Tag Archives: running

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.

Just a Couple of Turkeys

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Our town has a couple of turkeys.  I know you’re thinking, “My town has MORE than a couple of turkeys!”  But, no really, my small town has a couple of real living and breathing turkeys that have decided to make our town their home, and our townspeople have adopted them as our unofficial mascots. Ironically, the turkeys appeared in town a short time before Thanksgiving.  Whether they thought their chances of becoming Thanksgiving dinner were less here in town since it’s illegal to fire a firearm within city limits, we may never know.  But I do know I was very surprised when I first saw them the day before Thanksgiving. In the midst of Thanksgiving preparations, I decided to go for a run so that I could create a calorie-deficit so my pie-eating could be guilt-free the next day.  As I wound my way through town on my regular running route, imagine my surprise when I came upon these two birds: turkeys while running They really weren’t too concerned that this strange human being who was breathing heavily and sweating bullets was taking photos of them.  They just nonchalantly crossed from one side of the street to the other, gobbling as they sauntered away. Of course I, knowing that tomorrow was Thanksgiving and what most people were going to dine on for their holiday dinner, wanted to yell at them, “Run for it!” Quickly I learned that these birds had been hanging around our town for several days.  Soon they were being spotted from one side of our fair city to the other. turkeys stopping traffic

Stopping traffic

turkeys by pizza hut

Heading to Pizza Hut for lunch

Turkeys by city building

Paying their water bill at the city building

turkeys peeking in school

Peeking in the windows of the elementary school

turkeys by train

Waiting on the trains just like the rest of us common folk

One night a few weeks ago, my husband was outside and quickly came inside stating that “something” was in the trees across the street from our house.  That “something” was our two resident turkeys who decided the trees were a good place to roost for the night.

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How the turkeys got up in the trees is a mystery. They returned the next evening to roost again.  I stood in my driveway for several minutes as they strutted around the bottom of the tree and flapped their wings.  However, they didn’t get up in the tree until after I went in the house and wasn’t watching them, of course.  Apparently the magic of tree roosting is an Ancient Turkey Secret.  They could show me but then they’d have to kill me. A few days before Christmas, the turkeys wandered through my yard. I think they had heard that I had already bought ham for our Christmas dinner so so they felt confident that their chances of being “invited to Christmas dinner” were pretty slim. turkeys in my ditch Our turkeys even have their own Facebook page and currently have over 300 followers.  They also have been featured on one of the local news stations. These fowls are the most popular thing to hit our town of 1600 residents since, well, perhaps ever? A couple of days after Christmas, I was headed out of town and spotted the turkeys over by the arboretum which is one of our town’s claims to fame (besides the turkeys, of course).  They were counting their blessings that both Thanksgiving and Christmas had passed and they were still in possession of all of their feathers. turkeys by arb I don’t know how long the turkeys will call our town home. If they ever come to a tragic end, I do know that will cause sadness and grief for their fans.  But in the meantime, we will continue to enjoy the antics of our fine-feathered friends.

A Trio of Firsts: Pro Basketball, Sub-30 5K, and Rick Springfield

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October was a month of firsts for me.

1.  I attended my first pro basketball game.  Basketball is one of my favorite sports–I played it when I was young (even though my kids don’t believe me) and currently enjoy watching my son play high school basketball.  Even though I’m not a big fan of watching sports on TV, you had better not interfere with me watching the KU Jayhawks or the WSU Shockers play ball if their games are televised.  You would be facing the wrath of the Caffeinated Ginger and that wouldn’t be pretty.

However, I have to admit I was extremely unimpressed with my first pro basketball game.  The Oklahoma City Thunder came to town to play the Toronto Raptors.  The Thunder was missing a few of their key players because of injuries, including Kevin Durant, so after being in the lead in the first quarter, the rest of the game definitely belonged to the Raptors.

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Besides our “home” team being blown out of the water, the basketball game was, well, boring. It lacked the atmosphere and enthusiasm that I’ve experienced at college basketball games. Not only that, but HOW much money are these basketball players paid?  To MISS their free throws? Seriously…

I’ll just stick to high school and college basketball, thank you.  The game didn’t keep our attention, so my youngest daughter and I had to take pictures such as this to keep us entertained, and no one wants anymore of these!

abby and marti2.  I ran my first sub 30-minute 5K!  Woot!  Woot!  I’ve been chasing that elusive time for a couple of months so I was so pumped to prove to myself that I could rise to the challenge.  This 5K race, which benefited a local food bank, was held in a beautiful park that is surrounded by a creek.  The course led us around the park as well as on top of an adjacent dike.  It was a gorgeous fall day–sunny, cool, with very little wind.  Perfect running conditions.  When I sprinted to the finish line and saw my time, it was cause for celebration!

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As an added bonus, the race t-shirt had a picture of a running peanut.  You know you want one.

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3.  I spoke to Rick Springfield.  No, not in my dreams–live and in person!  And he spoke back!   I have been a fan of Rick Springfield ever since I was a young teenager. I am a little bit sheepish to admit that I have seen him in concert five times and enjoyed every minute.

A friend of mine had procured two tickets to see Rick Springfield’s Stripped Down show at a casino in Oklahoma.  The casino was celebrating their 30th anniversary and brought in Rick to do a free show for their VIP members.  My friend ended up not being able to go, so knowing I was a huge Rick fan, she offered me the tickets. And who was I to hurt her feelings by saying no?

I took my best friend who also shares a love for Rick.  The show was held in the casino’s bingo hall. We got fourth row center seats—the first three rows were reserved for VIPs. (How a person gets to be a VIP VIP, I don’t know…) We were pretty much the youngest people in the crowd–by FAR. I now consider myself very lucky that I can walk without a walker or cane, can breathe without an oxygen bottle, and also still retain all of my natural teeth.  I’m also pretty sure that most of the crowd had no idea who Rick Springfield was, however they got free tickets so by golly they were going to go anyway.

The show was great–he sang and also told stories about his life and the stories behind his songs. He has a great sense of humor and seemed to enjoy entertaining the crowd.

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THIS IS THE BEST PART–After the show he came back on stage for a question/answer session. I got to directly ask him a question and he directly answered back to me and LOOKED AT ME! Rick LOOKED at me and TALKED to me! Swoon! Swoon!

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My life is now complete.

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.

MusDash Results

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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Things I’ve been doing besides writing on my blog

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Please forgive me readers.  It has been two weeks since I have posted a blog.

You can’t fool me.  I know you missed me.

So what have I been doing besides writing?

1.  Watching those Kansas City Royals inch their way up to the Crown.  I’m not a big “watching sports on TV” fan (except when it comes to college basketball), but those Royals have got it goin’ on!  And they are a class act.  Read up!

KC royals good guys

2. Taking my son clothes shopping.  My son is a senior in high school this year and will be getting his senior pictures taken next weekend.  We went shopping on Saturday for the perfect photo shoot wardrobe. For hours. This boy is more picky than my two daughters ever pretended to be.  Seriously. We did finally buy a few clothing items. Were they what I would have picked out for him?  No, but by that time I did not care. However, he will look great because, well, he is my son and he did get that haircut I kind of badgered him about.  Love that boy.

3.  Running. Then limping.  Running.  Then limping.  This darn plantar fasciitis is a pain–literally and figuratively.  I ran a 5K race a couple of years ago in crappy shoes without training and have been paying for it ever since.   I know a visit to a podiatrist is probably the answer, but I’m afraid of what he’ll tell me.

“Quit running.”

” Wear these extremely expensive orthotics which will only work in ugly shoes.”

ugly shoes

I guess I’ll continue running.  And limping.  For a while, at least.

4. Trying recipes that conceivably have no chance of working.  A muffin recipe has been circulating around Facebook and Pinterest for a couple of months. The recipe only calls for a dry cake mix and a can of pumpkin.

Nope.  Nothing else.  That is it.

There’s no way this will work, I thought to myself.  But I was having a major sugar craving and all I had in the house was a can of pumpkin and a spice cake mix.  So I thought to myself, “What the heck?  Why not try out this impossibly easy recipe?  If it doesn’t turn out, at least Bruno will eat them.”

So, armed with my ingredients,

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I mixed the two together, baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and voila! Muffins!

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And, dear readers, they are GOOD!  Moist! Delectable! They most definitely deserve the credit they are receiving on Facebook and Pinterest.

Sources have told me that if you add mini chocolate chips to the batter, the muffins are even BETTER!  (I believe them because everything is better with chocolate, right?)  Swoon!

5.  Last but not least, I’ve been perusing the newspaper for typographical errors.  Fortunately for me (unfortunately for the newspaper), our nearest big city newspaper apparently doesn’t hire proofreaders so typos are plentiful.

This particular newspaper article was an inspiring story about an 87-year-old woman who was training to race walk in a half-marathon.  I want you to pay particular attention to what she credits her success:

wichita eagle typos

I know that exercising can sometimes seem like an exorcism, but this is a little extreme, no?

 

So there you have it–the things that take up my time when not providing fodder for my blog.

What have you been up to lately?  Watching baseball? Shopping with a teenager? Trying to ignore aches and pain?

 

 

 

 

 

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!

starting line

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:

keeper of the plains

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!