Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Iron Horse Half Marathon 2013

Horses running to meet the runners. Beautiful! (Photo by Mike Zimmerman)
This past Sunday I ran the Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, KY. I have heard about this race for a few years now. At first, I was in the "I can't ever see myself running that far" camp. Then at the end of 2011, I decided that running the Iron Horse would be my goal for 2012. BUT...I found out I was pregnant the day after Christmas and that was out. YES, I know you can run while pregnant....YES, I know it's "POSSIBLE" to be half marathon ready 6 weeks post partum.....for some people....but not for me. I won't go into details of what happened when I tried to run when pregnant with Joseph....let's just move on.

Anyway, this year was the year. I registered the day registration opened. For 3 reasons:
1) Entry fees are the cheapest
2) The race ALWAYS sells out...usually 2 months before the race.
3) If I spend the money on something, I'm dang sure going to be ready.

I had wanted the Iron Horse to be my first half. However, my friend Katie talked me into running the Nashville Women's Half Marathon a couple of weeks earlier. Hopefully, I will recap that one soon. So this was my 2nd half. I was more scared because of running the other one, actually. I really fell apart at mile 11 in the last one. BUT, it was a good learning experience. This time I was better prepared.

Michael and I went to the UK vs Alabama football game the night before and didn't get home until after 11. Then I had to get everything ready for the next morning. After that, I had trouble going to sleep. Luckily, for the first time, James slept through the night. He ALWAYS wakes up a bunch the night before I have a long run or a race. I got up at 6, grabbed a banana and a zip fizz and was out the door.

I was worried about parking since Midway is a very small town and there would be 1500 runners coming. I got there really early though and had no trouble parking. Then it was just a bunch of waiting around.

The weather was cool and it was a beautiful day. I really couldn't have asked for better. I felt good. I took a GU about 20 minutes before the race and was ready to go. 

The course was hilly but beautiful. There were plenty of water/sports drink stations. My goal was to run the first 8 miles. The worst of the hills (in my opinion) were in the first half of the race. I felt good though and took another GU a little after mile 5. I passed by the 8 mile sign still feeling ok. So I continued on. However, the hill from mile 8 to almost 10 was relentless and I walked for the first time a little before mile 9. I accidentally paused my MapMyRun app somewhere between 10 and 11. Grr. So I just started checking my clock at each mile to see how I was doing. At mile 11, it was 10:20 so I was at 2:20 gun time. I wanted to beat my previous time of 2:57 so I knew I had 37 minutes to go 2.1 miles to tie it. I could do that walking....and I wasn't planning on doing much walking. I trudged on and enjoyed the nice downhill from mile 11 on. I honestly didn't feel terribly tired until about 12.5 miles. Then my hip started hurting. But the turn to the finish was in sight and that kept me going. Then I saw my boys close to the mile 13 marker. They all gave me high fives and I had the pep to run strong to the finish. The clock said 2:48ish, but my chip time was 2:46:34!!! That is about 11 minutes faster! I love a PR!

 I got my medal (love some bling) and grabbed some food.....I was starving! Joseph loved playing on the caboose that was downtown and James was scoping out people who had ice cream.

 I loved this race. It is very well run. The volunteers are amazing. The course is beautiful and there is plenty of after race snacks and drinks. I will definitely be doing this race again. Michael even said he might do it with me next year.

I LOVED this sign! (Photo by Ruby Cline-Eaton)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Farewell to Smokey

I've sat down numerous times to type this blog entry. I gave up each time when I couldn't seem to find the words. How do you say goodbye to a dog? A dog that was like a furry child to me. I still don't know, but I'm going to try.

We adopted Smokey 2 years ago. He was 7 months old and every bit a puppy. He was not always a good dog. We went through the normal puppy things like chewing, accidents, etc. There were many times I just wanted to take him back to the Kentucky Humane Society, but I made the commitment to Smokey and I do not take that lightly. Like I said, my dogs are like children to me...and you can't just "give them back."

In the past few months, Smokey had gotten so much better. He was good about telling you when he wanted to go outside, reminding you that it was time to eat, and he didn't stray too far from us....unless he was after a squirrel....or a cat....or basically any small creature. He was a tremendous running buddy. I never felt unsafe when I was running with my Smoke Dog. He would take down other dogs and I'm sure he would go after shady people too, but I haven't had any problems. In fact, Smokey could care less about other people....and generally didn't care if people were walking in front of our house...but there were times he would go ballistic about people around our house. And I would get kind of a weird feeling about them too. I think Smokey was a good judge of character. I don't think dogs "profile."

He really was a good dog.

That all ended this past weekend while we were in Tennessee for a visit. I had gone in the house to give James a bath and put him to bed. I let Smokey and Shelby out to do their business. It was dark and Michael was working on the horse trailer at my parents' house across the road. So, naturally, the dogs went over there. I was going to let them back in once I got James out of the bath, but before I got done with him, I heard very loud, very hectic barking...not Smokey's normal bark. I went to go let them in and saw Michael laying Smokey down on the carport. He said he had been hit by a truck. I got a phone and started calling our vet's emergency number, but Smokey was gone before I could get a hold of the on call vet. The truck was probably going 60 mph in front of the house...way too fast. And they didn't even stop. I think it's common courtesy to stop. You don't hit a 35 lb dog and not know something happened. But that's neither here nor there. 
We buried Smokey out back next to Chloe. I still can't believe he's gone.

He was very close with Joseph and it was very hard to explain it to him. I have always been very straight forward when it comes to death. He cried a bit. I don't know that he fully gets that Smokey isn't coming back. He has spent this week in Tennessee so I don't know where he is on the situation. I wasn't much older than him when our family dog, Belle, had to be put down. I remember it being hard, but I handled it ok. I sometimes think we don't give kids enough credit.

Shelby seems to be doing fine with it. We are having trouble getting him to eat just like we did before we got Smokey. He doesn't do as well running either without Smokey to pull him along.

I will miss Smokey. I have cried over him even when I thought I was done crying. I cried when I put up his crate and vacuumed all his hair up. I cried when I washed his bed. I cried when I read an article about a dog running a half marathon by himself. I cried when I took Shelby for a walk and realized it was the first time in 2 years that I have only walked one dog. I cried when someone emailed me a listing for a dog that needed to be adopted (WHO DOES THAT?! I'm in mourning...I don't want another dog just yet....I'll get one later, but I need some time). And I am crying now as I write this.

I'm going to leave this with some pictures of Smokey....I don't have many....he was very camera shy.