Take the Money and Run

“They headed down south and they’re still running today
Singin’ go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run” – Steve Miller Band, Take the Money and Run

Pretty much.

 

I’m feeling mad about race entry fees today.  Mostly, I’m just feeling mad because I am broke. Why are race entry fees so damn high? Even a local half marathon can cost upwards of $100. Now, I know I don’t have to run races all the time but where is the fun in that? When you stop doing things for fun, you might as well be dead. I no longer lose weight from running (I can maintain my weight but my body figured out what I was up to and hangs on to the fat for dear life, now) so I now run for mental health but I also run for bling. I run races to compete with myself except, I always seem to run faster in training runs. I need to figure out why that is but that is a post for another day. I also realize that these are First World problems and I should probably just shut up but it is my blog and I can bitch if I want to.

I have a plethora of races to register for on the horizon and a lack of funds for race entry fees in my bank account. First up, registration for the new Not So Normal Run, which is a half marathon through Carrboro. I’ll get a nice discount because I am a mentor at Fleet Feet and agreed to keep an eye on folks out on this course but it is still money. I just registered for the Tarheel 10 Miler because they offered a “free” t-shirt if I registered early. On March 11, registration opens for the Marine Corps 17.75K, which I really hope I get into so I can get an automatic entry into the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Only, if I finish the 17.75K, I have to immediately turn around and register for the marathon and, even if I don’t get into the 17.75K, I have to go into the lottery for the MCM and give them my credit card number. I registered and paid for the 2015 Raleigh Rock N Roll Half Marathon 10 minutes after finishing the 2014 race so I don’t have to pay for that race right now. I really question my sanity because that course majorly sucked. I finished it and thought “No fucking way I am running that again” but there I was in the damn registration tent, handing over my credit card. I think I do suffer from some sort of runner’s high after races that majorly impacts my judgment. I’ve bought a lot of race gear in the high moments after finishing a race.

I'm just going to relax & enjoy   a quiet evening at home.     Mainly because I can't   afford to go anywhere  or do anything. I spend my   “extra” income on – yep,   you guessed it – race   entry fees.

My biggest dilemma? The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon registration opens on March 17 and will fill up in a matter of hours. I have a deferred entry into this race since I did not run it last year due to the Philadelphia Marathon so I’m paid. Carly, however, is not. If I was not already paid up, there is no way I would even consider registering for this race. I’m feeling some mixed emotions about signing Carly up for the Wine and Dine. Y’all will remember that she did not train one bit for the Rebel Challenge. We made it to the finish line of the half marathon but it was not pretty and I don’t think she had a lot of fun after about mile 7. She swears she’ll train for the Wine and Dine this time but she swore that last time, too, but never did (and the race before that and the race before that).

Disney races are some of the most astronomically priced races on the face of the Earth. I won’t say how much I paid for the Rebel Challenge for the two of us because y’all would be horrified. The Wine and Dine fee for Carly will be $195. I told her, after the Rebel Challenge, that I was not signing her up for any more races until she could demonstrate that she would run on a regular basis. When I told her yesterday that I was thinking of taking her to the Wine and Dine to spectate but not run with me, she was really upset, which kind of broke my heart but, at some point, I have to be all parental and teach a lesson (money does not grow on trees, if you don’t put forth effort I’m not spending money, blah, blah, blah). If she runs this race, she will earn her Coast to Coast medal and I think that is a big deal to her.

I’m not running anymore Disney races. After Wine and Dine, I will have experienced all that Disney theme park races have to offer. Don’t get me wrong – the races are fun but they are just way too expensive and there is so much more I want to do. I’m going for scenic beauty from here on out (think Dublin or Yosemite). That, and opportunities to run locally with my friends. We’re suckers for local races which is the way it should be since I am lucky enough to live in such a great running community.

Sign the kid up or not? I just don’t know. I need to win the lottery so I can pay all my race entry fees. You know how they hand the lottery winners those big checks and ask “What are you going to spend your winnings on?” I’d say “Race entry fees! I’m going to run ALL the races”. I also need to rotate out some of my running shoes and replace them with new ones. We won’t even talk about how much those cost now that I am no longer sponsored by a shoe company! Running, the most expensive free sport in the world.

Healthy Tipping Point — When Everyday Decisions Add Up to Something Amazing

Sweet Dreams

Sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree? I traveled the world and the seven seas. Everybody is looking for something- Annie Lennox, Sweet Dreams

So, this week’s post was supposed to be about the Krispy Kreme Challenge – a dozen donuts, 5 miles. I was supposed to be telling y’all about running through the streets of Raleigh with Heather and dodging piles of frozen puke but, alas, I can only write about my very uneventful 5 mile run on the treadmill that just happened on Sunday – the first run in 7 days. It was an uneventful run, except for my best canine running friend laying next to the treadmill for an hour, giving me the canine version of the stink eye because I did not choose to run outside and take her with me. Too cold and I’m still a little sick.

This week, my family was visited by the plague, also known as, Influenza Strain A. It seems the flu shot we all got was for Influenza Strain B. It all started on Monday when Colin’s preschool called at lunch to tell me he had a fever of 101 and had to be picked up. They kindly reminded me, as I was hustling him out the door, that he could not come back until he had been fever free for 24 hours without the aid of medication. Ha. They had nothing to worry about. None of us was going anywhere for days. Mike and Carly were sick by Monday night. I came down with it on Tuesday night. It was so miserable. I would not wish this on anyone. Tamiflu is one of the greatest inventions of modern medicine. I am upright and running on Sunday because of it.

Since I could not work and I could not run, I binge watched two seasons of Reign on Netflix. If you have not seen the show, it is about Mary, Queen of Scots and her time at the French Court of King Henry I, waiting around to marry Francis, the Dauphin of France, in some kind of political alliance because the French hate the English and the English hate the Scots. I am kind of surprised I watched this show because it airs on the CW Network (I don’t think you are allowed to watch that network if you are over 30) but I am scraping the bottom of the barrel on Netflix offerings. I am a Game of Thrones, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad kind of girl. I am not into romance. If cupid wants to shoot his arrow, it had better hit someone in the eye and nail their head to a tree. Seriously. With that said, I kind of liked it (there is plenty of sword fighting and some torture) but I don’t know why Mary pines away over that pasty, skinny, blonde Francis. Give me Sebastian, the King’s bastard son, with his dark hair and blue eyes, any day. Or even randy King Henry, who is more age appropriate (the actor who portrays Henry is 43), and who is pretty fly for an old guy, with his 5 day old stubble and those black leather pants he wears in 90% of his scenes. Anyway, (spoiler alert but it is history so you already know they end up married) Mary spends most of Season 1 pining for scrawny Francis until she marries him and most of Season 2 pushing him away for stupid reasons. It required very little thought from my fevered, achy brain.

When I was not rotting my brain with Reign, wondering if I was ever going to stop coughing or  tending to one of my sick children (Mike was on his own, man – every grown up for himself), I did read about running (I read Runner’s World, Running Times and Women’s Running) and pinned a bunch of stuff on Pinterest related to running. I also dreamed about running. I found out that fevers of 103 give you some pretty vivid dreams.

I dreamed I was running in Asheville. I have never run in Asheville (only Boone) but I have wanted to for a long time. It was the perfect temperature and the leaves were green. I also dreamed I was running in Paris. I blame all that French court intrigue for putting that idea into my head. I dreamed I was running from zombies but that was probably more like a nightmare and less like a dream and possibly related to the fact that I determined that, since Colin and I got the sickest from this flu, when the zombie apocalypse comes, we won’t make it past the first wave. It is just as well. We are high maintenance and lack the survival skills Mike and Carly possess. We like warm beds, internet and won’t eat yogurt one day past its expiration date.

Asheville

This prompted me to spend some time thinking up my running bucket list because I had nothing else to do. Where do I dream of running? Some of these races/destinations I will likely experience. Some of them are pipe dreams but I believe in dreaming big.

In no particular order:

Marine Corps Marathon, Washington, DC

Dublin Marathon, Dublin, Ireland

Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon, Napa,CA

Yosemite Half Marathon, Yosemite National Park, CA

Rock N Roll New Orleans Half Marathon, NOLA

London Marathon, London, England

Big Sur Marathon, Carmel, CA

New York City Marathon, NYC

Key West Half Marathon, Key West, FL

Red Rock Canyon Half Marathon, Las Vegas, NV

Asheville Half Marathon or 10K, Asheville, NC

Blue Ridge Relay, Roanoke, VA to Asheville, NC (pipe dream because I am not fast enough and don’t have 11 friends crazy enough to do this race with me)

The Bear Foot Race, Boone, NC – 5 miles straight up Grandfather Mountain, finishing in McRae Meadow in the middle of the Highland Games, representing Clan Pollock. I can’t throw a telephone pole but I can run and rock a cute running skirt made out of the Clan Pollock tartan (yes, they make performance tartan – no wool for me).

I wager I would look cuter in my skirt than this dude.

I would not, however, look cuter than this girl in just a sports bra, running up Grandfather Mountain.

Now, I just need to win the lottery and quit my job so I have the time and money to devote to traveling all these places and training to run up a freaking mountain. Talk about hill repeats.

I am happy to be well. I am happy to be able to run, even if it was only 5 miles. I am sad I missed my donut race. The forecast is calling for snow to begin tomorrow afternoon. We will likely be cooped up all together in this house, again, for a few days. Amazon just announced a new show based on some detective books I’ve read so that should hold me over. The treadmill will help me get my runs in but won’t get me out of the house so let’s hope we all survive. I almost bought a pair of Yak Tracks running spikes at REI today just so I could make an excuse to get out of the house and run in the snow. Then, I remembered I like warm beds and the internet and I am not into snow so I put them back. I did buy fresh yogurt, though, so no one will have to eat the expired stuff.

 

 

Waking Up in Vegas

“Shut up and put your money where your mouth is
That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas
Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes, now
That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas” – Waking Up in Vegas, Katy Perry

IMG_2685 New York, New York, at dawn

What did I get for waking up in Vegas? Three amazing runs on the The Strip at the ass crack of dawn because I was on East coast time and could not sleep past 4 AM, Vegas time. I logged 15 miles in three days so you know I must have liked it.

So, I have mixed feelings about Vegas. I’ve been before with my husband and had a good time but was sick of it after 48 hours. I went for conferences both times but Vegas with your spouse and Vegas with your co-workers are two totally different things. I was with co-workers this time. Co-workers I consider friends but still, a much different experience.

A little Vegas goes a long way and there is a lot about Vegas that is just plain gross. Vegas, to me, is like that one sorority sister we all had back in undergrad. She always pre-gamed a little too hard. She always wore a really short skirt and she always wanted to go to that one fraternity house where things usually ended in debauchery (shout out to all you Pi Kappa Alphas out there). In the light of day, you knew you should not go out with her but you usually did it, anyway. At the end of the night, you either ended up holding her hair back and listening to her cry or standing next to her in your own very short skirt, taking tequila shots in the frat house and looking forward to the debauchery. Vegas can go either way. This time, it went the tame way for me. I still talk to that sorority sister and I’ll still talk to Vegas, too, but I might not see either in person, again, for a good while.

IMG_2689 View from a pedestrian bridge, at dawn.

But, this is not a blog about the olden days when I used to have a lot of fun and was not a responsible adult, it is about running. When I travel, I love to run. It is the best way to see a city or town. You get to see things you would not if you were not out of a car or public transportation. Running is also the washing machine of my mind and it allows me to clear my head. Because I was without the responsibility of having to get my kids ready in the morning, I was able to run as many mornings as I wanted while I was there. It was freedom, personified.

The Strip, in the morning light, is such a different experience. I headed out all three mornings right when the first light came up over the mountains beyond the Strip, which is a beautiful sight. Vegas is in the middle of the dessert, surrounded by mountains. It can actually be a pretty town if you see it at sunrise. Mike was convinced I was going to be abducted so he made me promise to wait until there was some sunlight but I did want to run while it was still dark and the lights were still on but I did not.

IMG_2682 Paris Hotel and Casino

I must have been trying to burn off something because my pace was fast. Really fast, for me. I put in my head phones and Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and One Direction provided the soundtrack for my run, music fitting for Vegas. Running the Strip is like an obstacle run. One cannot simply run down the Strip. Casinos want you inside, not out on the street. They don’t make it easy to get from point A to point B without seeing the inside of the hotels. There are also a lot of dangerous intersections so there are a lot of escalators, stairs and pedestrian bridges (yes, I always took the stairs). I loved the challenge of figuring out a route each morning. I did not plan it and just went with it each morning when I hit the street, hesitating at the sign in front of the hotel – Las Vegas Blvd, North or Las Vegas Blvd, South. I found, I preferred South.

IMG_2677 A view of the Venetian from a pedestrian bridge.

These were my favorite things or the funniest/most like Vegas things I saw:

People gambling at 6 AM – I stayed at the Vdara, right next to the Aria (which I highly recommend), and had no casino (and no smoking, thank god – what is with all the cigarette smoke, Vegas?) but that did not mean I could get right out to the street. I had to cut through the casino of The Cosmopolitan (the neighboring hotel, which looked like someone had hit every surface with a Bedazzler) to get out to the Strip. I cut through the casino in my running clothes and saw folks still drinking and gambling. Props to those folks (or I am sorry your life is so sad, you have to drink alone, gambling at 6 AM – it was hard to tell with some of them). Y’all are hardcore.

Homeless people – there are ton of homeless people in Vegas. There tend to be a lot of homeless people in warmer climates. It is sad. I wish this were not the case. The homeless people in Vegas, though, work pretty hard to be entertaining. They made funny signs. They put sunglasses on their cats (yes, they did). They sang the Rocky song as runners ascended the stairs. They told the female runners they had nice butts and admired tattoos. They played music. They told jokes. No one takes anything seriously in Vegas.

Other runners – so, there were a lot more runners out than I expected. Runners, in general, share a kinship but runners who get up at the crack of dawn in Sin City to run on the Strip have an even greater mutual admiration. Most of the other runners were male. I only saw three other women. Everyone waved, smiled or nodded. We also struggled with how to navigate the stairs, crosswalks, bridges and casinos – even giving each other a heads up when we encountered a dead end. I met the same guy twice in the fountain garden at Caesar’s Palace. He was from Maine and was still super excited that the Patriots won the Super Bowl. I love runners. They’re just good people.

Beauty – if you can look past the places selling sugary, alcoholic drinks by the yard, or the dudes handing out hooker trading cards (yes, that is a thing) Vegas has a lot of beauty. The architecture of the hotels is lovely. The grounds are well kept (I know because, each morning, I encountered numerous grounds crews out hosing off the sidewalks and sweeping up all the cigarette butts). From an interior, I loved the Bellagio best. It was decorated for Chinese New Year and it was visually stunning. From the exterior, I love Caesar’s Palace the best. They have a fountain garden, which is lovely. They also have Roman statutes, fountains and waterfalls all around. It is just a beautiful place to run. The Wynn is also stunning from the outside.

IMG_2699 Conservatory in the Bellagio, with Chinese lanterns

 

 

IMG_2692 Fountains at Caesar’s Palace

 

 

IMG_2707 The Wynn and the Encore

So, I loved running in Vegas. I highly recommend it. I highly recommend running during all your travels. See things you have never seen, before, and get off your butt.

IMG_2674 View from my 43rd floor window

Now, it is time to get serious. I must clean up my eating (says the woman who is going to run the Krispy Kreme Challenge next Saturday – 12 donuts, 5 miles – although, I am in the non-competitive division, meaning, I don’t have to eat all 12 donuts before I cross the finish line. That is a very good thing.) I have 4 races between now and the end of April (maybe 5 if I get into the MCM 17.75K) and the Ironman in June. No more Bloody Mary’s, Maker’s Mark and ginger ales, Margaritas and buffets. Just kale and the occasional glass of red wine, because, allegedly, it is good for your heart (and it tastes better than kale).

In the meantime, happy running, friends.