Melly Was Here

wife, mother, teacher, runner, writer, lover, fighter

Race Report: Natural Bridge Caverns Half Marathon

Last weekend, I ran a half marathon at San Antonio’s Natural Bridge Caverns.  It was put on by Redemption Racing, the same people who did the Illuminations Half Marathon in December.

The half marathon was to start at 7:30.  Lance and I got there by 7:00 and picked up our packets. He ran the 5K, so I was to start first.  Half marathoners were lined up in the cave right on time.  Since runners were started one at a time and I was close to the back of the pack (we lined up according to pace) it took awhile for me to cross the starting line.  I didn’t mind, though, I chatted with the runners near me.

I got started and ran about a half a mile through the cave.  If I have one criticism about the race is that I wish we could have spent more time in the cave.  It is so beautiful!  With our race registration, we got a free ticket to go back and take the tour.  You can bet we are going to take the boys and my mom back.

It was a cold day.  I didn’t realize it was going to be so cold, about 36 degrees, and I just was not prepared mentally for it.  I also didn’t study the course map and didn’t expect it to be so much of a trail run.  Lesson learned: always study the course map before signing up for a race.  I had a rough start.  I really struggled for the first four miles or so.  At that point, I stopped and used the restroom. I collected myself and drove on.  It was about mile 9 that I got runner’s high.  It was raining and cold, but I felt great.  I knew I was going to finish the run just fine and my time was going to be pretty decent too.  There were some serious hills and I did walk more than my plan of run 5 minutes and walk 1.  But, I had my jams one and my thoughts.  I felt awesome.

The course was great.  Really pretty property.  And I love my medal.  It’s a geo slice.  Very cool.

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Pic in the car because I just wanted to get out of the cold!

Lance ran the 5K and ended up coming in second in his age group.  If he’s going to be running 5ks, we are going to have to stick around for the awards.  We left too early and he didn’t get his prize!

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Lance with his medal.

All in all, a pretty cool event.  I’ll probably run it again next year.

There were some ladies there with tshirts that said, “#14 in 14.”  Upon investigation, it seems that it means fourteen races in 2014.  I like that.  So, I am going to run 14 half marathons in 2014.  Oh yeah.  Uh -huh.

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The Path Ahead

Running is a head game. That’s one of the reasons I think it is so good for me. Why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I don’t think when I run. I just let my body do the work.  The sound of my music and my feet hitting the pavement is all I need some days.

Sometimes, I think.

I’ll start running and pick a point on the road up ahead. I’ll visualize something that I want to accomplish up on the path, impeding my way. For example, when Lance and I were trying to get out of debt, I would visualize the logo of a creditor. It would be a big glass block right in the middle of the path. I would look at it as I ran towards it. Then, when I reached it, I would crash through it, breaking it all to bits. Then, I would keep running, stomping on the pieces until they were gone. Then, I’d do it again. I’d choose the word, “depression,” and smash that all to bits. I’d choose, “anxiety,” or “sadness.” And I’d smash those too. You know what? Lance and I are out of debt and I am managing my depression and anxiety.

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These days, I don’t do so much smashing. These days, I do more lifting. I visualize running with people in my life who may be struggling. And, I visualize whatever it is they are dealing with – a word or a symbol – and we run toward that together. Then, I give them a boost so they can jump over it. Or, if it’s something that I am struggling with or wanting to accomplish, I jump over it.

I do still do some smashing. I picture a huge, “AU,” in my path.  “AU,” stands for, “autism.” It’s big and it’s thick and it’s in my way. Often my baby boy, Sundance, is running with me.  AU is in our damn way. And we run and we smash that son of a bitch all to pieces. It doesn’t go down easy, but we run and we stomp and we destroy it.

So, needless to say,  I cry when I run. Or I smile and laugh or yell and curse.  And, when I get home I always feel better than I did before.   Always.

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Focus

I love New Year’s Day.  I love new beginnings.  Starting fresh.  I always make resolutions.  Sometimes, I keep them and sometimes I totally forget about them by January 5th.

In the past, I’ve heard of people choosing a word for the year.  A word that sums up what the year’s goals will look like.

I love words.  They are powerful.

I’ve had a wooden statue of the word, “Hope,” in my bathroom window for years.  Having a child with autism and strongly believing that autism is treatable, hope is a big word for me.

I call Lance my rock. Rock: strong, unbreakable, something to hold on to when the waves are crashing around you and threatening to pull you under.

I have chosen the word, “focus.”  The verb.

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The Webster’s definition:

2focus

verb

: to cause (something, such as attention) to be directed at something specific

: to direct your attention or effort at something specific

: to adjust (something, such as a lens or a camera) to make an image clear

I need to focus. To direct my attention and effort.  To make an image clear.  On Lance (bowchickawowwow), the boys (always), my job (what’s the next step for me?  Graduate school, maybe?).   I need to focus on getting this house purged and organized and maybe ready to sell (ack!).  I need to focus on my running (600 miles in 2014.  Oh, uh huh, that’s what I said).  And, I really need to focus on my writing.  I miss it.  And it’s time to stop thinking about it.  I need to focus – FOCUS – and get it done.

I’ve got a few friends who are joining me.  What about you?  Want to play? What’s your word and why?  Tell me!

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The Next Run

I set a goal to run 500 miles in 2013.  Last year at this time it didn’t seem like such an unreasonable goal.  I was planning my first half marathon and planned to get at least 10 miles in a week for sure.

There are five days left of 2013 and I have logged 442 miles.  I need to run over 10 miles a day to reach that goal by New Year’s Eve.   I started talking about it to my husband.  He got that look on his face that says, “I want to support you, but I really don’t want you to hurt yourself.”   He gets this look on his face more often than I care to admit.   When I mentioned it on Facebook, a runner friend then asked how many miles I had to complete.  When I told him, he said, “Oh. Hmmmm.”

I think this is a goal I am going to have to let go.  I know I could bust my butt and get there.  But, at what cost?  There are many important things I wanted to do over this Christmas break – namely spending time with the boys, resting and recharging.  Sure, I’ll be running, but I’m not going to lie when I say that 10 plus miles a day sounds like no fun.  No fun at all.

I know why I didn’t make it to 500 miles:  After the two half marathons I ran, I felt burned out and didn’t run for a couple of weeks.  Next time, I’ll get out there and at least walk to log some miles.   There were also quite a few weeks that I simply did not make the time get out there.  I just didn’t make it a priority.   I’ll work on that too for sure.

I’m going to look at this as a learning experience.  As much as I hate not meeting this goal I set for myself, I am not going to beat myself up for it.  If this were a friend of mine,  I’d say, “Well, 442 miles was still pretty good!  You’ll do it next year!”  I’m going to say that to myself.  I’m going to celebrate the runs and races I ran that went well.  I’m going to celebrate my firsts.  I’m going to remember the races I ran with my friends.  But, I’m also going to be ok with those runs that didn’t go so well and the goal I didn’t achieve. Because, I’m a runner.  And, that’s the great thing about running:  Being better is only as far away as the next run.

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I’m coming for you, 2014!

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Race Report – The Illuminations Half Marathon, San Antonio, Texas

On Saturday, I ran the inaugural Illuminations Half Marathon at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa here in San Antonio.   I have always wanted to run an inaugural event, so I can say, “I have run that race every year since the beginning,” and then act all cool and stuff.

It was a big day for me.  I got up early and ran the Dirty Girl Mud Run with three of my friends.  I thought I’d have lots of time to get eat, get home and take a nap before I had to get up and get to the Marriott to get my packet.  I would have liked another hour of sleep before.  But, I got up, popped a few Immodium AD’s and put on my lucky tank top.

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My Mrs. Incredible tank from the Disneyland Half. No capes!

I headed out to meet up with my friend, Tuck, and we headed over to the Marriott.  We got our packets, checked our bags and bundled up.

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Do I look scared? I am.

It was a frigid 32 degrees when we started and it just kept getting colder.  The course was the cart path of the resort’s golf course.  I hadn’t looked at the elevation map and was shocked at how steep the hills were! Note to self: Check the elevation map!  Oh my goodness, those hills were killer.  I had to walk up many of them.

Running is often a mental challenge.  Anyone can run, it’s just a matter of having your head in the right place.  I always knew that.  But, this event was the first time a run messed with my head.  It was dark and cold.  Really dark and really cold, which made it seem way longer than 13.1 miles.   There were a few times I just wanted to catch a ride back to the starting line.  Thank goodness for Tuck and my iPod.  They got me through it.

The race was touted as an “illuminated night race.”  My only issue with the race was the lack of  lights.  I was expecting lots of pretty lights and there were just paper bags with battery operated tea lights in them.  Many of them were not lit and knocked over.  But, it was the inaugural event and besides some path issues I had,  that was the only thing that bothered me.  I know next year, it’ll be better.  I did enjoy seeing all the other runners and the creative ways they lit themselves up.  There was even a person running in a Christmas tree costume.

All in all, a very nice event.  The medal and the shirt are beautiful.   Right now, I say that I won’t ever run in the cold like that again, but I know that if it is cold like that next year I’ll run it again (please, Dear Lord, don’t let it be that cold next year).

A special shout out to the employees at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa.  What a bunch of class acts.  If  you are ever in San Antonio for vacation, you should stay there.  It is a lovely place.

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Me and Tuck at the finish line. I’m not gonna lie, there were tears.

That’s the last race of the year.  I’ve still got some running to do though, to make my goal of 500 miles this year.  Gotta keep going!

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Life Lessons

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I Have a Bad Habit of Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

I may have done that again.  You see, sometimes I don’t like to choose between two things I want.

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On December 7th, San Antonio hosts the Dirty Girl Mud Run.  I love that run.  I did it last year and had a great time.  I can’t NOT do it.  I’m trying to round-up a bunch of ladies to do it with me.  I already have a few girls going and it is guaranteed to be a blast with just them, so I am looking forward to it!

But, that night is San Antonio’s very first night-time half marathon, the Illuminations Half.  It sounds so cool.  I’ve only done one other night event and I thought it was awesome.  And, the medal is so pretty.  And, I love the idea of running an event every year since it started and here’s my chance to do that.  I just have to do this one too.  And, I’d really like to cut at least 15 minutes off my Disney Half Time.

So, December 7th is going to be a big day for me.  I need to get back to strength training, especially my knees and ankles.

I think I can do it.  I think I can chew all of this.  Won’t know unless I try, huh?

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Setting My Goals by the Way I Define Myself – Runner

For most of my life, I was not an athletic person.  I tried softball and volleyball as a kid.  The anxiety they caused me was not worth it and I was terrible.  I took swimming in college and enjoyed it, but once the semester was over, I didn’t stick with it.

About five years ago, we moved here to San Antonio.  I didn’t get a job that first year.  Money was really tight and I could feel myself slipping, losing my grip on mental health (oh, if only I would have stuck with it after I got a job, more on that later).  I felt like there wasn’t much in life I could control.  But, I could control my body.  Lance bought me a pair of shoes and I started on the Couch to 5K running program.

Running makes me happy.   And, it’s all mine.  I do it just for me and no one else.

I made a goal to run 500 miles in 2013.  I am on schedule to reach that goal by the end of December.  I may or may not set another mileage goal next year.

I ran the Disneyland Half this year.  I’ll run another half in December.  I want to run a Nike Women’s Half one day and in 2015, I want to go to Disney World and run the Princess Half.  I suppose I’ll run a full marathon one day, just for the sticker on my car.

My goals as a runner are to just stay the course.  Just keep running injury free.  Just keep on loving it and feeling good.  For me.

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After the Disney Half with three of my favorite people.

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My Favorite Running Jams

Oh, man, there is nothing like putting on the running shoes, sticking in the ear buds and just going.  Just kicking ass.  Even on days I don’t kick ass, I’m always glad I got out there.

Like many runners, my music is essential to my motivation.  Here are some of my very favorite running songs:

Hey Ya! by OutKast

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SexyBack by Justin Timberlake

Looking Hot by No Doubt

Raise Your Glass by Pink

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You Get What You Give by New Radicals

Hall of Fame by The Script and will.i.am

Hey Mickey by The Riplets

Kung Fu Fighting by Cee Lo Green

Cradle of Love by Billy Idol

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Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys

Let’s Go Crazy by Prince

Give It 2 Me by Madonna

I’ve got an iTunes card waiting to be spent.  I need some more songs.  Any ideas what I should add to my list?

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Ten Things That Running Has Taught Me About Life

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1.  If you can push through until mile 2,  it gets better and easier.

2.  Going out with a buddy or two is always fun but, sometimes you gotta go it alone.

3.  A little competition can be healthy.

4.  Music makes everything better.

5.  Breathe. And relax your shoulders.

6.  For every uphill you have to push through, there’s eventually a downhill you can coast on.

7.  Rest days are every bit as important as the long run days.

8.  Don’t give up. Set goals. Sometimes you will really surprise yourself.

9.  Sometimes the hardest step is the first one out the door.

10.  There’s someone out there who would kill to be in your shoes.

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