It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

October 08, 2014

Mo Cowbell Half Marathon

Re-enactment of our first Mo' Cowbell shot
What a great weekend.  It’s been a long time since I had fun;  since I laughed, really laughed.  I posted the pic below with the following caption on FaceBook and it is so true.  “Nothing mends the heart like good friends and laughter “.  I needed this weekend.  It was a nice break from the grief and loss I’ve been dealing with.  No, it didn’t make it magically all go away, but it certainly helped in the healing process.

I drove the 3 and a half hours to the St Louis area on Friday afternoon.  I got to my room right about 5pm.  Coy wouldn’t be there until around 10pm.  So I just decided to chillax.  I turned on the TV and ordered ridiculously expensive room service.  I kicked up my feet and waited for her to arrive. 
She finally got there and I was so excited to see her!  We watched the KC Royals play yet another overtime game – which they won (and if you don’t know won the series – Go Royals) and then we both fell asleep.  To my surprise we both slept in the next morning.  It was nice to just relax…no rush.  We got up around 8 and headed downstairs for breakfast.  Then we headed out for the day.

Coy had never been to St Louis for more than just the night so we set out to see a few sites and pick up our packets of course.  We headed over to St Charles, MO which was about 10 mins from our hotel.  The expo and the race has grown exponentially since the first year we did it together.  They had 1500 runners that first year and around 5000 this year.  We browsed a few things at the expo and got our packets.  It was a pretty easy process and then we headed out for some site seeing.

Coy & I under the St Louis Arch
Our first stop was the Arch.  It is always pretty amazing if you’ve never seen it.  It is just so massive.  If you are up close, there is just no way to get a picture of the entire thing.  I asked Coy if she wanted to ride up in it – I made that mistake once and told her there was no way I was going with her..but I’d go wait with her if she wanted to go.  When I described the ridiculously small “pod” they transport you in she opted to just look at it.  Youtube it if you want…if you are at all claustrophobic it is not for you!
The outside of the City can just see how fun it is

Acting silly in an airplane

Everyone needs a pic in front of a rooster
After that we went to the City Museum, which is really not much of a “museum”, but more like an attraction.  It is similar to a Science City if you’ve ever been to one.  There is a lot to do and see.  It is really meant for kids, but two big kids can still have a blast.  We took some great pics and laughed a lot.
Just outside of Busch Stadium - Go Royals!
Our last stop was to Busch Stadium – home of the St Louis Cardinals. Now, us folks from KC are not big Cards fans…esp right now since we are both in the playoffs, but it is a beautiful stadium and Coy wanted to see if so how could I say no J
We finally headed back to the hotel for some dinner – at the hotel bar and then back to our rooms to get some sleep before the race.

In our race packets was the parking information which clearly said get to the race early.  Everyone will get there an hour beforehand, get there sooner…to which we both laughed…ha, we’ll leave about an hour ahead of time.  Um, we should have listened.  We got up about 5:30 for the 7:30 start and were out the door about 6:20. It seemed like plenty of time.  It wasn’t.  Traffic was backed up way off the highway just to get off the exit.  By the time we finally got parked, I dropped my bag and we hit the potty it was literally 2 minutes til go time.  Well, at least we didn’t have to wait around!

This was my first race since my Mom & Dad passed so I wanted to do something special to honor them.  I created a sign which I wore on my back for the entire race.  A few people commented on it, but most didn’t.  I was kind of surprised more people didn’t say anything, but maybe they just didn’t know what to say.  I wanted them to be with me during the race and I know they were.
It was a pretty cool start at about 45 degrees, but it was absolutely perfect running weather.  We both wore a cover layer to start, but quickly shed it before mile 2.  I was never hot and never cold.  It was seriously perfect weather for a run.

Now, let me remind you that I’ve had a lot on my plate.  I have lost both of my parents in the last month and I’ve done a lot of traveling.  I hadn’t ran over 4 miles in about 2 months.  So I had no idea what to expect really.  But, I did expect this race to be slow and painful and have lots of walking.  To manage it I put us on a run walk ratio of run 1:30 walk 30 seconds.  It’s amazing how fast that 30 seconds goes by.

A few pics we took along the way - there's a horse see
The pace ended up being perfect.  We were 7 miles in and I was still feeling great.  I was really expecting to be really slowing down by this point.  Right around mile 7, someone from behind us says “Michael – Coy”….it’s always a shocker when someone recognizes you in a race.  It was a reader named Susan who had just told me she was going to be at Mo’ Cowbell and Indy – small world.  We ran with her and chatted a bit and she went on her way.  She was doing the full marathon.  She was looking super strong so I’m sure she had a great race.  So a huge shout out to Susan – Thanks for saying HI!!!
At the 7.5 mile point we were still just under a 12 minute pace which wasn’t bad.  And we were stopping to take pictures pretty frequently.  But at 7.5 I also had to stop to go to the bathroom and apparently so did everyone else.  There was one porta potty and a line of about 7 people.  We lost a good 5+ minutes here.  Our pace went from 11:55 per mile to 12:20 per mile.  I knew we couldn’t make that up and I figured we’d just slow down after that, but I was ok with that.  I had originally thought – just finish, but if I finish under a 13 min pace I’d be happy.

We maintained the run/walk pace most of the rest of the race (other than the one really hilly section in mile 9 where I took a few extra breaks).  The miles between 9-11 are pretty boring and I was glad to get back into town.  At mile 12 there is the final aid station which is manned by what looked like was maybe a local fraternity…it was definitely college aged boys…   When we start toward the aid station, Coy says “well we get to choose which one to get water from, so there’s that”.  The first guy was much older than the rest of the guys, to which she said “so not him”.  LOL, this made me laugh…my favorite quote of the day.  We finally see the finish line and start heading toward it.  We ended up crossing the finish line with a 12:17 pace.  I was thrilled with this because it meant that other than the “pee mile” our pace was pretty consistent throughout.  It is still one of my slowest half marathons to date, but I’ll take it!  I knew 13 miles would be hard, but it went by in the blink of an eye.  I know my Mom & Dad were with me every single step of the way.
As far as the overall race goes I would recommend it.  If you are looking for a race in the St Louis area this is a great one.  It’s in the quaint little town of St Charles, MO and it’s very pretty.  It is also a very flat race other than a section of about one mile between miles 9 and 10 where you just seem to climb forever.  The rest of the race is pretty darn flat.  A few small hills here and there, but that’s it.  You get to run through the cute little historic downtown area, and then you run through a housing community called New Town which is just awesome.  It seriously looks just like a movie set.  It’s beautiful.  It makes me want to live there!!  As far as race swag you get a nice long sleeve technical t-shirt and a cowbell of course!  They have great course support and volunteers!  It’s really a great fun race!

Race Swag
Coy and I headed back to the hotels for showers and to say our goodbyes.  I was sad to see her go, but it was so great to get to spend the weekend together.  As a little added bonus, my niece who lives in St Louis, but just happened to be out of town for the weekend text me that she would be home by noon.  So I got to have lunch with her before I headed home.  That was a great little extra surprise.  All in all, it was just one great weekend!!!  And, it was wrapped up with a Royals Sweep of the Angels on Sunday night!!!  Wahoo!! Go Royals!



October 02, 2014

A True Love Story About My Mom & Dad

I don't know where to begin.  I've sat down to write this post a few times and just haven't felt ready to write it.  I don't want to write a heavy, depressing post, but wanted to let my readers know why I've been away for awhile.

I know some of you follow me on Facebook so you already know this, but if you don't, well then I lost my Dad on Sept 15, just 18 days after losing my Mom.  As you can imagine, my world has been turned upside down.  I just feel lost.  I am trying to use running as an outlet, but sometimes it just feel overwhelming.  I've cried a few times, a few deep down doesn't make it easy to run.

I miss my parents.  I miss them so much.  But I do find a peace knowing that they are together again. My Dad was absolutely lost and heart broken without my Mom.  They had something so many people want - true love.  Their marriage was far from perfect.  There are things, I'm sure if they were still here, that they would tell you they regretted.  They made bad decisions, etc, etc stuff that we all do.  But they loved each other more than most people could imagine.   They were truly inseparable.  When my Dad started a car lot, my Mom went to work with him as the bookkeeper.  When my Dad got another job as a salesman at a car dealership, my Mom went to work in the office there.  When my Dad decided to be an over the road truck driver, my Mom hopped in the passenger side and went with him. They had so many adventures together.  They couldn't be apart...truly couldn't.  So when my Mom got sick, my Dad in turn got sick.  And when my Mom passed, my Dad wasn't far behind.  I'm sure the death certificate for my Dad will say he died of septic shock, but I think my family knows he died of a broken heart.  True love.  It's a beautiful thing.  They had been together almost 50 years.  They met and were married in high school.  We found love letters back and forth between them from high school that were so special.  My Mom even saved (in a locked box) their very first grocery list.  How sweet is that?

I get my sense of  humor from my Dad.  I love that.  He was quick witted and sarcastic.  I also, unfortunately get my fiery and sometimes stubborn side from him too.  What I didn't inherit, which I have always been sad about is his musical side.  My Dad could pick up any stringed instrument and play.  He loved to play the guitar and the mandolin.  He played in a few blue grass bands over my childhood years.  He didn't have a great voice, but a good one.  He loved to play and sing.  He lost his voice after he had the feeding tube in the ICU and never quite regained it.  He really hated that because he wasn't really able to sing these last few months.  I'd love to hear him sing again.  Some of my favorite memories are when I was very young - about 5 and we used to sing together.  I would always pass my cowboy hat around afterward and expect money.  LOL.  But it is a great memory.

I just can't believe how much has gone on in my life these last 6 months, but especially these last few weeks.  It has been difficult to say the least.

Please, if you pray, continue to keep my family in your prayers.  It's a very hard thing losing your parents so close together - and so young.  My Mom was just a few days shy of her 66th Birthday and my Dad had just turned 67 in July.  I just turned 40 in April...and it just seems to young to be without parents.  My family is still facing a few challenges  and we are all just dealing with a lot.  I appreciate all the support I have received over these last few months.  It has meant so much to me.

I will be running my first race since all of this happened on Sunday.  I don't expect the race to go well AT ALL.  I haven't ran more than 4 miles in at least 6 weeks.  It will be slow and a lot of walking, but that's ok. I'm meeting up with one of my best friends in the whole world - Coy....many of you know Coy.  We met virtually through blogging, but we have done a race together every year for the past 4 years.  We are returning to Mo' Cowbell which was the very first race we did together and the first time we ever met.  We've been amazing friends since.  It will be good for my soul to just walk/run with her and enjoy the day.  Spend some time talking and laughing. I need that so much.  She has been so awesome!  She even drove 5 hours round trip to come to my Dad's funeral.  I don't have many friends who would have done that.

So the next post you will see will be a race recap. I plan on dedicating this next race to my Mom & Dad.  My Mom was absolutely my biggest blog fan.  I know my Mom & Dad will be watching me race.  Smiling and cheering me on.
Dad & Mom - back in the day
Dad on is Harley

Picture taken last year - Our Last Christmas together