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Chilly sunrise at Berlin Half Marathon

Chilly sunrise at Berlin Half Marathon

The Berlin, OH (USA) Run in Amish Country Half Marathon is it.  Don’t expect a PR here.  Do expect a challenging course (Endomondo had almost 1100 feet of ascent, my Garmin had over 900), great volunteers, polite Amish families at the end of their long lanes watching this brightly colored parade, a high quality finishers medal, and hot buttered noodles at the finish line.

Always the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend (end of November), you can also expect it to be cold.  It was 28° at the start, but you will warm up quickly with the first hill (short but steep) not a hundred feet from the start line.  That’s a clue. From there it was an easy mile of downhill.

The real hills start around mile 4…


That one wasn’t so bad….hope sprang eternal that maybe this wasn’t going to be as awful as I had feared. I did drive the course a week earlier. This is “home” and I know what Holmes County can be like. Note to self-hills seem much smaller when you are encased in a thousand pounds or so of metal with four nice, round tires to carry you along. This beauty was around mile 5…or 6…by this time I had pretty much lost track of everything except how incredibly tired I already was and my heart-which was trying to beat its way out of my chest…


Yeah…we are all walking.  It went on like that pretty much the first seven miles. Then a miracle happened.  It leveled out. For about three miles.  I could actually run, or what passed for running by that time. Mile 10 and the left turn that I knew meant we were heading for the barn, er, finish.  Remember that mile long coast at the beginning?  What the course giveth, the course taketh away. Mile 11 undulates slowly uphill.  Mile 12 I don’t want to talk about. Ever.

This is Bob who kept me company (and promised to get the squad if I had a heart attack) from mile 5 on

This is Bob who kept me company (and promised to get the squad if I had a heart attack) from mile 5 on

I do not know how anybody runs this entire course.


BerlinGoodiesRunners/survivors are rewarded with fruit, sandwiches, a block of locally made cheese, hot buttered noodles, and cookies. Add a warm place to enjoy them, and new friends made along the way.

The finisher medal is of first class quality and workmanship, made locally by Wendell August Forge.  In fact, almost everything in the swag bag was locally made. Truly a great event all around.

My sore quads and I are already looking forward to next year.

Well….fall/winter weather in NEOhio has arrived.  And it sucks.

A bone-chilling rain has been falling all morning, and radar indicates it will be falling most of the afternoon too.  We all know how I love to run in the rain.  Not.

Time to dust off ye trusty ole’ treadmill and get the three miles on the schedule for today done.

Schedule?  I’m bound and determined to do the Berlin (OH) Run in Amish Country Half Marathon this year.  I’ve bailed on it the last two years, last year because I was barely able to complete a flat 13.1, much less a hilly one.  And Holmes County is nothing if not hilly. Terri, probably against her better judgement, gave me a training schedule the week after Columbus.  I think my reasoning to her was something like, “I just ran a full-how hard could it be?”

I ran on my treadmill all last winter-at least until I got sick.  I don’t mind running on it. You already know that sentiment is going to jump up and bite me right on the ….

How could three short miles feel so bad? I realized about five minutes into the run, and use of the word run here is being gracious, that I had neglected to set up the floor fan I usually have blowing. The fan on my treadmill-in fact, probably every treadmill-is woefully inadequate.  And I thought I’d avoid being drenched after my run. But I wasn’t cold, that’s for sure.

It will get better.

Funny thing, I ran every workout for Columbus on schedule all summer and was not rained out one time.

Berlin is November 29th. I have a feeling before then our rain will turn fluffy.

Fluffy rain doesn’t get you wet. Just cold.

And that sucks.





Sunday, October 19th.  The Columbus Marathon.  I was going to do this thing. All twenty-six miles, three hundred eighty five yards of it.

I had stuck to Terri’s training schedule through twenty-two weeks. Through miserable hot and humid long runs when I swore my next step would find me face down in the gutter.  Through a face-plant two weeks before the race that left abrasions on both knees and some impressive bruises. Through, for good measure, a fall in the shower the day before I left for Columbus.

I tapered.  And I was cautiously optimistic.

I also studied the weather forecast for the big day like a schoolgirl cramming for finals. I absolutely hate running in the rain, and in Ohio in October we can get lots of rain-cold, miserable, bone-chilling rain. The one thing I feared that could trash 22 weeks of training.

Saturday morning dawned in the low 40’s with rain blowing sideways. Crap. Really crap. Dear God, please don’t let it be like this tomorrow morning.

It had been twenty-six years (is there a pattern here?) since I ran a marathon…and yes, it was Columbus.  I don’t even remember the expo in 1988, but I will say that in 2014 the expo was great!  Lots of goodies to buy, packet pick up (good thing Terri was there or I would have forgotten to get my race shirt), excitement everywhere-and the rain had stopped.

Sunday morning.  Or the middle of the night depending on how you feel about 4 AM.

Coffee.  More coffee.   Let’s take something with us to eat after we get parked, cause nothing is going to go down now.

Downtown Columbus was filling rapidly with nervous runners, friends and family, and volunteers. It was chilly-40°-but no rain thank you Jesus. The stars were clear and bright in the morning sky as the corrals began to fill.

Welcome speeches, singing the national anthem, fireworks and we are off.

It went well.  I had some good splits early on and by the half I was reasonably sure I would make my goal of breaking 6 hours if I didn’t fall completely apart.  It was close.  GI problems which had plagued every long run all summer made fueling impossible after mile 10, but I’m a tough old bird and I had absolutely no intention of quitting. Much walking ensued around 20 miles.

At Columbus the crowd support is unbelievable, lining the entire twenty-six miles. The volunteers at the water stops are enthusiastic, encouraging, and cheering even though they had been out there several hours by the time I was passing.  And did I mention the music? Everywhere and constant.

The weather was perfect.  Sunny, the temps eventually reached the 50’s.

Five hours and fifty minutes.

I did it.

I did it!

I did it!

Believe it or not, I have not died.  I’m not even ill.

Remember last year when I rambled on about doing a marathon “next year…maybe”?

Sometimes an idea just grabs you and won’t let go.

Shortly after my post in January I had what was supposed to be a routine dental procedure.  Yeah.  That’s what it said in the fine print.  What I got was a punctured sinus cavity that became a serious infection almost immediately.  Massive doses of antibiotics ensued.  I was unable to run for six weeks.

April first I tied on my running shoes and started over-at a walk.  And, in that strange way my mind has of determining the best way to get well is to have a good challenge, decided 2014 was the year of the marathon.  Talk about going from “Dead Stop” to “Full Speed Ahead”.

I had remained in occasional contact with TerriLee, who writes the blog “Run.Dog.Cat.Me.” on WP, and asked her if she knew anyone who could/would coach an older runner to completing a marathon.  She surprised me by immediately taking on the challenge herself (she is a certified coach).  It went up on the refrigerator, and I’ve stuck to it all summer.

Don’t you just love it when a great plan comes together?

On October 19th, in Columbus, Ohio, I will be in the starting corral at the Columbus Marathon.  I won’t be alone.  Last month Terri surprised me with the news she is coming to Columbus to meet me and run it with me!

*Today’s title is a quote from the 1983 made for TV movie “The Day After”.  Very good. Very scary. Probably a bit dated now, but still worth the watch.

Biding my time…

Once the treadmill was firmly ensconced in the basement I became a recluse.

Well, not exactly, but it sure is nice to be able to walk downstairs and run for an hour or so without worrying about the cold, the snow and ice, or whether I’ll lose a glove (or my phone) while I’m miles from home.

We’ve had alternating “so cold it freezes the hairs in your nose” and “what? snow AGAIN?!”  since the day the TM was delivered and,  since my street has apparently disappeared from the city snow plow drivers maps, getting out has been catch as catch can.  The joys of living on a hill.

I already had my Trek on an indoor trainer in the basement, so between the two I’ve usually worked out every day.

The only thing that’s not getting done is swimming.  I haven’t been in the pool for…well, a long time.  There’ll be work a’plenty there when I get back into full training mode.

Speaking of which, I’ve tentatively set my hopes on competing in the Senior Olympics Triathlon this year.  As it turns out, the state competition is being held in my fair city this June, and if it has warmed up and the snow has melted I’m thinking “Go for it!”

For now I’m building endurance and biding my time.

Right up front, let me say pork and sauerkraut is NOT a good pre-marathon supper.  Or even half-marathon.  

Yesterday the temps had been climbing all morning.  Mid 40’s by noon which is unheard of in NE Ohio in December.  The weatherman had already offered the opinion that this might be the last warmth we’d see for quite a while.  Just a little heads up.  They so hate to be the bearer of bad news ALL the time.

It was now or never.

Just in case you’ve missed it before now, I’ll confess that I’m nothing if not bullheaded.  I might not run an “official” half marathon, but by gosh I would run a half marathon.  This year.

The fact that I hadn’t run a step in two weeks wasn’t going to deter me, either.

Neither was the fact that during those two weeks I’d been on a non-stop eating binge.  Most of it decidedly not the healthy,”clean”, training table food I was used to.  Yeah, I had really fallen off the wagon.

I couldn’t have been more unprepared to run a half when I went out the door.

You know it wasn’t pretty.  The leg cramps started somewhere around six miles, with foot cramps shortly after that.  It was a battle royal between my mind and my body for the next seven miles.

Mind won.

Yes, I was doing the marathon shuffle the last couple miles.

Yes, I’ve got sore quads..and sore hammies…and pretty much sore anything else you can think of today.  I’m not quite backing down stairs, but I am lurching side to side hanging onto the handrail.

But, by gawd I did it.  It took three hours (3:03:18 on my Garmin).  That’s twenty minutes slower than either of the halves I ran last January when I thought I was going to be doing the Cleveland marathon.  I’m sure the cramps had a lot to do with it.  At least that’s where I’m hanging my hat for now.

The treadmill is to be delivered tomorrow, just in time for four days of single-digit temps, snow, ice, and wind.

I’m thinking full marathon in 2014.



DSC00544This is this morning’s snow….not feelin’ the half marathon!

Although we are supposed to get warmer temps by the first of next week, so it looks like the “solo” half is going to be a go!


I’m either tapering for the half marathon on this coming Saturday or I’ve quit running altogether.

Not a clue which, tho’.

I did manage to get in a twelve miler before our weather went to … well, wherever decent weather goes when crappy weather moves in.  As NEOhio weather is wont to do, we dropped from the 60’s to the 30’s in the span of 24 hours…then it got nasty.  Some kind of freak hurricane roared through taking the top out of a neighbor’s tree and leaving all of us downstream  from him electrically without power.  I was just getting used to being Amish when I heard the unmistakable sound of a line truck coming up the street.  After 14 hours of quiet non-electric living, power was restored and everything was humming along again.

Then it got cold.  These last couple mornings have seen a low of 17°F with the wind anywhere from 5 to 15 miles per hour.  Wind chills are in the single digits.  We have a forecast for 3 to 5 inches of snow tomorrow night.

So who knows WHAT it is going to be on Saturday.

I’m gonna play it by ear.  I’m paying late registration no matter what, so why register early now?

If the weather is good…no rain, snow, ice, hail, freezing cold temps, or blizzards…I’ll go down and do the race.  If it’s crappy, but improves during the day, I’ll run a 13.1 from home.  Up side of this plan is no exorbitant entry fee to pay so I can take myself out to dinner to celebrate.  And have my OWN medal made.  Maybe one with a couple baubles on it…lol. 

The new treadmill is to be delivered the next Friday- December 6th.  Take THAT weatherman!

(I’ve never seen this before (video of the half marathon course) but I thought it was really cool!  And since it was “home”, I felt like I already knew the whole thing…   http://runinamishcountry.com/race-map.html)

PS:  Well, even as I hit “Publish” a winter storm warning for our area came over the wire service (hahahaha to those who remember what “the wire service” was)  Here we go….

You know how hard it is to carry an armload of ping pong balls?

Yeah.  When one gets away it’s wall to wall bouncing balls.

Between our weather going haywire-70 degrees and sunshine one day, 35 degrees with blowing rain the next, rinse and repeat-it’s been hard for this fair weather runner to get her long runs in.  I’m still planning/hoping/dreaming? to run the Berlin Amish Country Half Marathon on November 30th.  This is a race I backed out of last fall. “Too early” issues (as in I had only been running six months at that time)…too cold issues…issues issues.  I’m hoping for improvement on all fronts this year.

My long run is out to 11 miles, but that was two weeks ago.

Right before the excrement really hit the air empowerment device.  (PC version)

The White Knight-Ex #1-woke up two weeks ago blind in one eye.  Another example of the unending garden of delights awaiting us when we reach our senior years.  Besides scaring the bejesus out of him, he decided he didn’t want to drive with the Blakester in the vehicle, so GrammaDog had to resume after school babysitting duties.  Until further notice, or at least until the blindness has resolved itself.  (No, it was not a stroke.)  I love my grandson, don’t take me wrong,  but when you remove half the hours of daylight from your schedule, it really messes with the ole’ training.  I have trouble enough staying on my feet in full sunshine.  Forget running in the dark.  Between ugly weather, fall yard cleanup,  sorting through all the health insurance solicitations (and about a thousand games of Spider Solitaire out of frustration and confusion), and babysitting the last couple weeks have been a constant search for training time.

I’m hoping to make at least one 12 mile run in the next couple days.  That, along with some quality short stuff, will  have to suffice training-wise.  I don’t know whether to pray for good or bad weather on November 30th (wry grin).  I’m not going to register until close enough to have a feel for what it is going to be like race day, because last year it was in the 20’s with blowing snow.  My achy-braky arthritic joints will definitely go on strike if I ask them to run 13.1 miles through that.

Speaking of being a fair weather runner, I’m thinking about buying a treadmill.   Any thoughts?

Fallen leaves are ping pong ball bouncing all over my driveway even as we speak.  I’m usually blowing leaves mixed with snow off the drive in the fall, sometimes in the blowing snow.  I think I’ll go see how easy it is when they aren’t frozen down to the pavement.

It always bothers me when people congratulate me on a finish.

Inevitably I feel like a pretender to the throne.  Who me?  Awesome?  An inspiration? Or, as my nephew says, a “stud-ette”…lol.

One of the blogs I read daily is VeganG’s “This Running Life”.  Yesterday’s compilation included this article from Running-Advice.com,   http://running-advice.com/blog/?p=8802.  Directed at marathon runners, the advice is relevant to anyone who trains and strives to do their best whether it be running a marathon or finishing a triathlon.

The last couple paragraphs are particularly relevant for anyone who tends, like me, to undervalue their training and racing:

“But the main thing here is that however you get yourself to the finish line, it’s always a big deal and should be celebrated. Sometimes training won’t be pretty. You’ll crush your foot under a freezer door or get pneumonia and be out for weeks. You may have to do what I call the “Hail Mary” and just go for it. Does it matter that your training wasn’t perfect? No. What matters is that you made it somehow. You probably endured a lot of pain along the way. You probably wanted to quit. You probably wondered if you should have ever tried to do this crazy thing. But you did it. And for that I’m proud.

So maybe let’s just remove the template of training going perfectly and understand that life isn’t perfect. Life is what life allows itself to be. And from there we make do with what we’ve got.”

Actually, that’s pretty relevant about life in general I’d say.  When you’ve given it your all, worked hard and put everything you have on the line….yes, it IS awesome.

Bubbles and booyah

Where fashion, fitness and (vegetarian) food collide. And champagne, obvs.

Old triathletes never die, they just transition....


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