Race Decisions – When Are You Being Too Picky?

Decisions, decisions.

UGH.

Lawd help me…

I’ve been running races on and off since high school.  Which, considering that took place in another millennium, that adds up to a lot of racing.  ALOT.  Some were awesome (all the Disney races), some stunk, (I Care I Cure 5k), and some were someplace in between, (Race for Women’s Wellness Half Marathon).  Each one a learning experience in it’s own right.

As I start looking at the calendar to pick my races for this year – and I’d like there to be more than the 1 or 2 I did last year, because, ya know……..LIFE – I get this feeling I may have set my requirements for races just a tad high.  By all means, please weigh in here.

Now, I’m not talking I need to have Disney-level race insanity for every race – nice as that may be – but my wallet certainly couldn’t afford said insanity.  But a few racer-friendly perks are always a good thing in my opinion.  Here are my top requests in case any race directors happen to be paying attention:

Manned water stations and/or appropriately supplied:  I did a 10k on New Year’s Eve 2017 along the beach in Boca Raton.  The two minutes you could actually watch the sun rise over the ocean was lovely, but once you turned off into one of the local neighborhoods, the scene wasn’t so pretty.  The one water station around Mile 4ish had one poor guy and his young son ferverishly trying to get water poured and out to the few hundred saps slogging by.  A couple of miles through the neighborhood brought us back to the same water station, only to find it both unmanned and out of water.  I was pretty much running in the middle of the pack, so I can only imagine how much worse it got for the runners behind me in the typical south Florida humidity that never seems to go away.  Now I know how difficult it can be to find enough volunteers for events like this.  However, this race has been taking place every year for the past 39 years.  Yes, 39 YEARS.  You think just maybe they might have stuff like this figured out by now, especially in the tropics?

Kids get their own race:   Make no mistake, I am ALL about kids putting down their phones and getting outside to move.  But if you’re doing everything you can to keep from running them over because they’re fully engaged in the “let’s sprint for 50 yards then come to a dead stop in front of some poor, unsuspecting sap whose brakes don’t work as well” mode, then the kiddies need to have their own kid moment of glory, if for no other reason than this poor unsuspecting sap’s knees can’t take emergency braking every 50 yards.

If you’re doing swag, do it right:  One word. DriFit.  I’ll pay an extra few bucks on the reg fees.

Use your outside voice:  Let it rip at the start people.  Especially for those saps like me who prefer to start at the back of the pack and haven’t had any mochaccinos before the start.  We can’t hear you chatting it up with the serious speed queens in the front row when you suddenly drop a “oh, let’s get this race started shall we?”  And pack up those obnoxious bullhorns.  They don’t work either.  Good option – put that local cheerleading squad to work.  Megaphones aren’t just for football anymore.

Take that constructive criticism seriously:   I can only imagine some of the ridiculous requests race directors see when they get their post-race surveys back.  However, there may be one or two that are actually good ideas that don’t cost anything extra to incorporate into the race day planning.  Like perhaps noting on the race website that drivers in the area ARE CRAZY AND DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THEY’RE GOING SO FOR GAWD’S SAKE, KEEP YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL.

No lady, I’m not sorry for scaring the crap out of you when I slammed a paw on the hood of your car as you looked right at me and hit the gas anyway.

All of the above noted requests, along with a few others (location, cost, registration fees, charity, etc) help me determine which races will hit my calendar in any given year.  My question for you is this.

Am I being too picky in what I want/need/expect from a race?

In my immediate area, 5k’s are rampant, 10k’s practically non-existent, half marathons are not too bad, and full marathons seem to be everywhere.  As I have yet to PR my half, I always have a few to choose from to maybe someday actually get it done.  My hesitation mainly stems from most of them, while geographically desirable, are not always the most convenient to actually get to, requiring one of those classic Disney 3am wake up alarms in order to have enough time to get ready, travel, park, get to the start, and warm up.  Plus, I know for logistical reasons, many in this area are held on Sundays.  Having a Monday-Friday desk job, a Sunday half doesn’t always equate to feeling so well the next day when you’re stuck in a chair and can’t really keep loose to fight off the DOMS.

It’s a conundrum.

Not this kind. Sadly.

As 2019 brings me to yet another year of debating which races will hit my schedule, I can only say this.  Every year I am eternally grateful that I have the ability and the resources to keep up with this crazy little hobby of mine.  Like anyone, I like to get the most bang for my buck and that is true for each race I consider.  Sometimes I wonder though.

Maybe I’d be better off just closing my eyes and pointing a finger?  Seems to always work well in my wine cooler.

Who’s a happy girl?

 

Enjoy the ride.

 

What helps you determine what races you will participate in? What are your race pet peeves?  Have you ever responded to a race survey?

Time for a New Year’s Cocktail with a Shot of Perspective

Well kiddos, here we go again. Time for the annual “this year is going to be different” nonsense. Because let’s face it – how much do we really have control over?

Silly blog readers…

I know I may be sounding like a pessimist right now, which if any of you dear readers know me, you know it is definitely NOT in my wheelhouse to be that way.  Once in a while though, life just smacks you in the face.

HARD.

And you have no choice but to take it like Humpty Dumpty falling off that stupid wall.

Did he just not know about gravity?  Stupid egg.

Remember this?  Yeah, 2018 was definitely not a banner year in the Black Dog crib.  That being said, it was infinitely worse for a lot of others.  Worse to the point that the pain of life’s crap being thrown at you at the speed of light could in no way ever be lessened, much less have it go away completely.  And yet, the planet keeps spinning and everyone’s life right along with it.  That thought alone is enough to always drag me kicking and screaming out of whatever funk I may be in and realize one thing.

My life is pretty. freaking. awesome.

And guess what?  I bet, so is yours.

I have this habit of every time things feel like they are going down the proverbial toilet, of doing everything I can to keep things in perspective.  My body hurts, but at least I can still run when so many others can’t.  I may have been in a nearly lifelong battle with my weight, but so too are many, many others, and they’re in much worse shape than I am.  My bank account may look pretty damn pathetic, but at least I have a decent job and can pay my bills.  I may miss my dad, especially around this time of year, but at least he wasn’t taken from me by a sick, twisted teen-aged murderer who thought the world revolved around him.  That one alone can smack you right up side the head.  HARD.

I got the idea for this post after hearing the story of Tyler Trent, a 20 year-old Purdue student and football superfan, who had contracted a very rare form of bone cancer at 15.  His outlook on life – knowing his days were numbered – was always one of staying positive and gratefulness.  Talk about a dose of reality.  Here is this kid, knowing his death could come any day, and instead of crawling under a rock to feel sorry for himself, he lived each day knowing it could be his last.  How many of us do that?  I know I always get so wrapped up in life’s little stupid things like paces, the number on the scale, the lack of numbers on my bank balance, that I sometimes to forget to LIVE.

As we kick off another new year, once again promising ourselves to make yet ANOTHER fresh start, just keep this in mind.  We really never know when this crazy life of ours may come to an end.  So when the boss is up your dupa, or the pooch has chewed up your favorite pair of running shoes, or the significant other has once again thrown in the red socks in with the white sheets, try to keep it in perspective.  At least you have that significant other in your life to turn the sheets pink.  Besides, who doesn’t need a little more color in their life anyway?

May we start off the New Year with a heartfelt very, very Happy New Year from the Black Dog family to you and those who matter in your lives.  May the year bring you nothing but health, wealth, happiness and most importantly, love and laughter.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

 

Enjoy the ride.

 

What are your biggest hopes for the New Year?  Do you find you sometimes get lost in the minutiae of life and forget to stop and appreciate what you have?

You Do You – The Kid/No Kid Version

Ahhhhhhh, life stuff.  That invisible line all bloggers face when trying to decide how much of their personal crap they want to divulge in their writing.  Being the strong-minded, opinionated, occasionally quite vocally opinionated female that I am – or as Grouper likes to call me “concrete-headed” – I try to keep my opinions somewhat under control here in my little corner of the world.  We are all well aware of how much we seem to be living in the Land of Negativity and the Easily Offended these days, so I try to keep things light-hearted and humorous here.  Besides who can’t crack a smile over this silliness?

blech

               Blech!

All that being said, take it as a warning that I’m going to touch on a subject that many find not only offensive, but get truly puzzled over, and at times, outright angry and demeaning in their wonderfully judgmental ways that so many human beings have.

I have not, nor have I ever wanted to, have kids.

There.  I said it.

I’d love to see everyone’s faces right now to see the emotions written all over them.  And believe me, I have seen – and been subjected to – ALL of them.

Let me start by saying I have no problem with people who make what is supposed to be a very personal decision one way or the other.  You do you and I’ll do me.  I completely respect how you choose to live your life and I simply ask the same from you.  But holy dogpoop Batman – it never ceases to amaze me how:

  1. People find it completely acceptable to ask – “so when are you going to have kids?”  I’ve always wanted to respond with “would you like to also know how often and in what positions we plan on making said kids”?  Personal is personal people and it is not alright in my book to get so personal, especially when you barely know the person you’re speaking to.
  2. People make their kid/no kid decisions for their own reasons.  Those decisions are for no one to judge, comment on, or my personal fave, try to change their mind about.  Again, you do you.  That right there in my opinion, earns you all the respect in the world.
  3. Everyone has their opinions on the subject.  Everyone.  AND THAT IS PERFECTLY OK.  You now what else is perfectly ok?  Not voicing said opinion unless asked for it.  Being the type that often likes to keep things close to the vest, and having no desire back in the day to discuss said subject with hardly anyone, I was always amazed, and yes, at times pretty freaking shocked, how someone would literally go off on a rant about how –  a) I was the most selfish person they had ever met, b) I didn’t know what I was missing and would regret my choice one day, 3) who did I expect to take care of me someday, (uh, me perhaps?), and my personal favorite, 4) why bother getting married then?

   I’m sorry. What??

At this point I’m pretty sure you’ve either exited this blog in disgust, screamed at whatever device you’re reading this on, or thrown a high five in my general direction.  And you know what?  Those reactions are all totally okay with me.  Why?

Because you do you.

One thing I do have to mention here.  Whether or not people choose to have kids, both sides have to understand one basic concept.  Whatever your choice is, it’s just that – YOUR choice.  It’s nobody else’s business why you made that decision, nor is it anyone else’s place to judge that decision.  If someone chooses to not have them, it does not mean they are missing out on anything.  All it means is their life is different.  For what it’s worth, I LOVE my life and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on anything.  I wake up every damn day thankful for the people I have in my life, the life I am living, how I’m living that life, and I wouldn’t change a damn thing about it

That’s me doing me by the way.

I know plenty of parents who feel they would have missed out if the didn’t have kids.  Guess what?  THAT’S OK TOO.

You do you.

One thing I have begun to notice more and more these days?  People are much less likely to ask about something so personal, and, if the conversation does take place and opinions differ, those decisions are much more accepted – and respected – by both sides. (Don’t be mistaken, I think this only applies to such personal subjects.  Everything else?  Well, that just turns into a Twitter free-for-all.) The whole concept of “you do you” seems to actually mean something every so often.  And moments like that?  Well, suffice it to say my faith in humanity is momentarily restored.

And that is all anyone can ask for.

 

Enjoy the ride.

Do you find people are asking more or less personal questions these days?  What subjects get you fired up?  Do you feel like you need to say something to people who believe the opposite of you on touchy subjects?

 

 

Southernmost Half Marathon Recap

 

This was one of those moments.

Huh?

Let me set the scene for you.

Sometime early 2017:  looking for a fall half to run.  Because I live in the tropics and what better idea than to train through all levels of summer hell for a fall race.  IN KEY WEST.  Yes.  THAT Key West.

Then.  Hurricane Irma.

Not cool Irma. Not cool.

Fast forward to early 2018.  Sign up for said race in Hades.  Again.  Because one does get used to the sensation of boiling blood coursing through your veins during training runs.  Can be quite pleasant at times. 

But I digress.

Wanting to really PR for once since my very first half in 2007 – yes, it has been that long – I set my sights on lots of speed work and consistent mile times.  Twice a week I would be up and out the door before 5am, all in an effort to beat the heat.  Of course, Mr. Humidity likes to make an appearance daily and at times could make breathing a bit of a challenge.  I simply plowed forward with the mindset of, “Well, if I can train in this mess, at least I have the advantage.  Right?”

Yeah.  Not so much.

Every week, up at 4:30 every Monday for easy runs, and Thursday for speed workouts.  Saturdays I’d sleep in until 5:30 and then hit the road for LSD days.  Of course, those were much better as I had my very own Grouper Road Crew along for the ride.  Cold drinks and cloths in a bike cooler, tunes from the wireless speaker, and of course, the Grouper himself.

He doesn’t really look like this.

After a momentary panic attack about two-thirds of the way through my training plan when I discover I had counted my weeks wrong, (probably due to all those 4:30am mornings),  I realize I had less weeks to train than originally thought.  No worries, I’ll simply skip one of my cutback weeks and increase the weekend mileage a little quicker.  I got this.

If you previously happened to have followed my little corner of the internet, then you are well-acquainted with my long-running #brokeknees drama.  I am happy to report that I have officially moved on from that drama!  But now?  #brokebutt drama.

Gee, thanks.

Yup.  Once again we delve into the dark runner world of injury, this time centered around that bitchy little piriformis.  Ooooh boy, can that little flat muscle cause some BIG runner issues.  Now, being an expert at making myself crazy over training time injury maintenance, I do what every obedient runner does.  No rest, overwork the butt, and bitch the entire time.  I also did throw in weekly chiro adjustments, the hated foam roller, and standing at my desk with my leg up trying to stretch out my butt at work several times a day.

That made for some interesting looks from the coworkers.

And wept as I saw that PR slowly slipping away.

As always happens when time is running out, I had a few good long runs, mixed up with anxiety and tear-filled long runs.  Trying not to subject Grouper to more #brokebutt drama than he needed to witness, I sucked it up and limped home on more than one long run, bitching the entire time.  Sadly, prior to race day, my longest good run was only 10 miles.  No biggie, what’s another 3 miles, right?

After spending my last six weeks of training in a total crap shoot, on a beautiful Friday morning, we drop off the Wonder Mutt at the sitter’s, pack up the Mutt Mobile, and down the Overseas Highway we go.  Packet pickup took 5 minutes – all packet pickups should be at a bar on the sand if you ask me – and back to the hotel to chill before hitting the hay early.  Thank you 5:45am start time.  All those gawd-awful early morning workouts were paying off.

Saturday morning.  The humidity is pretty high, Hurricane Michael is making his way just south of the States – really Mother Nature? – and Grouper and I jump on a rent-a-scooter to make getting to the start line easier.  (Great idea if I do say so myself).  I hit up a surprisingly clean portapottie, then hang out in the start area stretching and warming up, passing the time among all the marathoners, halfers and 5kers.  And of course, petting ALL THE DOGS, which did wonders to calm the pre-race nerves.  The full marathoners get called to the start line and promptly at 5:30am, the festivities begin.  The half was supposed to start at 5:45, but kudos to the race director for delaying 15 minutes as the lines for the portapotties had gotten quite long.  An announcement was made for the 5k peeps to jump out of line, and let the half peeps do their business so we can get the show on the road.  At 6am, we were on our way!

Two things to keep in mind should you wish to indulge in such madness:

  1.  It’s still dark out at 6am in October and course lighting is definitely NOT in abundance.
  2.  Duval Street is more like a study in not face planting thanks to the road conditions.

And the biggest lesson of all – HEAD WINDS SUCK.

Me. FOR 4 STINKING MILES.

Nothing like feeling you’ve won the Powerball when your first two miles are run at goal pace, you’re on track to #PRCity, you manage to not go over the railing into the Atlantic Ocean because you’re running a pier in pitch blackness, and you have to deal with crap like Mother Nature with a bug up her dupa.  She couldn’t even make it a decent headwind, but an angled side wind.  The kind that no matter which muscley cute dudes you’re running behind, (I’m married for gawd’s sake, not dead :)), you just can’t seem to find that sweet spot that said muscley cute dudes can run blocker for you.  You know that goal pace I mentioned?

Yeah.  NO.

Miles 3-6 were spent battling a bitchy Mother Nature to the point that all I could do was try to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Pace?  Out the window.  Conserving energy?  #jokeoftheyear.  Ignore what is now your screaming glutes?  Got that down.  Grit your teeth and hope the normally beautiful oceanside view comes to an end as quickly as possible.  Or more like just come to an end at all.  I’ve never been so happy to see a Mile 6 marker in my life.  Especially because Grouper was plunked right there, cold Angry Orchard in hand, tunes playing on the speaker, and dancing like a fool.

Best road crew ever.

Miles 6-9?  Another round of runner hell, this time due to a lovely out and back along U.S. 1, most of which was on an angle of much like the side of Mt. Everest.  There was no where you could run to find a bit of even ground unless you went up onto U.S. 1 itself; which wouldn’t have been bad, but after the slowed pace during the #headwindsfromhell portion of the program, traffic had started to pick up and becoming roadkill wasn’t really part of the next act.  Continued teeth gritting and carrying on was the only option.  Plus I knew Grouper was waiting back around Mile 9 with more Angry Orchard on hand.  Apple juice makes the world go round.

Once I was properly refueled, hugs and kisses from #bestroadcrewever, I knew I only had about a 5k to go.  Team #Brokebutt was making sure there would be no chance to revoke my membership, and a shot at #PRCity had long ago evaporated, so it was time to just finish the damn thing.  At least I had great scenery along the way as I hobbled down U.S. 1 with the Gulf to my right and a busy U.S. 1 to my left (no sarcasm here).  And of course, #bestroadcrewever buzzed up alongside me on his scooter, backing up traffic, music blaring, and shouting inspirational messages for all us runners in the vicinity.  Oh wait.  That would have been me.  Only me.  I had lost sight of just about every other runner both ahead and behind me, we had become that spread out.  Onward and upward!

Something like that.

A right turn over the bridge – thank you tailwind for once – and down into the neighborhoods adjacent to Old Town we go.  Remember I mentioned I had lost just about every other runner out there?  Not good when you come up to an intersection AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO.  Granted I had looked over the course a few times, but when you’re dupa is broken, your previously busted up knee is starting to complain, and you’re starting to feel a bit goofy in the head – more so than usual – it gets a little nerve- wracking until you notice some nice race person had placed some cones basically MAKING you turn where you need to go.  Score one for the non-goofyheaded race peeps!

Now.  Repeat after me.  LONGEST TWO MILES EVER.

Good job.  Great audience participation on that one.

After what I swore was previously mentioned LONGEST TWO MILES EVER, the finish line was in sight.  Actually it was around a couple more corners, but I could see it in my mind.  A right turn here, a left turn there, (oh look, Schooner Wharf Bar!  I’ll be right back guys!!), and THERE YOU ARE YOU GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL FINISH LINE!!

Let me just interject said beautiful finish was momentarily marred by large muscley sweaty dude FLYING by me with about 50 yards to go.  Why marred you say?

He was the winner of the marathon.  Yeah.  The FULL marathon.  Turns out Mr. Speedy had finished 15th OVERALL at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

STAY IN YOUR OWN PROFESSIONAL PLAYPEN SPEEDY MCQUEENEY.  Leave the Keys to us pathetic amateurs.

A sweet little old lady handing out medals, a big hug from Grouper, and an ice cold Gatorade later, we were back on the scooter and heading back to the hotel.  I would have liked to hang out for the post race festivities, but girlfriend just wanted to get off her feet and into a nice refreshing shower.  Because.  KEY WEST.  Time to get this party started!

For all the bitching about the race conditions, it was still a well-managed race.  MultiRace puts on a good show and I would absolutely recommend any of their events.  If you’re intrigued enough to give this one a shot just remember to bring a light.  And extra apple juice.

SOMO Half

Nothing but smiles…

 

Enjoy the ride.

What is your favorite running destination?  Have you ever run a race in the tropics?

 

 

What? Who’s This?

The time has come for change my dear blogaverse friends.

close up of coins on table

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

No, not that kind.

As we all know, the only constant in the universe is change, and our lives right along with it.  I am and forever shall be in love with all things Disney.  That being said, upon deciding to revive my sad little corner of the internet, I decided I needed to expand my options and not just keep things centered on the Mouse.  Not that I didn’t do that before.  It’s just now I feel shaking things up a little bit, which is always a good thing in my book.

So as I get ready to jump on this blogging roller coaster – AGAIN – I would advise all you fine peeps to once again hang on for the ride.  Hopefully it will be entertaining, thought-provoking, and maybe even find you shedding a tear every so often.

Good tears.  That’s the only kind we like around here.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

As any blogger will tell you, audience participation is always encouraged.  If there is anything you’d like to get my thoughts on, feel free to leave them in the comments.  All I ask if we keep things positive.  You have to have been living under a rock to not know the negativity in this world has gotten out of control, so I like to keep things in a better light.  That’s not to say I won’t tackle controversial subjects head on, I just prefer to keep the somewhat mature conversation train rolling along the tracks.

Time to once again hang on and…..

Enjoy the ride.

Come Cop A Squat

Totally ripping off the whole “If We Were Having Coffee/Wine/Maragaritas” thing, come along with me, and let’s go cop a squat under a tree.  HA!

Oh Black Dog, you kill me!

Oh Black Dog, your rhyming skills kill me!

Since I hate coffee, but have recently discovered a new-found love for Dunkin’ Donuts Dunkaccinos, let’s go grab a non-earth friendly styro cup, our dogs, a couple dozen tennis balls, and venture over to the nearest dog park.  You never know what you may find out.

hmmm

If we were to cop a squat – you would discover that I have absolutely no people skills whatsoever.  Unless we’re talking about Disney, running, dogs, or wine, I’m a total shallow pool of nothing much interesting to say.

If we were to cop a squat – you would find that I have turned into a total wine glass snob.  Yes, wine glass.  And I can totally pan this weirdness off my hubby and besties.  The same ones who used to pick on me for drinking sweet white wines and continue to make the face when I put ice in my wine.  BECAUSE THAT IS HOW I ROLL.

You put what in your where?!?

You put what in your where?!?

If we were to cop a squat – you would find out that I can listen to just about any music out there.  Just about.  Classical, metal, reggae, pop, rap, compas, movie soundtracks…..you name it, I can handle it.  I can even take country but only in small doses.  But when something hits my eardrums like nails on a chalkboard, I react almost violently.  Deservedly so in this case…

swift sucks

If we were to cop a squat – you would find that up until nine years ago, I felt as though my life was flying by me like an Amtrak train and I wasn’t on it.  What happened nine years ago?  I met this UH-MAZE-ING dude, who showed me that life is a whole lot more than someone’s career, and that pushing your comfort zone isn’t as scary as it sounds.  And for that, I am as grateful as Wonder Mutt is for jumping in a lake.

whooooo  hooooooo!!!!!!!

whooooo hooooooo!!!!!!!

If we were to cop a squat – you would discover that I have crazy body image hangups, (who doesn’t?), as much as I try not to be I’m miserable if I can’t run, and if everything goes as planned with KneeGate2015 Part II, then the item on my bucket list that reads “complete a full marathon”, may just get checked off. {gulps}

If we were to cop a squat – you would find that I’m at my most content crashed on the couch at this little tiki bar I know, hubs on one side, Wonder Mutt on the other with her chin resting on my lap, binge-watching Game of Thrones, World Cup Soccer, or the Olympics.  Even the funny pants wearing events.

Best. Pants. Ever.

Best. Pants. Ever.

So if I haven’t bored you to tears by this point, and our mutts have sufficiently destroyed every tennis ball within a 15 mile radius, I think you’d find I’m pretty much your average, street-level introvert, who can be pretty damn quirky.  I love my Springsteen and Bon Jovi, my Moose Tracks and my margaritas, my running and my dog.  I have incredible friends both domestic and abroad, and have come to appreciate that it’s better to have a few great friends, than numerous casual buddies.  I have the world’s most amazing husband who puts up with my psycho-ness and buys me fuzzy animal slippers any time I want.  I’ve learned that animals live too short, fat cells hang around too long, and it’s better to live life balls-to-the-wall instead of watching it pass you by.

And that my dear readers, is why we should gulp down the Dunkaccinos, and go jump in the water.

WITH the dogs.

splash dog

No. Explanation. Needed.

Enjoy the ride.

Does any of this surprise you?  What would I learn about you over cappuccino and soggy tennis balls?