Monday, August 29, 2016

Caught in a storm

I'm working on a Howl post.  I promise.  But in the mean time I thought it would be easier to rattle off a quick little post about a recent running experience.

Yesterday I was scheduled for a 10 mile run.  Oh yeah.....because I decided to finally get in gear and train for the Chicago marathon.  I scribbled a plan on paper and so far have been sticking to it pretty good.  I wouldn't recommend to most people to train for a full marathon in 6 weeks, but you know....I'm not most people.  Do what I say people, not what I do.  haha!

We had a pretty busy day planned so I had to be very intentional and specific about getting out the door to get this run done.  I had a course plotted out and everything seemed to be falling into place, although I was not looking forward to the 100% humidity that was hanging around.  When I arrived to my run start/finish I noticed some cloud coverage.  Nothing too worrisome, but I still checked the radar on my weather app.  There was one little spot north of where I was running, but not over where I actually was.  The prospect of a few sprinkles didn't bother me & the little spot was moving north so I set out on my run.  The first portion of my run was going to take me on the main roads around the park.

I was only minutes into my run and the rain started.  Again, I could see the clouds to the north.  When I looked west it was sunny and blue skies.  I still wasn't worried about getting a little wet so I kept running.  A few more minutes though and the rain picked up to a lot more than a few sprinkles.  It was raining enough that I was beginning to worry about my watch getting too wet.  It's splash proof, but not water resistant.  And my clothes were beginning to get pretty wet too.  Plus running on the main road was getting dicey with the cars not able to see me well as I headed toward them in the rain.  At this point I thought "ok, I can wait for this little thing to pass through."  I clearly was not in any danger, it didn't appear to really be a storm, just a heavy rain cloud passing through.  So I veered off the main road and stood over by some trees by the park path. And I stood....and I stood.....and I stood......

I found the situation a little comical and tried to keep it in perspective.  I was getting a little bit wet, but for the most part the tree was providing me some shelter.  The rain was a little persistent and went from a little rain to an outright down pour.  Right about that time, the wind picked up a little and then the lightening and thunder began to strike.  By then I was actually getting a little worried.

I have to rewind to about 6 weeks ago when I was out at this exact same park and a storm came up out of nowhere.  I was out walking with a friend and we were fortune to be close enough to seek coverage in a picnic shelter, but also ended up underneath the picnic tables because the storm was so bad we could see and hear whole trees coming down from the wind and lightening.  That storm was pretty serious & had wide spread damage all over our town.  In hindsight though that storm was so much worse, but in the moment when I was stuck under this tree I was getting worried.

Before anyone says it.....I KNOW that standing under a tree or seeking shelter under a tree is not a good idea in a storm.  Ok?!?!  Really, give me some credit.  This isn't my first rodeo.  Except when I first went to the tree I thought I was just waiting out a little rain.  If I had known what was coming I would've chosen differently.  But I ended up being stuck between a rock and a hard place.  And before anyone else even says it: a little rain wasn't going to hurt me either.  I KNOW THAT TOO!  And when it started to rain maybe I should've just kept running to a safer place, which was about 1/2 mile in one direction or turned back to my van which was about a 1/2 mile in the opposite direction.  But I'm glad that I wasn't being stupid about running in this weather, I could've kept going and really put myself in danger.  There are lots of shoulda, woulda, couldas in this situation.  But there I was feeling stuck under that tree.

For the most part it was really weird because off the my right the sky was fairly blue, maybe just a big white puffy cloud or two lingering there.  But to my left the sky was gray and dark and definitely the worse of the 2 sides.  And of course, the direction of where my car was parked.  Finally after 45 minute of standing under this tree and by now thoroughly soaked from head to toe I decided to make a run for it and head to my van.  It was still raining hard, but at least the lightening, thunder and wind had died down.  I followed the park trail to my van and some of it was barely passable because so much rain was rapidly covering the path.

I never felt in danger, but I WAS worried at a few moments.  I know I tend to come off as this super strong, independent, I can do anything runner, but I am also very much human.  I don't always make the best in the moment decisions and then am left trying to make the best of what I've done.  And sometimes weathering a situation alone can make it 100x harder. (Although I never felt truly alone as as I knew God was there with me, probably the only thing that helped keep me at peace.)  So this left me in a very vulnerable spot.  In hindsight though I'm chalking it up to another wild, crazy running adventure.  One I won't soon forget.....although for the time being I don't plan to run out there any time soon!!

 The bottom rain pictures were taken when the rain had just began to start.  I had my phone put away during the real heavy rain.  Top pictures were taken toward the end after I was completely soaked.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Race Recap: BIX 7

Last Saturday, my 2 sons & I ran the BIX 7 held in Davenport.  There's a bit of a story behind me running this race, but for now I decided to not indulge you with the History of Carmen 101.  Long story short I'd say that I long resisted running this race and now I look forward to it every single year.

The BIX is always held on the last Saturday in July.  The offer packet pick up on Thursday evening & Friday all day.  It has a decent sized expo, although having run this more than once it's kind of the same thing every year.  I still usually browse around though just to see if I find anything new.  In past years I have not liked the race shirt they have given.  It's always white and usually has a small logo up in the chest corner.  Plain and boring.  They say it's a dri-fit shirt, but it's one of those that resembles a plain white t-shirt.  Personally I prefer a more tech feeling shirt.  Anyway, this year I actually liked the shirt.  At least the design & the fact that it consumed most of the front of the shirt.  It's still plain white.  But I'm not meaning to nit pick.  I mean on one hand this is a BIG race that draws world wide competition.  Can't they up their game a bit on the shirt front?  On the other hand for it being such a big event, the pricing of said event is relatively low and reasonable.  So, hey tit for tat.  It's obviously not a deal breaker with me doing this race. 

It's a bit of a tradition to lay out our running outfit the night before the race.
I typically don't wear my race shirt to the actual race.  It's a slight no no in my running book.  Since I actually liked this years shirt AND since my boys were planning to wear theirs I decided to match them and throw my running rules out the window (at least for this race).

The BIX is often times met with really hot, humid weather.  We lucked out this year and had good temperatures.  It was far from the ideal 60's (hello it IS July in the midwest), but we stayed in the low 80's.  A  nice break from the otherwise 90's we had been having.

Since we live less relatively close to the race we always get up race morning & drive over.  Even with a planned bathroom stop before going to find a parking spot it takes maybe 1 hour tops to get from home to race site.  If you know the area finding a close parking spot is pretty easy.  I took us about 5 minutes to walk from the parked car to the starting area and that included stopping for pre-race pictures.

My son (on the right) who is in high school gets to line up with the other declared high school students, which is directly behind the elite runners.  When you sign up for the race you enter your estimated run time and that is what places you in your start coral.  Other than the elites, they in no way verify your race time, so it's an honor system and I know that most people don't follow it anyway.  Heck, even I didn't this year.  But there are advantages to being in the corals closer to the start, especially when there are 15,000 other runners/walkers involved.  I learned this a long time ago.  Doesn't make a wrong right when it comes to a honor system, but I won't be drastically set back and extremely frustrated by most others not being honest about their coral placement either.  While they don't verify your time when you sign up they are extremely strict about what coral you enter.  They have them color coded and you ONLY are allowed in the section you are signed up for.  Shoot, I came within 25 feet of the high school entrance (I was walking my son up there) and was greeting by 3 volunteers firmly telling me I could NOT enter here!!

I wish I had more time and a better view to take pre-race pics.  But being a *little* on the short side I'm easily engulfed by the crowd once I'm in the coral.  And between picking a long bathroom line and car trouble I was dealing with when I arrived to park left me short on time.  By time my other son & I entered the coral they were playing the national anthem and then we were off.

The beginning of the race is going up the infamous Brady Street hill.  It's slightly what sets this race apart from others.  Here is a good pic looking up from the bottom.
So you can see what  I mean by good coral placement!!

My son & I set off to a good start.  I'm not a lover of running hills on any day, doing so surrounded by thousands of others people isn't much more ideal either.  But I've learned a few tricks of the race along the way that make navigating it fairly manageable.  And really for this race I was following my son's lead.  While I have run this race several times for myself I decided to make this year about him.  He's 10 and been begging for the last few years to run this race.  I'll be honest, I can be so driven and competitive that it's hard for me to not run a race all out.  After all I'm there to at least compete with myself so that always means my goals and my race.  And, of course, he always waited until the last minute to tell me he wanted to run too.  So last year I told him he could run this year and that for a change I wouldn't worry about myself.

So on a personal level I had no goals other than to stick with my son.  Which actually worked out very well since I've been injured and not up to par with running anyway.  I hadn't even run 7 miles in many many months, but I knew this was do-able, especially since I was doing it with Andrew.  There was that chance that he'd really take off and I'd struggle to keep up.  My boys do tend to naturally take on running, but this turned out to be a very good set up for both of us.  

Andrew did pretty well.  Despite his intentions and eternal promises to train really hard, he didn't.  But considering he's a 10 year old kid with little to no training he didn't do too bad either.  He also wanted to have fun and enjoy his time.  So along the way we stopped to look at things.  Talk to people.  I saw my friend Cathy and stopped to chat with her for a few moments.  Scream & cheer as the elite runners went by.  He was mostly looking forward to the slip n slide.

In theory I wanted to partake in this craziness as well, but it took him 10 minutes just to wait in line and go down, I didn't want to add to that as well.  I had great pleasure watching him go down and simply have fun.  After all he is 10.  Yes, I'd love for him to eventually be some fierce competitive runner, but for now I'm ok with him just being a kid too.

Honestly I don't even know what our finish time was.  I think it was about 1:25.  I really didn't stress about the time.  When it came time to finish I simply celebrated the fact that he had done it, he had finished.  Little punk though, earlier in the race he talked about holding hands and we finish together.  Then at the very last minute he sprints ahead a beats me!!  Haha, he's got that competitive spirit in there somewhere....probably gets it from me too!!

The BIX has an excellent post race.  Lots of food and drink afterwards.  I've seen no better after race party than this one.  There's always a costume party, lots of music and other entertainment.  Of course, the last several years I've come to look for one thing: the award ceremony.  Not because of anything I earn, but because the elite runners are there.  And one in particular I've pretty fond of:  Meb Keflezighi.  He's such a great guy and well awesome runner too, but very nice & humble when it comes to greeting the pubic, signing autographs and taking pictures.  Next to Ryan Hall, he's my #1 guy when it comes to professional runners.  I get all excited and crazy.  So I do a little stalking and make sure I get to talk to him and take some pictures too.

When it comes to running and role models, this is exactly the kid of man, personally and running wise that I want my boys to look up to!  Although I also hope that these moments and memories that we share together as mother and son will carry them a long way through life too.