Thursday, January 30, 2014

Birthday Plans

Today I was reading a Facebook post by Runner's World magazine.  It was a list of the best half marathons.  I knew the Key West Half Marathon was on that list but I found another one on the list - the Chicago Half Marathon and it's 2014 date - September 7!!!  MY BIRTHDAY!!!!  I knew my birthday would fall on a Sunday this year and I knew I wanted to find a good event to do on my birthday and I believe I've found it!  I'm so excited!  I can't wait to go back to Chicago for another run!

Runner Nerd
spending my birthday in Chicago

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Runs for Cookies Virtual 5K

I participated in a virtual 5K organized by a blogger who I follow.  Katie at Runs for Cookies put on her second virtual 5K on her birthday.  I had no desire to go running today.  It was snowing, the wind was blowing, it was cold, the road was snow covered.  If it hadn't been for this virtual 5K, I highly doubt I'd have run today.  I considered going to the Y to run on a treadmill.  There was just no way that I should be out running on the roads where I live in these conditions.  There is very little shoulder to begin with and with the snow there is nowhere to get off the edge.  I decided that I'd go run on the residential streets of Chelsea. I had to go somewhere to run, I would have to drive to the Y or I could drive somewhere to run outdoors.  I chose outdoors.  Have I ever mentioned how much I hate running on a treadmill?  I think I have!! 
The streets had seen one pass of a snowplow but the footing was pretty bad most everywhere.  I took my selfie for my "results" at the trail in the woods behind the hospital.  (I stopped Garmie to take the pic.)  I really needed the rest; it was difficult running in the snow. 
heading into the woods
I stopped Garmie at 3.1 miles which was about 1/4 mile from the car.  I continued to run back to the car but needed the 3.1mile run for the virtual 5K. 
My results:
5K in the snow, not fast! 
I also took a picture of my shoes after I came out of the woods:
after running in deep snow through the woods
This is the collage that I submitted to Runs for Cookies for my virtual 5K:
Runs for Cookies virtual 5K
This is another one of those days when I sure didn't want to go out and run but was very glad that I did after I was done!  This weather can't last forever, or so I hope.  I've had enough.  

Runner Nerd
runs in snow

Friday, January 24, 2014

Being a bum in Key West

Since I didn't do very much blogging in Key West, I'm going to try to try to write some highlights of the trip, not necessarily in chronological order, just as I think of things!  

Once the half marathon was out of the way, it was time to have some fun in Key West!  I couldn't wait to visit a bakery that I visited last year, Mattheessen's bakery for a giant cookie!!
Giant chocolate chip cookie from Mattheessen's bakery! 
Erika and I each had a chunk of the cookie and took the rest back to the hotel room and had more later and finished it off the next day!  They are really good!  I bought another chocolate chip and an oatmeal raisin on the last day we were there to bring home and I cut each into four pieces and froze them!
We rode our bikes around quite a bit.  We had fun goofing around with a bunch of sculptures in the Mallory Square area:
High-fiving a sailor

flirting with railroad worker

Helping an elderly lady with groceries
We saw cruise ships docked in Mallory Square, we took lots of pictures in those photo thingies - I'm sure they have a name but it's where you put your face through an opening:
Oyster waitress

Fishing charter
Sunday night we went to Willie T's bar to listen to my favorite Key West singer:
Gerd Rube

I listened to him last year when I was there and I looked up his website shortly before my trip and found out that he was playing in Key West again this winter!  I was so excited!  He also had a brand new CD so I bought one when he was on his break:
My new BFF!
While he was on the stage and between songs, he commented on my shirt! He asked if I had run the half marathon and asked what my time was! 

We went running both of our remaining mornings because we were in Key West and could run in shorts and back here that was not an option:
71 degree temp difference at 7:23 am
Running along the ocean
playing in a sculpture on the beach
Monday night we stopped by the Southernmost point because every time we go by there it's crowded and there were always long lines for pictures.  When we got there, there was nobody else around!  We took each others pictures and then two men came along and asked if one of us could take their picture so they took ours together.  It worked out well!
Southernmost Point at night
goofing around at the Southernmost Point
We went to a drag queen show!  That's something I've never done before!
Monday afternoon, we rode our bikes all the way around the perimeter of Key West.  The half marathon used to go all the way around but the main road is under construction on the north side of the island so for the last two years the course had been an out and back along the south side.  Last year a lady told me that the other side is really boring and we really are running the best part of the course twice with the modified route.  She was right.  The other side is very commercial and looks like any street in any town around here:  McDonalds, Burger King, Home Depot, gas stations, muffler shops, etc etc etc...  There was also a lot more traffic.  If I'm never on North Roosevelt Ave. again, it will be ok with me! 
All too soon, it was time to pack up and check out of our hotel room.  We were able to leave our luggage in a room at the hotel since our flight wasn't until late afternoon.  It rained a little bit on Tuesday morning while we were packing but then it stopped and the sun came out and it was really nice.  We rode around, stopped at shops, and had a late lunch since our flight was going to be so late.  While we were having lunch, it began raining again and rained really hard.  We were sitting along an open wall in a restaurant on the harbor.  It did eventually stop raining and we got on our bikes for our last hour of riding around Key West.  At the time we started to head back to the hotel it started to rain again.  We got soaked!  We had to change our clothes before leaving.  (We had to change EVERYTHING, that's how soaked we were!)  The desk clerk called us a taxi, the taxi came and we were headed to the airport.
Our flight home was uneventful, both planes left on schedule.  We got back to Detroit, my diesel Jeep even started right up.  (I parked in the enclosed parking garage connected to the airport; well worth the extra few dollars per day cost.)  I dropped Erika off at her apartment and headed home.  I got home at about 2:15am.
To sum up my 2014 trip to Key West:  I had a blast!!
Key West 2014

Runner Nerd
home from Key West

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Key West Half Marathon

I started this post in the afternoon of the half marathon and then worked on it some more in the evening but never finished it.  I  never worked on any blog posts after that so I am finishing it up after coming home.     .
Today's the day!

My countdown app on my phone started at over 200 days and now the day is here!  I got dressed, ate my bagel and banana, put gels and a hand towel into the bag I'd be checking and we were off on our bikes to the race site!  We took pictures, of course!
ready to run in Key West!

A really odd thing happened before the race.  The Half Shell Raw Bar, which is a main sponsor of the races, was open for runners to hang out and use bathrooms.  A young man was bringing out the cleaning cart to clean restrooms but runners were lining up to use them.  A man said to the crowd, "Does anyone speak Spanish?"  Erika does speak Spanish so she asked him why he wanted to know.  He asked her to tell the restroom cleaner to hold off cleaning until the race starts so that the runners can use them. When he came out of the supply closet, Erika proceeded to speak to him in Spanish but he shook his head and said that he doesn't speak Spanish!  Erika apologized and asked him in English to hold off on cleaning until the race started.  The man who had asked for someone to speak in Spanish was nowhere to be found, he had left.  I also apologized and told the young man that someone had asked for someone to speak to him in Spanish and so did some other people.  He said it was no big deal.  That was just so odd.
Anyway, I checked my bag and eventually we headed to the start line.  I got in the mass of people and Erika stood along the side because she didn't start the 5K until 20 minutes later.
Once I got out of the crowd of the start, I was running along at a comfortable pace but I wasn't running at 9 minutes.  I knew right then that the sub two hour goal was going right out the window, it wasn't going to happen.  My first thought was 2:05.  Miles 1 - 8 fell between 9:19 to 9:51.  Miles 9 and 10 were 10:00 and 10:21.  Mile 11 was a bit faster at 9:54.  There's something about passing the 10 mile mark of a half marathon and I always get excited after passing 10 miles!  It didn't last long!  Miles 12 and 13 were 10:20 and 10:15.  Mile 12 was the worst.  I actually thought I'd passed the 12 mile marker and missed it.  The mile markers are painted on the streets and I did miss the 2nd mile marker earlier.  I looked at Garmie and saw that I was only at 11.8 miles and hadn't missed the 12 mile mark!  Finally, 12 miles came and that last mile was tough.  Erika was by the side about 1/4 mile out and ran in with me.  I ran as fast as I could with Erika trying to get me to go faster!  We crossed the finish line together with out hands in the air!  I got my medal.  This was the strangest medal I've ever seen:
strange medal
I couldn't figure out why there was a pointy thing sticking out of the bottom of the medal!  It's a bottle stopper!  Once I recovered and the nautious feeling passed, we got a bottle of water and went looking for the food!!  They always have beer and a special cup for the beer.  Last year, I just went to the front of the line and grabbed a cup because I don't drink beer.  Erika is all about the beer so we stood in the long line, which moved along pretty fast, to get beers and a cup!  The truck behind me in the picture has the beer kegs inside of it and they are dispensing it on the outside of the truck. 
Erika and her beer! 
My Garmin read 2:08:36.  Kind of disappointed but it's ok.  This is just the wrong time of year to be in the kind of shape I'd need to be in to break 2 hours.  When I got my bag back from gear check, I checked my phone because I'd signed up for text tracking!  My results were in a text message.  My actual time was 2:08:28!  Erika really surprised herself by running the 5K at an 8:20 pace!  I can't remember just what she said her time was.  I can't look it up since she took the timing tag off of the back of the bib.  (explanation for removing timing tag in my last post.)  We had some snacks and hung around enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful day!  It had warmed to 70 degrees! Yay!  I couldn't believe that the Key West Half Marathon was already over!  I looked around for what was promised for after race food and has been a regular feature of the Key West Half Marathon.  I'm talking about -- Frozen, chocolate dipped key lime pie on a stick!  They had it last year, they had recently mentioned it on their Facebook page.  I didn't see anyone walking around with it, we looked everywhere.  I guess they didn't have it this year.  Someone told us that a shop that sells it is right nearby so we walked over there and Erika bought us frozen key lime pies on sticks!  The shop, kermit's, is right on the half marathon course very close to the end.  We stood along the side cheering for people who were running in.  One lady saw us with the pie on sticks and yelled out, "YES! The reward at the end!"  I felt bad because we weren't able to tell her that we had bought them and there was none this year.  As we were walking back, several people walking by asked us where we got them and we told them that we bought them at Kermit's.  I will have to write to the race director and ask what happened to the pies. 
We rode our bikes back to the hotel, showered, went to lunch and then to the beach!  Erika is all about the beach!  As I sat on the beach, my body began to stiffen up and soreness set in.  Yep, I guess I really did just run a half marathon!  We snuck into a big hotel across the street from the beach to use the restroom and then we rode our bikes back to the hotel.  I actually felt better after riding the bike and wasn't as stiff and sore. 

I can't believe that another Key West Half Marathon is over already!  I'm really looking forward to the two days I have left in Key West.  I am definitely going to get to the bottom of why there was no frozen key lime pie on a stick this year!!

Runner Nerd
Key West Half Marathon finisher again

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Long bus ride to Key West

Soooooooo, We did make it to Key West!!  We arrived on the big tour bus at 3:15am.  What a day. 
After the flight was cancelled, they arranged for a bus to come and take us to Key West. 17 of the 34 passengers elected to take the bus.  I think it was just shy of 11pm when the bus finally pulled up and we loaded up for the drive.
On the bus

Shortly after we left, I called the hotel to let them know that we were, indeed, on our way there.  The lady I talked to said that she'd have our paperwork all ready with a note for the overnight person.  She assured us that our room would be waiting for us.  Our bikes had been delivered and she had the keys for the locks in an envelope with our check in paperwork.
Even though we didn't get to our room until 3:30 am, we woke up around 9 am and even though we were still tired, we got up because we didn't want to waste any more of our time in Key West.  We went and got a few things from the hotel's breakfast bar and ate by the pool.  After showering, we were off on our neat-o rental bikes!  I did this last year and still remember my way around but Erika was really nervous about riding around with the traffic.  She hasn't ridden a bike in a long time.  She loved it!  We rode to where the race expo was being held; it wasn't open yet but I wanted to show her how close it is and how easy it will be to get there in the morning before the race.  We had lunch and visited some shops.  Erika LOVES jewelry and was going crazy over all of the handmade jewelry offered in the shops around Key West!  We made our way to the expo and got our race bibs and shirts.  I love the shirt this year! (this pic is from the race website)

Cool shirts! (from KWHM website)
Erika had some injuries in the late summer and hasn't been running very much even though her injuries have healed.  She had a lot of work traveling in the fall and then was sick right after the holidays.  She thought it would be better for her to switch to the 5K.  Our bibs had our names on them and they were just so cool:
coolest race bibs ever
For her to switch to the 5K, she'd have to give this bib back and her new one wouldn't have her name on it.  She decided to keep the bib and remove the timing tag from the back and just run the 5K and then she would meet me near the end and run me in so we could cross the finish line together and have a finish line picture together.  I know it's probably not the best thing to do and most people would probably have a fit but it's what we decided to do!  We rode around more and came back to the hotel.  It was getting chilly so we changed before we went to the pasta dinner.  After dinner, we rode over to Duval Street which is the main touristy party street in Key West.  We went into a bar and listened to the singer for a while and then headed back to the hotel so we could get some sleep before we have to get up early for our big races.  We are both really tired.
It's so hard to believe that tomorrow morning I'm running the Key West Half Marathon again! 

Runner Nerd
tired on half marathon eve

Friday, January 17, 2014

Can't get to Key West

I, Runner Nerd, am sitting in a chair in the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Meyers, FL.  I should be in Key West by now.  I was supposed to be there at 3:19pm but as of right this moment, 7:47 pm, I am not there.  The plane had a flat tire! 
Stranded travelers

They are estimating that we will be leaving at 11pm.  We had boarded the small plane, all 34 passengers, and then we were promptly told that we had to de-embark the plane.  I know these things happen and at least I'm in Florida and not Michigan.  I guess it will be fun to fly at night.  I'm just so disappointed.  I was so excited to be there today.  I've called the hotel and they said that they won't give our room away. 
Oh noooooooooooo.  They just came back to the terminal and said that our flight is CANCELLED.  Apparently, the crew needed to fix this flat tire is in TAMPA, which is a long way from Ft. Meyers. 
I have to go now, will finish this later. 

Runner Nerd
very sad not to be in Key West

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ready to go!

The work is all done!  I ran my last run of training for the Key West half! 
This is what I was up against today:
on the streets:
snow covered street
on the trail:
snow covered trail

Tomorrow I will not have any snow to deal with!  I'm all packed and ready to go!  I have a feeling I'm going to be driving to the airport in 4-wheel drive.  I have to pick up my friend, Erika, at 7am so I need to leave at 6:15 am with normal roads.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to plan on leaving at 5:30 am and see how things look when I get up.  We'll see. 

Runner Nerd
off to Key West

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

One more run to go before I'm outta here!

Just one more run in this frozen tundra that is Michigan in January and then I'll be running in sunny Key West!  Tonight was group run at the running store.  Only three people tonight; gee, I wonder why!  It was 24 degrees, the sidewalks weren't knee deep with snow like last week but there were patches of ice that we had to really watch for.  The roads in the two subdivisions we ran through were good.
I am so looking forward to Key West!!  I leave Friday morning!  My friend and I rented bikes today!  They will be delivered to us at our hotel soon after we get there!  We're both excited about the trip!  I don't know if I will be able to come in under 2 hours but I'm going to try and have fun trying!
I'm just about all packed.  I did my monthly weigh in at Weight Watchers today so I'm good for this month!  I'm sure I'll gain a few lbs in Key West!  I can't wait to get one of these gigantic cookies again!!
Well, I guess I should go organize my suitcase; I've been throwing things into it for the last week.  I will probably eliminate a few things before I go.  Tomorrow is my last day home and I have to leave my house early Friday morning so I need to be completely packed as well as have things around the house done, such as emptying the overflowing wastebaskets!  If I didn't empty them, when I get back there would be trash piled as high as they could get it to stay on top and then trash everywhere! 

Runner Nerd

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Victory for MSU!

This afternoon, I went to a college women's basketball game!  I've never been to one before.  It was Michigan State vs University of Michigan at University of Michigan.  What fun!  I had several friends going so I decided to "borrow" an MSU sweatshirt from my son and go.  Tickets were $8.00 and parking was free at Pioneer High School which is a half block away and a quick few minutes walk to Crisler Center.  The score was close throughout the whole game.  The scores were never more than a few points apart.  MSU got ahead by 6 points in the last few minutes and ended up winning 79-72!
I'd like to go to another game at MSU!  It would also be fun to go to another game at UM when it's not MSU so I could get caught up in all the pom pom waving and fight song playing!  It would be fun to see what it's like at a home game at MSU too!
Before the game in my MSU shirt among the Maize and Blue:
A Spartan in Wolverine territory
We had close seats, 2nd row behind one of the baskets:
good seats and skimpy cheerleader outfits
MSU wins!
This is a blurry picture but it is the MSU team waving as they left the court!
The winners!
It was a lot of fun for just $8.00!  To go to a Men's game would cost $10.00+ just to park, I have no idea what tickets cost but I'm sure they cost way more than $8.00.  I'm really glad that I went.

Runner Nerd
watched college basketball

Ididarun 8 mile night cross country run

Last night was the annual Ididarun 8 mile cross country race in Linden, MI.  It's put on by the cross country teams of Linden Schools, a small school district about an hour away.  This is the fourth year I've run this.  The first year there was a few inches of snow and it was cold.  The last two years it was unseasonably warm for January and the course was muddy.  This year the snow was deep but it had warmed up yesterday and Friday so a lot of snow melted but the temperature dropped in the late afternoon so there was some freezing of the melted snow!  The parts of the course that are on the cross country course had deep snow and to add to the fun, in some spots, there was water under the snow!  Your feet sink right in with each step.  Before the race, the director said, "your feet WILL get wet!"  Oh, he was right!  My feet got soaked.  The run is 4 two mile loops.  Each time around the off road sections wiped me out more and more.  It just took so much to stay upright and to get through the snow and snow/water.  There were some slippery spots on the paved parts, too.  On the last loop, the wind came up and it got colder.  My lips and cheeks were numb.  I kept thinking that I should have just went to the group long run in the morning, ran my 8 miles and called it a day!  I also used this race for my last long run before Key West last year.  I was never so glad to be finished as I was last night!
Cold, wiped out, and soaked feet
I had looked up my time from last year and it took me 15 minutes longer this year.  I was surprised that it was just 15, I thought it would have been more.  I won my age group!!  (Actually, I was 2nd but the winner was the Masters winner.)  I changed into dry clothes and socks right after finishing but I did not have dry shoes with me.  They always have soups after this race.  I had clam chowder soup and it was really good but it didn't sit well which made for a really long drive home!  I walked around in my socks until it was time to leave and then I had to put my feet back into my cold, wet shoes.  I had also forgotten my coat so I had to walk out to the car without a coat and in wet shoes!  I was very happy for my heated seat cushion! 
I actually learned after the race that a lot of people decided to do the relay option which is two people each running two loops.  (People who had originally signed up for the whole 8 miles.)   I guess there weren't that many left running the whole 8 miles.
So, with that, I've completed all of my long runs for Key West!  Just a few short runs this week and I'm off to Key West!

Runner Nerd
ready for Key West

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Longest and coldest run

Today, I ran my longest long run in training for Key West.  I ran 12 miles.  It was 17 degrees with a "feels like" of 0!  I got slower and slower the last 4 miles.  My legs got really tired.  I was so glad to be done.  I ran in a group training run with a marked route and water stops.  All that is left is 8 miles next Saturday and then it's off to Key West!!
After running, I went to visit my niece and help her out.  She's expecting her second baby and is exhausted right now.  She wanted a banana, she was craving bananas!  We went to Kroger to get bananas and a couple things she needed.  When we got there the parking lot was full.  We had to pull in where another car pulled out.  We weren't sure what was going on.  As soon as we walked in the store, we were greeted by a totally empty banana display stand.  Not a banana to be seen.  The store was packed; there were people everywhere.  There is a huge snowstorm and sub-zero temps in the weather forecast so apparently people are stocking up!  It's a good thing that she didn't need milk because we were also greeted by:
It's gonna snow so hoard milk!
The cereal shelves were also pretty bare!  She wanted Life cereal and there was plenty of that on the shelf!  The checkout lines were really long and went down the isles.  It was crazy because you had to find your way through the people in line for checkout while you were in the isles shopping.  I needed a bag of cat litter so I got that.  I went through the U-scan and there was barely any wait.  I walked up and in a minute a checkout machine became available so I texted my niece to hurry up and get down there because there was nobody.  (She had went and got in a long line in a regular checkout.)  We were really glad to get out of there. 
When I left to drive home, it had not started snowing in Ann Arbor where my niece lives.  When I got to Chelsea it was lightly snowing.  As I drove north of Chelsea there was snow accumulating.  The closer I got to home the more it was snowing and the more snow there was accumulated.  I had to switch into 4WD and drive super slow for the last few miles! 
Next week is an 8 mile night cross country run that I've done the last few years.  If we get all this snow that is being forecasted, it's going to be ridiculous this year.  The last two years have been muddy.  The race is loops mostly on a high school cross country course.  The first year I ran it the snow was deep and I fell.  Falling a week away from my half marathon in Key West is something I don't want to do!

Runner Nerd
getting ready to be snowed in

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Years Eve fun

I was finally able to find out that the New Years Eve 5K in Jackson was not taking place this year.  I did the New Years Eve Flash Mob 5K in downtown Ann Arbor.  It was fun.  This was an informal, untimed run.  It was cold and snowing.  The start/finish was at a bar.  I went to the front door and thought I was in the wrong place.  I walked in behind two women in short skirts and high heels!  The doorman said I was in the right place and told me how to get to the room in the back which is where the race was starting.  We were on an enclosed patio which is meant for warm weather use.  They had large kerosene heaters to warm the room.  There were televisions around the room and we watched the ball drop from New York City and then took off out the back door to start our new years with running!  You can see the snow covered street through the window behind me in the picture below:
Before running on New Years Eve
There was a costume contest.
New Years Eve costume winners
There was a puck drop this year.  A giant lighted hockey puck dropped at midnight over on Main Street, a couple of blocks away.  As we began running, many people were heading either to their cars, homes or some other place so there were a lot of people walking on the sidewalks.  People were high fiving the runners!  That was fun!  A few people were wondering what the heck was going on, some were annoyed with people running down the sidewalks.  At one point in the run I saw a large group of people in one spot.  One man moved out from the group and his leg looked weird.  I realized that he was extending his leg to trip me with his foot!  Yes, he was trying to trip me!  I jumped over his foot.  I'm glad I realized in time to avoid face-planting on the street!  One person yelled out, "what is this 5K for?"  I yelled back, "New Years Eve."  I wish I would have thought to yell out something crazy such as "Fourth of July" or something totally stupid like "to save the whales" or something other than the logical answer! 
After the run there was a breakfast bar!  I wasn't hungry but ate eggs, bacon, chicken nuggets (not sure why) and a pretzel stick. 
It had been snowing all afternoon and snowed the entire time I was there.  It was a slow drive home with 4 wheel drive used until I got to the highway and then again in the last few miles to home.  I gave my friend a ride home; she had walked to the run.  I did not know where she lived but she lives outside of the downtown area and had quite a walk there.  With taking her home and the bad roads, I didn't get home until 3:30 AM! 
So, once again, I began a new year on a run!  It wasn't as fun as the New York City Midnight Run in Central Park.  There were 60 some runners as opposed to 4000 in New York!  I am still hoping to get back there one of these years.  I was planning to this year but it just wasn't possible.  Maybe next year. 
Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2014 - Runner Nerd's year of the half marathon!!

Runner Nerd
began 2014 running