2011 was a year of many ups and downs in my running life and for sure in my non-running life, and interstingly enough, the two are definitely commingled and interdependent. Funny how that works, huh? The best way for me to remember all this is month-by-month, so here we go!!
We started off with a bang on New Year's Day, with the inaugural running of the New Year's Day half-marathon. My friend Suann paced me to a near-PR and helped me push to my limits post-gall-bladder surgery and gave me the confidence I needed that I could come back from that little time off last November. It was a gorgeous clear morning, and an all-around good day!! I think I placed in the Athena category, too!! Go me!
|Jim A, me, Suann & Mark L post-race|
|Banderawesome. Start to finish it lived up to it's name!|
|No, not hilly at all..|
A couple of weeks later, I was back at it at the Benbrook Half Marathon, to run up & down One Nice Hill. Saw a good group of folks at the start, and enjoyed a good challenging workout, even though my time was not what I had in mind. Ended up with the TINIEST half-marathon medal ever, too!! It's seriously smaller than my key fob!!
|Pre-race at Benbrook Half.|
The next day, we had a little semi-reunion of the White Rock Girls and added Elaine and Libby to the mix for a loop around our Favoritest Lake We Love to Hate. Good times for sure!!
|White Rock Lake Fun!|
Total Miles: 130
Number of Races: 3 (two half-marathons, one 50k)
February was when Snowpocalypse 2011 enveloped all of FW-D in this crazy ice and snow, making it impossible to get out of the house without yaktrax or snowshoes. Some people improvised and drove screws into their shoes. Others of us waited it out, until we coudn't stand it anymore. I caved and did 15 miles at 24-hour Fitness on a Saturday afternoon, somehow staying on that treadmill for two hours and 45 minutes. CRAZY.
The next weekend, I inadvertently helped create one of the greatest rivalries of our time when I introduced Drum to Ninja. Or Ninja to Drum. Either way. They both came out to run a 20-miler in Fort Worth with me before Cowtown, but ended up leaving me in their dust with Suann while they became fast friends (literally fast!) and ran the whole 20 miles together. I found them both at the end, drinking beer. Little did we know!!
|FW Running Company 20-Miler|
After that 20-miler, I went back out to White Rock the next day for another WRL Girl run. Those never got old. All throughout the year, in all kinds of weather, it was never hard to say Yes to a run around the lake. Never.
|Good times at the lake.|
The month ended up at the Cowtown Marathon. My Bubble of Love. Probably one of my top five running moments of the year, despite coming in just a bit too short on my goal for the day. No matter. I thought the Bubble was lightning in a bottle, that we could never recreate that magic. Nope, I was thankfully wrong, and the Bubble has been there in many other shapes and forms not just for me, but for all my Frunners, all year long. I fully expect that to continue.
|Suann pacing me to a near-PR on a miserable day|
Total Miles: 121
Number of Races: 2 (20-miler and full marathon)
MarchMarch started off with a BANG, quite literally, as I ran the Texas Independence Relay with 10 other crazy women, dressed in pink tutus and boas, as the cannon shot off to send us on our first leg of the 201-mile relay from Gonzales to Houston. Good times, there, good times!!
|The Mad-Dames, TIR 2011|
|Look who we found!! Twice actually!!|
|Van #1. Or, wait, were we Van #2? I can't remember!|
Then, it was time for another marathon, this one out on trails at what we now affectionately call "Sandlands." This one was monumental because it was my Marathon Maniacs qualifier, and even though I slogged to a spectacular 7+ hour finish, I was greeted at the finish by, you guessed it, FRUNNERS!! What a joy to get to the end and see so many smiling faces!! Totally reminded me of how lucky I am to have all these great people in my life!!
|YAY! Waiting for me to finish! Rockstars!!|
|Pre-race with Ninja & Drum!|
Ended the month with another loop around White Rock. 18 miles with Fiona & Mel, although Mel ran 2 more than we did. Because she's a beast like that.
|<3 This makes me happy!|
Total Miles: 104
Number of Races: 1 (one marathon)
The highlight of the month of March without a doubt was Hells Yeah Hills. My second 50k, and the one in which I ran side by side with my friend Julie as she became an ultra-runner! It was such a great trip, beginning to end, with lots of time on the road, at the start, on the trail and post-race at the campsite with Julie, Jeremy, Fawn, Sarah, Libby, Stacy, Coco W, Matt, Fiona, Greg and Dat. When I think about how much fun the atmosphere at trail races can be, this is what comes to mind, with Fawn's trail orphans running barefoot to bring in the 50-milers, and just sitting enjoying the day. Lots of fun for sure! So worth that last NINE MILES!!
|Who's the dude sporting Ink n Burn back there?!|
|Julie & Sarah, my 50k pals|
|Cherry sporting her bling!!|
After the fun of Hells Yeah Hills wore off, it was time to get down to busines with our last long run before Oklahoma City. I went up to Grapevine for this one, to meet up with Marci & Kris and put the last bale of hay in the barn, as it were. It was miserably hot, I remember that, for so early in the year, and we were so grateful for the first sprinkler run/water dousing by a friendly lake neighbor. That was a tough one for me, physically and somewhat mentally, too. But, as the song goes, I get by with a little help from my my friends, and we ended our run with tired smiles, per usual.
More running with Frunners came a couple of weeks later at Allen, as we ran a few new paved trails up yonder and ended with the nice chatting and camaraderie at the end. This kind of group run reinforces to me that most runners don't care what your splits are, or the pace or distance, or even if someone is sidelined with an injury, that we are all just one big happy group!
|Cassie had right idea with the blanket. It was still chilly!|
Toward the end of April, I again met with a big group of Frunners, this time out at Northshore for some trail goodness!! Good friends, dirty trails, bagels & beer at the end. Who could ask for anything more?
|Why am I in front? #ASH|
|Like a totem pole!|
Total Miles: 134
Number of Races: 1 (one 50k)
Wow. May. So much to say about May and the races I ran and the fun times on the trails. Sadly, this month was also fraught with pain and uncertainty as I faced my father's illness and my impending surgery. I was determined to make the most out of every day that I could. Looking back, I think I did a pretty damn good job of that, if I do say so myself!!
The first race of the month was Oklahoma City Marathon. Much has been written, said and remembered about this race, so I won't go into it again here. Just suffice to say that those of us who were there will be bonded through the rain, hail, lightning and cold for life, just as those who ran White Rock here a few weeks ago will forever remember that day. What a day!!
|WRL shirts. We looked better from behind than usual!|
|Lightning? Rain? IS THAT ALL YOU GOT?!!|
Right after OKC, I drove down to my hometown to spend some time with my paretns, and got to run a bit at the Bird Center Loop trails down there. It was an unexpected find, but did wonders for my troubled soul at that point in time. Those runs, however short, reinforced to me that at my soul I am a trail runner.
|The Arroyo Colorado, Harlingen, Texas|
|Hot, dusty & dry. Welcome home.|
|Brought Tim out for a little trail run! didn't even get lost this time!|
|Um, this girl needs a barrette. or scrunchy. or something...|
Had a couple of more chances to run trails that month, including some paved trails out at Arbor Hills. Sadly, it was a little too muddy for dirt that day, but it was a good time on the north end of FW-D, with lots of NTX frunners to be found!
|Far North Oklahoma! =)|
|Look who we found!|
|Some kind of club, it seems!|
|Way too happy to be running!|
We followed that nice little social run up with another dose of trail goodness, Beer & Bagels style!! Trails, good friends, fancy-schmancy breakfast after. Can't be beat, I tell ya!
|Good times. Great pic when the EBV is in the shot!|
|Discussing merits of Best Pack Ever?|
|Actually looks like I can keep up!! HA!|
|Fi & Cherry, post-run!|
|DIGGER! Dirty boy!!|
|Beer & Bagels or Huevos Rancheros with Bloody Marys?|
I ended the month with a 5k out at the Trinity River in Fort Worth with Bojana, my favorite goddess, and Marci. This run sucked mightily, thanks to the crazy humidity and the complete number my body was playing on me by then, as I anxiously awaited Operation Girl Parts Be Gone. It was a struggle to break 30 minutes, whereas a mere five months before I could have gone 28 minutes without breathing heavily. Tough day, but as usual, the post-race socializing, sharing and conversation more than made up for what went down on the race course. Story of my life, right there!!
Total Miles: 100
Number of Races: 2 (one marathon, one 5k)
June started out by me deciding to not run the Minneapolis Marathon that had been on my calendar for a few months. I had airfare bought with miles, but had not registered for the race until the week of, and when it came time to hit Submit, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I was tired, my body was wiped out from crazy hormonal surges, and I just needed a break. So I didn't go, forgoing my chance to level up to two stars in Marathon Maniacs. And that was just the right thing to do. It gave me a chance to recharge a little bit, and to be available for Libby's birthday run, as she tackled 31 miles over the course of a weekend. She had a big group with her on Saturday for most of the miles, but still needed a few more on Sunday.
|Libby & Michael finishing up Birthday run part the second.|
|Obligatory self-portrait AND butt shot in ONE! #FIGJAM|
|Half of Team K & the Best LMT You Know|
|This was a good day!|
The last group run of the month for me was out at, wait for it... White Rock! Of course it was, with the full contingent of the WRL girls who ran the full at OKC. We'd had time to dry out, thaw out and otherwise mostly heal from that adventure, and it meant so much to me that they all came out to run before I headed into surgery two weeks later. The WRL girls are a common theme in 2011 for me. This group dynamic was forged in the heat of August long runs, tempered in the cold and rain of Oklahoma City, polished through countless calls, texts, emails and IMs. When I think about my Frunners, and my Bubble of Love, these are the faces and voices that come to mind first.
|Through fire I would walk for these girls. Through fire.|
Right after this run, I was called down to the Valley, to my roots, to say goodbye to my father. The day after I arrived, the day after he died, I ran. The next day, I ran again, by myself, through the bird center preserve I had discovered on my previous trip. I got off the path somehow (well, it's me, not too hard to figure out how THAT happened, really), and ended up wandering through thigh-high scrub and brush and cactus for an hour before I found my way back to the trail. The preserve is a scant half-mile across, if that, but I wandered aimlessly for a good while, and during that time, I felt all kinds of emotional release and communing with the world around me. I emerged onto the trail scratched, beaten up and yet whole, mentally and physically. It was a good run. I ran again on the day we had his memorial service. This is from that run report:
I went running today. I have far more important things to attend to, later, but I went running this morning anyway. I needed to. It's what I do. It's who I am.
I saw a beautiful south Texas sunrise. I saw a lone cardinal in a bare tree branch. And I said "goodbye."
When I came home the following week, I had a total laparoscopic hysterectomy and was relegated to walking or hiking for six weeks. I did not run any races in June.
Total Miles: 39
Number of Races: 0
Next up: July through December. The ride continues!!