Friday, December 9, 2016

State #30: North Carolina

This past weekend I ran the 33rd Annual Mistle Toe Run!
Woot, woot!
I had to run this race. First off because 33 is a great number, which for those of you who know me, reminds me of my late husband, John. And second because all proceeds go to childhood obesity - and I'm a Registered Dietitian who is all in for healthy kids! 
...And, since I got hurt training for Boston, 
and got the most God-awful complication from my Crohn's and couldn't run Berlin, 
I felt justified squeezing in one more half before the New Year. 
Smack in the middle of holiday season, 
and at the end of Ron's Sales Quarter! 
(Sorry, Ron)
Hectic - Oh yeah
But, I'm so glad I did!

I didn't feel this way before the race. I secretly thought I was crazy signing up for this race. Just look at the elevation profile:

Ever since that hip injury last March, I really struggle going up hills. Looking at this profile terrified me - but yeah, I'm Half-Crazed so of course I was compelled to register for this race! I would just have to make peace that my time would be slower than usual.

Running-wise, the last 6 weeks have just been awful! I've had a bad bout with my Crohn's. I blame it on a work-required flu shot where my arm blew up, and my elbow joint became painful - likely an overactive immune response which stirred my Crohn's.

I had to really knuckle down on my diet. And I tried a new probiotic - which I am now totally in love with: GIHealthPro. Why? Because I found out that there's cornstarch in VSL #3? Corn HATES me, literally, anything from a niblet to HFCS is trouble with a capital "T".

Anyway, in my two past two local races - I suffered my worst cramps and they all came when I either ran up or downhill 
- now I had to face three major sections of hills! 

We flew in on Friday, and drove directly to packet pick-up. Here we got our VIP wristbands (they never made it to us pre-race), and our packets. I met the race director, Erin, and asked her if the course was really hilly - I guess I just didn't want to believe my eyes looking at that elevation map. 
Erin said, with her very sweet southern accent, 
"I ain't gonna lie to ya' honey, the course is real challengin'!"

I must have looked scared because Ron looked at me, and said, "You better pull it together. You better have a plan, and stick to it."

I thought - okay, so there are hills - and they're going to be challenging - you just gotta push through them, and keep a pace - but what pace? I looked through how other women who were my age did in years past. I thought - if I could maintain a 7:55-8:00 minute pace, and finish in 1hour and 45 minutes, I would be happy, and maybe, just maybe, I will place in my age group.

As I mentioned, Ron and I signed up for the VIP package. Really, the only reason I signed up was to have access to a "Private" bathroom! Let me tell you, for the extra $30, it was well worth it. Besides the bathroom, I got to warm up in the YMCA gym pre-race, and stretch on a yoga matt post-race!
Gotta keep that hip happy!
Plus the post-race party had great food and beer - none of which I could have, but Ron was happy! He justified trying the two types of beer on tap because as he explained, "He ran the 5k, which was really hilly!"
Hey, baby doll, did you see that 13.1 map? 
You ran 3 miles of hills!
Anyway, I met three cool men at the start of the race: Matt and Adam were the pacers, and Jeff, another runner, who was also not from North Carolina. Neither one of us knew what to expect. Adam was holding the 1:45 pace sign, and promised to pace us the entire distance. I told him that I was nervous - and hoped that I could hang with him for the entire race. He gave me some pointers - and I just kept repeating,
"I can do this!" 
.. like about 100 times or so times!
Everyone around me must have been so happy when I finally shut up to listen to the three women who sang our National Anthem acapella - it really was beautiful!
Then, BANG!
It literally sounded as if a real gun went off!
All lined up and ready for us to finish!
I hung with Adam through the first two uphill miles, and almost through the second big hill at mile 7. Then, I started to slip a little. I figured he was about 20 seconds ahead of me, but I could still see his red shirt. But then came miles 9, and 10...
And oh my lord!
Yes, I was praying out loud!
Going up the last crest in mile 10 there was an older couple standing on their front lawn. They kept yelling, "This is the last big hill ... This is the last big hill."  
With slobber all over my face, from panting and breathing hard out of my mouth, 
I yelled back, "You promise?" 
They were so adorable, "Oh yes, dear we promise!" 
God love 'em!
Well, they were honest - it was the last "big" hill, up until about the last 1/4 mile. Then uphill, we went again. As we neared the finish line, I heard Jeff, the runner whom I had met at the start. C'mon Beth let's push it out over the finish line. My legs were tired, and I was just going to try to maintain pace, but when he crept ahead of me a bit, I decided to kick it in for that last 100 meters!
Thanks Jeff! 
I needed that last big push! 
And that's why running is just like life. There's always someone there to lead the way, and hold your hand through the rough spots, but when you fall back a bit, and the going gets rough, someone comes from behind to encourage you to push through!
So how'd I do?
First Place Age Group Winner!
I podiumed!
I wish I had these hills to train for Boston! I know that's a crazy thought, but they went up for a mile or so, leveled out, and went up again. And look, it was such a pretty area! I was so grateful for all the great community support  - it was unbelievable.

I will cherish my medal, and cool key chain that doubles as a light and bottle opener. I'm telling you, Ron could have used that opener for the beer he bought from the local Foothills Brewing Company - I must admit I was impressed with his hotel bathroom hinge skills! And I love my first place award, a Holiday Ornament - which I received from Erin! She truly was so awesome - the race was unbelievably well run!
If you look closely at this picture, next to the ornament, you will see a safety pin with two little bells. Lots of people wore these bells during the race. Yeah, so after about 1 mile, when I stopped freaking out about the hills, and wether or not the loud bag was from a real gun, I heard this sound. I wondered, 'what the heck is that noise?' Then it dawned on me, it was the jiggling of hundreds of these tiny bells!
Happy Running and Happy Holidays!
Keep squeezing in those runs through this busy time of year
 - even if they're half of the mileage - just keep moving!
Here's to a Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful New Year!
Train Smart Today! 
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