Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Herding Cats, Dog Puke and Other Stories of My First Half Marathon! (aka Part 3: The Final Chapter)

I’ve had some complaints. I didn’t “tell all” with my last two posts. They just seemed so LENGTHY!
Soooo…here’s a couple of gems I didn’t put in the last two blogs…ENJOY!!!

Don’t Worry, I Have Plan C

Around the time I was REALLY getting worried about my luggage, we came up with Plan B. Plan B was to get my second string running gear to Vegas by having Lu (my roomie) and Cody (Ditto’s hubby) meet at my house and pack it and bring it with him. But many of you don’t know I also had a Plan C.

Plan C included going shopping on Sunday morning. This would have worked although it would not have been very cost effective!

About 4pm, when my luggage hadn’t arrived and I hadn’t gotten a hold of Lu, I decided to have a cocktail. I ordered one of those fancy slushy drinks they have all over Vegas with the extra shot in a test tube. (No judgements, I needed a cocktail….badly!)
Anyway, I’m drinking my deliciousness when someone (ELSE) asks me what I’m going to do. Now, I recognize that people were concerned, but all the concern was freaking me out! I explained to my friend Plan B and then, probably because the drink was so strong, I held up 3 fingers and said “And don’t worry, I have Plan C”.

It got quiet for a second and the whole group (about 6 people) all busted out laughing at me….good thing I have a sense of humor about myself…because it was ridiculous and hilarious.

Herding Cats….

Poor Johnny! Somehow, he got roped into making sure we had a table for dinner.

In Vegas.
For 14 People.
Who were all staying in different hotels.

He’s such a trooper. He waited patiently from when we arranged to meet him until we all got there about an hour later.

As Johnny put it, “This is like herding cats!”

Luckily, it was a group of hungry (mostly thirsty) cats who wanted to be together.
The simple fact that WE ALL made it to this place for dinner, then met before and after the race was a miracle in itself.

Having such great, easy-going, FUN friends is a true blessing!

I Saw You But I Didn’t Know it Was You!

My friend, Cedric, came to Vegas. I haven’t seen him in over 2 years. We keep up on Facebook and I heart him to the moon and back. He’s such a great, irreverent, sweet soul. It was so awesome to see him and he gave me the biggest compliment of all.
He met us at the restaurant where the cats had been herded. We had a large party (14people) and were put in the corner as they generally do to loud obnoxious people. I was talking to friends, facing the wall when I received a text that simply said, “I’m here”.

I turned around and made a beeline for the bar and there he was. After a long hug and HUGE SMILE, Cedric said the 9 sweetest words in the English language…

”I saw you, but I didn’t know it was you!”

You see, he had walked to the table and only seen me from behind, he said I was so much smaller that he didn’t recognize me!
It was so awesome to see him!!!

I Can’t Get Over There, Let Me Text You A Picture

After the race we were tired, and sore, and tired. Ditto and I were lying in different beds in the hotel rooms with our legs up on the wall so the swelling would go down. Lying like this feels good after a race. Ditto was talking about her toes and the nails. It looks like she was sacrificing a toenail to the running Gods.

I told her I wanted to see it, but couldn’t move.

She told me she wanted me to see it, but couldn’t move.

Then she said, “I’ll text you a picture”
Which she did!

Lazy or Smart? You be the judge!


If you’ve read the other blogs you know that Ditto and I had to share the back seat of part of our airport ride with Cat and Jeff’s 90 pound yellow lab, Rex.
Well, we had to pick Rex up and take him home too. We got into the back seat with this enormous bucket of love and hit the road home.

The whole trip home was a discussion of what to do for dinner that night and what we would do for New Year’s Eve.

We were about 5 minutes away from home when another car cut in front of us causing us to swerve and for poor Rex to hit his nose on the back of Jeff’s seat.

Suddenly Rex was agitated. He was turning around in his seat, which in turn means dog butt in Ditto’s face. He got back into his original position and proceeded to vomit all over Ditto’s leg and a bit into her purse.

Now, the two of us are both holding ourselves up off the seats so dog throw up doesn’t drift over. After running 13 miles less than 24 hours before this is no easy feat. My legs were shaking and my head was out the window.

I was the lucky one.

Poor Ditto, puke on her jeans, and right next to the saddest, sorriest pooch in history.

We jumped out of the car as soon as it stopped and Ditto grabbed her luggage to change.

I grabbed her purse. It was the least I could do. I wouldn’t let her touch it, I cleaned it out. It wasn’t THAT awful.

Jeff cleaned out the car, while Cat laughed her butt off we me and Ditto in the kitchen. Cat was both horrified and amused. In her words, “It was like he sh!t out of his mouth!”

And Rex, well, he sat in the backyard for a while staring inside at us. Then he came in and apologized.

How can you stay mad at this face?

Overall, this experience was more than hard work and accomplishment. It was who I got to share this experience with.

Seasoned runners like Johnny, Joey, Deb, Ang, Sue and Cat

Rookies like Ryan, Ditto, Bil and Me

And who can forget our "Athletic Supporters"? Those who didn't run but cheered us on...Danielle, Jess, Nicole, Jeff, Vinson and Cedric!

My weekend could have been super stressful with lost luggage and so many people to organize, but it wasn't. It was awesome.

Seeing my friends waiting for me under the "Y" sign was as awesome a moment as crossing the finish line because when I felt like I couldn't run anymore these folks (and others that couldn't be there) were the ones who carried me.

Simply put...Be Jealous Because My Friends Are Awesome!

(oh, and they can beat your honor student in a foot race...)

Friday, December 9, 2011

RACE DAY aka My First Half Marathon Part Deux

When we last left off, I had gotten my luggage, it was 3am and I was carbed up and ready for a good night’s sleep…

On Sunday morning Angela, Ditto and I all woke up around 9am. The goal had been to sleep longer, but I think we were all a bit nervous.

We decided to put on our sweats and go find some breakfast. The goal was to have a good size breakfast and then something small, but filling around 2pm.
Since most races are first thing in the morning, figuring out how and when to eat was a challenge for us. .. and for everyone else apparently.
When we went downstairs, every line was so FREAKIN’ long! When we finally got in a line at a place that made smoothies and crepes (A smoothie for Ang, crepes with eggs, ham and cheese for me and Ditto) everyone around us was trying to figure out the same thing.
The line for Starbucks was no different…long and full of people who were trying to find the best way to eat and drink for the day.
The three of us really took it easy, but you could tell both Heather and I were getting nervous. We were fidgety. Organizing our gear, figuring out our plans, etc.
The plan was to meet the rest of the gang at 4pm and then head to gear check together.
We were all ready to go about 2:30, walked over to grab a quick sandwich at Quizno’s and then finished up our preparations and headed out.

We met up with everybody and this is when I got really nervous. Here are my nervous traits:

1. I obviously over-hydrated and was nervous because I peed at least 3 times between meeting the group and getting to the corral.
2. I couldn’t talk. I was really in my head the whole walk to the gear check area. For those of you who know me, I ALWAYS have something to say.
3. When I did have something to say I would start to cry. Okay, okay…I’m such a girl sometimes. This event moved me. What I was about to do moved me. My progress moved me. But most of all my friends moved me.

All this time I wanted to stop and thank Cat and Ditto, but every time I tried I started to cry. I said what I wanted to say eventually, but I’m pretty sure I said it really, really fast so I’ll say it again here.

Ditto- I don’t know how “ready” I was that night, but every bit of ready was because of you. Training with you (okay, okay behind you…) has been both fun and difficult. Becoming friends and running buddies with you has been a highlight of this experience.

Cat- I literally would NOT have done this without your encouragement and belief in me. You have been the voice in my head every time I thought I couldn’t do something. You started this ball rolling and there is no way I can repay you for the gift you have given me. You are the angel who gave me my life back.

Enough of that mushy crap…

We finally all said goodbye at the corrals. All of my friends were in corrals 16-22.

I was in 31.
It took me about 30 minutes to get to the start line. That’s 30 minutes to stand in the cold, over think my performance and get the nervous pees again.

This race was crazy. Over 42,000 people trying to run to the same place! I have nothing to compare it to and I thought it would be crazy, but I’ve never dodged and weaved so much in my life.

Here’s my race rundown:
Mile 1-Awesome! I felt great! I felt ready! I had to pee.
Mile 2 – Had to stop to pee. Stood in line for about 6 minutes. Ruined my time. BOOOOO!!!!
Miles 3-4 – I had organized the run into 3 parts. Start to Stratosphere, Stratosphere through Downtown and Back, and Stratosphere to Finish. Getting to the Stratosphere at Mile 4 was awesome!
Miles 4-8 – I was still trying to make up my time from the bathroom. (I wanted to be under a 13:30 pace) But I was doing okay. I remembered to take my Shot Blocks and tried to enjoy the race all while dodging people. I would find groups of runners and latch on to them going through the holes of people walking.
And I looked like this…EWWW

Mile 8- I had to pee again. This time I took the time to stretch and rest. It was only a two minute stop.
Miles 9-11 – Still doing okay. When I hit mile 11 I started crying (again). I realized two things.

1. This is the furthest I’ve ever run. I had only gotten to 10.5 in training runs.
2. I only had 2.1 miles left!

Miles 11-13.1 – I really wanted to catch up on my time so I was running as hard as I could, but every time I looked at my watch my pace was really slow. It made me mad, but I didn’t stop!

FINISH- The finish line is a safe zone, so you don’t see your friends until you get through it. I got my picture taken , got some water, snacks and made my way to where I was meeting my friends.

It was really cold that night and just as I was leaving the safe zone it started to rain. I can’t imagine what it was like to run in because the rain was so cold it felt like daggers hitting my skin.
I got to the meeting place and there they were…freezing and waiting for me. It was so special and great. I love my peeps!

The rest of the evening was both eventful and uneventful.

Eventful- Overcrowded dangerous halls trying to get back to the hotel. Rock N Roll has a few kinks to work out.

This was the crowd trying to leave Mandalay Bay!

Uneventful- I wasn’t feeling well and went right to bed! I didn’t even eat.

Eventful – I had so many texts! My parents signed up to get alerts and texted me when I finished. My friend Mike had taken guesses at where I was throughout the course and written encouraging texts at 3 miles, 6 miles, 9 miles and the finish.

I’m so stinkin’ grateful for the wonderful people in my life!


2:59:42, I came in 25895th!

And I feel great. I was sore, but not so much that I couldn’t move. In fact, Cat is running another half this Sunday and if I didn’t already have Mom and Daughter Brunch plans, I probably would’ve signed up too.

I can’t wait to get back on the pavement. I’m taking this week easy and just doing yoga and walking.

Next year’s goal?

3 Destination Half Marathons:
1. Dallas
2. ?
3. Dublin, Ireland!
I think I need to find somewhere that starts with a “D” to go with my theme!

Nothing can bring me down from this “Runner’s High”.
A year ago, if you had asked me if I wanted to run a half marathon, I would have called you cuckoo. Now I can say I’m a half marathon runner!

And I have the GLOW IN THE DARK MEDAL to prove it

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Always Carry On Your Running Clothes aka My First Half Marathon

As most of you already know, I was both nervous and excited for my first half marathon.

For those who don’t run, running is more than going outside and pretending someone is chasing you. Its knowing what to wear, when and what to eat, how to pace yourself and what music to listen to.

Everyone is different and I really took this seriously.
Well, I seriously as I can take anything.

You see, I chose my first half marathon to be in Vegas. Here’s what I told people when they asked me why:
“I figure if I hate it, I can just run right in to a bar!”

I like to have a “Plan B”

It was more than that of course. It was my friends. They were running or had already run this race before. It was at night! How fun to run down the strip with the lights and the signs and the men handing you pictures of naked ladies! It was a weekend in VEGAS! Yeah, maybe I couldn’t really do my normal “Vegas Damage” but I could still have fun….

To quote my own Facebook page, last weekend was, “the craziest, most stressful, most hilarious, most difficult and proudest weekend of my life!”

And it all started Saturday morning!


Saturday morning I went to pick up Ditto (aka the other Heather) and we went to meet Jeff and Cat (aka Staci) to carpool down to the airport.

All we had to do was squeeze in the back seat with their 90 pound yellow lab, Rex, to Pasadena and then Jeff’s brother would graciously drive us to the airport. No taxis, no parking fees, EASY BREEZY!

And it was that easy. However, we learned early on….Don’t listen to Jeff!

Jeff picks the slowest lines so it takes a long time to get anywhere. We managed to get some beer and breakfast! (Carbing up is important and it’s never too early for a beer when you’re on your way to Vegas!)

We got up and went to go to the bathroom and Jeff says, “We have plenty of time, the plane’s not even there yet.”

However, while I’m in the restroom I hear the following, “Okay Southwest flight 1347 to Vegas… Group B line up!”

What?! Group B? Uhhh, what happened to the plane not being there?

We made it on the plane and after one of the bumpiest trips of my life (thus far…I still had to get home!) We landed safely in Vegas.

We got to the baggage carousel and there was so much luggage! I’m not entirely sure why there were 3 empty carousels, yet ours held the luggage of four different flights, but it did.

The carousel went round and round. There was Ditto’s bag. There was Jeff’s bag. There was Cat’s bag.

Where’s my bag?

With my running clothes?

No, seriously, where’s my bag?

Jeff is a gentleman. He takes my baggage ticket and goes to the Southwest booth.

He’s gone for a while and I decide to join him. When I get there I tell the attendant, “Yes, I’m missing a red, Nike duffle bag.” And suddenly Jeff is laughing.

He says, “I just told her it was a black rolling bag!”

Not even close, Garcia!

So I make a report. She assures me this happens often and it will probably be on the next flight and in my hotel in the next couple of hours.

I’m calm, cool and collected. Being a seasoned traveler, this has happened before, in worse places. I’m not concerned. However, Cat and Ditto are worried. Cat says, “What will you do if your stuff doesn’t come.”

I say, “It’s gonna come, I’m not worried.”

I even make a quick “Vegas 1, Heather 0” joke on Facebook and worry our friends that are driving and solicits a comment from an experienced runner, “Rule #1- Always carry on your running gear.”

Really? Information I could have used YESTERDAY!

I decided I was going to think positively. There are about 20 flights a day between Burbank and Las Vegas. My bag would make it on to one of them.

This was at 10am.

Then it was noon.
Then we went to the expo to pick up our bibs and shirts and shop a little! Here’s our first official race photo!

Then it was 2pm.

Then it was 4pm

And I started to freak out!

Luckily, Ditto’s hubby, Cody, had decided at the last minute to join us. He had an 8pm flight that night. I arranged for him to meet my roommate at our house. She packed me a bag of my “B-Team” stuff and he promised to “carry it on”!

I told you I like to have a Plan B. (Plan C was to go buy an entire new outfit at the Nike store on Sunday morning! Thank Goodness it was a night race!)

Meanwhile, I was eating, drinking and being merry while enjoying my awesome friends! I realized I would be wearing the same clothes for the next few days and resigned myself to that. My friend, Cedric, even came out from West Virginia to see me (and his family, but mostly me!). It was a fun night and I got to do what I love the most. Spend time with cool people and make jokes at my own expense.

Front Row seated (left to right): Danielle, Ditto, Joey, ME!
Left side of table standing (front to back): Nicole, Deb, Jeff, Cat
Back row seated (left to right): Johnny, Angela, Jessica, Ryan
Right side of table standing (back to front): Vinson, Bil

Plus, when you’re taking it easy in Vegas, you HEAR the craziest things.

For example, while in the restroom I heard the following conversation in the stall adjacent to mine:

Sober Mom: Come on honey, get up, we’ll help you walk
Drunk Daughter: I can’t (slur, slur)don’t want to walk. I will walk when I don’t need help.
Sober Mom: We’ll help you
Drunk Daughter: If I straightened out my butt right now, I’ll throw up. Just three more throw ups and I’ll be good.
Sober Mom: (stunned silence)
Drunk Daughter: But I really want a Pepsi and some food
Sober Mom: I’m not bringing you a Pepsi and some food to the restroom. If you want food, you’ll have to walk.

I couldn’t stay around to see how it turned out for fear they would hear me laughing and know it was AT them.

Or you see funny things, like:
The poor guy in line in front of me at the convenience shop who’s debit card was declined when he tried to buy…..condoms.
Luckily, he had a credit card.

Cody arrived around 11pm and met up with us around 1am. And he had with him the second string running clothes! The planets were re-aligning!

We managed to stay up until 2am (our goal) and carb up - Pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, etc – before heading back to our hotel.

Ditto, Cat, Angela and I headed back to our respective hotel rooms. While Cody and his buddies stayed out to play.

When we got in the room, I went to the bathroom and we had a phone in there. Curiously, the message light was blinking.

Now, Southwest assured me they would call me when my luggage got to Las Vegas and was on its way to the hotel, both at the airport when I filed the report and when I called (twice). So, it couldn’t be that it was there! Could it?

I couldn’t make the bathroom phone work, so I rushed out and went to the one in the hotel room. I listened to the message and screeched, “IT’S HERE!!!!”

I ran downstairs and got my bag. In it, my cute going out clothes, my make-up and other toiletries, pajamas and of course THE FIRST STRING RUNNING CLOTHES!!! YEAH!

You should have seen the smile on my face…OH WAIT… here it is!

Part Two…RACE DAY ….coming soon