A blog about me and my adventure as an ex-pat.
Because someone told me to... Thank you Gaby.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

toe nails are for wimps

What a busy but fun weekend!

It kicked off with fun at the Borgess kids fun run on Friday evening. We had fun at the expo, picking up (extremely loud) horns, the kids' race packs with event t-shirts in and Borgess logo tattoos. Charlotte is really coming our of her shell. Normally she shies away if someone talks to her but we have been talking a lot about manners and being polite by answering when someone talks to you. And it's working! She had a big smile on her face whilst walking round the different tables, saying hi and joining in the fun!

After a picnic on the grass (loving this sunny weather!) it was time to join the big warm up in the field outside with Gavin the Gazelle (from the local sports store) and the hundreds of other kids and parents. The kids loved dancing to the music and meeting Gavin!

I was quite nervous as we have been in hibernation for the last few months (it was a long and very cold winter!). We don't walk anywhere anymore so I am worried about the lack of exercise our kids get. I figured it could be great or a complete disaster and we wouldn't know until we tried.

So off we went, the kids joining in with their age group (6 and under). We all walked to the start/finish line and we were off. And the kids did great! They ran almost the whole way round, especially when another child ran past. They held our hands part way round and slowed down when a stitch kicked in but they did so much better than we expected! A whole mile in about 16 minutes! It was fun to see other families we know there and the Dairy Queen ice-cream we enjoyed after the race with friends was a well earned treat! I was very proud of our little runners and hope they can join in more races in the future!

On Saturday morning I joined in with a local walk in downtown Kalamazoo in aid of MS. A friend of a friend has it and I wanted to offer my support as I know how awful the disease can be. I enjoyed walking the 3 miles with my friends and love to be involved in local events. There were over 400 people there and I believe quite a lot of money raised so a success I think!

After collecting my race packet at the Expo on Saturday afternoon at the K Wings stadium (and being interviewed for local radio - I have no idea if I made it onto the radio the day of the race but fun to think I might have!) we headed home to grill some steaks and try to get an early night before the big race.

Of course I woke up at 5am, panicking I had missed the (6am) alarm so I didn't get too much sleep but hey sleep is for wimps and after a weetabix breakfast I headed to the Health and Fitness centre with my friend for the race.

It was great to start the race with my W.A.R. (we are runners) teammates and warm up together (not sure we really had to jog to the start line - we looked like total try hards, but it was good to get moving before setting off for real!) even if we didn't finish together!

(I didn't really think through the tattoo on the face - fun for the race but it won't come off and I have school visitation with a load of other parents tomorrow! Whoops!) 

There was a minute silence to remember the Boston marathon victims and a lady sang the National Anthem after they raised the American flag which is a traditional thing to do at sporting events. Love their patriotism!

There was a hilarious moment where a few of us who had worn an extra layer (in my case a 2XL tshirt Jeremy got free from a parade in 2003!) tried to work out how we could throw away our tops without them landing on top of a fellow runner! We all managed it though and it's a great tip if you enter a race which involves lots of standing around. The discarded shirts are collected up and given to charity.

As we set off there was lots of cheering from spectators and the sound of hundreds of feet hitting the asphalt. I believe there were around 8000 runners but the start was staggered and set out in pace groups so there wasn't too much pushing and shoving. The roads are so wide it was easy to find room to run.

I loved running in my local town. One of the best bits was running down the shopping mall. There were so many people out cheering and it was fun to run past Gazelle sports and our favourite restaurants (I may have heckled the lady from the cupcake shop!!). People had used chalk to completely cover the road in words of support and drawings which was fun to run over. The atmosphere from the crowd was so powerful that it sent adrenaline through my body and made my legs feel so light they almost felt like jelly! There was lots of sprinting to catch a high five and fun reading all of the signs. The A4 picture of a half naked Ryan Gosling put a smile on my face!

There were so many supporters out along the course. A sweet old couple playing a drum and tamborine, giving us a great rhythm to run to, bluegrass and rock bands keeping us going, so many volunteers handing out water and GU brew for which I am ever so grateful and a group of kids handing out refreshing ice pops!! It was quite difficult to breathe and suck on them but they were delicious and refreshing! As were the cold wet sponges handed out by kids in the last mile!

I loved reading all the signs like "Toe nails are for wimps" {update: one of my toenails has turned black!}, "I am a stranger but I am proud of you", "I bet you though they said Rum" and "Smile if you just peed a little" or "Smile if you aren't wearing any underwear" which of course make you smile!! The course went down 'Random Rd' which also made me smile and it was great to see so many of the residents out cheering us on.

We set out pretty quickly, doing 10:30 and 11 minute miles so (unsurprisingly) by mile 8 I was struggling. My friends did really well and a couple of them ran on ahead of me. So the next couple of miles were a little lonely until I spotted another team W.A.R. runner. I did not know her name but a shout of "team WAR" had her turn round and caught up to her and asked her to run with me. It turns out she had been struggling too (neither of us completed all of the training) and she was run walking. I was so grateful and we had a great time for the next 3 miles, running together and helping each other. Even though she was in my team, I had not spoken to her before but we soon bonded and it's one of the things I love at being a part of the run camp.

At mile 12 I finally spotted my gorgeous family, holding up a "woop woop' sign, blowing on their horns and shouting to me. They even ran along with me and soon caught up with me again after the hill (Jeremy did a great job pulling the kids up the hill in their red wagon!). I got flowers (daisies and dandelions) kisses and the energy to complete that last mile! Jeremy even managed to get them all there to see me at the finish line!
I believe they'd had a fun morning, passing the 5K runners on their part of the course, playing football in the park and getting lots of smiles and waves as they blew on their horns to encourage the other runners. They were flying a Union Jack flag and got high fives from a runner carrying an American flag!

The finish line was pretty emotional for me. I gave my last bit of energy to cross the finish line with a sprint and tried to sit down but was quickly picked up by a volunteer and a friend who got me moving. I was so relieved to finish I cried! Such a big girl's blouse eh?!
Charlotte made me smile with her "Mummy you are super super super super super brave!"
I managed to take a minute off the last race time so a PB for me - not bad given I didn't manage to do all of the training plus the training I did was mainly in the snow and the race was hot and sunny!
It was great to see friends and congratulate them, hang out in the food tent and enjoy chicken tacos, hot dogs and pickles. Yep pickles. I almost drank a cup of pickle juice by mistake but apparently the pickle I consumed was great for replacing all the sodium I lost!
They had a big play area for the kids and lots of fun was to be had on the inflatables. Such a well organised event with a festival feel.

I love the running community of Kalamazoo. I have made some great friends and am so proud of them for getting great results in the race today. We have skidded on snow and sweated though a humid summer together so it was great to run a race in the sunshine with a lovely cool breeze. Perfect!

So a big thank you to Borgess and Gazelle Sports for putting on such a great event, to my run camp leaders for their inspiration and support, to my wonderful family and their valuable support, to my running partners for keeping me going and to everyone who sent their support on facebook or texts. And to my wonderful friend who decorate our garage with congratulations banners as a surprise for when we got home!

I am glad to report that I still have all 10 toe nails but may have a pair of aching legs and a bad back tomorrow! Totally worth it though!

Here is a cool time lapse from a spot in downtown Kalamazoo:

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