Race Recap: The Scout Strong Challenge & Loving Life

Greetings from the state where the weather changes minute by minute! Oh my goodness-turning the furnace on in September-I don’t like it ONE bit! Nor do I like having to put on jeans (though I’ve heard they’re out of style-whatever), and sweaters/sweatshirts! Some people LOVE this weather. Though I like fall (as well as spring), I DO NOT like the extreme changes in temperature. It was 93 degrees here five days ago for goodness sake! Today when I got up at 0430, it was 37 degrees! What is wrong with this picture?! Yes it makes for good running conditions, but I much prefer 50 degrees at the lowest. Such was not the case today as I ran my 7th lifetime 1/2 marathon.

I set out this year, starting in April, to do some kind of race each month. There is a group called the “Half Fanatics” that require a certain amount of 1/2 marathons in a certain period of time to qualify for their group. I wanted to pursue that (call me kooky, call me quacky), but I had other races on the calendar that were not 13.1 in pursuit of my goal marathon that was in August. I try to do races that I have not done before and especially those that are not well known, or smaller. I found such a race online called the Scout Strong Challenge that was in it’s second year. I have also been more particular about race entry fees and what they support. This one supports scouting which is such a great organization I couldn’t pass it up. I will start with a recap of  this race from the packet pickup to the finish and then talk about other life things. So here I go.

I try to give every race the benefit of the doubt and cut them some slack especially when it is a fairly new race. As previously stated, this race is in it’s second year. Since I have never been a race director, I can only begin to imagine the enormity of the work that goes into putting on a race. I think this race will increase in popularity because it really is a great course. However, the improvements could start with their website. It was not updated until the last few weeks before the race this year and the packet pickup directions were very confusing. To me, it should be a cut and dried thing-here’s where you go, here’s how to get there, here’s where you park, etc. The online directions stated to park in “parking lot D” for the expo. This race was to finish at the Kansas Speedway-the only place where there were marked parking lots. As I drove into the area, which is also “Sporting Park” where soccer is played, there was no signage whatsoever to guide one where to park or any signs eluding to “packet pickup.” It truly was like finding a needle in a haystack. The only thing that made it bearable was the fact that a friend came along and we could laugh and joke about the whole thing. After a rendezvous through the actual “speedway” and talking to a “security” person in a truck who thought we were there to measure something and were from NASA (that was a good laugh), we found the way to the “expo” at Sporting Park at the “Member’s Club.” It was a bit disappointing that there were only about 3 vendors there  and no one seemed to know about where to park the next day for the race. I picked up my race packet, extremely thankful that I had come a day early to figure logistics out.

Race day (this morning): I almost slept through 2 alarms. The warning (pre-alarm) went off and I mistakenly shut it off plus the final (15 minute later-GET YOUR BUTT UP alarm). I finally rolled out of bed at 0430, slurped down my coffee, got my thoughts together, and left by 0545. The race was to start at 0730, and since it was at least a 45 minute drive, I wanted to have plenty of time to FIND where to park, go to the Johnny room and catch the shuttle to the start. I arrived at 0640, drove around to the backside of the stadium (still no signage), where there were some cones set up marking off what appeared to be the entrance (one of many) into the parking lot. There was no fanfare, no light sticks or anyone waving vehicles into the area where the runners were to park. Two guys in hoodies stood at the entrance (it was dark), and asked drivers if they “were running.”  One of them told me, “Go up to the stop sign, take a left, then a right.” Ok, that was easy enough. As I navigated through, I had my radar on for the beloved port-a-potty. I found a parking spot relatively easy, downed my “Gatorade Prime” (which I spilled on my chest), grabbed my gear and made a beeline for the john. It was lightening up by then and I didn’t have the SNAFU I had at my previous race in the little portable bathroom-BUT it was disgustingly gross and filthy. I know what you’re thinking-aren’t all port-a-potties disgustingly gross? Well, some are worse than others. To top it off, there was no toilet paper. I at least managed to hover (with the lid up, lol), but had to use one of my cut off t-shirt sleeves (aka sweat rags) as toilet paper. Yeah, I know you’re not suppose to throw that stuff in a port-a-potty toilet, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  Out the door I went and ran onto a warm bus.

So I was actually expecting at least a 10 minute drive to the start. I don’t even think that drive took 5 minutes. We all could have used it as a warm up walk to the start and gotten there just as easy. Don’t know what they had to spend on those buses, but I would rethink that as a race director. The race was to start at the same place as packet pickup. I had about a 40 minute wait until the start so after about 15 minutes, I thought I would get one last pee in. WELL, they had only unlocked the men’s bathroom and we were suppose to use that because they had blocked off 3 stalls for us of the female persuasion. NOW, if I had been desperate, that may have been an option-BUT I was not. Eventually (Oh happy day), they unlocked the women’s  restroom as well. It was at least warm in there and I was able to kill off another 10 minutes or so by dawdling. Okay so some of this “dawdling” was people watching. I was TOTALLY amused and bemused by the young (twenty something and under) girls who were totally trying to make a fashion statement. Nary an un-color coordinated item did their body display. Every hair perfectly in place. It was barely 40 degrees and by jiminy they were going to sport their little skorts and “barely there” shorts (fully equipped with butt cheek drop) anyway! There I stood with my (somewhat) color coordinated pink and black long pants, gloves, headband, and long sleeve shirt covered by an old zip up hoody (that was too small and bleach stained). At least I was warm.  Back out into the cold (is this September)? I spotted the pacers who were pacing the 1:50 group and lined up with them.

Dream Big
Dream Big

Ok, let’s talk about the announcer. He should have just stayed in bed. He was boring, corny, monotonous, and searched for words. A three year old kid could have done a better job. At least it would have been funny-oh well. The National Anthem was played by a dude on a trumpet, the gun sounded and we were off. The pacers were an older gentleman, maybe in his late 40- early 50s,  and a younger thirty-ish guy. I am not really a fan of pace groups as I feel like I am running someone else’s race, but I wanted to break my previous half marathon time of 1:54:16. It started on an uphill & the first few miles were a breeze. I warmed up after mile one and was able to chuck my old zip up hoody (that was too small and bleach stained). NOW I looked fly! We had a good little group going and the pacers were doing a good job of keeping us all together. I could tell early on that they meant business when they said, ” We like to bank time in the beginning.” Holy moly, they were FAST, but I was able to keep up with them. I skipped the first water station and took in a GU and some water at mile five. Between mile six and seven we had a pace going under 8 minutes. There were hills, but they were gentle hills with equally gentle down hills. I met up with a friend I had met back in April at the Garmin 1/2 marathon. I didn’t even recognize her until she said my name. We were able to chat and encourage each other for the remainder of the race. Mile seven I swallowed my salt capsule and was starting to feel the effects of the fast pace. The group had spread out a bit and there was a pacer in the front and the tail.

Somewhere between miles eight and nine, we started entering the speedway. I swallowed my last GU and kept on a truckin’! It was at this point that both pacers pulled way ahead in the front. We all kept noticing that the mile markers seemed to be a little off. The pacers even commented on this fact. At the tunnel into the Speedway, my nemesis right knee started to twinge a bit. I walked a few yards and it helped. At this point there were 2 1/2 miles left around the actual track itself. My friend would pass me, slow down and walk a few steps, and I would do the same. For some reason, this seemed to be a REALLY long 1/2 marathon. I can’t say enough how thankful I was to have her out there to talk with. I could see the pacers a quarter of a mile ahead. By then, I had not run over an 8:49 pace on any given mile. I felt confident that though I would probably not come in at 1:50, I would still beat my previous 1/2 marathon time. My friend pulled way ahead as we had about a half lap to go. I started playing those silly games in my head imagining the stands filled with people cheering for me-ha! I finally rounded the corner and could see the finish line. However, my Garmin had already beeped off the  13 mile time and there was a lot more than 0.1 mile to go. Oh well, I surged at the end and ended up with a finishing time of 1:52:08, beating my previous 1/2 marathon time by 2 minutes, 08 seconds. For me that is significant. I found out later that I had also won my age group (females). It would be nice to know what the actual finish time would have been if the course would have not been 13.4. My time was probably more like a 1:51: something. But that is neither here nor there. It is an official time and that is what will count.

DUH!
DUH!

What I gleaned from this race: New races are still in their infancy and being improved upon all the time. However, there are simple things that could be better-website upgrade, signage, enthusiastic parking attendants with flashlights. I personally would do away with the buses. The mile markers need to be more accurate as well as the finish line. It is a novel concept to cross the same finish line as the race cars, but it could have been moved forward some to reflect an actual 13.1. There were many people mad at the finish because they ran hard and their times should have been better.  Personally, it was the longest I have ever ran at that pace. It was good to push myself because I know that I can always do better. The medal is nice, the tech shirt is nice (but SMELLY-some of the ink that is used in the darker colors is really odiferous). We had to go up the stairs into the stands to get post-race refreshments. That was okay, because that was the way out to the parking lot. It actually felt good to climb the stairs and stretch. Most of all, this race supports the scouts and that is important. I think as this race is promoted, it will become one of the bigger races in the Kansas City area.

So in the past 5 weeks, I have ran my fastest marathon and 1/2 marathon. These two medals I cherish:

Fastest marathon & half
Fastest marathon & half

On life: It was so good talking to someone I had not seen/talked to since April. Not only is she one of the sweetest people I have ever met, but she encouraged me as much as she said that I encouraged her. It was a mutual giving of support to a fellow runner. No one understands your frustrations with yourself and timing, pacing, aches/pains like another runner. Some would say that we are an odd lot. I’ve always known that I’m odd, so it’s really no big deal.

It's okay
It’s okay

Until we met again,

Stephanie

“A poor performance is a strong motivator for me. I can’t wait to prove to myself that I’m a better runner than my last showing.” -Clint Verran, elite marathoner

 

Living, Breathing, Loving, and Dying

Man today was hot!!! It was that kind of day where your mind plays tricks on you into thinking it’s still the middle of summer. Spent the day with good friends reminiscing about old times and the crazy things we did. Old friends really are the BEST friends. They knew you when you didn’t even know yourself or who you would become. Then here we are 30+ years later-1/2 century old and SO much living done in between. Most of us have grown kids and a lot of us have grandkids (not me…yet). Seems so crazy to think about how many years have passed.

The years are short...
The years are short…

LIVING: It’s fun to re-connect with old friends. We know we won’t see them on a regular basis, but we know they care about us. I think about all of the people I have met through the years through the many moves across the country, different jobs, etc. Now even meeting people through social media whom I have formed a connection with via running. I have never met, and probably never will meet most of them, but there is a bond and a common thread that we share through our love of running. I genuinely care about these people who rack up the miles, and sacrifice sweat and time to be out on the road. We understand each other. Though I may drift apart from the “old” friends, we have that bond of the past. With my current “cyber” friends, we have the bond of the present and of doing that thing that we love. I’ve said it before: I have never met a more supportive group of people in my entire life. They genuinely care about my races/running and support my goals 100%.

There is also a great group of women that I work with. We have some gut splitting moments from time to time. There’s something about caring for people and “wiping butts together” that makes one really bond with others. It is that “sisterhood” of nursing. Even when talking with another nurse that you have never worked with, they “get it.” If you’ve never smelled a gastrointestinal bleed or a gangrenous limb, you won’t understand, but nurses do. We can talk about some really gross crap over lunch and never bat an eye, lol! When you think about it, you spend a LOT of time at your job and those people become like family. It only makes sense to support each other and care for each other.

BREATHING: I guess there was another demonstration from a group (whom I will not mention their name because they are media whores and love the attention) at a concert in Kansas City recently. These people are maggots who eat away at the flesh of people simply because they do not agree with what THEY think is morally right. They protest at funerals of those who fight to give them the very right to even do that. They are scum who do not even deserve the free air they breathe and yet, for me to be bitter towards them is no different than what they do. Except they are fake, and deserve no apologies.

Have you ever just taken a deep cleansing breath?  Doesn’t that feel good? Most of us breathe too shallow. If we could just learn to breathe in those situations that unnerve us and support those whom we have a common bond, we all would be a lot better off. Too many times, we look the other way when those whom we claim to care about are hurting. Are we really any better than those protestors (speaking for myself) when we act like that? We ALL breathe the same air. There is a passage in the Bible that states that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike. We live in a pretty messed up world folks. Wouldn’t it be a lot nicer if we encouraged each other more?

LOVING: Oh the many aspects of love. There is “agape” love- the highest form that God has towards us-unconditional some would say. There is “phileo” or friendship love when one has a strong affinity towards someone or something. There is “eros” love from where we get the word “erotic” which refers to sexual love. There is “motherly” love which I would say is about as close to “agape” love as it gets. It’s hard to “love” people isn’t it? Especially those who are SO unlovable. Usually they are the ones who need it the most. I have to fight ugly feelings sometimes with ungrateful patients I take care of. I try to look past the actions to the person underneath. I understand that the two greatest commandments are to “love God and love people.” Somehow, we as a society have gotten things so screwed up that no one really knows what that means. I have always felt that those who profess themselves to be Christian should be treating people well (told you one day I would touch on this subject)! I have known TOO many who talk the talk, make an appearance, do everything that they are “suppose” to do yet fail in that one area…loving people. I might add “judging” people when they don’t even remotely know what that person might be going through. They spout scripture off all day long yet treat their parents like crap and gossip/slander their fellow man. It’s no wonder that people look at all “religious” people in the same light as they do aforementioned “protestors.”

It is true that one can get hurt by being vulnerable and letting themselves care about another human being. That is just part of the human experience. You win some, you lose some. Only YOU have to live with you. I love the Michael Jackson song, “Man in the Mirror.” So many times if we’d just start with that person, we would be on the road to loving others. I am in no way advocating acceptance of bad behavior. You have to put boundaries in your life sometimes and “love from a distance.”

DYING: NEWS FLASH-we are ALL going to die sooner or later!  It is flat out amazing how it shocks people when others die as if they expect them to live forever. A famous comedienne died today. I would say if you make it to 80 years old, that is a ripe old age and a long life. Anything more than that is just brownie points. I have always said it is not the quantity of years of my life, but the quality that I seek.  SO many people do not want to let go. The number of people that enter a hospital with advanced age/illness who want to be a “full code” is astronomical! A full code is when you do everything to bring the person back if their heart stops beating or they stop breathing. I will let you in on a secret:  The statistics on success rates of Code Blues are very low-especially in those with with advanced age/illness. Why on earth anyone wants their 97 year old frail mother to be a “full code” is beyond my comprehension. Codes are ugly things- ribs crack, stuff comes out orifices…need I say more? The point I’m trying to make is that people do not face the aspect of death well yet we will all get there sooner or later. Everyone’s grave is six feet deep as well (unless you’re cremated), so don’t get too big in your breeches either thinking you’re all that. Eventually we will all be worm food.

There has been a lot of controversy about endurance athletes and premature death. The thought is that running many miles, many times over a course of a lifetime actually weakens the heart causing cardiomyopathies and ischemia. I don’t buy it. Even if I did, it wouldn’t stop me. I am not afraid to face death and if I were to die running, I would die happy. The last thing I want to do is to die all broken down in a nursing home later in life, incapacitated and hating life because someone decided  that I should be a “full code.” I do not buy into the presumption that running is hard on your knees either. I can honestly say, at 50 years of age, I am in the best shape of my life.

 

I just like to run!
I just like to run!

Which brings us full circle to the LIVING part again. It’s all about balance. Sure we have to make a living and pay our bills, but PLEASE don’t let that consume you! Relationships aren’t usually destroyed by one great catastrophe. It is those little “foxes” that spoil the vines. Throwing your loved one money to go out and have a good time does not replace and is not as valuable as the time spent with you. You can never get those times back. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “what will you be thankful for at the end of your life- receipts from all the money you’ve made, or memories made with those you love? Think about it.

Think about it

Until We Meet Again,

Stephanie

P.S. Aren’t you glad I didn’t include those bothersome dictionary definitions this time? 🙂

Keep a song of joy inside your heart, and even though the time has come for us to part, we’ll be together soon, and time will fly…’cause we never really say goodbye.

–Toni Tenille (sang at the end of every Captain and Tenille show).

 

 

 

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