Category Archives: Running

Battle of the Bean 5K Recap–AKA The Death Wish Race

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At the first of the year, I was perusing our area’s race schedule and saw The Battle of the Bean 5K race to be held at the end of February. When you sign up, you join either Team Coffee or Team Cocoa.  Coffee and running all in one event? How could I resist?  My husband volunteered to run as well as a few of my friends and coworkers.

The race was scheduled for February 28.  Being that we are in Kansas, I knew the weather would be unpredictable.  We often have all four seasons in a week, so we knew it could be 60 degrees on race day or we could be in the midst of a major snowstorm.

When the race was about a week away, I started watching the weather forecast.  The forecast was beginning to show a chance of snow.  As the time grew closer, the chance of snow grew greater.  I am not ashamed to admit that I am somewhat of a fair weather runner–when the temperature drops I tend to head indoors to the YMCA track to do any running.  Add in snow and possible wind?  That is a definite NO to any outside running.

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I probably would have decided to skip the race and just sleep in that morning, but Mr. Caffeinated Ginger was successful in making running in a snowstorm sound like a fun and delightful experience.  “It will be great! We can do this!  It’s only a 30 minute or so race!  I’ll take you out to breakfast afterwards!”  He had me at the word “breakfast.”

I went to Target a couple of evenings before the race to see if I could find warm running gear to help protect me from the elements. Luckily they had all of their winter clothing on clearance, so I filled my cart with gloves, a hat, thermal tights, a fleece lined sweatshirt, and a gaiter.  What is a gaiter, you may ask?  Well, I didn’t know what it was either when I bought it–it just looked like something I would need.  I actually had to go home and Google its identity.  Truly.  I’m cool that way.  A gaiter is a tube-like piece of fabric that fits around your neck and can also be pulled up over your mouth and nose to protect you from the elements.

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Disclaimer:  This is NOT a picture of me.  I have more hair.

I know many of you are thinking, WHY would you run in a race that requires you to wear such an accessory?  Trust me–the same thought was going through my mind.

It took me probably an hour the night before the race to figure out what I was going to wear that would allow me to run while also keeping my body parts free from frostbite.  After trying on different combinations of clothing, I decided to wear a short-sleeved dri-fit shirt, followed by a fleece-lined sweatshirt with a fleece-lined running jacket on the top half of my body.  On the bottom half, I decided to wear my fleece-lined C9 running tights with a pair of sweats over the top.  Two pairs of socks would be worn on my feet. The outfit would then be complete with my neck gaitor, running beanie (complete with hole for my ponytail), and headband to cover my ears.  Mr. Caffeinated Ginger swore I was going to roast to death.  This comes from the man who was contemplating wearing shorts to the race.  Talk about crazy!

The next morning we were rudely awakened by our alarm at 6:20 a.m.  We looked outside and sure enough there was already snow on the ground.  After putting on our layers and grabbing our hot coffee, we started the 25-mile drive to the race location.

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When we got to the race location, there were very few people outside milling around–most racers were being smart by staying warm inside the coffee house which was the host for the race. We spent a little time warming up and running a little to gauge the traction on the street.

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In case we ended up frozen like Han Solo was in Star Wars Episode 5, we took one last picture together so that our children would remember us for posterity.

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Then we were off!

I learned pretty quickly that the best way to not slip and break a hip on the street was to NOT run in the tracks made by other runners, but to stick to running in fresh snow.  I really did not have any issues with slick spots.  There were a couple of places that were getting icy, but volunteers were there to warn runners as well as sprinkle sand on those areas.

I started off running the first half-mile with the gaiter over my face.

Battle of the Bean Marti on course

This is me not loving life at the moment.

However, I soon learned that I could not breathe with it over my nose and mouth.  At first I wasn’t sure if my lack of oxygen was due to the gaiter or the cold air, but as soon as I pulled the gaiter off my nose and mouth, air soon returned to my lungs and life was good. Well, maybe not good, but definitely better.

The one saving grace about this race was that the wind was not blowing.  There was a slight breeze when we turned south and west which caused the snow to pelt our eyes a bit, but it wasn’t anything unbearable.

What WAS unbearable were the worthless gloves I was wearing did nothing–I repeat NOTHING–to keep my hands warm. I soon was feeling the effects of the 7 degree temperature on my hands. They turned painful very quickly.  For the first two miles I was sure that frostbite was setting in and was constantly trying to figure out a way to get them warm to no avail. Finally during the last mile they decided to go numb (probably because the tissue was dying off) and I could concentrate on running and not my fingers.

When I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I knew that I would live to see another day.  I sprinted (well, more like waddled since I had on so many layers–think Michelin Man) to the finish line.

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I was more than five minutes slower than my usual 5K time, but I wasn’t going for a personal best–I was trying to survive to live another day.

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I could have kissed the finish line.

Mr. CF and I went inside the coffee shop where we were offered coffee or hot chocolate (coffee, duh!) as well as food. When we went to get the print out of our results, we were pleasantly surprised that Mr. CF had won second place in his age group and and I had won third place in mine.  Perseverance (and a little crazy) pays off, my friends!

Battle of the Bean with medals

As promised, Mr. CF took me out for a nice hot breakfast which included LOTS of hot coffee.

Marti Iphone pics March 2015 757We then slipped and slid all the way home very slowly as the roads were fairly treacherous and we did see several cars that had ended up in the ditch.

The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting in front of the fireplace watching college basketball and trying to defrost my fingers. (Note to self:  Buy better gloves.)

Is a race in the snow something I would actually pursue because it’s FUN? No. but I have to admit I feel epic and fierce for completing it.

What are the worst conditions in which you have raced?  Do you enjoy running in the snow?

Beware of the Cemetery Rodent

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It’s been said that many times truth is stranger than fiction and that was the case today when I spotted an unusual sight on my run.

My usual running route takes me through our small town’s cemetery.  The cemetery is a perfect place to run–it’s quiet, there’s little or no traffic, and it is just an all-round great place for meditation and contemplation while I try to convince my legs that they are NOT dying and can take me one. more. mile.

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Today was a perfect running day as spring has sprung here in Kansas and not a moment too soon!  It was sunny and 68 degrees with a slight breeze.  Nirvana!

As I wound my way through town and headed into the cemetery, imagine my surprise when I saw this sitting just inside the cemetery gate:

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An empty pet rodent cage.

Apparently someone in our little community decided that Sparky the __________ (insert the rodent of your choice–hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, rat) was not “pet material” and would be better off in the wild.

I admit that I am not a fan of rodents.  I am a dog and cat person.  I could also be a goat person, but Mr. Caffeinated Ginger has nixed that idea.  But rodents?  No, thank you.  However, to take your “pet” from your home and just release it into the wild?  Sounds kind of irresponsible to me.

Then I got to thinking–the only two reasons a person would just release a pet into the wild would be (1) they cannot find another person to which to rehome their pet, or (2) the pet is vicious and cannot live with humans without threat of said humans losing fingers, toes or noses.

My imagination, of course, takes off from there and I start imagining our quiet, peaceful little cemetery being haunted by something like this:

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Now THAT is scary.

That being said, I’m not going to change my running route just because there might be a rabid, terror-inducing rodent now living in the cemetery.  I’m much too brave to do that.  However, if you hear screams of horror coming from that part of town one day, please know that it isn’t ghosts that are haunting me, but the reality of the Cemetery Rodent.

I Mustache You a Question–5K Race Recap

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Have you heard of the Mustache Dash 5K?  A good friend of mine and I participated in the Mustache Dash 5K last weekend. This race benefited Numana, which is an international hunger relief organization.

The Mustache Dash encourages participants to wear mustaches (surprise!)–real or fake–during the race.  You could buy or grow your own mustache, but the race organization also provided a package of fake ‘staches in each race packet. There was definitely an assortment of mustaches going on at the race.  I had tried to grow mine out before the race to no avail,so I had to settle for a fake one.

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Attractive, no?

I have to admit I am a fair-weather runner, especially when it comes to colder temperatures.  Unfortunately God had a sense of humor and the temperature was a wee bit chilly to say the least.

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Did you notice it says FREEZE WARNING?  And it’s not just talking about plants, folks.

I bundled up in a long pair of compression tights, a long-sleeve dri-fit shirt and dri-fit jacket, gloves, and a beanie hat that I bought at Target that even had a hole for my ponytail (best $13 bucks I’ve spent lately). However, before the race I was still cold and my friend and I were seriously considering the state of our sanity.

But then the starting whistle blew and we set off with approximately 600 of our closest friends.  And you know what? Running in the cold wasn’t bad–it wasn’t bad at all! Usually I’m so uptight about my breathing that I have a hard time finding my groove, but this time my mind was so focused on getting warm that I completely forgot about my breathing and just ran. That elusive “runner’s high” wasn’t so elusive!

The course ran through the downtown streets of the city and along the river–very similar to the 5K race my husband, son and I ran on Labor Day.  Except for having to dodge a lot of goose poop, it was a beautiful run.  I even conquered the hills without a single whimper.  I am a runner, hear me roar!

I was feeling pretty good about time.  I had just PR’d at a race a couple of weeks earlier.  I didn’t know if I would PR again, but my goal was to definitely get under 30 minutes again. As I turned down the last street to run the last 150 yards or so, I saw the clock reading 29 minutes and change.  So I put on the afterburners and sprinted (well, it was sprinting from my opinion–to others, maybe not so much) across the finish line under 30 minutes.  Success!

At the finish line, they handed out the coolest medals ever!

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My friend is a beast and ended up getting first in our age group.  I received fourth place.  Out of 29 runners in the age group, I didn’t think that was too shabby.

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But I think the most exciting part of the day was the presence of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!

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I mean who doesn’t like the Wienermobile? We even got to sit inside the WienermobileIt was definitely a fangirl moment.

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And get this, we got to take home our very own Wienermobile whistles!

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Life just doesn’t get much better than that.

Of course, what do all health-conscious runners do after a race?  Go celebrate with donuts and hot coffee, of course!

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5K Race Recap–A Tale of Wind, a Locksmith and Frozen Custard

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On Sunday, my husband, son and I all participated in a 5K race.  This particular 5K was presented by Kidzcope, a non-profit organization that provides a variety of support groups, programs and workshops to help children and families struggling with the death of a loved one.  Its mission is one that is near and dear to my heart and one that I hope to volunteer for in the near future.

The weather conditions were not ideal for a race. The wind was gusting 20-30 mph and it was h-o-t, HOT.

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We arrived at the race location and quickly checked in and received our race bibs and shirts.  We had about an hour to kill before our race began, so we decided to go get our lawn chairs from our vehicle and bring them back to the location where the after-party was to be held.  When we walked back to our vehicle and inserted our key in the door to unlock it, we received an unpleasant surprise.  Even though the key turned in the lock, the lock held fast. Mr. CF kept inserting and turning the key thinking that something would change, but it was not to be.

Forty-five minutes to race time. Dilemma.  Do we call a locksmith now or later?  We decided to do it now in the hopes that the problem could be rectified in time so that we could all be at the start line in time for the beginning of the race.

Mr. CF called the nearest locksmith and was assured that the locksmith would be there in 30 minutes or less.  Five minutes passed.  Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Twenty-five minutes.

We hear the announcer instructing runners to go the starting line.

Finally, fifteen minutes before the race, Justin the Locksmith rips into the parking lot, tools in hand. The stars aligned for us and Justin popped the lock in just a few minutes. And while I had visions of this door-unlocking costing us a chunk of money, Justin strikes a bargain with only a $35 charge.  Life is good, folks!  Mr. CF pays Justin, and our family of runners gets to the starting line with plenty of time to spare.

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Justin the Locksmith–Our Hero!

 

We got to the starting line, adjusted our ear buds, and we were off!

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As usual, I had to sweet talk my legs to keep going the first mile, which was on downtown city streets.  We then turned to cruise the path by river and enjoyed this scenery:

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And no, I didn’t take that picture.  I was too busy panting and bribing my body to keep on moving.  Pretty though, yes?

The wind and heat were taking its toll on me.  I actually didn’t mind the heat as much as the brutal wind.  It reminded me of running track when I was in junior high and how much I hated running in the wind back then.  Thirty-some years later I still hate it. Ugh.

But I wasn’t going to quit.  This was Mr. CF’s first race after only running for three weeks and there was no way I was going to let him beat me in his first race.  My spidey senses were tingling and I knew he wasn’t very far behind me, so it was game on.

I kept on trucking and the finish line was finally in sight.  I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to make my sub 30 minute goal, but frankly at this point I was just glad to be DONE!

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My official race time was 31:01 with a pace time of 9:59.  Even though my goal was not met, I was pleased with the sub-10-minute mile pace.

My son finished several minutes ahead of me and Mr. CF finished less than 30 seconds behind me. Here’s our running family after we survived the gusty wind and heat otherwise known as Kansas in August:

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The after party was fun with lots of good food, drinks, games for kids, and a live band.

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A local sports bar provided yummy kabobs and corn:

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Freddy’s Frozen Custard served, of course, frozen custard:

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Then it was awards time and Son was pleasantly surprised when his name was called as the first place winner in his age group:

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Score one for the Caffeinated Ginger family! This makes up for the last race he and I ran when I received a medal and he did not.

All in all, it was a successful night of running, even with the emergency locksmith situation. Mr. CF is now hooked on racing and we are now signed up to run at least one race a month through November.  I’ve created a monster.  Oh, well….as they say, the family that runs together, stays together!

Happy Running!

Recap of the 4-Mile (Oh my gosh, what have I done?!) Race

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A couple of weeks ago, I signed myself and my 17-year-old son up to run a 4-mile race in a neighboring town and I’d been regretting that decision ever since.

I’ve been running fairly steady for the past few months and have proved that I can run four miles nonstop.  However, I usually run around 8 or 9 p.m. in the evening. Unfortunately, most races are held in the morning.  I am definitely NOT a morning person–just ask any of my family members or close friends. Trying to hold a conversation with me before 9 or 10 a.m. is a challenge. I need half a pot of coffee before coherent sentences can proceed out of my mouth. And get me to move faster than a turtle in the a.m. hours? Yeah…good luck with that.

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Ever since I committed to this race, I’d been trying to run in the morning and it. was. not. pretty.  Nor was it fun.  I did it, but I hated it.

The race was scheduled for Saturday which just happened to follow the first full week of work after summer break. Every morning I dragged myself out of bed when my nemesis AKA the alarm sounded. And each time I stumbled into the bathroom to try to wake my brain with a long shower, I’d be thinking, “Oh my word, on Saturday I’m going to be RUNNING at this time!”

The Friday night before the race, Mr. Caffeinated Ginger thought he’d be funny and kept playing the theme from Chariots of Fire. He came very close to being a dead man. My son, who works as a lifeguard, was out with friends so I texted him to remind him of the race the next morning.

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On race day I woke up before the 6:15 a.m. alarm to take a quick shower to shake the cobwebs out of my head, eat a piece of peanut butter toast, and knock down a cup of coffee so that my brain and legs would be working in tandem for the race.

Mr. CF and Dear Daughter #2 accompanied my race partner son and I to the race to act as our pit crew and cheering section. We got there fairly early and had more than enough time to get our race bibs pinned, take bathroom breaks, and warm-up.

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  Pre-Race–Notice how my eyes are little slits? Nope, not awake yet.

 

It was then time for us to line up at the starting line. I put my ear buds in and started my playlist. Then it was ready, set, go!

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The first mile is always, ALWAYS hard for me. I have to plea bargain with my legs and play head games with, well, my head, to keep moving. But after that I get into a rhythm. It didn’t take long for the race participants to spread out and I fell in with a group of runners that I ended up running at the same pace with for most of the race.

The race course was all on city streets, mainly through neighborhoods. It was well-marked with arrows spray painted on the road to show the route as well as many race volunteers strategically placed through out the course so there was no chance of any runners taking a wrong turn. There were also volunteers at every mile with a stopwatch calling out the time so runners knew how they were faring.

I deal with plantar fasciitis in my feet and I also have ankle issues. I’m old, okay? So when I run on my own, I either run on the high school track or plan my course so that I mainly run on dirt roads because both of those surfaces are a little bit more forgiving on my feet and joints. This course was all pavement and after about a mile and a half, my ankles were letting me know in an extremely rude manner that THEY HURT. I just kept repeating the mantra Mind Over Matter and tried to ignore their pleas for help as best I could.

August in Kansas is H-O-T and race day was no exception. The forecasted high was to be 95 degrees in the afternoon. At race time it was about 76 degrees. Some lovely residents of the town had strategically placed water sprinklers on the curb in front of the homes and water sprayed into the street for runners to run through, of which I totally took advantage.

This course also had some hills. To people who live outside Kansas, you wouldn’t even classify them as hills. But living on the plains of Kansas, especially in my small town, these were hills. I am used to running on very flat ground, so any incline at all is a major challenge.  But like The Little Engine That Could, I conquered those hills with the “I Think I Can” frame of mind.

I was doing pretty well until about the 2.5 mile mark.  My ankle complaints had accelerated and my brain had finally realized that yes, we were running before noon.  I had hit the proverbial wall and no amount of head games was going to keep me going.  I took about a 50-yard break and walked to get back into the game.  There were some other runners that also were taking short walk breaks, so I didn’t feel like too much of a slacker.  One of my race goals was just to finish the race in an upright position and if I needed to walk a little to accomplish that, I was okay with it.

At about mile 3.5, I approached from behind a little girl, with the emphasis on little.  As I came up beside her I told her what a great job she was doing and asked her how old she was.  “Eight,” she answered.  Talk about humbling.  An 8-year-old had been running faster than me for most of this race.  Ugh.  That gave me the push, however, that I needed to finish the race. There was no way an 8-year-old was going to show me up.  My kids would never have let me forget it.

I turned the corner for the last 200 yards and the finish line was in my sight. I knew my family was there somewhere and were going to be taking pictures, so I turned on the afterburner and sprinted to the finish line.

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My goal for the race was to (1) Cross the finish line upright.  (Check!) (2) Not come in dead last.  (Check!)  (3) Finish in 40 minutes.  (Almost!)  My finish time was 40:28, which still wasn’t too shabby for my non-morning running legs.  My first three miles were a little over 9 minutes each, but that last mile tested me immensely.

However…(drum roll please)…I still managed to place third in my age division (the old geezers) and I got a medal! Woot, woot!

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By the way, I will be wearing that piece of metal around my neck to work on Monday.

In celebration, Mr. CF took us all out for breakfast where I ate most of this:

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After going home and showering, the daughter and I went to the festival where I treated myself to one of my favorite fair foods–the Pronto Pup!

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Then when we stopped at the grocery store on the way home, the store was giving customers free pieces of cake. (Why?  I don’t know.  I don’t question free cake–I just eat it.)

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I would tell you that later that evening we went to eat Mexican food for supper, but that would really make me sound like a pig, so mum’s the word.

Let’s just say I could use another four-mile run.

We’ve already signed up for another race at the end of the month. This race is a 5K and I expect great things from it because it’s a shorter distance and….it’s in the evening! Bring it!

GPS, go home–you’re drunk!

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I’ve been trying to decide what GPS iPhone app is best to use while I am running. So far I’ve used Map My Run and Runkeeper. After using both, I was leaning towards using Runkeeper full-time until it mapped my run like this:

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There are a few things wrong with this picture. First of all, I do not run a 07:46 mile. I run faster.

Bwahahahaha.

No, but really, I don’t run a 07:46 mile. I WISH I did, but no. Not even close. Only in my dreams.

Secondly, I do not run in a zigzag pattern as the GPS apparently recorded on my run. Running for me is difficult enough without following such an erratic pattern.  The noted route looks more like a trail a zombie off The Walking Dead would make when chasing a rabid squirrel.  Even then, said zombie probably wouldn’t be doing a 07:46 mile.

Lastly, I did not run 6.58 miles.  It was probably closer to 4.5.  Missed it by that much.

The only thing that was remotely correct was the time.

I’m not sure what exactly happened to Runkeeper.  Was it cloudy and therefore the GPS wasn’t functioning correctly?  Is it because I live in the boondocks and the GPS can’t pinpoint my exact location?  Or had the GPS been partying with friends before I called it into service?  Whatever the reason, it failed me in my time of need.

I’ve decided I’m going to give Runkeeper another chance.  We all make mistakes, so Runkeeper deserves the opportunity to atone for its sins.  And to be honest, I kind of like the fact that it shows that I run a 07:46 mile.  No one needs be the wiser, right?

What do you use to track your runs?  Phone app?  Garmin?