Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cleveland Rite Aid Half-Marathon Race Report

On Sunday I toed the line at the Rite Aid Half-Marathon. It truly was coming full circle. In 2011 I ran the full. It was the first time I ever visited Cleveland and I had no idea I'd later move here. Seven years later and here we are, back at that same start line. This is one of those times it's hard to wrap my mind around all the places we've lived and the journey through them all. 

Sunday morning I was up at 4:45 to make sure I got all the way through the routine before leaving to catch the train to downtown at 5:20. The train was surprisingly full--I think I counted ~50 people, and I couldn't see all the way to the back of the second car. The train newbies clutch their singles as they board, because on the Rapid (our train system), you pay when you board when going east, and when you exit when going west, and this is totally unclear unless someone tells you. There is something vaguely charming about the quirkiness of it--of the assumption that people understand it.

When I exited the train at Tower City (the central hub), it was raining, harder than you'd like if you plan to wait outside at the start line. Instead, I found my way to the bathrooms, because indoor permanent restroom > port-a-potty. Then, as I was about to leave to head toward the start, my Sunday morning crew messaged me to stay put, that they were coming into Tower City and we'd just meet there. We hung around about as long as we dared before heading to the start.

As we snuck through an opening in the corral gate, moments before the start, I saw my friend Robin who was there as a volunteer, because she's awesome like that.

Moments later, Cathy, Tina and I were off and headed over the start line. The course wound through downtown and, other than going over some metal grate bridges, was a pretty flat, smooth course. The most noteworthy part of the early miles was another runner.

There was a woman running with a Cleveland Indians flag. A full flag, on a pole that was several feet long. It said Indians and had a picture of the mascot. I've seen people run with Marine Corps flags, and that I understand. But the Indians?! Curiosity got the better of me. "Did you lose a bet?" I asked her jokingly. She glared at me. "Just a big fan of the Indians? Why the flag?" She replied that they are getting rid of the Chief as the mascot and she is protesting.

I blankly stared for a moment and moved back away from her. Come again? I thought. You're running in the rain with a generic Indians flag to protest?! Cathy and I just looked at each other. I mean, if you're gonna protest maybe just make it clear what you're protesting? So Cathy and I talked about how people get too wrapped up in things sometimes.

I was trying to keep us at about a 8:57-9:00 pace throughout, with a planned slower start and to make it up in the middle somewhere. We got wrapped up in the energy of the start, but got into our groove pretty quickly. Here are the mile splits:
Mile 1: 8:36

Mile 2: 8:51

Mile 3: 9:09

Mile 4: 8:40 (we had some downhill)

Mile 5: 8:58

Mile 6: 8:52

In the middle of mile 7 we came around a corner to meet, face-to-face, the course's largest hill. I actually laughed at how unexpected it was, just so all of a suddent. According to my Garmin, even including the last few feet of elevation gain that were really past what looked like the top of the hill, this "monster" was 100 feet in elevation gain. About 70 feet of this came in about a quarter mile. I said out loud, "Can we agree not to complain about this later on Facebook?"

No, no we couldn't. I've been struggling with all the complaining lately. After the Hermes 10 Miler in April, people took to the Hermes page, the MRTT page, and their own timelines to complain about a hill. For Rite Aid, people complained about all sorts of things, including this "monster" hill. It was a quarter mile. If you spend more than 4 minutes complaining about it, you have spent longer complaining than you did running/walking it.

People also complained loudly that they thought the course measured long. I find all the casting of aspersions disrespectful to the race organizers. I think they know how to measure a course. If you think the turn-around was wrong, send them a note to double check the placement. My first sub-2 was in a race where the turn-around was misplaced. They acknowledged it and adjusted our finish times. It happens.

But all the online complaining about things that may or may not be valid, that I find difficult. Guys, MapMyRun is not super accurate! It tends to measure long. Cathy and I ran side-by-side and hers clocked the course at 13.7, while my Garmin measured it at 13.37. Also, the very urban environment is hard for GPS accuracy. I recently ran the Hermes 10 miler in vaguely the same part of town. My Garmin under-measured it by a quarter mile, just due to the hills/buildings/overpasses. All this stuff is legit. And if it isn't, and the course was actually long, they will sort it out.

We lost a few seconds at the turn-around, which was a 180* turn, but otherwise stayed reasonably close to mile-to-mile goal times through the second half, adjusting up and down for water stops and slight elevation changes. I enjoyed the on-course music and crowd, and by the second half the rain had stopped. It was just a cool, foggy morning.
Mile 7: 9:09 (the turn-around)
Mile 8: 8:56

Mile 9: 8:47

Mile 10: 8:58

Mile 11: 9:03

Mile 12: 8:49

Cathy was going for her first sub-2 half. I've seen her run sub-2 paced 10 milers almost every Sunday for months. Then she goes to races and psyches herself out! Today would be different. I told her I would make sure she crossed in under 2 hours. Over the last few miles she kept asking me, "Are we going to make it?" "Are we still under 2?" ""How much time before 2 hours?" I kept telling her we were fine, even if Garmin error was insane, we were fine! She had this.

We approached a bridge back into downtown. I reminded her how many times she'd trained over the shorter, steeper bridges on the Towpath, all for this moment. She nailed it. There was a slight incline into the block-long straight-away. We attacked it. She had this. We kicked from about half a mile out.

Mile 13: 8:39

FINISH: 1:58:27.
Katie (our very pregnant race crew/cheering section), Tina, me, and Cathy
I couldn't have been happier to see Cathy reach her goal. She was so well trained and ready for this! I loved getting to be part of it. A runner's first sub-2 is such an achievement!

After, we were all a little chilly, so Cathy and I found a merch tent. I bought a "Run the Land" t-shirt (LOVE!!) and she bought a nice race sweatshirt. They screen printed my shirt on the spot, so it was even warm when I put it on.

We tried a couple places for brunch but due to the race route, we found we couldn't get out of downtown headed in the right direction. We ended up eating on the east side, which worked out well to join up with Candice and her daughter. 

All told, what a great race experience. I'm just so full of gratitude for it all.

Monday, April 9, 2018

March Recap

I know, I'm really late. Life has been busy. You know the deal.

On the running front, soooo much going on in March. Let's start with the big picture numbers:
Total Miles: 103 (Hundo club! Yay!)
Yoga Classes: 3 (I missed a week during spring break)

I had some highlights this month, including a 5-mile race with friends. It was my friend Candice's first race post-injury. It was billed as an obstacle course, which it wasn't. When we arrived no one was feeling it. It was a very cold, very windy day, and we'd be running on the beach of Lake Erie. So....cold wet sand? After a mile we all warmed up and it ended up being a lot of fun. No one was pushing the pace. We were just out to be out and get Candice back out there. We went to brunch after at a place I'd never been. Good food and loved the vibe of the place. 
Afterwards, Laurie went to Fleet Feet and bought three new pairs of shoes because we'd "run on dead fish" during the race. There's a chance she's more focused on clean shoes than I am.

With Candice back, it meant a return to running in the dark with her. I particularly like this post-run selfie. A beautiful sunrise and a goofy friend. That's a wonderful morning.
One Saturday we decided to meet at an intersection where we'd never met. I parked part-way between my house and the meet-up spot and ran to meet her. If there's one thing to know about Candice is that she loathes being late. Loathes it. So when our meet-up time came and went and no Candice, I knew something was up. I waited close to 10 minutes. I considered what might have happened, and just started running in the direction I thought was most likely where she'd ended up. We found each other, ran, and got breakfast at a drop-dead amazing bakery. I drank about 30oz of coffee and ate, then decided I should run back to my car. Don't do that. That's dumb. I did that.

Throughout March, I also continued running about once a week with my neighbor Jake. We've been running together since early last summer. It's been a great way to get to know him, and the accountability of a running buddy is always a good thing. I realized I'd never taken a picture of us.

My long run schedule got rearranged a few times for different reasons. The last day of March this meant running closer to home. I "picked up" Candice for the six middle miles of this run. I had to laugh when she said "what's two miles from your house" and I knew exactly. Only a runner would know down to 0.02 miles the distance to everything.
This run was also something of a wake-up call. I felt this run substantially more than most long runs. Why? Because my usual long run has about 75 total feet of elevation gain. Running closer to home means about 300 feet. Lesson: I need to vary my long runs more. Running on totally flat ground all the time is going to make a hilly race feel a lot harder.

And, we do stuff other than run. Since I realize this is hard to believe, here's a picture. We got together for a glass blowing class on night, then went out for dinner after. We made glass flowers. We got to choose our colors and even the shape of the stem, and the total length (shorter ones if they were ring holders). I would definitely do it again!

I also ran with my usual Sunday morning crew a few times. I enjoy them so much. For some reason this is the only picture I can find at the moment. I will have to correct that for April.

Monday, March 5, 2018

February Review

Miles: 73
I'll be up front: I had some challenges this month. I ended up missing my long run twice--once due to illness and once due to weather. I missed some weekday runs due largely to weather. This was life.

 But then sometimes you run in the fluffy beautiful snow and get frost in your eyelashes and everything is right in the world. 

I had two notable runs. The first was on Valentine's Day. A project I'd had under review for two long, agonizing years at work had finally been accepted. When the email came I got up, changed, and went for a run. I ran fast. I ran happy. I ran 5.6 miles at an 8:12 pace, and was trying to go slow at first. I ran mostly negative splits. It was one of those runs that is everything. You fly, and you smile.

Then the next morning, I went running with my neighbor. I told him I needed a shake out run after going so fast the day before. We spent it dodging last bits of ice and snow, most of which had melted overnight from warmer temperatures and rain.

When we got back to our street and stopped at his house, I looked down at my left ankle, which hurt, and was surprised to see it was bleeding. My sock was so short it didn't protect my foot from the top of my shoe, which isn't usually a problem. It hurt to walk. "Should I drive you home?" my neighbor kindly offered. It's about a tenth of a mile. No, I said, I'd just take the shoe off. But then it was weird to walk in one shoe. So that's how I came to walk barefoot in Cleveland in February.

Yoga classes: 5
I attended my weekly 45-minute lunchtime Vinyasa class four times. Man, I love this class.

I also attended a Yin class with my friend Candice at the end of the month. I'd never heard of it, Yin. In the first 5 minutes I thought, "well, at least it's only an hour I'm wasting." But by the end I was ready to sign up to go back.

The good: Such.Deep.Stretching.
The bad: I'm just not that into my chakras.

Runners talk about everything. We talk about poop a lot. We talk about our bodies a lot. We talk about pain, and triumph, and random, mundane things. You know what we don't talk about? Our chakras. Not one time--ever--have I heard someone mid-run be like, "You know, my air chakra is just out of whack this week." No. Not a thing.

So yinning, what is it? It's holding a pose for 1-4 minutes. You won't sweat, or feel frustrated. You will leave feeling amazing. Try it. If you hate it, it was only an hour.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

January Review: A Tribute To Yoga

Total Miles: 84.9
Yoga Classes: 5. This might, in all seriousness, be some sort of record for me.
Other: I went skiing one day with my older son. I love those days so much. 

Before I get to my Tribute To Yoga, a brief review of running.

Mid-month my friend Candice was finally ready to start re-entry to running, after dealing with an injury. I was happy to meet her one sunny Friday to see how things would go. After a quick 30 minutes we were all smiles.

People sometimes ask how I manage to run outside in Cleveland in the winter. How do I deal with the weather?

Sometimes you get lucky and it sleets on your rest day. Often, you suck it up and run on snowy roads or in a snowstorm. When forced to, you get on a treadmill. But sometimes, if you can just wait and go at a different time, either the storm has passed or the roads are cleared. My delightful Sunday run group used this last strategy a few times--just ran later. On this day, I think we started at 4 or 5pm. This is one of my favorite pictures of us.

 My Tribute To Yoga
In about 2004, I regularly attended a Pilates class for about a year. A few years later, I discovered yoga, mostly through DVDs I found in clearance bins. I don't, frankly, remember the first yoga class I ever attended. What I am certain of is that I saw a sports medicine doc and a sports massage therapist for a knotted left piriformis early in 2011.

I went to a few classes in St. Louis, sometimes with my friend Linda. In Utah, I attended a weekly class at my work for about a year, then an early morning class near my house another year. The class was seldom difficult. I enjoyed the feeling I had when I left. But I can't say I enjoyed yoga. It was something I did to avoid injury. I did it because I felt I had to. 

I felt like that until just a few months ago. Back in September, I realized that my knotted piriformis was part of the problem I was having with my knee. I also learned that I'm really tight in places, and that my iliopsoas was really, really angry. Yoga could help.

I also finally learned the expression "set your intention" for your practice. Prior that, I saw yoga as essentially standing still and sweating while frustrated. I finally grasped that I needed to take yoga inward. That was difficult at first for this runner, who loves to go fast and who is decidedly extroverted. But with practice, I got it. Finally. 

Then, about 3 weeks ago, in mid-late January, my piriformis finally released. After at least 7 years of living with it in a sometimes-painful knot, it finally released. You might wonder how I did this. The answer isn't glamorous: Weeks of sitting on a golf ball for long stretches, then rolling on a pressure point ball until one day, it let go.

After that, yoga positions that call on hip strength became more realistic, but on my left side, it often feels like there is nothing there to hold me up. Like my body has to learn how to live without the knot now. Like it just stopped trying to build muscle there, because a knot was in the way, or because my body had to compensate for it. But I'm going every week, and I'm slowly seeing improvement.

What's better? I actually look forward to it now.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 In Review


2017 was our first full year in Ohio. My highest mileage year ever. A year of new PRs for the 5k and 10k distance. My fifth marathon. New friends. So many other things.

The Big Picture
Running miles: 1320.6. Highest ever! Woohoo!!

I can  easily pick out some notable events on this graph. For instance, Marathon #5 happened April 30, and some time off in May. Then, one day in September some pain I'd been having came to a head, and I had to drastically cut mileage, even dropping back from the Towpath Half in October to its 10k distance. I spent November and December slowly building back up. On New Years Eve, I finally got back up to 10 miles for my long run.

Bike miles: 15
Really just biking to yoga class and back over the summer.

Yoga classes: 14
I went about twice a month from June onward. I know it's not a lot, but I'm calling this one a win.

The Actual Pictures
Past the numbers, this year was nothing short of incredible. It started out a little rough, as my transition out of Utah and to life here was a bumpy one in some respects. The year ended on such a bright note--logging ten miles in ten degree weather with a group of funny, honest, strong women I got to know along the way.

That "along the way" covers so much! It's an odd thing to type, but I feel like I gained a metric shit-ton of wisdom this year. The year brought some preposterously less-than-rosie situations and also some new and renewed friendships that have made my heart so full.

I learned (or re-learned) how crucial it is to always cheer for your people. Even if you disagree with them. Especially when you're competing with them. If you can't support a friend, you take a breath, exit stage left, and reappear when it's blown over.  

So, this should apply to everything. EVERYTHING. It's in economics--cooperative competition makes a thriving set of businesses in a region. In running, Shalene Flanagan taught us about applying this to running. I watched the NY Marathon finish like 20 times. I wasn't misty-eyed you were misty-eyed. It was awesome.

In general, runners are great about this life lesson. We're conditioned over thousands of miles to cheer for other runners. In November, I ran a local 5k with friends. I paced my friend Candice for the first two miles, and then knew she had it and I wasn't any additional help, so I went ahead. When she later realized I won our age group and she won second, she exclaimed, "You bitch!" with the biggest smile and a congratulatory hug. Because the fact that I ran faster only means she chased me. The fact that my friend Katie runs faster than I do only makes me stronger, because for months I chased her on long runs. Your ability does not diminish me, it makes me better.

This flip-side of this lesson learned is respecting the voice in your head that alerts you to red flags. That tells you that sometimes, other people make you uncomfortable, and you need to respect that and shift the situation rather than ignore it. This year, I gained the confidence--through some hard-learned lessons--to hear that guiding voice, and to set some limits on what I was willing to accept.

     Put yourself out there

Part of the confidence needed to hear that guiding voice is in the willingness to put yourself out there to change your situation, whatever the issue is. Put yourself out there. Try new things. There was so much good waiting for me. I just had to look. Soooo many applications of this this year, but take this picture from early 2017. The hardest part of running in the winter is convincing yourself to just go. Go! And then you go and it's not terrible at all. Look at us. We're laughing. It was cold as $&%^* that day.
Such a theme of my year. Where I felt overwhelmed by getting to know neighbors in 2016, I embraced it in 2017. When I missed a long run one Saturday this past summer, I joined up with a group I didn't know (through MRTT) on Sunday, and began forming friendships that have come to mean so much with an amazing group of women. And when I had the courage in other situations to say, "hey, these things don't sit right with me," I found support and more doors opening than closing.

About Those PRs
The 5k PR happened by accident, pacing my friend. After that I realized I hadn't run a 5k literally in years. YEARS. So this is a goal for 2018--to race one for real and see what happens.

I PRed the 10k twice this year. First, at the Hofbrauhaus 10k in August. I had a head cold which slowed me down, but I was happy with the results.
With Cathy at Hofbrauhaus
Then, one day on a long run, some pain I'd had for months just came to a point where I couldn't keep it at bay any longer. Cathy found me walking back to the start during a long run. "What's this?" she said as she came up to me. I told her I was in pain. This was September. On the last day I could, I dropped my Towpath Half registration to the 10k. I wasn't sure I could even do that without hurting, but I did (you can read about that here). I won my age group and PRed, both of which were a surprise. I turned in a 48:13 that day, and while I'm sure I still have more to give at that distance, I'll take that one.

My long run group was in full force that day, a few of us PRing and cheering each other in. My friend Kelly came from WV which made me so happy, and I got to watch her turn in her first sub-2 half.

But then, despite a consistent training cycle, I did NOT PR my spring marathon. Because it was 86* and sunny. But that's the thing about marathons--there is no certainty. I'm not sure I'll re-attempt that one in 2018, but I will go for a half PR for sure.

Looking Ahead
I finished 2017 feeling so hopeful. I have come to love Cleveland, and it has come to be my home. As a family, we have found our people in our neighborhood and elsewhere. Maybe it sounds corny, but my heart is so full ending this year--full of thankfulness for our street and our neighborhood, full of love for this crazy tribe of runner women I've come to be part of, full of appreciation for other aspects of life that have nothing to do with running.

So, 2018, I'm coming for that 5k PR. I'd love another 10k PR. And I'd most of all love a 13.1 PR, but that one will be difficult. I'm going to have a great time trying. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

What I Learned Through Helping a Mentally Ill Person for a Year

This post has taken me more miles of solo running to work through than perhaps any other in this blog's history. It's not running related other than I've used running to work through it. It is, however, important. It is important that as a society we permit mental illness to be discussed without shame. I can only hope my words help achieve that goal, or help someone else in the effort.

I listened to and tried to help a friend suffering from mental illness for a year. We'll call my friend Pat. At first I didn't know it was mental illness. At first I only knew Pat was going through a rough period in life. At first, because it isn't in my wiring to realize it, I also did not realize the role narcissism played in Pat's mental illness. To summarize an incredibly complex story, after a year, a group of friends working with Pat attempted an intervention, to push Pat toward professional psychiatric assistance. It did not go well, and afterward Pat lied to us about seeking treatment we came to learn Pat did not actually seek. Out of exasperation, exhaustion, and sadness, we all cut ties with Pat. We blocked Pat on social media and via phone. 

The year took a lot out of me. It wasn't anything I wasn't happy to give for a friend, and I'm not sorry for trying. But it was emotionally exhausting in a way I'd never experienced. It's taken me a long time to process the lessons learned from this experience.

I have no training in psychology or any health field. I offer you no warranties about my experience. I have no credentials to support the labels I have affixed to Pat (depressed, narcissistic). I offer this because I went looking for help online and found things like this helpful. Here's what I learned from a year of trying to help Pat. 

1. Do not expect any of it to make sense
Pat's downward spiral started with one self-constructed lie, told to heal an old wound and with flagrant disregard for reality or realistic expectations. Pat engaged in some very bad and life-altering behavior as a result of believing this lie. Pat was burned by this behavior. Pat could not accept that the behavior had been bad, that the repercussions had been predictable and warranted. Pat lashed out, primarily by sharing inappropriate information publicly and constructing stories from manipulated parts of other stories.

Sharing inappropriate information was shocking behavior from Pat--totally out of character. When I say inappropriate, I mean incredibly personal information about Pat and others. I and others warned Pat--you shouldn't do this, this is too much. I believe Pat's intent was to convince others how upstanding Pat was, and what a victim Pat was. It was shocking. And scary. And weird. And made no sense. 

Like the over-sharing, stories were constructed to portray Pat in a particular way. The story line was made up of elements of real events, but each element had been dissociated from its original context and turned to fit into an image of Pat as a victim and hero simultaneously. The stories became Pat's reality--became Pat's prison of obsession. The stories consumed Pat. There was no relationship with Pat outside these stories. The over-sharing of personal information was sometimes done to support pieces of these stories, which also did not often make sense.

The stories only made sense if you accepted that they were constructed to portray Pat as victim and hero, to garner attention and build up Pat's ego. If you expected the stories to come from reality, that was another matter entirely. And Pat screamed this story and its new elements 24/7 as they developed. It thickened, and after a while standing at the edge pointing Pat back to the light of reality became impossible.    

2. There will be a lot of intentional fishing for the mentally ill person to figure out how to get a rise out of you
Any hint at questioning the story was met with brutal and swift personal attack. To get through the personal attacks, I had to embrace the knowledge that they weren't real. Pat probably did not even believe the horrible things said. After watching Pat attack someone else, I realized Pat had been fishing for some time, just slipping bits of bait into conversation to see what would get a reaction, then waiting. Example: When Pat saw someone hesitate to discuss domestic violence, Pat remembered it. Pat later accused that person of having had domestic violence in her life and wasn't Pat a great friend for not having judged her for not dealing with it, and how dare she judge Pat for Pat's life. This had the desired effect of temporarily disarming her.
3. Someone has to want help
Yes, we've all heard this before. I did not fully appreciate that it also means you cannot talk someone into wanting help. Remember, you cannot expect the thoughts and actions of a narcissistic, mentally ill person to make sense. That means you cannot logically outline the reasons they should seek help. Logic will not apply. You also cannot appeal to the emotions of a narcissist to get help, because a narcissist believes they really are special and above others. The desire for help has to come from within them. They have to want it, and you cannot make them want it.

4. Sometimes, there will be nothing you can do
This one was the hardest for me by a wide margin. If you haven't gathered already, I'm pretty logically oriented. I see problems, I evaluate their possible solutions, and I implement one. In this scenario, it felt like knowing the wiring in your house was unsafe and doing nothing. Actual people, multiple actual people, felt unsafe. I worried about Pat's physical safety. We tried all possible avenues to get Pat help, even a few avenues we just forced to exist out of desperation. It was incredibly difficult to accept that there was a problem of actual human safety and well-being--a problem I could see and explain clearly--and no viable solution.

5.  Getting out is hard
I have yet to meet a narcissist who does not want to control others. I have garden variety narcissists in my life in other capacities and struggle with this with them. Some do it passive aggressively. Some forcefully. Some by manipulation. But they all do it.

Pat was no different. Pat wanted our attention unconditionally and at all times. We tried to remove ourselves via silence, but Pat was relentless. We asked Pat to stop contacting us. It went poorly. It was painful. But when you tell someone they don't own you and they respond poorly, that has to tell you that leaving was the right choice. It was for us.

At the end of all this, would I do it again? Yes. I would hope anyone would. Part of our job on Earth is to care for our friends. But I would look for clues more wisely than I did before. I learned a lot about self-care through this. It's real. It's important. Sometimes caring for others can gut you. There has to be a limit, and you have to know when you've reached it. It's something I'm continuing to learn.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October-ish Recap

Back in September I started having real trouble with an injury coming out of my left hip. The strain wasn't new. I'd been struggling to contain it most of the summer. But then one day, I just couldn't any more. I couldn't keep my left knee from turning out. I couldn't take shorter steps to keep it from wanting to slip. I couldn't hold the pain at bay. So to make a long story short, I eventually downgraded my registration for the Towpath Half to the 10k. It's why I never posted a September recap. It was such a disappointment after a great training season.

Despite rest, yoga, and limited massage therapy, the problem hasn't gone away. So...October was pretty low mileage. Let's be real about this for a moment. Yes, I was bummed to miss cool mornings and fall foliage. But...after 9 straight months of training, the mornings sleeping in weren't so bad either.

At the end of this, I ran way more miles in September than in October. It sounds better if I tell you the 2-month total: 186. Let's go with that.

The highlight of my October was certainly the Towpath 10k. My friend Kelly and her older daughter came from West Virginia, and this was running gold. Kelly started running relatively recently and has gained a ton of speed in a short period of time. I see pictures of her smiling during races. We've talked at length about training. In short, it's been fun to watch her take on running, and even better to get to share a weekend.

The other reason I loved this race day: my Sunday running group. We coordinated logistics and cheered each other on. They are wonderful.

On Saturday Kelly and I went to packet pick-up, where we ran into Cathy. We picked up some goodies, our bibs, all the hoopla. There was a sweetly presented yet quite confusing promotion about pee cups. Since Kelly lives in WV, she doesn't have a local Athleta (true story: I was 20 before I saw a Gap), so we went to the mall for a bit. Ice cream was involved.

Then, because we're both 10s on the Type A scale, we were up, dressed, and out of the house ahead of schedule on Sunday. We met my friends to switch people between cars, Kelly with them to the half-marathon start and Kathy with me to the 10k start. We headed to the parking and our starting lines. Kathy and I stretched, as we were both having some issues. 
At the start line
Race day weather was outstanding. It had rained the previous day, which kept the dust down on the Towpath. It was cool and beautiful. I felt good. Somehow, magically, probably from adrenaline, my knee/hip didn't give me trouble. I used my old mantras, and reminded myself how many hours I'd trained for these minutes. That it didn't matter if I was tired. I just pushed, and enjoyed it.

I came in at 48:04, which was enough to win my age group. Go me!
With my age group award
I went through the finishing area and came back around to cheer in my friends. One by one they came in, with two setting their first sub-2 hours half times, and getting new PR's in the process! That's a big day for any runner, and I was so pleased I got to be part of it for them.
Front, left to right: Kathy, Katie, Tina, Cathy
Back: me and Kelly
Once everyone was in, Kelly and I went to the Park's general store (which is completely adorable) to buy a cup of coffee. She said she'd dropped her debit card and cash when she'd gotten her fuel out of the zippered pocket of her water bottle mid-race. As I was paying for our items, the cashier asked if it was together and I mentioned her loss. The cashier replied that someone had turned in both items. We found our way to the lost and found and--yes--there they were! The lost & found people were as happy she turned up there as we were someone had turned in her items. The running community is great.

After lunch at one of my family's favorite spots, Kelly and her daughter were headed back home.

The rest of October was low-key. I didn't run a whole lot. My last run of the month was in cold rain. Because the forecast said 5% chance of rain but it's Cleveland so.

Moving into November, I'm hoping my hip/knee will find some peace. I'm enjoying yoga in the meantime though. I've gotten onto going to a place by my work over lunch time, sometimes with another running friend. There's a nice studio near my house too, and I go there sometimes. It's taken years--literally years--but I do finally actually enjoy yoga! It's possible.

That's the recap! I'm hoping for a few more miles in November.