Category Archives: Running

Tennessee River Relay recap

This past weekend I did my first-ever relay.  However, if you count other types of relay, it isn’t exactly my first. I did the 4×8 my last year of high school.  This, my friends, was a bit different. Where the 4×8 was four girls running half a mile each, this baby was 8 (7 since we lost one) people running what added up to 116 miles. The race went from Paris, TN to Pickwick, TN.

What led me to do this, you might ask? I didn’t look the event up and then decide to do it. About two months ago  Jan and I went to support fellow runners/nab free food 😉 at a race. A mutual runner friend walked up and was chatting with us, and asked if we might want to join this race he was doing if someone dropped out.

I didn’t think much about it after that. A week ago, I got a text from a former teammate from college and then I got a message from the friend Jan and I were talking to in February. Once I cleared it up that they were on the same team, I  looked up the event. This was the first year that the Tennessee River Relay has been held. The event didn’t yield many results on my search, and though it had a facebook, the website for the actual race didn’t have a lot of information.  Nonetheless…Jan and I got set up to join, as more people dropped out of the team and were replaced by us. The day before, someone had to drop out. By the time of the race there were seven of us instead of the race director’s preferred number of eight members.

I didn’t sleep very well that week, and the night before the race was no exception. I got an hour of sleep. One of the team members, Kent, picked  Jan and myself up in his vehicle. He and Brandon rode over together. We met up with my former teammate Tracee nearby. Next we all rode over in our respective cars to Paris, Tennessee, where the race was set to start.  Here we met our remaining two team members.

Start of Tennessee River Relay
Start of the race

There weren’t many teams signed up. For a second I was disappointed, but then I thought about how we could win. I wasn’t alone in my thoughts, as the rest of the team started talking about how we wanted to do really well.

We ultimately decided to do evenly measured distances for everyone, until we got tired or needed to adjust our strategy. Ultimately that worked better than Jan and my initial plan of having one longer distance in the middle of two shorter race legs.

Tennessee River Relay

Someone proposed our team be called Team Terminus. The ‘Terminus’ part comes from the last half of Walking Dead season 4, in which the characters keep seeing signs for a “safer” community called Terminus.  The name stuck. After Brandon, the team leader, wrote the team name and drew a zombie on the car, I started drawing too. We covered the side windows of both team cars with drawings from the show.

I'm rather proud of my Rick drawing.
I’m rather proud of my Rick drawing.

The race proved to be pretty exciting.  Another team had a back and forth with us early in the race. They even passed us. We changed up our strategy after that, and were able to pass them again.

In this picture, I think Jan was the next leg. He was getting ready to run.
In this picture, I think Jan was the next leg. He was getting ready to run.

Much of the day was spent munching on food and driving to stopping point of the runner running the current leg of the race. We changed our strategy as necessary if someone got fatigued or we needed to extend our lead over second place.  Ultimately, I ran 7 legs. 5 of them were 3 miles, and the last two were less than 3 miles. I ran nearly 17 miles in total, Jan ran even more.

Me, coming up on either my 4th or 5th leg. Tired!
Me, coming up on either my 4th or 5th leg. Tired!

I hadn’t met 2 of the people on our team before. I enjoyed getting to know them as the day went on.  For the entirety of the race, we were on roads like the ones pictured above. We were rarely in the downtown areas of where we ran. For the most part, we did have a shoulder to run on, except for a few scary times when we did not. There were a few times when we ran past barking dogs.  We ran past roadkill and litter. Kent had a hurting foot, but otherwise the only injury any of us got was a sunburn.

Jan sets out for his leg.
Jan sets out for his leg.

The race was such a fun time. As the race neared to a close, we started worrying that second place was closing in on us. Though they were  nowhere in our immediate sight, we acted as if the threat were real, and kicked it in for the end. We started doing shorter distances or taking breaks. All of us were pretty tired by this point.  In the end, we won!! Well, kind of. Though we beat the second place team by well over 5 minutes. (We finished in 15:23 and they in 15:29).  The race director considered the second place team the true winners since they had a full team of 8 members and we only had 7.  We disagreed, but none of us was going to cause a scene.

Winner's circle
Winner’s circle

After taking pictures and talking to the other team, we went out to eat. We had originally decided to camp out in tents after the race, but thankfully we decided against it. I don’t think our bodies would have responded favorably to sleeping on the ground after the exercise we we put them through. We got hotel rooms and called it a night after that.

The next day we ate breakfast and said some bittersweet goodbyes.

Most of the team, plus Kent's wife.
Most of the team, plus Kent’s wife.

I have a feeling that may not be the last time we all see each other.  I think they were great people to meet and I am glad I got to run with such a fun and energetic group of people.

Race goodies
Race shirt and  finisher’s medal

I really enjoyed this race, mainly because of having the people that were on my team. I also liked the competitive  nature of our run. I think the race itself could have some improvements in communication and resources for the runners.

I am thankful I was asked to run on this unexpected adventure.








Dear Running Friends,

I am in the a big running rut. I ran a marathon this February and it was awesome. My first marathon ever.  I ran it with Jan and we both loved the process leading up to the race and the race itself. As the Spring went into Summer, I just….fell back. The process has continued. These days I don’t really “crave” going on a run that much, even when I haven’t run in a few days!  I’ve never felt quite this unethused about running, though the year I ran in college does come pretty close.

Does anyone have any tips?  What helped you? Please comment below and help a displaced runner out!


In a Rut

3rd Annual Go Commando 5K& 1/2 Marathon 2013

Saturday October 19th was the second annual Go Commando Half Marathon and 5k.

Last year  ( I did the  Go Commando half marathon and was surprised by the hills and overall uneven terrain of the race. I didn’t know for the longest time if I wanted to do the Half Marathon this year. I was so unenthusiastic and unprepared for it that Jan suggested I save myself some disappointment and do the 5k.  We began training for it a few months ago. I hoped to break 21 minutes for the 5k, something I did earlier this year during a time trial, or better.

This year’s race was better organized. There were trolleys to pick people up, the medals were real medals on a ribbon instead of cheap looking (no offense) medals that were on a chain and didn’t differentiate between 5k and 1/2 Marathon like last year’s. The race was held at the newly built Liberty Park and Marina. This central location served as the beginning and end for both races. The food was close to the finish line, an improvement from the food that was something like a quarter or half mile away last year.

I can’t say if the half marathon felt any different this year since I didn’t run it. The 5k started 30 minutes after the half. The whole thing was in Liberty Park grounds. It started out downhill and everyone responded accordingly with a speedy start. Jan and I both felt like we didn’t run fast enough the first two miles, this hurt our performance later in the race. There were several sharp turns that I didn’t like. I would rather have had some of the race be outside the park than to deal with those turns. Around the 2nd mile Jan pulled away. He finished around half a minute before I did. I forgot to turn off my watch, so for a while I didn’t know the distance or time. Jan got a distance of 3.16 according to his watch, so the course may have been a little long. Unfortunately, neither of us got our goal times, though Jan was close to his secondary goal.  I learned that I need to do more speed type workouts. I have pretty good endurance but my legs weren’t moving like I needed them to be moving.

When the 5k started it was drizzling outside. By the time we finished the 5k, the dripping turned to pouring. Coupled with the low temperatures, it was downright cold. Jan and I went inside and got some clothes from our bags and went outside to cheer on 5k and half marathon finishers. We went inside and outside several times as these finishers continued to trickle in.

The awards ceremony was inside the Expo building where the race expo had been the day before. It was kind of cramped. The mayor of Clarksville was there and (I think) the CEO of the local electric company. Having the awards ceremony indoors was the backup plan in case it rained. Jan won his age group and was 10th overall. He got a cool looking pin-on medal. I was 2nd overall female and got a gift certificate and and wooden Go Commando picture frame.

Demonstrating my immense strength ;)
Demonstrating my immense strength
Hanging out with some CRC people

I had a good time with Jan cheering on runners and hanging out with folks from the running club.  The race itself was okay, my biggest complaint would be all the sharp turns we had to make.  I will need to do more speed workouts to have a better race. Would I go again? Probably. This is turning into one of the best local races to be a part of. 🙂

Runners Hub Rotary Park Trail Race 3.0

Friday was the deadline for the 3rd and last race in the Rotary Park race series held this year. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, so I didn’t sign up early. As time went on, I forgot almost completely about the race. Jan reminded me two days ago about the race registration deadline on the 10th. I went to register online, only to find out the deadline was at 2am that morning. Undeterred, I asked the running group on facebook if they knew whether I could sign up. Long story short, I was able to register. In fact, I paid this morning  😉

The run started out the way the other two did, with a long, sloping uphill designed to separate the runners from each other. More of the race was downhill than last time, which was nice. The end was up the same long, sloping uphill and it is difficult the second time around!  I find it harder to write about these trail runs than road races because the race feels like a blur.  I was in with a group of men for most of the race, passing a person or two.   I was the second woman to finish.

After the race, the Runners Hub gave out medals to the people who did all three races. I got one of these. They were made from real wood too, and smelled really nice. For being the second woman overall I got a bamboo plant. For being first in my age group, I got a glass with the race’s name on it. A good haul!  My bonsai tree from the last race died so I was happy to get a “low maintenance” plant this time. I’m slowly populating the house with my race plants 😉

3 timer's medal
3 timer’s medal

Runners Hub Rotary Park Trail Race 2.0

The shirt was a men's small, they didn't do women's tees. Bonsai tree on the top left.
The shirt was a men’s small, they didn’t do women’s tees. Bonsai tree on the top left.

Last Saturday I ran the Rotary Park Race 2.0. This was at Rotary Park, same as the first race of the series. It was 5 miles. The course was about the same, but there were more parts of the park used to get the additional mileage. There was also an uphill ending…

This race was longer, and I had been training with Jan for it for the several weeks leading up to it. We’d occasionally run at Rotary Park to get some practice in and so I could adjust to the hills. The male and female winners of the race got trail shoes like the race before, and this time I hoped to win them. Last time I was very close but apparently my shoes touched the sensor pad less than a second after the first place person.

I spent too much time in miles 2-3 running behind someone who was a little slower than I was, and now I see that it (and my failure to be quicker and adjust my pace as I knew I should have) contributed to my greater defeat this time around. Though I knew I had waited much too long to speed up, I broke as I was passed, even walking to the finish line.
I walked around with Jan for a bit and then shook the first place woman’s hand. She said I had made her work hard.

For second place, I got a Bonsai tree and a pair of socks. The Bonsai tree is very pretty, but I think I’m going to give it away because I see that they are high maintenace and I dont’ want it to die. …Unless someone comments on here and tells me that a novice plant owner is likely to be able to keep it alive and has good tips 😉

I have many feelings about this race, but suffice to say that I see that I have some work to do and that I can learn from this experience. It stunk to be beat, and especially in a situation where I wanted the prize so much, but there are other races to be run and other goals to be met.

It was harder than I’m writing on here, but I wasn’t sure how to express it. At Jan’s encouragement I took a week off of running and now I feel like I can get going again.

Recent thoughts and upcoming summer events

Sometimes it’s been hard for me to come up with things to talk about because I often feel that if I’m not traveling or have a “big plan” that there isn’t much others would want to read. I know that this isn’t really the case. If I have a friend or two who cares about what I’m doing and likes reading my blog, then that is all that matters! Quality over quantity of readers, I say.

I have come to realize that I’ve got to get to know myself better before I can accurately pick my “dream” career…which is hard for me to accept because I want to figure it all out at once! I want to move out within the year. I would really rather not continue living in my town because I’m afraid that I’ll just end up always living here. However, I know that a journey begins with a single step. And maybe I have to take on small challenges like making basic  everyday decisions  getting a full-time job and moving out before I can take on bigger ones like moving away from here or deciding if I want to go back to school.

Cool things coming up:

  • Morgan’s wedding, in which I am a bridesmaid! Jan and I will have fun dancing at the reception too 🙂
  • Rotary Park 2.0 Race! You’d better believe I’m excited about this one.
  • Mom’s wedding….this doesn’t fall under “cool” as much as I wish it did, but c’est la vie.
  • Possibly another wedding in June for Jan’s friends Sam and Valerie.
  • Pet-sitting! This isn’t  really an event but I think I’ll be pet-sitting in June for one of my favorite families. I enjoy pet-sitting very much so this will be fun.
New LinkedIn picture. I think this one looks more professional than the other one.
New LinkedIn picture. I think this one looks more professional than the other one.

Mercedes Marathon 2013—MY FIRST MARATHON!

“Sure, the 5-k is friendly, the 10-k classic, and the half marathon is a self-esteem pumping ‘long distance’ race. But none of these has the cachet that is the marathon’s alone. From the time you finish your first shorter race, the specter of the 26.2-mile Full Monty hovers in your mind. Something that one day you want to do. Have to do. Will do. Why? Because, like Everest, the marathon is there. Because it gives the ordinary person an opportunity to do something extraordinary.” – Doug Rennie

Marathon weekend, or the Weekend of the Grand Undertaking

We had been carbo-loading for two  days  leading up for the marathon. We ate pancakes, rice, cereal, bananas, pop tarts, you name it, in order to help our glycogen stores be good and high for the race.  The plan was to leave Friday in order to get to Birmingham by the evening. There was a misunderstanding on my part about what time we would leave, but all was well. We got to Birmingham around 10:30pm.

Jan and me goofing off. He doesn't think so, but he looks great in pictures. :)
Jan and me goofing off on the way there. He doesn’t think so, but he looks great in pictures. 🙂

Uncle Joe, Henny, and my cousin Neal were already at the house. Pate didn’t arrive until the next day, after we had said hello to my Uncle John and my cousin Elizabeth. It had been three years since I saw him, so of course we had a lot to catch up on.

Saturday morning came, and my aunt Henny made us some waffles and we made ourselves the toast. After a bit of digestion, Jan, Uncle Joe, and myself went on a 2-mile loosening up jog. Jan later commented that he was more tired after that jog than after the marathon. 😉

The weather was good, only slightly windy. We cleaned up and then went to the Race Expo downtown. It was smaller than the one I went to for the Women’s half, which made for easier getting in and out. Uncle Joe was among the first 100 people to sign up, and I wasn’t too far behind. Jan was in the next line over, getting his number. We have a little joke about him being one of the last people to sign up for the Jingle Bell Jog and then the marathon as well. We got our goody bags, which weren’t anything spectactular. It was a yellow drawstring bag with flyers  for other races inside it. The shirt is awesome though, a mustard yellow with “26.2 Mercedes Marathon” on it. It was created and distributed by Trak Shak, a famous running store in the area. The back of the shirt has the sponsors on it, all of them in black. The shirts look the same for men and women, except the women’s has a “v-neck” and the men’s is a regular neck. There’s probably a slight difference with fit as well. There were gloves we could choose from, blue ones with grips for small hands and yellow ones without grips for bigger hands. I ultimately chose the yellow ones, because my hand felt uncomfortable making a fist in the blue ones. As we made our way down the steps, our names appeared on a screen when the machine picked up our chip signal. It was so cool seeing my name next to “Marathon!”

Jan, waiting for his packet.
Jan, waiting for his packet.
Race Gear! (hat was given post-race)
Race Gear! (hat was given post-race)
Looking cute walking out of the expo.
Looking cute while walking out of the expo.

We headed back home, where Uncle John had just arrived with his oldest daughter Elizabeth. There was more catching up to be done. That evening we had a good meal of potatoes and steak. We continued our carb eating streak by also having some of Pate’s red velvet birthday cake. We settled into what has become the Mitchell tradition of rehashing stories about each other, old and new. My Uncle Joe and his boys sure do know how to tell some intense stories about each other. I can see where my Mom gets it now!  The evening ended with a three or four man pile up, in which the person on bottom (Pate, I think?) was getting pretty irritated. We tried doing some prank calls with this system that Neal had been using, but he had run out of credits, and my mom wasn’t available for easy pranking this time. Hahaha.

Birthday time for Pate and also for Neal's girlfriend.
Birthday time for Pate and also for Neal’s girlfriend.

I didn’t sleep very well Saturday night, and since our sleep time was reduced to get up early for the marathon this didn’t help much. Jan and I had set out our clothes the night before, so that all we had to do (hypothetically) was put it all on and be ready to go. We got up around 5, but did the time pass by quickly! We dressed and each ate a waffle. I think I may have had a piece of toast too. I also think Jan and I split a banana. After the advice Jan and I had been reading, I worried that it might not be enough, but then I remembered how we had been eating well the days leading up to the race, and how I also didn’t need to be so full that I was still digesting at the beginning of the race. We took several pictures, and started veering into lateness territory. We were firmly into it by the time we left, which was around 6:30 I believe. (The race started at 7:03!!!) We were driving at a fairly ordinary pace, and I was feeling nervous. I was already telling Jan that if we didn’t make it on time, I didn’t want our training to go to waste and that I was going to contemplate signing up for the Music City Marathon if it weren’t too late already. We got there maybe 10 minutes before the race was due to start. Jan and I scooted out of the car and fortunately didn’t try to bring our bags with us, because bag check ended several minutes before. We went into the crowd, and started out standing around the 4-hour finish crowd.

Ready to go!!
Ready to go!!
Mean mugging the competition at 6am with my cousin Pate.
Mean mugging the competition at 6am with my cousin Pate.

The initial standing around waiting for the race to start part has always been weird feeling for me. I felt nervous about us standing so far back, and I looked longingly at the 3:45 group. My and Jan’s goal was  3:49, so he thought standing by the 3:45 group might encourage an overzealous start on our part. I suggested we still move up a bit, and so we moved up closer to what I imagined would be the 3:50 finishers. The race only had a bit of sluggishness at the beginning, and we both started our watches at the first timing chips. I don’t know how far off mine was, but Jan’s watch ended up being only a second off from the official race clock! Pretty impressive. We set off and felt good for our first few miles…we even sang part of a song! We more or less were trying to keep our pace around 8:45-8:50per mile, but we didn’t mind if we dipped below that as well. The GU stations started appearing after the first few miles. The choices were Strawberry Banana and Vanilla at most stops, so I stuck with Strawberry Banana.

Whenever Jan would get his GU, he devised this funny dance in which he spun around for one or two rotations. It was seamless in the kind of way that meant I wouldn’t dare try, lest I trip and damage something. Around mile 13, there was this group giving out free beer in cups to runners who wanted some. Jan couldn’t believe it. He was like “Are you guys really giving out free beer?” And when the girl said yes, he took a cup. We laugh about it because he knew I thought it was dumb, and because I said “Okay but I’m not going to wait for you to finish it!” lol. I think around mile 14 or 15 Jan and I were feeling pretty good, because we were cracking silly pick-up lines to each other. I thought I saw at least one runner kind of turn back to look at us as if to ask Are they for real? It’s because of funny memories like that that I can tell we were having a good time.

During the run, we would give people names. Sometimes these were competitors we wanted to beat, but sometimes it was when someone resembled a person we knew, like our running club president. Jan thought these two men looked like him, and then I explained how I thought only one of the men looked like him, because of his body type.  We had crazy-shirt guy, who was a member of Marathon Maniacs. We had striped shirt girl, who was ahead of us during the race but would go to a bathroom stop lightning fast, then speed on ahead of us and stop at another one. By the time we noticed this pattern we never saw her again, leading me to wonder what happened to her. We spoke with this young man wearing a dark shirt, and then an older man who told us we were on pace for the time we wanted.

Around mile 17, Jan encouraged me to go on up ahead. He had mentioned it around the halfway point, but I was nervous. I didn’t know if I had enough in me to maintain a good pace for the second half. I slowly began inching my way up. I gradually passed people who had been ahead of us the whole time. I set my sights on person after person, and passed most of them. Then, this yellow shirted girl passed me in the next  mile or so. She didn’t seem that fast at first. I ran into this short white-shirted lady around 18 I believe, and we did a little back and forth for the next few miles. For a bit, she was close to yellow shirt girl, but then yellow shirt girl started pulling away. If I could do anything over, I would have tried to go fast with yellow shirt girl, but again I wasn’t sure if I should go for it. My times varied over the next couple  miles. Around mile 20, I felt both that six miles was nothing and that six miles also seemed like a small eternity.

Nonetheless, I was enjoying myself. I really liked that though Jan and I had already run 17 miles before we parted, that I wasn’t winded or hitting the infamous “wall” that everyone talks about. I was enjoying myself and thinking about how pleasant it felt. I kept debating when I should finally go fast, and around mile 24 I finally decided to do so. I just let it out! I felt almost like I was flying. As I passed people, I heard a person or two tell me “Good job,” and I really appreciated it. When I reached the last turn around point, I had this moment where I couldn’t believe  I was actually doing this!!
In my last few meters I passed someone waving to family, and got my medal and metallic blanket. I had done it!!!

I waited for Jan and when he finished, we walked around together to stave off soreness. We thought about going to wait for my Uncle and cousins, since we figured they had to be finishing shortly. We were about to go get our free lunch and come back when we noticed my cousins! They had apparently taken the halfway point option and finished with half marathon medals instead. They didn’t seem to  have regrets about this, however; Pate had an injured toe and a bleeding nipple and was quite happy to be done.

We waited for Uncle Joe to finish inside the convention center. When it got closer to time, we went out and waited for him. We finally saw  him .When Jan and I started jogging to be beside him, Jan almost pulled something in his leg and laughed/grimaced in pain. Uncle Joe finished with great timing; we saw Henny and Uncle John and Elizabeth not long after. We took some pictures and celebrated our accomplishment. Uncle Joe was too tired and grimy feeling to eat out so we went back to his house. We took some more pictures, some of them funny ones that Jan thought of.  Everyone washed the sweat and dirt off and then we set about to doing a few things before Henny made dinner. Instead of feeling the post-race euphoria, I was in a bad mood due to my period and a phone call from my Dad.

Excited to be finished, and  probably needing a nap!
Excited to be finished, and probably needing a nap…
Neal and I after the marathon, with Neal wearing Jan's medal.
Neal and I after the marathon, with Neal wearing Jan’s medal.

That night, we talked some more, and soon it was time for Uncle John and Elizabeth to leave. After this, the rest us talked until we got too tired from the long day to stay up any more. Jan and I both put up respective posts about our accomplishment on Facebook. I was also introduced to this hilarious video:  Watch it 🙂

Jan was d-e-d. Ded.  ;)
Jan was d-e-d. Ded. 😉

The next morning was bittersweet. Jan and I got up and packed our things, and spent some time talking to Pate and Neal. Poor Uncle Joe was trying to get some work done on his Ph.D. at the house, but with his sons talking and coming in he had to leave for the library. It was around this time that Jan and I knew we had to leave if we wanted to get close to making it back by the time Dad needed me to look after my sister. We left with promises to meet again soon, and thus began our trip home. We were fortunate to have a safe trip home, with the memories of the huge and monumental goal we had just completed. I can’t say I never  thought I would do a marathon, but I can say I didn’t think it would happen for a while.

It was an awfully big adventure, and I can’t wait for the next one.

The fruit of our labors. 26.2!!
The fruit of  my labor. 26.2!!