Early 2017

When the running blog takes a backseat it doesn’t mean we aren’t running and racing. We have been enjoying running in central Pennsylvania since DAY 1 of this year by starting with the Cat’s Crawl 5k. There were sections of black ice along the hilly course in Mifflinburg, PA. Thank goodness it was held during the day instead of  New Year’s Eve the way it had been last year. That didn’t keep me, Terri, from falling hard on a patch of ice by the port-o-pots right before the race. Bloody knee and all, I ran just fine and avoided the shadows where any more ice might be on the course. The day was sunny and very pretty and we enjoy the finishers etched glasses they have. A sad trend we have noticed in some races though, finishers goodies are being given at the beginning of races when we sign in. I dunno about you but that little trinket at the end it something I keep in mind as I run. When they hand it to us at the beginning, we look at each other as we walk the swag back to the car and say, “Well, we got the goody without running the race. Want to just go home?”

Of course we never just ditch the race because running is the thing we enjoy most. The races are just goals that keep us headed in a direction rather than over all fitness. When a race is on the books in the dead of winter, it makes it so much harder to blow off a run if it is cold or bad weather. When there is a tangible reason to train, we find a way to put in the miles instead of rolling over in the dark of the morning when the blankets are warm and inviting.2017-01-07 19.05.53

We didn’t get t-shirts for the Cat’s Crawl 5k because we signed up for the race the morning of. They were out of shirts all together. It was pretty2017-02-11 09.45.03.jpg late when we signed up for the Sweetheart 5k but did score long sleeved race shirts (in our sizes even). This was a race in downtown State College and we ran through familiar neighborhoods. Being a Valentine’s Day themed race, we dressed up in our Love Bandits costumes and ran together.

The best part for me was to run by the office where I had surgery on my leg last November. I had a painful cyst removed from my leg that set my training back for months. It was a very frustrating winter of limited running and I was, yet again, reminded how much running means to me. You miss something most when it is taken away.

March was dedicated to finally building back mileage for our Spring races. Jim was injury free all Spring and was training for a 15k and I took another hard fall with serious road rash as I trained for a 19k.

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April allowed Jim to continue to streak the Business and Professional Women’s Wellness 5k (now in their 7th year) and it was a great race for both of us. Jim got 3rd place in his age group and I got 1st. The best thing for me was that I beat my time from last year by about 15 seconds. Not my course best but I knew then that my fitness level was returning even though my surgery set me back this winter.2017-04-25 11.56.09

That incentive kept me working hard to improve my pace from last year. I had been adapting the old Couch to 5k run/walk intervals to run/jog intervals. After a warm up mile, I did the April race with a ratio of running hard for 3 minutes then jog for 1:30 then run hard for 5 minutes and jog for 2:30. I did a couple of sets of those then pushed as hard as I could until the finish line. Between pushing hard, still carrying extra weight from over the past couple of year and then wearing dead shoes I really injured the metatarsal area of my left foot. What was to be a regular 4 miler had me come up short and almost not able to walk after 3 miles.

2017-05-06 09.11.35This nixed not only the 15k for me but I was too injured to come back in time for the 19k. Jim’s training was spot on. He tapered just a bit before the Mastodon Challenge 15k and was able to clobber hills and pass dozens of other runners in the last few miles. He was very pleased with how he felt during the run and how he recovered afterward. This was the last race Jim has on the books this year but he is back to running and had a great 8 miler this past weekend.

My injury didn’t even allow me to switch to the 5k option at the Mastodon Challenge series. I was careful all of the following week and got in some pain free miles. The Right to Run allowed me to switch from the 19k to the 5k and I was able to run it with our dear friend Rosalie. She too, had to switch from the 19k as she was nursing a Baker’s Cyst 2017-05-12-16-10-14.jpgbehind her right knee. Uphills were problematic for both of us so, the night before the race, Jim and I took a drive along the course to see how bad it would be. As we cut through one neighborhood, we drove past the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, HQ for the Women’s Suffrage movement (thus the 19k distance for the 19th amendment of our country’s constitution). What luck we had driving by right then as we saw the inspirational Kathrine Switzer speaking to a group from Girls on the Run. Jim practically slammed on the breaks and breathlessly said, “Is that Kathrine Switzer? No. It couldn’t be.” I assured him that it could be because she was scheduled to give local talks and be at the finish line. We sat there in our car and stared like the running geeks we are as she shared her story with the young girls and their coaches. It was the highlight of our evening.

We had seen a couple of short hills that seemed like Rosalie and I could tackle if we listened to our bodies. We agreed that we would walk if we needed and it was ok for one or the other of us to go ahead if needed. Race morning was a little drizzly but that didn’t dampen our reunion. Jim snapped photos of us hugging and catching up before taking our jackets to the finish line as it was an end to end course.

Neither of our injuries gave us much problem but I was shocked at just how quickly I had lost my speed. Rosalie kept an easy pace and wonderful conversation as I pushed myself to keep up. It was so worth it, I finished with my fastest 5k time in well over a year holding the hand of my dear friend overhead as we crossed the line.2017-05-13 09.55.05

Kathrine Switzer and her 261 Fearless organization were at the expo near the finish line. She was such a pleasure to chat with, as was her 261 Fearless  club representative. Kathrine signed our race bibs then was off to hang medals around the neck of the 19k finishes.

That brings us to date. I am recovering well and inspired by the pace I was able to keep. I have one more 5k in June then, like Jim, have no planned races. In August, I will be attending a workshop at the Center for Cartoon Studies as I continue to work on my graphic novel, You Run Like a Girl.

All of those crazy little running comics that you see on this blog are just the tip of the iceberg. I am writing/drawing a book that will cover my life as a runner and highlight US women running legends during the decades of my life. It will also include real life experiences of other women as they ran as girls. It is an exciting topic and I am passionate about it.

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Rough sketches of US women’s running legends for You Run Like a Girl. Can you spot Kathrine?

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Last Half of the Year

During the past 6 months, Jim and I have stayed focused on training and ran 3 half marathons. Our last scheduled race of the year, Gettysburg Blue-Gray Half Marathon, was yesterday. We ran it and got our best times of the year.

We may drop into a few races over the winter because have been frustrated with being snowed out of winter races in the past. We will not preregister for anything until Spring but will continue with a less intense training schedule over the winter.

Do go out to Run Pennsyltucky and give a listen to our 25 minute podcast that covers the 2016 Gettsyburg Blue-Gray Half Marathon.img_6615

In the Shadow of Winter

Shadow9This past weekend, we had planned on running the Groundhog Jog in Punxsutawney, PA. One of the many winter storms that marched through the area made us decide not to chance the 2 hour drive there to run to Gobbler’s Nob and back, We had enjoyed the run a couple of years ago and were really disappointed to not get to run with such great people again.

I doubt anyone is missing my weekly updates like I did last year. I have been running a lot less this winter. My work has sapped my energy and I am taking on as much of it as I can to help pay for my tuition for summer school. Yes, I have committed to going back to school, for a week. This time for the the interest and focus I should have stuck with in the first place, the arts. I will be spending a week in Vermont for an intensive on making comics and cartoons at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

The comics on this page are a few from what I drew on February 1 as part of a challenge to draw a comic every hour you are awake. It is called Hourly Comics Day and I have been wanting to try it for years. I ended up drawing 18 different panels and of course it had to be the day the storm cancelled our trip to Punxsutawney. As you will see at the bottom of the page, we swapped the 4 mile race for a nice 8 miles around the neighborhood as the winter storm set in.

I can say I really enjoy a break from the added commitment of making time to write, it has allowed me to try some new things and shift my focus. Obviously we are still running and one of the new things is a monthly, podcast style recording of running in central Pennsylvania called Run Pennsyltucky. For those of you who are interested, there is a week to still enter our contest that gives away an entry to Harrisburg’s Capital 10-miler. Listen in on our most recent recording as we run along the first half of the course in Harrisburg and describe the race.
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We didn’t get to see the groundhog. The next morning Punxsutawney Phil, in the middle of the winter storm, still saw his shadow. Not early spring for us but we will try to make the best of it here in central PA.

Nittany Valley Half Marathon 2014

NVH_panJimmyNVH_2014Jim set another PR yesterday at our local half marathon. He shaved off about 5 minutes from when he ran it 2 years ago and 4 minutes from his PR he set about a month ago! I interview him at the beginning of the December 2014 recording of Run Pennsyltucky podcast then jump right into talking to runners who were tackling their first half marathon. Their enthusiasm was inspiring!

My running has taken a back seat as I have been catching up on so many things I had put off while marathon training. I look forward to catching the running bug again soon but am still not quite back to it. I decided not to run the local half when I was resenting the training, not a good thing.

Color Run & Trit-Trotting Around

photoHave you ever wanted to join me on a run… without running? You can do that by listening to my third recording of Run Pennsyltucky (a podcast about running in Central Pennsylvania).

Even better is the interview with my neighbor Jess who ran the Penn State Color Run. Listen to what a good time she had and consider signing up next year.

Lastly, I list a few local Turkey Trots that have a lot of character.

Step Down Week

#52toNYCmarathon
Week 44/52 recap

5 EZ – 5 EZ – 8 EZ

NevermoreShirt_OL_smI am setting this to publish as Jim and I are out taking an easy 8 mile run before meeting some friends for a picnic. This past week has gone really well. I am recovered from my 20 mile run last Saturday and had some nice easy runs this week. I got in all of my cross training (15 mile bike ride and 2 days of a LOT of core work/yoga/PT).

That might sound like a lot but it actually freed up some extra time for me. I also didn’t schedule any extra work at PSU because I wasn’t sure how I would feel after the long run. I had enough energy to start to look forward to October 2015 to tentatively start planning a letterboxing camp out in Poe Valley. Maybe the one morning during that camp out I will also hold a loosely organized Poe’s Nevermore Half Marathon®.

RunPennsyltuckySign-1You can tell I had more energy and down time if I am planning huge things like that. I also published a second recording of the Run Pennsyltucky podcast. It focuses on the second annual Mt. Nittany Marathon. Jim and I spent a big part of the morning cheering the runners in the rain. I then took some interviews with the winners and other finishers this year. I edited those recording with my own impressions of the course and how the race has improved since last year. The sound quality is uneven but it has been great fun learning Garage Band and hopefully each time I make a podcast it will get better.

Never fear, aside from my physical training, I spent loads of my extra time still preparing for the NYC Marathon. I found a really well written blog post on Running and the City that focuses on tips for running the NYC Marathon. I will heed her pacing tips and really liked the ferry tip she suggested, “”… you can hop on ANY of them, but don’t go too early or you’ll wait out in the cold unnecessarily. Get on the ferry that leaves 2.5 hours from your wave start (10 am wave, 7:30 am ferry). As soon as you land in Staten Island, go to the bathrooms in the terminal, and stay in the terminal if it’s too early.” Great tip as I was uncertain which ferry to book without knowing my start time and may have booked one that was too early. This lessens that worry of mine.Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 8.56.37 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-06 at 8.56.06 AM

Last week’s long run of 20 had me dipping way into my playlist since I am currently slower than I was in 2012. I was hearing songs that I didn’t want to be hearing until I was well after 20 miles so I needed to add some. My playlist, as Jacob Marley might call it, “is a ponderous thing.” Unlike Marley or Scrooge’s chains of penance, this grand list of songs will link together my miles and lift me gloriously. Stare upon the 5+ hours of songs and know I will be bless them, every one of them.

As per his request, I made Jim a series of maps on how to get around Manhattan during the marathon and where I will be expecting to see him. I highlighted exactly the corners on which I will be looking for him and showed him where to catch the subway to get around without needing to cut across the marathon course. I know he won’t be alone walking from 1st to 5th Avenue along 110th St. Those sections fall just where runners need family support. It is easy for spectators to cheer for their runner just before they get to mile 19 then scoot over to where they can see them again just after mile 22. A simple half mile for spectators to walk as runners start getting to their harder miles in the Bronx and down through Harlem.

To make it easier for me to pick him out, I am coming up with something that will make him stand out from the crowd. Balloons might be problematic if it is windy so I will wait until close to race day to make that call. I think I have time to go shopping for a really big silly hat for him to wear. I like step down weeks, I have so much time and energy. to do things like this.