Just a few more days...

...until my workout schedule starts to ease-up. I'm definitely feeling the effects of my last few weeks of challenging running and biking workouts. I'm really tired. When I sleep, I sleep like the dead and could easily log 10 hours/night if allowed to do so. Of course, I get that miserable second-wind at night and it takes me a long time to fall asleep. My natural sleep cycle seems to have me not getting shut-eye until 1 or 2 AM, but then I have a hard time dragging my butt outta bed until at least 10AM.

Today I still need to log 8 miles, hopefully with 5 at maybe half-marathon race pace (it's still pretty warm and humid, so that may end up a bit over-ambitious), tomorrow is 2 hour group ride night, then Weds. I have my last long (13 mile) run before I start a sort of taper leading up to the North Country Trail Relay on June 12.

Yesterday was a "rest" day...I did a 20 minute core workout and that was it. The day before that I logged a really fabulous 6 miler at a pace I haven't seen since before the heat set-in over a week ago. That was quite a surprise, especially the day after my first metric century ride and heat tends to really kick my ass (and everything else). I was really anticipating a miserable run. Often those awesome runs come when I least expect them.

After that last run I'm thinking that I will kind of miss running much over the Summer. But I really enjoy biking, too, and seem to be maybe more of a natural at that athletic endeavor (I mean, I just suck less at that than I do at running, heh). I'm looking forward to working some upper-body workouts into the mix, though. That extra muscle tone is good for boosting the metabolism and my body seems to respond best to an ever-changing workout regimen. My hope is that the Summer of 2010 is the season that gets me back on that weight-loss path that I was on 5 years or so ago. I'm not getting any younger and this isn't going to get any easier. The benefit of dropping 20#s will be a greater benefit to my running than months of 40-50 mile weeks on-foot. The last couple of years have shown me this.


Feeling like a Zombie would be cool, were I actually a Zombie.

I'm one tired puppy. Thursday night I ran 9 with my local running partner. We had a pretty decent run, though fairly slow, as she had not run in a week and I was feeling a bit beat-up. It was also still a little warmer than either of us tolerate well (at least so early in the season when we aren't yet acclimated to temps well above 70). It was still nice to plod along and catch up. I think the last time we managed a run together it was barely above freezing.

Yesterday I tackled my first metric century (62 miles) ride with my hubby. It went pretty well and I wasn't completely dead by the end, though I started the ride feeling anything but fresh. Thank you, legs, for not completely boycotting the deal, especially after stopping for a nice lunch.

Seriously, though...what is up with headwinds on both the out and the back? On the way South we had winds that were kind of WSW. On the return trip North the winds picked-up a bit and were WNW. Hrm.... At least winds were fairly light and with the trees fully leafed we had some shelter. And it was sunny and beautiful.

We enjoyed lunch at the New Holland Brewery (sans beer...sniff. I was pretty certain that it would be nap time had I quaffed so much as a single glass). I was a good girl and had a fabulous salad (lettuce, HB egg, turkey, bacon, scallions, homemade bleu cheese made with beer). Well, I wasn't so much "good" as I was not certain what my belly would tolerate on the bike. I learned the hard way a few years back that even a few bites of Clif Bar don't sit well in my gut while running, but solids tolerance on the bike is VERY different than it is on-foot.

After lunch we wandered a bit in our favorite bike shop (Velo City Cycles -- across the street from the restaurant and with a bike rack to stow our road machines while we ate), reapplied sunblock, and chomped on some Sport Beans (dessert).

We officially pedaled nearly 62.6 miles. It was exhausting and awesome. I like these vacation days that DH takes while DS is in school. Yesterday was his last chance to use up his last remaining vacation day before he gets his next allotment. Great way to kick-off the long Memorial Day weekend.

By the end of our ride I had about eleventy-thousand pounds of sunblock, sweat, and road grime (if you look closely at the photo to the right you can see all of the grit and grass kicked-up by my front tire and glued to my legs via sticky Coppertone Sport spray sunblock) to wash off. I think I will need an industrial strength shower poof scrubby thing for future Summer rides.

Last night we settled-in on the sofa to watch Heath Ledger's final film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I really liked it. Terry Gilliam is one super-cool writer/director/producer (I was so blown-away by Twelve Monkeys 15 years ago). The Doctor Parnassus casting was well-done, too. I think it would be difficult for any actor to not develop severe insomnia while engrossed in Ledger's role. Such a fascinating, repulsive character. So tragic that his occupation led to his demise. He took method acting to a level beyond that of nearly every other actor/actress of my generation.

Today I am hoping to finish off my week with a 6 mile run...which will almost certainly be sluggish and semi-miserable, but my goal is to finish the month with my last 100 miles of running until after DS is back in school and I start picking miles up again in preparation for the Las Vegas Half Marathon in early Dec. Tomorrow I will rest and Memorial Day I have plans of an 8 miler to finish May. This week saw my highest miles on the bike in a single week, 131.8. After today's run I will have just over 24 miles on-foot for this week.

2 more weeks until the North Country Trail Relay!


I feew wefweshed!

(thanks go to Madeline Kahn as "Lili Von Schtupp" in Blazing Saddles--aka best comedy ever!--for that timeless phrase in my regular lexicon)

Our miserable, unseasonably early heat-wave FINALLY broke last night. While I still didn't log a solid 8 hours of sleep (more like 6.5), I feel so much better today. I also did nothing yesterday. After a fairly brutal week of training and trail race I was really wiped-out. A rest day was welcome and necessary.

My "workout" consisted of driving to a small town near Grand Rapids to watch a criterium cycling race. Unfortunately it was cancelled just after the kids' race, due to lightning strikes nearby that were slowly moving towards the race course. Bummer. A friend of ours (who ran/biked the duathlon with me) was ready to compete in this event. I have never had a race cancelled, but it has to be a horrible let-down after spending days being anxious and excited to race.

I am looking forward to running 9 miles with one of my trail relay teammates tonite. We're going to plod along the bike path (multi-use path is more accurate...I hate biking on it. Too crowded in many sections and too many cross-streets that require stopping) and enjoy the more pleasant weather.

Tomorrow the hubby and I are planning to do my first metric century (aka 62 miles) ride in continued gorgeous weather. Should be fun...I mean, as long as my butt doesn't go on strike! Prior to heading out on our wheels we're attending a little music presentation in our son's class. I wonder if they would think it strange if we wear our spandexy goodness cycling kits?


What a weekend! (part 2)

After the 15k trail race Friday night, we headed back to my bestie's place. Our plan was to drink wine and hang out, which was pretty much what we did. We all got showered and warmed-up and then lounged-around with some of her homemade gewurztraminer and microwave popcorn. I think we each had all of one glass. We were just too tired to imbibe more than that. Somehow 2am arrived and we crashed.

8am came too early and I woke up, even though I was pretty beat, but not really sore. Sore always seems to come 2 days after a hard effort. I made the 90 minute drive back home after hanging out for a little while.

Saturday afternoon we got together with my MIL and her fiancé and did a short bike ride with a stop at a nearby ice cream stand. The hubby and I got ourselves and our kiddo cleaned-up and headed over to my MIL's vacation cottage 20 minutes away. We enjoyed dinner and then returned home.

Saturday night it was stuffy in our room and I didn't sleep particularly well, even though I was exhausted. I woke yesterday morning feeling a little tired and with a bit of DOMS in my lower calf area, but really not feeling too beat-up from the trail race. I guess this could be a sign that my fitness is better than I realize.

Yesterday we took DS back to my MIL's place to spend most of the day, since DH and I had plans to join the JDRF group for a 40 mile training ride. Whoo...what a challenging ride that ended up being. Hilly as heck and way hotter (and more humid) than our bodies are prepared for in late May. I think our temps have gone up a good 20-30 degrees within a matter of days.

I was feeling very strong for about the first 30 or so miles, but my energy and strength dropped-off pretty fast after that. I started the ride in the front of the group and passing people on hills; by the end I was feeling sorta dragged along. BUT I am also riding with people who ride a LOT more than I do and have already done a few century rides this year (and weren't recovering from a trail race less than 48 hours prior). I haven't done anything longer than 50 miles, yet.

Last night I slept better (and for almost a full 10 hours), even though I think it was probably in the sticky 70s in our room all night. I think my body pretty much cried uncle.

Today I need to do my core workout and get 5 miles in, but I am pushing that run back until the shadows are longer. I can handle heat a lot better when I'm not under the blazing sun.

Tomorrow I will likely do a "double" with an easy 4 miles in the morning and then a 2 hour ride in the evening with the women's bike group. Weds. I am planning to do diddly-squat, which I think I have earned.

I am hoping to do 24 miles of running this week and an 8 miler on Memorial Day. That will give me 100 miles for the month. This will likely be my last month of hitting 100 running miles...at least until Fall when I start training for the Las Vegas Half-Marathon. This Summer my emphasis will be on increasing my biking miles, completing a few century rides, and building my upper body a bit...and dropping some pounds. These extra 20 are fighting tooth-and-nail.

Friday looks like a perfect day (the forecast is for mid-70s and full sun) for my first metric century ride (62 miles), so that is the plan. Hubby already is taking that day off to use up vacation days. So it should be another (good) tiring week.

What a weekend! (part 1)

No wonder I slept 10 hours last night...and I could still go for a nap!

Friday afternoon the hubby and I attended a JDRF fundraiser BBQ about an hour away. After a delicious lunch I headed to the nearby running store (Gazelle Sports--ranked as one of the top 50 running retailers in the nation) to pick up a headlamp. Friday night I was registered for a 15k trail race (Moonlit Miles for Marrow) starting at 7:30pm. As it was rainy/drizzly and overcast I thought it might be good to have on my head, just in case. It turned out that I didn't need it, but had I been on the course much longer I think it would have been useful in the last mile or two. I also found a favorite running/biking top (it has 2 small pockets that make it useful for short rides when I need a place to stow keys and phone) on clearance.

After leaving the running store I headed North to my best friend's house. She lives about 20 minutes from the race site (this race is held at the same location as the upcoming Le Tour de Donut event), so the plan was to crash at her place post-race.

We (my best friend, another friend, and I) arrived at the race with about an hour to kill. Shortly after arrival the rain started again. We donned our bibs and timing chips and eventually made our way from the dry shelter of the building to the starting line...in the cool rain. After a minute or two of standing with the other 112 runners we were starting to get chilled, so welcomed the starting gun.

It seemed like the rain ended as soon as we started running, but the course was still entirely soaked and muddy for the full 9.3 miles. I wore brand new trail shoes that no longer look even remotely new. It was awesome.

In addition to being overly prepared with the headlamp I also wore my Amphipod belt with a single 20oz bottle (and my phone and inhaler). Since this was a brand new race I was leery about course support and fluids. Turns out I had no need to worry. Wow, this may have been the best supported race I have ever run. They had fabulous support with water, Gatorade, and even Gu at one point on the course. Next year I will be less weighed-down with just my number belt and the little pouch to hold my inhaler and phone (normally I wouldn't run with a phone, but they recommend it on this course).

I didn't push myself hard for the first 7.5 miles...most of it was spent with a group of 3-4 20-something runners who were doing their first trail run ever...and having a blast. I was enjoying running with them so much that I didn't feel much urge to try to push harder. Plus I had no idea what the course held in store, so decided to take it easy this first time. Next year I know what to expect, so I'll definitely be more in "race mode."

My friends were behind me by a little ways for most of the race. I also didn't care to get too far ahead of them. And the big trail relay is 3 weeks away, so this wasn't as much a "race" as it is a hard training run. Before this event I had done no trail miles for '10, so I need to get those muscles reminded that not all running is on flat asphalt.

The first half of the race was on a lot of twisty, rolling, muddy, slippery woodlands. The last half was entirely a winding course through apple orchards. Footing was wet, but smooth on nicely mowed grass. Several volunteers apologized for the weather...we made sure to tell that that we were thankful for the mud and rain (which makes for an extra enjoyable trail race experience) and appreciative that they were standing in it. I also told nearly every volunteer I saw to tell the director that they had come up with a really fun, well-done event supporting a great charity and that I couldn't wait to come back next year.

About 7.5 miles in one of my friends caught up with me (the same friend who said she was slow prior to the race). She passed me about a half mile later and was a bit ahead of me for the remainder of the race. I could not catch her. She is one of those "natural" runners with a long, lean frame. She could be VERY strong with the right training. My bestie had some bowel issues around the halfway point and was very thankful that I'd brought an extra hanky. Said hanky is now composting somewhere in an apple orchard in Greenville, MI.

I finished at exactly 1:38 and pretty much dead in the middle for women. About a minute/mile slower than my road pace for the same distance. Not bad, really. I generally expect my trail pace to be 1-2 minutes slower. We didn't stick around for the post-race party, but they had a live band, pork BBQ sandwiches, baked beans, potato salad, and Founder's Brewery beer. Looked like a great celebration. Next year I would love it if my hubby and kid came along to spectate and party afterwards.


I am SO there!

I just found out about the Le Tour de Donut in late Sept. I am ALL over this! 30 mile bike race with 3 doughnut "stages." For each doughnut ingested a participant has 3 minutes deducted from his/her finishing time. But IF said racer barfs they are DQd...dude, this event is my calling! I can eats me a LOT o' doughnuts and I would never waste good food by pukin'. For once my ability to eat like a sow and my iron-clad gut could be an asset, instead of a limitation!

I found out about this race while researching a 15k trail race I'm planning to do this Friday night with a bunch of girlfriends. This race is held at the same fruit orchard. Friday's Moonlit Miles for Marrow race is a benefit for Michigan Blood's marrow donation program. It's the least I can do, since I'm guessing I'm not a candidate for marrow donation. After a semester in the UK in the early 90s I cannot donate blood, either...that whole ridiculous "mad cow" risk is the reason that my blood is considered potentially tainted.

This will be my first trail race of the year...heck, my first trail RUN of '10, period. Should be a good dress-rehearsal for the North Country Trail Relay in mid-June. I have a new pair of my favorite Mizuno (Wave Ascend 4) trail shoes that I have to "break in" before the big relay. Plus I have all this great training from the duathlon and 25k races that I hate to waste.

The race is at 7:30pm and I'm guessing I'll be running for close to 2 hours. After the race we're having a slumber party at my best friend's house (not far from the race site, though she lives about 90 minutes from me). Should be a REALLY fun kick-off to the weekend!

This weekend was also wonderfully fun. Friday night we attended a bonfire at a friend's house about an hour away. The kids had fun ramming around and the adults enjoyed gabbing around the fire and making s'mores (with some absolutely ginormous marshmallows that hubby found at our little local grocer...they were easily 3x the size of normal marshmallows and made by Campfire brand).

We arrived back home after 11pm and had to be back up at 5...I think I got maybe 3 hours of sleep, thanks to our neighbor's noisy generator (not sure why that was running) and DH snoring (when I elbowed him and yelled at him to stop snoring he said..."I'm not snoring, I'm breathing." Funny now, but not at 1AM).

Our early waking was to participate in a memorial bike ride with other cyclists from DH's company. There were 2 ride distances (20 and 40 miles) and a fun walk to honor employees who have passed-on in the last year. We had a really nice ride followed by picnic lunch on the lawn at the ride destination.

This AM I enjoyed an easy 5 miles in the sunshine to recover from the weekend. Shortly after I returned, DH left to attend a JDRF training ride with the team...man, I wish I could have gone. Such a beautiful day for pedaling around. This has definitely been one of the nicest weekends of 2010 and I look forward to many more!

Fashion Schmashion

In general I am not a big fan of dressing up. It's a PITA and wastes a lot of time (and often money). But the hubby's 20 year class reunion is in just over a month and it recently occurred to me that I really have nothing to wear. When I lost weight I got rid of all of my fat dressy clothes. I bought a few items when I was down at my lowest weight, but regained 20#s in short order, so have resorted to black pants and a top for pretty much every other non-jeans occasion in recent years. It appears that the reunion will be dressy casual, though, so a dress of some sort is in order. Ack.

I looked around a bit and think I will order this little number from Athleta. Reviews are generally very good and I like that it's machine-washable and wrinkle-free. I could also wear it just as easily with casual sandals as I could heels, or add a cardigan for extra warmth in the Winter. A nice wardrobe staple for under $60.

But, shoes...there's another conundrum. I don't really have anything other than my Keen sandals, Dansko clogs, and running shoes. Hmmm... I had thought of getting a simple pair of black sandals with a small heel, but several friends talked me into adding color. And I do like color. They also raved about wedges, though normally anything with a heel more than about 2" freaks me out. I have a pair of heels that are 2.5 or 3" and I have never left the house in them, since I feel like I'm walking around on tippy-toe and my wide forefoot gets crammed into the front of the shoe. Just standing for 30 seconds is uncomfortable. Not to mention I am a klutz (daughter of the woman who currently has a broken neck and in the past 10 years has also had a broken foot and a broken arm...I come by my lack of grace honestly), so I don't need to add unstable footwear to the mix.

I ended up snagging these for a good price on Overstock.com. The heel is not overly tall and my wide feet won't be compressed by straps or narrow toes. They should look acceptable with jeans or pants, too. Woot!

The last remaining part of my ensemble...jewelry. I'm generally pretty minimalist with this, too. I wear my wedding ring on my left hand, a white gold/mystic topaz ring on my right hand, and a stainless steel watch. I have simple earrings that I might change once/year, since I have super sensitive ears and so many styles cause me allergic reaction within an hour or two of putting them in. Even most hypo-allergenic styles cause trouble.

It seemed those flashy red shoes needed some matching counterparts, so off to Etsy to find some fun, inexpensive jewelry. Boy, is that site ever dangerous. Were I a major jewelry ho I'd be broke. I found several necklaces in sets with earrings and/or bracelets, but settled on this one.

I may have to replace the hooks on the earrings with silver, assuming they are some other random metal. Or I can wear them for an hour or two; at least until they start to bother me.

One of my best friends said she has a red patent-looking purse that would be perfect with this ensemble and that she is happy to lend it to me, so I won't have to go out and dump money into a purse I will likely only use once or twice. Though maybe I will see if I can find one for keeps, since I think I am going to get more than one wear out of this outfit. If the dress still fits me in a year (assuming I don't lose a few #s, though if I like the dress enough it would maybe be worth eventually investing in another one in a smaller size) there's a good chance I would wear it for my own 20 year reunion. Not like anyone would know the difference...our reunions are in different states.

I promise to post photos of me in the entire sassy getup after the reunion.


20 Hours of Awesome! (part 2)

After arriving home from the 25k race I got showered and decided I was antsy enough to want to get out of the house (instead of the usual post-race want of a beer and my pillow). So we went to see Iron Man 2 (awesome...and a good reminder of how plastic surgery can go bad--I'm looking at you, Mickey Rourke) and then for a delicious dinner at Pints & Quarts.

OK, so how did this restaurant fly below my radar for so long? I blame it on location. I think I have gone years without hitting the Henry Street area of Muskegon and this joint has been around since 2003. But I got a heads-up on the place via Facebook. So thankful...oh, what we've been missing.

I had their special--meatloaf with mashed red skin 'taters and gravy. OMG...the meatloaf was good, but the potatoes and gravy...I am salivating just remembering it. The potatoes had skins and lumps and the perfect hint of garlic. The gravy was sweet, rich, and thick with sliced mushrooms and carmelized onions. Hubby had a ginormous burger topped with haystack onions and BBQ sauce. I enjoyed my first Delirium Tremens (one of my beer-snob brother's favorite brews--and I see why). I also had a Scotty Karate Scotch ale...which I didn't care for as much--too smokey. I keep forgetting that I don't really like Scotch Ales. But the name made me chuckle, so curiosity got the best of me. This place has 31 drafts...mostly micro-brews and imports.

For dessert we had a slice of key lime pie that was topped with tart raspberry sauce and real whipped cream. Made me pucker, it was so sweet/tart. The entire meal was exceptional and I think this may be our go-to place when we want a special family dinner in the future.

Last night the long-awaited SNL hosted by Betty White finally aired. So I HAD to stay up to watch that, too. It was SO worth the toothpicks holding my eyes open. By the time I crawled into bed just after 1am I had been awake for over 20 hours (including a 2.5+ hour race). I was really feeling it in that last hour, too. It was reminiscent of early motherhood...that shakey, out-of-body exhaustion. I don't remember anything after my head hit the pillow. I typically struggle to find sleep fast, but not last night.

20 Hours of Awesome! (part 1)

Yesterday was such a fabulous day. I woke just before 5am to get myself fed and dressed and out the door for the hour-long drive to Grand Rapids for the 33rd annual Riverbank Run 25k (there are also 5k and 10k distances, wheelchair, and walk). This is the largest 25k race in the US.

I have had a rather mixed experience with this race in the past. This year was the 3rd time I'd registered and I wasn't entirely looking forward to the event.

The first year I ran it it was the longest race I'd ever completed. And it was a tough, but positive experience.

The second year left me with little interest in ever running it again. I spent the bulk of the race with awful asthma issues + nausea (perhaps related to my breathing difficulties). I PRd, but it was a VERY hard-won record time for me. My best friend, Eryn, had not trained as well as I had (typical...it has become a running joke. If she trained as much as I did she would hand my ass to me at every race, not just half of them) and pulled away from me by about 11 miles in. The last 4.5 miles of that race were very lonely and frustrating for me. Last year I was tapering for the Bayshore Marathon and was unable to run this race.

This year I primarily registered to support a local friend of mine who was planning to run the 25k for the first time. She and I did several of our long runs this Winter and Spring together. My best friend and I registered the day before the entry fee increased (a couple of weeks ago) and made sure to remind "newbie" that she needed to register if she hadn't already done so, or pay more. I planned to run at least the first half with my friends, and make the decision to press ahead for the second half or not based-upon how I felt.

2 days prior to the race newbie informs us that she didn't feel prepared (even though she really was, and was better trained than Eryn and I know she would have had a good race and realized her doubts were unfounded after she finished) and had decided not to register. This had me pretty bummed, though not as bummed as the fact that I HAD registered and the weather forecast was truly shiteous (air temps in low 40s, windchills around freezing, rain). Dammit...had I known she wasn't going to run I never would have registered...and the forecast only added insult to injury.

Surprisingly, I woke on race morning in a good mood. I chalk it up to residual chipperness from my successful duathlon 13 days prior.

I left the house just after 6 and traveled in relatively busy traffic for most of the drive (seriously, where are all these people going at that time of day? I thought maybe a lot were headed to the race, but most of them turned-off at other exits or kept going beyond the downtown GR area). I had little problem finding a mostly vacant parking ramp just a few blocks from the start and paid my $5 to park.

I walked to the start and went inside the DeVos Place convention center to keep warm (it was in the 30s pretty much until race start) with about 18k other runners. I got there extra early, as I found 2 years ago that the addition of the 10k event made things even more hectic in the race area, plus I decided to pick up my race packet on race day this year, instead of wasting time and gas by driving an hour each way the day before.

Prior to the 8:20 start for the 25k I was able to watch the 5k, 10k, and wheelchair starts from a window in a walkway parallel to the line-up area. That was pretty nice.

Eryn arrived without a ton of time to spare before our gun fired. We made our way to the 10 minute/mile area and stood around for maybe 10 minutes before the 25k race began. It took about 4.5 minutes from the official start until we crossed the start line. Maybe a quarter of a mile in we came to a complete stop and that first mile was pretty congested...and slow. By 2.5 miles in I removed my windbreaker and gloves, as the wind was at our backs and I was warmed-up. The temps remained a consistent 40ish degrees and the wind really didn't bother me until that last half-mile of uphill to the finish. Most of the course is sheltered and the temps and overcast sky were really perfect for running.

For the first 6-7 miles we were in a fairly tight pack of runners and a fair amount of dodging and weaving. In hind sight I wish we'd have started in the 9:30 group. It wasn't long before I realized that going sub-2:30 was impossible after so many miles at 9:45ish pace and that 10+ minute first mile. But my goal of PRing was easily in reach, even if I didn't pick up the pace any. Once this realization set-in the pressure was off and the rest of the race was mine to enjoy--which I did.

After the halfway point we hit several miles with rolling hills and a bit of a headwind (at least none of the predicted rain, aside from a bit of intermittent drizzle -- I actually wished at several times that I'd worn a short-sleeve shirt under my windbreaker, as I was a little warmer than I like). My pace slowed accordingly, but I was still on pace for an easy PR (almost 2.5 minutes over my previous PR).

At around 11 miles in I lost Eryn...almost exactly the same area where she lost me 2 years ago. I turned the volume up on my iPod (Earth, Wind & Fire, Lady Gaga, La Roux, and assorted uptempo pop/dance) a bit at this point and focused on maintaining my pace through the remainder of the race. The miles ticked-by comfortably as I recalled struggling at the same mile markers during my prior 2 Riverbank Runs (nowadays I'm on a 2x daily inhaled steroid for my asthma, instead of just Albuterol inhaler, which makes a HUGE difference, even on fewer training miles). I smiled and thanked spectators and chatted with other runners who were just as visibly enjoying the race as much as I. I'm sure I had some damned goofy perma-grin action going on.

It wasn't until the last mile where I pushed the pace a bit more. Even so, I still encouraged runners around me who were visibly struggling. I knew exactly what they were feeling. I cheered 2 myTEAM TRIUMPH participants and their teams as they passed me 3/4 of a mile from the finish. After crossing I waited at the end of the chute for Eryn and smiled as I heard several first-timers running through with shouts of "I/we did it!" I saw tear-streaked faces. I understood the self-pride they were experiencing. They accomplished so much and didn't switch to a shorter distance at the last minute, as many had after hearing the weather forecast (which never really came to pass--typical in erratic weather West MI).

Next year...I know I won't be dreading this race or approaching it with a lackadaisical attitude, as I did this year. Next year I will make my primary goal going under 2:30. I only need to cut 3:41, which shouldn't be tough with continued training (again we see that my biking isn't hurting my running), losing a few pounds, and pushing harder, including starting in a faster pace group.