaries!  So, after a nice discussion after training and a few emails later I was convinced to do heart rate training for three months.  The first training run was such a disappointment.  In order to stay in my zone I pretty much ran a 15-minute mile!  This was considerably slower than what I'd been running and what I'd worked so hard to get my pace to be!  I, of course, panicked thinking that I was training to be a slower runner and immediately went home and sent an email to Matt.   And he responded letting me know that  heart rate training was an ego buster, but gave me all of the reasons that I needed to do it.  So, I decided to trust the plan and stick to running only in my aerobic zone no matter how slow the pace was.  You have no idea how much discipline and patience this took!  Here I should mention my good friend, Kay, who spent many hours running with me at my slow pace, and Rachel E. as well!  As hard as it was on me, I know that it was harder on them and I really appreciate their patience while running with me!  I never could have made it through 3 months of this without them! 

I went through 3 months of running in my zone and towards the end my patience was running thin but I stuck to it for the most part.  I had signed up to do the Mule Kick 5k and I think I was getting a little scared of what I might do in that race so the last couple of runs I did before it were just running and not paying attention to the zone.  The Mule Kick day came around and I ran it with Kay and her husband Josh.  Okay, well not with them because they were way ahead of me, but you know what I mean.  The course was very hilly and thankfully I was prepared for that because I had run a few times in Columbia with Kay and she also included the route in one of our long runs so that I could see what it was.  I didn't PR that run, but I did a very respectable run in just over 32 minutes.  And the best part?  I enjoyed the run!  I wasn't dying like I was in the races I did before and I wasn't just wanting to get the run over.  I had been successful!  I was enjoying my runs again!  (Also should note that Kay PR'd this very hilly course and got her first sub-30 5k!!!)

Okay, fast forward to the Blue Ridge Half Marathon that included a 3-mile trek up Mill Mountain and it rained buckets (finish time 2:41 and I ran in right behind the full marathon winner) and then the Country Music Half Marathon two weeks later that I PR'd with a 2:29:51!!!  I loved the Country Music Half and it was such an awesome experience.  I almost didn't sign up for this race because last year's, my very first half, was such a major disaster!  But I'm really glad I did.  What did I notice?  That after 3 months of heart rate training, I actually enjoyed the run!  It was just one of those perfect running days!  At least the first 6-8 miles of it was!  Miles 8-10 were okay, Miles 11-13 were hell! But, I did make my goal and I actually enjoyed running it and felt pretty darn good after!

After the Country Music Half two of my friends (Rachel E and Rachel K) had a discussion on FB about Smartcoach.  This is a training tool on  I had never heard of it so I checked it out.  The tool allows you to put in a recent race time, put in your next race date, how hard you want to train and approximate number of miles per week and it spits out a customized training plan.  I put in my Country Music half time and planned to run the Doughboy Challenge 5k in Murfreesboro on June 11.  The training was relatively simple in miles, the longest run being 7 miles.  I was glad to keep that distance in since I was planning on doing the Moon Pie 10-miler on the 18th.  The easy and long runs it told me to run at 12:42 min/mile and it gave me speedwork.  I was nervous about the speedwork but I loved every minute of it.  I really felt I was pushing myself, and based on my conversations with Matty B I knew that doing speedwork once a week was good because I was still running the easy/long runs at a slower pace allowing me to stay in my aerobic zone.  The other great thing about smartcoach is that it gives you your projected finish time for the race you are training for.  The projected finish time for my Doughboy Challenge was 31:25.  Not exactly the sub-30 I was looking for but a new PR if I was able to pull it off.

I followed the training to a T (well, I did typically do my easy/long runs at a faster pace) and while I didn't expect a sub-30 5k, I did feel that I'd be able to beat the 31:25.  Monte, my neighbor, was going to run the Doughboy with me.  He was very nice and picked up my race packet the night before.  I think General Mills did a fantastic job with the packets and we even received a technical shirt which is very unusual for a 5k.

The morning of the race I met Monte over there.  It had been very hot, but I think it felt pretty good at race time.  The race started at the square in Murfreesboro and was a nice loop with the exception of an out and back through Oakland Mansion.  I was nervous as always before a race, and waivering on the commitment to my goal.  Was I really in the mood to run a 10-minute mile and could I?  Maybe, I guess I'll just do whatever... yadda yadda yadda!  It never fells!  But, the gun went off and I was feeling pretty good so I went for it!  I try very hard not to pay too much attention to the Garmin but I was looking at it often during this race.  My conversation with Rachel E. had determined that to run a sub-30 5k you had to maintain a pace of 9:38 minute/mile.  That seemed far out of reach, however, during that first mile I seemed to be seeing 9:30ish whenever I glanced down!  And, yep, I was feeling pretty good at that pace!  My breathing was good; my legs felt good; and I was able to enjoy the scenery around me!  Even if I couldn't maintain that pace for the entire 3.1 miles, I felt like a winner right there!  There were a few times I looked down and I was going too slow but I kept willing myself to go faster.  I had to keep telling myself it's only 3 miles, it will be over in 15, 10, 5 minutes, etc.  I think hearing my friends Jill and Rachel E. say that in a few of their dailymile posts and race recaps that I was able to push through.  Anyhow, long story short, I ran across that finish line and my Garmin said 29:53! I guess I had started the watch early or stopped it late because my official time was 29:49!   I had finally done it!  I had finally gotten that sub-30 5k I had been striving for 2 years to reach!  And, I was 5th in my age group to boot!  It was quite the successful day!


Post Dough-boy with my medal!  Nope!  I didn't do anything special to get a medal! 
That's right people, General Mills gave us all one!
Pretty cool for a 5k!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My First Sub-30 5k (Two Years+ in the Making!) -- Part One

This past Saturday I accomplished a goal that I have been striving to reach for quite some time, and honestly thought I never would!  To understand how much this means, let me take you back a few years....

In October 2008 I was overweight but semi-active.  A friend I worked with, Jodi, had walked The Middle Half, a local half marathon, and brought her medal into work to show us.  I decided right then and there that I was going to walk The Middle Half in 2009!  I set out a few weeks later, with my friend, Julia, and started training to walk the next year!  Well, first I should mention that Jodi hates it when I tell people how she inspired me to start walking and eventually running because she says she hasn't done anything since, however, it is what it is Jodi.  You did inspire me to start and there's nothing you can do about that! And, I thank you to this day for that inspiration!!!  Sadly, the second is that Julia dropped out of training shortly after we started.  Maybe I can inspire her to get out and start again soon! 

As I trained over the next couple of months on the treadmill after work and the neighborhood on the weekends, I slowly realized that I couldn't walk fast enough to complete the half marathon in the alotted time.  The Middle Half has a required finish time of 3 hours 30 minutes which averages out to about 16 minutes per mile.  I was managing about 17:30 and that was only for 3 miles!  When I mentioned this to Jodi she suggested that I try run/walking it.  See, it was her that got me started!!!!  So, one day while walking on the treadmill at lunch I was bored and decided that I would try running.  I ran for 30 seconds and then walked again.  I was motivated by this 30 seconds.  It was hard, I'm not going to lie!  But, I did it and continued to walk and then I did it again!  So, when people ask me how I started running, it literally was 30 seconds at a time!  And, I'm proud of it! 

I spent several afternoons on the treadmill doing this until finally I got the confidence to run outside.  Now today I have my fancy Garmin that I keep track of pace, intervals, heart rate, etc.  When I started I had my iPod nano for music and that was it.  So, when I started running outside I would run a song and walk a song.  Eventually I ran two songs, walked a song and so on and so on.  My confidence grew and I signed up for the Howl at the Moon 5k in La Vergne, TN.  This was in the middle of August but it was a night run so it wouldn't be so hot.  I trained for a couple of months for this race.  The week of the 5k, the most I had ran without stopping was 2 miles!  My only goal for this 5k was to run it without stopping. 

I was really nervous on the day of the race!  My friends, Wendy and Julia, went with me for support!  And my friend, Mulanda promised to show up later; he had soccer practice (he's a coach) and couldn't be there at the start. 

In the registration line.

Wendy pinning my number on because I was too nervous!

I was so nervous, everyone else seemed to know what they were doing!   So, I walked around to warm up...

Then I headed to the start line!  An amazing thing happened at the start line!  I found out how great other runners can be.  I can still remember exactly what I said that made Rachel laugh and turn around.  Julia said she was going to get a picture of me going across the start line and I said "that'll be a great picture of my a$$!"  Rachel turned around and laughed.  We've been friends ever since, and I consider her to be one of my best friends to this day!  Look closely to the left of me and you'll see Rachel, Alfred, Kingston and Jodi.  Okay, well you can't see Kingston in his stroller in this picture, but trust me, he is there! (I should mention this is not the Jodi that inspired me to start but rather a new friend I met at this race!)

I ran the first half of the race with Jodi (Alfred and Rachel were way ahead of us!).  She talked the entire time!  I always enjoyed my runs with Jodi and I hope that we get out there and run again soon!

The route was an out and back, which is not my favorite but I didn't really even know what that meant at the time!  Jodi and I ran together until the water stop.  She stopped for water and I kept going.  With about a mile left in the race I found Mulanda.  He was standing behind the cop stopping traffic at an intersection and joined me on that last mile.  He had just finished coaching his girls soccer team and had enough energy to run up the hill backwards while putting his earphones in his ears and then shadow boxing!  Show-off!  But, I was touched that he was there to support me!  He talked me through that last mile, and I did manage to run the whole thing!  Here I am running towards the finish line with Mulanda cheering my on!

And check out the clock; my first 5k was in the books with a finish time of 39:05!

It was an awesome night with old friends and new!

Talking to my new running buddies after the race!  Jodi, Rachel & Alfred.

See, I told you Kingston was there!

Okay, okay, I know... I veered way off course!  I'm supposed to be talking about my first sub-30 5k achievement, but, I'm not sure you can fully understand how much it means to me unless you know how I started, and the long journey it took to get there!  I'll continue the journey in my next post!

P.S.  All photos taken by my good friend Julia Loya!  I'm hoping she hits up a few more races to document those as well!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Puppysitting with Elton -- Part Two

So night two of puppysitting started with a walk with Elton.  I took him out for a walk and he did much better than the night before.  We had a very nice walk around the block.  I tried to sufficiently wear him out so that he would sleep that night so we spent hours of playing fetch (see the video below and ignore my awful voice!)  and went out for a second walk before bed. 

After the walk and playing fetch, this is what they looked like.

Yes, I know, Suki wasn't playing fetch but let's not forget that Elton jumped the gate some time during the day and must have been 'playing' with her! 

I spent most of the night fretting over what I would do with him the next day while I was at work.  I still wasn't sure of the potty-training and since I spent hours asking him to leave Suki alone, I decided that the bathroom with the door closed was my only option.  I could go into my friend Alma's saga of her Shitzu that she left in the bathroom one day and she tried so hard to get out that she bloodied her paws and Alma said it looked like there had been a triple homicide in the bathroom when they finally got home (dog ok), but I'm not going to do that!  Just suffice it to say that I was extremely worried all day at work!  I was pleasantly surprised when I got home to find that he had been the perfect puppy.  No pee'ing, pooping or chewing on the cabinets!  We went on a very pleasant walk when I got home, no pulling the leash or anything.  I barely had to hang on at all.  It was great! 

We went on a second walk that night with my friend, Julia, and her two chihuahuas, TJ and Dakota.  When I met up with them we were standing on the corner letting the dogs get to know each other and this cat slowly came walking over to the dogs.  I have never seen a cat do that before and I really wish I had my phone with me so that I could get a picture of it!  Then as we walked around the block we found a puppy running loose.  He had a collar on but not tags.  He pretty much followed us around and was playing with Elton.  A couple of cars came down the road and he wasn't smart enough to get out of the way so we decided to find a safe place for him to stay until we could find the owners.  Luckily my neighbors, Shawn and Holly, agreed to keep him in their fenced in yard a day or two while I put up posters and hopefully found his owner.  I think they fell a little in love with him that night!!  He was a real sweetie.  This is him:

Luckily we did find the owners the next day.  And sadly when I took Elton for his walk this morning Swag (that's what his name turned out to be) was loose again!  Another neighbor had found him and put him on a leash like we had and I pointed her in the right direction to his house!

But, back to the puppysitting... once we got Swag settled into Shawn and Holly's backyard, Elton and I went back home.  Nothing real exciting happened; more fetch, more sleeping and to bed early so I could get up for my 5k the next day.  It was a good 5k so I may actually post about that later. 

We had a very good Saturday, relatively uneventful.  Fetch, walking, sleeping.  Elton found his spot on the back of the couch and they played and even slept  together.  I was never sure if Suki was just defending herself or having some fun with him but I let them play on and off.  She is an old dog and it took a lot out of her so I had to stop it some!

The rest of the weekend was rather uneventful.  Brandy decided to stay an extra night in Chicago and since I am working late tomorrow and think it's unfair to keep him locked in the bathroom for that long I met her friend's mother and handed him off to her for the night.  I felt so bad when I was putting his stuff in the car.  He looked at me with his sad puppy dog eyes like he knew I was sending him away!  He sat in my lap the entire drive to Smyrna and gave me kisses when I let him go.

Brandy, if Elton ever needs a sitter again, you know where to bring him!

Puppysitting with Elton -- Part One

This weekend my friend Brandy participated in the Ragnar Relay Chicago and needed someone to watch her puppy, Elton.  I was a little nervous about having a puppy in my house for several reasons, the first being that he is a puppy!!!  The second reason, and the more important one, is I wasn't sure how Suki, my 13-year-old maltese, would handle it.  For those of you who don't know, Suki is my princess and the center of my world!  She has never been that playful of a dog and in her 'old' age has mellowed to sleeping most of the time!  Oh, and I guess I should mention here that she has never considered herself a dog and pretty much wants nothing to do with any other dog!  Do you see where I am going with this?

Brandy brought little Elton by on Wednesday night since they were heading out to Chicago on Thursday.  She brought the little bundle of joy in and he immediately went crazy running all over the place.  I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  I, like Suki, have mellowed as well!  Brandy hung around for a little while and then left him alone with Suki and me.  Poor Elton stood at the door and cried for quite awhile after she left. 

Elton was quite the wild child that night!  Running all over the house, pee'd a couple of times which luckily I caught right away, getting into things that I don't think about because Suki is so mellow, and spending quite a bit of time humping my arm!!!  I took him out for a good night walk and the first walk on the leash I had to hold on for dear life and hope he didn't get away from me!  When we went to bed he spent quite a few hours chewing on my head and playing, but some time during the night he finally settled in and cuddled up next to me for a little sleep.

Thursday morning was going to be quite a test.  Suki has the run of the house and because I wasn't sure how well trained the puppy was Brandy and I decided it was best to put him in the bathroom with a baby gate so he didn't feel so locked in.  I hated leaving him in there but based on the fact that my house is not puppy proofed, I did believe it was the safest place for him.  So, I left him in there with his bed, food and water and some toys and hoped for the best.  When I came home that night I found that he was able to jump that gate!!!  Not sure what time he got out but based on Suki that night, I have a feeling it was pretty early.  The picture is a little blurry, and yes I did say she sleeps most of the time anyhow, but she was a little more pooped than usual!!!

So starts night 2 of puppysitting, which I will continue in another post...