Skyline Dreams

On May 3rd, I’ll be participating in the Skyline Half Marathon. It gets better: the race is in Dallas, and I’ll be running it with my best friend!

skyline

I’m just pleased as punch to get to do it with Mary Beth. It’s been two years (!!) since we ran a race together (Big D!), and it was so much fun. Although this race will most surely be hotter (boo!), I’m hoping for a repeat of the good times. I mean, what better activity to share with a BFF than 13.1 uninterrupted miles of running along the Trinity Skyline Trail? Okay, so maybe mani/pedis, chips and salsa, reality tv-watching, or just generally hanging out together would all be just as (if not more) fun, but we’ve already registered.

I’m heading into this race with no goals, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be training. I’ve got a plan and everything.

skyline plan

Yes, I feel very fancy with my black pen and 4 pack of highlighters. I’ve spent a solid year running by feel with few plans and even less pressure. It has been 100% what I needed. Now, though, I’m ready. I’m ready for structure, I’m ready for plans. Bring on the goals and expectations and gold stars. And hopefully the PRs that will eventually come with.

For now, I’m going to be working with Run Less, Run Faster (again). My intention is to commit fully to the plan for the next month. {I haven’t been so good about the “commit fully” part of this plan in the past.} I’m not looking for any speed records at Skyline. Instead, I’m just using this as a test run to see if I can handle the requirements of training. Can I make time for 3 runs + 2 cross training sessions + work + everything else I want to do in a week or is too much? This is how I’m going to find out. My hope is that this will be a valuable fact-finding experience for when full marathon training starts in June. (My stomach dropped as I typed that last sentence. EEEEE! I have much to share on the marathon front, but that’s another story for another day.)

I feel nothing but happiness when I think about training and running in this race. I’m taking that as a good sign! Now if only I could order some nice, cool weather to go with my newfound running motivation.

Amy Reads: 2015 So Far

I’m waaaaaayyyyy behind on recapping my books this year, so let’s cut to the chase:

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1. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (Science Fiction) {192 Pages}

Short version: A writer describes his first person account of Martians effing everything up in England in the late 1898.

Long version: 4.5 out of 5 stars. I love H.G. Wells, and I’m convinced that he was later reborn as Ray Bradbury. Both were vastly talented writers who were way ahead of their time. It’s crazy to think that Wells conceived of an alien invasion, giant man-killing machines, and mass destruction before such things were movie clichés. (The machines and alien descriptions are especially impressive given that the book was written in 1898!) He even manages to make you feel attached to the characters with little character description. I feel like some of the story was lost on me given my lack of knowledge of England or life in 1898 in general. I was also annoyed that the protagonist didn’t seem more concerned about his wife, who he was separated from for something like a month during the chaos. Still, this classic is worth it. Wells is a master, and I’m already looking up other books by him to add to my list.

2. Here, Bullet by Brian Turner (Poetry) {80 Pages}

Short version: A collection of poems by a seven-year soldier who deployed twice.

Long version: 5 out of 5 stars. In my Good Reads review, I described the book as containing, “poems that are simultaneously beautiful and terrible.” I feel like that is still my takeaway. Turner has the eye of a photographer, zooming in on lovely scenes. The sweet smells and bright colors are juxtaposed with the screams and blood that come with war. I loved how he was able to turn a Medevac call into a poem and describe sex like war. The book was only 80 pages, but I’ve been turning it over in my mind since I read it, still trying to completely wrap my head around it. I wrote a longer review on Military Spouse Book Review.

3. The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (Non-fiction) {181 Pages}

Short version: The how and why of the beginning of the universe and an explanation of some of science’s other great mysteries.

Long version: 3.5 out of 5 stars. I picked up this book hoping it would feed my hunger for science while not being way over my head. It mostly fit the bill. (Let’s be honest, quantum physics will always be way over my head!) The book was written with a surprising sense of humor, and I loved landing on some of the zingers. Most of the science was broken down and the pictures were greatly appreciated by this visual learner. As expected, it was a tad dry, which I didn’t love. Also, the authors were pretty intent on pointing out how the science of everything disproved the influence of a higher power. That’s not my takeaway from science at all, and I could have done without it.

4. Some Ether by Nick Flynn (Poetry) {104 Pages}

Short version: A collection of poems on a variety of topics.

Long version: 3 out of 5 stars. This book had the tough job of following Here, Bullet, which I loved so immensely. The poems were emotional and while a few were quiet beautiful, most didn’t grab me. Perhaps I couldn’t relate or I wasn’t clued in enough or I just loved Here, Bullet so much, but if this book had been any longer, I would have just skipped it all together.

5. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction) {416 Pages}

Short version: The story of the most famous race horse of all time.

Long version: 3.5 stars. I think Hillenbrand is a fantastic writer, and I love animals. Seems like Seabiscuit would be a perfect book, eh? Yet something was missing for me. I think an emotional connect that I felt in Unbroken was lost in Seabiscuit. Some of the race descriptions felt repetitive and tedious. I think the magic of watching a race was lost in the writing. Plus, the ending felt abrupt. I wonder if I hadn’t loved Unbroken so much if I might have liked this one more. Instead, I went in with

6. Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang (Memoir) {285 Pages}

Short version: A first-hand account of what it was like growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. I learned about the Cultural Revolution from a Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast. Even the 4-part show couldn’t prepare me for what I’d read in this book. The atrocities, both physical and emotional, that were forced upon the Chinese by their government are disgusting. Ji-li’s childhood was taken from her. She went from being concerned with making good grades to worrying about her family member’s survival. The emotional parts were almost more disturbing than the physical.

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7. I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai (Memoir) {240 Pages}

Short version: The true story of a Pakistani girl who spoke publicly for her right to education and was shot by the Taliban as a result.

Long version: 5 out of 5 stars! I found this book very moving and eye-opening. More and more I’m realizing that I don’t know enough about life in other countries, particularly the Middle East. Considering our country’s involvement over there, that’s something I’m looking to change. I’m amazed and inspired by Malala’s dedication and fearlessness. I also like that the ways she is normal were included in the book: fights with friends, favorite stuffed animals, annoying siblings.

8. Blue Stars by Emily Gray Tedrowe (Fiction) {352 Pages}

Short version: Two very different military families cross paths when their service members both end up wounded at war and recovering at the same hospital.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. It took me a while to really dig into this book, but about a third of the way in, I was hooked. The descriptions of military spouses and our world felt very real. I struggled the most reading the part about when the women were notified, and I definitely cried. One of the characters in the book had a long-term affair. That part frustrated me because it’s such a prevalent stereotype. I don’t think the author included it to be cliché but rather to show how complex marriage can be and how war complicates that. If you’re curious about military life from the family side of things, this is the most on-point book I’ve read on that front.

9. Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Young Adult Fiction) {369 Pages}

Short version: A recently graduated high school senior ditches her friend to spend a day with a stranger while on a European vacation.

Long version: 3.5 out of 5 stars. I liked the ending of the book and the transformation of the main character. I didn’t really like the first half of the book. Who goes off with a strange man in a foreign country?! Who lets their friend do that?! I really loved the portion of the book that took place in college and examined the way friendships change. I can relate. Most of the rest of the book, I couldn’t relate to and/or didn’t find realistic. I’d consider this a classic “beach read.” If only I had a beach to read it on!

10. Lock In by John Scalzi (Fiction) {337 Pages}

Short version: In the not-too-distance future, a flu-like disease has rendered some people immobile and frozen but fully conscious. Other people and robots serve as vessels for those who are locked in, which makes solving a murder mystery particularly tricky.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. I’ve wanted to read this book since I read the inside cover a few weeks ago. It’s like Law and Order in a very realistic future. I love how fully developed the future world is. An entire industry has been built around the thousands of people who contracted the disease. I can totally see it. I also thought the main characters (cops, some with the disease, some without) were very believable, interesting, and multidimensional. I hoped the ending would have more of a surprise or twist, but I kind of saw it coming. I’m already looking for other books by Scalzi at my library.

11. Saints by Gene Luen Yang (Graphic Novel) {170 Pages}

Short version: The Boxer Rebellion seen through the eyes of a young Chinese convert to Christianity and punctuated by her visions of Joan of Arc.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. I’m always looking for “my kind” of graphic novel and this one is so it. This is the best explanation of the Boxer Rebellion I’ve ever encountered and it seemed to fairly showcase each side. I liked the parallels to Joan of Arc. I even liked the ending, even though it was sad. This book is actually a sequel/companion to another graphic novel titled “Boxers, which I’m reading now.

12. Rootless by Chris Howard (Young Adult Fiction) {336 Pages}

Short version: In an apocalyptic future America with an evil corporation calling the shots, a young tree-builder searches for his father and finds adventure.

Long version: 3 out of 5 stars. Another book with a cool concept. It feels like Maze Runner + Hunger Games + Uglies. There’s a lot of action and really beautiful descriptions. On the other hand, sometimes the action was hard to follow, the characters felt inconsistent, and it was too violent for my taste. If violence doesn’t bother you, and you liked Maze Runner, you’d probably dig this book.

*

Total books read so far this year: 12

Total pages read so far this year: 3,062

Bataan Memorial Death March Race Recap

At 7:30, with the sun rising in the distance, I crossed the start line with my six teammates and fellow Wear Blue members. We were all nervous, but there was no going back!

bataan start

Miles 1-7

The first mile wraps around the post of White Sands Missile Range. It’s nice to start on a regular ol’ road since so much of the race later takes place on sand. Moving was so welcome after standing and shivering in my corral for more than an hour. Part of me (a very teeny tiny part) was tempted to run since I knew this was easy as the race would be all day. Instead, I mentally pulled myself back. My legs wouldn’t be going any faster than a walk the whole day and, knowing what a long day it would probably be, there was no reason to go out too fast.

Blue representin'!

Blue representin’!

At the end of Mile 1, the asphalt gives way to sand. It’s loose but not terrible. Still, I could tell that the gaiters I bought this year were a good investment! The sand was no problemo. This first part of the course has two great benefits: my body felt fresh and the terrain was flat! I enjoyed chit-chatting and taking it easy. Around mile 4 we made a porta-potty pit stop and put on (the first of much) sunscreen. Another woman donning a Wear Blue shirt saw us pulled over and talked us up. Turns out, she got separated from her group. Although we didn’t know her, we were happy for her to join our group. Everyone was in good spirits. We shared snacks, helped each other put on sunscreen, and soaked up the warm rays.

Miles 8 -13

There’s a huge aid station around mile 8. This is where the sand gives way to a monstrous asphalt hill. I knew it was coming, but even having done the course the year before, I was unprepared. Hills are my number one running (and walking!) nemesis. I swear I can detect a 1% incline; I’m that much of a hill weenie. I have no idea what the incline of the hill is, but I know it’s way more than 1% and it’s not pretty.

The elevation chart. Read it and weep.

The elevation chart. Read it and weep.

This stretch tested my mental strength. As much as I hate hills, my body is more than capable of managing just fine at the speed that we were moving. The issue was more about not getting bogged down emotionally. I also had to work to hold my tongue. I’m a complainer. It’s not my best trait, and I didn’t want to bring everyone else down. One of my teammates had started telling riddles to pass the time. Focusing on the riddles kept me sane and quiet.

So.Much.Up.

So.Much.Up.

Physically, I felt good. I could tell that I wasn’t chaffed or sunburned. My feet felt fine, zero issues there. I had packed a ton of snacks in my backpack. Alternating between peanut butter crackers and goldfish was keeping my tummy happy. Shortly before the halfway point, the asphalt hill switches to hard packed dirt. The hill was behind us and lunch was near! My bad mood evaporated when I heard the music of the aid station booming. Participants can pay a reasonable $4 for a burger or hot dogs and chips. After more than 4.5 hours on the move, you bet we all forked over the cash! They even had lettuce, onions, and tomatoes! I was happy as a clam with my burger-less burger. (The bun + toppings + condiments suited me just fine.) We spent the better part of an hour eating and regrouping. Most people changed their socks and/or tended to minor aches and pains. My feet were still going strong, so I kept my socks on. With our legs rested, our bellies full, and our water bottles refilled, we headed back out for more!

Miles 14-20

This is my favorite part of the course: rolling hard-dirt hills. I love the variety of the terrain and the views of the Organ Mountains. I think there’s also a lot to be said for how much easier it is to continue on after a good rest. It had solidly warmed up by now, so I made an effort to force myself to sip from my handheld regularly. I’m really glad that I had my backpack, but I was so sick of wearing it by this point. I took a cue from my students and wore it on my front. That relieved the achiness that came from wearing it the right way.

With part of the team on my favorite stretch of course. Photo a la Stephen.

With part of the team on my favorite stretch of course. Photo a la Stephen.

Although we were participating as a team, our group had gotten a fair amount scattered. Some people were feeling good and racing ahead. Others had injuries or moved at a slower pace. I mostly hung in the middle, not wanting everyone to get too spread out. When the rolling hills reconnect with the asphalt road (this time down hill! yippee!), we saw that we weren’t too far apart. I touched based with the lagging group members, and they reported feeling okay despite the complaints we all had: hot, tired, sore feet. This was the last time that I saw some of my teammates for a few hours. The road continued down, down, down until the dreaded Sand Pit.

Miles 21-The End!

Up until this point, I felt mostly okay. I wasn’t burned, I wasn’t hungry, my feet were okay. I hated the uphill, but that was behind me. I loved getting to talk to the different members of my group one-on-one and together. It had been a pretty good day. By this point, though, I was just so tired. I was moving slow, and my joints were achy. Then the sand started. Deep and swishy. I struggled to maintain any semblance of speed. I got quiet and turned inward. I felt so sorry for myself. I started wondering why I had even signed up. I had already done this race before, I had nothing to prove. It was so hot and the day had been so long. I wanted to be done but there was so much work left to do. Not to mention, we couldn’t finish until the other members caught up to us. Even though the end was relatively close, it felt so far, so impossible to reach. I wanted to cry.

Sand pit suckitude

Sand pit suckitude

Then I gave myself a mental slap across the face. Why was I here? Why was I doing this? It wasn’t about me! It was about the people who lived out something so much worse, so cruel, so unfathomable: the veterans of Bataan. Not to mention the names on my backpack of honorable men and women who gave their lives for our country. My pity part was ridiculous and it was time for it to be over. I sucked it up and moved on.

The mile 24 aid station was run by angels handing out cookies and “trail mix” made of sugary cereal. The volunteers treated us like kings, walking around with trays of goodies and Gatorade. This was also when we happened upon one of the ladies who had fallen behind – she caught up to us! She also informed us that the two other ladies had gotten separated, were far behind, and one was at an aid station. Immediately I went into mom freak-out mode! I imagined my friends hurt and lonely. We started texting and calling. After a long wait and a few texts, they appeared! The women had gotten separated, but they had also reunited and hustled their buns off through the worst of the course to reach us. We were together and it was time to finish together! The last few miles were slow, but they were conquered as a team. Our faces were all smiles as we marched side-by-side to the finish line. It took us nearly 11 hours, but we did it!

Post-Race

With Stephen. This was his second 26.2 and my fifth!

With Stephen. This was his second 26.2 and my fifth!

Last year after the race, I was a wreck. I was tired and disoriented and alone. I couldn’t find my car and there was no one to help me. It was awful. This year, I was in worse shape physically (due to the time on my feet), but I felt so much better. Life is better with friends! We spent about 20ish minutes hanging out after the race. Some of us partook in the free food, which included veggie burgers! (Thank you post-race, gods!) Then it was time to hobble our way to our vehicles, wherever they were. Most of the team hopped a ride on a buggy from a helpful volunteer, but my car of peeps opted to walk. We found the truck with surprising ease (again, life is better with friends!). Less easy was taking off my shoes and socks. Oh, the pain! I’ll spare you the pictures but the blisters are evil and the toenails are black. That’s after not having any foot issues for more than 20 miles; those last 6 did me in. Everyone ended up with blisters, though, so I’m convinced that they are unavoidable.

My post-race treat was a grape cream slush from Sonic and a hot shower. After that, it was straight to bed because I had to work in the morning! I ended up wearing comfy shoes and walking slowly and I was fine. Overall, I love Bataan. I’d be hard-pressed to think of volunteers as kind and accommodating, the aid stations provide more than I would expect, the course is challenge but character building, and the meaning behind it all makes the whole thing worth it. I’m not sure if I’ll be back again (although some people have mentioned plans for next year!), but I do know that I’ll cherish this race experience for a long time.

Bataan Memorial Death March: The Beginning

How Did I get Myself Into This?

After completing the Bataan Memorial Death March last year, I thought I’d be one and done. It’s an amazing, moving, meaningful race, but it’s also very challenging and very taxing. I figured, “Alright, that’s done.” In my mind, it was checked off, never to be run again.

Then I joined Wear Blue: Run to Remember. Each week we would talk about forming a team. And each week, there wasn’t much of a consensus. “Sure, I’ll do it,” I told the group knowing in the back of my mind we’d never get the 5 total people needed to make an official team. We know how this story ends – people who thought they wouldn’t be able to were able, people who were on the fence decided to go for it, and we ended up with a full team plus even more Wear Blue members going for it!

wear blue

The Morning Of

After hitting up the expo on Saturday, I was really looking forward to race day. (I had been kind of dreading it before that!) Groggy after a bad night’s sleep, I woke up at 3 am. I was ready and out of the house less than an hour after that. I wondered if the other people I saw on the road were just waking up like us or hadn’t gone to bed yet from the night before. The drive with easy with no issues, just like last year. We made great time and parked with ease. We even happened to have been parked right by Julie! Huzzah!  All of us hung out in Stephen’s truck discussing our nerves. Somehow that also included everyone else mocking my “mom” sweats. They were keeping me warm! But once Stephen referred to me as Sheila (my mom’s name), I knew I had to ditch them. (No offense mom!)

We ditched the truck and bounded out toward the starting area. Our Wear Blue crew met up before the start for a circle. We all said the names of people that we were running in honor of. This is something we always do at Wear Blue. Normally, we read the names of people who have died in action on that week over the years since 9/11. Each week, I save the names by putting them in a special box on my dresser. The day before the race, I typed them up and added the names of those I personally run for and put them on my backpack. I was honored to carry those names alongside the one I picked up from Medals of Honor. I carried their names on my back and on my heart the entire day. This was the meaning behind it all.

Bataan backpack

We shifted over into our corral. By this time, we’d already been standing outside shivering for a while, and we seemed to just get colder and colder. The opening ceremonies began, and I tried to focus on the gravity of the day instead of how temporarily chilly I was. A number of people spoke including the Ambassador from The Philippines. The most touching part was the Roll Call. The speaker said the names of any survivors present, who triumphantly shout, “Here!” The names of the Bataan veterans who have died in the last year were read followed by silence. I definitely cried. Toward the end of the opening ceremony, a helicopter flew over. Stephen was unimpressed but I thought it was badass. With that the day, the ceremony was over.

The Bataan veterans were moved to the starting line and the wounded warriors followed. Our corral was one of the earlier ones and we pretty quickly made our way to the start. It takes a while to actually cross the starting line because the Bataan veterans shake the hands of every participant. It’s a really cool honor and worth the wait. The sun was finally appearing as I made my way to the front of the line. I was able to personally thank the Bataan veterans for their service and sacrifice.

bataan start

It was 7:30. I had been up for 4 and a half hours already. I was cold and tense and tired.  All that I had left to do was walk 26.2 miles…

Wow! What a Weekend!

Between Friday and now, so much has happened! Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that much, but I’m sure tired enough for it to seem like I’ve done a million things. Here are the highlights:

Friday: We skipped out usual Grilling Friday to head over to a food truck bonanza. El Paso has a thriving food truck industry, and on this particular day 20+ food trucks joined together to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity. We weren’t the only ones that thought it sounded fun; the place was a mad house! Despite the crowds, we had a fun hanging out and people watching. We both ended up getting tortas, a Mexican burger of sorts, (a first for me!) and they were deelish! Or maybe I just thought it was good because I waited in line for 30 minutes.

Fish torta courtesy of Chuchi's Tortas.

Fish torta courtesy of Chuchi’s Tortas.

Once we were full, we headed over to a neighbor’s house. We were dog-sitting two adorable wiggle bottoms: Osito and Prancer. Let this stand as my general PSA: Please as me to dog sit for you. I need more dogs in my life!

#puppyfever

Saturday: Saturday morning Stephen and I drove to post to meet up with our Wear Blue friends. A few of us were carpooling to White Sands Missile Range to pick up packets for the Bataan Memorial Death March.

I’m so glad that I went to the expo. It was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. Unlike last year when I went alone, this time I had a group of friends with me. Much more enjoyable! We took our time going through the booths looking at everything. Stephen even got his certificate framed.

Julie, Jennifer, and me with the Organ Mountains in the background.

Julie, Jennifer, and me with the Organ Mountains in the background.

We spent some time at a booth covered in yellow ribbons. Turns out, it’s an organization called Medals of Honor. They link up endurance athletes and Gold Star families. For this event, they handed out ribbons with names of fallen service members. Participants were encouraged to take a ribbon, wear it on Sunday, and march in honor of that person. You can also sign up before an event (any of your choosing!) to complete it in honor of a fallen service member. Afterwards, you send in your medal, and it is given to the family. Pretty cool!

The highlight of the day was meeting the survivors of Bataan. I hung back a little (I was feeling shy!) but I was inspired just being in their presence. These are men who have seen the worst of humanity, experienced cruelties beyond imagination, and I know they value keeping their story alive. I’m happy to do my part by participating in Bataan.

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After grabbing some burritos, we hit the road back for EP. Stephen and I spent the rest of the day buying and prepping our gear, dogsitting, and hydrating!

Sunday: That 3 am alarm came all too soon. And when I finally crawled back into bed at 10 pm, I was utterly fatigued. Bataan will most definitely be a post in itself. For now, I’ll say that it was an incredibly long day, it was by far the hardest race I’ve ever done, but it was also incredibly rewarding and so much fun. I can’t wait to tell y’all all about it!

Friday Five

Today is the last weekday of spring break. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready to go back to work, but I sure will miss sleeping in. Plus, it looks like my weekend will be verrry busy (what with walking 26 miles on Sunday and all), so I’m getting all the rest of my relaxing in today. And catching up a bit with my blogging. ;)

1. Today would have been Ben’s 28th birthday. (My brother-in-law, Ben, died of complications related to Cystic Fibrosis two years ago.) I wanted to do something in his honor, a pay it forward kind of thing. I opted to donate blood.

Blood!

Blood!

Donating was super easy, and I was in and out in less than an hour. (United Blood Services makes it simple. Highly recommend them for your blood giving needs!) On a completely selfish note, my resting heart rate was 56 beats per minute, which I’m told is excellent. I’m patting myself on the back at this very moment.

2. My nightmares always seem to involve teaching and last night was no different. In my most recent dream, it was the first day back from spring break, they had moved me to a science lab (where I couldn’t find anything!), and a bunch of new kids were in my class. I couldn’t reprimand the kids because I didn’t know their names and they were all confused. There was a co-teacher criticizing all my methods. It was a very restless night. (The bad dreams may or may not have something to do with the fact that the state writing test is one week from Monday. Boo standardized testing!)

3. Stephen and I have started a tradition of grilling on Friday’s. I love the smell of the food on the grill and hanging out in the cool evening sun. My favorite foods thus far: grilled romaine and French bread grilled for bruschetta. Stephen usually opts for steak.

Don't worry, this wasn't my whole meal, just the best part.

Don’t worry, this wasn’t my whole meal, just the best part.

Today we skipped grilling in favor of hitting up a massive food truck party. We had to wait in line for a while, but in the end, our truck-made tortas were deelish. Worth it. Next Friday, though, we be firing up the grill!

4. I’m way behind on blogging about my books! Since my goal this year is to read 10,000 pages (as opposed to having a set number of books I want to read), I intended to post every 1,000 pages or so. Well, that didn’t happen. I’m not at 2,500+ pages for the year, and I’ve blogged about 0 books. I’m pretty sure no one cares about those posts but me, but I still want to write them! So expect a big ol’ book catch-up post (or two!) in the near-ish future. Near-ish because I make no promises! Maybe it won’t even happen! {Insert maniacal, book-loving, blogger laugh here.}

5. The Bataan Memorial Death March is on Sunday and I’m signed up. And I’m supposed to walk 26.2 miles. What did I get myself into?! I kind of keep trying not to think about it so that I don’t freak out, but it’s kind of time for me to start thinking about it! I guess that’s what tomorrow is for. ;)

Fort Bliss Pub Run Race Recap

Top of the morning to you and happy St. Paddy’s Day! I’m not much of a St. Patrick’s Day reveler, but when running is involved, like it was at this past weekend’s 10k, I get right on board. I had said not too long ago that I wanted to run more 10ks, and this was my first chance to tackle that distance this year. Being that the race was a pub run, it started at 3 pm. That makes for interesting fueling. Mostly, I just took it easy all day, had a sub sandwich for lunch, and drank as much water as I could stand.

We arrived on post with plenty of time to pick-up my packet and talk to our Wear Blue friends before the start.

wear blue pub run

Stephen wasn’t running, so he hung back with a buddy while I lined up with 400+ runners. It was a beautiful, partly cloudy day with some mighty wind. I had my sights sets on PRing, so I made a game plan to run the first three miles at 8:26 and last three miles as fast as I could. Even with what I felt was a smart plan, I was really nervous! Nervous or not, at 3 pm, it was time to run!

  • Mile 1: 8:23
  • Mile 2: 8:24

The half mile was crowded before it thinned out. That really didn’t bother me too much because my main concern was keeping pace. I was worried that I’d run too fast! 8:26 felt surprisingly easy the first few miles. I wanted to go faster, I wanted to pass people, but I tried to keep in mind that this was the pace I needed to PR, and that I’d get to do some passing at the end. Every time I realized that I was speeding up, I’d slow myself back down. After a few miles, my nerves wore off, and I settled in

  • Mile 3: 8:24
  • Mile 4: 8:25

The race had water stops at almost every mile. I initially thought it was a little overkill, but it ended up being perfect! With the afternoon sun + the wind, I could tell halfway thought that I was a bit dehydrated. I took a cup of water at every stop for a sip and then I splashed the rest on my head. Most of the race went through the boring backside of main post. It was a lot of industrial buildings and fences. I love running in this area, but this particular course wasn’t the most picturesque. My favorite part was during mile 4. We wove our way right in front of the library (my old stomping grounds!) and along the parade field where the general and other high ranking soldiers live aka the pretty part.

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  • Mile 5: 8:28
  • Mile 6: 8:23
  • Last .21: 7:25 pace

The pace that felt so easy at mile one was feeling like a struggle at mile five. It didn’t help that there was a lot of headwind during the final two miles. I was hot and tired and beat down. I started to think that I couldn’t do it. I was glad I ran so close to my goal pace early on. I couldn’t speed up much, and instead I hoped to just maintain that same pace.

By this point, I had passed most of the women who had been near me and I caught up to one that I’d had my eye on for a while. I didn’t have it in me to overtake her, but we ran side-by-side for the final mile. I didn’t want her to take off and leave me in the dust, so that motivated me to hold on when I felt like my speed was fading.

During the last .2, both of us revved up for a final sprint. She was a bit of ahead of me and I started to concede and fall back. I knew that I didn’t have much left in the tank. I took a breath and made a play to pass her. I decided that if she wanted to beat me, she’d have to earn it! She must have felt me coming up beside her because she punched her speed up another notch and crossed the finish a hair ahead of me. I congratulated her on a race well run. Really, I should have thanked her. She kept me going at the end when I wanted to hang back.

pub run finish1

My Stats:

  • 6.21 finish time: 52:02
  • Average pace: 8:22

A new 10k Personal Record by more than 50 seconds! Woo-hoo! When the results were printed out, I saw that I came in 4th for my age group. So close to placing! I’d much rather PR than place, but, man, placing sure would have been nice, too. Looking at my splits, I’m most shocked by how evenly I ran. This was probably the smartest, most consistent race I’ve ever run. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here patting myself on the back.

Next up: Bataan! Gulp! I’m not entirely ready (or even a little bit ready, honestly), but I’m taking comfort in the fact that I’ll be taking on the tough challenge with a team and we’ll be going slow.