My Dad’s first 1/2 Marathon! {Frederick Half Recap 2015} #runbaltimore #runchat

This past Sunday, I had the honor and privilege to run my 4th Half Marathon with My Dad.  My Dad started running last year on Fathers Day when I asked him to run a 5K with me. We finished that 5k in a little under 40 minutes.  Now, my Dad is running sub 29 minute 5k’s like it’s his job.  🙂 You give this man a challenge, he stares it in the face and kicks it in the balls. He’s run countless 5ks, a 10 miler, but said he’d never run a half.  Until I mentioned the King Crab Challenge.  He seemed excited.  “I’m in”. Of course, I’m giddy like a freaking school girl!! My Dad’s going to run with me!!!! OMG!!!!  Training starts, he keeps me posted with texts and pictures, he ROCKS his 10 mile race, and send me a message about a 12 mile training run and he also BEASTS!!! Then, I get a message that breaks my heart.  My Dad hurt himself… “we’re going to have to run/walk the Frederick Half”.  Of course, I don’t care… all I want to do is be with my Dad, but I know he’s disappointed. I told him straight up. “This race isn’t about pace… it’s about you and me crossing the finish line, together.”  I drove up to Frederick from Baltimore and coincidently met my Dad at the Expo! He was coming in from another part of Maryland. (A good sign I think)  🙂 packetpick

We drove to his house in Hagerstown (40 minutes away – a lot cheaper than a hotel!) and settled in. Had some pre race grub at TGIFridays with my Mom, and went to bed pretty early.  I of course laid out Flat Stacey before bed… I knew we’d have an EARLY morning and I didn’t want to forget anything…

flatstacey

We got up a little after 4am, left a bit before 5 and got to the Frederick Fair Grounds.  Because of out early departure, we got ROCK STAR parking!! (so glad we left early!!!) We were ON the grounds instead of last year when it felt like I had to walk half a mile just to find the car post race!! WINNING!!

parking

Also an early riser, Marsden (@RunningLonely on Twitter) was also there!! Finally got to meet him in person (and the infamous pig!) w00t!! My Dad was more than willing to take the “pictures or it never happened” shot for us. 🙂 He ended up kicking some serious tail on the course, setting a PR! WTG 🙂

runninglonely

It was a bit chilly, to be expected at 6 (something) in the morning, so my Dad and I jumped into the bag check area, where we could hide from the wind.  We stretched a bit, and chatted.  I think I was more nervous than he was at this point… I was nervous pacing, tried to play it off as being cold, not sure if that worked, but he’s my Dad, he didn’t prod. 😉  We took our obligatory pre race selfie and headed to the start line before the National Anthem.

preraceselfie

They chose a recording this year for the Anthem… maybe because of the mishap with the words last year?? Maybe not. Either way, it was beautiful.  Also, during the National Anthem, a BEAUTIFUL hot air balloon flew over us.  I definitely didn’t expect that! Everyone start looking up, so I (obviously) did also, and I’m glad I did! Check this beauty out…

hotairballoon

We noticed that we were next to two Army guys, full battle gear from head to toe.  Cover to boots… I was really impressed. More impressive, throughout the race, they were keeping a 12:30-13:00 pace.   My Dad and I passed them at one point, to which I yelled out “thank you for what you do, you guys are AWESOME!” and they waved at me. Pretty sure words weren’t happening for them.  So.Much.Sweat.  Seriously though, utmost respect.  To run a 1/2 marathon in little clothing is difficult… to do it in what THEY had on??  That’s BAD ASS!!

soldiers

Annnnnd off we went!! Slow and steady, as planned.  I looked at my Garmin and we were keeping a 12:30 pace, which was actually A LOT faster then I thought we would be able to do considering my Fathers injury.  We kept chugging. Talking to each other, making comments about how beautiful Frederick is.  We passed the School Board office. (My father is an administrator for the Washington County School district – so stuff like that is important, lol).  We passed landmarks I remembered from the race last year and I told my Dad how great he was doing.  We hit the 5K mark at under 36 minutes! (Injury or not, thats not too shabby!)  We passed the elementary school, and the beautiful dog park.  What stuck out for me this year that didn’t happen last year, we passed a church on our left, and the two Ministers were outside blessing the runners!!! It was so amazing! They were making the sign of the cross and telling us we were doing great!  Perfect for a Sunday morning!! I smiled at my Dad and told him to “Make sure Mom knows we were blessed today”, he chuckled. 🙂 Around mile 7, my Dad told me he felt a weird pain in his knee.  Not a new pain, but a pain that was new for today.  I immediately slowed down and ran in place as we tried to figure out what was going on.  His ITBS was acting out something fierce.  We thought we’d solved the first injury problem, only for another one to be thrown at us half way through a race!! OK… no problem, we’ve got this.  I talked to him, we made a plan.  “We’re going to finish.”  Speed didn’t matter, time, didn’t matter, we were going to finish, and we were going to cross the line together.  Around this point, I say this sign…

awesomesauce

…coincidence? I think not.  My dad? He is the definition of “Awesome sauce”.  🙂 We kept going, run/walk. (however, I was amped up and couldn’t walk, so I ran in place, or ran backwards constantly talking to my Dad keeping his spirits high), there was NO way I was going to let his first BIG race experience be a crappy one. NO WAY!  He told me to go on ahead of him, I looked him square in the eyes and said “nope. not the point today.  today is about us.” I saw a HUGE flag coming up. I remembered from last year that if was an older firetruck parked in someone’s driveway! I told my Dad and I don’t think he believed me… 😉

americanflag

I was right… 🙂  Nothing inspires you more than Old Glory (apparently!) So my Dad picked up the pace a little!! He got a good quarter of a mile in before the pain was just too much and we had to slow down again.  However, he was happy with the pace he kept for the 1/4 of a mile. Seeing him happy made me happy. 🙂  We kept running, talking, people watching, spending time together.  we paced a BUNCH of hilarious Runtelligence race signs, some of which were so funny I had to stop I was laughing so hard.  I snapped a picture of this one because my Father and I are both oenophiles. 🙂  He told me to go on ahead of him, I looked him square in the eyes and said “nope. not the point today.  today is about us.”

winestation

I could tell the pain was getting close to unbearable for my Dad so, I started to tell him how much we had LEFT to go instead of how far we’d gone.  We were really close actually, and I think it helped. He told me I could leave him again, yea… no. Not happening.  I made a comment; “the end is near!” which afterwards made the people around me laugh. He says “That could be taken the wrong way…” 😉 “THE FINISH LINE!!! Geeze, the finish line is near!!” Eh, comedy is always good right?? 🙂  Then I saw it… The hill at mile 12.5 that kicked my ass in 2014. I also saw a sign (like an ACTUAL paper sign) that said “Eat this hill for breakfast”  I told my Dad, “Dad, I’m taking this hill, I’ll wait for you at the top ok?”  He nodded and I took off.  I think I would have made my friends at NP Baltimore pretty proud… I ATE that hill for breakfast.  I turned around and my Dad was right there… I was trucking up that hill!!  Apparently, he also wanted hills for breakfast, 😉

hillsforbreakfast

We saw the race track… I told him, “Dad, this is it.  You get on this track and you’re done ok?? The finish line is ON THIS TRACK!!” He started to run again. I got pumped so I ran too.  We saw the finish line, I pointed… “Look Dad!! The finish line!! Look!!”  We heard the announcer say our names “Anastasia Miles, Stephen Miles… thats a whole lot of Miles!!”  Yea, I laughed.  And Bam!! Just like that, my Dad is a half marathoner!!  At that moment my heart swelled with pride!!  His smile when he got his medal was like a kid getting a toy on christmas morning!  He earned that thing!!!

   dadfinisher     mefinisher

meanddad

While looking through the race pictures, I cried… hard.  I had no idea ho much physical pain my Dad was in until I saw those picture.  For him to push through that, to finish and to be smiling as much as he was through the entire ordeal makes him that much more of a hero to me.  He inspires me to do great things.  I can’t wait for him to get well so we can run together again!! 🙂

Thank you Frederick RUnning Festival for putting on an AMAZING event, and for helping make my Dsd’s first half an unforgettable experience. 🙂

@RagnarRelay DC Recap 1 of 3!! #ragnarDC #peerpressured209 #trailrun #runchat

Well hello there!  As promised, here is the 1st of 3 Ragnar DC race recaps.  (Yea, I have THAT MUCH to write about.)   Let me start at the beginning of what was to become a very fun, very interesting, a bit painful, unforgettable experience.

12 friends, 200 miles, 33 hours 49 minutes (our actual completion time) and a LIFETIME of memories.  Trite, yea a little… but true.  It’s over a week after the race and I’m still flashing back to moments, waiting to have a bracelet slapped onto my wrist, waiting for someone to yell out “209!!!”, waiting to pass one of my teammates in the van so we can SCREAM encouragement out the drivers window for a brief second.

But wait… I’m ALREADY jumped ahead… This journey started at midnight (12:01am) on Friday September 12th, when my boyfriend and I sluggishly dragged out half asleep bodies and all of our gear to the car, to make the 90 minute drive to the rendezvous point to meet our team.  Our team captain made the decision to meet at a park and ride 15 minutes from the FINISH LINE, so we wouldn’t have to drive a long way after running for 33 hours. (Good call btw!)  So, we get to the park and ride, early… 🙂 We wait… and wait… and wait some more.  At about 10 of (1:50am) 2am was our meeting time… we texted the captain thinking Oh shit, is this the wrong place?! But all was well, people started showing up. 🙂 Some (most) of the runners we’re new faces to me. I’d only met person to person 4 people on my team (including the boyfriend), however though facebook and twitter, some of the faces looked familiar.  Everyone did brief introductions, and went to the vans.

our home for the next day and a half

Once we all packed into the vans, we headed to the START!! (another 2.5 hours away) The finish line was in DC, the start was in Cumberland, MD.  Luckily, I was able to get a bit of sleep during this trip… which was VERY beneficial, because I was RUNNER 1.  Without the sleep, I, well… yea, it wouldn’t have been good.  However, before I dozed off, I took a quick shot of my “vanmates”

Definitely not paying attention, lol

And we were off.  I slept until we pulled into the site… waving lights would probably wake anyone up.  The starting point was VERY organized.  (as a stickler for organization, I was impressed!! – I’ll post later about how I packed, lol)  We went to team sign in (both captain and co captain), got our shirts (AWESOME), and then proceeded to the safety briefing.  Having sat through my fair share of safety briefings in the military, and having read through the Ragnar Bible like it was my JOB, I figured I already know everything this woman in BRIGHT orange was going to tell me.  Nope.  What she said made me laugh and made me cringe at the same time… “We encourage tattle tailing At Ragnar” – oh lord… you’re kidding me… Now, don’t get me wrong… if someone is being unsafe, yea, let someone know… but making a blanket statement telling EVERYONE that tattle tailing is ENCOURAGED?!  Not smart.  And, it bit my team in the ass later on.  Another team didn’t appreciate that we were driving on the side of the road OPPOSITE the runners, and away from the dust in order to NOT spit dust and rocks in the runners faces… this apparently (to them) looked like we wanted to pass them.  No… we wanted to be safe.  However when they stopped the van and put their flashers on, we proceeded to cautiously drive around them. So what happens?? Within 20 minutes, we get a text from Ragnar stating we have a strike (3 strikes you’re out) because we’re driving recklessly.  /facepalm Ok!!  Sorry!!  I put no blame on Ragnar EXCEPT the blanket tattle tail statement.  The other team just wanted to whine.  *hops off soap box*  Austin (the BF) and I took our mandatory pre-race “runfie” and then parted ways.

before

As I walked to the start line (like I mentioned, I was the first runner) I get this overwhelming sense of fear, excitement, and ohmygod, its fucking dark!!! I had my head light, my ass light (yea, its funnier that way), and my reflective gear, however, it was VERY VERY dark.  So dark, I couldn’t see my shoes unless I pushed my lamp DOWN on them.  Yep, I’m gonna bust my ass on this trail… That’s a GREAT thought to have before I even start running right??  Well, I wasn’t wrong.

Start - Ragnar DC

There was a countdown, ya know building suspense (like I needed to hear my heartbeat any louder in my head!!!) and we were off!! I could hear my team cheering for me and i had a HUGE smile on my face.  (After reading a few other recaps, it looks like Van 2 from other teams just kind of left their first Van and went to exchange 6… My team watched me take off.  It was inspiring, and made me love them just a bit more. <3) I ran, and ran, BAM!!! Got my first kill. (In Ragnar, when you pass someone, it’s considered a kill – don’t ask me why because I can’t answer you.)  Felt pretty damn good about myself!!  And then I took my first turn… Oh shit… WHAT AM I RUNNING ON RIGHT NOW?!!!! NO SERIOUSLY WHERE DID THE GROUND GO!!!  All of my confidence went the way of the dodo, and I went right back to fear.  The terrain was treacherous.  I’ve run on trails before, and I’ve almost fallen, MANY times.  However, I’ve NEVER done a trail run, on a bitch of a trail, IN THE MOTHER F’IN BITCH DARK!!!  Oh my goodness…  I could hear footsteps behind me, but they weren’t getting closer, Ok, no worries, they’re going slower too… and then I hear a thud… Oh good lord, what the hell?! I turned around only to be face-to face with another head lamp.  Not afraid to admit, I almost crapped my pants.  Both of us screamed (which was hilarious, because HE was a large man), laughed, and kept moving… still don’t know what the thud was.  Kept running for (what my nike tracker said was a mile) and BAM, fall #1.  well shit… that hurt!   Checked for blood, nope, good… kept going.  Made it another .36 miles… BAM fall #2 Jesus mother of … ok, now I’m bleeding… OK, time to slow the pace a bit.  By this point, I’d lost sight of “screamer man” anyway, so it was me, the dark, and the trail… grrrrrrrreat.  Of course, my mind goes to THE WORST PLACE POSSIBLE I’m all alone out here, bleeding from both knees… I’m going to get eaten by a bear. I’m laughing at myself typing this… Really Stace?? A Bear?? But in retrospect, I was petrified.  I was indeed alone, and it was DARK!!! The adrenaline started to kick in and the pain started to ease up in the knees, so I picked up the pace a bit again… Ok, awesome!! Did Nike just say 3?? HELL YEA!!! BAM fall #3… FUCK!!!! This fall was hard… I fell and slid… hands got messed up, knees torn more… just… Ouch. I stood up slowly and started to cry… very softly, at the same time muttering ever terrible word I could think of.  I texted my boyfriend something about how awful the terrain was, so he wasn’t surprised when I came out of the shoot bleeding.  He texts me back “You’ve got this, keep going babe!”  But do I?? Do I have this?! The Leg map said 4.88 miles…  At this point I was at 4.2 and I didn’t see ANY sign of the finish.  I was starting think I’d gotten lost somewhere… and then I saw this beaut…

ragnarsign

THANK YOU LORD!!!  I’m not lost!! And then, wait… could it be?!!  It’s another runner!!  HA!!! Ok, I’m good, I can do this!! PIcked up the pace (you’re seeing a pattern here right?? Well you should be because…) BAM!! Fall #4 you have GOT to be kidding me. This is just ridiculous.  Fuck it, I’m walking the rest.  I walked for a good 10 minutes.  almost falling 6-7 more time over random vines and roots, a stump here and there.  They best part, however, I was maintaining the same speed as the runner ahead of me.  Apparently she was JUST as apprehensive about the terrain as I was!!  Maybe she’d gone ass over tea kettle a few times??? I dunno, but at least I wasn’t alone out there anymore.  Nike tracker said 5 miles.  Ummm… Ok? Since I Was walking I decided to take a picture of the lake that my “leg” was around.  Even in the darkness (the sun was just atarting to peak its little head up), the lake was beautiful.

Lake Habeeb - Leg 1, Ragnar DC

Kept on trucking it… I figured, I’ve gone 5 miles already, it can’t be much further, the map said 4.88! Yea well, I was trucking for a bit.  I came to a clearing and the sun had come up.  I was able to run again (b/c the terrain was better, not because my knees were better)

almostdone

I’M ALMOST DONE!!!

And then I heard it… the music… THE EXCHANGE IS COMING!!!! I was so excited I almost forgot to have the slap bracelet ready to give to runner two (Kristen) who was about to start her first leg.   I came running through the shoot, slapped Kristens wrist the bracelet and went (slowly) to my team.  I was immediately embrace with hugs and then “Oh my goodness!!!” (when they saw my knees) To which, I started to cry again.  They of course thought it was because I was in pain.  I quickly told them I was angry. I felt like I’d let everyone down.  The terrain was AWFUL and because of it my pace was abysmal.  Of course, because (I do’t know how I got this lucky) I was on a team with THE NICEST, more sincere people to have ever walked the planet.  They were rushing about trying to clean off my knees, getting me water (even after I told them I was fine), offering me food, telling me this was a relay, not a race, assuring me that all that mattered was that I was ok.

About half way through my leg I wanted to throw in the towel, just go home.  After the amazing camaraderie (which was epic considering some of us had JUST met that morning), and kindness shown by my teammates, I knew I was in this for the long haul… regardless of my silly knees.

Leg 1

That’s what I ran, however, the distance I covered, was 5.61 miles.  When they said “VERY RUGGED”… THEY AREN’T KIDDING!!! Here are my knees an hour after my leg was complete…

knee2 knee1

Over a week later, I’m still bruised, and the scabs from the scrapes are JUST falling off.  IMHO, leg one should be upgraded to HARD, not moderate… especially having run to other moderate legs.  That trail, no matter the time of day, is NOT moderate.  It’s quick difficult.  Having met up with another “Runner 1” in a medic tent latter on in the day, I found out that I was one of MANY that were injured on that first leg.  The girl I was speaking with was seated having her knees bandaged, looked right at me and says “Leg 1?!” I just nodded.  She informed me that another runner had injured themselves so badly, the required stitched on both hands, and both knees wrapped.  After my conversation with the other “Runner 1” I was thankful I came out with ONLY what I did!!

Hope you guys enjoyed part 1 of 3!!! MUCH MUCH MORE to come!!! 🙂

The depressed runner…

Many people don’t understand why I run.  Especially people close to me.  Which is weird… because they’re supposed to be the people that know me the best, right?  Regardless, last night I ran… I ran hard.  It was my first “real” time hitting the pavement since Ragnar this past weekend (don’t worry, I’ll recap the shit out of that Relay when I have time to upload all of my pictures).

I spent most of my day at the office yesterday on the verge of tears, angry, bitter, in the office bathroom silently crying to myself.  Easy to say it wasn’t a good day.  So, I figured, as I usually do after TERRIBLE days, “I’ll run this out”.  (Let me preface this by saying… I took a NASTY fall on the first leg of Ragnar… NASTY!! Swollen, bloody knees, excessive shin pain, ankle pain… Just incredibly yucky, however I’d be able to walk with minimal limping, so I thought I could handle a small run… BOY was I mistaken…)  So I laced up my shoes, put on my SUPER cute “SweatPink” tank, and headed out the door.  I have a pretty mean hill right outside of my development so the thought popped into my head… “BRF is 5 weeks out, and it’s hilly as all get out, lets do hills!!”  (bad idea Stace)  I start running… HARD.  I’m not fast, at all, I never claim to be.  On hills, I’m slower then a turtle in molasses.  However, I ran my first mile of hill intervals in 9:26.  (not too bad!)  Especially when my most recent mile PR is 9:08.  Throwing hills in there??? NOT TO FUCKING SHABBY!! Anyway… around mile 1.75, I noticed a sharp pain I didn’t like… at all.  I thought I was going down… I looked at my phone and realized I was close to a mile marker and pushed even hard (thank God I was going down hill…)  I finished that mile at 9:20.  9:23 average on hills for 2 miles… I’ll take it.  What I WONT take is the EXCRUCIATING pain that followed… I barely made it back to my apartment.  I get to the door, hands shaking, get the key in, drop everything, get to the freezer and grab two large ice packs.  I make it to the front of the living room and my legs buckle… I’m on my knees.  (remember that fall I mentioned previously?? YEA THAT WAS FUCKING FUN!! *tears*)  I pulled myself back up and fell onto the couch.  Ice packs on both legs, tears streaming down my face, grabbing the couch for dear life (like its going to somehow help me), clenching my teeth so I don’t scream out in agony.

The first things running through my head:

  1. Stress fracture?
  2. What if I can’t run anymore?
  3. My marathon is 5 weeks away?
  4. Oh shit, I’m going to throw up
  5. I might pass out….
  6. FUCK THIS HURTS!!!!
  7. I need water… and no one is here to help me
  8. I can’t stop crying long enough to pick up the phone….
  9. WHY DID I RUN TODAY
  10. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!!!

I’ve felt pain… I have a high pain tolerance.  This wasn’t pussy “oh, I have a boo-boo” pain.  I thought I broke something.  I was petrified.  Running is my therapy.  I was speaking to someone recently who asked me why I run so much… I responded as honestly as I could; “Running saved my life”.   When you suffer from depression, you need an out… a way to escape (even if briefly) from the hell that you experience everyday.  (If you don’t have depression, or don’t understand depression, don’t comment or judge… you.don’t.get.it.) Running is my out.  If I lose it, I don’t know where to go from there.

As I lay, helpless on the couch, with my fears flashing before my eyes… I cried harder.  Oh yea, the pain was cruel… almost punishing… but the fear that I wouldn’t be able to run again was worse.  “What do I do now?” “Where do I go from here?”  After an hour of ice and elevation, I was about to stand without my legs buckling under me.  I slowly walked to my room and CAREFULLY applied compression sleeves to both of my legs.  I prayed. (not something I do enough, I’ll admit)  This morning, I’m walking.  It hurts, but I’m walking.

I know this post is WAY less perky then most of my posts, but it’s honest.  And if you know anything about me, I’m honest… especially about myself and my running.  I wont say that I hope you enjoyed the post, but I hope you read it and understand a little more about me because of it.