First 5K in the books!

This morning started off kind of rocky as my nerves completely took hold of me and would not let go.

Although my alarm was set for 6:15, I woke up for the first time at 4:30 and every 30 minutes or so thereafter.

Anxious was an understatement. I was afraid my alarm was not going to wake me up. I was nervous about my first race.

You would think my nerves would settle a little when I took Lucy outside this morning and saw there was no snow on the ground. Yesterday the meteorologists were predicting a 70 percent chance of snow this morning.

It was, on the other hand, quite wet from the rain. Nonetheless, with overcast skies it was in the 30s and bitter cold.

I’m so thankful Jason and I went to the store yesterday and picked up an Under Armour sweatshirt and beanie hat for me to wear today. It’s amazing how warm those two items kept me.

Before walking out the door to go to the race, I put on two more layers of clothes. Good thinking on Jason’s part. Considering how cold it was this morning, with all the layers and having my entire head covered including my ears, I was as comfortable as I was going to get.

We arrived at Meadowview Convention Center 10 minutes before the race started to a slew of people in the parking lot. Before Jason dropped me off, he turned on his MP3 player and made sure the sound was just right before I stepped out of the car, yes still a bag of nerves.

Last night after I went to bed, he set up his MP3 player with music he knew would keep me moving – a mixture of some Sevendust, Nonpoint, Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat. He could not have put together a better playlist if he tried.

So, as I walked into the middle of the crowd that gathered my nerves slowly diminished as the cold began kissing my face making my knees shake. This was from the pure cold, no longer the nerves.

I cannot fully put into words what kind of feeling consumed me at that moment. I was standing in the mix of runners; I was minutes away from starting my first race. I was so proud of myself for taking on this challenge by myself. Although I was running it by myself, it was comforting to know that Jason was in the crowd cheering me on, waiting for me to cross the finish line.

The 5th annual Chase the Turkey was definitely a family affair. Everywhere I looked a couple was standing shoulder to shoulder, parents and their youngsters standing in a circle, or a group of friends laughing amongst their small crowd.

I smiled at that moment; I was making my own memory by myself, which was so incredibly empowering. So incredibly gratifying. So incredibly independent. That alone was a huge undertaking for me. Years ago I would never have thought I could do something like that on my own.

Before the race began the organizer spoke and said they had 700 people registered for the race. I now cannot remember from how many different states, but it was impressive. It was good to hear that Chase the Turkey has grown every year. He was saying that last year the course had a lot of ice. This year there were a good amount of puddles, which I could handle.

Before the race began a prayer was shared by one of the local pastors and the song “Amazing Grace” came streaming through the speakers. By this point the nerves had completely disappeared and the excitement washed over my entire body. I was ready; oh I was so ready to start running.

All at once I was in the middle of a human stampede. As the lines of people picked up their feet and began running, it was like a domino effect as everyone behind them did the same thing. Eventually the fast runners made their way to the front of the line and everyone went into their own stride from the parking lot of Meadowview Convention Center to Meadowview Parkway.

Although there were people all around me, I was in my own little world. I was running to the beat of the music. I followed the hundreds of people before me as we made our way down the parkway to the stop light at Wilcox Drive. The cold completely diminished as the excitement heightened again as I rounded the median of Meadowview Parkway in the direction we just came.

I felt as if I had a good speed, I was not becoming tired.

After leaving the parkway I took a few strides on the grass before my feet hit the pavement of the golf course. The pathway went under the parkway up a little hill and then around a bend before hitting a straightaway back towards Wilcox Drive.

As some of the other runners came to a stop to walk, I maneuvered around them and kept my stride as the music filled my ears. I made it past the 2 mile marker and kept running smiling on the inside. You got this. The path along this stretch had puddles that everyone ran around. Unfortunately this was not the case the entire way to the finish line.

I made it a good 2.5 miles before the hills got the best of my legs. I stopped and walked as fast as I could until I reached the point where I told myself to pick my legs up and keep running. So, I was off again . . . this is when some of the puddles reaching the length of the path came into view detouring everyone into the grass.

Of course my foot hit a puddle and one foot instantly became cold as the water soaked through my shoe and sock.

At this point it started to drizzle a little, but I was still warm with my new running gear!

I got this . . . until another hill kicked my butt and my pace came to a fast walk again. The spot in the near distance that I chose to start running was a lot shorter this time before my speed picked up again. It helped that one of my favorite songs blared into my ears. (I’m thinking now when I run with my puppy Lucy music is going to be added to the exercise again. I love how it motivates you.)

I’m happy to say after this I ran all the way to the finish line. Yes, even with a pretty steep incline before making my way to the Meadowview parking lot again.

Shortly after climbing that hill, Jason came into view. I was so excited to see him . . . I knew the finish line was close by.

This part of the race was such an incredible feeling. I started to hear music other than my own and people cheering as the finish line arch way came into view. It was an invigorating feeling when I rounded that last curve, I was about to finish my first 5K.

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When I crossed the finish line . . . wow! Words cannot describe that feeling at all.

When I saw Jason walking closer I couldn’t contain my excitement. I could feel my face light up as a smile spread, Jason capturing the moment as he walked closer.

I did it. My first 5K is in the books.

I cannot wait to sign up for another 5K. That was such an incredible experience. Incredible experience. Now I know what I need to work on. Now I have a time to shoot for and pass.

According to the State of Franklin Track Club I was 17 out of 26 in my age category with a time of 34:42. Overall I came in 366th place out of 594 finishers.

I am proud of that time!

Wow, talk about a runners high!!

It was the perfect way to kick off Thanksgiving! A perfect way to jump start a day with the love of my life.

That high continued throughout the day, as Jason and I prepared our Thanksgiving feast together at home.

I truly have so much to be thankful for . . .

Cold, but surprisingly good run

It has been way too many days since Lucy and I went for a run. Unfortunately those days added up because of either making up excuses of not wanting to go for one reason or another, or the weather was extremely cold and rainy.

Yesterday was definitely out of the question, which was unfortunate because the desire was finally back to hit the Greenbelt.

Saturday morning when Lucy and I went outside for the first time after waking up, I  noticed snow on Bays Mountain.

IMG_2610Although the first snow storm of the season graced NE Tennessee Nov. 1, we did not have any snow in our yard.

It was really cold with overcast skies and on and off rain. Jason and I had talked about going for a hike at Laurel Run Park, since it was his first day off in a long time, but with those weather conditions we stayed home.

Jason ended up spoiling me with homemade chili, banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. Yep, after indulging in that goodness, I needed to run today.

So, after cleaning the house and doing a load of laundry, it was time to lace up those running shoes once again. I put on three layers of long sleeve shirts, since it was in the 40s, before we left. The crazy thing was, all three of those layers stayed on our entire run.

I learned a few things today during our run.

Forty degree weather is the coldest I have run in to-date and it was really hard. At times my lungs were burning asking me to stop, but somehow we kept on going. I’m hoping it will get easier.

Yes, I learned that I need to invest in some winter running attire to stay warm.

I want to continue running as much as I can throughout the winter months because my gym membership expired yesterday. I decided not to renew it because after running outdoors I don’t know if I can go back to exercising within four walls again.

The second thing I learned today is I really don’t like squirrels. Okay, squirrels are fine if I’m not running with a puppy! They tend to make enough of an appearance to grab Lucy’s attention and then drive her bonkers.

I always have Lucy on a short leash while we are running because of the other foot traffic along the path.

Today a squirrel ran right in front of us at the absolute perfect time. Yes I’m saying this jokingly. Lucy took off with extreme speed towards the squirrel whimpering before instantly realizing she could not go too far even as she picked up my speed.

Yes, this happened on more than one occasion.

The third thing I learned today was Lucy runs even faster in colder temperatures. We really never have an issue with her running too far ahead of me, even on a short leash. Lucy’s usually running at my side or just a step or two in front of me. Well, today it was a different story. She was running, at times pulling me, as she maneuvered along the path. Lucy is barely nine pounds and she was pulling me!

She was on a mission. I think she too needed to be outdoors.

I had to fully stop her on more than one occasion to get her to listen to me, so we could enjoy the last leg of our run. I’ve never had that many issues with her.

With all of that said, it was still a gorgeous run, a much needed run outdoors.

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A lot of the trees were bare along the path of the Greenbelt today, which made this tree jump out that much more. I absolutely love the vibrancy of the orange.  20141102_143723

This is why I didn’t renew my gym membership. 20141102_143733

We ended up running 2.34 miles today. Although that is satisfying, I want to start doing at least 3 miles every time we are out. I know we can do it because we have accomplished that goal twice now.

Here are a few more pictures from the Greenbelt . . .

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Picture perfect running day

This morning I could not get myself out of bed, especially with the cooler temperatures keeping me under the blankets. I had a certain time frame to get myself going before I had to get ready for an American flag donation ceremony in Jonesborough. Sadly, I could not get motivated fast enough, so my run was skipped.

After returning from Jonesborough and sending two finished articles to my editor, the motivation was back. It was easy to get in the right mind frame when there was a beautiful blue sky, without a cloud in sight, hanging over us.

I’ve had the opportunity to go for a run every other day this week because of the rain that keeps impacting NE Tennessee. Yesterday a glimpse of the sun teased us for a little while before it hid again casting rather cool temperatures.

I was in desperate need of that run today, especially with the small breakdown I had yesterday because of my work load. Well, just the overall stress of working in the journalism world.

20141017_150557So this afternoon with temperatures in the 70s, a slight wind and blue skies, my puppy and I went to our go to place, the Kingsport Greenbelt. Today we were able to head in the opposite direction because the path was dry. This route always graces us with a successful distance, a further running distance.

Once again, it was Lucy and my farthest distance so far this week. We ran 2.68 miles.

I started my app at 2:47 p.m. this afternoon. Although I’m more of a morning exerciser, this afternoon was picture perfect running weather. Both Lucy and I were comfortable temperature wise the entire run.

Yes, I keep an eye on her while we run to make sure she’s okay, although she always gets my attention when she is in need of a break or to slow down.

The gentle breeze kissed our skin at all the right times today. I didn’t have to roll up my sleeves until after we stopped for a short break in the middle of our run. I still give Lucy a break, after all she is still a puppy. Maybe after Jan. 21 when she turns 1, things will change.

It’s hard to believe we have been running partners since May. We’ve been pretty consistent with our distance. We usually go anywhere between 2.20 to 3 miles a day. Not too bad, I think.

20141017_151039Although Lucy began panting towards the end of our run, her pace was the fastest so far this week. She wasn’t just jogging, she was running her cute little trot.

Thanks to the squirrels, we sprinted quite a bit as well. They were teasing her, standing near the edge of the path not moving until we were almost side by side. With a little bit of encouragement . .  . “Come On” we kept our pace going.

20141017_150707I found it interesting that this section of the path wasn’t as vibrant as the other in terms of the fall foliage. Today from the PetSmart parking lot we headed right, instead of left. There were sections along the path that had hints of red, orange and yellow leaves scattered.

20141017_152115I absolutely love taking in my surroundings, which again today calmed me down and made me forget the headaches I dealt with yesterday.

Once again running worked its magic . . . .

I’m hoping tomorrow we will see another sunny day, so Lucy and I can get our fourth day of running in this week.

Breathtaking fall afternooon run

Lucy and I have taken way too much time off from running these last few weeks, due to my parents coming into town (we went hiking instead) and Jason and I moving into our new home. Plus, it has been nonstop raining for the last I don’t know how many days making it difficult to go anywhere.

Today is the first day I can look out my office window and see Bays Mountain. I hope the sun stays for a little while!

With the blessing of the blue sky, I laced up my running shoes, hoping the path would not be flooded, and we headed to our favorite place, the Kingsport Greenbelt.

I felt myself calm down as we pulled into the parking lot. The stress of work got the best of me the last couple of days. I could feel myself needing to be outdoors and releasing some of that negative energy. Yes, running + being outdoors is the best therapy.

My sweet little Lucy was beyond excited when we arrived in her favorite parking lot. Of course, I could not get my stuff together fast enough for this little squirt. Eager was definitely an understatment. With all the rain, it’s been very hard getting her outside for any kind of exercise.

Our drive to this area of the Greenbelt is much further than where we used to live, but I love this stretch of the path.

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I will definitely have to do some research and see if there is a closer portion of the Greenbelt to where we live now. But until then, I have no problem making the drive.

20141013_123449Although the path was wet in some areas, it was not flooded at all. Last summer around the 4th of July Jason and I walked the path, which was completely under water in some sections.

As we ran our 2.32 miles, we moved to the music of leaves crunching. Lucy was not a fan of the extra noise, but I loved the crunching, as the wind brushed over our faces keeping us cool.

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We stopped mid-way, so I could give Lucy a little rest. Her pace was slowing tremendously and I didn’t want to over heat her since the temperatures were in the high 70s.

I of course didn’t mind the stop . . . it gave me a chance to take pictures of the scenery I was admiring as we ran the path.

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The current of the water was moving at a steady pace today and much higher than usual.

20141013_125508Last year, I spent this time of the year running on a treadmill at the gym. Wow, never again will I run indoors during the fall. The weather is perfect and the colors that surrounded us played a part with calming me down and encouraging me to enjoy every step we took.

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I think Lucy enjoyed the stop too. Every time the wind picked up, leaves of every shape, size and color started spinning to the ground at different speeds, which kept Lucy’s attention for quite some time.

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I hope the weather will allow us to run for the rest of the week. I know better, running has to be a part of my life. Without it I feel lost, without it, working from home becomes too much. I need that outlet to escape from my office for an hour or so.

12.09!!

20140920_102518 I am happy to report that Lucy and I finished the week off with 12.09 miles, surpassing our last record of a total of 10.1 miles for a week.

We ran five days this week:

Sunday for 2.22 miles with an average speed of 4.0 mph

Monday for 2.30 miles with an average speed of 3.1 mph

Thursday for 2.14 miles with an average speed of 3.6 mph

Friday for 2.54 miles with an average speed of 3.2 mph

Saturday (today) for 2.89 miles with an average speed of 3.6 mph

I’m not quite sure what happened to us on Thursday, especially after taking two days off in a row, but that was our shortest distance of the week.

I love keeping record of what we accomplished. It gives me an idea of our progress.

Yesterday and today we ran a new route and it seems to be helping our distance. Maybe we were getting tired of the same scenery. Maybe we just need a path less traveled. When we head in the other direction there seems to be a ton of dogs, some of which shouldn’t be out on the path at all if you ask me. Yesterday and today we only ran past three dogs.

20140920_102628Today we ran further, quite a bit further, than yesterday. Every time I looked down Lucy was focused ahead, so we kept going until she slowed way down. Unfortunately when we hit this stretch of the path, it opens up quite a bit with no coverage from the trees. So, I listened to Lucy and we took a short break on a bench where we spotted beautiful flowers.

I’m excited to see what we will accomplish next week with our running distance.

I will sign off for now with a few of my favorite pictures from our cool down walk, which ended with us stopping so Lucy could watch the ducks playing in the water.

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New route = success

Today has been an incredible day so far.

I woke up and lazily began my day. While sitting at my desk writing an article, I received a surprise phone call from Jason. He was calling to ask me out to lunch, well an early lunch, during his break. Unfortunately the time he was going on break was the same time I had an interview set up for the Herald & Tribune. What are the chances? I hated to decline his sweet offer, especially since I have not seen much of him since he started working two jobs Tuesday.

After we said goodbye, I sent him a text telling him I wish I didn’t have an interview, would have loved to see him, and thanks for the call. I love his reply, “It will be alright. I just need to center myself and hanging with you does that.”

That simple reply still has me smiling. It definitely brightened my day.

A couple minutes later I interviewed country singer Suzy Bogguss for the International Storytelling Festival, which is held in Jonesborough, Tennessee. It’s always interesting to interview artistic people and see just how their career had begun.

After we got off the phone, I was now on a new natural high from a great interview. So, I got dressed in my running clothes and Lucy and I headed to the Greenbelt.

Today we changed up our routine. Instead of going our usual route, I decided we would head right instead of left from the Petsmart parking area. What a great idea. We ran 2.54 miles today, our longest run so far this week.

At about half way through I decided to give Lucy a small break, so she could enjoy the outdoors too, puppy style. We headed down towards the water, where she sniffed and explored the new territory.

20140919_114810I love watching her check out a new area.

20140919_114305She never stands still for long, as a new scent takes her on a different little trail.

Today, the weather was absoltely perfect. It was in the mid 70s, instead of 56 degrees like yesterday, and the sun was out. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. That I have missed. It has been so overcast lately that I was starting to miss the sun.

20140919_114151The best part about our route today is it is far less traveled. We passed maybe a half of a dozen people, some on bikes, others walking. When we head in the other direction there are always a ton of people. Although everyone is friendly for the most part, it’s nice to enjoy the path, just Lucy and I.

20140919_114655So this is where Lucy and I stopped and enjoyed a little bit of nature in the middle of our run. Why rush a good thing, when you can stop and enjoy the view? I know Lucy is capable of running 2 miles, probably more, without stopping, but I still don’t want to push her too hard. She still is, after all, a puppy.

So far this week we have ran four days, 9.2 miles. Our mile marker to beat for the week is 10.1. Looks like we will be heading back to the Greenbelt for another run tomorrow.

 

Off on the right foot

20140918_075643This morning finally started off on the right foot, yes, by that I mean a beautiful morning run.

Lucy and I began our day around 7 a.m. because of the phone interviews I had lined up for work this morning. When we arrived at the Kingsport Greenbelt the sun was slowly making its presence. It was stunning with the fog in the distance shielding some of the mountains from view. Poor Lucy, so eager to run towards the path was running back and forth as I tried to snap a few pictures of the breathtaking sky. I’m happy to say it didn’t turn out as blurry as I thought.

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This morning when I parked the car, it said it was 56 degrees outside. Yep, the coldest temperature Lucy and I have run in since we started a few months ago. Lucy definitely loves the cooler temperatures, she was going at a pretty steady, fast pace the entire time. We finished our 2.12 miles in almost a record time, with a little break for Lucy.

It felt great running with the cool air brushing against my face and my bare lower legs. The crisp morning air was a breath of fresh air, one that was truly needed after yesterday. I have discovered over the last few days that I have a pretty bad case of allergies. Scratchy throat, watery eyes, extreme headaches . . . completely not a fan of feeling this way, especially while trying to finish articles before deadline.

So, this morning as we were running my head was completely clear and my throat was scratch-less. Unfortunately after returning home it all started again. I’m just thankful I had the opportunity to run without any of those symptoms.