Ironman Countdown

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sweet November

Ah November.  The marathon is over; beautiful fall running is in full effect. Time to just be, to breathe, and to enjoy it all

Ironman training pressure has not kicked in, as its not yet 2015.  A nice laid back month to just cruise, get in some runs, adjust to the darkness (I have to run after work), do a race or two....

One of my favorite things about running and triathlon is "the fever" it spreads.  In my office alone, the running boom has been impressive.  And it totally humbles me when I have a person say that she has seen my Facebook posts about running, or noticed my physical change, and it inspired her to do the same.

Which brings me to my friend Jen.  I have been very blessed in my life with great girlfriends in all stages of my life, including since becoming a mommy.  In my neighborhood, with our local pool at the focal point, I have become close friends with three other crazy mammas like myself.  Jen is one of my mommy friends who brings me sanity.  And this November, in as far as running, was the MONTH OF JEN!

Jen started running at some point last year, and began to join me each Tuesday at the Y for spin class. On Thanksgiving 2013, I ran with Jen in a Turkey Trot 5K for the local YMCA.  That was her first race. Ever. Like, ever ever.  That was so fun for me, seeing her cross the finish line and know "that feeling."
Turkey Trot 5K, 2013.  It was FREEZING!

We did two other races together at the beginning of 2014:  the Penguin Pace 5K on February 2nd (my birthday) and the Victims Memorial Run 4 Miler for my office in April.  

Penguin Pace 5K

Victims Memorial 4 Miler, with my other beautiful runner Kate

Firecracker 10K
She then set the goal to do a 10K.  She smashed that goal on July 4th at our local Arbutus Firecracker 10K.  It was hot and humid, and a bit drizzly, as I ran the three miles across town to her house beforehand (I was in full marathon training already and needed to log extra).  The Firecracker, in our neighboring town, is notoriously hilly and challenging, and Jen killed it!  All the locals were on their lawns, cheering for the runners, squirting us with hoses to cool off, and ringing cow bells.  It was so much fun!

Which brings us back to November, one year from Jen's very first race.  Not only did we do a 10K race together, but she asked me join her in her very first HALF MARATHON.  It was a scary and exciting goal for her, and she decided to do it.  Knowing my own marathon would be over, I said I would happily run this with her, at her pace, provided that brunch was on the agenda for afterwards.  Again, I am ALLLLL about the food reward.

The Bay Bridge 10K on November 9th was beautiful.  Really, it was just a stunningly gorgeous morning, and, as a Marylander, getting to run over that 4 mile long bridge was just awesome. 
photo credit:  Rivalicious
We ran it for the scenery and the experience, not to "race" it.  We stopped to look over the side (a loooong way down) and take selfies.  And we had some celebratory beers at the end!  A wonderful day!

On Saturday, November 22nd, I picked up Jen around 5:45 a.m. to head back to Annapolis.  It was 25 degrees and, obviously pitch dark outside.  Why do we do this?  I ask myself this often in the early dark hours of the morning.  Yes it was very cold, but I am one of those freaks who actually finds that preferable for running... once I get moving. I dread the start and the first mile or so when I'm still cold.  But I like not sweating that much and not getting uber thirsty like I do in the warmer months.

Anyway, I was very excited for the Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon.  It was going to be a beautiful race, and I was really excited to be with Jen as she conquered this goal.
 Annapolis is a pretty town, and the course went by the state house, down main street, the city dock, around the outskirts of the Naval Academy, and over the Severn River and back.  It was hilly, and it was a tough course, but gorgeous
course map

check out those hills!

It was soooo cold at the start.  My fingers were stinging despite wearing gloves.  My eyes were watering.  There were so many people just as nutty as us:  choosing to wake up crazy early and run 13.1 miles in the freezing temperatures.
huddling for warmth at the start

start line selfie

Jen did a great job.  I yammered away, and we covered multiple subjects, the way only long distance runners can talk.  We negative split it, but averaged about 10 min/miles which Jen seemed to maintain pretty naturally.  It was a joyful finish!  Jen's family was at the finish line.  I was so very proud.  It was a great reminder for me about why I do this, why any of us do this:  to make goals, to push our limits, and for the glory of a finish line.

gorgeous finishers medal

sister wives, finishing together
I couldn't stop shaking from cold, once we finished.  So this time we did not stay for the party afterwards.   But Jen's husband (and her cute boys) took us to a diner, and we feasted on omlettes and coffee.

November has been a perfect month:  great running weather, easy going training, and having fun at races with a fantastic friend.  I am always thankful for the gifts running and triathlon have given me, but it is the time I get to spend at races and on training runs with my sister and friends, that fills my heart with pure joy.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  Find your joy.  Be grateful.  Be happy.

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