JASR weekend Spark style has been along time in coming and the excitement was building with each passing week. For my normal life friends and family that are reading this thinking I am talking jibberish again, I shall explain.
JASR is a Lymphoma and Leukemia Society fundraiser held just northeast of Pittsburgh. JASR stands for Just a Short Race and includes a 5k, 8 mile, Half marathon and a 30k (18 miles) races. It is used locally for training purposes for the Pittsburgh Marathon coming up in May. This was a golden opportunity to get many Spark runners together from all over the country to run and above all HAVE A BLAST together. Both missions were accomplished.
This was going to be a solo trip for me with Jim staying home and that is usually not the case. Sweet! I was going UNchaperoned and I had a blast! I have witnesses LOL. I arrived in Pittsburgh late Thursday afternoon and was welcomed by Bob, Anne and poor Suezette that was in dire need of parkas. Suezette is a Florida girl and has been worried about the temps for months now. I am very pleased to say that she survived. After a tour of the race course and a look at THE HILL I was safely delivered to the Hampton Inn Cranberry Twp., PA and unpacked. I ventured over to Primanti Bros. to dine solo. I NEVER do that at a restaurant as hubby is usually attached at my hip.
After returning back to the room the phone rings and Lynn which lives 4 minutes from
Hotel comes by for a wonderful visit. Many stories were swapped and then I was off to bed. The only problem was I probably received about 30 total minutes of sleep. I was too wound up. Great. A runner always needs a good nights sleep two nights before the race and that is all I could think about.
The next morning I get settled in to the lobby waiting for my Spark buddies to start arriving. It was going to be a toss up as to whether Renee or Bill would show up first. The one time I turn my back to the registration desk and I completely miss Bill checking in. Oops my bad LOL. Finally we connect and it isn’t long before we are in the lobby sitting area both online doing what we do best…Sparking. It was as if our in person conversation picked up where we left off way back September 2009. We have been good Sparking buddies ever since that first meeting supporting each other in our trek for healthy living…and Big Ten sports. Bill is a RABID Buckeye fan and I am a RABID Hawkeye fan and yes, we have clashed at times.
Well, look who strolled in now! Renee! I hadn’t actually met here but we are close friends and at last we meet! Again, it was like we have always been buds.
More and more Spark runners arrive!
After more and more arrivals it was time to head to the Olive garden. What a zoo!!! What a blast!!! I felt sorta kinda sorry for the management but hey!!! We all paid our bills and they received a lot of business from us.
Back to the hotel we go and its time to settle in for the night and get race gear all finalized. I actually slept that night and I never sleep well the night before a half marathon. Oh, did I mention that this will be HM #3? Yeppers, you read that right even if it did involve that HILL.
Alarm goes off and I get dressed and geared up. I head downstairs and the lobby is wall to wall running Sparkers including Bob in his pink tutu.
Yep, its just another day in the life of SparkPeople and their usual behavior. After more stories are swapped its time to load em up and head out to North Park. We park by the nice and warm Rose Barn and the infamous Spark patches are given out for us to wear so we can spot each other. Britt and Bonnie made all of then and mine had a PINK backing! I was thrilled and so surprised! THANK YOU!!
After photos were taken of the MANY Sparkers running it was time to head to the start. IT WAS COLD even by my standards. I had my layering just right though so it wasn’t a problem for me. I could see though that others were suffering a tish. Renee and I finally have a chance to actually run together although we knew it would be for just a short time as we are both solo runners.
After the start and we successfully run up and over the hill we part ways. I am settling into my usual pace with my 2/:30 walk/run intervals and quickly decide that the hills would be a factor. I really paid attention and adjusted pacing accordingly. I am getting pretty dang good at doing that now.
I am now finished with the 5k portion with just the 5 mile loop left to run…twice.
I am on my merry way and quickly discover that the hills on this course are nothing like the ones at home.
OMG! They go up what seems forever only to go down just a tish. Then the next hill is just like that. And another. I come around to the 5 mile loop mat again and now I will run over the hills for the last time. By mile 11 and 12 my legs are getting spent and I walk a little more often. I knew going in that this would not be a PR and that was ok. I finally see the finish line coming up and as I am reaching the mat I raise 3 fingers celebrating my completion of my third Half marathon. Not bad for non-athlete until June 2009 and now age 52, huh?
We head back to the hotel and over to Primanti Brothers for post race festivities. Once again, Sparkers take up a goodly portion of the restaurant. So many stories are swapped and laughter is everywhere.
I head back to finally take a shower only to meet up with friends once again to tell even more stories. Next thing you know its time to head over to Second Sole (local running store) for yet another party. More food, more laughter, more photos more tears.
Back to the hotel and I start to gather things to go home EARLY Sunday morning, but first, more partying in the lobby where we pretty much took over. Come to think of it, we all signed party waivers when we arrived LOL. Ever try chocolate wine? Heavenly.
I took home a few more HM lessons, more bling and many many priceless memories. What stands out in my mind are the TNT/LLS signs along the race course. Also very important to me was having the chance to actually visit with many fellow Sparkers that have been my source of encouragement and support during my journey. How cool is that?
2:42:05 chip time
1243 cals burned
Total ascent: 1947 feet
Total descent: 1922 feet
That is alot of feet!