Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series 5k Race Report

As you may know by now the Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series is a 10 race series of various distances from 5k to half marathon. There are 2 races of each distance, and if you do both of them, they only count your fastest time. This worked out well for me at the second 5k, which was on Sunday, because I had the worst 5k I’ve had all year. The first 5k of the series was the best 5k I’ve had all year.

I attribute my poor performance to lack of sleep, poor eating from work travel, and decreased workouts last week also from work travel. I really shouldn’t be making excuses. The weather was absolutely perfect, and it really was a great race. Both of them were.

I really enjoy the Road Race Series. It’s low-key, and since I suffer a bit from race anxiety, I appreciate low-key. The 5ks were held at the Cancer Survivors Park.

Both 5ks of the Road Runners Series were held at the Cancer Survivors Park.

Both 5ks of the Road Runners Series were held at the Cancer Survivors Park.

I enjoy this course because it’s fairly flat with just enough hills to keep it interesting. It’s also a pretty quiet, mostly residential neighborhood, which helps to make it a relaxing run.

I actually took this as I was walking to the start line.  I wish I was fast enough to be able to sacrifice time to take more pictures on course.

I actually took this as I was walking to the start line. I wish I was fast enough to be able to sacrifice time to take more pictures on course.

There is not much traffic in the area that time of day so they are able to close off 2 lanes of traffic for much of the course, so the course isn’t very crowded.

Just in case you couldn't figure it out for yourself

Just in case you couldn’t figure it out for yourself

Another plus is that I’m starting to meet more people in the Memphis running community, and being able to see the same people at different events makes me feel like a real part of the group. In fact, last night at the Women Run/Walk Memphis program, multiple people said they recognized me from the race on Sunday. It was the Sparkle Skirts. The Sparkle Skirts did it! (Stay tuned for more on this later in the week.)

So a lovely course, fabulous weather, and the always wonderful support made for a fun race, even if it didn’t make for a fast time.

The Finish Line

The Finish Line

In less than 2 weeks, the first 5 miler is coming up. Since I’ve never had an “official” time at that distance, I’m guaranteed a PR, as long as I finish. I have this to say about that: Go Me!

Have you ever participated in a race series?

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There is still time to register for my virtual run, Magic Carpet Run 2013, to benefit St. Jude. For details or to register, click here.

I’m a charity athlete for St. Jude. To make a donation, visit my fund-raising page here.

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Half Marathon Training Week 1

Training for my fall race schedule has officially begun, and week 1 is in the history books.  If you will recall, I was a bit concerned since I had gotten a little off track.  However, so far, so good!

Just to recap, here is what I’m doing for this race season.  I’m currently doing the MRTC Women Run/Walk Memphis training program. 

MRTC Women's Run/Walk Memphis

MRTC Women’s Run/Walk Memphis

This is really just a training program that includes 8 weekly group run sessions capped off by a “graduation” 5k.  I am using this as one of my weekly training runs, and hopefully, because it’s with a group, I’ll be pushing myself a little more.  I’m also currently doing the MRTC Road Race series. 

MRTC Road Race Series

MRTC Road Race Series

This is a 10 race series that runs from July to November and consists of 2 5ks, 2 5 milers, 2 10 ks, 2 10 milers, and 2 half marathons.  To be considered a series finisher, you must complete either 6 of the races or 1 race in each distance.  My plans at the moment are to complete the first 6 (and still be a series finisher).  The 10 milers and the half marathons do not line up with the rest of my training schedule, so unless I miss a week somewhere else and need to make something up, I don’t plan to do the last 4.  I am registered for the Greenline Half Marathon, the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, and the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon.

Greenline Half Marathon

Greenline Half Marathon

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend

Seems like a lot, right?  Not really.  See, when I wrote my training plan for the fall, I realized most of this is in line with my schedule.  The women’s program takes care of roughly a third of my training until September.  The Road Race Series is actually designed to be in line with training for St. Jude so that takes care of some of my weekend runs.  There was really only one decision to make.  I could have used Wine and Dine as a training run for St. Jude and there would have been absolutely nothing extra added to my training plan for that or I could have signed up for the Greenline Half and used that as a training run for Wine and Dine.  The downside to that was that would mean I would likely have to scratch the longer races in the Road Race Series, and St. Jude would be extra, creating the need for a month of maintenance.  Clearly this is what I went with, and here’s why.  Wine and Dine is the only destination race in the schedule.  It is also the most expensive, and has the most stringent pace requirement.  Why would I want to spend at least $1000 and travel all that way for a training run?  I wouldn’t.  So that automatically meant I would need to skip the longer races in the Road Race Series.  On the weekend of the Greenline Half, which is held at Shelby Farms, I was scheduled to do 12.5 miles anyway (which I would also do at Shelby Farms) so why not add another 0.6 miles and get official credit for the run?  This option also will qualify me for something called Half Fanatics, which is running 3 half marathons in a 3 month period.

So week 1 started with the first group run with the women’s program.  It was so hot!  It started at 6:30 in the evening and the heat index was still 99 degrees!  My pace was a good 2 minutes slower than my normal training pace.  I got through it, and that’s all that matters.  I was able to work in my other week day run, according to plan.  Then I also had race 1 of the Road Race Series.  This was a great run!  I even got a PR by 6 seconds.  My pace was actually around 3 minutes faster for the race than it was for the super hot group run.  That’s more like it!

Now on to week 2!  I hope to get more cross training in for week 2 than I did for week 1.  Other than that, I’m happy with my progress and where I am compared to a year ago.

What do you have on your fall race schedule?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

Please remember to register for my virtual race, the Magic Carpet Run 2013 to benefit St. Jude.  For more info or to register, click here.

I am running as a charity athlete for St. Jude.  To make a donation, click here.

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Magic Carpet Run 2013 5k/10k–A Virtual Run

As you may know by now, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is my favorite charity.  I ran in the 2012 Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon and raised over $600 for the kids of St. Jude. 

The start of the 2012 Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon

The start of the 2012 Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon

This year, my goal is even loftier!  Not only am I raising funds as a charity athlete for the 2013 Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon, but I’m also running as a charity athlete for the 2014 Disney Princess Glass Slipper Challenge.  This means that I will be raising almost $4000 for the kids of St. Jude. 

It costs over $1.8 million a day for St. Jude to operate.  Why so much?  St. Jude never bills patients or their families for anything!  No patient is ever turned away due to their inability to pay.  St. Jude covers the cost of anything insurance does not cover.  Not only that, but they also provide assistance to patients and their families for housing, groceries, transportation, entertainment, and the list goes on and on.  Whatever the need, St. Jude fills it.  In addition, it is the leading children’s research hospital in the nation, which means they are also finding cures.  It truly is an amazing organization.

As some of you know, I ran as Jasmine in the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon, and she is my favorite princess.  I thought it would be fun to have an Aladdin-inspired virtual run.  It’s not a race because there will be no winners based on times.  Everyone is a winner and gets a unique, custom medal for this specific event. 

Magic Carpet Run Medal

Magic Carpet Run Medal

The kids of St. Jude are winners because your participation will go a long way towards helping the mission of finding cures and saving children.  So, welcome to the Magic Carpet Run.  You can choose your distance, 5k or 10k, and since the medal is the same for both distances, you don’t even have to decide until you are doing your run.  If at least 100 participants register, everyone will also receive a bonus koozie commemorating the event. 

Everyone will receive this commemorative koozie if we reach 100 participants.

Everyone will receive this commemorative koozie if we reach 100 participants.

The cost for the run is $20 per participant, and that includes shipping!  This event will close out on August 15, and all medals will be mailed in mid-September. 

Register for the run using PayPal by clicking on the Buy Now button below.  100% of the proceeds from this event will go to St. Jude.  If you don’t want to run and you still want to help the kids of St. Jude, you can make your 100% tax deductible donation here on my personal fund-raising page.

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Have you ever participated in a virtual run before?

Please follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

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Getting Back on Track

In a few weeks, I’ll be officially beginning my training for my fall race schedule. I have a pretty ambitious season planned, with 3 half marathons by the end of the year, a fall road race series consisting of 10 separate races of various distances from a 5k to a half marathon (in addition to the other 3), and a 10-week women’s program. I’m having just a little trouble getting back into the swing of things, though.

I’m still doing some exercising and running each week, though not as consistently as in the past. I still feel very close to my peak fitness level. I didn’t gain any weight in the off-season. I didn’t even gain any weight on my cruise. Yet, still, I’m having a very hard time getting back into my normal fitness and diet routine. I wanted to be back into my good habits before my official training begins, but with only 2 more weeks to go, it’s looking like that’s not going to happen. Last year at this time, I had no trouble hopping out of bed at 4:30 am to run. This year, I’m reminded of just how much I love sleep, and my bed just wants me to stay in it.

I am feeling very frustrated with myself, and that’s just not acceptable. I need some additional accountability. So, for the next week, I’m afraid you all are going to have to put up with posts about my workouts and food intake. For 1 week, I will be blogging daily about exactly what I ate, when I ate it, and what physical activity I did. It takes 30 days to make or break a habit so after a week, I hope to be well on my way to being back on track. I’m also hoping to get some positive feedback from you, my readers, that I can use as motivation. Please follow along and feel free to add any input or training suggestions. Last year was about just doing it and finishing. I want this year to be about being the very best I can be.

What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

I’m raising money as a Hero charity athlete for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you would like to make a donation, please visit my personal fund-raising page here. Any amount helps!

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Disney Cruise Line Dream Cruise 2013–Castaway Cay 5k and a PR, Well Maybe Sort Of

If you’ve been reading along, you know that strangely enough the thing about this cruise I was looking forward to the most was the Castaway Cay 5k.  On Tuesday of the cruise, the day had finally come.

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island that most of their cruises sail to.  It is gorgeous!  The water is so blue, and the sand is pristine!  There is plenty to do on the island.  There is snorkeling, a sting ray interactive area, water toys, character experiences, parasailing, a glass bottom boat tour, and even a water slide.  There is yoga on the adult beach (Serenity Bay), and massage cabanas for those who want to indulge on the beach.  Then there is my most anticipated activity, the 5k.

Our personal Navigator for the day (a printout that tells you everything that is going on) said we should meet in Evolution at 8:15 am.  Running also were my dad, my brother-in-law, and 2 of my nieces.  So at 8:15 we signed in, were given our bibs, and Briana (a member of the activities crew) went over the course map with us. 

We all met in Evolution to get signed in for the 5K.

We all met in Evolution to get signed in for the 5K.

Ok, this is not a great picture but they had the course map on the big screen.

We all got bibs, and they say runDisney!

We all got bibs, and they say runDisney!

My dad was wearing his t-shirt from the Mickey’s Happy Haunted 5k Trail Run from last year, which got Briana’s attention.  She ran the 10 miler last year.  When dad told her I ran the 10 miler also as well as Princess this year, she came looking for me.  She is planning on running Princess in 2014 as part of the brand new Glass Slipper Challenge.  From that point on, she kept calling dad and me her runDisney family.  I thought that was really fun.

So about 8:45, we made our way as a group to the gangplank to exit the ship.  We walked all the way to the second family beach.  It felt like a long walk, but that is pretty typical of runDisney races.  At one point during the walk to the start, my brother-in-law said, “Is this 5k almost over?”  I thought it was a good warm-up, though.  I like to walk for a bit before I start running.

We got to the start and I had the bright idea to go ahead and buy our 5k shirts.  The gift shop is right next to the start.  I’ve read that many people have their family members buy them while they are running, and if you wait until you finish they may be out of your size.  Since none of our family members who weren’t running were planning on getting off the ship before we would be done, that wasn’t an option for us.  So I grabbed the shirts and went to pay, thinking I’d be in and out in 2 minutes.  The Cast Member was super friendly and talkative, wanting to know EVERYTHING about our trip so far.  I told her we were about to start running and I needed to get to the start.  Then she proceeds to tell me ALL the reasons she can’t run.  Yeah, yeah, let’s pick this up!  I was about to be left behind.  She was SUPER careful to make sure they were folded perfectly in the bag, too!  Well, needless to say, the other runners took off while I was walking out of the store.  They have a box by the start for everyone to put their belongings, and I still had to do that, too.  So, not only was I the last one to start, there wasn’t anyone in sight when I started.  I wish I had checked the clock at the start to see just how far behind I was, but I didn’t.  I’m going to estimate 90 seconds.

It wasn’t too long, though, before I was passing people, mainly the walkers.  Then I had my dad in sight, who was mostly walking.  I wanted to catch up to him, but every time I was almost to him, he would take off running, putting more distance between us.  He can actually walk faster than I can walk/run so with him adding some running in, it was almost impossible.  Then came the first water stop.  Dad was stopped at it, and he spotted me.  I stopped to refill my water bottle, and I was sure he would wait on me.  But noooooooo!  Dad, you’re KILLING me!  I’m 38 years old.  I’ve been running for a year and a half.  I’ve completed 2 half marathons and a 10 miler in the last year.  I have on expertly fitted running shoes and tech running clothes.  And I’m being smoked by a 69-year-old man who doesn’t run or walk regularly, wearing 10-year-old Reeboks, khaki shorts and a cotton t-shirt.  That was a lesson in humility.

The course takes you down the air strip,  has you make a loop through the 5000 foot long bike trail, finish off the air strip to Serenity Bay, circle back and make another trip through the bike loop, then head home.  It’s pretty clear to go counter-clockwise through the bike loop the first time, but for the second loop, some were going clockwise and some counter-clockwise.  I was in the clockwise group and met my brother-in-law and one of my nieces heading the other direction.  He indicated that he thought I was going the wrong way.  I told him I didn’t think it mattered and continued on.  At this point I vaguely remembered Briana mentioning that if you do something wrong, it could add a half mile to your trip.  I couldn’t remember what that was, and I started questioning myself.  The bike loop is marked in feet by thousands in both directions, and I had just passed the 2000 feet mark.  I decided to try to estimate another 500 feet and turn around and head back the other direction (remember the bike loop is 5000 feet, so by my estimation I would be at the 2500 feet mark and doubling back would equal 5000 feet).  I have no idea how close I was, but I don’t think I could have been that far off. 

I headed to the finish and the clock said I had a PR by about a minute and 20 seconds.  Since it’s not a certified course, I got stared late, and I got turned around, I have no idea how accurate this was.  We all collected our medals, and I got a pic of Briana. 

Briana gave us our medals!

Briana gave us our medals!

We retrieved our belongings and headed to find a spot on the beach for the day.

Me after the race, with my medal and the ship

Me after the race, with my medal and the ship

Dad and I after the race

It was really a lot of fun!  I kept hearing about how hot this run can get, and it would have been much harder had the sun been out.  It was overcast all day, though, with a good breeze blowing.  It was very enjoyable.  Plus, with this run, I can now call myself an international runner.  The experience exceeded my expectations, and if I ever get the opportunity to go on another Disney cruise that stops at Castaway Cay, I will do it again for sure!

Have you ever done a 5k on vacation?  Where was it?

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Things I Like Thursday–FOE Hair Ties

As a runner, one thing that is very important, especially in the summer, is getting and keeping my hair out of my eyes and away from my face.  My hair is about medium length, but the only time I ever wear it pulled back is when I’m running or doing other physical activities.  The problem with traditional hair fasteners is they tend to break your hair, which is not good for me since I wear it down most of the time.  I recently have been introduced to fold over elastic hair ties, which solves the breakage problem.

Fold over elastic (FOE, for short) was created to be a trim or a binder for edges of fabrics.  It has a line down the middle for easy folding, so you fold it over the edge of your fabric, sew it on, and you’re done.  Then someone realized its softness made for great baby head bands.  Baby head bands led to adult head bands, which led to hair ties.  I’m really not completely sure of the exact chronology of events, but this seems logical in my mind.

If you buy FOE hair ties in a store, they can be kind of costly.  They cost almost nothing to make, though, and they are a snap!  First of all, get yourself some FOE in whatever color(s) you want. 

Fold Over Elastic--it comes in all different colors!

Fold Over Elastic–it comes in all different colors!

I find the internet, specifically Etsy, to be an excellent source for this.  Then you just need to cut it in 10 inch lengths. 

10 inches of FOE

10 inches of FOE

Yes, I know that sounds long but once you fold it in half and tie it off, you really need that much.  This leads to the next step, which is, you fold it in half and tie it off.  Just loop it around your finger and make a simple knot for this.  Easy peasy!  At this point, the only other thing you need to do is heat-seal the ends.  I know this sounds scary, but it’s really easy.  Just light a match or a lighter, hold the flame really close to the edge, as close as you can get it without catching it on fire. 

You need a match or a lighter to heat-seal the ends.

You need a match or a lighter to heat-seal the ends.

You will see the edges start to melt a bit, and that’s it!  That’s all there is to heat-sealing.  If you do happen to catch it on fire, no biggie.  Just blow out the flame, trim the ends, and go again.

FOE burnt ends, oops!

FOE burnt ends, oops!

You could also heat-seal the ends before tying them off, if you wanted to.  I’ve done it both ways, and really, it makes no difference.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I sealed the ends before tying when I took the pics you see here.

The finished product, made in less than 30 minutes, probably more like 15.

The finished product, made in less than 30 minutes, probably more like 15.

So, if you are like me and love the FOE hair ties, do yourself a favor.  Get yourself some FOE, take about 20 minutes to make a bunch, and save yourself some money!  They also make great gifts.  I’ve actually made more to give away than I’ve made for myself. 

What’s your favorite quick craft?

Feel free to follow me on Twitter, @myglasssneaker.

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Things I Like Thursday–The runDisney Food Box

At the end of pretty much any race or other running event, most runners look forward to a snack of some sort. For me this has been anything from a tiny shot glass serving of soup (I’m not kidding) to a full on barbecue meal. I’ve had some great food after races, and I’ve had some major disappointments. At runDisney events, food boxes are always given out along with a banana, bottled water, and bottled Powerade. I always look forward to getting my food box. Sometimes I don’t want a thing to eat for hours after a run and sometimes I’m completely ravenous. I never know which it’s going to be until I’m finished, and runDisney food boxes always hit the spot. I can save it for later or I can crack it open and nosh on something immediately.

My first and second runDisney food box experiences were after the 2012 Happy Haunted 5k and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler held later that same day. The boxes were identical and nothing went to waste. Here is what they looked like.

runDisney Food Box

runDisney Food Box

This is exactly what the food box looked like when it was opened.

This is exactly what the food box looked like when it was opened.

They contained the following:

  • Snap energy candies
  • Almond Rocca (my favorite!)
  • Clif Builders protein bar
  • Sweet Perry Trek Trio snack mix
  • Multi-grain gluten-free crackers
  • Hickory Farms white cheese spread
  • Moist Towelette (Don’t you just love saying “moist towelette”?)
Contents of the food box from the 2012 Happy Haunts 5k and Tower of Terror 10 Miler

Contents of the food box from the 2012 Happy Haunts 5k and Tower of Terror 10 Miler

I enjoyed all of it, though I didn’t eat it all in one sitting. This is exactly the type of food I snack on so it was right up my alley!

After the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon, I got another box. It looked identical to the others so this time I’ll show you the back of it, which had upcoming race information printed on it.

This is the back of the food box.

This is the back of the food box.

This is the 2012 Princess Half Marathon food box when opened.

This is the 2012 Princess Half Marathon food box when opened.

The contents were similar to my previous boxes and contained the following:

  • Organic dark chocolate
  • Luna protein bar, chocolate
  • Multi-grain gluten-free crackers
  • Wild Garden humus spread
  • Sweet Perry Power Play seed mix
  • Sweet Perry Baja Blend snack mix
  • Moist Towelette
Contents of 2012 Princess Half Marathon food box

Contents of 2012 Princess Half Marathon food box

I loved that the box seemed to be chocolate focused, totally princess-like! However, I didn’t eat any of it right after the race. It did make for several tasty snacks later on, though. I also think it would be a great snack for the airplane ride home after the race. Wish I’d thought of that earlier!

What do you think of the runDisney food boxes? What is your favorite after-race snack or meal?

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Blog Rewind Wednesday–Feeling Like A Runner

I often get asked at what point I began to feel like a runner.  For me, getting there was a process.  I can’t say there was any one moment when I realized I was a runner.  Rather, there was a series of events that cumulatively contributed to my identifying myself as a runner.

When I first began, I wanted to be invisible.  I didn’t want people to look at me and think I just needed to give it up like there was no hope.  I suppose I had a case of something like I’ll-go-to-the-gym-when-I-lose-weight syndrome.  So I would run a lot at night when it was dark.  When I started building my distances I’d find trails and times that weren’t very busy.  Eventually I got more comfortable around other runners and realized that no one was paying any attention to me.  They were all too busy focusing on their own activity, and I was perfectly happy with this.  I began to relax a lot more.  After a few months, I started noticing the same people on my favorite paths.  There was super-intense-girl who was always running no matter what day or time it was.  There was the old man who always nodded his head as our paths crossed.  There was super cool guy on the elliptical bike.  There were dog owners walking their dogs, kids riding bikes, moms with their jogging strollers.  I could go on and on.  I began to love the familiarity of it.  It didn’t occur to me that if I was noticing them, they were probably noticing me a little, too.  If that had occurred to me, I probably would have stopped going, sadly.  Fortunately, I didn’t realize this until I reached the point when I no longer cared what others thought.  For me, this was the first step in feeling like a runner.

A few months into my training, I signed up for a local 5k that also had a half marathon as an option.  I went to packet pick up and gave my name to the volunteer.  I figured he would assume I was doing the 5k and start looking for my packet in that file.  No, he asked which race I was doing.  Um, the 5k of course, but thank you for thinking I could be doing the half marathon.  His response was that I could do it as long as I train for it.  I shared with him my plans to complete the St. Jude half later on in the year and that it would be my first half.  He congratulated me on picking a great race to start with and wished me the best of luck with my training.  That was the first time I admitted to anyone other than friends and family what I was trying to do.  Having the confidence to tell complete strangers what I was doing was the next step in feeling like a runner.

One morning in August 2012, I met the St. Jude Heroes running group at my local park in training for the St. Jude Half Marathon and Marathon.  As I was stretching before the run, a guy began stretching next to me and asked me which running group I was with.  I looked around, thinking there was no way he could be talking to me.  Surely he cannot possibly think I was a runner.  Sure enough, it was me he was talking to so I answered him.  He was there with a different group and we chatted for a moment before it was time for our runs to begin.  It was a great feeling to be recognized as a fellow runner and was another step in feeling like a runner.

One of the great things about training as a St. Jude Hero is that it gives you access to the national St. Jude Heroes running coach, Kevin Leathers.  So a few weeks after that group run encounter, I asked Coach Leathers about how to warm up before the race.  He asked me if I was doing the half or the full.  Um, the half of course!  As if there was any way possible I could ever do a full!  I was shocked that was a question he would even ask but flattered at the same time.  A national running coach with 20-something years experience had just asked if I was doing a full marathon!  Being acknowledged by such a respected industry professional definitely was a major step in my feeling like a runner.  By the way, his answer was to not bother with warming up the morning of the race.  Using only the walk to the start as a warm up would help prevent me from starting out too fast.

Then several weeks after that, I was again out at the park for a long run.  A woman came up to me as I was filling up my water bottle and asked me how far I was running that day.  After I answered her she said, “you’ve been doing this for a while.  Do you mind if I ask you some questions?  I haven’t been doing this as long as you have.”  And she proceeded to pick my brain on pacing, hydration, fuel, and several other subjects that I confidently could offer help with.  At that moment, with this encounter, I had finally come full circle.  Gone was the girl who wanted to be invisible.  Gone was the girl who assumed no one took her seriously.  There I was, a runner, from whom knowledge was being solicited, and I was thrilled to share.

If you are a runner, when did you begin to feel like one?

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