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Greetings From Harrogate...
Friday, 5 October 2007
Harrogate Theatre 10K
Topic: Running and Racing

The day after I ran the Nottingham half marathon, I started to have a cough. I chalked this up to just post race exhaustion, since after unusually long and/or hard workouts, I sometimes get a little cough. This cough didn't go away though. In fact, it steadily got worse. I took the entire week off running. On Sunday the 23rd, I was still coughing. However, I'd told all my Harrogate Harrier friends I was running the Theatre race, and I still really wanted to do it. That morning found me at Valley Gardens with my running friends, waiting for the race to start.

I actually did quite well, running about 55:45 for the 6.1 mile course. The course was all hills, but ironically still a fast course. My friends and I were all pleased, all of us having finished in under an hour. I'm especially pleased, now knowing I had bronchitis at the time! Running that race probably wasn't the smartest thing in the world to do, but I actually had fun doing it.

Posted by hkvlayman at 3:17 PM BST
Monday, 1 October 2007
Nottingham Half Marathon
Topic: Running and Racing

On Sunday, Sept. 16, Larry and I ran the Nottingham Half Marathon. I would like to call this next section, "How Not To Run A Really Good Half Marathon." Smile The night before, I worked as a photographer's assistant at the Air Force Ball out at Menwith Hill Station. My friend Sarah is a photographer, and I've worked with her several times before. Basically I tell people what the packages are, have them fill out order forms, and take their money (as well as helping Sarah with set up and tear down). The evening got off to a poor start. Sarah and all her stuff was moved three times. Each time she went exactly where she was told (by the manager of the club where the ball was taking place). Each time she got set up, she was told to move. It got frustrating, especially because the final time we had to move, people were already starting to line up for photos.

We finally got somewhat set up, and I noticed I didn't have a chair. I asked the lady in charge if I could have a chair, and she informed me that there wasn't a chair to spare in the entire club. Yeah, right. I didn't have time to argue, or search for a chair. I spent most of the night on my feet, in chunky heels, bending over a table writing things down and making change. NOT what you want to do the night before a major race.

Sarah and I did get to eat dinner with everyone, but the food was marginal and we were packed at the table like sardines.

After dinner, we went back to work and wound up not finishing until quite late. When I finally got into bed, I had to laugh because I was up late, didn't get a good dinner, and didn't get rest the night before the race - three big no-no's. For some inexplicable reason, I was utterly confident I would have a great race anyway.

Only a few hours later, Larry and I got up and drove to Nottingham. The parking lot was a good twenty minute brisk walk from the starting area. It was early, but things were already getting busy. The race area itself was huge. There were all manner of stalls and tents on a huge field. There were concession stands, as well as the usual services found at a race of this size (about 13,000 people). There were porta-potties galore (you can never, ever have too many at a race), which was good. There was a little tent/kiosk giving away free bottles of Lucozade (do they have that in the States?). They were also giving out free pace bracelets, which I'd never had before. It was cool. The bracelet has the time in which you want to complete the race (for me, two hours), then the cumulative time you should be at, at each mile.

I was milling around near the starting line, when I saw a man with his race number on, sitting on the ground SMOKING! I couldn't believe it. Anyone that's met me knows I am the kind of person where what I am thinking is instantly visible on my face. Another man standing nearby saw me looking at the Smoking Man, and just started laughing.

Larry and I made our way to the start. Huge races like this are almost always divided up into time zones. You sort yourself out by signs posted with expected finishing times. Larry hung around with me until just a few minutes before the race, then headed up a little way to a slightly faster area.

I'm not sure - I couldn't hear the PA system very well - but I think the Sheriff of Nottingham was at the race start. That's pretty funny!

Finally, we were off. Let me just say that I have run three half marathons prior to this. All three were pre-Ryan, and for all three I drew up detailed training plans (which I actually stuck to!) for weeks before the race. Before each of those races, I felt pretty prepared. For this race, I had no plan whatsoever. I wasn't even consistent with my running. I felt almost utterly unprepared. I'd done two long runs with my Harrogate Harrier friends, but the longest of those was probably only around 9 miles or so (half marathons are 13.1 miles). However, my inexplicable optimism was still in full force. I knew I could do this, and that it wouldn't be so bad.

Armed with experience, two energy gels, a plan to walk through the water stations, and my crazy optimism, I headed off into the race. It took a few minutes to actually get across the start line. The race never really thinned out. There were always people around. This is both good and bad. On the good side, it keeps you going and gives you something to do (threading your way through, and trying not to get knocked around). On the bad side, it's freaking annoying when people get in your way and bump into you. (At one point my sweaty bare arm got smacked by someone else's sweaty bare arm. Eww!!!)

The course was tough. There was a lot of up and down, a lot of big steep hills, and long gradual ones. It was definitely not a course for personal records. Somewhere along the way, I got three minutes behind two hour pace, and no matter what I did, stayed that way. Honestly, I didn't expect to be at or under two hours, but I wanted to be close. A goal of two hours gave me something to shoot for.

What amazed me, was that except for a little bit of a slump partway through the race, I felt really good. Around an hour, I actually felt great! (I guess second winds really do exist!Smile) I didn't lose concentration until the last couple of miles, and then only for a minute or two. In some ways, the last three miles were the hardest. The course was marked off in miles, and I dearly wished the last three had been marked off in K instead. It would have gone by faster with numbers counting down more quickly!

I must mention that I saw something I'd never seen before during a race. Pretty far along the course, there were two men wearing rubber gloves with handfuls of vaseline for runners to take. Runners do chafe, however, taking vaseline from a stranger is something I just wouldn't do. Wink

There was a full marathon being run as well. Near the finish, there was a place where the marathoners split off. I kept thinking how tempting it would be for someone signed up for the marathon to just throw in the towel and head for the finish. I knew with 100% certainty, that there was no earthly way I could possibly run another 13.1 miles! I was more than happy to see the finish line.

The weather had been crazy during the race. It went back and forth between sunny and warm, to cloudy, windy, and cold. It was the latter, not the former as I finished the race. In the chute, finishers were handed a medal (which I wore with pride), and one of those space blankets. I'd seen them tons of times after big races on tv; marathoners looking somewhat like survivors of natural disasters, which I suppose in some ways, they are. I found myself struggling to get my blanket open while hanging on to the goody bag I'd been given as well. I finally got it somewhat wrapped around me, and staggered away in a state of semi-shock. I was definitely in a daze, and knew if I stopped moving, that would be it. I trudged on toward the kit tent where we'd left our stuff, figuring Larry would be around somewhere. Eventually I got my bag and changed my clothes and my cell phone rang. I just knew Larry was somewhere right in front of me, laughing because I didn't see him!

It took us twenty minutes to walk from the car to the race. It took at least thirty for us to limp back! I sent texts to my Harrier buddies, letting them know my time (2:02:58) and that I survived, and on the walk back to the car got wonderful notes of congratulations.

I'm glad Larry talked me into signing up for the race. I did have a great time! (The things we do for fun...Smile) There are photos online. To see mine, click here:;match=872

To see Larry's, click here:;match=914

For the race's website, click here:

(I have to mention that the shirt we got was really cool. Instead of the usual cotton, it was one of those high tech wicking fabrics that stays dry. I love running in it!)

Larry ran 1:45:57, and was 1236th out of 6507. I was 3437th. 

I was very pleased with how I did, both time-wise, and how I felt.

Posted by hkvlayman at 5:17 PM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007 9:18 AM BST
Sunday, 30 September 2007
The Weatherby 10k
Topic: Running and Racing

"A cracking little Yorkshire run in a great sporting town." That is the description on the front of the pamphlet for the Weatherby 10k, which took place on September 9. Apparently that's how the race was described by one of the previous year's finishers. While that description amused us greatly, the race itself did not. Larry was registered for the race. Ryan and I were there for moral support.

The race pamphlet had directions and a map, but they turned out to be pretty useless. We've driven through Weatherby numerous times, so we thought it would be pretty easy to find the race. We were wrong. After turning around a couple of times, we found a place to park (which turned out to be the wrong place for the race), and tried to find the start on foot. We walked around together (with Ryan in his stroller), to no avail. The time for the race to start was drawing near, so Larry took off jogging to try to find the start line. Ryan and I went back to the parking lot to meet up with Larry either after the race if he found it, or to regroup if he didn't. While waiting for Larry, I asked two police officers where the race start was. After looking at the map, they agreed with me that it was the worst map ever, and were unable to point me in the right direction.

I didn't have long to wait before Larry turned up. He figured out where the race started, but there was no way he'd make it in time. He was extremely frustrated, to say the least.

Last year my friend Carissa coined the phrase, "misbegotten adventures in England." Larry and I agreed this fell under that category! It was a sunny day, and we were parked by a river. It was actually a nice little area with a gazebo and a brass band gearing up to play. There was an ice cream truck, so we got Ryan a cone and went for a little walk near the water.

Posted by hkvlayman at 11:00 AM BST
Sunday, 16 September 2007
Topic: Running and Racing

This is just a quickie to say Larry and I survived the Nottingham half marathon today. We are sooooo tired!

Things have been crazy lately, and I just haven't been near my computer much.

Andra brought to my attention that I've been a bit remiss in dissemination of information. Smile We are leaving the UK for good on or about the 9th of November. More on that to come. I hadn't posted anything specific on when we're leaving, because the army being the army, things tend to change up until the last minute. This seems fairly locked in, but we haven't gotten our tickets yet, so... I will keep everyone updated though.

It will be great to be home, but I will definitely miss Harrogate, and most of all, the friends - both American and British - that I've made here. These last two years have gone by in a blink, and I can't believe it's almost time to go.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I know I am ridiculously behind here (what else is new???), and will try to catch up.

ps - Please forgive any typos and/or spelling errors. I am falling asleep as I write this, and just can't be bothered to proofread!Surprised

Posted by hkvlayman at 11:01 PM BST
Saturday, 25 August 2007
The Last Pub Run
Topic: Running and Racing

Tuesday night was the last pub run of the season for the Harrogate Harriers. We met up at The Hopper Lane Hotel, then walked a short way to a path near the Fewston reservoir. It was cold and misty and windy out. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that we had to stand around in it for quite a while waiting for things to get sorted out before the run. Thankfully once we did get going, the start and finish of the run were in the sheltering canopy of a forest, so it felt immediately warmer. It also was immediately darker! Smile

Unfortunately, this last run was not a simple out and back. It was a three mile loop. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but the course wasn't very well marked, and not everyone got a good look at the map. I took a glance at it, but I'm horrible with map reading, so I could have looked at it all day and it wouldn't have made a difference. I was hoping the people in front of me knew where they were going. Well, live and learn.

When it was my turn to start, I indeed followed the two ladies in front of me - who promptly took a wrong turn that cost us a couple of minutes. Oh well. I was tired and not mentally up for a big effort, and was disappointed at having such an inauspicious start, so I tried to just enjoy the scenery and the run. It was indeed enjoyable to run through the forest and next to the water.

I caught up to one of the ladies in front of me. Unfortunately, she wasn't feeling well and turned back. I couldn't see anyone in front of me, so I was on my own. I reached a point where I didn't know where to go next. I saw the faster runners already coming back, so I decided to just turn around and make my way back. There was ONE arrow pointing the way back, so I went ahead and followed it. I only saw one other sign on my way back, but it turns out I'd gone the right way. As I arrived at the finish, I informed the gentleman keeping time that I hadn't completed the entire route. Apparently getting turned around and lost was the order of the evening. My friend Emma was the last one in. She got turned around and ended up adding a good mile or more to her run. Several of the faster runners had gone back looking for her. We were very relieved when she finally turned up!

We made out way back to the pub and got cleaned up. I somehow managed to change my clothes in the car. (I joked that I hadn't gotten dressed in a car since I was a teenager. Tongue out) We'd put our food orders in ahead of time, so it wasn't long before our food was brought out.

After dinner, I'd ordered some tea. As the waitress set it down in front of me, I noticed a number of people staring. I looked around a bit confused and said, "What?"

The fellow nearest to me informed me that he thought tea was a British indulgence. Ah. I replied, "I'm weird." Tongue out Actually, I've always loved tea. Though, growing up in the desert, I usually had it iced. However, I have always enjoyed it hot as well. I guess British people aren't used to Americans drinking tea.

Not only was this the last pub run, but it was a quiz night as well. I'd never been to a quiz night before. Apparently it's a big thing over here. Lots of local pubs have weekly quiz nights. We were put into teams of three by drawing numbers out of a hat. We then answered 35 questions covering a wide range of topics of general knowledge. Our quiz mistress kindly threw in a couple of American questions (though I disappointed my teammates by not knowing the Bears played at Soldier FieldEmbarassed - well, I don't care about football!).  Each team wrote their answers on a piece of paper, then at the end everyone swapped papers to check answers. My team did abysmally, but we had fun!

Posted by hkvlayman at 5:19 PM BST
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Point to Point
Topic: Running and Racing

Tuesday the 7th was a pub run at Tiger Inn at Coneythorp. I decided to go ahead and do my first point to point race. How it works, is that you put down how long you think it will take you to run three miles. (If you've done a previous race, they just use your last time.) There's a gentleman with a laptop in the back of his car who keeps track of all this. Smile The course is straight out and back, and the start is handicapped by expected finishing time. The slowest people start first, the fastest last. The idea is that pretty much everyone should finish about the same time. It's a lot of fun! I had no idea how fast I'd run. I put down 26 minutes and thought I was being optimistic. When it came time for me to start, I took off at a reserved pace. I didn't want to overdo it then burn out. I wound up running 24:29 for three miles, and was thrilled! I was also the second person back (first female).

After everyone was in, we went to the pub for refreshments and results. There is always free chocolate! Turns out since I was the first female back, I won a bottle of wine! Wine and chocolate - those are my kind of prizes! Tongue out (Prizes were awarded to the first three finishers back, the fastest male and fastest female, and two "mystery teams.")

There's one more pub run Tuesday, which I'm very much looking forward to. After the race, there'll be a quiz night! Those are very popular here, and it will be fun to experience one. 

Posted by hkvlayman at 4:54 PM BST
Friday, 17 August 2007
Harrogate Town Centre 10k
Topic: Running and Racing

(Click on the above slideshow to view as a web album.)

On Sunday, July 29, Larry and I ran the Harrogate Town Centre 10k. It was a gorgeous morning, and perfect weather for a race. The race didn't start until late in the morning, which Larry commented was a smart move by the British race organizers! (Really, who wants to get up early on a Sunday?Smile)

At the start, I found a friend of mine, Jane, who also runs with the Harrogate Harriers. We ran most of the race together, which was a huge help and a lot of fun. I've only ever run one other race with a friend. It makes it so much easier! This particular course was a two lap, hilly loop. I knew several of the marshals on the course (other HH's), which also helped. It was great to see friendly faces along the way!

Jane and I had a fun surprise as we finished the first lap. Another HH named Jane was announcing the race, and she announced our names on the PA system as we went through! We couldn't help but smile, and feel energized for the second lap.

Jane and I had taken the first lap easy and relaxed, so I felt strong on the second lap. There's a big hill not long before the finish, but the finish is all down hill after that. There were other HH's cheering at the finish, which made crossing the finish line that much sweeter.

I looked around for Larry after the race to see how he did, but he was nowhere in sight. I was a little miffed and thought he'd better have a good excuse for being MIA when I finished the race! Turns out, he did. His car key fell out of his pocket, and he had gone back over the course to try to find it. Luckily, someone found it and turned it in. It's good to know there are decent people out there.

Larry finished 147th out of 631 total runners, with an official time of 44:43. (I'm not sure how long it took him to cross the start line once the gun went off. It took me about 30 seconds, but I was in the back.) I finished 515th, with an official time of 58:53, but from the start line, 58:19. I am really pleased, because my goal had simply been to be under an hour. Larry somehow convinced me it would be a good idea to run a half marathon in September, so being able to run half of that well was a boost to my confidence.

Overall, I had a very enjoyable time that morning. It was great to know so many people involved with the race. It made all the difference. 

Posted by hkvlayman at 5:03 PM BST
Thursday, 26 July 2007
On the run...
Topic: Running and Racing

It seems my lot in blogging life is to be perpetually behind. I suppose on the bright side, that means I'm busy (or perhaps extremely lazy...Innocent).

I'm a bit tired tonight after my run with the Harrogate Harriers. Being freshly showered and having just scrubbed the mud off of my legs, it puts me in the mood to ruminate about running.

I actually haven't run nearly as much as I'd like to have, but the times I have run (or tried to) have been interesting. The Harrogate Harriers (HH) have pub runs during the summer. This means everyone meets at a particular pub, puts in their food order (if you want to stay and eat after the run), then goes on a run. There are two runs: a social run (which is just that), and a point to point run. I don't know exactly how it works, but it's an out and back race. Prizes involve wine and chocolate! I haven't ever signed up for a point to point race, because I, er, *cough* never officially joined the HH. Embarassed (All you have to do is fill out a form and pay a modest fee, and this entitles you, among other things, to wear an official jersey at races, competing as an official Harrogate Harrier.)

Because I'm not an official member, at pub runs, I do the social run. Smile

The first one I made it to was on May 29th (at the Sun Inn at Norwood). The fellow who normally would lead the social run was not present, but he left us a map to follow. You would think half a dozen fairly intelligent adults would be able to follow a map. Apparently not. Laughing We wound up goodness knows where, but did eventually find our way back. I stuck around to eat at the pub, and discovered that you just don't order a hamburger at a pub. (It tasted ok, but the texture was really weird.)

The next pub run was on June 12th (at the Clarendon at Hebden). I didn't realize just how far out this pub was. It was a good half hour away, and that was with me going as fast as I dared, on top of not knowing exactly where I was going. I missed the run by THREE MINUTES!!! Yell I couldn't believe I drove all that way pretty much for nothing. (The scenery was nice. I'll say that.) I didn't know my way around and didn't know where everyone went, so I turned around and drove back to Harrogate.

The most recent pub run was the 10th of July (at Bay Horse at Goldsborough). I got there on time, which was a good start, but I saw someone holding a map and I thought, "Not again!" Tongue out Ironically, navigation turned out not to be a problem at all. What was a problem, was the sections of muddy path overgrown with stinging nettles and the boggy marsh land with several inches of standing water under waist-high grass. Luckily, I decided to wear long tights that afternoon. Even so, the one inch of exposed ankle was raw and bleeding from the nettles. I was even stung through my tights! On top of that, my allergies went crazy, and I wound up with a rash all over my body. Add to all that, we ran the penultimate section of the run literally on the A59, which is an extremely busy thoroughfare. Definitely an adventure!

Posted by hkvlayman at 10:10 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2007 9:41 PM BST
Monday, 19 March 2007
MHS St. Patrick's Day Fun Run 2007
Topic: Running and Racing

Never mind that St. Patrick's Day was two days ago! :) Today Ryan and I ran in the MHS St. Patrick's Day Fun Run 2007. (Well, I ran. Ryan rode along in his jogging stroller.) The races out at The Hill are getting increasingly casual. This time there wasn't a timer, an actual start line, or a finish line. There weren't even results. However, the course was marked (sort of) and there were enthusiastic volunteers to help point the way and cheer us all on. Most importantly, there were commemorative mugs for the finishers. :)

The sun was out most of the time, but it was extremely windy. The wind is what made it uncomfortably cold. The course was 2.8 miles long. I didn't expect to set any speed records (my time was approx. 22:50). I hadn't run pushing Ryan in the stroller for quite some time, and the wind was tough. It was fun to be out though. I'm proud to say no one passed me the whole race! There was a Navy guy who caught up to me for a while, and who tried to put a kick on at the end, but my pride wouldn't let him beat me! :P Feels good to out kick a man, especially while pushing a 30+ lb. child in a jogging stroller! (And not that it matters, but there's that Army vs. Navy thing, and being married to someone in the Army, I had to represent!) :P

We got home just in time for the hail/snow flurries to start. It was sunny the first half of the day. Now it's back to that crazy back and forth dance between spells of sun, and crazy snow and hail flurries. We're supposed to have this for the next few days.

Posted by hkvlayman at 5:39 PM BST
Monday, 27 November 2006
The Leeds Abbey Dash
Topic: Running and Racing

On Sunday, I ran the Leeds Abbey Dash, a 10K charity race for Help The Aged. I originally hadn't planned on running it. Weeks ago, Larry registered and paid for the race. Unfortunately, his tdy to Germany came up. We had the race chip and the bib number sitting here all ready to go, so Larry suggested I run the race. Lately I've been feeling pretty good about my running, and Carissa very kindly volunteered to watch Ryan (I talked to a rep for the race and they said no jogging strollers allowed), so off I went.

This was the first big road race I'd run in the UK. Nearly 4000 people finished the race. I wound up around the corner from the start of the race. Once the gun went off, it took me about five minutes to cross the start. The field never thinned out, which in a way was nice. Even though I don't care much for maneuvering and having to jockey for position, having people around all the time helped me to keep a good rhythm.

The course was pretty much an out and back through some fairly unattractive parts of Leeds. At the turn around, the course did loop through a scenic park, which surrounds Kirkstall Abbey ruins. (Here are a couple of websites: and Both have photos and history.)

The race didn't have a costume category that I was aware of, but I saw a couple of men running in dresses, and a couple of women wearing flowery granny underwear over their running atire. I'm sure they had their reasons!

I felt good and ran well, finishing with a chip time of 55:11. I was pleased, considering I almost never run that far on my own. (Most of my runs are normally anywhere from three to five miles, and those are usually done while pushing Ryan in the jogging stroller.) I looked up my results online, and was amused to see that even though I'd called ahead of time and supposedly had the race entry changed to my name, I wound up having run the race as a male, under Larry's name! So I have no idea how I placed as far as my gender and age categories go. However, overall I was 2462nd of 3950 finishers.

I'm glad I ran the race. I felt good and accomplished afterwards!


(Correction - In the, "Credit where credit is due," dept.: Some time ago I credited Larry with telling me about the Harrogate Harriers. It was brought to my attention that Paula told me about them as well, very possibly before Larry did.)

Posted by hkvlayman at 4:58 PM GMT

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