It Happened in a Blink~Reflections of 2014

As 2014 winds to a close, I am going to hit some of my personal highlights. I, like a lot of bloggers, do it as much for myself as for anyone else. Hopefully there are some things you can relate to.

I spent some time at my mother’s house today reminiscing with her and my brother about all the stupid, funny crap we did as kids. I have to say, though we did not have much in the way of material things, we made due with what we had because we didn’t know any better. One thing we agree on is that it is a wonder we survived as children of the 70s. After all, we DID drink out of garden hoses, rode our bikes without a helmet AND rode them behind the bug spray truck (most of you will not know what that is), but we had FUN! We had a great time without electronics or any form of social media and we knew what is was like to be physically tired from playing outside all day. Anyway, my point is this-it seems as if it were only yesterday. It has been said that the only thing that is permanent is change, and it is constant. Below are footsteps placed many years ago leading to the “Palace of Amusements” in my hometown- a structure that was designed to feature stage shows , billiards, bowling, dancing, boxing & moving pictures. Though the footsteps remain, the building has changed and the “Palace of Amusements” is now part of history.

Still there after all these years
Still there after all these years

So let’s get on with it shall we?

January 2014: Frustrated with my recurrent knee pain, I decided to hire a personal trainer to get me on a path to being injury free. I was with him for 3 months as an online coach and he challenged me like no other. I discovered my biggest problem was doing too much, too soon and not really listening to my body. He kept me on track for the first quarter.

February 2014: Sometime this month, I discovered “runchat” on twitter. My life as a runner has been the better for it. I have connected with people I would not have met otherwise. Kudos for social media. Training with coach continued. I also was training to be a “super-user” at work for a massive computer system changeover. I interviewed for a new job within the company. We had some mega snow accumulation in Missouri this month.

March 2014: Online training continued & I remained injury free. Highlight of this month was meeting and running with Jeff Galloway for a 5k on 3/15. He encouraged me to keep on keepin’ on to qualify for Boston.

Olympian Jeff Galloway
Olympian Jeff Galloway

April 2014: Sadly, the baby bird was kicked from the training nest. Actually, I chose to not continue the training with my coach although it was well worth the $ spent. I was now on my own with a good base. It was a turning point month for me as I turned a “half a century” old on the 5th. The GOLDEN age of 50!!! So you should all know me well enough by now that to me, age is a number!  Life is what you make it, and this temple that we live in is only as good and young as the care we give it. I was offered and accepted the job I applied for and started on my new unit on the 13th. It was definitely the right move for me, hard as it was to leave a unit I had been on for 8 years. Change is good. I signed up and ran my first 1/2 marathon of the year on April 26th-the Garmin 1/2 in Kansas. Oh yeah…and I met Meb!

May 2014: Training for my goal marathon to BQ (Boston Qualify) began this month. I followed Galloway’s method in his  book “How to Qualify for Boston.” Hands down, the GREATEST thing that happened this month was the marriage of my youngest son to his high school sweetheart on May 30. I love them both SO much. They are the perfect couple and are going to have gorgeous babies!

The Perfect Couple
The Perfect Couple

June 2014: Heated up in good ole Missouri with the humidity factor creeping in. We have a festival in my hometown every June called “Waterfest” celebrating the history of the spring waters that made the area popular so long ago. I ran the 5k that is put on in conjunction with the festival and came in first female and first in age group. I also ran my fourth lifetime marathon in Maryville, MO as part of my training for a long run-no times to kill, just endurance.

First 5k of the year
First 5k of the year

July 2014: The fourth of July or “Independence Day,” I had a long run to do which was 21 miles if my memory serves me correctly. I ran it in conjunction with a virtual 5k I did for “Relay for LIfe.” The month was hot & humid and marathon training continued. My mother turned 76 and my oldest son turned 29. The circle of life goes on.

A Toast to Mom's 76th Birthday
A Toast to Mom’s 76th Birthday

August 2014: The pivotal goal race month. Leading Ladies Marathon in Spearfish, South Dakota where I FINALLY got my Boston qualifying time. Even more thrilling than that was the 11 hour road trip up and 11 hours back with my oldest son and having him there at the finish line.

Fun on the Road
Fun on the Road

September 2014: Moving toward fall. This was the month I signed up for Boston and hoped to make it in with my qualifying time-I did. I also ran a 1/2 marathon and a 10k, with a PR in both. Met a twitter running friend. Still injury free.

October 2014: I ran Des Moines half marathon with a new PR which I have yet to surpass, beating September’s race time. I also ran a 4 miler with a new PR for that distance. But the greatest time of all was watching my KC Royals in the World Series Playoffs & subsequent World Series. It was a magical time in which the bad news of the world was put on hold for awhile. I had the privilege of attending the playoff game on 10/14/14 at Kauffman Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles.

A Night to Remember
A Night to Remember
Magical Year
Magical Year

This was also the month I chose to jump out of a perfectly good airplane on 10/25…Bucket List…check!

Tandem Jump
Tandem Jump

November 2014: Cooler weather was definitely rolling along in Missouri style. We had our first snow this month and I ran a half marathon in 26 degree weather on 11/15/14. Thanksgiving with my babies and their beautiful mates was the highlight of this month.

First Snow of the Season
First Snow of the Season
My babies
My babies

Which brings me to December 2014: I had hoped to finish the year with a race this month, but scheduling didn’t allow it. My training has scaled way down in preparation for serious marathon training coming up in January for the beloved Boston. I am also doing my first fifty miler in March-no times to kill- just in preparation for Boston to avoid “hitting the wall” there. For you non-runners, that is the point in the marathon where you feel you can’t go on. I ran a 30 miler in preparation for my race in South Dakota and I avoided the dreaded “wall.” I have also remained injury free.  My beautiful daughter- in- law graduated nursing school with her BSN in nursing on 10/12/14. So very proud of her. I will go see TranSiberian Orchestra on the 23rd as my annual gift to myself. Since I work Christmas Eve & Day, we will have our Christmas one week from today. I am looking forward to having all of my kids together at my mother’s house. So many memories there as it is the same house that I grew up in. We moved there when I was 9 months old. On the 31st, 2014 will be history and a new year will be ushered in.

The greatest times of all are spent making memories with those you love. If you don’t have time for that, you are too busy. Sadly, so many chase the “American Dream” only to realize at the end of their life, they have a handful of material items and no one left to share them with because they failed to put THE most important thing first in their life-people. My hope is that in some way, this recount of my year helps you to think of what was meaningful in your life in 2014. This blog is my gift to you. I get no financial kickback from it. I hope to help others see that we are all just passing through on this journey called life and we share commonalities of the human experience. I hope to make the most of this journey with no regrets.

What footprints will you leave behind in 2015?

May you have the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of times in the New Year!

Until We Meet Again,

Stephanie

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”

~Tommy Lasorda

 

 

 

 

It’s Been Awhile (AKA…I Took a Quarter Sabbatical)

Wowza-has it really been three whole months?! Time passes SO quickly. I must admit, other than being busy, I have had extreme writer’s block. It could be that my brain gets overwhelmed with all of the end of year activities as well. Being the somewhat of the perfectionist that I am (although I have mellowed out over the years), sometimes it is hard for me to just start something if I feel I don’t have the right words.  This does make me crazy at times and adds to my anxiety. End of year competencies at work are the worst to come to terms with in my head. But alas, they are all done as of last Wednesday 12/3. The last thing I had to do was finish my PMP aka “Performance Management Process” and submit it to my manager. To those of you who have never had to suffer through this, it is basically bragging on yourself about your accomplishments as a staff member so that you can get your yearly raise. Seems it’s not enough anymore to just show up to work when you are suppose to be there and do a good job. One must go “above & beyond” these days, but that is the subject for another blog.  So let me get to it and halfway recap the last quarter.

My last blog was a recap of the “Scout Strong Challenge” half marathon. I mentioned that I had won my age group but did not realize it until results were posted later in the day. Since then I received this in the mail:

1st place female age group
1st place female age group

I thought it was pretty cool and of course I LOVE medals! So it looks like I will be doing this race again which they have moved to the Spring. I hope there is more participation. I’m excited to see how this one will grow.  My next race was the “Sports Fantasy Fund Run” which supported three worthwhile charities in the Kansas City area. It was held on Saturday, September 20 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. There was a 5k, 10k, & a fun run for kids. This was a very fun race. All of the Kansas City Team Mascots were there and of course my favorite to see, running or not , was the KC Royals mascot- Sluggerrr. I would have went just to see him whether running or not. I ran the 10k and came in 1st overall with my best 10k time ever.

Great Run, Fun Morning
Great Run, Fun Morning

 

0:48:59- 7:57 pace
0:48:59 (7:57 pace)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus, I got to meet and have my picture taken with former Royals Outfielder, Les Norman. We had to show off our face paint together! This was before the Royals had won the Wild Card spot in the World Series Playoffs.  More on that later.

Next up was the Kansas City Zoo “Run for the Penguins” on Sunday 10/5.  I had not participated in this 4 mile race since 2011. Funny what a difference three years can make. In 2011, there was a handful of people there & I remember I waited for a good 45 minutes in a cold drizzling rain. Part of the race fee included entrance to the zoo afterwards, so after the race and changing into dry clothes, it was a fun day. There were no long lines to see the animals and parking/getting out was uneventful. This year…whoa!  I didn’t make a big deal about getting there early as it was a beautiful sunny morning and I had nothing but time. What a shocker when I got there and there was nary a place to park. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I created my own parking spot! After all of that driving around, my time to find the port-a-potty before race time, was cut dangerously short. I literally did a “warm up” run to find the nearest one which was thankfully close to the start line. I lined up with about 5 minutes to spare. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were THOUSANDS of people there! Nevertheless, it was a fun course running inside the zoo and I scored a new PR for a 4 miler. Needless to say, I did not stick around to tour the zoo this time. I just wanted to find my car and go home. They did serve breakfast after this one though which I thought was awesome.

Running With the Animals
Running With the Animals
Proud of This One
Proud of This One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Des Moines IMT 1/2 marathon was next on Sunday, 10/19/14.  I had driven up the day before so as not to be tired and ready to race.  Let me just digress a moment and forewarn you- DO NOT stay at the Comfort Inn!  I did not realize until later that it is in the not so great part of Des Moines. Without going into detail, just trust me on this one. I was shocked as I had had such a great experience with the one in Maryville, MO. I cannot say enough good about this race. The 1/2 course is great with few hills and fabulous crowd support. Short of Chicago, I have not been to a race with so many bands.  It was a beautiful day and I ended up with a new PR for the 1/2 marathon with an official time of 1:48:06 (8:16) pace. I would have liked to have stayed for the  after race treats & eats because there was a plethora of them.  I have NEVER seen so many food vendors after a race. This is another reason to run this one plus the swag was above average with a very nice long sleeve technical jacket.  Unfortunately, I had to get back to crappy hotel to clean up and check out on time and begin drive back home.  I would definitely recommend this race to anyone. I can’t speak for the full marathon course, but you will not be disappointed with the overall experience. The expo was awesome as well.

Des Moines IMT 1/2 marathon
-Des Moines IMT 1/2 marathon

That brings me to the most recent race on Saturday, 11/15/2014 -the Pilgrim Pacer’s half marathon put on by the Trail Nerds. It took place in Shawnee Mission Park in Kansas.  I had originally rolled around the idea of a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k, but by doing this 1/2, I would qualify for the Half Fanatics.  It was a cold 27 degrees, but I dressed in layers and it was fine once I was warmed up. The forecast was originally calling for snow which I was grateful did not happen. We had nice heated tour busses to take us from the parking area at a local business to the park entrance.  I had about 30 minutes to wait in the cold before start time, but there was coffee and hot chocolate to assist with that. I HATE using port-a-potties, but  I especially HATE them in bitter cold weather.  Baring the booty in an ice cold johnny room is not my idea of a good time!  The course was a little on the tough side with some pretty steep hills and finished with hills. It was an out and back, so I knew what was coming at the end. It is a beautiful park, and just the fact of not having to be around traffic on the trail was a beautiful thing. I chatted with a “Marathon Maniac” toward the end which is always a nice way to get through those last fatiguing miles.  I finished 1:49:35 which was 0:1:29 slower than Des Moines, but given the cold and the hills, I was pleased with that especially with the other stats: 43/273 overall, 15/152 females overall, & 2/45 Master’s female.

With the three 1/2 marathons accomplished in 67 days, I qualified as a “Half Fanatic.”  So proud to join as Fanatic #9607!

Half Fanatic at Last!
Half Fanatic at Last!

As of today, I have put in 1,233 running miles this year. I will fall way short of my goal of 2,014 in 2014, but I can’t be upset with myself about that one. I have had the most phenomenal running year yet since I began this running journey. Some of the highlights: Meeting and running with Jeff Galloway, meeting the great Meb Keflezighi, discovering #runchat, joining a running group for Sunday long runs, new PR in every distance I have ever done, running injury free, and of course…FINALLY qualifying for Boston. I can’t say enough good about the running community. What a diverse, supportive group of people. My life is definitely better because of running.

MEB!
MEB!
AT LAST!
AT LAST!

You know it’s all about that race, that race…no trouble, it’s all about that race, that race…You know my run friends they say don’t worry ’bout your time… (wa,wa wa,ooo), ’cause you still get a shiny medal to hold at night… (wa, wa, wa, ooo),

But for me a PR is what I’m longing for…(wa, wa, wa, ooo), before time gets away and I can physically run- no more….Because it’s all about that race, that race…”

Yes, I’m corny too.  But I love to parody a song I hate, and I truly HATE that one!  Mostly because I have grown tired of folks telling me how skinny I am, etc. My response has become, “Have you ever seen an elite runner who has an ounce of fat on their body?”  Ain’t gonna find no big booty/boobs on them honey!  Take for instance Deena Kastor who set the World Record in the Women’s Masters division for the half-marathon with a time of 1:09:39-something us mere mortals only dream about!  I don’t imagine her “boy” cares if he has a “little more booty” to hold at night! (Side note: I read that the singer of that song has lost 18 lbs, hmmmm).

The gGreat Deena Kastor
The Great Deena Kastor

There’s no doubt in my mind that I would not have accomplished my times without being the 15 pounds lighter than I was at this time last year. Now PLEASE don’t start a debate with me on weight, women’s body size, men’s body size, fat vs muscle, calories, carbs, & protein, Ferguson, or whether Santa Clause REALLY gives a lump of coal to naughty boys & girls!  I am only stating what I know to be true for me. People should really just keep their rude comments & opinions to themselves unless asked. Rant over.

So as not to bore you with excessive text & pictures, I will dedicate this blog to running only. I shall bore you next week with more of my frolicking and life perspectives…IF you can stand it!

Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.”

~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Until We Meet Again,

Stephanie

*Special thanks to fellow runner/blogger Shaun Byrne (@byrne1324 on Twitter) who lit the fire under me to get back to blogging! Check out his blog at runnerscommunity.blogspot.come & tell him Stephanie sent ya! ( Yes I AM a child of the 70’s)!