The Honeymoon is over…

…and I got my first DNF.  Sigh.  

But, because I am who I am, I’m looking for that silver lining.  My glass is always half full.  You know, I think my glass is actually always brimming over.  

In the same vein, though, I am who I am, so I’ll be be brutally honest and give you the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Lots of ugly out there today.  

First off, the race directors did a great job.  Packet pick-up was a breeze (and I’ve been to races where it was more painful than the race itself), logistics getting 1000+ people onto the island went smoothly, signage and crowd support were awesome (especially for a small race), and our starts were more or less on time, depending on your watch.  That’s the good (well, some of it).  

What the race directors couldn’t foresee during their planning phase was the weather.  Today’s forecast was sunny and clear, high of 88, 100% humidity.  Yikes!  I realize I’m in sunny central Florida, but Lord VoldeSun was truly in his element.  And, therein lies the rub.  While we started and finished on beautiful Honeymoon Island State Park, most of the race was run across Dunedin Causeway, in the Broiling.  Hot.  Sun.  

The course was set as an out and back loop, half marathoners completing the loop twice, 10k’ers once.  For the majority of the race, there was NO shade, and Lord VoldeSun was relentless.  

Now, I’m used to hot, muggy weather.  I live in South Mississippi, for pity’s sake, we’re positively swampy for most of the year.  But, when I train, I do it on shady trail; very, very early in the morning.  

Which brings us to the bad. This race should have started an hour before it did.  Half marathon runners started at 7:20, a full hour after there was light enough to hit it.  

  This image was made before 7 am, plenty of light on the roadways.  

I’m not a race director, and I know there were huge logistical headaches for this race in particular, as we were on an island which is also a state park.  But, if you’re opening the park to racers at 5 am, why not move it back to  4 am?  I mean, we are runners, most of us are used to obscenely early alarms when we train in hot weather.  They could have opened the causeway and park up to others an hour earlier, which would have alleviated many of the complaints I heard from non runners who wanted to enjoy their day on the beach.  This may have been a weather anomaly for this area, but somehow, I don’t think it was.  

My only other complaint was that most of this race was run outside the park, across the causeway (pretty enough; but, still – it’s a bridge) and through a neighborhood.  The park itself is beautiful, and I would have loved to wind my way through and around the trails there (shade?).  I think that past participants may have complained about the sandy trails, which are tough, but the ones I saw were pretty hard packed.  I also realize there may be environmental concerns about moving 1000 people through a trail system, so I get it.  Still, it felt like a wasted opportunity.  

Now I get to the ugly.  

I knew going into this race weekend that I wasn’t ready for it. Indeed, I considered not coming at all, then I realized I would have three days at the beach alone with my man after the busiest October I can remember us having in, well…, ever; and I decided to just go for it.  I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?  A DNF?  Who really cares?  So, we did it.  

Miles 1-3 were easy and uneventful.  Then, we went out of the park.  It was still pretty early, but Lord VoldeSun was already beaming down on us.  The trip across the bridge wasn’t awful, the wind was in our faces, so we were relatively cool.  We circled into a neighborhood, and I realized I wasn’t doing well.  We headed back to the bridge, and when we got to the highest point, with sun bearing down on us without mercy, I knew I could not do another loop through that.  We ran on, me struggling with the decision to DNF, my man just “protecting his investment”.  He’s so awesome.  Did I mention his longest training run for this was a 30 minute extravaganza earlier this week?  But, I know he would have hung with me to the end, matching me step for step and encouraging, badgering, or pulling me along, as needed.  Love that man.  He has that mind/body/ninja thing down cold.  He, more than almost anyone, inspires me to be better.  

We got back into the park, and the decision was made.  I told him we were stopping at the halfway point, there was no way I could go back across that causeway with Voldy blasting his rays at me.  So, we ran to the halfway point (along the best path of the race), headed to the finish line (while staying far enough away so that our chips wouldn’t be recognized and give a false finish time), and had a volunteer cut off our chips.  We were done.  We made it roughly seven miles.  

Yes, I’m disappointed.  But, after seeing the third ambulance come onto the island to pick up runners in heat distress, I know I made the right decision.  There’s always another race, one we’ll be better prepared for and eager to run.   Of course, we were stuck on the island until they re-opened the roads.  I know, boo hoo, right?

 There were compensations, though.  

That’s what I call an ice bath.  ;)

I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes that inspire and encourage me:

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.  Colin Powell


We may or may not come back to Dunedin (pronounced done-eden, btw).  We really like this area, it’s beachy and artsy and filled with stuff we love (running trails and places to SUP and kayak.  AND, great restaurants.)  But, I’m not sure about this race.  The course missed the mark by quite a lot, so we’ll have to see if we want to try it again sometime.  

There’s always a lesson, isn’t there?  Wonder why they have to hurt so much?

Today’s lesson for me:  Listen to your body.  Live to race another day.  


All in my mind


Well, we’re here.  Dunedin, Florida.  For the Honeymoon Island Half Marathon which starts tomorrow at 7:30 am in warm, muggy central Florida.  Good thing I’m close friends with warm and muggy, I guess.  I hope to post again tomorrow with a race report, but my mind was whirling today, so I had to get a few thoughts down in black in white.  It helps settle my nerves.  

Love our little rented condo.  It’s a quad plex, and we’re in the upper northwest corner.  Our downstairs neighbors drove a hearse here from Indiana.  Hmmm…   Our other neighbors have just arrived, so all I know about them is there are a lot of them.  They’re young and athletic, so they may be here for the race, too, for all I know.  We’ll see. 

Gary and I drove to the park where the race will be held tomorrow to do a little reconnaissance.  We started down a hiking trail, then were besieged by mosquitos, so we retreated to our car and headed back to the condo.  Packet pick up is in a few hours, reservations for a pasta meal have been made at an Italian restaurant in lovely downtown Dunedin, Gary is taking a nap, and I’m having a glass of wine (or two) to calm my pre-race jitters.  

I haven’t raced in two years.  The wheels fell off my training bus about a month ago, after a 10 mile run.  Enter a strep infection, an antibiotic, then, of course, the subsequent yeast infection, and you can imagine how my body felt about running.  Still, I ran.  Not fast, not far (missed my 11 miler), but steadily and with intention.  Then, I was able to get a 12 miler in on a trail, which was exquisite, but sloooooooooooooooow.   Truly breathtaking, though.  

I realized something on that long, lonely 12 miler.  The ability to accomplish anything, whether it’s to run 12 miles on trails or something even more challenging, really resides in my mind, not my feet.  

If I believe I can do it, I really can. A few weeks ago,  I was unsure if I could complete a 9 miler, then I put my mind to it, and I did it.  The next week, my 10 miler felt easy.  Yes, I was felled by angry microbes afterward, but I got it done.  Then, after all the misery of a strep infection and a yeast infection, Twelve.  Miles.  Done.  Wow.  

There’s a lot to be said for making a plan and sticking to it, even when you get temporarily derailed.  Tell yourself you can, and you’re more than halfway there.  

I have a long list of Bible verses and literary quotes that I refer to for inspiration when I need it, and this one seems appropriate today:

It is our choices that show what we really are; far more than our abilities.  Albus Dumbledore                                                                                            

I choose to believe that I can.  

In this mile

If you read my last post, you know that my confidence in my running ability has dipped into single digits.  For this week’s scheduled 9 miler, I knew I would have to draw on resources beyond my own and play some serious mind games to get it done.   

My man is racing this weekend (dirt bike, not foot) in Pontotoc, Mississippi – about 4 1/2 hours north of our home.  Having been in the area a great deal over the last years for work (and play), we knew that Trace State Park is a beautiful, serene area to get my run on.  In fact, we stayed here when I was training for NYC in 2011, and I did a long run here then, as well.  I even remember I had to do a 13 miler that day, and the hills and valleys the park provided were just the ticket.  Would it be again?  

After much prayer, some whining (okay, a LOT of whining), some deep breathing (exasperated sighs count, right?), and a new determination, I made my plan. 

 I would hit the trails in the park with no direction except to go where the spirit moved me.  And, each mile, I would purposely, consciously, and with direct intention STAY IN THAT MILE.  I wouldn’t think about how many more miles I had to go.  I would ignore the obscenities my hamstring screamed at me.  I would pay no attention to Lady Garmin’s discouraging data screens that carefully calculate my pace and distance.  I would walk when I needed and run when I could.  

I would carefully place one foot in front of the other until I reached the end.  I would find joy in each mile, and be humbly thankful for it.  

Guess what?  It worked.  Running trails is a great way to stay in the mile, as you have to be very aware of where you place your feet.  Especially prone-to-roll-an-ankle me.  Also, many of the inclines were so steep, there was no way to run up or down them, so I didn’t feel a bit guilty for walking.  

Trust me.  The image doesn’t do justice to the steepness of that hill.  

Mile one was all about the sunrise.  

The trailhead was about a mile from our camp, so the first mile was on the road.  The stillness of the cool, fall morning and the deer crossing the road ahead of me pulled me to the trail with more anticipation than I’ve felt in a long time.  

Mile two found me doing  The Dance of the Spider Webs.  All trail runners (and cyclists, and ORV riders) know that the first one down the trail gets to clear out all the spider webs.  I’m just thankful I was alone, as my dance skills are somewhat rusty.  On the plus side, I brought enough cobwebs back to camp with me that I could make a quilt.   If I was so inclined.  Which I’m not.  

Miles three and four were filled with deer sightings.  I ran into a clearing and surprised an entire herd (do deer travel in herds, like cows?).  They lifted their heads as one to see what lead footed creature dared to come crashing into their space, saw it was just me (who was just as surprised to see them), then flicked their tails at me in disgust and turned, again as one, and gracefully melted into the forest.  I stood still for a moment, watching after them with envy.  Their movements are so elegantly beautiful, and mine are so clumsy.  Still, I was humbly grateful for the moment, and reminded that I don’t HAVE to run, I GET to run. I never want to take that for granted. 

Miles five and six brought more deer, squirrel, bunny, and spider sightings.  They also brought renewed complaints from my potty mouthed hamstring, so I slowed down even more.  By the end of mile six, I headed back to the trailhead to finish up on the road.  

Miles seven, eight, and nine passed more quickly than I had a right to expect and I stumbled back to the campsite where cold chocolate milk and a banana awaited me.  My awesome man helped me stretch my aching, grouchy legs, and I headed for the shower.

After almost three weeks of craptastic runs, and the realization that the upcoming race is probably going to be my slowest one so far, today was much needed.  Non runners may wonder what keeps us running when it hurts so much and seems to give nothing back for the amount of effort we put in.  I could easily write a thousand word essay on why I run, but I can also boil it down very succintly.

This.  This day, this run, this feeling.  The joy of new discoveries, the aching of my muscles that makes me aware of how lucky I am to be able to run, and the way chocolate milk and a cool shower taste and feel at the end of nine miles of trails.  

The exquisite relief of making it to the end and realizing you had it in you, after all.  


She believed she could, so she did.

And, she found joy in every mile.  

Digging In

It’s going to take a little longer than I thought.

I’m struggling.  There’s nothing like a good training plan to let you see with crystal clarity just how far you are from your goals. Week 9 finds me stumping along; making the mileage (mostly), if not my pace times; and feeling like I’m pulling a 10,000 pound weight along behind me. Sigh…

There’s a fine line between transparency and whining, so I’ll try to toe the line on the side of truth. Forgive me if it occasionally sounds like whining. I’m tired. And, I have to run 9 miles in a few days. AND, I have a lot of doubt about my ability to do that.

Turns out, all that foundation I thought I was pouring during the six months leading up to this training plan wasn’t building my base after all. It was the excavation under the base. Just the digging. Not the footings, even.

When I asked God to help me rebuild, He just handed me a shovel and said, “Start digging. I’ll be over here watching. I’ll let you know when you’re there.”

I have to know, is that the way He teaches everyone? Or, is it just me? Hmmph. It’s like He thinks I’m a little hardheaded or something.  As though He knows that I have to put in the work if it’s going to have any lasting impact on my life. Maybe He’s onto something.  Still, after two weeks of epically bad runs, I sure wish He would come down from the peanut gallery and grab a shovel to help me dig.

This I know about myself.  I won’t quit digging. I still haven’t even gotten to the foundation part of my base, and won’t before my fall half. But, one thing He has taught me through running is that persistence always trumps talent and ability. That’s why He handed me the shovel.

But, it’s going to take a little longer than I thought.

Body talk

Damp.  Moist. Clammy.    Those words describe me perfectly for hours after I run these day.  August brings us dog days here in the south, and apparently, the dogs like it hot and humid.  The kind of humid that means you’re never actually dry, no matter what time of day it is.   

My man and I work about 10 days every month on the road together, much of those days spent outside, in convenience store/gas station parking lots.  (We do compliance inspections for several companies around the state – long, boring story, but I do like the work.)  He’s actually on the road without me another 10 or so days a month, so he’s in the heat all the time.  I can stand the heat fairly well, and he does even better.  Still, we’ve leaned that our aging bodies have to stay well hydrated when we sweat as much as we do, so we pour on the water, Nuun, and Powerade.  We try to eat our water, too, although I’m better at that than he is. Probably because I have never met a meal I couldn’t learn to be friends with.  I love the fruits of summer; watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes all help my rehydration process, so I eat them with abandon.  

When I feel the worst is typically after a really hard week of work, runs, and playtime.  Last week found me dragging by Friday, and my run that morning was unspectacular. It was short (two miles), and I was dragging and dripping at the end.  I took a cold bath and drank lots of water with Nuun.   Then, I took a nap.  That’s how I knew I needed a rest day, so, even though my Saturday training plan called for my “long” run, I slept in, and took it easy all day.  Well, I vacuumed.  But, other than that, nada.  Legs up, cool bath, lots of water with Nuun, some cukes and tomatoes, and, bingo.  I was better by Sunday and had a very good, strong run.  

Learning to listen when my body talks to me and know when its not lying has been a process.  I still want to believe it when it tells me I’m too tired to run as my 5 am alarm goes off.  More often than not, though, that’s a lie.  I have to shut those voices down and make myself get up and head out the door. That’s when my strategy of having every item I’m putting on my body laid out the night before really comes in handy.  If I have to dig for a sports bra, it ain’t happening.   

My body grumbles for at least the first ten minutes, sometimes more on these hot, muggy mornings.  Then, it punishes me afterward by not cooling off and making me sit in a puddle of sweat, even after a cold shower, drinking ice water, and with a fan.  Like this morning.  As I type this, sweat is sliding down my fingertips and causing me to have to stop and mop up the mess so my keyboard won’t stick, making the shower I took after my run an exercise in futility.  

One thing I know, though.  It will be cool again.  Then, cold.  And, my body will scream even more loudly when I make it get up and go run.  I’ll cross that frosty bridge when I come to it.  
For now, these dog days are making me stronger. I feel it in the way I’m moving, the way I feel after a run, the energy I have after a 12 hour day in the heat with my man. Got to love that. I don’t have it every day, but that’s how I can tell I’m due a rest day. And, maybe a cupcake.  

The road to 13.1 (again)

I’ve never been mistaken for an athlete.  In high school, I think I was probably thought of as the “smart one”, simply because I pulled off  a clever ruse.  By being bookish and nerdy (way before that was cool), I was mistakenly thought of as smart.  I’m not smart.  But, I do read a lot.  And, I’m teachable.  So, there’s that.  But, no one EVER mistook me for an athlete.  Because, I wasn’t one.  

I was 50 before my inner athlete decided to come out and play.   There are pros and cons to that.  Pros include never having to look back and mourn for the days when I was really fast.  Because I wasn’t.  I’m still not.   Cons include not having that inner voice built into my head that so many lifelong athletes seem to own.  My mind can defeat me in ways my body never would.  I think lifelong athletes have an advantage, in that they learn to dominate the voices in their heads at an earlier age.  I’m still listening to mine and letting them have their way.  

My man and I are on “vacation” this week.  If you’re self-employed, you know there’s really no such thing.  Gary has fielded calls and returned e-mails all week, but we’ve managed to mostly just do what we wanted to, and we can cram a LOT into a week. I’ll probably need to sleep for 72 hours just to get rested up when we’re back home.  

Our daughters were here (Orange Beach, Alabama) for the first part of the week, staying at my sister’s condo, while we “roughed” it at Gulf State Park in our new camper.  We crammed a lot into the first days of the week while they were here, running trails, learning to paddleboard, kayaking with dolphins, and taking the girls out for a refresher dive, as they haven’t been in a while.  We grilled, watched movies, and generally enjoyed being a family, which is a rare treat when your kids are grown.  

We enjoyed our time with them, but always, in the back of my mind, was the knowledge that this was Week 1 of my half marathon training.  So, we ran.  

I haven’t raced in two years.  Wow.  Two years.  That seems like a really long time.  I’ve been running over that time, just not with any particular goals in mind.  I needed that time to push the reset button.  Maybe everyone needs to do that, or maybe it’s just me.  Whatever, I know it has really helped to get me in a better place with my running.  I’m finally ready to race again.  

I’ve selected a fall half marathon.  Gary and I are training together (sort of), and I’ll be depending on him heavily come race day.   My goals for this race are: 1) Finish.  2) Be smiling in my race photos.  3) Start and finish the race injury free.  That’s it.  Simple, right?

Towards that end, I’ve selected an entry level training plan that is based on a run/walk system.  Having built my base since the first of the year,  I’m actually a little past the first couple weeks of the plan, so we’ve been winging it this week, adding a lot of miles that the plan doesn’t include.  Of course, we’re on vacation, and doesn’t everyone return from vacation exhausted and sore like we do?  

I’ve added a new favorite cross training workout to my regime, one I’ve wanted to try for years, but for whatever reason (time, money, fear?), didn’t add until this week.  Paddle boarding.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.   This uncoordinated Old Broad feels like a Warrior on that board.  After taking a one hour lesson with Water Warriors in Pensacola, I was enchanted.  As I wouldn’t shut up about it, my amazing man called Becky (my new best friend ;) ) at Water Warriors and purchased two used boards for us.  We took them out this morning after our long run (yes, I’m tired), and paddled with dolphins in Bayou St. John.    Sigh.  Heaven on earth, not to mention a great cross training workout.  I’m hooked.  (Thanks, Becky!!)


I think the most valuable lesson running has taught me is: don’t wait until the moment is right to live life.  You may never shed that 10 (or 30) pounds, and won’t you be sorry if you get to the end of your days and you never kayaked with a dolphin, or learned to scuba dive, or stood up on a paddle board?  Or, whatever your thing is.  Grab life by the tail and swing it hard.  And, make sure it lands where you want it to. 

If I can stand up on a paddle board and stay upright (mostly), anyone can.  

As an avid outdoors woman, I believe in taking care of the environment.  If I pack it in, I pack it out.  I often pack out more than I packed in.  But, on this road to 13.1, I intend to leave a lot of trash along the way.  If you’re running behind me, be careful not to trip over the doubt I plan to drop, or the fear(s) I’m leaving behind.  I plan on picking up a few things as well.  The joy of a quiet sunrise in the company of my man, the peace of an early morning run with just the sound of my feet to keep me company, the confidence that comes from making a plan, then working hard to make it happen.  

Because, as excited as I am about the race, I confess the part I look forward to most is the journey toward it.  The slow build up of strength and courage that culminate in a race run well, but more importantly, in a life lived fully.  No doubt.  No fear.  Just a life filled with faith.  

I’m still never mistaken for an athlete.  That’s okay, because I know that sporty girl is there, just waiting to come out and play.  She’s alive and well; fearless and strong.   She’s living the good life.  

The “D” word

Today’s run was one of those ugly, demoralizing events that made me question whether I should just throw in the towel, quit trying to rebuild my running base and take up competitive eating. I think I would be really good at that. I’m not that great at running.

Yes, it was ugly.  If you live in the south, you know that it’s hot.  No, I said that wrong.  IT’S.  HOT.  Insanely hot. Even for me, who really likes to sweat.  Especially if, through your own laziness and forgetfulness, you get up late, forget there’s a 5k at your usual running spot, and have to drive 15 minutes to another one.  No one to blame but me.  I know I need to be running no later that 6:15, so when I don’t get up until then, I’m already in a deficit.  Anyway, enough complaining.  It was hot, I was late, it was hard, it was ugly, but I got it done.  Four miles, even.  You did not want to be downwind from me when it was done.  And, if there’s any cell phone video of it while it was happening, I’m going to be needing that.  No one else needs to see just how ugly it really was.

Today’s run (and other recent doozies) was a reminder to me that nothing worthwhile (like good health) is easy to obtain.  I’ve managed to let me health decline, while allowing my weight to creep up, and it’s just going to take awhile to get back to the starting line.  As my wise daughter texted me the other day, “I wish getting fat hurt as much as getting fit.”  Ain’t it the truth.  (She’s so far from fat that’s almost laughable, but she knows the struggle is real, so she’s putting the effort in early.)  If getting fat hurt as much as getting fit did, I know for a fact I would be a size 2.  Running hurts.  Pizza feels good.  Not eating bread sucks.  I’m sorry, there’s just no other way to really say that.  

It’s physically and mentally painful to get fit.  It often requires more effort than I’m willing to give it, and this time of year, in South Mississippi, it takes 10 times the amount of effort it took just three short weeks ago.

I know why I do it.  I want to be healthy. I love to live life; scuba diving, hiking, exploring, letting my feet and lungs take me places others never get to go.  I have a hunger to experience life that it seems only my feet can fill.  I like the way the world looks from the trail.  And, I can’t run that trail, hike that hill, dive that reef, even walk all day in a new city, if I don’t keep chasing that running dream.  For me, it’s that simple.  

The reality of that 5 am wake up call is something else altogether.

Which brings me to that “D” word.


That verse is the first one I ever committed to memory as an adult out of need. It’s meant various things to me over the years. I’ve called it forth when I was fearful of something, whether it was as simple as singing a solo in church, or as monumental as trying to mend relationships that seemed broken beyond repair. At this point in my life, the “D” word is the one that jumps out. Yes, Discipline. Yuk. There are several translations of the words “self-discipline”, some translate it as “sound mind”, others as “self-control”. This is my favorite translation.

As I’ve pulled it into my heart this week in a daily reminder, I realized something that I don’t think I ever thought of before. This is a gift God has given me. The ability to discipline myself. Discipline as a gift? That had to settle in awhile before I grasped the absolute loveliness of it.

As with all His gifts, He’s given me the choice of whether to receive it or not. I can continue in my life as I have: sleeping in, eating/drinking too much, not allowing this gift of discipline to take hold in my life and set me on the path towards my goals; or I can embrace it with open arms and let it fill me with determination (another “D” word). I choose the latter.

Sigh. I really miss pizza.

warm up