July Runfession…My first! A Running Update

I originally started this blog to document my running adventures. However, due to Life, this blog has evolved and now includes poetry sometimes about running, more often about my non-running life. This mirrors changes in my own life. While running was so central to who I was for so many years, now that’s shifted and other activities are center stage. But I want to bring running back into limelight hence this new feature called “Runfessions”!

I found out about Runfessions through two running blogs that I follow, Confessions of a Mother Runner and Meditations in Motion. They link up with Marcia’s Healthy Slice (the originator of the Runfession), so that’s what I’m doing too! I’ve always enjoyed reading about other runners and reading about what other runners are thinking and writing about – especially if they are women, mothers, and/or people of color. When I first started running, it was rare to find articles written for or by women, POC, mothers and now there is a lot more!

So here goes…my first Runfession Session!

Forgive me Saucony, for I have sinned….

I Runfess…. that I haven’t been running as much this summer and have missed several group runs. The reasons aren’t that important (basically, kids not being in school) but I haven’t been making it a priority. But that is about to change!

I Runfess….I signed up for two more races! The Hershey Half Marathon in October and the Hot Chocolate 15K in April 2020. Time to get going on my training plan!

I Runfess….I don’t have a training plan! I’m relying on my BRF, Michele, to keep me on target. She’s been doing great with her training. I’m pretty sure she’s going to beat her PR at Hershey this year.

Is that enough? My running sole (see what I did there?) is feeling lighter already!!

©️ iido 2019

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Radiance Running – A Haiku and Race Review of the Niagara Falls International Half Marathon

Grey clouds have no chance

When radiance runs with heart

Summer sun follows

On Sunday, June 2, 2019, I ran the 8th Annual Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon and 5K. I signed up because a good friend of mine, Danielle had signed up for it and I wanted to run an “international race”. Niagara Falls is a few hours drive from my in-laws’ house so we were able to see them on the way to and from the race – bonus!!

Read my pre-race ramblings here!

If you’ve never visited Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, then you are truly missing out on an awesome sight. The majesty and power of water as it rushes over the rocks is truly humbling. You can hear its roar and see its misty beauty from the walkway next to it or a boat ride (for an up close and personal view) or even overhead on zip lines.

The morning of the race was cold and grey. The forecast said rain later in the day but obviously the weather did not get that memo. It started to rain as I waited for Danielle to pick me up at my hotel and the rain would continue on and off during the race.

As if the rain wasn’t enough of an ominous start to the race, Danielle arrived frazzled – she had left her running belt at home and her lucky sunglasses had broken that morning. She also just had a baby a year ago so her First Big Race after the baby. But, Danielle is one determined woman who doesn’t give up with or without her lucky sunglasses. She joked that as long as her pants didn’t fall down, she was going to run this race!

When we got to the race site, Danielle’s friends, Tiffany and Angie, were already there. This was Tiffany’s first half marathon. Angie was coming back from an injury as well. If there ever was a tougher group of mother runners, this was it! Check out the awesome shirts they had especially made for this race just to show how truly kicka$$ they are!

There was some music and a tent at the start of the race but not much else. There were a few moments of heavy rain that stopped just as were starting – the sun showed its face for a brief second before it became overcast again. Perfect running weather in my opinion!

One cool thing that Danielle reminded us when we were lining up was that when the announcer was saying that there were so many other countries represented at the race, that those “other countries” included us. We were Americans in Canada so that made us one of those “other countries” running the race. This is what it’s like running my first INTERNATIONAL race! Mind blown!

The course started out by Marineland, went out towards the Rainbow bridge then back on the same street, past the start area and then further down the other side of the falls along the Niagara river. This was a pretty flat course on streets right by the water. The course formed a “lopsided bow tie” shape. While the first loop was beautiful and had some people cheering, the second loop was almost devoid of spectators – not even the people who’s houses we passed, opened up the front door to cheer us on. Maybe it was the rain at the start of the race that kept the spectators away?

It didn’t keep Katherine Switzer away though! That woman is simply amazing and so full of energy and positivity!

The four of us started out together before Tiffany went ahead. This was her first half marathon and she totally ROCKED this race finishing about an hour before Danielle, Angie and I did. While this race wasn’t the my fastest, it was full of great moments like this one

and this one

and of course, this one!

At the end of the race we were treated to cold towels, which was perfect for cooling off from that final sprint. There wasn’t much in terms of post race festivities. Maybe it was because of the rain and/or because we were towards the back of the pack? There were still a lot of ladies left so this was somewhat disappointing (don’t they know the back is where the cool kids are??).

Still, I couldn’t have asked for a better first race of the year! Thank you, Danielle for telling me about this race and training with me. Thank you Danielle, Angie and Tiffany for some wonderful memories!

©️ iido 2019

Before – A Poem for Paulette

Before you crossed the finish line

Before you said, “I’ll sprint the last few yards”

Before you couldn’t believe there was only a 5 K left to go

Before you passed the halfway point and were surprised you made it that far

Before you changed your strategy, doing intervals so you can finish strong

Before you ran 4 miles, your longest race distance since you had just raced 5ks

Before you toed the line at 8 AM in the pouring rain

Before you signed up for your first ever half marathon

You were already a winner

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #190 – Before and written for a lovely young woman I met at the Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon.

Paulette was walking the course during a stretch when my friend, Danelle and I, were also walking. We struck up a conversation. I don’t remember what we said but when Danielle and I started running again (since we were doing intervals) Paulette joined us. She said she liked our energy and felt she would be able to finish if she continued doing intervals with us.

This was around mile 4, after the 5K racers had turned towards the finish line so we still had a significant amount of the race left to do. As we did our intervals, Paulette told us that this was her first half marathon, that she had only done fun 5Ks before. She was also running it alone since her friends had other things come up last minute. I was really impressed by her! This young woman had jumped feet first into an international half marathon – no 10K in between, minimal training beforehand and all on her own! What a strong and brave individual!

I could tell Paulette was also determined, bold and ambitious. She stayed with us despite dealing with cramping in her inner thigh area. She already had the mindset of a runner!

Towards the end of the race, her sister, brother-in-law and nephew came to cheer her on. Oh, the look of happiness on Paulette’s face! And the look of awe and happiness and pride on Paulette’s family’s faces! Her nephew even joined her running for a mile or so.

As we neared the finish line, Paulette kept on repeating that she couldn’t believe she had ran as far as she did. 13.1 miles (or 21.1 kilometers for the rest of the world) is no joke!! Going around the final bend, Paulette was hesitant to run to the finish line, but run she did, crossing the finish line looking powerful, happy and accomplished!

I am so honored to have run with Paulette on her first half marathon. This was a PR (personal record) for her. I look forward to hearing about her next race – because I know she will continue to run!

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My full review for the half marathon will be coming soon! Stay tuned!

©️ iido 2019

Niagara’s Gift – An Etheree

You opened the door to a darkened room

Only the colored waters tumbling,

Like my heart for your thoughtful gift,

Into the steamy cauldron

Of sacrifice, support

Commitment and strength

Only with you

Life’s barrels

Withstand

Falls

This etheree was inspired by Hélène’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt of a beautifully wrapped gift. Gifts can come in many types – some are concrete objects, others are experiences, while still others are words or emotions. Gifts are usually given for special occasions but the best ones, I think, are the ones given “just because”.

The other picture is the view from our hotel room this weekend – a gift from my loving, supportive hubby who also drove us all the way to Niagara Falls so I could run the the Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon. The race will start in just 7 hours but I am awake with nervous energy. I did not train very well for this race and I just got a new shoes two days ago (since my old pair were completely destroyed) so I am not setting the bar too high on my finish time.

I did get to meet the trailblazing Katherine Switzer who is as lovely and kind as she is inspirational! She is 72 and still so vibrant! She told me that her ancestors were Germans who settled in the Lancaster, PA area and became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Who knew?

I’m also starting the race with a group of wonderful women from Moms RUN this Town, not to mention the hundreds of other fabulous women who are running this race. So, I know that no matter my time tomorrow – I’m going to finish and feel accomplished!

But I also know I wouldn’t be here this weekend without the gift of my family supporting this crazy obsession of mine to run. So this race is for them…although I’m still keeping the medal all to myself.

©️ iido 2019

Why Run? – A Sonnet and Running Update

If ever there was a reason to run

Just pick one, or more, that gets you to start

Run from the weather – snow, rain or the sun

Run from the pain of a broken up heart

Take one step, then two, and three leads to four

Fast steps or slow steps, or even combine

Just moving forward can settle the score

The gift of running can lead you to shine

Not just with sweat but with thoughts that bring peace

The clarity comes with each passing mile

Arms pumping like flying that brings release

When you’re done hyperventilating – smile

Running from means you’re also running to

Does the Why matter? Just Run. Run for you.

This sonnet was my attempt to join in the fun with Björn at dVerse. I am a tad late with this entry and Mr Linky is closed but if you happen upon this post, and have some thoughts, I would love the feedback! I always feel like my sonnets are too “campy, nursery rhyme-ish”. Maybe it’s the meter or the rhyme, but I feel like I can’t write a grown up sonnet. I bet Shakespeare never felt that way…

Usually sonnets are written about love so this one is about something that I love – running. As with any love story, the longer the relationship, the more ebb and flow in feelings, but for the most part, running has remained a constant in my life where the highs outweigh the lows.

Today, February 1, 2019 starts the Taji100 challenge where I will attempt to run/walk/crawl 100 miles in 28 days. Doing that math, that means about 25 miles a week or about 3.6 miles a day. Being that today brought snow and icy conditions that prevented me from running (and alas, no treadmill at home), I am already behind. I have plans tomorrow to make up some miles though!

I think that is one of the greatest gifts of running – perseverance. Another mile, another two minutes, another 10 steps, run until the next light post. Little victories, little defeats, but in the end…that sense of accomplishment…smile….

The Hershey Half Marathon – A Haibun and Race Review

Race day was wear-pajamas-and-a-blanket-while-sipping-hot-cocoa-by-the-fire chilly. The first few miles felt like getting slapped by icy fingers. The middle miles were warmed by enthusiastic cheers and hills that heated legs. At the end of 13.1, the glow of accomplishment kept us warm while our friendship felt as heavy and solid as our medals.

Wind whispers “Give up”

The hill is steep, legs are tired

Friend shouts “Keep going”

The race begins! See how nice my hair looks…

A quick photo stop with my MRTT running buds, Heather and Michele.

At the end with my KitKat medal in front of Chocolate a World. Notice the hair – courtesy of wind and sweat!

The Hershey Half Marathon was held on a windy day in October this year. It was cold but warmed up a bit as the sun came up. I ran intervals with two wonderful women from my Moms Run this Town chapter, Michele and Heather. Our goal was 2:45 which we missed by 3 minutes. But that was ok. It was a PR for Michele and my best time coming back from health issues. Heather is a speedster but wanted to take it easy this race since she had other races coming up and didn’t get much running before this one.

This was one of those races where we all agreed it was about the journey and not the destination (time 😁). We were pretty consistent on the intervals – except for the part when, after cresting a very steep hill that had a DJ blasting “Cotton Eyed Joe” at the top, I decided to celebrate by breaking out my dance moves. That was a mistake although quite fun! I broke my stride, started to cramp in my calf and needed some extra walk breaks after that. Note to self – doing the “running man” does not count as a running interval!

Despite that running gaffe, the race itself was great! Michele and I had trained together for this one and we had all run it before so the hilly route was familiar. The wind was definitely a factor – I had to chase down my visor at one point after it blew away. They give out little Hershey chocolate bars in the last 2-3 miles of the race which is nice little treat. The one part of the course I don’t like is running through the empty parking lot as you head towards the stadium. The crowd support, especially around the Milton Hershey School, is excellent which is such a contrast to this desolate area that comes right at the end of race. Also disappointing this year was there was no cookie at the end!! Not that I needed a cookie but yes, I did need a cookie!!

I still don’t have any races scheduled for 2019…any suggestions, especially for races with great swag, are welcome! Lastly – a big shout out to MRTT and especially Heather and extra loud for Michele!! You ladies are in inspiration for my perspiration! ❤️

What I Can’t Live Without

Another fun challenge for the Go Dog Go Cafe Tuesday Writing Prompt: Write a poem about the one thing you can’t live without. Within it, try to state why. Their last challenge involved doing an acrostic poem about our greatest fears (here’s mine). I thought it would be fun to do an acrostic poem for this challenge as well.

******

Written down

Or spoken or

Running unabated in my head

Daring my pen to play or pause

Sharing connective catharsis

(I cannot live without WORDS!)

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Words have always been a big part of my life – even before running was, actually even before walking probably! I have always loved words – reading them, saying them, writing them, researching them, playing with them. Now that I have found a wonderful writing community in WordPress and IRL, I realize every day the importance of words in my life – for communicating and commiserating. I’ll even admit, that I would not love running as much if it wasn’t for the wonderful conversations I have had during my runs.

Our words shape our lives as much as our lives are shaped by our words (and sometimes the words of others). What words are you using today?

©️ iido 2018