So close then…BOOM!

I was full of excitement. I was getting back on the horse and going to start running again. Run or Dye Dover was the perfect race because it was more of a fun run, it wasn’t timed. I could walk if/when I needed to.  I was going ease back into a routine with this race. This was the start of me running again! I was both mentally and physically ready, at least mentally.  🙂

I was looking forward to my kids being at the race and dousing me with dye at the finish as well as posting all of the fun pictures and a lovely race recap. Again, I was VERY excited. We drove down on Friday night to pick up my race packet. A nice bag, a t-shirt, tattoos, jelly bracelet and a packet of dye. (Mine was blue) I made plans to get up early Saturday morning and drive down with the family.  Alarm was set and I was ready.

Run or Dye Swag Bag

Run or Dye Swag Bag

I told myself “it’s not timed, this is a test for your back to see how much progress you’ve made and to have fun!” We set out early, around 7:30 am because the race started at 9 and it was about an hour away. The last wave was at 10:30 so I had plenty of time. We were on the road talking about what we were going to do afterwards. Hit the beach, grab lunch and then the Outlets. Perfect plan. We were 10 minutes away from Dover International Speedway where the run was held and the chaos ensued. BOOM! We were rear-ended which pushed us into the vehicle in front of us. (Luckily no one in that vehicle was hurt and they had minimal damage to their van).

The car is only 3 months old, and can be fixed.

The car is only 3 months old, and can be fixed.

My boys were frightened, and then a car trying to avoid us when screeching by. She was going 65-70 miles per hour. She was sliding sideways, she then jerked the wheel and went through the median into oncoming traffic and hit a van almost head on. My boys were screaming out of fear in the back seat. They told me later in the ER that they thought she (the speeding driver) was going to die. They didn’t want to see that. My heart went out to them. The speeding driver suffered minor injuries. It could have been worse. The police officer said she will be getting “several citations” and the woman who hit us also received a citation.

We were banged up but we are fine. My oldest suffered back and rib pain, my youngest hit his head on the head rest and had a headache for a few hours. I had back pain with numbness and pain through my legs. I could believe how lucky we were given the circumstances. I have counted my blessings several times this weekend. I am grateful that my boys are safe and grateful for the quick response of the Dover Police Department and the wonderful staff at Kent General Hospital.

 

Our lovely blue bracelets

Our lovely blue bracelets

Mother’s Day Race Recap

I was the anchor is an 8 person marathon relay team at the Delaware Running Festival.  The idea of being the anchor was fun.  I get to go balls to wall with my leg of the race. Each of us ran a 5k.  I wanted to try to kick it up a notch for Team Slow Motion!

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8 person relay, one missing. Anchored by Flash!!

As you read in my previous posts, I’ve beensick.  I was not able to run or exercise for a few weeks. I was weak. I did not know if I would be able to run the whole 3.1.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  I had 2 practice runs during the week and I did not feel like I was running well at all. I did not want to drop out and have my teammates have to scurry to find someone else or even have to drop out themselves.

I told myself “suck it up and put on your big girl panties! You’re on the mend now run fool!”  I got to the race at 6:30 am. There was a group picture for the Black Girls Run members.  Delaware, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Maryland were there.  BGR represented.

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BGR Representing!

It was crowded.  The police presence was more than usual and the spectators were ready with their signs, bells and voices.  There were 4 races that day. A marathon, half marathon, 4 and 8 person relay.  It was chaotic.  The race starts were varied however you would end up running with all of the various race runners.

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Ready to race!! Let’s get it STARTED!

I met new Black Girls Run members.  One said, “I heard about you.” I replied, “I hope good things.”  She said, “I was told if you want to pick up your pace, to run with you. FLASH!” The funny thing is, a lot the members only know me by Flash.  When people say Francine, and I answer, they are shocked to find out my first name. I get a chuckle out of it.

While I was running I got a little lost in one area, cars were on the road in another area and I had to ask a race volunteer which way to go.  At the finish when I was finishing strong, a volunteer had to hurry a child out of my way.  That would not have been a pretty sight. I was not running 100% but I had some speed. My teammates and a total stranger said I looked like a gazelle running to the finish line.  My strides were long and I was running strong.

It was an experience to say the least. I did have a good time running with others but this is not a race that I would consider running again. I did not PR in the race I finish in 27 and some change.  I am happy with that result because I am still recovering from my illness.  My goal is to finish in 25 or less. I know I have it in me and hope to achieve it once I feel 100%.

Finish strong! Run like it’s your last race!

MissPlaced

On Saturday I ran my first 10K. It was Run for the Ages that benefited the local senior center. Black Girls Run had 22 participants plus countless numbers of volunteers and cheerleaders. The race was the same day as my Opening Day for my youngest son. The race was to start at 8:30am and the game started at 11. I got to the race and was ready to go. I was on a deadline. Race and baseball game.

The course had changed due to construction. The 10Kers had to do the 5K course forward and backward. The race started late and I was a little frustrated. Normally I wouldn’t be but I had to get to my son’s first baseball game of the season. I have never missed the first game and I didn’t intend to Saturday.

BANG! The race started, I was running, faster than I wanted to. I told myself to slow down, I was pacing at a 7:36 mile. That was too much too soon. I slowed down. I went another mile and the cramping began. I have never had cramps before during a race and I didn’t know what to expect. All I kept saying to myself was, KEEP GOING.

I didn’t drink enough water during the week and it was causing cramping. I was busy all week and it had slipped my mind. With every step, the cramps got a little worse. I kept saying, you got this girl, KEEP GOING.

I got to the finish line and my BGR sisters were cheering me along. I was relieved I finished and did not walk through the cramps. I was relieved that I made it. It was almost 10. I thanked the ladies and apologized for not being able to stay for the 5Kers.

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My favorite Tech shirt so far. I wonder why…

I rushed home. I had to shower and get dressed and be at the baseball field by 11. I was under the gun. Shower, get dressed, grab drinks and get to the field. I was moving faster than I thought I could.

I made it to the field at 11 sharp! Whew! I was so relieved. I shouted over to JOrdan to let him know I made it. He gave me a smile, a small wave and a head nod. After all he was at the field with this friends and teammates and could not lose cool points for being over joyed that I had made it. He told me that later.

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Wild Ptich during warmups.

In between innings I happened to look at my phone, and saw that I have several texts and emails. I began to read them. They were from my BGR members, I had placed in the race. Initially they thought it was 1st, but it ended up finishing 3rd in my age group. I was still excited but sad I had missed it.

This is my 5th race and I have placed and missed it. It was bittersweet. I was not there to receive my first medal. Yes, I said FIRST because I plan on winning more. It was a tough race due to lack of proper hydration but it was a lesson I needed to learn. It will not happen again.

My results:

34 98 Francine L Johnston Newark DE F 38 3 F 30-39 53:31.7 53:33.1 0:01.4 8:38/M
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My 1st Medal and I’m very proud of it.

34th overall and 3rd in my age group, not too shabby for an old lady. I am proud of myself, I placed in a race and my son won his first game of the season a true win-win situation. I must admit both of us were on Cloud 9 that day. Although I had cramps and rushed to get to the game and missed receiving my medal I would not change a thing. I got to see my son’s first game and that was my #1 priority.

Open Letter

Dear Boston Marathon Bomber,

I am a runner and runners are my family. When you mess with one of us you mess with all of us. You broke our spirits for a brief moment however we will persevere. We are strong and will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and run. We will run for Boston, we will run for our spectators and we will run for ourselves. What you failed to realize is that not only have you united us as runners but also as a country. You have not won. You will NEVER win. I hope that they find you and justice is served. We are strong, we will not live in fear and we will keep running and stay united. You cannot and will not stop us…EVER!

Regards,
Francine
A Proud Runner

Huma Gel – The Review & Discount Code

When my friend Gina McKnight (@asphaltknosher) contacted me about trying Huma Gel I said sure! Little did she know I was very skeptical! I have stomach issues folks.  There are certain things that I know I cannot eat like red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, fried foods, greasy foods, etc.  And then there are some foods that I do not know I cannot eat until I eat them.  Stomach roulette!

I emailed Ian who is one of the owners of Huma Gel.  He was very responsive and knowledgeable about his product.  I told him immediately about my stomach issues and he assured me that he did not have any reports of anyone having any issues.  That put both my mind and stomach at ease.  He sent me a sample of 2 flavors, strawberry and apple cinnamon. I couldn’t wait to try them.

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Trying to decide which flavor I like best. I’m leaning towards Strawberry or Apple Cinnamon.

With all of the additives and preservatives in food these days, I am starting to read labels a little more carefully. If there is something I cannot pronounce I know it is not that good for me and pass on it.  I could read, pronounce and understand every ingredient on their label. Not only is Huma Gel all natural, it tastes great!  I had prepared myself for something sticky and gooey that would not go down easy.  Boy was I wrong.

I tried Huma during the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  I had the strawberry at mile 3. I was running at a good pace and wanted to keep it up.  The packet was easy to open and the gel was not sticky as I thought. I told myself  “just try a little to see how it tastes, if it tastes good,than eat it all.”  There were bathrooms along the course, what did I have to lose. 

The gel helped me maintain my pace and there were no stomach issues at miles 4, 5, & 6. According to the directions on the package, it was time for another one at mile 7. Hello apple cinnamon. It went down just as smooth as the strawberry.  I’m usually not a fan of cooked fruit, but this was delightful.  My energy level was the same at the beginning of the race as it was at the end.

I really like Huma Gel, and I would recommend it to anyone who uses gel because of the natural ingredients, the real taste and the energy it gives you throughout your race.  I finally found an energy gel that is both natural and safe for my stomach.  Thanks Huma Gel, you ROCK!

I want you all to try it for yourselves, so use the code FLASHFRAN and get 10% off anything in the Huma Gel Store.  But you have to hurry, it expires April 20th. Chia, it’s not just for those clay heads any more!

 *I was sent free samples of Huma Gel in exchange for a review on my blog. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, Spectacular Spectators and Zebra Tights

This is a very popular race and runners are selected via lottery and I GOT IN! When I registered I did not think I had the chance of getting in. There are thousands of runners from around the world that participated in this race! It was better than I thought it would be. I already know I want to run it again in 2014 and if I do not get selected in the lottery, I will volunteer to have an automatic entry into the following year’s race. (Shh, it’s a secret.) I honestly do not know where to begin to recap this race. I know I am leaving something out.

There were 5 members of Black Girls Run Delaware were selected. Due to an illness, only 4 of us attended. I drove down with Tanishia and met Dawn there. We unloaded our belongings and went to the Expo to pick up the packets. It was a pretty nice day and there were sites to be seen.

My Black Girls Run Buddies (from left) Dawn, Tanishia, LaWhan and me.

We went to lunch and had dinner. On my way to dinner I realized that I had forgotten a running shirt and purchased a new one at Marshall’s that I love. It says “I WILL RUN YOU OVER”. Running related sayings and t-shirts have become my new obsession. We made ourselves go to bed early because we had an early morning. The alarm was set for 4.

We all did our running rituals; food, bathroom and gear. We were out the door. On our away to the Monument, we saw a car with a man sleeping at a red light. We could not believe that this man was sleeping so soundly. An SUV behind him was honking and he did not budge. Dawn decided to wake him up. She cautiously approached the car and knocked on the window, he did not move, so she knocked a little louder. It startled the driver so much that he almost ran through the red light. We all screamed “Stop, the light is red!” He gathered his bearings and proceeded to drive away.

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The start and finish of the race.

We laughed all the way to the Monument. It was crowded, dark and chilly. We went into the bathroom to warm up. As the sun came up we started walking around more to see what we needed to do. We checked our bags, jumped around to stay warm and I met one of my Twitter friends (@RoseRunsSlow). She is AWESOME!!

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My friend Rose (@RoseRunsSlow)

Race time! We were all in different color corrals. This was my first 10 miler so I was in the back with the higher paced runners. I was not having that, I moved to the front with my BGR members because I knew my pace was less than 11 minutes. For some reason I was not nervous about this race like I was for all of the others. Bang! We start running. It was a little crowded but I found my pace. I was running easy, feeling like a free spirit.

The scenery was beautiful however there were Cherry Blossoms had not fully bloomed. The spectators were SPECTACULAR! Since we all had our names on our bibs, there were personalized cheers. The signs were great too, one in particular “Hey Random Stranger, I’m Proud of You.” It was motivating. There were spectators who added additional stops along the way handing out water and Oreos! How awesome is that? I passed on the cookie but it was a very nice gesture. On the last quarter-mile of the race a little girl screamed out “Hey lady! I like your zebra pants!” Both the crowd and I chuckled and I gave her thumbs up.

My results and video finish. I was happy with the results and I know that the longer I run, the quicker I will become. My goal was to finish.  Since I am new to running, my goal for every race this year will be to finish. This, by far was my favorite race. This is a race that I will remember forever.  Hope to be there in 2014.

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My Cherry Blossom 2012 Experience

*Results and video are property of RunnerSpace.com.

2 Races In Less Than 1 Week!

If you haven’t guessed or read it by now I LOVE RUNNING!  This month I am running 2, possibly 3 with 2 happening in the same week. Run Francine Run!  I have been selected to in the lottery to run the Credit Union Cherry Blossom  (10 Miler) in Washington, DC along with another race called Run for the Ages  (5K) that benefits the local senior center.

Run for the Ages is on the same day as Opening Day for my son’s baseball team and I’m Team Mom.  Uh-oh! The good news is the race is local and starts at 8:30 and the game is at 11 and I have a backup for the early festivities at the baseball field.  I plan on running like the wind and getting out of there as soon as possible.  I have only missed 2 of my son’s games and both times I was hospitalized. I will NOT miss Opening Day. I am determined to be there so I WILL be there.

As Team Mom, I get a jersey and a hat like the rest of the team.  We are the Angels this again this year.  I was given the number 13 and will add .1.  I’m mixing the best of both worlds running and baseball. It does not get any better than that! Let’s Go Angels!

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Let’s Go Angels!

 

I am excited about all that I have going on with running and baseball with things winding down in school.  The semester is over at the end of the month which will means that I will have more time for my boys, baseball and running.  I have a lot going on but I am both thankful and grateful to have these opportunities.  I love my boys, running keeps me grounded and watching my son play baseball is priceless.  Boys, baseball and running, and I have found a way to balance it all.  

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My favorite baseball player at the museum

Why Would You Tell Me That?!! An update about my wrist…

So you’ve seen the lump on my wrist and heard about the issues it has been causing me. I have been to see the specialist and he has recommended therapy 2-3 times a week for a month. The lump is scar tissue from my previous surgery and the numbness is caused by herniated discs in my back from a car accident almost 2 years ago. If the lump does not go away, I will have to have surgery.

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The wrist of doom…

The Accident

I was stopped at a red light on my way back from the doctor and BOOM! I was rear-ended. It was a hard impact. I looked in the rearview mirror and she was on her cell phone. She got out of the car and said, “I’m having a bad day! You can call the cops if you want, but I don’t see anything wrong with your car.” Gee, thanks for the assessment. My response to her was, “I’ve already called the police and they are on their way.” Attitude then ensued. Oh well. I had $500 in damage to my bumper and I was thankful that I did not have my boys in the car with me. I had to have therapy for my back and neck.  They seemed to improve over time. I was happy to start feeling better.

Now that I am running, I am having pain and numbness in my right arm. By the time I finished my half, I couldn’t feel my arm. I knew it was there because I saw it, but I couldn’t feel a thing. I was both nervous and scared. I knew I had to see a doctor.

The Treatment

As I sat in the specialist’s office, the assistant and I were talking. We got on the subject of running, (no surprise there) and she said, “When is your next race?” I said, “In 2 weeks, why?” She replied, “I’d hate for you to have to stop running. I used to run and then I had back issues and surgery. I can’t run any more.” I didn’t want to hear anything else she said after that. What? Why would she tell me this?

I’ve got to be honest, it was disheartening. I just started running and thoroughly enjoy it. I plan on running until the day I die. I do not want to think about not being able to run. I am going to live in the now and enjoy what I can do NOW. Yes, there are worse things that could happen and that is what I keep telling myself. If I can’t run, I’ll volunteer at races. I will still be there.

I go back in a month and have several questions prepared.  I’ll keep you posted…

Running, A Teacher in Disguise

What running has taught me is immeasurable. I have learned to trust and believe in myself, go beyond my comfort zone, gain confidence and find the happiness within me.

I started running again seriously in July 2012. Prior to that I would run whenever the mood struck me. The local park has a 3-mile trail and I would go run there. I would get about 1.5 miles and talk myself out of running any more. “You ran enough, it’s ok to walk the rest of the way.”  Or I would say “You’re tired, you worked all day, take it easy.” I realized I was selling myself short. Why?  What would I have to gain from cheating myself?

I knew I wanted to run but was not disciplined enough to run by myself. I needed support and encouragement. I looked into local running groups and found Black Girls Run. The ladies in this group are AMAZING! They are encouraging, thoughtful, kind, intelligent, motivational and inspiring. They have helped put me on the path to becoming a stronger more consistent runner and ultimately a better person.

I decided to attend a meet-up. I knew that my first run around the entire trail was going to be challenging. I was telling myself, “if you don’t make it all the way around, you’ll be fine” Why? It was NOT fine. I was sabotaging my first serious run. I was focused on fear and that what ifs. What if I was too slow? What if I fell? What if I didn’t fit in? If I was committed to running I had to let go of the fear and the what ifs. It was preventing me from being the runner I was striving to become. I was no longer going to worry about something I had no control over. Run away out the fear, run out the doubt, just run!

With the encouragement of the ladies in the group, I ran the whole track and then some! I had it in me. The fear and anxiety was gone. I stopped letting my mind talk my body out of my going out of my comfort zone. How would I get the results I wanted by staying in my comfort zone? I wouldn’t. I wanted to be a full-fledged runner and decided at that moment, I was always going to push myself and beyond my comfort zone. I was DETERMINED to become committed to get results, to become a runner.

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My first run around the entire track.

I finally became 100% committed to running. I started attending meet-ups regularly and ran my first 5K in August 2012. It was surreal. I was in a race. I was actually running competitively. My goal for race day was to finish and I did. (see results below)

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My First 5K and results.

This “in the mood” runner has become the “as much as I can” runner. I fell in love with running.  I have no plans to stop running. I run to become a better me both physically and mentally. Running has taught me to live, do and be better. What has it taught you?

Running, A Teacher in Disguise

What running has taught me is immeasurable. I have learned to trust and believe in myself, go beyond my comfort zone, gain confidence and find the happiness within me.

I started running again seriously in July 2012. Prior to that I would run whenever the mood struck me. The local park has a 3-mile trail and I would go run there. I would get about 1.5 miles and talk myself out of running any more. “You ran enough, it’s ok to walk the rest of the way.”  Or I would say “You’re tired, you worked all day, take it easy.” I realized I was selling myself short. Why?  What would I have to gain from cheating myself?

I knew I wanted to run but was not disciplined enough to run by myself. I needed support and encouragement. I looked into local running groups and found Black Girls Run. The ladies in this group are AMAZING! They are encouraging, thoughtful, kind, intelligent, motivational and inspiring. They have helped put me on the path to becoming a stronger more consistent runner and ultimately a better person.

I decided to attend a meet-up. I knew that my first run around the entire trail was going to be challenging. I was telling myself, “if you don’t make it all the way around, you’ll be fine” Why? It was NOT fine. I was sabotaging my first serious run. I was focused on fear and that what ifs. What if I was too slow? What if I fell? What if I didn’t fit in? If I was committed to running I had to let go of the fear and the what ifs. It was preventing me from being the runner I was striving to become. I was no longer going to worry about something I had no control over. Run away out the fear, run out the doubt, just run!

With the encouragement of the ladies in the group, I ran the whole track and then some! I had it in me. The fear and anxiety was gone. I stopped letting my mind talk my body out of my going out of my comfort zone. How would I get the results I wanted by staying in my comfort zone? I wouldn’t. I wanted to be a full-fledged runner and decided at that moment, I was always going to push myself and beyond my comfort zone. I was DETERMINED to become committed to get results, to become a runner.

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My first run around the entire track.

I finally became 100% committed to running. I started attending meet-ups regularly and ran my first 5K in August 2012. It was surreal. I was in a race. I was actually running competitively. My goal for race day was to finish and I did. (see results below)

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My First 5K and results.

This “in the mood” runner has become the “as much as I can” runner. I fell in love with running.  I have no plans to stop running. I run to become a better me both physically and mentally. Running has taught me to live, do and be better. What has it taught you?