The Lost Dutchman Races 2013 Race Report

Well, apologies for taking a few days off from blogging. It’s been a busy week. As it happens, in addition to planning my Spring Break volunteer trip to Honduras and attempting to finish my dissertation, I also have three job interviews in the span of three weeks. I’m fully aware that having a lot of people interested in me is nothing to complain about, but it’s sure creating havoc with my schedule.

I’ve been signed up for the Lost Dutchman 10K since December. Last year I went to the event with my friend, who was running the half marathon, and we made an overnight trip of it and had a great time. (Report.) This year, though, I decided to make it a day trip. I’m already spending too much time away from home in the coming month. In fact I spent this past Thursday and Friday in Florida, came home and slept most of Saturday, then set my alarm for 4:45AM to wake up this morning and drive. Um, fun.

Whimsical western taxidermy fun

Whimsical western taxidermy fun

I have to say this for the Lost Dutchman, though: For being a locally organized, relatively large event (5 races, with hundreds of competitors in each) the organization is better than many other races I’ve run. I got to the race parking area 35 minutes before start time, and I was able to catch the shuttle, use the bathroom, pick up my packet, check my gear bag, take some pictures, and get to the starting line with time to spare! The only glitch was that they didn’t have a tech tee in my size, but I was able to give them my address and they promised to send me one in the mail. Class act. The race area also featured some silly photo ops and kid friendly activities, including Mary the burro.

LD_Burro

But you all probably want to know about the race, huh? Well, last week you may recall that I set a 10K PR on a training run and was doubting my ability to do it again today. But guess what? My week-old PR fell in a spectacular way this morning.

Mile 1–9:22

Mile 2–9:20

Mile 3–9:02

Mile 4–9:06

Mile 5–8:55

Mile 6–8:50

Mile 6.2–8:40*

LD_Medal13

2013 10K Medal

In all, I finished just under 56:30, earning me a new PR and a 10th place finish in my age group. I’m really pleased and amazed at this performance, especially on a somewhat hilly course. I’m sure it helps that I’ve been doing so many longer runs these past few months, but today I also didn’t try to police my pace. In a half marathon if I saw a time under 9 minutes/mile I’d probably freak out and force myself to go slower, but I had enough confidence in my ability to finish a 10K that I just kept pushing. Maybe I should think more about adopting this mentality in all my races.

After the race I got some tasty food and was able to watch some really fast marathon finishers. If you’re a runner (or walker) and you ever happen to be in Apache Junction in February, definitely do the Lost Dutchman. The event supports local causes, has a great community feel, and builds awesome memories. I hope this Lost Dutchman won’t be the last for me.

 

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Race Fees, Race Direction, and What Runners Should Expect

Screen shot 2012-09-06 at 10.46.39 AMI’ve been meaning to post on the topic of race fees for a while, but I was inspired to write this post today because of two separate running-related events that arrived at my inbox. The first and most surprising was the news that IO Events, the organizers of the Temecula Valley Half Marathon and the Arizona Half Marathon, are going out of business effective immediately. The second is the announcement of two new races from the organizers of the Zion Half Marathon, which I am running in March. Two stories of different race organizers moving in different directions. What does this say about what runners should expect and what choices we make in registering for events?

The major reason why I don’t race more is cost. Look, I live in a place where I can run 12 months a year and I run four or five days a week. At the same time, I’m also a graduate student with limited funds and I see race fees are rising all the time. Half marathons, especially here on the West Coast, can easily cost $100 or more in race fees. Major race series organizers like Run Disney and the Competitor Group (organizers of the Rock n’ Roll Series) are driving this trend, as are major half- or full-marathon events like those in New York, Boston, LA, and Chicago. Fees also tend to run in increments, with incentives for early birds and incremental increases leading to race day. The reasons for this are obvious: Registering early helps organizers determine appropriate staffing, supply levels, etc., so they want to reward this behavior. As a runner, though, I’ve lately been concerned by the practice of organizers charging high race fees–especially for first-time races–without offering adequate information to runners.

A cancelled IO Event.

A cancelled IO Event.

IO Events actually kept their race fees rather reasonable (I paid only $55 for the Arizona Half), but they often were not forthcoming with information on race courses, locations, and times. The inaugural Arizona Half Marathon in Spring 2012 was supposed to take place in the Scottsdale/Fountain Hills area of Phoenix. I considered registering for it at that time, but held off because even within a couple months of the race there was a lack of information about lodging, course, and elevation. Eventually, the announcement was suddenly made that the race had been moved to Estrella, a different suburb of Phoenix many miles from the original location. A friend of mine did run that race in the new location and enjoyed it, but the experience made me wary of registering for future events. Indeed, it seems that IO’s business went downhill after the race I ran this fall: A planned Nevada race in November was cancelled, another went ahead only after delays, their weekly e-mail newsletters stopped, and all future events have now been cancelled.

Response on social media turned ugly in a hurry after the cancellation of this year’s Temecula Valley races was announced. On IO’s Facebook page and event pages people have called the company a scam and a fraud. Rival race organizers used the pages for the cancelled/delayed Nevada races to recruit for their own events. The business owners’ home address was posted online today (yikes), and participants in the cancelled races claim to have already filed complaints with Arizona’s Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau.

As a runner, I feel for everyone involved in the situation. If IO Events was running a con, they certainly were running a long con: Several years of planning events successfully in Northern Arizona, two runnings of the race in Phoenix, one in Temecula, another in Nevada. They put their name and contact info out there, they met with race participants… No, if anything they are guilty of being a small business with some poor planning skills that tried to expand to far, too fast in a bad economy. They definitely have a responsibility to their runners, but runners must also be conscious of what we agree to when registering for a race. How many of us really read the fine print on those waivers? I don’t always. But, there are some practices I do try to follow:

  1. Look at the details: A good race organizer should have a course, an elevation chart, a start time, and sponsor/partner information on their Web site before registration is open, or at least before they start charging elevated fees. If a course says it’s “proposed,” be aware that is hasn’t been signed off on by local authorities and is subject to change. I’ve refused to sign up for several races that did not offer this information up front, including most recently the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half, which was charging nearly $100 in registration fees for a first-time race that still has no course, location, or start time. (I even contacted RnR’s customer service to complain about this when I was considering registration, only to get an extremely vague response and no offer of a fee reduction. Classy.)
  2. Know the company: What other races do they organize? How long have they been around? Have other events been successful? Do they have paid staff, and what is their level of experience? Do they respond to correspondence and what kind of answers do you get? A company may have a successful track record, like IO did, but recent cancellations, expansions into new cities, or trying to create too many new events at one time can be a sign of trouble.
  3. Be aware of the risk you assume: In every race in the country you will sign a waiver that is worded to protect the race organizers–not you. As a participant, you often not only sign away your right to collect from them if you are injured while participating in the event, you may also sign away your right to a refund in the event of bad weather, emergencies, organizational issues, or the bankruptcy of the company. Ouch. (Incidentally, U.S. bankruptcy laws generally protect companies from their creditors while they deal with their finances–meaning you are unlikely to get fees refunded if an organizer has legally declared bankruptcy.)
  4. Consider whether late registration fees are worth the risk. If anything about the event or its organizers seems uncertain or “off” to you, consider waiting. You will pay more when you register for a race a month or less in advance, but it may save you some heartache in the long run.

In my opinion, we as runners play an important role in keeping the race industry honest. With the number of races (especially half marathons) booming nationwide and with no overarching regulatory body, it’s up to the consumers to educate themselves and keep organizers on track. The Rock ‘n’ Roll event series continues to thrive despite unanswered questions about mass illness at its 2011 event in Las Vegas. The fact that the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half would sell out with no course, no start time, or even a starting location within the city of San Francisco is astonishing to me. Likewise, the RAM Racing Hot Chocolate 5k/15k series continues to expand despite a disastrous event in Washington DC last year, a very poorly reviewed run in Chicago, and the postponement of its planned events in Denver and San Francisco. As long as runners don’t demand more, irresponsible practices will continue. Do your homework, share race reviews on social media, Yelp, or elsewhere online, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Hopefully we all have many happy racing days ahead.

 

2012 in Review: Running

So, as promised, here is my last year-in-review post. I saved running for last because I wanted to add to my yearly miles total with a last-minute run today, but also because I’m so proud of my accomplishments in this area. Eating right and losing weight is something to be proud of, too, but running is work. And even though I’ve been a runner for many years now, I still consider myself not much of an athlete, and I think of being fit and competitive as something I have to put a lot of effort into. So, here are the numbers and highlights:

1. By the Miles

2012 Total Miles: 757

December Total Miles: 100.3

Screen shot 2012-12-31 at 6.17.45 PM

December was my first ever 100+ mile month of running. Part of that is due to training for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon next month, but part of it is because I had a lot of time off and didn’t do as much cross training as usual while the gym was closed for the holidays. I’ll start to taper over the next couple of weeks, so January 2013 will be a lighter month. Nonetheless I hope to add to my overall yearly mileage in 2013. I’d like to continue averaging 20-25 miles/week, and to avoid some of the injuries that bothered me this past year.

2. By the clock

This year was the first time that I regularly kept track of my speed in training. Especially with 10Ks and half marathons, my goal in the past was always just to train and finish. This year, I got more ambitious and thanks to my purchase of a Garmin Forerunner 210 in the spring and some careful data collection from March onward, I got some great results.

Fastest Mile: 8:39 (Nov. 15, training run)

Fastest 5K: 27:59 (Sept. 25, training run)

Fastest 10K: 59:25 (Nov. 4, training run)

Fastest Half Marathon: 2:14:XX (Oct. 6, Arizona Half Marathon)

Each of these is an all-time personal best for me, and note that each of these times have come in the last few months. I’m getting faster. I started 2012 running 10:30-11:00 miles. I am now consistently running 9:00-9:30 miles, except on my longest runs. In 2013, watch out. I may become almost competitive. LOL.

3. In pictures

I got some great medals, great schwag, and a few cool pictures of myself.

Race medal

Temecula Half Marathon/5K Medal

Lost Dutchman 10K Medal

Lost Dutchman 10K Medal

Fast and the Furriest 10K

Fast and the Furriest 10K

photo-2

Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic 5K

Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic 5K

AZHalf_Web

Safe to say 2012 was my best running year ever… But I have a lot planned for next year, too. Thanks again to my blog friends and followers for your motivation, encouragement, and attention this year!

Arizona Half Marathon Report and A Very Busy Weekend

Wow, a lot of things to report this weekend. On Friday morning I drove to the Phoenix area for the Arizona Half Marathon. My first stop was the Arizona Sea Life Aquarium in Tempe at the Arizona Mills Mall. I love aquariums, and when this came up on a Groupon I couldn’t resist. Exhibits here featured creatures native to Arizona’s riparian areas and sea creatures from the waterways of nearby Mexico. My favorite, though, was Ziva the sea turtle, a rescue from Florida. In addition to aquariums, Sea Life also operates sanctuaries and rehab centers in the U.S. and Europe. Ziva was struck by a boat and her shell still bears the scars, but she’s doing well now.

I really enjoyed Sea Life and it made me feel good to know that they support rehab centers and care about the animals on display. Normal adult admission would be a bit steep at $18, but you can always get discounted tickets on their web site. It’s also a great place to take kids.

After the aquarium, I went to visit the Arizona Capitol building and the Arizona Capitol Museum. The copper dome of this building commemorates Arizona’s mining history. Though it is no longer used for legislative business, the museum is free to visit and has interesting exhibits on the USS Arizona, Arizona history, and mock-ups of the old state legislative chambers. The Bolin plaza next to the museum also has a variety of war memorials, monuments to fallen law enforcement officers, and statues commemorating famous figures in AZ history.

By this time it was after 3:00 and I had a 30-45 minute drive to Estrella to get my race kit. Estrella is located outside of Goodyear and is a uniquely Western concept–a totally planned community. I mean, not just one housing tract but a planned community of many identical tracts, plus matching shopping centers, even parks and trails that are neatly maintained. It’s a little weird, but the place is pretty. This event also features a trail half marathon, and from the beautiful surroundings I’m guessing that would be a fun course.

My road race started at 7:15AM, and I was staying in nearby Goodyear so I didn’t have to wake up too early. There was also plenty of parking close to the start at the Safeway plaza. This was the smallest half marathon I’ve ever run, maybe a few hundred runners at the half starting line, plus more doing the 5K and trail race. The course was just so-so. The first 4.5 miles is an out-and-partly-back along the outskirts of Estrella. The scenery was really nice, and the fans were few but devoted (shout out to the noodle ladies with pretzels and candy!). By about 5 miles in, though, I was tired of the little rolling hills and the scenery. Around 7.5 miles we turned off a road into the developed part of town. It was better running by houses and side streets, but at this time I developed a real annoyance with my hat. I was getting a little warm, and so I kept taking it off, wanting to throw it away, deciding I’d never find it again, and putting it back on. This is what you do when you’re running 13.1 miles and are bored.

Around 10 miles in there was a big freaking hill. I knew this from the map, but it made me unhappy anyway. I ended up walking up it, which is what everyone was doing, but I was worried about how that would affect my goal time of 2:15. I’d kept my miles under goal pace the first part of the race, and I hoped that was enough to off-set the slow down. When we turned onto San Miguel drive (which I had passed the day before in the car), I knew the finish was getting close and I just kept going. In the last mile, passing the park and the Starpointe Residence Club, there were lots of spectators out enjoying the finish festival and their cheers kept me going. It was a nice touch to have an announcer read my name as I crossed the finish line. I could see I was coming in just under 2:15 and it made me feel great. I give a princess wave to the cheering crowd (seriously) and collected my medal with a big smile on my face. Can’t wait to see these race pictures.

My final time of 2:14:– is a PR by over 15 minutes, and a real point of pride for me. I’ve never been so consistent at this distance, and I’ve never put in so many miles leading up to the race. More than that, though, this was an important accomplishment for me in recognizing and rewarding myself for being so conscious this year about health, diet, and personal improvement. A year ago I would not have been able to do this, but willpower and dedication made it possible. Here’s how my times break down:

Mile 1: 10:08

Mile 2: 9:53

Mile 3: 10:03

Mile 4: 10:12

Mile 5: 10:00

Mile 6: 10:16

Mile 7: 10:11

Mile 8: 10:38 (Gu and Water)

Mile 9: 10:23

Mile 10: 10:30

Mile 11: 11:32

Mile 12: 10:07

Mile 13: 10:13 (with 8:38/mi pace on the .1)

Total: 2:14:– chip time, 10:18 pace

After running I had to go back to the hotel and check out, then I came back at 11 to enjoy the awards ceremony and some more free food and a free massage. Overall, this was very good for a small event. A lot of the kinks from the first time this event was held (regarding course, location, and timing) seem to have been ironed out. IO Events does a great job with festivals, medal and shirt designs, and keeping races affordable. With a discount code, I paid $55 for this race just over a month out. They also organized the Temecula Valley race back in January. On the down side, Estrella is a bit in the middle of nowhere and for someone visiting the area there is not a tremendous amount to do. I also get the feeling that these organizers can be a bit overwhelmed at times. They started several new races this year, and it’s obvious that things like course planning, hotel planning, and start times got away from them a little. At one point, this race listed different start times on different web sites, and I also decided to register for this race instead of their upcoming race in Laughlin, NV because the Nevada race had no hotel rates posted at all. Still, if you are in Goodyear, Glendale, Peoria, or other locations in the West Valley, check out this race in the future.

As an epilogue, after getting back to Tucson and to one happy little dog, I had a good rest and woke up this morning to help out at the Tucson ADA Step Out event to cure diabetes. My legs obviously were not happy about spending another couple hours on my feet, but it felt good to give back a little and support another athletic event. I always try to thank volunteers and police officers when I do a walk or run, but knowing that volunteers really make all running/walking events possible, I’m glad I could be one of them today.

The Fast and the Furriest 10K Race Report

On Saturday June 9, I ran The Fast and the Furriest 10K, only I almost didn’t. But I’ll get to that.

I had high hopes for a new PR at this race. I’ve been running faster than my previous PR pace ever since coming back to the Rochester area. My longest training run was just 5.8 miles, but I hoped my record pace could hold out. I picked up my race packet at the Ridgeway Ave. Fleet Feet location a couple of days before the race. One of my few complaints about the event was that online information about race times and packet pickup was contradictory. Packet pickup times and locations listed on the city’s event Web site and on Active.com were conflicting, but ultimately an e-mail from Yellowjacket Racing cleared up the confusion. The race shirt is just kind of OK—it will make sure I get seen if I wear it while night running—but the race numbers are cute and the packet was composed with pet owners in mind. (The Verona Street Animal Society and Rochester Animal Services are beneficiaries of the event.) Also included were coupons for local vet services, a packet of dog treats from a local realtor, and a packet of Milk Bone “trail mix” for dogs. My little one approved of that.

The morning of the race I faced a difficult decision. I woke up two hours before race time to a steady rain. My dog wouldn’t go outside, and I wondered if I shouldn’t either. Knowing that Rochesterians are used to bad weather, I had little doubt that the race would go on. I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a part of it. I’m not new to bad weather racing (Temecula Valley, anyone?), but running a 10K is a different ball game than running a 5K. I made the decision to suit up and drive into the city anyway, just to see if weather got better toward race time. It rained so hard on the way in that I almost turned around, but when I got within a few blocks of the start and saw runners warming up in spite of the rain I knew there was no turning back.

I think this is one of the smallest runs I’ve ever taken part in, perhaps due in part to the weather. Despite lots of promotion online and in print, race results recorded just 211 finishers for the 10K. (A 5K and a dog walk were also offered.) The start was a bit disorganized—announcers were hard to hear over the chatter and were not adequately amplified. I guess electronic amplification and rain don’t mix. As a result, I think most of the pack took off early. I was mid-pack about a block down the road when I heard the starting horn actually blow. This may be why my Garmin times were faster than the mile times announced by race volunteers all the way through.

At the actual start of the race it had briefly stopped raining, but it started up again a few blocks in and continued the whole way. I was so focused on my running that it really wasn’t too much of a bother, except that: a) wet feet late in the race were really annoying. Between rain and puddles I was soaked to my socks; b) my double-tied shoes came untied during the race, which I blame on soaked laces. I lost a few seconds to re-tie them. The race course took us through downtown, along the Genesee River to the University of Rochester area, back across the river, and up back to downtown with a finish outside the Verona Street Animal Shelter. In good weather, it’s not a bad place to run. I’ve run some of these streets as part of the Rochester Half Marathon and on lunchtime runs when I worked in downtown Rochester. The neighborhood is a bit rough, but at 8AM on a Saturday with a pack of runners, there were no problems.

I could tell from my Garmin that my pace was fast (by my standards) throughout. Anything under 10:30/mi would make for a new PR, and my longer training runs were around 10:25/mi while shorter runs (up to 4 miles) were under 10:00/mi pace. On race day, I was thrilled to be consistently under 10:00/mi. I’ve never run for so long at this speed, and though I was concerned about being wet and tired at the end I held out and crossed the finish line in 61:27—a new PR by about 4 minutes!

This about says it all regarding the weather

The 10K is still a growth area for me. This was only actually my third 10K ever—after the ridiculously hilly 2010 Cinco de Mayo 10K in Tucson and the 2012 Lost Dutchman 10K in Apache Junction—and every race has been faster than the last. I believe I could shave a little more time off my 10K in the future, but I’m pleased with this performance and I think it shows the result of more training miles, weight loss, and a better diet—all things I’ve worked hard at in 2012. An interesting side note to this is that even at an overall 9:55/mi pace I was one of the slower finishers in this race. I’d like to think this is because rain deterred a lot of slower runners and walkers who might have otherwise participated.

Support along the course was good, with times announced each mile as runners passed. Post-race entertainment included live music, an expo of pet products and services, and an open house at the Verona Street Shelter with adoptable pets. Weather cleared up within 15 or 20 minutes of the finish so I got to enjoy some of this while attempting to dry off. These two pups pictured here are among the many pets at the shelter looking for forever homes. These adorable babies have no front legs, but they were as happy and loving as any puppies could be. I hope someone in the Rochester area will give these little ones a bright future!

Chase Corporate Challenge (A Race Reminiscence)

Well, this is not so much a race report as a race reminiscence. Yesterday in Rochester was the Chase Corporate Challenge, which several of my friends here ran. Maybe you can see a picture of them if you check out the Democrat and Chronicle photo gallery.

Though I was unable to run the race–since I am no longer an employee of a Rochester company–this event always brings back fond memories for me. The Corporate Challenge was my first race several years ago. Just being around to do the race was a big deal for me. You see, in 2004 I was raped by an individual who drugged me at a bar and kidnapped me. I eventually got away and went to police with the incident. What followed was a year and a half long odyssey to take my rapist to trial. To this day, I consider that the hardest thing I have ever done. I had an order of protection while my rapist was out on bail, I feared for my safety, I had to re-live the experience over and over again to detectives, attorneys, police officers, and in a courtroom, and the entire process took such a toll on my relationship with my boyfriend (who, during the process, became my fiance) that I think it ultimately doomed us. I try not to think about it a lot, but what I do remember quite vividly is sitting on a witness stand, being cross-examined by my attacker’s ass of a defense lawyer, and thinking to myself, “If you get through this, you are never again allowed to say you can’t do something, because nothing will ever be as hard as this.”

Running a 3.5-mile race seems like nothing to me now, but before I started training for the Corporate Challenge I had never run farther than the 1-mile fitness challenge back in high school. I worked out, but didn’t consider myself an athlete. I had a friend who did the race every year and who always tried to recruit me, but I said no for years because I just didn’t think I could do it. But that first year after the trial, I couldn’t say no. I trained and ran the race, and I’ve been running ever since. I ran the Corporate Challenge three times, eventually becoming co-chair of my company’s event team before leaving my old job. I’ve also worked up to running many more 5Ks, 10Ks, and two half marathons. This year, in the month of May, I ran over 60 miles. I will soon pass 250 miles run this year. Lots of things in my life have come and gone since that first race, but running has remained a part of my life and I hope it always will.

The Lost Dutchman 10K: Running for the Gold

This weekend, I ran the Lost Dutchman 10K in Apache Junction, Arizona. I was super excited about this race for a couple of reasons:

  • First, in spite of the fact that I’ve done a lot of runs of 6 miles or more, I have only ever done one previous 10K race, and it was awful. This race was bound to be a PR for me, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hoped I could get under 1:10, but I suspected I might be able to do even better than that.
  • Second, I’d been wanting to race in the Lost Dutchman event since the first year I’ve lived in Arizona. The scenery seemed great, I heard good things from other runners, and the medals are nifty. There’s even some interesting lore behind the story of the Lost Dutchman and his mine, and those sorts of tales just fascinate me. In past years, the date of the race didn’t line up for me, but this year it seemed meant to be.

My BRF (Best Running Friend) Bean and I went up to the Phoenix area yesterday to get our packets and prepare for the running fun. She was planning to do the half, which meant getting up extra early today–her run started 45 minutes before mine. Here are some pics from the Apache Junction area, including a couple winning pics of this morning’s sunrise.

View at the Expo Center

Sunrise at Apache Junction

Another great view

Overall, the race went great for me. I think Bean and I both have the same complaints about the event, which are minor overall: parking was limited, and those who arrived late had quite a hike to the start; line-ups for the start of the various events (half marathon, 10K, 8K, 2 miles–the marathon started at a different location) were not clearly announced, leaving some runners surprised when the gun went off (the guy in front of me was texting at the start of the race!); and the course was a bit different than what we expected. The 10K was advertised as an out-and-back that was slightly uphill the first 5K, downhill the last 5K. In fact, there were rolling hills all the way. I’m pleased and surprised that I was able to power through the way I did.

The good news: The course was beautiful. While we were on roads the whole time, the area is mostly undeveloped and there are great views of saguaro, desert brush, and the Superstition Mountains. Roads were also completely shut down for us, giving runners space to spread out, and support along the course was great from volunteers and spectators. At the end, there was plenty of food and some entertainment (which we didn’t stick around to see). The medals are all beautiful, and the shirt is also pretty snappy.

Great medal!

This was a PR for me by 10 minutes, and I came in at around 1:05. I credit part of that to my last-minute decision to fill up my water bottle with Zico coconut water, which helped give me calories and energy along the way. I hate most sports drinks and usually just take water and Gu on longer runs, but coconut water has been working well for me. It kept me going strong long enough that I didn’t even need to take my gel. Don’t get me wrong, I was exhausted at the end of the race, but holding a 10:30 pace throughout is a big deal for me! Bean did pretty well, too, finishing the half in about 2:08.

Given all of my issues and insecurities lately, today was a confidence builder that I really needed. I have to admit, though, the whole experience got me thinking about building up some more distance. I can’t help but feel ambitious when I’m surrounded by so many marathon and half marathon runners. Besides, with all the running medals I’m getting, I’m going to have to buy a medal rack soon. Might as well fill it up! Happy Sunday, everyone!