Winter is always a crazy time at my house. Between all of our holiday trips and racing it's constant packing and unpacking around here until March when we cut back on half marathons and I start triathlon season.
Saturday, 1/11 was the MS Blues Half. It's a fun race with musicians along the course and a great after party. If you think the south is flat, you should come to my neck of the woods. My only complaint is that the course is long and they won't post the actual distance, but lots of races do that. I don't understand why a race won't add a footnote in the information *actual distance 13.43 miles. We'll all still run it anyway. But when we're all watching our Garmins at 13 miles "knowing" we have .1 left and there's no finish line in sight it just sucks. So... note to race directors... please own up to the actual distance. Anyway - had a blast and PR'd for the actual 13.1 miles of it. Even using my average pace for the entire distance is a PR so I'm totally happy and I know my training is really paying off. It was a bonus to run the whole time with a friend from the running club. We chatted about the triathlons on our calendars and which races are bucket list items, nutrition, etc. I've only run with another person a few times. It was great! Really made the time go by. There's a photo of us (on the front page of the sponsor website Blue Cross/Blue Shield *thanks Crissy for pointing it out!) coming into the finish chute with another guy we know and we never knew he was there. He said he ran the entire race behind us and couldn't believe we were talking the entire time. He crossed the finish line right in front of us. I said it was because he drafted us for 13.4 miles then sprinted the last 20 yards. My official finish time 2:10 (2:05:47 for 13.1) 10th of 105 in my age group.
There are 3 local races in my town. First one is a 10k Sat 1/18. I had already registered us for a HM on 1/19 in Baton Rouge (before this date was set). So we were skipping the local race since we would be doing HMs on back-to-back weekends. Then on Wed, DH says he wants to do it. I wasn't so sure. This is a technical course. He's a walker so it isn't as much physical stress on him plus the walk is a 5k instead of 10k. Fri when we went to pick up his race packet, I signed up, too.
Saturday, 1/18 the hilly 10K. The nice thing was that it was local and didn't start until 8:30 so we didn't have to get up so darn early. We packed our bags for Baton Rouge so all we had to do was drop the dog off at the vet's to board, go to the race, come home, shower and hit the road. This is a tough course. So many turns and the hills just keep coming. Mile 5 has a 150' climb for 1/2 mi. It's brutal. Then you turn a corner and climb (short) again before you get a slow descent to the finish. About a mile of it is on brick street. My strategy was to run it hard. Last year I placed 3rd in my age group. I've been training well and, although I knew I still had some fatigue from the half marathon the previous weekend, I felt good. As for the half marathon the next day... well, I could blow the doors off and still wasn't going to place in that race. So it was just for fun. I PR'd (barely, but it counts!) 56:16. A full 4 min off last year's time. Sadly though I did not win a chili bowl. I was 4th. Out-of-towners clobbered my age group. The AG below and above me, I would have had first. (sad face) DH got 3rd in his AG for the 5k walk. Yes he was waving his chili bowl around saying "how do you like my trophy?" All in good fun. He's very supportive and proud of me when I am the one winning. My goofy friend running in her bacon costume.
Sun 1/19 half marathon in Baton Rouge. This is such a fun race. Huge expo, great city, super flat course, 4002 of your best friends to run with and ginormous food festival at the finish. I did it last year and DH said he wanted to go back this year even though it was only a week after the other half (and not knowing the 10k was in there too). This race is well organized, staffed with plenty of volunteers and good spectator support along the course. It's a scenic course running through the LSU campus and around a lake community of beautiful homes and people out cheering in their front yards. In the first mile I was definitely feeling the fatigue, but I was surprised that I felt better than expected. I actually felt really good after mile 2 and was running at a pace that would have been a PR. It helps that it was entirely flat. It was like "tra la la this is so easy". In mile 6 my phone started ringing. I ignored it thinking it was my DD calling to wish me luck. At the next aid station I decided to check to be sure. It was the vet. That's no bueno. They've never called before. I tried calling back on got the answering service message that kept looping instead of a person answering. My stress level was climbing and I was walking. Finally a person. She didn't understand that I was returning the vet's call. He had called me. My dog is there. Something must be wrong. Please tell him to call me back. Finally, she gets us connected. It's the other vet. Not the one that is my tri friend. He starts telling me "Uh... last night Zoe was put in her kennel and she was fine. I'm so sorry to call you so early with this..." I cut him off and say I'm literally in the middle of a race. He hem haws a while then finally says "well I'm not calling to say your dog is dead (wow, thanks) but we don't know where she is". He continues to tell me how she made her escape out of a secure kennel and through two locked doors to exit the building which set off the alarm system. The police arrived, saw the door open, but no sign of a break-in so they locked up and left. That was at 10pm. It wasn't until 8am when the caretaker came in to feed the dogs that he saw the kennel door open and Zoe was gone. So my dog had been on the lam for hours. And they couldn't find her. I was dumbfounded. And panicking. What could I do? I was 3 hours from home and miles from my car. Not to mention DH was somewhere behind me on the course and I had no idea how to find him. The roads around the vet are busy main thoroughfares through town. She could be anywhere by now. And lost. I've written about her several times. She has issues with anxiety and impulse control. She knows what she is supposed to do and how to behave, but becomes alpha dog supreme if another dog looks at her. I was so worried she would get herself into a fight. Or freak out and bite someone. She's smart. She just has some brain damage from having parvo as a puppy. My neighbor was out of town so I couldn't call her. She's the one that usually dogsits so Zoe doesn't have to board. I quickly posted a message to Facebook asking for help. Then I called my neighbor across the street and asked him to keep an eye out because I was sure she would be trying to go home. We live less than 2 miles from the vet. I've walked her there a few times to pick up her prescription (anti-anxiety meds). He asked me when it happened then said he had heard a lot of barking last night and early in the morning. He quickly said "I'll call you back" and hung up. Maybe 5 min later he called back and said she was sitting in the backyard with the gate open. She had walked herself home, opened the gate by lifting the latch and was sitting in her backyard barking to be let in. I gave him the garage door code so he could put her in the house. From the time I got the first call until I called the vet back to tell him she was home and safe was about 35 min. I did a lot of walking in that time while I was on the phone, texting and trying to manage the situation instead of freaking out. Then I was so relieved, so happy and realizing I only had a few miles left to finish. I picked up the pace and finished in 2:20. Totally good with that. DH had a PR and also qualified for Half Fanatics. We were able to enjoy the finish festival with our friends then headed home.
Houdini greeted us at the door instead of waiting at the top of the stairs. She was so happy to see us. On the way home I was thinking how upset, scared and confused she must have been. She was probably thinking "Hey you jerks. I busted out of that joint now let me in and feed me!" DH said "I sure hope that really is her and not someone else's dog now locked inside our house".
My takeaway from the 8-day period... I will avoid boarding my dog at all cost. My decision to change my running training plan is paying off. I went from 20ish miles per wk on 3 runs to 30ish miles on 4 runs. Surprisingly I had minimal soreness on Mon and was ready to run again today. That gives me some confidence regarding surviving the Ironman. I need to maintain my volume and start building in my cycling distance. My next and last (running) race is in two weeks. Then my training shifts from running faster to going longer. Whole different ballgame. Ironman is coming in Sept. Mixed in there for fun are several short triathlons so that I'm not slogging it out with one end goal. There will be fun along the way!
As always, I'm so appreciative of all of the support and friendship from my Sparkpeeps!