December 30, 2011

A year in pictures

I'm shamelessly stealing this post idea from Katie.


Training began for the Bentonville Half Marathon -- in the snow.

February even more snow.


I survived my first ever 10 mile run!


 then celebrated our anniversary and my 30th birthday...




I fell in love with running cool(er) shady trails.


I almost melted setting a new 5K PR (which I will beat in 2012).


I played in the mud with a bunch of hillbillies.



I ran 20 miles!

And then I took a break.


Whew! No wonder I'm tired. 

December 19, 2011

What's next?

Thank you all so much for your kind words of encouragement these last couple of weeks. I know I beat myself up quite a bit in my last post, and I really appreciate your helping me put things into perspective. I finished a marathon, and that's all that matters. So, now what?

I feel like I need a do-over. Another race to prove that I can really do this, you know, without power puking all over an entire city. So I signed up for the Little Rock Marathon! It's on March 4, so I think I have enough time to get prepared for it. I've been a sloth the last couple of weeks since Memphis, and I'm determined to get back into my running groove.

Although I've been super lazy lately, I think it's good just to stop sometimes and reflect on all that's happened and just be happy with what I've accomplished before moving on to the next thing. So...I made a cheesy slideshow of training and race photos. Lame? Yes, but in an awesome way. Check it out. Mind you, this may not work in mobile or Google Reader.

I'm so excited that I'll have even more friends running this next race, including Laura, Jennifer and Trea, and John will be running his first full! I'm sad that Lori won't be running at Little Rock, but I'm sure she'll kill her marathon PR at another race this spring. We've all gotten hooked, and I couldn't be happier to have such a fantastic support system...especially since we all just signed up to train through the dead of winter! Let's hope Santa leaves some YakTrax in my stocking.

December 7, 2011

My first 26.2

I ran my first marathon Saturday - the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. I learned that all the training, all the planning, all the agonizing over every little detail still doesn't guarantee that all will go right. 26.2 is a beast. I learned the only thing that's fully in my control is how hard I try.

I was incredibly nervous in the days leading up to the race. Nervous, but excited and pretty confident that I could finish. Friday night I was so proud when I picked up my number at the expo. 16 weeks of training, long runs in sweltering heat, running in the dark after a long day of work, raising money for Team Carson, and the day was finally here!

I barely slept a wink Friday night, which is typical for me right before a race. Saturday morning, Trea and I walked to the finish line to check our bags and then met up with our training friends at the start. Trea and I always run long miles together, and since this was our first marathon attempt, we agreed to stick together the whole time, even though he's faster. 

We started out with the 4:55 pace group, but I was pretty sure we would fall back from them quickly, which we did. (I swear they were going too fast.) My Garmin kept losing satellite signal, so I wasn't able to monitor my pace at all. I just relied on Trea since his Nike watch was working. The first few miles were exciting because there were several spectators, and we were running through downtown Memphis. We ran by the pyramid and then through the St. Jude campus. When I looked at my splits later, I saw that miles 4 and 5 were about a minute faster than what I should've been running. That was because of all the sweet St. Jude supporters and signs that said things like, "A blister never needed chemo!" We couldn't help but run faster!

As we passed by Rhodes College, I noticed the pace felt too quick for me, so we slowed down. I had some goals in mind, but mainly I just wanted to make sure I could finish. I was feeling really good, and I just knew I would come in somewhere between 5:00 and 5:15, which I would have been thrilled with. But around mile 10, trouble set in. And by trouble, I mean uncontrollable waves of nausea. FAN. TASTIC. 

Somewhere around this point, I decided that I needed to eat something because I thought that would make me feel better, so we slowed to a walk while I tried to choke down half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We had already made two bathroom stops since we failed to synchronize our bladders, and while we were walking, the 5:10 pace group passed us. I was feeling so sick, and the sight of that pace sign bobbing by did not lift my spirits. 

I had been walking quickly through water stops since almost the beginning, and my walk breaks were getting longer and longer. I was having trouble just making it from station to station because I felt so awful. At around mile 12.5, the halfers split off toward the finish, and I almost started to cry because I wanted to follow them. But I still had over halfway to go. The course thinned considerably, there weren't as many spectators as there had been earlier in the day, and my nausea was getting worse and worse. I kept taking walk breaks just to keep from getting sick. 

At mile 17, things got ugly. I ralphed on somebody's lawn...twice. I've never gotten sick on a run before. I've trained up to 20 miles and not had any issues. I was so upset and disappointed. I was upset because I couldn't run, embarrassed to be in such a condition on the side of the road, and even more upset that Trea was watching it happen. After three years of marriage, we still try to be polite and keep private things private, but I suppose the honeymoon's over. And when he said I had to keep running because we still had 9 miles to go, I wanted to cry again. But I didn't. I ran. 

I started getting thirsty and feeling weaker almost immediately, so at mile 18 I diluted some Powerade with water and drank it. At mile 19, I turned into the exorcist and vowed to never drink Powerade or lemon-lime anything ever again. I kept running and walking, and my walks were getting crazy long. I would wait until I could see a water station and run to it, then walk again when I got there. It was terrible. Every time I tried to run, my stomach would cramp so bad that I couldn't stand up straight, so I would have to walk again. I hadn't had any calories or electrolytes since mile 12, so at mile 23, I gave up and decided to walk the rest of the way. I had thought even with all the pit stops and walking that we could still make it around 5:30, but there was no way to do that if I stopped running. Mentally, I had already checked out. My music had been off for a long time, my heart wasn't in it, and I was just plain sad. 16 weeks of working my butt off...for this. 

When we got about half a mile from the finish, we started running again. No way was I going to walk across the finish line, even if I threw up on the medal volunteer. I felt like we had been out on that course for two days.

I finished in 5:56 -- almost an hour longer than what I had hoped for. My aunt, cousin and Carson were the only members of Team Carson that had stayed at the finish line for us, and I was so happy to see them. The rest of the group had run races earlier in the day and spent a long time waiting before giving up. My friends had finished way before me and were cold and ready to head back to their hotel -- as were we -- so we all briefly said our congratulations, snapped some photos and went on our way. 

My cousins, Ginger and Carson
I was so disgusted with the way my day had gone that I didn't even think to get a heat blanket or have someone take our picture at the finish line. I was really looking forward to finally getting one of those space blankets and feeling like a real runner. But I didn't feel like a runner that day. 

When we got back to our hotel, Trea surprised me with this necklace. He worked really hard to find all the charms and had it engraved with 26.2 on one side and Memphis 2011 on the other. I never would've dragged myself to the finish line if Trea hadn't been with me. He's the best running partner and an amazing best friend.

I'm still unhappy with the way things went, and I haven't at all made peace with it. I've hated having to tell the story to everyone I see this week who wants to know all about it, but I'm trying to just focus on the fact that I finished. I didn't finish well, but I finished, and I still got a medal, and I'm still a marathoner. 

I know I tried my best. I ran as much as I could run. I trained as much as I could train. I studied nutrition and hydration tips, and I made sure to stick with what worked for me in training. So I just have to be ok with knowing I did my best, even though on this day, that wasn't enough. 

I'll just have to try harder next time. ;)

December 2, 2011

All my bags are packed

I'm ready to go...but I'm not leaving on a jet plane. 

Trea and I are hitting the road for Memphis. It's marathon weekend! Tomorrow, I will run my first (possibly my last) 26.2 and I am 100% terrified. The marathon is nothing to sneeze at. It's far. It's hard. If it were easy, more people would do it.

I told Bella how far a marathon is. This is her "Say what?" face.

Looking back on my training, I think I'm as prepared as I can be. No, I didn't follow my plan. Cross training intentions died somewhere in the first few weeks, and speed work followed not long after. I wasn't in good enough shape to get through all the workouts without causing problems with other parts of my life and my health. So I've done what I can do. Will that be enough tomorrow? We'll see. 

As for goals, my first goal is to finish. As long as I finish, I'll be fine. My even-better-than-finishing goal would be to come in at 5:10 or under. There's a 5:10 pace team I'm thinking of joining, and while it would be awesome to finish faster than that, I know deep down that that's the group for me. 

My over-the-moon goal would be to finish in under 5 hours. But let's get real here. When I check my half marathon time and 10 miler times on a race calculator, the result always projects that I'll finish around 5:12 or so. That's my ability level. And if crossing the line in 10 or 15 minutes more means that I don't collapse at mile 22, then who cares? I ran 20 miles in about 3:55, so I just don't think I have excellent chances of finishing in less than 5:00. But that's ok! Because I'll still get a medal! And I will still be a marathoner! 

I will know I've done my best. That's all I can do.

November 27, 2011

One week

Today was my last long run before the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, and this week, I've been reminded of what it takes to persevere, keep going when you're exhausted and to never give up. I've mentioned before that I'm running for Team Carson, in honor of my cousin who was treated at St. Jude for brain cancer. And this past week, Carson's story was featured on the TODAY Show! He and his family spent the week in New York and had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Check out his video from the show.

Carson and his parents are such an inspiration. They never gave up, even when it was incredibly difficult, and Carson is with us today because of St. Jude. (If you'd like to make a donation to Team Carson, which goes directly to St. Jude, please visit my St. Jude Heroes fundraising page HERE.) 

So when I'm running my first 26.2 in just six short days, you can bet I'll be thinking of Carson and hoping I can muster a fraction of the strength that he and his family have. As race day looms closer, I'm getting more and more nervous. I just got a new job, and I haven't had much time to run at all the last couple of weeks, so I was even nervous about today's 10 miler. It's the farthest I've run since my 20 mile run two weeks ago...because Trea and I spent last weekend eating bacon instead of running our planned mileage. Ahem.

This morning, we met up with Lori, Alicia, Jennifer and Charles for 10 miles in the freezing cold. The weather was kind of awful, but we were all bundled up, so we had a good, strong run. It was exactly the confidence booster I needed before the big day. I can do this! I think. Probably.

Cold 10 miler

I can't believe we only have a week left -- just six days! -- and then we'll be Memphis bound!

November 25, 2011

Fun in the Ozarks

Who knew that the tiny town of Ponca, Arkansas could be so gorgeous?

View from our cabin porch
Trea and I have exhausted ourselves with nearly 16 weeks of marathon training, and we needed to get away from it all. FAR away. So last weekend, we drove well out of cell range, rented a cabin with no cable and holed up for three days along the Buffalo River. It was bliss.

Mountaintop cabin in the fog
We spent three days sleeping in, playing board games, lounging in the hot tub, watching our favorite laugh-out-loud movies -- Anchorman, Tommy Boy, Eastbound and Down, The Burbs -- hiking, running, cooking, and best of all...we had bacon every single day!

Chef Trea
We were supposed to run 13 miles that weekend, but all the nearby paved roads seemed kind of dangerous, especially in incredibly thick fog that we experienced for two of the days we were there, so we stuck to trails. The first day, we hiked to Whittaker Point/Hawksbill Crag. We had to drive several miles up a very steep dirt road to get to the trail head, and we felt like we had completely left civilization. Our hike was gorgeous!

On the drive back to the cabin, we saw elk!

The next day, the weather warmed up and we went for a run on Lost Valley and Centerpoint Trails. We were so deep in the woods that our GPS watches couldn't find a satellite, so I'm not sure how many miles we ran. But we were running, hiking and climbing for about two and a half hours straight, so that's kind of like running 13 miles, right? Let's hope so.

At Lost Valley, we ran to a couple of waterfalls. I think this is the prettiest trail I've ever been on in Arkansas. We loved it!

Eden Falls
Those trails were steep though! My legs were super sore for days afterward.

On our last day, we drove around and checked out the river, and now I can't wait to come back for a float trip in the spring. It's absolutely beautiful.

Our little weekend getaway was exactly what we needed to catch our breath before the craziness of the holidays and our marathon. We only have one more long run left, and then we'll be running 26.2 on December 3!

November 17, 2011

I survived!

I survived my first 20 miler! It was hard, it was HOT, the 30 mph wind about blew me over, but I made it!

20 miles

Trea and I ran all over Bentonville and Rogers, and I thought we would never get back to the car. I took Gatorade breaks and walked pretty frequently during the last 10 miles, but I'm still just happy that I made it all the way. It was a really tough run, not only because of the new distance, but because I just wasn't feeling it that day. It would have been difficult even if I had only been running 10 miles.

I prepared just the way That Pink Girl instructed. I hydrated like it was my job, got plenty of rest, started paying closer attention to my diet all week leading up to the run and increasing my carb intake, but I still woke up feeling blah. My 18 miler was hard, but not in the same way as this run. So maybe some days are better than others, and every run won't always be great. I just hope I have another day like my 18 miler on race day! It's almost here!

After our run, we were crazy exhausted. But instead of eating our weight in burgers and collapsing on the couch...we threw a little party. A few friends who are also training for the Memphis Marathon and Half came over to watch "Spirit of the Marathon."

 They are gonna kill me for posting this pic.

So Trea and I didn't exactly go through our usual recovery routine like we should have, but we had a great time. We even had a friend who had just run her first marathon come over and share her wisdom. There's nothing like a room full of runners talking about chafing and blisters over dinner.

The next day, I focused on pampering my sore legs. I soaked in an epsom salt bath and tried out my new CEP compression socks. I also got a massage by the incredible hulk to work out the tightness in my legs. It was amazing.

This weekend, I only have 13 miles to run. It's taper time! Only 16 days to go until race day!

November 11, 2011

Running for Carson

When I decided I wanted to run a full marathon, people thought I was crazy. At the time, I was fresh off the high of running my first half marathon, and I felt like I could do anything. But 26.2 is serious business. I knew it would be hard, so I was selective about choosing my first race. I wanted a location that would have lots of crowd support, one without massive hills, and ideally, I wanted a race that means something to me. It's my first marathon; it's a big deal. And that's why I chose the St. Jude Memphis Marathon on Dec. 3.

St. Jude is a special place, and I'm thrilled to be able to support such a worthy cause if even just in a small way -- because St. Jude saved my family. My 8-year-old cousin, Carson, was treated there when he was a baby for a rare brain tumor. The medical care there rivals no other, and after months of harsh treatments, surgeries and therapy, Carson made a full recovery. 

But you'll notice I said St. Jude saved my family -- not just Carson. While he got the best treatment in the world, his tireless parents and his sweet twin brother had a place to live. They weren't left to find a hotel far away from their child in a city that was already far from their home; they were able to stay on the St. Jude campus with him...and remain the family they were so desperately trying to be. The beautiful thing about St. Jude is that no child is ever turned away for the inability to pay for treatment. So when families are living their worst nightmare, they can focus on the only thing that matters -- making sure their babies get better.

Carson's mom, my cousin Ginger, has been running the St. Jude Half Marathon for several years now as a St. Jude Hero. That means she puts together a team and raises money each year as a way to give back so other kids can have the treatment Carson received.

In fact, several members of my family take part in the weekend races -- in the 5K and family fun run. So when I decided to run a full marathon, I knew I wanted to run for Team Carson. I'm also running as a St. Jude Hero to raise money for the hospital.

I have a fundraising site HERE, and I hope you'll stop by and make a donation. All donations go directly to St. Jude. Every single one of us knows someone who has been impacted by cancer, and when children are the ones who are affected, it's absolutely heartbreaking. So please consider making a donation. Thanks in advance for your support.

November 2, 2011

18 miles and counting

A lot can happen in 18 miles. On Saturday, Trea and I ran our longest distance ever. 18 big ones. After my bad experience trudging through 16 miles, I did not have high hopes for this run. But it was awesome! I felt strong the entire time and had plenty of energy to get to the end. I still can't believe I ran that far and actually had fun doing it.

We ran a new route that went through places we were somewhat familiar with, but areas where we usually don't run. It was so nice to have a change of scenery. We ran past the city airport and watched planes take off and land, saw about 47 little kid soccer games and were serenaded by a Latino garage band. I almost stopped and loved on some free puppies that were being given away on the side of the road, but I made myself keep going. It was a beautiful, happy day.

I stopped at a gas station around mile 7 to get some ice and refill my water bottle, and we were already starting to get hungry. After about 10.5 miles, we ran past a Popeyes, and I was doing fine, trucking right along...until the smell hit me. Trea and I both smelled fried chicken and biscuits at the same time and just couldn't resist. We were starving and still had quite a ways to go. I had packed Shotbloks and strawberry Newtons to eat along the way, and I had 8 oz. of Accelerade for an extra boost, but all that stuff suddenly seemed pretty nasty compared to hot, buttery biscuits. So we stopped our watches, walked in all stinky and covered in a thick layer of salt and ordered three biscuits and some water. The lady behind the counter was not too excited about touching my debit card, but I didn't let her snobby attitude get me down. People in the restaurant were staring at us, but we were too hungry and exhausted to care. We took off our gear, plopped down at a table and destroyed some biscuits. YUM.

After a few minutes of rest, we topped off our water supplies and headed back out for 7.5 more. The rest of the run was new territory for me, with much of it on bike trails in Rogers, where I never run. It was sunny and breezy and the fall leaves were beautiful. At around mile 15, we made another quick pit stop. We were just getting started again, ready for the home stretch when the unthinkable happened. I was standing there talking to Trea, waiting for the crosswalk to change, and SMACK, I felt a hard thud on my head, like an acorn had fallen out of a tree. But there weren't any trees.

I got pooped on by a bird! Thank goodness I had a hat on, but it was still disgusting. Luckily, I had packed kleenex, so I was able to clean up a little. An hour later, Trea was still laughing at me.

Even with the bird incident, this was still one of my favorite runs so far. Getting through that distance -- and getting through it feeling good and staying strong -- was huge for me. I feel a lot more confident about finishing a marathon now, but at the same time, I'm still nervous about 26.2. Although I didn't get so tired that I had to take walk breaks on this run, I got little breaks at stoplights, crosswalks, bathroom stops and breaks while I consulted my route notes to figure out where to go. I won't get any breaks like that during a race. Pretty sure I won't have a chance to swing by Popeyes either, so nutrition is a big concern for me. I still don't know what to eat that I can carry with me. I can't eat Shotbloks for 5 hours straight. I can't even get through a whole package without feeling sick. They're just too sweet. On my next long run, I'm planning to pack a PB&J and see how that goes. I need to figure out what works for me in race conditions -- without a bunch of stopping and without a piping hot biscuit.

I don't know what to eat, but at least I know what to wear. I got my first pair of real, legit running tights last week!

No more Old Navy yoga pants for this girl! I feel like a real runner now. They look black in the first photo, but they actually have a fun design so I'll look FAST. (Ha!!)

I'm hoping Memphis brings some cold weather on December 3 so I can put these to good use! They're Nike Pro tights with a soft fleecey lining, so I'm hoping they'll keep my legs toasty warm this winter.

Only 31 days till the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, and just 10 days till my first 20-mile run.

I'm ready!!

October 19, 2011

Memphis Marathon Training: Week 9

*This will likely be my last weekly recap. I barely have enough time for my workouts and just don't have time to do these posts every week. And let's face it; no one but my parents wants to read about every little run. I'll just stick to posting the highlights!  

Last week, I took a closer look at my favorite place to run -- downtown Bentonville -- in an attempt to get my running mojo back, and Sunday , I ran 16 miles -- a new distance for me!!

Getting sick with a fever and sinus misery seriously threw a kink into my training plan, and it's taking me longer than I expected to bounce back. I'm feeling fine now, but was under the weather for about 10 days and missed several workouts. I can tell I've lost endurance, so anything more than 6 miles is a struggle. But I'm determined to get back on track!

The week in review...

After running the most awful half marathon ever last Sunday, I rested on Monday and tried to take it easy. Funny how running a race with massive hills after spending most of the week in bed doesn't do any favors for my energy level.

I felt so much better! I ran 4 miles on an unfamiliar route, and it was awesome to finally feel good on a run AND get a change of scenery. I didn't watch my pace too closely; I just ran by feel and tried to run faster than I usually do, but not overdo it. I didn't want to take any chances of exhausting myself too much too soon and getting sick all over again.

I took a rest day on Wednesday, even though I should've gone to spin. Fail. I didn't get to my tempo run until Friday!

I needed to make up my missed 6-miler, but I just didn't have the heart for it. My 4-mile run had gone well, but when I reached 4 miles, I was done. I knew I couldn't have gone much farther. So the thought of 6 at tempo pace filled me with dread, and I just didn't want to do it. I didn't want to fail. Also, running hasn't been much fun lately, and I was questioning this whole endeavor. I had zero enthusiasm when I arrived at my running destination after work, so I decided to just go for a walk. It was beautiful out, and I thought maybe if I spent some time by myself and got some fresh air, I would find a way out of the funk I was in. And it worked! I ran and walked 3.4 miles and had a lovely little evening. Go HERE for a running tour of Bentonville, and get a peek into where I live.


I had to work Saturday morning, and even though we're well into October, it was 80 and sunny, so I postponed my long run until Sunday so I could start early.

I met up with Laura around 7:30 Sunday morning for 16 miles -- my longest run ever. We had a route mapped out, but I hadn't driven it so I wasn't familiar with the roads. Bad move. A couple of the roads were pretty dicey with surprisingly heavy traffic for a Sunday morning, no shoulder and no sidewalk. Oops. About 6 or 7 miles in, I forgot the route and took a wrong turn, so my planned loop around the city turned into an out-and-back. Oops again. I learned so many lessons on this run! Lesson 1: drive the route ahead of time.

Also, I was not hydrated well enough before we started, so as the weather warmed up, I started seriously struggling. At mile 9, I felt terrible. Laura thinks I also didn't have enough for breakfast. My tank felt empty almost the entire time. Luckily, we passed by a couple of gas stations, and they let us fill our water bottles with crushed ice and water, and I was so grateful! I usually drink one 22 oz. bottle of water on a typical run, but on this run, I drank THREE bottles, but I was still dehydrated. Lesson 2: hydrate like it's your job for days leading up to a long run. Once you let yourself get dehydrated, it's impossible to catch up during a run.

This was my first run to try to eat real food instead of just ShotBloks along the way, and it was tough. I can tolerate about 4 ShotBloks before I start feeling sick from all the sweetness, and three of them are 100 calories. So ShotBloks aren't going to cut it for anything longer than half marathon distance. I made half a PB&J, cut it into two squares, and squished it in my SpiBelt. It wasn't pretty, but it helped so much more than choking down gummy sweet stuff.

We spent several minutes by stopping twice at gas stations, stopping to walk so we could eat, and then stopping to walk because I was wimping out in the last few miles. If Laura hadn't been with me, I would have been in tears at mile 14. It was so hot, and I felt like I was never going to finish. It was not an easy run, and only terrified me to think of having to do 10 more for a marathon. But I'm trying to remind myself that just a couple of weeks ago, I ran 14, which is almost 16, and I felt good. So maybe I was still catching up from being sick. I'm hoping that's the case. 26 is right around the corner!

Total miles for the week: 23.7

October 15, 2011

Where I live: A running tour

When I'm in a running rut...or any kind of rut...sometimes it helps to stop and reevaluate my perspective. To look for the positive things in life and stop focusing on the negative things I can't change. So instead of spending my Friday evening run staring at my Garmin, pushing myself to keep a fast pace, feeling like a failure when I can't and worrying if I'll be able to finish a marathon, I decided to take you on a tour of my hometown. I left my iPod in the car, ignored my Garmin and took a closer look -- a real look -- into this beautiful place where I live.


On a perfect, crisp fall evening, just before sunset, I didn't run my 6 miles at tempo pace. I ran and walked 3.4, and I do not feel like a failure for it. Instead, I took pictures. I meandered. I daresay I moseyed. I reminded myself why I love our little downtown square, and I remembered why I love to run. There's no better way to see a city.

Store fronts
My favorite place to run is down Central Avenue. I'm always guaranteed to see other runners, cyclists and families out for a stroll. And in this alley, you can get the best grilled cheese on the planet from Hammontree's Grillenium Falcon.

Grillenium Falcon

I adore Central, and nothing makes me happier than running down the tree-lined sidewalk, ducking under branches and admiring the 100-year-old homes and manicured lawns. 

Central Ave

These houses, with their generous front porches, wooden swings and fall wreaths just make me smile.


In my town, tiny parks are tucked away in neighborhoods. I run by this one all the time, and I always think how pretty it is, but I never fully appreciate it. This time, I stopped and smelled the flowers. For real.

Bogle Park
I also love running by the old high school. Home of the Tigers. My school looked nothing like this, but it still brings back happy memories of Friday night football games, pep rallies and friends.
Old Bentonville High
I love living in a town where people lock their doors, but they probably don't have to. I also love that it's pumpkin decorating season.

Autumn house
I ran from downtown over to Compton Gardens, where Trea and I had our wedding reception. It's a former home that is used for private events, and I love how it's nestled in the trees, in the middle of town, but secluded. Lucky for me, someone was having a party, so all the twinkle lights were on, I could smell whatever fancy food they were cooking, and there was a jazz piano and singer that I could hear from far away. I ran down the path toward Crystal Bridges, just as the sun went down, and I was so happy to hear the piano music wafting through the trees. (Does sound waft? You know what I mean.)

Crystal Bridges Trail

A run that I had dreaded all day turned into the perfect evening. Running without my iPod is one of the best decisions I've made in months. I love music, but even my favorite songs are someone else's noise, someone else's thoughts. It was nice just to be quiet and listen to the streets.

I made my way back to my car and was delighted to see it was time for Pickin' on the Square! People bring guitars, fiddles and any other kind of instrument they can carry, and they put on a show. There were literally people with guitars on every corner. Spectators bring lawn chairs and blankets and settle in for gospel and country music. I LOVED it. This is also where the boot-wearing, cowboy hat-loving citizens come out of the woodwork. 

Pickin on the Square

When I left work on Friday, I didn't want to run. All I wanted to do was go home and relax. Would this night have been better spent on the couch watching TV? No way. I hope you enjoyed my running tour; I know I did!


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