aug 26/SWIMRACE

2.4 mile swim race
bde maka ska
open swim classic

Third time’s the charm. The first year I tried swimming this race, I had just been diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration and the lake was too foggy for me to see anything–they almost cancelled it–so I had to drop out. The second year, I displaced my kneecap and my physical therapist advised me not to try swimming it. This year I almost wimped out because of sore legs, but I didn’t. I thought about how much I’ve wanted to swim this race and how I wanted to set a good example for my daughter and I did it. I swam it. I couldn’t see anything because of my vision and all of the water in my goggles, but I found someone else to follow and we made it all the way around the lake. I think she might have led us off track–my watch shows that I swam an extra 500 yards–but we made it and, according to Scott, I got 4th place.

What do I remember about my swim:

  • googles, filled up with water
  • rocks mixed in with sand on the beach floor
  • shallow water–starting the race and walking for the first 15-20 seconds. Heard one swimmer joke, “I thought this was a swimming race, not a walking race!”
  • clear water, checking out the Eurasian watermilfoil just below me
  • not being able to see anything but water and an occasional buoy
  • feeling like I (and the 2 other swimmers I was swimming with) were the only people in the lake
  • having no idea how far I had gone or how much farther I had to go
  • the swimmer next to me and the pink shoulders of her tri suit and white rims of her goggles
  • thinking: I’m actually doing this! yay me!
  • the shocking cold of the water as I entered and the feeling that I couldn’t breathe
  • watching the swimmer ahead of me stop to look where she was going and thinking: please don’t stop, I have no idea where I’m going or where the next buoy is!
  • before the race, overhearing a woman with a cast on her broken feet telling another swimmer: “I broke it at my daughter’s wedding. The doctor told me I couldn’t swim in the race and I thought that was unacceptable, so I’m here and I’ve rigged up something for my foot so I can swim.” What a badass.
  • feeling strong and proud and tired and happy to be done
  • a slightly aching shoulder

july 18/RUN

3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south

Cooler again this morning. Writing this a day after, so I don’t remember much about the run except for that it felt good and I felt fast. A few other things:

  • Right before the greenway/railroad trestle there was a long line-up of cars, waiting at the 3 way stop. It felt great running past so many of them. What joy to be out on the path and not trapped in a car!
  • The friendly smile of a runner as I encountered her twice.
  • The green of the floodplain forest.

5K race (3.2)
walking/running with kids
last mile alone, all running
Torchlight

It was difficult racing with the kids and I probably didn’t handle it as well I could have, but it doesn’t matter because they finished it. More than 10 minutes faster than I thought they could and with smiles on their faces! Towards the end, they encountered a fast walker on the bridge, going past them. He called out, “I’m an 80 year old diabetic with an artificial hip (as he hit his hip), and if I can do it, you can too!” This inspired them to fire up and run the last stretch of the race. That story, which they both told with great enthusiasm, and the picture that Scott took of them just coming off of the Stone Arch Bridge is how I will happily remember this race:

They made it! #torchlight5k

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july 7/BIKESWIM

bike: 8.6 miles
lake nokomis

swim: 2 mile race
lake nokomis
59 minutes/1st place 35+

Today I swam in my first open swim race. And I won for my age group. So cool! I can’t quite express how proud I am of myself. Not so much because I won–which is great–but because I did the race at all. Since I was diagnosed with a macular degenerative eye disease 2 years ago, I’ve been nervous to do an open swim race. Whole sections of my central vision are gone and I have a lot of trouble sighting the buoys. I was worried I might get too far off course. No problem today. Lots of other swimmers around me for the first section. Then, I swam behind another swimmer for the rest of the race so I didn’t have to worry about looking for the buoys. I tried to do an open swim race 2 years ago, right after my diagnosis, but it was too foggy and I was too overwhelmed by my new lack of vision. I tried again last year but a month before the race my kneecap displaced and I couldn’t walk without a brace for 2 months. Now, finally, after overcoming injury and my doubts about my very bad vision, I swam and loved it.

I got to swim all around the lake, not just across it. Past the little beach, the overlook on the small hill, the big bridge and the boats. Didn’t encounter any fish, but I did swim through some milfoil. Again, the water looked pea green. Don’t remember thinking about much except for staying close to the swimmer ahead of me.

may 20/RACE

10K: 55:06
women run the cities

A beautiful day for a run beside the river! Sunny. Not too much wind. Not too warm. I decided to run this race to redeem myself for the get in gear 10K that I ran 3 weeks ago. In that race, I fell apart in the second half and walked a lot. In this race, I did much better. Starting slower and running through the bad moments. I still walked once–for about half a minute–and ran much slower than I have in the past, but I feel good about the race. What do I remember? A long line for the porta-potties. The energetic and entertaining way the women in front of me gestured with her hands as she talked. The woman behind me, describing her late night drinking and ordering domino’s pizza. The woman ahead of me in the race corral discussing meeting a random guy while running a marathon and then stalking him online later. The extremely off-key version of The Star Spangled Banner someone sang right before the race. A woman making this weird waving motion while running beside me. What was she doing? Being confused at the start of the lake street bridge because everyone was running on the sidewalk and not the road and then almost missing Scott cheering me on. Running up the Summit hill and hearing a woman encouraging her friend: “you can slow down but don’t walk.” Feeling grateful when “Back in Black” came on my running playlist and pumped me up. Trying to avoid all of the potholes. Crossing the Ford bridge and then seeing the long stretch of road before we turned down to the falls and wanting to stop and walk–but not doing it. Turning down to the falls just as the theme from Rocky started playing. Smiling as I finished.

bonus: Later, Scott and I biked to the game. 12 miles total. We weren’t biking too fast, but it was some nice cross-training. It’s always easier for me to bike when I’m following someone else. With my vision, I can bike but it can be difficult. Sometimes–not every time–it takes a while for me to really see the path, especially when going down hill. I see that it’s there, but I can’t quite find the edges. Usually, I trust that I’m following the path, even when I can’t completely see it.

april 28/RACE

45 degrees
6.2 miles/55:43/get in gear
ford loop

A beautiful morning for a bad, disappointing race. As usual, I ran too fast in the first mile and then fell apart in the second 5k.

What do I remember from the race?
  • the giant American flag and Scott remarking, “not sure where it fits on the ‘perkins/gander mountain spectrum’ but it’s big!”
  • the funky black and white shorts on the runner just in front of me
  • listening to other people sing along with the national anthem and feeling unpatriotic, tired of nationalism
  • feeling like the 15 minutes we were waiting in the start corral was taking forever
  • not seeing or hearing any of the annoying pacers
  • hearing the steady striking of moving feet of all the runners around me
  • a runner who hovered near me smelling like watermelon, which made it hard to breathe.
  • running close to the curb in the grit (mostly soft dirt, some sand), shuffling along–a satisfying, calming noise.
  • feeling like I wanted to stop, feeling like the St. Paul side of the river road was taking forever
  • a runner running by blasting heavy metal music through her headphones, so loud I could hear her approaching from a few seconds back
  • hearing a kid calling out, “mommy, mommy” as we approached the ford bridge and then a runner stopping to get a hug and drop off their hat
  • running on the sidewalk of the ford bridge with most of the runners while only a few ran on the blocked-off road
  • a car horn honking loudly–was it in support of us runners? annoyance for blocking the road? a warning?

feb 10/RACE

5 degrees/feels like -something
lake nokomis
5K: 25:52

Cold but sunny and not much wind. I learned today that the Valentine’s Day 5K is the oldest winter race in Minneapolis. This is my third year running it. Random things I remember:

  • the dude who sang the national anthem before the race started was good.
  • my big toes were very cold waiting before the start. I kept singing “my big toes are froze.”
  • loved seeing bright, electric blue shoes. One person had an electric blue jacket to match. Someone else had hot pink running tights. Not too many costumes. I remember a zebra. No one in shorts or a tank top or short sleeves.
  • I can’t get Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” out of my head because they played it after we were walking back to the car.
  • Scott and I split up about 1/4 of mile from the start. I went ahead because it was too crowded to run together.
  • The road was completely clear–no ice or snow at all–but at least two people were wearing trax that made an annoying clacking noise with every step.
  • Managed to say “thanks” to several of the volunteers.
  • Did I look out at the lake even once while I was running next to it? I don’t think so.
  • Don’t know my splits because I didn’t have my watch on but I’m pretty sure each mile was faster.
  • Noticed several people wearing bright yellow shirts.

nov 25/6.2 MILES

33 degrees
downtown minneapolis
moustache run 10K race

A great race. Slow but successful. Ran the whole thing with Scott. Biggest accomplishment: running the big long steep windy hill without stopping! also, finishing with a big smile and sense of accomplishment. Not too bad considering I’ve only been running for about a month since my injury.

Beautiful sun.  Not too cold although I recall saying to Scott about a mile in that I had cold fingers, hot hands and a burning face. Not quite slipped on ice a few times. There were patches of it near the cracks in the road. Tried to distract myself from the BIG hill by focusing on the ice patches.

Favorite spectator: the women standing at the top of the hill congratulating us for having run up the hill and saying “That hill sucks but you did it!”

Least favorite pacer (for the 1/2 marathoners): the women who called out 1/2 mile into the race “only 12.5 miles to go!”

Least favorite bro-runners (brunners?): the guy who said to his friend, just in front of us, right before we passed them, “I like running the half, more time to look at runners’ butts.”

Second least favorite bro-runner: the guy very near the end who was walking and then suddenly yelled out “are you guys ready?!” and then started to full out sprint like a spaz.

Least favorite road on the route: the Cobblestones!

I hate these cobblestones.

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oct 27/3.1 MILES

32 degrees
Halloween 5K
Riverfront Minneapolis

I raced a 5K! I raced a 5K! And I didn’t stop or feel much pain. Only the second time I’ve run that much without stopping in 2 months. It wasn’t fast, but it felt good and Scott and I did negative splits on each mile. Many people were dressed up because it was a Halloween race. I saw 2 Mr. Incredibles, a bunch of Waldos, a Gilligan, a few Wonder Women, Thomas the Train, the Doodlebops, a bright blue fuzzy monster with fabulous fuzzy legwarmers, a donut, a reindeer, a mother and son as black and white striped robbers, Dwight from The Office, a few Minnie Mouses and Cruella deVille. That’s all I can remember. No zombies. No vampires. No ghosts. No homicidal maniacs. And no witches. Why no witches? Well, I did hear someone say they saw Hermione, but that doesn’t count. Scott and I agreed that this 5K was one of the easiest we’ve ever run.

july 19/3.3 MILES

71 degrees
86% humidity
5K race/downtown minneapolis

This race was supposed to be a 5K (3.1 miles), but they measured it incorrectly and we ended up running extra. This error was very upsetting for Scott because he would have achieved a great PR, but not for me because I didn’t care. It wasn’t my fastest time and I was just happy to have only briefly stopped once and to be done. My time ended up being decent: 27 minutes for 3.3 miles/8:10 pace. I’m very happy with that!

Things I Remember From the Race

  • It was really cramped and uncomfortable in the starting line. A young runner (in high school) was standing/stretching/jumping up and down right in front of me. I was afraid he might land on my foot.
  • Hennepin Avenue was in bad shape. Lots of manholes and deep impressions that could twist an ankle.
  • For much of the first 2 miles, I ran near a mother and son. The mother was wearing a red clown-hair wig; the son was probably 9 or 10 years old. The son kept bolting ahead. The Mom kept saying, “slow down!” until she gave up and said, “Go ahead. I can’t run any faster.” He stayed with her while I ran ahead. They passed me again around mile 3.
  • Running on the Stone Arch Bridge, not quite near the end, I heard someone’s timer go off: “You have run 3.1 miles.” I was confused until later, when I found out that the race was long.
  • Hearing “Whoot there it is” playing as I passed two male runners who were blasting it as they ran in daisy duke shorts and no shirts.
  • Listening as one runner ahead of me thanked every volunteer and police office as he ran by them.
  • Nearly getting hit by a clueless, speeding biker who was biking recklessly on the race route.
  • Nearly twisting my ankle on the cobblestone right after exiting the Stone Arch Bridge.
  • Just as I was passing one runner, another runner approached and called out, “Hi Sara.” I looked over and then quickly realized that he was greeting the other runner, who must have been named Sara too. I wonder, does she spell her name the right way, without an h?
  • Usually it is very hot at this race. One  year: 95 with a heat index of 99 or 100! This year, only 70 degrees. It still felt hot to me. I really dislike running in hot weather.

july 4/13.1 MILES

72 degrees
77% humidity
Half Marathon Race/Red White and Boom

I’m not disappointed with my race, even though I did not stick to my plan, which was to stop every 1.25 miles and walk. I stopped many more times. I had several problems. The first problem: I couldn’t stop at 1.25 miles because it was too crowded. Second: the double hills around 3.5 miles sucked up a lot of energy. Third: the hills around mile 8 were also exhausting. Fourth: It was too hot not to be carrying a water bottle with me. Getting water every 2.5 miles was too long.

My time was slower than I’d like and I resorted to walking, then running a little, then walking again for the last 2-3 miles. My biggest feeling at the end of the race: I’m done and I don’t have to race this again! This is the second time I’ve run this particular race and I think it’s clear to me: I don’t like it. The race is organized well. I just don’t like it. The route. The heat. The super early start (we got up at 4:45 and left the house by 5:45).

Random Things I Remember:

  • Waiting in line for the porta potty before the race started and just barely making it to the start line.
  • The very slim and tall young woman ahead of me in a white tank top with bright blue shorts.
  • Stepping on something and having my feet stick to the ground on every step for about a mile.
  • How crowded it was for the first 2 miles.
  • Feeling wiped out by the first big hill at around 3 and a half miles.
  • The guy who was fat shaming Rosie O’Donnell.
  • The other guy who yelled to his friends as they passed the 2:05 pacing group: “come on! unless you want to run as slow as this group!”
  • Initially being annoyed by the pacer running near me because of his loud trivia game but then seeing him as a fellow runner and person when he had to stop pacing because the humidity was making it difficult for him to breathe. An important reminder to see the humanity in everyone first, before anything else.
  • The loud “woo hoo” that erupted behind me by some runner–it couldn’t possibly be the same one every time–when we approached a water stop.
  • Hearing a race volunteer yell out to a runner pushing a stroller, “Alright! Making it a family affair.” And then another runner yelling out, “That’s illegal!” I’m pretty sure it is. Almost always, races like this don’t allow strollers. 
  • The women on the bus yelling at the cops directing traffic to stop the runners and let the bus go through so that she could get to work. That same woman yelling at the runner just in front of me because the runner was giving her a snarky look. I struggle with how to feel about this one. Shutting down streets for the race can be a big burden for non-racers who need the roads. This incident seems to highlight the privilege involved with racing. Yet, I appreciate that the roads are shut down.
  • Encountering a woman who was breathing so heavily that I thought she might pass out as she passed me while I was taking a walk break. Passing her when I started running. Then having her pass me when I walked again.
  • Listening in as two women planned their future training runs. “When should we do our next 10 mile run?”
  • Watching as two runners stopped so that one of them, a woman in a bra and skirt, could stretch her ankle, which seemed to be hurt.
  • Walking up a hill that never seemed to end.
  • Listening in on another conversation as one woman told the other, “We already passed her. I hope she isn’t mad that I didn’t say hi. I think it’s rude to say hi when you’re passing someone.”
  • Approaching the halfway point, and the place where the first member of the relay teams finished and then next one began, and hearing a guy who was running in the relay yell out “which way to I go?” as he approached some orange cones dividing the road. Because it was very clearly marked, with a sign and volunteers directing you, I wondered if he was joking or serious.
  • The annoying volunteer that kept yelling out, “come on, smile! smiles are required!”
  • Not smiling and hearing him say, “I guess we’ve got some tired runners out there.”
  • Watching the pacer who had stopped pacing earlier in the race pass me at around mile 11.
  • A tall man running with his head tilted sharply down to the right. I wondered, was he exhausted or does he always run that way?
  • Overheard several times by several different groups: Are you okay? Can you keep running?
  • Overheard by a woman to her friend as they approached a porta potty with a long line: “Are you going to stop?” The woman answered: “Nah, I’m good.” Her friend: “Are you sure?”
  • Giving a few high-fives to kids who had their hands stretched out on the route.
  • Hearing one runner say, “Hey, what’s that?” Their running buddy: “A monument.” The first runner, again: “Cool. Hey, check out that library. They don’t make libraries like that anymore. I want to go there.”

That’s all I can remember.

 

 

april 29/6.2 MILES

44 degrees
get in gear 10k race
mississippi river road north (msp)/lake street bridge/mississippi river road south (st. paul)/ford bridge/minnehaha falls

I think that this post-race picture of me with my tongue sticking out about sums up my feelings about the race right after it was over:

It might be my slowest 10K ever. The time doesn’t bother me that much. I’m trying to go slower and my average pace in the race was still about 45 seconds faster than training runs. What bothers me the most is that my hamstring started giving me problems around mile 4. It became difficult to lift it up and the rest of the race was hard. There’s a lot more to say here, I’m sure, but I’ll leave it alone for now. 

After a little more distance from the race, I began remember things about it that didn’t involve my pain or failure, like standing in the corral just before the race started and looking at everyone’s running shoes. As we stood there, I mentioned to Scott that I love doing this: so many intense colors and I can stare at people’s feet for a long time while I try to process what I’m seeing without it being too weird. How many times have I made this same remark to Scott? Too many to count, I’m sure. Yet, as I say it, it always seems like a new revelation that I’m communicating about my quirky vision and how I struggle to focus on images because my central vision is scrambled. At this race, my favorite pair of shoes were an intense blue with lime green stripes and laces.

I also remember the National Anthem. This happens at every race right before it starts. They play a recording or someone sings–frequently it’s one of the racers. Occasionally they have live musicians. My favorite National Anthem was at the Get in Gear race two years ago when a brass quartet from the Minnesota Orchestra played it. After that, they played the William Tell Overture as we began running through the starting gate. Pretty cool. I have some serious problems with patriotism and nationalism and how they’re used to regulate behaviors and maintain an “us versus them” mentality, yet I still appreciate the playing of the anthem. I enjoy anticipating which version it will be: the standard recording with the crashing cymbals?, a super cheesy recording with a choir? Someone who can sing? Someone who can’t?

I remember walking around and seeing people stretching. Leaning up against trees. Sitting on the ground. Swinging their arms. Swinging their legs. Jumping, running and swinging. Lots of swinging. It can be dangerous. I almost got hit by someone’s leg as they swung it back, stretching their hip.

Check out the runner just behind me, stretching with the tree:

And I remember waiting in line for the porta potty. The guy ahead of me was nervous or impatient or just a jerk, I couldn’t decide. As we waited, he kept trying to direct  the people ahead of him, pointing out which potty he thought was open and telling them to go. He was always wrong.

march 18/RACE

Hot Dash 10 Mile
Minneapolis
1:29:04 (8:55 pace)

A great race. Well organized. Decent weather (a bit chilly and windy, but no snow or ice). Challenging, but interesting course (tons of hills). I achieved all of my goals: running all the hills, not walking and negative splitting the second five miles. Perhaps the best thing about this race was that my husband Scott and I were able to run it together, which is a big deal because we’ve never run more than 5 miles together. In the past I’ve been too fast for him. But since I slowed down a bit to build up strength and endurance, we’re more evenly matched. Maybe we’ll run the marathon together?

Before the Race

#hotdash #hotdash10mile @twincitiesinmotion

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During the Race

Crossing the finish line at yesterday’s #hotdash10mile with @undisciplined right behind me.

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After the Race

Done! 1:29:05ish. Ran pretty much the whole thing together. #hotdash #hotdash10mile @twincitiesinmotion

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feb 11/RACE

Valentine’s Day 5K
Lake Nokomis
25:25 (8:11 pace)

Excellent race. Not my fastest time ever, but solid. My goals were to run each mile faster than the last, to hit about an 8:15 pace, to not stop and walk at all and to have fun and enjoy the experience. I achieved all of those goals and ran the entire race with Scott. It’s a great start to my ultra summit challenge (5K in feb, 10 mile in march, 13.1 in july, 26.2 in oct). I’m relieved to know that even though I’ve been running almost all of my miles about 90 seconds slower in training, I can still go faster when I need/want to.

Reflections in List Form

  • I only used the porta potty once and there was no line!
  • The last 20 minutes before the start of the race seemed to take forever, but it wasn’t cold, so I can’t bitch about it…too much.
  • Only saw 1 or 2 people wearing shorts.
  • Costumes observed: couple dressed up as Wall-e and Eve, several women wearing tutus and a woman in Paul Frank footie pajamas.
  • Youngest runner: 10 or 11 year old boy who also had an ultra summit race bib, which means he’s running the marathon. Can you run the marathon when you’re only 11? What a bad ass.
  • Favorite announcer dude, who announces almost all of the races…running and triathlon…that I’ve done (Galen), wasn’t there.
  • The guy who sang “The Star Bangled Banner” was good–nice voice and no crazy runs. My favorite version of the National Anthem was before the Get in Gear 10K in 2015: a brass quartet from Minnesota Orchestra. As the runners began the race, they also played the “William Tell Overture.”
  • Almost 2000 runners, but it didn’t seem crowded.
  • Most annoying conversation overheard: [two runners, having a casual conversation, running about an 8 minute pace] Runner 1: “So how long have you been running now?” Runner 2: “Oh, this is my first time running this distance. I’ve only been running 3 times a week for about 6 months.” Actually, that conversation was not that annoying. It was only annoying when I thought he said 2 months, but I had misheard him, according to Scott. 
  • Mile 1: 8:22 pace. Most distinctive memory: Hearing Jessie J’s “Bang Bang” song as we ran by the big beach at Lake Nokomis and feeling compelled to explain to Scott who was singing. Why? Not sure.
  • Mile 2: 8:16 pace. Most distinctive memory: Asking Scott if we were at 2 miles and not feeling any panic when we answered, “no, just one and a half.”
  • Mile 3: 7:59 pace. Most distinctive memory: Observing another runner who seemed to be trying to race us, thinking that I didn’t care if she passed us and then realizing that I actually did when we passed her for good just before the 3 mile mark.
  • .1: 6:48 pace. Most distinctive memory: Feeling like I was going to hyperventilate when I stopped running at the finish unless I kept walking, so walked in circles while waiting to get my medal, looking like a fool or a spaz or both.
  • Post race food: water bottle, peanut butter stuffed chocolate cliff bar, chips and sugar cookie for daughter.

25:25. #vday5k #ultrasummitchallenge

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