Sunday, October 26, 2014

Perfect 10-Miler (2014)

Today was a beautiful day for a race. It was 50 and sunny at the start, warming up to 60. I'm sure there are some who would argue that was too warm, but with 30 MPH wind gusts predicted for later in the race, it was a good start.

That is the best thing I can say about my performance in today's race -- CGIs Perfect-10 Miler, a women's only race. It was a good start. I picked out a sparkly outfit the night before -- sort of getting in the spirit of Halloween and creating something sparkly and girly. I was actually disappointment more people did not wear costumes this year.

I caught up with Martha at the start line (good thing since I had her bib). I was stunned to be standing behind Stacy (who beat me by at least 30 minutes, so that was the last I saw of her).

Before the start of the race I heard they were expecting about 5,000 women running. That must have been for the 10-miler and 5K combined because 1975 women finished. Rather than closing the gate at the 2:30 mark (as advertised) they continued to track runners for more than a half an hour. This is something for those wary about running a race of this distance to keep in mind. It is a lot of people. We were crowded at the start. I ran through my first 2:1 interval maintaining a 10 minute pace for the first 6 minutes or so. I was feeling good and thinking I might just PR. I had a decent training run on Friday, the weather was nice, the course if flat -- it felt like my day.

Then near disaster struck. Well, THAT sounds a bit melodramatic. See that little lip between the road and the grass? This year they shifted the route and we cut up and over the grass to the other side of the road, rather than timing it so we did that at a point where the road goes naturally (as they did last year). The bummer is, they had leeway since we did a mile loop at the end that was BORING. I'm sure they had some wisdom.

All that being said, about 6/10 of a mile into a 10 mile race I went down and landed in front of the dude directing runners to turn. I stayed down for what seemed like 5 minutes (still waiting for the GPS watch to connect to give me the details, time is funny that way). He immediately asked if I wanted an ambulance. Um, no, I want to see if I can shake this out. Gabrielle got a late start. She saw me on the ground and asked if I wanted company. She is so sweet! I waved her on. Finally I was either tired of dealing with him or feeling better and I got up to see how it felt. It was a little sore, so I pressed on.

As I passed Gabrielle and other friends along the way, I gave them updates. The nice thing about doing a race close to home (even one this large) is bumping into running friends along the way.

Another highlight of the race was at the 6 mile water table when the kids were handing out bite sized pieces of chocolate. I run for chocolate!

As I bumped into more women, I shared my tale of woe (and my scraped leg) with new friends. I kept walking at a new friend's running pace for half a mile, until she had to go to the bathroom. She saw me at the end and congratulated me.

I pushed my way through the last 9.4 miles not by reminding myself of the medal at the end, but with the promise of ice at the finish line. I crossed the finish line 8 minutes slower than last year, but that did include a few minutes deciding whether or not to continue moving or have my first DNF. The EMT gave me some ice and cleaned my leg. He felt the ankle, but did not find anything wrong with it. That is encouraging.

I hobbled to the food tent, seeing Martha again. I gave Martha her new long-sleeved running shirt (race swag) and she went home to George. I felt last year's finisher's food of a chocolate fondue more appealing than this year's pile of grilled food. The grilled food was too much to juggle with a pretzel in a bag and a water bottle and a long line for hot chocolate. Nice thought, just I wasn't in the mood for lunch. I was in the mood for a treat (like last year).

Another big change from last year was they separated the start and finish lines. I like the new finisher's party zone, and was grateful to park near the finish line, but the walk to the start seemed long (probably because it was crowded with women doing the same thing, and not because of the actual distance).

To sum up:




PlaceBib #First NameLast NameCityStateGenderAgeAge Group PlaceChip TimeGun TimePace
17302678JacquelynPillsburyLawrencevilleNJF45255 F 45-492:07:17.32:08:31.412:44/M
Overall time: 2:07.17.2 -- faster than last weekend's hilly 10 miler. Still under a 13 minute pace. If I heal up this week, I'm on target to finish out my 2014 race season with the Princeton Half Marathon. Fortunately I have not yet signed up for the Trenton 10K (I'm not doing the half marathon!), and still have over a week to make that decision.

Friends seen at the finish:
Perfect Princess Debbie

Michelle and Kim

Monday, October 20, 2014

Caffee Gelato Waffle Cone 10 Miler

Last weekend we went with my parents to Winterthur for one last visit to the Downton Abbey exhibit. If you are into Downton Abbey, live nearby and have not seen it, go before it ends on January 3, 2015.

On a lark, we emailed our friends Bill and Jean to see if they were free for dinner as we were in the mood for some kangaroo meat and mac and cheese from Matilda's near the University of Delaware. As luck would have it, they were free and we had a great evening catching up before we returned home.

Over dinner Jean mentioned a 10K race to support Friendship House ("Friendship House is a non-profit Christian corporation committed to making a difference in the lives of the homeless people of New Castle County, Delaware through the traditional spiritual ministries of hospitality, education, empowerment and community.") It was called the Waffle Cone Race (a 5k was also an option).

She caught my interest. My training for the Princeton Half Marathon has not been going very well. I was hoping to do a hilly 10 mile run. Personal attempts have had me running out of water and talking myself out of going farther than 7.5 miles.

Jean promised the route was fairly flat (hmm...I was hoping for hills), and that the sponsor (Caffe Gelato) provided a wonderful post-race brunch. 

She was right on one account. It was a hilly 10 MILE race with a wonderful post race brunch.

A cold snap was predicted for the day, with temps expected to be around 39 at the start. Fortunately it was closer to a sunny, yet breezy 50. I left the sweatshirt in the car and braved the elements. 

Before the race I met Meaghan. She said she would not do as well as she usually does in this distance because it is a trail race. It didn't register what she meant until I was on the course. I think I've gotten spoiled by Mercer Meadows, because that is a nicely paved trail run. This was not.

Okay. these pictures make it look very nice -- wide paths, well-paved, and flat. Trust me, my new friend Jennifer and I were dodging unmarked tree roots, holes, stepping on large stones and rocks -- all covered with leaves. My foot got snagged on a tree root. I saw a runner down with a twisted ankle. The path was very narrow at points (with poison ivy in sight), and had large drop-offs to the river/stream. It was a windy day. The most amazing feature of this out and back race was that it was uphill both ways -- or so it seemed.

I met Meaghan prior to the race. We bonded over Sparkle Skirts. She introduced me to Jennifer, who was also wearing a Sparkle Skirt. Jennifer and I kept pace for most of the race. By the time I snagged my foot, which jarred my shoulder, I was committed to walking the last two miles.

The run was beautiful. Turns out we crossed from Delaware to Pennsylvania and back again. I missed the sign.

My friend, Jean, not only met me at the finish line, she let me sleep over and take a post-race shower before heading home. As she said, "anything for Friendship House," a charity near and dear to her heart. I added, anything, but actually run it herself. She agreed (sorry the picture is blurry -- it was at the end of the race after climbing a hill).

The day before the race I decided not only to buy new sneakers, but to wear them for the race. Turned out to be a good move. It wasn't until mile 8 when I remembered I was wearing new sneakers. Even then it wasn't in a bad way. Had it been a bad move, I would have been complaining sooner. I only did this because I was able to buy the same model I had been wearing, and did not have any issues breaking the old pair in earlier this year. As a bonus -- they were on clearance!

After the race Jean drove me to Caffe Gelato. In that time, Jennifer walked the quarter mile distance from the finish line. It was still nice seeing Jean. I hung out with my new running friends and met their local legend -- 68 year old Betty who tends to place for her age. Unfortunately this time the organizers went home before she finished near the end of the group. Having waiting until my 40s to start running, I aspire to be "Betty" someday.

The post-race food included bacon, eggs, sausage, potatoes, soup, and (of course) gelato served in a waffle cone. I chose salted caramel. It was good. 

My wishes for the race were that they provided long-sleeved shirts (as advertised) instead of men's cut short-sleeved one and that they had medals (not advertised). I feel any distance above a 5K deserves a medal. I'll collect two more over the next two weeks. This is the third race this year I did without a medal (the others were 5K). I like my bling. Mile markers would have been an asset, too. They had a huge marker for mile 1, and that was it! Fortunately my Nike+ watch kept me on track.

The race was exactly what I needed. My time was only 8 minutes slower than my PR for this distance (2:08 and change), and that was a flat course. The overall pace was 12:50 min/mile. One of my worries with Princeton is being able to maintain a 14 minute pace (new requirement this year). This race helped me regain my confidence, while also making new friends.

The ice cream was a nice post-race treat.

With this race, I added a new state to my list states in which I have raced: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New YorkMassachusetts, Florida, California, and now Delaware. I also added my first international race in Montreal and my first virtual one. It has turned out to be a busy racing year after all. Two more coming up this fall. Stay tuned.

Steampunk Festival

We really did not know what to expect when I received an email about the International Steampunk City taking place in Morristown, NJ at Historic Speedwell

Ashley has always been into costumes. Or maybe that is I was into putting her in costumes then she (enjoying the attention) started wearing them on her own. This summer she started Disney Bounding. When given the chance, we dress up at Disney, too. This is easy during Disney races (search around and you'll find other examples).  A few years ago we were at Disney during Bats Day and were convinced she would become a Goth (not that there is anything wrong with that...). She was particularly drawn to some of their shoes.

On our latest trip to Disneyland, I saw statues of Disney characters dressed up in Steampunk. this was my first foray into Steampunk, a term I had only heard loosely mentioned during a librarian book review session. 

What is Steam punk? Good question. During the International Steampunk City event we heard part of a lecture about it. The simplest definition, yet perhaps the most confusing one is, it is the past meeting the future.
Huh? Picture Jules Verne's 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, especially as seen in Tokyo Sea. It evokes the era of steam-powered machinery when the future was going to be mechanical. The outfits look sort of Victorian, but with cogs and wheels. 
Okay, I'm not doing a great job of explaining it. It is something you have to see to imagine.
Somewhere along the line, Ashley decided she wanted to dress in Steampunk attire for Halloween. She made her own hat. She found a leather jacket at Red, White, and Blue Thrift in Hamilton (yes, the place everyone calls Red, White, and Blue). During the festival she found the piece de resistance -- goggles!

As I suspected, there were a lot of people dressed in Steampunk attire, even though it drizzled much of the day. Early on it seemed 80% of the people were dressed in full Steam Punk, 15% in partial outfits (like Ashley), and 5% like Don and I. Notice there are not any pictures of us in our normal, everyday attire.

We were challenged to a scavenger hunt as part of Concardia. The idea was to complete a bunch of tasks -- from taking a photograph of yourself strangling someone to making a bunch of people do an evil laugh. The people in charge of the challenge talked us through it. We were the first to start, and the first to finish. As a result, Ashley won two more sets of cards (pirate and robot themed to go with the Speedwell themed ones), and two tickets to the Steampunk World's Fair, which will be in Piscataway, NJ over Ashley's birthday weekend. 

As for the actual festival, it was much like any of these types of events -- you pay an admission fee to see lots of people dressed up, visit vendors selling you more stuff, hear some "lectures" and music on the topic, and mingle with people with this passion.

Now that we have committed to the Steampunk World's Fair, I suppose Don and I should start thinking about what we will wear. I think you have more fun when you are dressed up and joining in the action wholeheartedly, and not as a spectator.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It is what it is

Tomorrow I will be running in my first long race of the season -- a 10-mile race to support Friendship House in Newark, DE. A race I only heard about a week ago from friends Jean and Bill. A race I am doing because it supports a good cause, but also because I have not been doing the training I need to do for running a half marathon.

Next weekend I signed up for the Perfect 10 Miler in Mercer County Park. I ran this race last year and loved it -- it is a women's only race not far from my house. The course is FLAT. Many of my friends will be with me.

The following weekend I conclude intensive racing season with the Princeton Half Marathon. THIS is the race that has me quaking in my running shoes. THIS is the race that has me wondering if it will be my first DNF (Did Not Finish). THIS is the race that serious running friends stay away from because of the hills. THIS is the race that cut its time from a maximum 15 minute/mile pace to a 14 minute/mile pace in order to be able to open the roads sooner. THIS is the race I am a committee member for. THIS is the race I was talked into doing so I could wear their GoPro camera to give a back of the pack view. THIS is the race as a committee member I had a say in designing the shirts -- they are awesome and they have women's cut this year.

My training has been minimal to say the least. My longest run to date has been 7.5 miles (a half marathon is 13.1 miles). My second longest run was 6.2 fairly flat miles at Six Flags. My third longest has been a hilly 5.5 miles. While I did maintain less than a 14 minute pace for both training runs (and the one in Massachusetts), it was barely. Both runs (if we can call it that) were off-roading mostly walking experiences. These races are mostly on-road ones. The races will include water and other support (which should help A LOT).

Blame it on my frozen shoulder. Blame it on my sneakers (probably too late to buy new ones now). Blame it on the weather (which has mostly been perfect, so it is hard to blame the weather). Blame it on ennui. It is easy to cast blame. However, it truly comes down to I did not put the work into it and that will be painfully obvious on race days.

Think of me the next few Sunday mornings as I wake before dawn and race before many people are awake. 

Trying to tell myself next year's races will stick between 3.1 and 10 miles -- mostly in the 8K-10K range (5-6.2 miles).

Good thing I'm a strong walker, since even after running for the past few years, I have not become a strong runner, nor a passionate one. We all have our talents, and running is not on of mine, but walking is -- my walking pace might even be faster than my running one. We all get the same medal in the end.

UPDATE: I bought new sneakers. Hoping that helps!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Librarian Shoulder

The phrase "no good deed goes unpunished" has been floating around in my head a lot lately. You see, during the last ice storm I helped some neighbors take down trees using my pruning shears. This was on top of helping our next door neighbor shovel after every storm, often before clearing my own driveway and then helping a neighbor who used his chain saw to take down one of our trees after Hurricane Sandy

I think it was on the last tree that I pulled a muscle in my arm. No big deal. I've pulled this muscle in the past and will pull it again. I then took a three month job as a librarian where I held books during story time for hours each day. Yeah, my arm hurt.

It kept hurting.

I thought, well the summer is almost here. I'll baby it and it will get better.

It kept hurting.

I tried asking friends for advice. They told me about their ails and we never got around to a solution for mine. That is until I met Terry at the Virtual Talk Like a Pirate Day race we organized as a live race in the park for fun.

Terry recommended Complete Health Care of Lawrenceville. 

Life got in the way. I did nothing about this for a few weeks, even after Terry emailed me their contact information.

A trip to Massachusetts, where I found it hard to hug my more than six foot tall cousin, followed by a trip to Ohio to see family (yup, more hugging) and finally I saw the chiropractor.

He took one look at me and diagnosed me with a frozen rotator cuff. That doesn't sound good.

Turns out, this is a common ailment for women between the ages of 40 and 50 (let's just say that's my age range, and we'll leave out which side of that I fall). It happens just like it happened to me -- we ignore a twinge, it gets worse, we find other ways to do what used to come easily, it gets to a point that the workarounds no longer work, we seek help. A relatively minor injury turns into months of physical therapy (or as the French and Canadians call it "physio"). 

Yup, months for helping a neighbor take down a tree and holding books to the side.

So where does the phrase "Librarian's Shoulder" come in? While subbing in Princeton I mentioned my ailment to the school librarian. She said it is common in baseball players and librarians. She even called it Librarian Shoulder. I like that term better than Frozen Rotator Cuff, so I'll stick with it.

A month later insurance has told me I no longer qualify for chiropractic care (they only allow 12 sessions a year -- that's not much). I need to switch to physical therapy. But wait ... first I need a note from my Primary Care Physician prescribing PT. But wait again ... I don't have a PCP (don't start on me). I went to the place recommended by the chiropractor and was told I would have a 2 month wait for an appointment. Umm.. that won't work. Fortunately the receptionist extraordinaire squeezed me into a cancellation the next day.

The upshot? This is making me very appreciative that we hardly ever use our healthcare for anything outside of routine stuff. The deductible and co-pays stink, especially considering how much Don spends a year on health care through payroll deduction. 

Another upshot? Now I have a PCP who is a woman about my age and a runner, plus a chiropractor I trust -- in other words a team of people to see sooner next time so I don't freeze up my shoulder again.

The hope is I'll be back to 100% by the end of the year so I don't have to tap into my deductible again next year. The goals are being able to scratch my back (okay, unhook my bra strap) and rotate my arm so I can go back to working on my goal of doing a triathlon before I turn 50. Wish me luck! Prayers this goes faster would be appreciated. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blessing of the Animals

With our beloved bearded dragon, Sandy Claws, getting more frail by the day, it was very important for us to have him blessed one more time. Or what turned out to be two more times.

Sandy came into our lives 28 months ago. He was already 8 years old at the time. Bearded dragons have an average life span of 8-10 years. Anyway you do the math, he is old.

In 2012 and 2013, has was blessed by Father Vince during Ashley's school's Blessing of the Animals.

This year it was canceled. Students could bring in a photo or stuffed animal for a mass blessing -- but NO live animals. 

Ashley was near tears when she found out. Her awesome teacher found two local places holding blessings that weekend (it ties into the liturgical calendar to fall around St. Francis of Assissi day). We also knew about one happening at Sandy's vet's office (NorthStar Vets in Robbinsville). 

We took Sandy to NorthStar. He was the only reptile was saw being blessed. There were tons of dogs, no cats in sight, two bunnies, and him. The blessing was done by the pastor and elders at Allentown Presbyterian Church (my parents' church). After asking us a few question (what is name, how old is he, what is he, does he have any special prayer needs, that type of thing) Elder Kathy gently laid hands on him and prayed for his health and his strength.

The next day he walked to his food dish on his own and ate. Quite a feat considering for the past couple of months we have been placing him in front of the food dish and/or hand feeding him. He also ate crickets on his own.

Buoyed by that success, when I found another blessing of the animals, this time by Abiding Presence Lutheran Church of Ewing at Community Day in Village Park, I hustled home to grab Ashley, Don, and Sandy for another blessing. 

The blessing went well, but there was no sudden improvement in his health. We've come to accept there will be good days and bad ones, and that injecting him under the skin with saline solution and putting kidney meds in his mouth are just daily occurrences. Chalk it up to "things we do because we love our daughter." 

On the way home, Sandy "blessed" Don and Ashley. That, too, has become a more regular and messier part of life. Ah, the aging process is not for the feint of heart.

Funny the dragon is a Presbyterian at heart, just like us.