Santa Fe Thunder 09-17-17

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Get in the car!  We’re headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  I’ve followed the Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon on Facebook for a few years.  I really wanted to add it to my calendar last year but it didn’t work out.  This year I was determined to go even if I had to go by myself.  Luckily that didn’t happen.  This race is known as a fast race because essentially it’s 11 miles downhill.  There is a 1,000-foot drop from mile 3 to mile 13.  We’ll talk about the first two miles later!  Being that I am from Oklahoma and the race was in Santa Fe there was going to be a bit of an altitude change.  How do you train for high altitude?  Well according to a guy we talked to at the park he said that training in hot humid temperatures, like Oklahoma in the summer, translates to the feeling of running in high altitude.  There was also a Facebook post from the run stating the importance of hydration in battling high altitude.  The other factor involved was running downhill.  The difficulty with that is that your muscle is forced to contract when it’s stretched out farther than usual.  With those things in mind, we thought we were ready to run.  At some point, I will realize that when I think I’m ready for a race I’m really not.  I guess that’s what brings the excitement.

When we arrived at Packet Pickup we quickly realized that the first two miles of the race were uphill…straight uphill.  It’s about a 350-foot elevation gain.  Just let this be a reminder that there is always an uphill especially when there’s a lot of excitement about a downhill.

Runners park at the finish line and get bussed to the starting line 13.1 miles away.  Along the course, there is water stops every two miles with a little course entertainment being provided by various musicians.  There isn’t much course support with people cheering you on but the scenery and the fact that you are running downhill make up for that.

The strangest thing along the course was the number of mini liquor bottles.  They were everywhere!  Someone had a party and we weren’t invited.  I’m pretty sure whoever it was wouldn’t have wanted to be up bright and early to go running.

Keep in mind that the finish line food is similar to what you would find at a 5k.  There were popsicles, bananas, and tortilla chips and that was pretty much it.  We decided to check out the Flea Market across the street from the casino and that’s where we ate pulled pork sandwiches with Kenneth.  He said they were the best in town.  Since we didn’t eat any others when we were there we have to say his were the best in New Mexico.  I didn’t see his Health Department papers but we were hungry and we lived to tell about it.

There are a few things that will make your trip even better.  Thao’s husband gave us detailed instructions on where to get gas.  We joked about it with signs from every gas station that said “here” because he said, “Get gas HERE!”  It’s a good thing he did because we stopped in Amarillo and we are glad we did because there is nothing between Amarillo, TX and Clines Corner, New Mexico.  There is also nothing between Clines Corner and Sant Fe so don’t forget to fill up!

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We also stayed at The Lodge at Santa Fe.  It’s a great place to stay because they offer a free shuttle to downtown Santa Fe.  They will even pick you up at one spot and take you to another spot free of charge.  If you stay here find out when Danny is running the shuttle.  He is a retired surgeon who drives the shuttle because he just likes to talk to people.  He will drive you all around and give you all the history of Santa Fe.  He is great!

When you head back across I-40 be sure to check out Cadillac Ranch at about MM 62.  Take your spray paint and leave your mark.  This is a fun race and I’m glad I chose it and I’m glad I was able to sucker my friends Thao and Lavanda into going with me!  It’s official I can mark New Mexico off my list!  #HalfInFIfty

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Rock-n-Roll Las Vegas 11-13-16

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This year I had to come to the reality that if my goal is to run a half marathon in all fifty states then there would have to be a few solo runs along the way.  So when the airfare was cheap I decided to book.  This time I would drag my husband along for the fun.  Seeing that he’s convinced that running is something you do only when being chased, he would go along for the fun and not the run.  This is my first experience with the Rock-N-Roll series.  You can’t go wrong when the run kicks off with a Snoop Dogg Concert.

Look around and you will notice two things.  First, there are a lot of people.  I heard there were 47,000!!!  Second, not many people are dressed up.  I chose Where’s Waldo for this race because I knew it was a big one and I like the thought of looking in the crowd to see Waldo.  When I choose costumes I try to pick one no one else will wear.  I like to be different.  That’s why I didn’t wear Elvis.  I thought everyone else would be wearing it.  There were only a handful and I tried to take my picture with all the ones I saw.

There are a few neat things about this race…it’s at night and you get to run on the strip.  That means there is lots to see especially with bands set up all along the route.  This is a good thing because of the size of the race it would be hard to run with someone.  There was a lot of weaving in out of “people” traffic along the route.

So how was the crowd support and the finish line food?  Since I was running by myself I’m really glad that I wore Waldo.  People stopped to take pictures and everyone would shout, “I found you!”  along the course.  That was a lot of fun.  So now lets talk about the finish line food.  I’m sad to say that I’ve had way better food at 5ks where I payed $20 to enter.  The finish line had the usual drinks such as water, Gatorade, and chocolate milk.  You also got a banana and a fruit cup and a bag that had a rice cake and a power bar.  And then there was…nothing.  That was it.  So sad.  Where’s the buffet?  At the end of the day my Garmin said I had traveled nearly 28 miles for the day.

I will say that they handle large crowds well.  They had Bathroom City at the starting line with different starting corrals and starting times.  Pick up for Gear Check was super easy.  They had UPS trucks lined up for each letter of the alphabet.  That’s probably why the finish line was nearly a half mile long.

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The real story from this weekend was on our return trip home.  We went to the airport only to discover that the airport in Oklahoma was closed because of a shooting.  Since the shooter was a former Southwest employee shooting someone who still worked with the company, Southwest went ahead and cancelled all remaining flights to Oklahoma on that day.  This means we would spend another night in Las Vegas.  We stayed at the Luxor hotel and our room overlooked the empty lot where Snoop Dogg had performed just a few days earlier.  (This is also the location for the iHeart Music Village.)  Just like that, life moves on.  I can now mark Nevada off my list.  #halfinfifty

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IMT Des Moines /10-16-16

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It’s time to hop in the car and head on up I-35 to Des Moines, Iowa for the IMT Des Moines Marathon.  The second part of the I-35 Challenge.  The glaring question when we hit the road.  Why does Missouri have so many mile marker signs?  (The things you notice when you have nothing else to do but eat gummy bears and drive!)  Lucky for you I googled it!  There are 5 mile marker signs per mile for 1,200 miles!!  The project cost the state $3.2 million.  Why do they need so many signs?  So that no matter where you are you can tell emergency personnel exactly where you are to speed up response time.  That’s dedication to public safety.

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On our drive to Des Moines we also discovered the very best cinnamon roll destination in all of the world.  It’s in Lamoni, IA in the Amish Country Store.  It’s a must stop! You can also see people in buggies.  They’re truly Amish!

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If awesome cinnamon rolls weren’t enough to make your day then meeting Jeff Galloway should.  We use his run/walk method for running.  I love it because it allows me to live life and still run half marathons.  Jeff was at the expo and he’s super nice.  OK, lets move on to race day!

We lined up in the fog hopping for nice flat roads.  That’s exactly what we got.  Thank you Des Moines for being flat.  I was a little surprised that for the size of this race there wasn’t more crowd support.  Not a lot of funny signs or free Hi-5s.  However there was BACON!!!

I’m pretty sure that whoever put out the bacon signs lied!  The distance from the last sign to the bacon was way more than a mile.  For the rest of the trip whenever something was taking too long we referred to it as a “bacon mile”.

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The one really cool thing about this run, besides it being flat, is they have people riding on bikes for course support.  They are equipped with GU, tissues, Vaseline, water, Gatorade, and anything else someone might need.  We saw them helping lots of people.

You know I judge runs by their finish line food and I heard this race was pretty awesome.  Guess what?  It has taken over the #1 spot on my list!  They basically had food village!  Inside food village is pizza, cookies, milk, soup, barbecue sandwiches, sandwiches, chips and other yummies!  Holy cow!  I needed to run another half to work off all the food I ate after this half!  Good job, Des Moines on the food!

There’s nothing better than setting a goal, meeting the goal and celebrating with great friends.  It’s official I can now mark Iowa off my list.  #halfinfifty

KC Marathon 10-15-16

All aboard it’s time to head off for the I-35 Challenge.  The challenge requires you to complete a run on Saturday at the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon with Ivy Investments and Sunday at the IMT Des Moines Marathon.  Back to back halfs…only an idiot would do that!  Just FYI there were about 600 idiots that decided to do it.  The first thing you must know is that any distance can be conquered with the I-35 Challenge it doesn’t have to be just the half you can also do the challenge with fulls.  I’m dumb but not that dumb!  The second thing  you need to know is that you must sign up for the Challenge early.  They close it at a designated number of participants not in any relation to the fullness of each individual race.  We were put on a waiting list because we didn’t sign up early enough.  So sad.

 

The directions from Oklahoma were pretty simple.  You just head straight up I-35.  I’m pretty sure that’s why it’s the I-35 Challenge.  See, I’m getting smarter as the day goes on.  I will say that there is pretty much nothing to look at between Moore, Oklahoma and Kansas City, Missouri except Windmills at Wind Farms and flat land.  To entertain ourselves on the drive we ate gummy bears and pretended that every person we drove past was naked.  The flat drive totally didn’t prepare us for all the hills that lie ahead.

 

We had great race weather that morning.  That’s probably because we were still training in 90 degree weather leading up to the race.  The race directors kept sending out heat advisories because of the weather they were use to having this time of year.  The surprise for us wasn’t the heat.  It was the hills!!!

The first 10 miles of the KC Marathon are all hills.  Not soft rolling countryside.  We’re talking hills!  Hills that cause your toes to strike the end of your shoe box when running down hill.  Hills that cause you to laugh a bit when turning the corner because you just can’t believe there is another one.

This race was well supported with people and fun cleaver signs all along the route and the course ran through pretty scenic areas downtown.  Areas that you can see yourself living in and walking your little dog to get coffee in the morning.  That made the run enjoyable even on the up hills!

The last mile was tiring but we made it to the finish.  I judge races not only on community support but also on finish line food and at this one you got to choose between a hamburger, a chicken sandwich or a chicken wrap.  I chose the wrap and it didn’t disappoint!  If I lived in Kansas City, Missouri I’m sure I would do this race every year.  It was a ton of hilly fun.  Plus I got to see a real life working telephone booth.  How many of those do you see!  I took a picture to show my kids.

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At the end of this race we did have that moment of panic that we couldn’t believe we signed up to do another one the very next day.  I really should think these things thru better!  I’m an Aries and that means that I’m good at planning and poor on follow through.  That pretty much sums up my life.  I should have been a travel agent.

PS…We decided after this trip that we would only book with chain hotels.  The hotel we booked was sketchy.  When we asked if we could get a late checkout the guy at the front desk asked if it was because we had plans to stay out all night.  That should also answer questions about it’s location.

Either way, it’s official I can mark Missouri off my list.  #halfinfifty  Look out Des Moines.  We’re headed up I-35.

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The Dam Half 10-18-15

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It looks like a great day to head to Texas!  Since I’m from Oklahoma this is nothing new in our world.  We usually head south to get a little shopping done or to watch the Sooners whip the Longhorns.  Boomer!  It actually surprises me that neither of us were throwing down the horns in this picture.  OK, enough of that let’s move on to the real reason we were here…to run The Dam Half Marathon!  I’ve got to mark Texas off my list at some point and this appears to be a good day to do it.

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This is the start of The Dam Half and we lined up next to the Dam water with a bunch of other Dam runners getting ready to run The Dam Half that we paid our damn money to run   Oops, sorry I hate when I use the wrong damn to talk about the Dam.  Haha!

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Our costumes for the day…Mario and Luigi.  Don’t try to figure out why.  There was no reason it was just because.  Yes, I think we were the only ones dressed up but that’s another story.

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The Dam Half is actually a pretty flat course.  That is until you have to run up the Dam road!  “How did you train for the Dam hill?”  Luckily it was just one so tell Rocky to stop the music we’ll save “Eye of the Tiger” for the finish!

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The one thing I will remember most about this race was the bullets.  Yep you read that right, the bullets.  We were running along one street and we saw a bullet on the road.  Then we saw another bullet.  I think we saw close to 10 bullets on the road over a stretch of about a half mile.  When you run slow you notice these things.  We decided to stop and take a picture.  I know what you’re thinking….Of course they took a picture!  They stop to take other weird pictures so why wouldn’t we take a picture of this!

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The Dam Half was a fun race with nice people and a fun finish line on a beautiful Dam.  I guess you could say it was a Dam good time.

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Now it’s time to break out the sharpie and mark Texas off my quest for #halfinfifty.

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Little Rock Half Marathon 3-1-15

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I guess I will start by saying that as a runner you must have a certain amount of drive.  “Drive” is a kind fluffy word to describe someone who’s OCD interferes with commons scents.  When you train you must set aside all rational reasoning and be able to run in snow, rain and heat.  You must run in whatever Mother Nature dishes out.  That same “drive” is what puts you on the road driving to a race in freezing rain!

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That’s exactly what this trip brought us.  Tara lives about an hour and a half west of me.  So my theory was that if she can get to my house then by golly we could make it to Little Rock.  We set out with “drive” which also meant that we had to stop multiple times to clear freezing ice off the windshield.  I’m not sure my mother would approve.

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We get to packet pick-up just in time.  Well technically we got there late but because of the weather they decided to keep it open later.  We hand our phone to a lady next us to have her take our pick by the sign and that’s where we knew things were going downhill.  She asked where we were from.  We said Oklahoma.  She said, “Oh really, how did you train for all the hills?”  Our response, “what hills?”  Yes we said, what hills.  We had no idea that there were hills and apparently everyone else did!!!  For the remainder of the trip we mocked that woman’s voice and repeatedly asked, “How did you train for the hills?”  It made us feel better since we didn’t train.

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All the press for the event encouraged people to dress up as pirates.  So we thought it would be fun to dress up as Peter Pan and TInkerbell.  That probably wasn’t the best idea because there weren’t nearly as many dressed up pirates as we thought there would be.  As for the run…it was hilly!!!!  I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a single stretch of flat land during the whole race.  I will also add that it was misting and about 35 degrees.  The temp wasn’t too bad on the run but as soon as we finished, crossed the finish line, grabbed all our snacks and all at once the cold wet temps took over.  That’s when the rush of panic sets in because you can’t even open a bag of pretzels!

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Here it is, the elevation record from the race.  “How did you train for the hills?”  We’ll know better next time!  My advice for this race.  Train for the hills.  I also recommend staying at the Hampton Inn and Suites.  It was one of the sponsored hotels.  It was also one of the few that gave you a 2pm check out time without having to ask or pay additional money.  They also offered a free shuttle to and from the race.

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This is the gigantic medal that had to actually be mailed to us because they were stuck on a cargo ship in a harbor on race day.

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It’s official, I can mark off Arkansas on my quest for #HalfInFifty!

Disneyland Half Marathon – 8-28-14

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Let me first start by saying that I love cupcakes.  I especially enjoy the old-school icing made with Crisco!  There is nothing better or tastier.  I also love buttercreme icing even though I don’t love it as much.  But had I never had the Crisco icing I would think that buttercreme icing was the bomb.  That’s exactly how I feel about the Disneyland Half Marathon.  Had I not already completed the run at Disney World, I would have thought it was awesome.  The things I loved the most about Disney World were missing from Disneyland.  Plus, I had already hyped it up to my friend so I was disappointed when they didn’t pan out.

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The first noticeable difference was the starting line.  At Disney World they started each corral with their own set of fireworks like you are the very first group to go.  They didn’t do that the Disneyland Half.  It was also interesting to note that one of the starting line announcers left half way through to go MC the finish line.  We also listened as the MC said nearly the entire spill the same way for each corral for nearly an hour.

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The other difference is the presence of characters during the run.  At Disneyland you actually leave Disney property so there aren’t as many staged spots to take pictures.  The roads are filled with bands and cheerleaders not Mickey and Goofy.  At Disney World you have giant pirate boats and characters to take pictures with the entire run because it all takes place on Disney property.

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I know!  I know!  I sound like a bitter old troll who isn’t happy that she got to run in the happiest place on earth not once but twice in the same year.  I got it!  So now I will tell you the part that makes it awesome.  We, without a doubt, had the cutest costumes around…Huey, Louie, Dewey.   I know this because we were told by several people so that makes it a fact!  The other awesome thing is we were able to do the entire run without having to look behind us for the dreaded cut off balloon holders.  Remember the ones we were running from at Disney World.  The third thing, since I completed two Disney runs in the same year, one at Disney World and the other at Disneyland, I got the Cross Country medal.  Score!  California is officially marked off my list on my way to #HalfInFIfity!!!

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