Monday, August 9, 2010

The Weekend of Awesome Feats™

*cue Chariots of Fire theme song*

Everybody sing along!

dun dundundun dun dunnnnn
dun dundundun dunnnnnn
dun dundundun dun du
dun dundundundu

That was the Official Theme Song™ for this past weekend. And not just for me. No, my contribution to the Weekend of Awesome Feats™ was but a small and insignificant one. We'll talk about that last. I want to talk about the important ones first.

The annual St. Jude Memphis-to-Peoria run took place last week. This dedicated group of runners, some of whom are fellow FASTies and Stashies, take turns running along the 465 miles between the two cities in order to raise money and awareness for St Jude Children's Research Hospital. There are several satellite runs as well, originating from points a little closer to home, such as Chicago, Pekin, St. Louis, Springfield, and more. They run tirelessly, in sometimes brutal conditions (the heat index in Memphis last week topped 130°... and they ran anyway), seeking out the shelter of their RV caravan when they need to rest their feet, grab a bite to eat, or take a nap. The event culminated in a mass descent of the run groups on downtown Peoria Saturday night. They should have been exhausted from running in such extreme conditions, but you couldn't tell it from looking at them, their bright eyes and smiling faces greeting the cheering spectators. Of course, it's not really about the running. It's about the kids of St Jude. And this year, the runners raised over $2.5 million for St Jude. If that's not an Awesome Feat™, I don't know what is.

St Jude runners make their way through Germantown Hills

On Saturday morning, I had the unique opportunity to witness another Awesome Feat™. I attended my first duathlon/triathlon event. My husband, fellow FASTie Niki, and her husband were entered in the duathlon and I tagged along to play event photographer and see what this thing was all about.

Turns out, it was very cool. The duathlon consisted of a 3 mile run, 12 mile bike, and 3 mile run. For anyone who's never done biking and running back-to-back, it is a very strange sensation - particularly the switch from biking to running. Simply put, it's not easy. So, I was truly impressed by the displays of sheer athleticism, strength, endurance, and...


Okay, maybe "impressed" isn't the right word for how I feel about that. Although I am impressed by anyone of any age who gets out there to compete and gives it their all. And with a speedo like that, how could he not give it his all? So kudos, old man in the funky shorts!

But moving on to the main focus of my camera... my hubby and friends. It was the first duathlon for all of them and they all did fabulously. It turned into a very toasty morning and I know the going got pretty tough toward the end, but they all finished strong. And Niki and her husband both won age group awards - how awesome is that?

Niki finishes up the 12 mile bike

Matt sprints for the finish

Niki and Jeff show off their age-group medals

The Weekend of Awesome Feats™ concluded on Sunday with my best-ever 16 mile training run performance. Like I said earlier, my Awesome Feat™ pales in comparison to those of the St Jude runners and the duathletes. But for the first time ever, I ran 16 miles in under 3 hours, and for me, that's a pretty Awesome Feat™.

My average pace was 10:51 and it really wasn't a struggle (although I did feel fatigued toward the end of the run because it was starting to get hot and I was running faster). Now, my alert readers will realize that this is quite a bit faster than my goal marathon pace. In order to run a 5 hour marathon, I need to run an 11:25 pace. I suspect as the long runs get longer, my average pace will slow down a bit, but I also suspect that I will be able to run quite a bit better than a 5:00 marathon come race day (assuming the weather cooperates). The truth is, I would like to shoot for a 4:45 marathon.

I am feeling the effects of my speedy sixteen today. I'm stiff-legged and a teeny bit sore. Perhaps I overdid it a little bit yesterday. Or perhaps that's just the small price one must pay to be a part of the Weekend of Awesome Feats™.

*cue Chariots of Fire theme music again*

Peace. Love. Train. ™

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