Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Not cool, body. Not cool.

Warning: If you're a male reader, you might want to skip this post.

I got my period on Monday. I knew it was coming because for the week or so prior my boobs felt like heavy bricks every time I'd unleash them from their sheath my bra. Once that painful heaviness sets in, I know the time is nearish. Sometimes it's a couple of weeks; sometimes it's a couple of days.

It's only in the past few years that I've starting experienced this.
And cramps.

I used to always feel so lucky not really ever having to deal with the pains of being a woman. My periods would come and go, and while I've always hated them, they would never cause me to DOUBLE OVER IN PAINFUL CRAMPS.

But, as I've gotten older, I've started to get ...
... the aforementioned painful boobs
... increased acne
... heavier flows
... painful cramps
Sometimes I joke with my husband about how I'm looking forward to menopause because it can't get much worse. He always assures me that it can. And probably will. Thanks, honey, you always know what to say.

So, last night, I awoke around 2 a.m. Now, it's not too unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night, but lately, I've had a lot of trouble getting back to sleep.

But last night, in addition to the INSOMNIA, I had PAINFUL GUT-WRENCHING CRAMPS.

I took some Midol, but I just couldn't fall asleep.
Then, my body decided that since I was having such fun with my cramps, why not add a bit of gas to the equation.


I may have dozed a little here and there, but basically I've been awake since roughly 2 a.m.

On my way into work, I stopped at Walgreens because well, I need some supplies. I prefer the non-applicator kind because they seem a bit more comfortable to me, and I like the small size, so I can just slip them into my pocket.

As I was browsing this section I don't know why I browse since I always get the same thing, I saw these non-applicator ones.

At first I thought, Those are kind of neat. They come in a cute little tin.
Then, Who would spend $6.99 for 16 when you could spend $7.49 for 40? That's a lot of money for a cute little tin.

I also contemplated these.
I like the idea of using cups - disposable or reusable. Less waste and all that, but I used to have a DivaCup, and I was less than impressed with its, um, performance.

I hate spending money on something I'm not sure will work for me, and I'm also all about cheap, so I opted for the Walgreens brand non-applicator tampons. Exactly what I went to Walgreens with the intention of buying.

Have you ever tried any alternative supplies? 
Do you find yourself dreading this time more as you get older or is it just me?

Monday, November 26, 2012

10 Photos From My Phone

For today's Monday Listicles, we had the option of two topics: 10 PHOTOS FROM OUR PHONE or 10 NAMES YOU CONSIDERED FOR YOUR KIDS.

Since I have no kids, I'll share with you ten photos.

Las Vegas 4th of July
4th of July from the parking lot of our new apartment in Vegas.
We'd moved in just a few days prior to this picture.

Sallie border terrier
Goofy girl at Yappy Hour at Rumor Boutique Hotel

Sallie border terrier
My cutie little girl!

Sallie dog toy border terrier
Crazy girl sleeping with her toy dog

Survivor Fremont Street Experience Vegas
Free SURVIVOR concert at Fremont Street Experience

Sallie border terrier
Her legs are all criss-crossed, but I guess she's comfortable.

blue moon
Blue Moon captured through my phone and our mono-scope

Vegas park
Tiny little nearby park where I once stopped after a run for a little yoga.

Sallie border terrier
My panting girl was SO HOT!

Vegas Strip NHRA
I won tickets from work to go to the NHRA. It was so much fun!
Wow! Flipping through my phone photos reminded me that I still have a few events I need to blog about. Oops!

Which of these in particular would you be most interested in reading a full post about?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fitness Friday: The Much Anticipated RAGNAR RECAP

Two weeks ago today (has it really been that long?), I stumbled out of bed at 3 a.m. to don my brightest tights and awesomest 80s gear to head up Mt Charleston with Van 1 of The Fanny Pack.

We got off to a late start and ended up leaving my teammate's house way later than we should have. Plus, it turned out that we didn't have the required # of LED back lights, so we had to stop at the home of our team captain (in Van 2) to grab one of their extras. And then there was the stop for gas.

Finally we were on our way. 

Now, Van 1 is supposed to check it at least one hour prior to our start time. We were supposed to start at 6:30, and I think we arrived somewhere around 6:20. Parking was full, so we had to park down the mountain a tiny bit. Then there was checking in, the safety briefing, and picking up our flags, shirts, and goodie bag. Phew!

And I cannot neglect to mention the COLD!

Cold Start at Ragnar Las Vegas
We all look so damn cold!

By cold, I mean 30s with some slight snow flurries. Nothing compared to winters in MN, but very traumatic for unprepared Las Vegans. :-/

After completing all our pre-race duties, we sauntered up to the start line to find hear the announcer saying:

Get ready to start in 10 ... 9 ... 8 ...

Shit! Our first runner barely had his shoes on let alone a race number and the slap bracelet. We slapped that bracelet on his wrist and he was off for his first run. 7 miles down Mt Charleston in the cold and HAIL. Yes, the snow had turned to hail at that point.

He still didn't have a number because, well, I'd forgotten about that in the flurry of getting our runner to start with the 7 a.m. wave. We were only a half hour late. Woot!

About halfway through his run, we offered him support. Ok, actually, we mostly just handed him his race number, which he put in his pocket. He did not want to slow down to pin it on. :-)

Now, I was runner #4, so I still had a little time to relax and prepare before my first leg. The chatter in the van - despite the cold and early rising, was quite positive, relaxed, and fun. Prior to this morning, I had only met one other person very briefly. I was very relieved that we all got along so well!

There was no bickering or power struggles. Just lots of fun banter.

I pretty much kept my sweats on until runner #3 was out on her first leg. My awesome 80s outfit wasn't the warmest. I also didn't put my contacts in until runner #3 was out there. It was not only COLD but WINDY! My contact flew right off my finger!! In hindsight, I probably ought to have been doing it sitting inside the van rather standing outside of it. Two teammates were standing nearby, and I had all three of us STOP, and we all started looking for it. I'd pretty much resigned myself to running with my glasses, when runner #1 suddenly bent down, picked it up, and handed it to me. THANK YOU!!! Luckily, it was not ripped or damaged. Woot!

Ragnar Las Vegas
Awesome 80s Outfit #1. I'm ready to rock.

Finally I was ready to start my first leg. Runners #1 and #2 complained about the wind but were grateful that it was at least a tailwind. I joked that it would probably turn into a head wind by the time it was my turn. Self-fulfilling prophecy?

Ragnar Las Vegas Leg 1

Perhaps. The wind was relentless. AND I'D FORGOTTEN MY WATER! This was a no support leg. I was so grateful to see the water stop. Unfortunately, a girl I'd passed earlier was quickly catching up to me. It had taken me forever to pass her, so I naturally didn't want her to pass me again. As she approached the water stop, I could tell she wasn't about to stop, so I took off again just steps before her. I probably could have gone with more water, but I was determined to stay ahead of her.

I'm not sure why, but this Ragnar really brought out my competitive spirit. I was all about the kills. Kills, for the non-Ragnarian, is the term used whenever you pass another runner during your leg. It's all in good fun. I promise.

Two more runners to go until it we could stop, get out of the van, and really rest. Bonus: As we passed off to Van 2, we realized that we'd made up the time we'd lost with our 7 a.m. start time. Sweet!

I don't know what it is about me and Ragnar, but I am rarely hungry for a meal between legs. I'll snack on chips and water and other randomness in the van, but actual food? No, thank you. I think I'm a rarity. At least I was in this van.

So, after runner #6 finished his leg, we headed out for chicken and waffles. Or just waffles. Or just watching everyone else eat while trying to stomach all the smells of unwanted food. It wasn't really that bad. :)

Runner #5 lived nearby, so we headed to his house to relax, stretch, change, and maybe even nap. a little.

Ragnar Las Vegas
Awesome 80s Outfit #2. Stretching between Leg 1 & Leg 2.

Leg 2 was my nighttime run. I had a little difficulty with my headlamp, but after taking it off twice to readjust, it was fine. Not sure I would have made it otherwise. :)

Ragnar Las Vegas Leg 2

Remember that competitive spirit from leg 1? Of course you do, it was just 6 paragraphs ago. :) Well, it made another appearance in leg 2. I really thought I was done getting kills after 10 or 11. There didn't seem to be many people ahead of me, but then the distance narrowed, and I squeezed out a few more - including one who had passed me earlier! I couldn't believe it!!

By now, I was TIRED. My teammates? You guessed it. HUNGRY! Runner #3 lived nearby, so the plan was to sleep at her house. They ordered pizza ahead of time, so it would be waiting for them upon arrival. I, of course, headed directly to bed. No pizza for me. I slept soundly until my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m. to get back out there for leg #3.

Finally the weather was starting to shape up! I'd had a feeling it was going to be my warmest leg, so I'd chosen the outfit with the most skin showing for this one. :)

Ragnar Las Vegas Leg 3
Awesome 80s Outfit #3. Waiting for Runner #3 to finish.

My 3rd leg was an off-street trail and should have been my easiest leg, but I was tired and sore and my tummy didn't feel too yummy. Turned out to be my slowest leg, understandably.

Ragnar Las Vegas Leg 3

It was also the leg in which my competitive spirit really rared its ugly head. :) As I approached the finish, there was a girl in a tutu ahead of me. Ooh, I just wanted to beat her to bring my kills for that leg up to 3. I don't know from whence I mustered the energy, but I kicked it up to full tilt. I could hear her teammates yelling out to her. Looking good, Ashley! Way to go, Ashley! I *almost* started to feel bad for sprinting at the end to finish in front of her. Almost.

I passed her just before crossing the street and rounding the corner to the exchange chute. Steps prior to the exchange, I saw runner #5 bent over tying his shoes. I yelled out to him and continued to the chute where I panted and panted until I was able to slap that bracelet off to him.

I. Was. Finished!

Ragnar Las Vegas

And completely exhausted. So, when runner #6 finished with his final leg, and everyone wanted to eat, I, of course, chose sleep over eating and stayed in the van to catch a little ZZZZZs.

Of course, we were parked next to a McDonald's drive-in. It took me way. too. long to figure out that was where all the voices were coming from. Oh, to be in my head sometimes. :-)

This post was long. Thank you so much to all of you who made it all the way though. It's not really the end of the recap, but I think I'll stop here for now. The ending deserves a post of its own, plus there are a few other comments to make about this Ragnar in general, so STAY TUNED!

I promise it won't be another two weeks.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I probably should have written this yesterday, as many of you are likely very busy with Thanksgiving festivities today. Still, I wanted to take a moment to wish each one of you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

May you all enjoy great food, loving families, and fun times.

To all my running readers, good luck at your races today!
To all my non-running readers, I invite you to get outside today.

A couple years ago, I convinced my family to take a few minutes and go for a Thanksgiving Day walk together. It was supposed to be a time for us to share things we were grateful for, but it turned out to be just a time filled with fun and laughter. It was a relatively nice day in MN, and it is a memory I will always cherish.

Today, I am far away from family, so I suggested to Jeff that we spend the day outside enjoying the beautiful fall day in Vegas on our bikes. We haven't yet decided on a specific route or trail, but we're hoping to get in around a 30 mile bike ride.

Whether you're running or biking or walking, I encourage you to use CharityMiles while you do it. If you don't already have the app, it's a free download for your iPhone or Android. Today through next Tuesday (#GivingTuesday), they are doubling the amount of money you can earn for your charity, which means walkers and runners earn 50¢ per mile; bikers earn 20¢ per mile.

There are a 13 different charities to choose from. I've listed them here with a link to their Twitter account.

Of course, you can do choose any charity, but since it's Thanksgiving here in America, it seems fitting to support Feeding America today. Every mile for them feeds four people. So, if you do a simple 5k, you'd feed 12 people. 5 miles feeds 20 people! And, as always, the easiest way to double your impact is to get just one person to join you. So, please help me to spread the word.

And, once again,

I am in no way affiliated with CharityMiles in anyway other than as a devoted user. I think it is a great app, and it helps me find even more purpose and have more fun while running, walking, or biking outside.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Workout Wednesday

Normally, Wednesdays are my sleep-in days. And by sleep in, I mean still get up at 5am to feed Sallie and then go back to sleep until 6:30am.

Since I took a rest week last week, and then slept in Monday, and have the potential of sleeping in tomorrow, I decided that TODAY, I would still get up at 5 to get in a workout.

I started out with this humdigger, because the 45 pushups from yesterday didn't kill my shoulders enough.

Seriously, though, it was a great quick workout. I think it took me 8:25, and I. am. SLOW. about these strength types of workouts.

Since I was feeling a bit gluttonous, I decided to head to the tiny fitness center at my apartment complex to hit up the elliptical.

Back in the day, when I couldn't run (stupid shins!), I tried to learn to love the elliptical.

Years later, after my shins decided to love me again, and I've really embraced running, THE ELLIPTICAL STILL PROVES TO HATE ME! I spent 20 minutes on that devil a 25 min/mile pace. At the end of the 20 minutes, my toes were numb and I was sweating like a mother. I'll take it, but I figured I must be doing something wrong to make my toes/feet hurt so much from this machine.

So, I asked my friends on DailyMile what they thought. I got some great advice from a husband/wife team (Thanks, Donald and Irina!), which I'll bascially boil down to keep your feet planted, hips lower than what feels normal, and try not to be too bouncy.

I can tell that yesterday I didn't keep my feet planted because my calves are in a state of revolt today.

I tried to keep their advice in mind this morning, but my experience was pretty much the same. Ok. Ever so slightly faster, but still very slow.

Leaving the gym super sweaty, I'm still counting it a win!!

The question is ... should I continue to try to conquer the elliptical or just stick to running and biking?

How was your workout today?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Random Conversations with my Husband that You Don't Care About

Two random conversations from last night.

Him: Why are you still biking to work?
Me: Because it's healthier and saves gas money.
Him: But it's dark outside.
Me: Only at night.
Him: But you do bike home at night.

(yes, I did bike in today.)

Me: How many times a day do you pee?
Him: I don't know. Probably twice.
Me: Damn. Sometimes I have to pee twice an hour.
Me: You need to drink more water.

(maybe I need to drink less water...)

What randomly odd conversations have you had lately?

Monday, November 19, 2012

10 Things I've Learned in 2012

I know, I know. I owe you a couple posts.

1) RAGNAR recap. It will be a faded memory by the time I get around to writing it.
2) A follow-up to last week's Listicles.

But's time for another round of Monday Listicles. You should totally join in the fun! It's a different topic each week, and for this week...

  1. I'll likely never be a teacher. I LOVED student teaching and interacting with high school students, but I was spoiled by doing it in a co-teaching setting. I think I would be successful as a solo teacher, but I don't think I'd like it as much.
  2. It gets COLD in Vegas. This is relative, of course, since it's nowhere near as cold as it gets in MN. Still, cold is cold.
  3. Job searching is hard work. It's no wonder people are hesitant to switch jobs/careers. I hope to stay at my current employer for a long time - just so I don't have to endure going through that again anytime soon.
  4. Biking 7+ miles in the Vegas summer heat & altitude is not recommended.
  5. I am much better at meeting new people in small groups. Ok. This isn't a new lesson, but rather a reminder.
  6. I can safely and confidently bike to and from work. Nearly every day I congratulate myself at how I've improved at riding a bike over the past couple of years.
  7. Russian and Chinese history is fascinating! History in general is fun to learn about. Now that I'm done with school, I really should continue to read/learn more about this stuff.
  8. It's a huge struggle for me to incorporate strength training into my daily life. It's the easiest thing for me to skip, and it's probably more important than my cardio.
  9. I don't really like routines. I love variety. If everyday could be different, I would love it.
  10. ^^ I am not very consistent. At blogging. At running and exercise. At cooking.
What have you learned so far this year?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Brain Dump

**WARNING** Lots of negativity in this post. Feel free to come back tomorrow...

After Monday's Ragnover, my week has continued in a downward spiral.

My left quad is still really bothering me. I don't feel like exercising. I've driven to work everyday this week (and plan to drive tomorrow and Fri as well). I don't feel strong or fit.

I've gotten a headcold. My head is throbbing. I feel like my nose is broken or it wants to explode plus it's really dry. Overall, just annoying and uncomfortable.

I want to write about Ragnar Las Vegas. I really do, but I don't feel like it. There is so much to say, but I'm having trouble finding the words or knowing where to begin. When I get home from work, I just feel like vegging and not blogging.

I need to do laundry and cook dinner and clean the apartment. I DON'T WANT TO DO ANY OF IT!!

I have a lot of downtime at work. I both love and hate this about my new job.

Getting back on our feet financially is proving more difficult than we'd hoped. I love being in Vegas, and I don't regret at all leaving MN, but I wish we had more money. Who doesn't?

We have no plans for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I feel like I should be sadder about it than I am.

Monday, November 12, 2012

10 Truths. Or Not.

Ok. It's time for MONDAY LISTICLES. Seriously, it's nearly past time, but it's still Monday, so as long as I get this posted soon...

Today's topic was 007 (or any other spy) OR a list of Lies, and one truth.

Since I'm not up on all my spy trivia, I'm going with option #2.


1. I once spent a summer traveling all over Europe. The French countryside was my favorite.
2. I am an only child.
3. I ran my first marathon when I was 25.
4. I have a bachelor's degree in Film/Video from Rochester Institute of Technology.
5. I am a trendsetter and always up on the hippest fashions.
6. I was born in Alexandria, MN.
7. I love to swim.
8. I am the world's worst speller.
9. I have scuba dived in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
10. I was frisked by at Mountie at the Canadian border.

Now, leave a comment with which you think is the truth!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - You Guessed it! RBFHalf Pictures

Really Big Free Half Marathon Nov 3, 2012

Really Big Free Half Marathon Nov 3, 2012

Really Big Free Half Marathon Nov 3, 2012

Really Big Free Half Marathon Nov 3, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

10 Memories from the Not So Distant Past

You can read the full recap from Saturday's Really Big Free Half Marathon here. Writing a race recap is difficult, because there is so much to say that it's hard to get it all down in a sensical manner. Some great memories always get left out.

Today's Monday Listicles topic is 10 Amazing Memories from a Not So Distant Past. Well, I don't know if these will exactly qualify as amazing or not, but here are...

Some new, some repeats from yesterday's recap
  1. Anxiously leaving my apartment at 5:25 to meet my ride out in the parking lot instead of waiting for his text.
  2. Stumbling to get to the late packet pick-up tent. It was SO DARK!
  3. Missing the long line of port-a-potties through the marathoners because it was SO DARK.
  4. Rubbing my arms like crazy to keep them semi-warm while waiting for the start.
  5. Talking to the girl who would become my Hare.
  6. Pushing myself to catch-up with the guy wearing the 2011 Ragnar shirt, just so I could ask if he was running Ragnar next weekend. He was not.
  7. Being mesmerized by the splendor of the course - the mountains, Lake Mead, the colorful runners dotting the course ahead of me.

  8. Mountains Lake Mead Really Big Free Half Marathon

  9. Encouragingly swearing to myself. Not at myself. Apparently I have quite the potty mouth while running.
  10. Convincing myself that I didn't need to walk after running 10 miles. Only a 5k left to go!
  11. Fighting back the tears after achieving an incredible 9 min PR.
BONUS: Coming home from a walk to McDonald's to find that Sallie had gotten into, and EATEN ALL of, my race day gummy bears. Now, I need to buy some more for Ragnar this weekend.
    What are some of your amazing memories from the not-so-distant past?

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    The Really, Big, Free Half Marathon Recap

    Yesterday, I got to be a part of history. The first ever FREE marathon (and half) was held just outside of Las Vegas at Lake Mead, and I got to be a part of it.

    I registered for this race back in early July as soon as I'd heard about it. A free race? Sign. Me. Up. Even without running for most of July and August, my anticipation of this race grew and my excitement level escalated as the date approached.

    Overall, I was not disappointed! This was a great race experience. I went in totally not expecting anything; I just wanted to, you know, enjoy the course. It was my first race with mountains as my backdrop, and I was mostly excited to simply take in the scenery and bask in the gloriousness of the mountains and Lake Mead.

    I ended up pushing myself beyond what I thought was possible. I only walked very briefly through the first two water stops and to snap a few pictures, but ran up and down all the hills of the remainder of the course, and ended up scoring an 9 minute PR.

    Around 5:30 Saturday morning, I climbed into the car of one of my soon-to-be-Ragnar-teammates. It was dark and chilly out. I think we were both still a little sleepy because there wasn't a lot of conversation on the way out to the race. Mostly directions, making sure we were going to the right place. We arrived shortly after 6 a.m.

    We stumbled to the late packet pick-up tent, wishing we'd thought to bring headlamps or flashlights with us. It. Was. Dark. There were already a ton of people lined up, which we thought was weird since there were about 45 minutes or so until race start. Turns out those were just the marathoners off to a bit of a late start. Apparently it was darker at 6a.m. the marathon original start time than the race directors had anticipated.

    After getting our bibs and commemorative tees, we headed back to the car to stay warm until closer to the start time. Little did we know that our start would also be delayed due to parking issues and pissed of park rangers. After shivering in the cool, mountain air I think it was around 55F for a good 30-45 minutes in shorts and a tshirt, I was ready to run.

    Boulder Beach Really Big Free Half Marathon

    Sort of.

    My legs felt super heavy starting out. It probably wasn't until after the first mile or so that they felt loosened up and good to go. I wore my camelback for this race, so I didn't really need to stop at the water stops. I did for the first one as they called out, "Gatorade." I don't normally drink it, but I thought it would help supplement my water.

    I was wrong.

    It turned my stomach slightly, and I could feel some uncomfortable knots forming. I didn't worry too much - figuring I could easily run through it.

    I was right.

    Thankfully the discomfort didn't last long. Still, I decided to walk through the 2nd water stop, too. It was the last time I took a walk break the entire race!

    Unless you count the four times I stopped to snap a picture.

    Lake Mead Really Big Free Half Marathon

    It was a very challenging, hilly course. Much hillier than I'd expected. Let me just say that the unnoticeable declines in the beginning this was a straight out-and-back course totally kicked my butt at the end.

    I'd kind of been pacing a group of three runners - 2 girls and a guy. By pacing, I mean they'd be a little ahead of me, and then I'd be a little ahead of them, and back and forth. Probably around mile 3, I was running next to one of the girls and asked her if she knew their pace. She didn't really know, but we ran and chatted together for a couple minutes. It was her first marathon, and the other two were there to encourage her through it.

    About the time we caught up with her friends, we also approached a nasty hill. I was able to maintain my pace up the hill, but she slowed to walk it.

    The hill between miles 5 & 6 was really killer. I was pretty surprised I made it without stopping to walk. At the turn around point, I got a little cocky. I've totally got this! I'm more than halfway finished. Easy-peasy.

    And then I saw the sign for mile 7, and I realized that I still had 6. more. miles. to go. Yeah, math is not my forte. I knew I needed to watch my pace in order to be able to finish strong. Halfway was not near the end. :)

    Not long after this realization, that small group of three caught up to me. The girl I'd chatted with said, "You're making this look easy." That made me feel good until she picked up the pace and left me in the dust. And thus began our game of the tortoise and the hare. :-) I kept my eye on her for the next few miles - not really thinking I'd ever catch her again, but smiling every time I gained some ground.

    The next killer hill was probably around mile 8. This one was a lot tougher. I was getting tired, but I was determined to not stop. Around this time, I ate a few gummy bears to get a little extra fuel and energy to help me through the rest of the race.

    mountains Really Big Free Half Marathon

    As I approached mile 10, I thought, "Only a 5K left. I can totally start increasing my pace at mile 10." And then I got to that coveted mile 10 marker, and all I wanted to do was walk. It took everything I had to convince myself that I didn't really want to walk.
    C'mon, Clarinda! You've ran 10 miles already. There is no way you're walking now. Power through. You can do it!
    And I did.

    But I didn't increase my pace. No, I decided to wait to do that until mile 11.

    And pretty much the same thing happened again. I just wanted. to. walk. This time, I not only forced myself to keep going, I forced to myself to pick up the pace a little. I knew I still had 2 more miles to go, so I didn't want to increase too much but definitely wanted a little more speed.

    Before I knew it, there was that marker for mile 12. It seemed I'd just passed mile 11's sign. Even better was that the hare was walking just ahead of me. I'd nearly caught her at the previous two water stops, but just as I'd approach the stop to run through it, she'd start running again.

    Just after mile 12, I asked a runner if he knew what his time was so far. He said he'd been in the first wave, and the time so far was 2:04. This pretty much confirmed to me that this would, indeed, be a PR for me. I'd started in wave 4 or 5, and my previous PR was 2:20:40. There was no way it would take me more than 15 minutes to run this last mile.

    Lake Mead Really Big Free Half Marathon

    Shortly after that, I picked up the pace a little more and actually caught up with the hare. She was walking again, but started to run with me when I caught up with her. We ran together for a bit until her husband met her on the course to run with her to the finish. I really wanted to pick up the pace for this last mile, but there was a sneak hill I certainly didn't remember this decline at the beginning standing in my way. Despite the hill, I gained some distance on her.

    It was tough, but I did it! I was so relieved to get to the top and see the decline leading to the finish line. I really picked up my pace at this point. A little too prematurely. Running downhill so fast was really hard on my knees, but I was determined to run through it.

    I slowed slightly but kept going. As I got closer, I was able to just push the pain out of my mind and really pick up the pace. I gave it my all. I was so close to finishing. All I wanted to do was finish strong! I was focused on ME. I didn't really even notice that she'd caught up to me again. She was definitely faster on the downhills than I was.

    She ended up beating me by two seconds.
    Yes, I know a true tortoise and hare story would have me beating her...

    Really Big Free Half Marathon

    Crossing this finish line was probably one of the most emotional finishes for me. I had to keep walking. My legs weren't ready to stop yet. All I felt like doing was crying. If I'd stopped walking, or if my husband or a friend had been waiting for me at the finish line, I know I would have lost it. Those tears would have flown freely. As that was not the case, I wanted to keep them in check, which I did.

    I ate a banana and tried to find my ride. I knew he'd have finished much earlier, so I walked around a bit trying to find him. Eventually I sent him a text to see where he was, and went to a clear area to stretch a bit. He found me a few minutes later.

    We walked a bit, grabbed a couple bottles of water, and headed home. We were both much chattier on the way back.

    Like I mentioned earlier, it was a wonderful race experience. Despite the late start and all the difficulties the race directors went through in order to have a free race, this race turned out to be very well organized and well supported. I chose to run through the water stops, but there were plenty of them for the runners who needed them. I think they were every 1.25 miles. There were also plenty of port-a-potties, which, again, thankfully I didn't have to use. Post-race there were only bananas and oranges to eat and bottled water, but I'm not complaining. I can't usually eat a lot right after a race anyway, and besides, it was a free race.

    Definitely a great start to my weekend. My left knee was throbbing most of Saturday afternoon and a bit today, too. I was sore and tight, but the 30 min ice cold water bath I took as soon as I got home helped a lot.

    My husband and I took a short walk in the afternoon to help loosen up my legs. After an afternoon nap, we started a Resident Evil marathon.

    All-in-all one great weekend!

    Now, I just have to sit back and relax for 4-6 weeks until I get my real reward for running this race - my refund. Well, it won't totally be rest with Ragnar in just 4 days. :-)

    The next Really, Big, Free Half Marathon is in the middle of May in Carlsbad, CA. Who wants to join me?