Nov 21, 2014

Developing Our Talents (FHE)

After a more informal family home evening last week, I returned back to my prior lesson series based on the Gospel Principles manual.  This week I based the lesson on chapter 34, Developing Our Talents.

Song:  We sang song #142 Every Star is Different from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

1. Ev'ry star is diff'rent, and so is ev'ry child.

Some are bright and happy, and some are meek and mild.

Ev'ry one is needed for just what he can do.

You're the only person who ever can be you.
2. I can shine for others and let them feel my love,
Follow the commandments that come from God above.

I can help another to learn to choose the right.

Having faith and courage will let my star shine bright.
Chorus: A shining star, shining brightly,
Not so very far, shining brightly;

Be a shining star. Shine so brightly;

Shine right where you are, brightly!

Lesson: We all have special gifts, talents, and abilities given to us by our Heavenly Father. When we were born, we brought these gifts, talents, and abilities with us.  Some of us can sing well or play an instrument. Others of us may be good in sports or able to work well with our hands. Other talents we might have are understanding others, patience, cheerfulness, or the ability to teach others.

We have a responsibility to develop the talents we have been given. Sometimes we think we do not have many talents or that other people have been blessed with more abilities than we possess. Sometimes we do not use our talents because we are afraid that we might fail or be criticized by others. We should not hide our talents. We should use them. Then others can see our good works and glorify our Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16).

We can develop our talents!  To do this, we must first recognize what our talents are either by discovering them ourselves, asking others, or praying to know what talents we have been blessed with.  Second, we must be willing spend the time and effort needed to develop them.  Third, we must have faith in ourselves and Heavenly Father that we can develop these talents.  Fourth, we must learn the skills required for the talent either by taking a class, learning from someone else, reading a book, etc.  Fifth, we must practice, practice, practice!  Finally, we must share our talent with others. It is by our using our talents that they grow (Matthew 25:29).  We can even develop our weaknesses into talents through hard work, determination, and faith.

 The Lord will bless us if we use our talents wisely.  The Lord is pleased when we use our talents wisely. He will bless us if we use our talents to benefit other people and to build up His kingdom here on earth. Some of the blessings we gain are joy and love from serving our brothers and sisters here on earth. We also learn self-control. All these things are necessary if we are going to be worthy to live with our Heavenly Father again.

My homemade talents

Activity:  I used the parable of the talents as my inspiration for this activity.  Since a talent from Biblical time also refers to a measurement of coins, I decided to make my own talents.  I took candy coins and wrote different activities (or talents) on them.  I grabbed two of June's stuffed animals.  Then I placed five talents in front of June, two in front of Minnie Mouse, and one in front of Baby Hippo.  I told June that she needed to perform each talent if she wanted to keep it.  She happily did so.  She sang a song, did a dance, gave our dog a treat (kindness), gave me a hug (love), and colored a picture.  As she did each talent, I gave her the chocolate coin and she could eat it.  Since she shared her talents, she got five more!  Then I had her Minnie Mouse perform each talent, and I gave her another two talents.  But, when we got to Baby Hippo, I had her refuse to share her talent.  So, I took it away and gave it to June.  I told her she got to have the talent since she showed me that she would use it.  Then, she enjoyed the blessings of sharing her talents by eating all the chocolate.
June shared all the talents she was given, so she got even more!

June really liked this activity.  Really, anything that involves playing a game and eating candy is a hit with her.  But, this one went especially well.  Even after eating all the coins, she still wanted to share her talents.

Nov 20, 2014

Race Report: LCU Turkey Trot 10K

Since we scored tickets to the Texas Tech game on Saturday, and since we were staying Friday night so my husband could spend some time with his best friend, I decided to stay true to form and look for a local race.  I not only found a race, but a turkey trot!  So, I eagerly registered for the Lubbock Christian University (LCU) 10K Turkey Trot.

Turkey tail tutu!
The weather was the coldest I've run in yet--around 20 degrees before wind chill in the morning when I left.  After the sun came up it warmed to about 30-35 degrees.  I really need to get a better jacket as my arms get so cold with the wind.  That morning it was 10-20 mile per hour.  Even with all my layers on, I still managed to sport the turkey tail bustle tutu I made earlier.  It's the second crafty thing I've created and I think it turned out pretty great, aside from glitter ending up everywhere!  I've never run in a tutu before, and after this race I'm pretty sold.  It was cute, festive, and may have even made me run faster.

The 10K course was two laps of the 5K course which would around and through LCU's campus.  I'm not a fan of lap-based courses, but this one was tolerable.  It was actually a pretty nice run.  Quite a bit of the course was on trails, so my attention was squarely focused on not twisting my ankle or tripping.  Most of the first lap I ran with a new running friend.  She also was an out-of-towner Texas Tech alumna.  Our conversation made that first 5K speed right by.  In fact, I was holding a pace much faster than I usually, or expected to, maintain.  I kept that pace, even speeding up, the whole second half.  I was passing people right and left (most of those runners were 5K-ers, but I'm sure some were running the 10K) which boosted my confidence to keep pushing my pace.  I sped over the trails, around the sharp turns, and straight through the finish line to find I demolished my former 10K personal record of 1:01:10.  I finished in 57:23!  And I felt strong.

My gold medal and first-place turkey!
 This time was good enough to earn me first place in my age group (20-29) and 3rd overall for women!  If you read this blog, you know that I race for medals.  I'm perfectly happy with a finisher medal, which this race offered.  But I was elated when I was rewarded with an additional gold medal!  I sported both medals and my Turkey Trot race shirt most of the day, as per my post-race tradition.  I also won a turkey!  Seriously, what a great race.

The food options were great:  muffins, donuts, bananas, oranges, Gatorade, water bottles, etc.  The awards were festive and fun.  The volunteers and course directors were enthusiastic, energetic, and wonderful motivators as they cheered on all the runners.  This was an enjoyable race!  My only suggestions would be to plan a 10K course that is either out-and-back or really just doesn't involve multiple laps, and to have a set time for awards. I was racing to get back to my hotel so I could shower before checkout.  Everything else was fantastic.  I was impressed by the quality of a smaller race like this, both in event planning and in swag.  Well done LCU Rec Life.
June makes this medal picture even better
I can see myself running this race next year, hopefully with June.  She would've had such a great time.  Never overlook a small, local race.  Sometimes they can surprise you, and you never regret going for a run.

Nov 12, 2014

A Running Mormon Christmas List

With Christmas soon approaching, I finally put together Christmas lists for my family members.  I thought I'd post my own list in the hopes that maybe it could help alleviate shopping uncertainty.  Here are my top 20 gift ideas for that runner, Mormon, or Running Mormon on your holiday shopping list this holiday season.


Yaktrax Ice Grippers ($40)
I live in an area with unpredictable weather.  We get everything from dust storms to tornadoes to searing heat to blizzards.  With the winter chill already upon us, it's just a matter of time before the ground becomes slick with ice.  As I'm not a fan of the "dreadmill," I'm determined to run outside as much as possible.  In order to accomplish my training in winter weather, Yaktrax Ice Grippers would be perfect for icy streets.

Electra 927 Snowshoes by Atlas ($170)
And for those random snow days where anywhere from two inches to two feet drops in a night,  the Electra 927 Snowshoes by Atlas would still allow me to pile on the winter training mileage.

Running Girl Medals Display ($72)
I currently have a cute medal hanger, and it really has been awesome.  However, this year alone has added so many medals that this 9-hook display can't handle the load anymore.  It's time to upgrade to a larger display.  When I found the Running Girl Medals Display, I absolutely had to have it.  After all, it can hold up to 40 medals, which would give me an entirely new race goal to work toward.  (Etsy also has a huge variety of all sorts of medal displays starting at $12.)

Counter Top Fruit Dispenser ($20)
The ingenious design of this counter top fruit dispenser maximizes air contact so each orange, apple or other seasonal fruit ripens evenly, while a cleverly placed hook holds a bunch of bananas--runner diet essentials.  Not only is it functional, but it looks awesome.  I think every runner-kitchen would benefit from one of these.

GEFU Spirelli Slicer ($30)
Another runner-kitchen must-have gadget:  the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer.  It turns any veggie into spaghetti.  I love zucchini noodles, but with my limited supplied kitchen, I've been forced to hand-slice the zucchini which really doesn't turn out too great.  This slicer would satiate my love of veggie noodles, and I would need to have it in pink or purple.

Schwings ($9)
These are just fun little shoe adornments to make running look more fun.  Available in wings, lightning bolts, flames, and butterfly wings, Shwings would make a great runner stocking stuffer.

Active Bands ($10-$12)
I could never have enough Active Bands.  These sports-specific, but super cute headbands keep my hair out of my face for even my longest runs.  They fit comfortably, don't slip, and have so many styles there is definitely one for every type of female athlete.  Another fabulous stocking stuffer.

Bow Hair Ties ($12.50 for set of 4)
Super cute hair ties are just what every runner girl needs!  When I'm dressed up in a color coordinated and cute running outfit--especially when my hair is holding in a perfect pony tail or braid, then I'm even more motivated to get out that door and run.  These bow hair ties are just the stocking stuffer to add that perfect touch to a workout outfit.

Gu, Gu, and More Gu ($2)
Distance runners can also never have enough Gu.  It seems like I'm always running out, and I'm constantly on the lookout for newer exciting flavors.  Any type of energy fuels are a runner stocking must.

Massage Gift Certificate ($60-$120)
Nothing feels better on a sore runner's muscles than a post-run (or race) massage.  Sports massages and deep tissue are ideal for really relaxing tight muscles.  Many spas offer gift certificates for any type of massage. Your runner will thank you.

Runner Recovery Products ($5-$60 each, about $100-$150 for all together)
If your runner is on the mend, why not get them a gift to help them get back on their feet, into their running shoes, and off on a run in record time.  Every runner should have an arsenol of recovery tools at their disposal.  Ideally, this should include:  a foam roller ($20-$60) for massaging tight muscles, hot/cold foot massager ($12) for plantar faciaatis treatment and prevention, BodyGlide ($6-$8) to prevent chafing, KT Tape ($15-$20) to support trouble areas, compression sleeves ($20-$60) to increase circulation, Perform pain relieving roll-on ($13) for those extra-sore spots, water bottle fruit infuser ($11) to encourage hydration by adding your favorite flavor to your water bottle, and epson bath salts ($5) to aid in a post-run soak.  Any of these items would be a good stocking stuffer, or pick a few of them for a thoughtful and useful runner-friendly gift basket.  You could even place them in a gym bag or drawstring bag for added flair.

Race Registration ($25-$200)
When in doubt, what runner can say no to a race entry?  Just search on Active for local or even destination races.  But if you decide to go the destination route, better first make sure they can afford the trip...unless you're covering all those expenses too.  Seriously, you can't go wrong with a fun race entry that has great bling.


Worlds Without End Framed Painting ($180)
This is one of my favorite paintings of the Savior.  I don't really have much art up in my house, but this Worlds Without End framed painting by Greg Olsen would really bring the spirit in my home.

Endowment Bracelet ($8)
Perfect stocking stuffer for those who love serving at the temple, this beautiful endowment bracelet is a convenient way to keep your temple proxy name card easily accessible during your session without having to shove it in your pockets.

LDS Hope Bracelets ($14 each)
How cute are these LDS Hope Bracelets!  Bangle bracelets with inspirational quotes from the October 2013 General Conference are another great stocking stuffer option for that Latter-Day Saint on your list.  I would love to have all of them, and they would be such a good missionary tool.  I'm still searching for these with quotes from the most current conference as well.

 Camille Fronk Olson's Women of the Old/New Testaments ($40 each)
As a woman, I love reading accounts of righteous women in the scriptures.  Camille Fronk Olson's books Women in the Old Testament and Women in the New Testament focus on many of these remarkable women and explores the influence of Jesus Christ, His prophets, and His gospel on them.   Whether these women were identified individually by name or simply mentioned as a devout follower in the crowd, their stories of sacrifice and eager service have rich meaning and application for our lives today.

Wood LDS Temple Ornaments ($9 each)
As I've already said, I love the temple.  It's my favorite place to be.  I also like to collect meaningful things to commemorate special occasions.  Race medals are the obvious proof of this.  For my spiritual side though, I've been wanting some sort of display to show the temples I've served in.  These wood LDS temple ornaments would be just the stocking stuffer to do the trick.  I'd like to have one for each temple I've frequented thus far: Portland Oregon, Manti Utah, Lubbock Texas, Dallas Texas, Fresno California, Albuquerque New Mexico, and soon Las Vegas Nevada.  These would also brighten up my Christmas tree with that glorious temple light and peace.

Temple Recommend Holder ($4-$6)
Small, sweet, and inexpensive, a temple recommend holder is a great stocking stuffer option.  There are so many design and picture options available that you'll easily find the perfect match for your temple-going friend.  This gift is also a wonderful way to encourage someone to either receive their temple recommend, or even use theirs more often.

Customized Family: A Proclamation ($13+ cost of frame)
This is the perfect way to display "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" in your home! There is no better way than by using a picture of you, your children, or family to showcase this beautiful message.  As for myself, I would like to have a picture of my parents on the day they were sealed as the backdrop to this uplifting customized proclamation.

Baby-Sitting for Temple Attendance (your time)
I live about 100 miles from the closest temple.  Ideally, I'd like to attend at least once, maybe twice a month.  The difficult part for me is finding a baby-sitter for the entire 7-hour trip centered around a session time, or even finding a sitter who would go with me and just watch her for the 2.5 hour session.  Baby-sitting so I can attend the temple would be such a thoughtful and touching gift, whether it's for the day or for the session.

Let me know if these suggestions helped with your holiday shopping.  I'd also love to hear your gift ideas for a Running Mormon.

Nov 10, 2014

Race Report: Victory or Death Memorial Half Marathon

I know I ran a half-marathon just two ago, but when I saw that there was going to be a LOCAL half-marathon, I had to sign up!  I feel I need to support as many local races as possible to hopefully encourage even more races coming to my city.

The 56th Special Tactics Squadron put on the Victory or Death Memorial Race to honor their military brothers and sisters who were killed in action and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  At the finish line was a huge board with the pictures of these very heroes.  On each mile marker was the name of one of the fallen in silent tribute to their sacrifice.  The opening ceremony was somber as we paid a moment of silence for each of these brave people.  It was an honor to run this race as a salute to their memory.
Marathon Moms Running Group Ladies
Three of my friends were running this race as well.  It was a pleasure to meet up with them at the start and finish. We all were running our own race, so this gave me the opportunity to chat with fellow runners as our paces synced up.  I ran with a pretty awesome lady most of the first half of the race.  She was an ultra-distance runner, and just getting back into running after having her second child.  I kept pace with her as long as I could hold it, and I was doing pretty good--trucking along at a 10-minute-mile pace (30 seconds faster than my expected pace), until we hit the turn-around of this out-and-back course where the 18-25 mph winds were then fighting against us.  About at mile 8 she pulled ahead of me as I needed to slow down if I wanted to run the entire time.  Still, my pace was solid.  
Trying to smile through the pain...I only have two miles left to go here.
Although I was exhausted and felt like I was running up the side of a mountain due to the wind resistance, I kept running and kept pushing until I crossed that finish line.  According to my GPS watch, I scored a new half-marathon PR and my official race time confirmed that: 2:18:27!  When that special tactics airman placed the finisher medal around my neck, I felt victorious!  The post-run soreness was even a testament to my accomplishment.
Me and my running buddy Maria sporting our medals

While I was off running the half, my daughter had the opportunity to run her very own race.  She participated in the Kids' 1K fun run where she earned a medal of her own.  This was her first-ever running medal and she proudly wore it the rest of the day.  She was so happy when she got to hang her medal up on my medal display.  She said, "I like running fast like Mommy!"  Best feeling ever!  I'm glad to see that she is taking an interest in one of my passions.  One day, I hope that I can run and train with her at my side...or even leading the way.

I love this picture of me and my daughter.  She absolutely loved earning her own medal.

I hope that this race sets a trend locally.  I would love to see more races held here.  Although I do enjoy the occasional race-cation, I prefer to run locally.  It's nice to wake up at a normal hour, have the option of all my running outfits at my disposal, then be able to return home after a race.  Additionally, I think it would build a more runner-friendly community, especially with the race-fees supporting it.

In training for this half marathon and the Monster Dash, I used this training plan from Women's Running magazine.  Since my schedule--and the weather here--can be a bit hectic, I don't follow the weekly schedule linearly.  Instead of doing each workout on a set day, I take all the workouts of the week and prioritize them (long run, speed work, and tempo runs are mandatory with easy runs being optional-but-encouraged).  I then pick and choose which run to do on each day.  I strive to complete my long runs at the beginning of the week, Monday or Tuesday, since they are the basis of building endurance.  This leaves the rest of the week open for the shorter runs.  I like the freedom of decided on my own workout for the day, especially on a day like this when the winds are outrageous (today's wind speed is 30 mph sustained).  I also take Sundays off for training, as I like to have Sundays focused more on worship, family, and rest than work.  This plan carried me to another half-marathon PR, and I like running the higher mileage in training.  The 14-mile long runs were highly effective for building confidence.  So far, this has been my favorite training plan.

Nov 9, 2014

Missionary Work (FHE)

Family Home Evening was such a great time this week!  I based this week's lesson on chapter 33 of the Gospel Principles manual, Missionary Work.

Song: This week's song was an obvious choice, and one of my childhood favorites.  We sang song #169 from the Primary Children's Songbook, I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.  It goes as follows:

I hope they call me on a mission
When I have grown a foot or two.

I hope by then I will be ready

To teach and preach and work as missionaries do.
I hope that I can share the gospel

With those who want to know the truth.

I want to be a missionary

And serve and help the Lord while I am in my youth.
Lesson:  The Lord's Church is and always has been a missionary church.  “And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning” (Moses 5:58).  When the Savior lived on the earth, He ordained Apostles and Seventies and gave them the authority and responsibility to preach the gospel, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  Our missionaries today take the message to the world that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior. They testify that the gospel has been restored to the earth through a prophet of God. The missionaries are given the responsibility to preach the gospel to all people, to baptize them, and to teach them to do all things that the Lord has commanded (see Matthew 28:19–20). Latter-day Saint missionaries go at their own expense to all parts of the world to preach the gospel message.

President Ezra Taft Bensen said, “This is our first interest as a Church—to save and exalt the souls of the children of men."  Missionary work is necessary in order to give the people of the world an opportunity to hear and accept the gospel. They need to learn the truth, turn to God, and receive forgiveness from their sins.

Every member of the Church is a missionary. We should be missionaries even if we are not formally called and set apart. We are responsible to teach the gospel by word and deed to all of our Heavenly Father’s children. The Lord has told us, “It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81). We have been told by a prophet that we should show our neighbors that we love them before we warn them.

Our Heavenly Father will help us be effective missionaries when we have the desire to share the gospel and pray for guidance. He will help us find ways to share the gospel with those around us. 
The Lord has told us, “If it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!  And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18:15–16).

Playing full-time missionary, as a missionary called to Russia
Activity:  June got to practice being a missionary!  She received a pretend mission call (I used a random mission generator and it selected a Russian mission...maybe it's a sign ;).  I wrote her up a mission call which said:

"Sister June,

You have been called to serve in the Russia Rostov Mission.  While there you will preach the gospel in the Russian language.  The nearest Temple is in Kyiv, Ukraine about 900 miles away.  The people are ready to hear the gospel from you.  You will receive many blessings as you serve the Lord faithfully.

You have been found as one worthy to represent the Church of our Lord as a missionary of the Gospel.  It will be your duty to live righteously, to keep all the commandments, to honor your covenants, to increase your testimony of the divinity of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be an exemplar in your life of all Christian virtues, and so to conduct yourself as a devoted servant of the Lord, that you may be an effective advocate and messenger of the Truth.

The Lord will reward the goodness of your life, and greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you serve Him humbly and prayerfully in this labor of love among His children."

I then placed it in a manilla envelope with a Future Missionary tag.  I had her open it and I read the letter out loud, then pinned the name tag on her.  I then gave her a Book of Mormon in Russian, a picture of Christ, and set out a Preach my Gospel.  We had a mini MTC (Missionary Training Center) where I explained that she needed to teach people about Christ and the Book of Mormon.  She promptly said, "Mommy, I love Jesus Christ!"  She's already such a good missionary.  I also taught her some very basic Russian words like "hello is pree-vyet," "church is tser-khov," and "choose the right is vwe-bear-eetye eest-een-oh."

I then pulled up a map of the world to show her where Russia was, and placed a grew of her stuffed animals by it as the Russians she would teach.  The grabbed her bike, placed on her bike helmet, and put the Knee-ga Mor-mon-ah (Book of Mormon) and Preach my Gospel into her bike basket.  She peddled over to the animals and proceeded to tell them that she loves Jesus Christ.  She then opened up the books and explained what was happening in each picture.

It was so cute to watch her go!  I had her animals ask some questions like, "Does Jesus love me too?"  And she would answer.  I love hearing her teach.  She is already a good missionary and a good example.  If she so chooses to serve a full time mission, I know she will be great.

Nov 8, 2014

Tithes and Offerings (FHE)

I'm a week late getting this post up!  We did this family home evening the Monday following Halloween, so I put a Halloween twist on this family home evening lesson.  I based this week's lesson on Tithes and Offerings from chapter 32 in the Gospel Principles manual.

Song: We sang song #150, I Want to Give the Lord my Tenth, from the Primary Children's Songbook.  It goes as follows:

I want to give the Lord my tenth,
For ev'ry time I do
It makes me think of all the gifts
He gives to me and you.
He gives us life, this lovely world.
And though my tenth seems small,
It shows my faith and gratitude
To him, the Lord of all.
Lesson: Willingly paying tithes and offerings is one way we thank our Heavenly Father for all the blessings He has given us. As we pay these offerings willingly, we show that we love Him and will obey His counsel.  The Apostle Paul taught that how we give is as important as what we give. He said, “Let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Tithing is used by the Church for many purposes. Some of these are to:build and take care of churches and temples, provide operating funds for congregations, help the missionary program, provide education scholarships, print lesson materials, and help in family history and temple work.

Church members fast each month by going without food and drink for two consecutive meals. They contribute at least the amount of money they would have spent for the meals. They may give as generously as they are able. This offering is called the fast offering. Bishops use these fast offerings to provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical care for the needy.

Members also offer their time, skills, and goods to help others. This service allows the Church to help needy members and nonmembers around the world at community, national, and international levels, especially when disasters occur.

The Lord promises to bless us as we faithfully pay our tithes and offerings. He said, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith … if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).  The blessings we have been promised are both material and spiritual. If we give willingly, Heavenly Father will help us provide for our daily needs of food, clothes, and shelter.  Those who pay their tithes and offerings are greatly blessed. They have a good feeling that they are helping to build the kingdom of God on earth.

 Activity: Since Halloween was just a few days prior, I decided to use June's Halloween candy as her "income."  I took an empty Halloween candy pail, then I told June I was going to give her some candy.  I dumped half of the candy we got trick-or-treating into the pail.  I then asked June if she would share one-tenth of her candy with me, and that if she would she would be blessed.  She gladly said yes.  We counted out all her candy pieces and she picked out candy for me (she is so sweet--she picked some really good candy pieces for Mom).  After she gave me the candy, I dumped the rest of the candy into her pail, to the point where it was overflowing.  She was so happy to see all that candy.  I told her that this is what happens with tithing.  When we pay tithing, especially gladly, the Lord bestows so many blessings onto us that we can't even receive them all.

Nov 2, 2014

Race Report: Monster Dash Half Marathon

Since I absolutely love Halloween, it only made sense that I would find a Halloween-themed race to compete in.  After careful research, I registered for the DFW Monster Dash half marathon.  Even better, five of my friends followed suit.  Racecations and running buddies always adds up to a great time.

This race encouraged runners to dress up by holding a costume contest.  Of course, I would've dressed up anyway.  A couple months ago, I decided I wanted a warrior-type running costume just for this kind of event.  I decided to dress up as William Wallace, more specifically his character rendition by Mel Gibson in Braveheart.  I scoured the internet for weeks until I found the exact outfit I would need:  a mini-kilt, matching sash, giant safety pins (to hold said sash in place during a long run), and blue face paint.  I donned these over black running capris and a black short-sleeved running shirt.  I had high hopes of running with a foam sword, which I thought I would pull out at random intervals during the race and shout, "FREEDOM!" or "HOLD!  HOLD!"  But, I decided against that as I really couldn't figure out a great way to attach the sword without bothering me.  Still, the costume turned out great and many runners and volunteers recognized the character I was emulating.  Also, it was just plain fun to paint up and dress up.

The race started, and I was flying through the miles at a pace I don't usually keep up on my long runs.  I stuck with my pace group leader and he was great conversation, which further took my mind off the miles.  Since the race advertised a Gu stop at mile 7.5, I went ahead and ate my own Gu just after mile 5, planning on taking the race Gu at mile 9.  Both of these were to fuel my entire 13.1 miles.  However, there was no Gu stop.  They never handed out any sort of fuel like they advertised.  So, instead of being fully energized the whole run, I was starting to crash around mile 9.  The 80-degree heat and lack of shade didn't help matters.  I hit the wall, hard, at mile 10.5 so much so that I had to walk.  I was shaking bad and my skin was cool and clammy.  I was starting to feel dizzy.  Luckily, I was near a water stop, so I downed three cups of water and one cup of Gatorade.  I felt it would be smartest to just walk until I felt better.  I would rather finish with a slower time than pass out and get a DNF (did not finish).

I wasn't the only one to crash.  All of my friends ended up slowing their paces dramatically as well.  We all finished about 10-minutes slower than our goal paces.  It seemed like all the runners around me were dropping into a walk.  You could just hear moans of ,"Too hot" and "Need shade" all over.  That made me feel a bit better, to know I wasn't the only one who was dying in the heat.  Still, I persisted and pushed forward.  I even gained enough strength to start running again (seeing the photographer was great motivation), and I finished the race at a run.  Seeing that finish line before me motivated me to kick into gear and pass the woman I had been chasing since I fell into a walk.  It felt great to finish that race!  Even though I didn't PR, I did get my second fastest half marathon time, 2:24:12.  And I'm proud of that.  It was a beautiful race.  It would've been a fast race, but the heat turned it into a challenge.  And I faced that challenge and came through.

Overall, I really like running with a pace group.  I'd like to think in better weather conditions, I would've stuck with them and finished within my goal.  The course was gorgeous and a welcome change from the routes I've been running in training.  The post-race booths and festivities offered a nice distraction from the post-race soreness.  I love shopping, so I enjoyed browsing the running-related merchandise.  I especially enjoyed the free bottle of chocolate milk at the finish; it was a great way to refuel.  Aside from the heat and the no-Gu stop, I had a great run.  I recommend the Monster Dash to anyone who enjoys Halloween and running.  I also recommend they dress up--it makes the experience even more festive.

Great race, great company, and a great way to burn off all the trick-or-treating calories!  Running a costume race will continue to be a Halloween tradition for me.