Monday, November 07, 2011

Monumental Marathon Race Report

Short Story – Finished 4:09:39, a 49 min PR!

Long story – I decided last fall to run this full marathon as my second marathon. I had volunteered here in 2010 and watched my DH set a PR. The weather tends to be ideal and it’s pancake flat. I had run Air Force marathon in Sept 2010, going to the starting line with ITBS and PF, finishing in a very painful 4:58. I basically did not have enough miles in to run as I could have.

This year would be different. I set up an ambitious training program. I spent spring and summer building up my mileage as well as changing from running 3 days a week to 4 then to 5 and to 6 days by July. I used a modified Galloway approach. Basically I used his ideas for the long runs and made my own plan (with the help of some wise runners here) for the rest. I also used Galloway’s run/walk idea to an extent. I would run a mile, walk a minute for any run over 10 miles. I had 5 long runs over 20 miles, topping out at 24. My highest mile week was 57 miles and for August and September, I reached 200+ miles. I was injury free and feeling really good.

I decided that I wanted to finish in 4 hours so with my walk breaks factored in, I needed to have a marathon pace MP of 8:45 to average 9:10 min miles. Looking back, I should have done more speedwork and better tempo and MP runs. I planned on running miles 8-14 a little fast to bank some time and then run the last 6.2 without walk breaks, as Galloway suggests (figuring my legs would feel good enough from the walk breaks that I could do this).

Race Day – temps are perfect, 35* at the start and dry. I wore a sequined skirt, arm warmers and a s/s tech shirt. I ran into several friends before the race but since I was running this alone, I stayed kinda low-key and kept to myself. I got lined up in the corrals between the 4:00 and 4:10 pacer. My shoelaces seemed tight so I had time to retie one as they were counting down to the start and we were off.

Mile 1 9:50 – Course goes through downtown Indianapolis, pace feels relaxed and I’m not weaving around people, just going with the flow. A friend taps me on the shoulder and we chat for a second before she runs ahead (she was running the half).

Mile 2 9:26 – we run past Lucas Oil Stadium where our Colts play.

Mile 3 9:06 – decided to start catching the 4:10 pace group that had past me in the first mile. Hands started to get hot so I drop the gloves, start to run into the artsy area of Indy. A fellow Runners World forumite from the Indy Mini boards finds me out of the blue – thanks for saying hi Papafish!

Mile 4 9:06 – see my dad who is a professional photographer, give him a big wave. Noticed that my left shoe felt very tight (I have problems with pain on the bottom of this foot so I try to baby it).

Mile 5 9:17 – stop to retie that shoe, lose sight of the 4:10 pace group, ran in a lot of shade so my hands get really cold, wish I hadn’t dropped my gloves.

Mile 6 8:39 – decide to spring my plan of banking time a little early, find the 4:10 group and pass them. Take my first gel.

Mile 7 9:04 – settle into a comfy pace as the ½ marathoners break from the pack. More room to move now! Then I see a pace group in distance but can’t read the pace on their sign. Assume it’s the 4:00 group so I keep them in my sights.

Mile 8 9:08 – run past the Indiana State Fairgrounds and say a prayer for the 7 people who died in the stage collapse in August. Also see my dad (unexpected! Turns out he was stuck in race traffic and saw the 3:55 pace group go by, got out of his car and waited for me) who snapped some pics.

Mile 9 8:59 – decide to chase down the pace group in front of me, I can now see there is a :10 on the sign which makes me panic, I thought I passed that group!

Mile 10 8:51 – still chasing down that group. Then I notice that it actually says “9:10 pace” on the back of the sign, so it was actually the 4:00 pace group. Cool, I’ll stay around this area. Since I was walking 1 mine every mile, I would lose the group but then pass them when I ran, and would be past back when I would walk. This when on and on.

Mile 11 8:57 – Running through a popular bar area of the city, numerous spectators here.

Mile 12 8:51 – Looking for my dad but don’t see him in this area as I had expected but that’s ok. Carry on! Take second gel.

Mile 13 9:01 – cross the ½ way point at 1:59. Woo-hoo, I’m perfectly on pace! And still feeling terrific.

Mile 14 9:01 – notice that my left foot in starting to bug me but this is not unusual. We’re running through some neighborhoods now.

Mile 15 9:05 – staying right on pace and in front of the 4:00 pace group

Mile 16 9:18 – we were running on a 4 lane busy road, with only 1 lane designated to us. I got stuck in the middle of the 4:00 pace group at this point and couldn’t easily get out. So I wasn’t able to gain any time on them. A lady on the edge of the cones got clipped by a car mirror!

Mile 17 9:13 – I watch the 4:00 group leave as I take my 1 min walk break but I can keep them in sight. Run through the Butler University Campus.

Mile 18 9:11 – Enter the Indianapolis Art Museum grounds. Pass the 30k split at 2:51, projected finish time of 2:03. I can’t see the 4:00 group any longer. But I do see my dad who got some cool pictures. Take my 3rd gel. Notice that my quads are starting to feel sore but reflect on how crappy I felt at mile 18 of my last marathon and know that I’m doing 100x’s better.

Mile 19 9:13 – on some quiet back roads. People are starting to walk around me. I still plan on running the last 6.2 miles without walk breaks.  Start reading signs that were placed along the route with interesting tidbits about Indy and Indiana.  These are meant to help take your mind off the impending pain.

Mile 20 9:22 – And the pain starts to really hit. My foot and quads. Decide that it’s best to keep up with my walk breaks. My time is 2:56 so I know if I keep my pace, I can still finish under 4 hours. If.

Mile 21 9:45 – this is not fun anymore. But I tell myself that I will not walk unless it’s one of my scheduled breaks and only for 1 minute as I had been doing this entire race. I will NOT walk unless I’m supposed to.  The tiny voice in my head says "you can walk more often now, your 4 hour goal is out of reach, the pain will be less if you walk more."  Then the louder voice says "No way.  The chances of you having perfect training and perfect weather all lining up like this is very slim. Do your very best now because you might not have another chance like this."  A nice lady tells me that I win the best dressed award as she flies past me.

Mile 22 10:10 – I’m regretting signing up for a spring marathon at the expo. I’m never doing this again. Please, don’t let me be passed by the 4:10 group. I resign myself to not finishing under 4:00. Mentally though, it’s easier to think that I only have 6/10ths of a mile to go to my next walk break instead of 4 miles to the finish.

Mile 23 9:56 – decide to straighten my shoulders and use my arms. I’m not done yet and it’s only 3 miles to go! This second wind lasted for about ½ a mile. Course turns south towards downtown so I can see the buildings getting bigger, knowing the finish line was near.

Mile 24 10:25 – I see my dad during this walk break and don’t bother to smile for a picture. I get a little emotional and he offers to run with me (he does not run) but I tell him that I’m fine and he needed to get to the finish line. See my first puker, glad I’m not her,

Mile 25 11:02 – Dear Lord, are we there yet?? I take my last walk break and tell myself that I will not walk again until I cross the finish line. An entertainer starts playing a recording of the Olympics song on full blast, I fist pump and laugh to myself at what a dork I must look like.

Mile 26 11:01 – I felt like I was going faster than my time shows. I’m really giving it all that I have. My Garmin shows 26.2 (it started being off about ½ way) as I’m passed by the 4:10 group. I’m praying that my banked time will pay off.

Mile 26.2 (actually .4 on my Garmin) 4:09 – I see my dad at the corner of the final turn and give him a smile. I try to kick it to the finish but it was pretty pitiful. I hear the announcer call my name as I cross the finish line, with my arms partially raised a la Rocky. My DH, who volunteered at the finish line, snaps a picture. I burst into tears and hug him hard while he wraps a Mylar blanket around me. He tells me that he asked the 4:00 pacer about me and she said I was looking really strong (she noticed my sparkly skirt so that’s how she remembered me).

I got my medal and a Marathon Finisher stocking hat (nice!) and found my dad. I cried again while hugging him and he just kept saying how proud he was of me. I grabbed some chili in the finishers tent and swapped stories with my dad. Sent him home while I found gear check and changed into some clean/warm clothes. DH had to stay until the finish so I took advantage of the free post race massage (so nice!!!). Then we walked back to the car. On our way, we passed 2 finishers who were hitchhiking(!!) so we asked why – they were trying to get to the airport and the bus didn’t show up. We live near the airport so we offered to drive them there. We runners are good people, aren’t we?!

So, looking back, I think my training was on par. I probably should have done better with my speed work. My mileage was there. I just faded at the end.

Official finishing time was 4:09:39, 1338 place, 65/182 division place, 9:32 pace. I PRed by 49 minutes!!!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bourbon Chase 2011 Race Report

“If I hear banjos, I’m sprinting.” That was my motto for this relay race, The Bourbon Chase. Last year, my husband, Brett , and I were invited to join a BC team. We’d be 2 of 12 team members to run a 200 mile relay race along Central Kentucky’s famed Bourbon Trail. Having just come off the epic adventure of Hood to Coast, we jumped at the chance. Throughout the year, we got to know some of the team mates on Facebook as well as some meetings. The group seemed like a lot of fun and we were looking forward to it. Our team consisted of 2 members who had run each of the previous 2 BC’s and numerous others who had run 2010. Our captain, Mike, seemed very organized and experienced, as well as fun.

About 3 week before the race, we were assigned legs. Brett and I were in Van 2, runners 10 and 11. So Brett would be passing off to me at the exchanges. We had been in Van 1 during Hood to Coast so thought this would be a good way to see how a Van 2 experience would be different. We did have one team member, our co-captain, come up sick a few days before the race but we got an emergency fill-in.

On Thursday, we drove to Lexington separately from the group, checked into our downtown hotel and wandered around until we found some other team members hanging out before the BC Welcoming Party started. Everyone seemed excited to get the racing started. The BC organizers put together a nice welcoming party with free drinks and food. If you ever get to Lexington, try Bourbon Barrel Ale – so good!! At this point, I was pretty happy to be in Van 2 since I wouldn’t start running until Friday evening so I could enjoy the libations at the pre-party. Our Van 1 team members cut out early while Brett, myself and 2 other Van 2 runners, Jeff and Nathan, found some pizza for a late dinner.

Friday morning came early and we packed up our room and headed to the lobby to meet up with the van at 7:30. Two team mates were meeting us at the start line but the rest of us were leaving from Lexington. The white pass vans pull up and we start to decorate them while the boys load them up, attempting to organize them at the same time. Soon, we were on our way. I brought our Tom-Tom and had loaded up some of the exchange zones on it ahead of time. We did find out that the BC organizers had put out a Garmin and Tom-tom route on their website so thanks to the power of laptops, Wi-Fi and connection cables, our Tom-tom was all set with each of the 36 exchanges programmed in. FYI- the voice on our Tom-Tom is Darth Vader, which was pretty hilarious as we got more and more slap-happy.

So, the starting line for the BC is at the Jim Beam Distillery outside of Bardstown, Kentucky. We drove there, got parked, signed in, got our bibs, shirts and found our missing teammates. Took a group photo and got our first runner, Karen, ready to go. Our team was starting toward the beginning since we were expected to be on the slower side. At exactly 10:15, the gun goes off and Karen and 9 other runners take off to start our relay. Van 1 headed off for the first exchange while Van 2 sampled some Jim Beam, did some shopping and toured the distillery.

We weren’t expecting to start our first leg until 4pm so we had some time to burn. We head into town and grab lunch at Subway. Then we take a very twisty back road to the first van exchange at Maker’s Mark Distillery. The Tom-tom had us going on some very narrow roads but we kept saying “Trust Darth, he’ll get us there” . Needless to say, we were happy to see the black and red building that make up Maker’s Mark Distillery. We still had a few hours to burn so we toured this distillery, watched them bottle, label and even hand-dip the bottles in the famous red wax. We sampled, shopped and changed into our running clothes. It’s a beautiful day outside but on the hot side for running with a high of 86. Van 1 shows up and tells us that everything is going very smoothly and they were hitting their expected finishing times. Our first runner, Jeff (who ran the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim last weekend) is ready to go as the last runner of van 2, Carla, comes tearing down the road. Jeff takes off and we get in the van, leaving Van 1 to have their downtime. Finally, Van 2 is active!!

We drive to our first exchange with no problem and Tina (a strong runner who ran the previous 2 BC relays), our second runner is ready to go. Jeff comes into view and we start cheering for him as he passes the arm band to Tina. Next up is runner 3, Ginger, (our last minute replacement and recent Ironman finisher). Each runner is doing terrific, even in the heat. Brett decides to carry on the tradition he started at Hood to Coast and ran his first leg in a cow costume, a crowd favorite.

I’m up next and our exchange is at a gas station along a busy highway. It’s about 6:30 so the sun is getting lower and it’s starting to cool off. We had noticed since this race is capped at 200 teams, the runners were very spread out. But our team was still counting “roadkills” (runners you pass) and each person so far had at least 3. I kept saying to myself, do your best and try to pass at least one person! Also, Central Kentucky is much, much hillier then what I’m used to in Central Indiana but I had been training on every hill I could find this summer so I felt pretty confident going into my first leg of 7.2 miles. Suddenly, I see a cow come flying down the road and I know it’s my turn! Brett hands me the wrist band and wishes me luck. Since it’s after 6:30 when I started, I’m required to wear a reflective vest, blinking back light and headlamp or flashlight. I started running and noticed that the slope of the shoulder was more then I was used to and my calves start cramping up. I start to panic but just kept pushing forward. They loosened up after a mile or so. I could see another runner in front of me but I wasn’t gaining any ground on him. My van passes me, cheering out the window for me. About 4 miles into the run, I notice the runner in front of me start to walk up one of the hills and I just smiled. I knew if he was walking, I’d catch him, which I did about ½ mile later. The sun is setting so I switch on my flashlight and enjoy the cooler weather. I was able to catch one more runner but was passed by another super fast guy. Oh well, I had a long downhill to finish so I ran hard, finishing in 1:02, a 8:40 pace, a few minutes under my projected 1:05 time. I was pretty happy with this time considering the elevation changes. I pass the band off to our final van mate, Nathan, who takes off into the darkness.

We all hop into the van and drive to the nearby town of Perryville, which is the location of the next van exchange. I had been Tweeting this whole time and found out that Perryville was staying open most of the night for the runners and was really embracing the event. We get parked and the others leave me while I get cleaned up and changed in the van. I meet up with them at the exchange zone, where our van 1 runners were waiting as well. Brett and I are starving so we take off in search of some food. We find an old guy grilling steak sandwiches served with potatoes and beans so we each buy a plate and inhale them. I don’t know if I was just really hungry or what but that was the best steak sandwich I’ve had! I also bought some cookies and a banana from some kids who were wandering around, selling them. And I gave my glow stick bracelet to another girl who reminded me of my daughter. Perryville was a great town! We did miss seeing Nathan finish, opps. He got a few road kills as well so I marked all of these down on the side of the van, approx 21 kills.

Now that our van was inactive again, we drove 30 mins or so to the next exchange zone in Danville. Since this is a 200 mile relay and the Bourbon Trail isn’t 200 miles long, they set it up so the 2nd set of legs of van 2 spent most of their time running through and around Danville. So this town was staying up all night as well. We grabbed some pizza and beer to refuel (looking back we should have gotten this to go and eaten it at the van, it would have given us another hour or so of sleep). There are banjos hanging on the wall and again I comment “If I hear banjos during my night leg, I’m sprinting to the exchange”. After we ate, we drove to the local high school, which had offered their grounds for sleeping, showering, eating and massages. We only used the restrooms and put our sleeping bags down in a quiet part of the grounds. Capt. Mike wanted us to be at the exchange zone by 1:00, so this would give us about 2 hours to sleep. Jeff was staying up but the rest of us crashed. I got a text from van 1 about 12:15 telling us to wait until 2:00 so we actually got a whopping 3 hours!

Our van driver, Dezra (yes, we were so lucky to have a driver so we didn’t have to deal with that, she handled all the driving and recording of our finishing times), woke us up at 1:30. We piled back into the van and drove into town, finding Van 1 at the local coffee shop. Brett headed to the medical tent to get a blister treated while I got some joe. I notice that the other runners are looking like they would be fast so the faster teams must be starting to catch up to the slower teams. Which is good because you’re more likely to see other runners on your leg but you’d also be getting passed vs. passing. Soon, Carla comes running in and Jeff is running out. Van 2 is active again!!

We drive to the next exchange and Tina-Maria gets ready to run. We don’t see many other runners, which was surprising, we thought they would be bunching up some by now. Jeff comes in right on time, with a road kill count of 5 or 6. Tina is off and we drive to the next zone, which is in a little bitty town. We were there with only one other team. Tina finishes really strong and Ginger takes off. On to the next exchange, which is where our teammate who had to drop out due to sickness was volunteering. It was nice to see Delen and give her updates on how we were doing. She lets me know that there hasn’t been a team through her exchange zone yet. And only 4 runners came through before Ginger did so our team was in the top 5 as far as distance (not time since there were teams who started hours later then us who were just a few exchanges behind us).

Brett decides since it’s much cooler that he needed to rock the cow costume again so he suited up in that with his reflective gear and was ready to go at 4am. He was only running 5.2 miles so we hurried to my exchange, in a church parking lot. I find the porto-lets (bonus about being there so early, no one had used them yet!) and got suited up. I did borrow Ginger’s headlamp since running with the flashlight wasn’t as bright as I was comfortable with. I decide to carry my directions with me as the map showed the road being pretty twisty. I didn’t want to get lost and there were only 4 other runners that I had any chance of seeing since we were so close to the front of the pack. I hear Nathan and Jeff yell “Here comes the COW” and I get ready to go. Brett comes screaming in and passes me the wristband and I’m off at 4:57am. Now, at this point, everyone in our van had run their night legs on a major highway with lights and cars. But, my leg started at and continued on complete back roads. I knew from my directions that I would be taking a sharp turn onto a side road within ¼ mile of my starting point so I was happy to see a small sign with arrows pointing to my turn. I had thought I would be nervous or a little freaked out by running alone in such an unfamiliar, rural area. But other than dodging crushed walnuts, it was just fine. Every once in a while a van from another team would pass me or I’d see arrows painted on the ground, or even the occasional sign with a blinky light attached. These would all provide a little comfort that I was going the right way. I actually really, really enjoyed this leg. The hills were very rolling and often but since it was so dark I would have no idea when I’d be on a hill until I could feel it. And I had no idea how long the hills would be or when the next one was. I did start to wonder what was going on with my van as it hadn’t passed me yet and I was 2 miles into my 5.4 mile run. Suddenly my iphone rang on my armband and it was Brett, checking to see if I was ok. I told him I was totally fine, had been seeing signs and was confident that I wasn’t lost. Apparently, I was running faster then they expected so they turned around before they got to me, thinking that I had missed that first turn. Once they realized this, they turned around again and passed me up. About 4 miles into this run, I finally see another runner! Actually, all I see is a blinky red light but I pushed myself to reach that light and pass the runner. I think we were both happy to see someone else and encouraged each other. I hear the sounds of the interstate and know that I’m getting close to being done as my exchange zone was on a bridge over the interstate. I push hard for the last hilly mile and race into the exchange zone, finishing 5.4 miles in 46 mins, a 8:38 pace. Leg 2 is done and I didn’t hear any banjos!!

Our next exchange was at Four Roses Distillery so we hurry there. It’s very busy with different parking areas for each van, long walks to the exchange area and lots of darkness (haven’t seen that many stars since I was out west a few years ago!). I get changed and cleaned up and walk to the exchange area where I find my teammates and Van 1, who were excited to start their final set of legs. Suddenly, I hear Nathan, our runner, come up next to me yelling “Come on, girl, keep coming, lets finish this!!!” I turn and see Nathan running hard up a hill, looking behind him and then I see this yellow dog running with all its might, chasing after Nathan!! Then Nathan runs into the exchange, gives Karen the wrist band and the dog continues to run with Karen! It was so funny and memorable. Nathan said the dog joined him about 2 miles into his leg and Karen said the dog stayed with her another 4 miles until she was passed by a runner and the dog went with him. How funny! I guess a volunteer recognized the dog and got it back home.

So Van 2 is inactive now and tired. We drive to Wild Turkey Distillery to look around (it wasn’t a van exchange but we wanted to see it). Some team members catch a few extra hours of sleep during this time. I wasn’t tired but I did have some fresh apple cider with a splash of American Honey Bourbon to warm my tummy! Oh and I rode a rocking turkey as well. Good times. We stopped at Heaven’s to Besty bakery for some breakfast. Next up was the last van exchange at Woodford Reserves Distillery. Now, this was a beautiful place. It could have been a state park, it was so pretty. We got there early, parked and took a walking tour. We had pre-ordered a bottle of bourbon with our names etched into the glass so we picked that up, enjoyed a tasting and walked around the grounds. It’s starting to warm up now and get busier. The teams are starting to bunch up more so we see some very fast looking people. There are a few costumes too but not many. I did hear that our own Capt. Mike and Braveheart raced to the exchange, with Mike finishing just in front of the blue faced, kilt wearing Scot.

About 11am, Carla runs into the exchange and Jeff is off again. The sun is out in full force and it’s heating up. He had a very tough leg with a 1.5 mile hill. We cheered him on the best we could and we happy to hear that he got a few more roadkills on this leg. Tina-Maria takes off for her final leg then next up was Ginger. We’re starting to get close to Lexington and are driving past some beautiful horse farms with their stables and long wooden fences. It’s just gorgeous country.

Brett’s longest leg is his final one, 8.2 miles. His exchange was in a little town called Midtown. By this time, we’ve got some very serious, elite level teams around us. It’s too hot for the cow costume. But we do stop ½ way through the leg to pass him some Gatorade and encourage him on. We get to my exchange and I get ready to go. I ate some Chomps and filled my hand-held with Gatorade. I see Brett coming around the corner and I’m ready to go. We exchange and I head out. I see two runners in front of me but they were out of sight within ½ mile, they were so fast. I decide to run hard but also try to enjoy the scenery (my other two legs were in darkness!) My quads are not happy to be going on even more rolling hills but I just try to keep pushing. My stomach starts to get upset with the mixing of the Gatorade and Chomps (should have taken water instead) and I’m feeling pretty hot. I worry about being passed by other runners but tell myself that it’s ok. I was actually not passed, which seemed very surprising. I run past some amazing farms and just try to take it all in. I was happy to see the 1 mile left sign but also a little sad, knowing that my adventure was nearly finished. I see the exchange zone at the bottom of a hill and run as hard as I could to get there. Ended up finishing 5.17 miles in 46.53, a 9:04 pace. I’m happy with with considering the heat, hill and exhaustion I was feeling.

We all pile into the van and drive to the finish line, in downtown Lexington. We get parked and find the rest of the team (who had showered and napped already!!). Everyone is wearing our matching team shirts. Brett ran up the road a little bit so he could pass Nathan his team shirt. Suddenly, we see them coming at us and Nathan is running like a bat outta h@!! We follow behind him, all 15 of us (12 runners, 2 drivers and our ill teammate who was also volunteering at the finish line), crossing the line with our hands in the air.

We were given unique, barrel shaped medals, had our team picture taken and settled in to enjoy the post party. It was fun to share stories with the other van mates. There was a bourbon tasting that we went to as well, and then we finished the evening with a group dinner. It was so fun to see all these teams walking around the downtown area, wearing matching shirts, medals and smiles.

I’m not sure of our official time yet but I do know we had a lot of fun!!! If you have the chance to do an overnight relay, do it – you won’t regret it!!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon Race Report

Short story: 1:54.23, 119 out of 1469, 16th in age group

Today I ran the inaugural Indianapolis Women’s Half Marathon. I’ve been looking forward to this race for a few reasons. One , I wanted to run an all women’s event. I find it really inspiring to see women push themselves to the limit and reach their goals. Two, my daughter who is 7, was running the 5k and I knew she had a chance to place in her age group. Three, my mom was also running the half, it would be her second half, her first being the Indy Mini Marathon that I ran with her back in May. And lastly, they had some awesome medals and were promising a really good post race party.

I’ve been marathon training so I wanted to use this race to gage where I’m at. I’ve been using Galloway method on my long runs over 10 miles, running 1 mile, walking 1 minute. I didn’t want to use this method for this race though, since I’ve run numerous halves before without much difficulty.

The heat. Yes, it gets its own sentence. Indianapolis is going through a mini-heat wave right now. Highs were expected to reach 100* on race day. Temps at the start were expected to be over 70 and reaching well over 85 by the time the event was over. Full sun expected as well and throw some fun humidity in there too. Knowing this, I abandoned my plan of PRing (1:49) and wanted to finish under 2 hours, walking at times if needed.

Friday I go to packet pick up and was pleasantly surprised by how pretty the tech shirt is – long sleeved, hot pink (favorite color!) with a really pretty logo on the front, sponsors on the sleeve. They also had students from the Paul Mitchell salon doing free mini manicures to all the participants, what a nice treat! I picked hot pink, of course.

Race morning – I’m up at 5:15 to dress and eat a bowl of oatmeal and banana. I checked the weather and it’s 72* at 5:30. Great. I get my kids up at 5:45 and Kylie is super excited about her race. She was going to run with a friend of mine’s daughter since neither my husband or I felt comfortable about her running by herself. We get to the starting line about 6:45 and I visit the port-o-let and kiss the kids and hubby goodbye (the 5k was starting at 8:15). Mom was already at the starting line so I didn’t get to wish her luck.

The race started right on time and I felt really good, probably going a little too fast as I was juggling for position, Garmin read 7:40 at one point (opps!). The crowd started to spread out some and I fell into a good pace. I decided to keep my pace, 8:45ish and treat this as a MP training run. I ran with a frozen Nathan hand-held (20oz) so I could skip the water stops and drink as needed. They did have water every mile which was really nice with the heat. Here are the mile break-downs

Mile 1 9:29 – crowded, finding pace, warming up

Mile 2 8:45 – pace feels very natural, feeling good, decided I wanted to keep it under 9 min miles

Mile 3 8:30 – little fast here, saw Dad who snapped a picture and my husband/kids

Mile 4 8:29 – out of the downtown area, shaded upscale neighborhood, considered walking but decided against it since I was feeling really good. I decided to re-evaluate walk breaks at each mile marker.

Mile 5 and 6 8:41, 8:43 - still in the shade, crowd is thinning out

Mile 7 8:43 – think about walking but again feeling good so wanted to keep going. Turned East, directly in to the very bright sun. Took my Gu. Still just using my hand-held water bottle.

Mile 8 8:33 – turned away from the sun and back into some nice shade, start picking some Rabbits.

Mile 9 8:34 – I should slow down if I want to finish strong.

Mile 10 8:40 – decide that I can’t walk now, didn’t want to walk in the last 5k, even if it was hurting. Actually, I was hot and very sweaty but my legs/lungs felt very good.

Mile 11 8:36 – hurting a little more but downtown buildings are in sight so I press on. Still catching some rabbits but now there is about 100 yards between me and the next lady. So much room that once the course started making some turns, I didn’t know exactly where to turn at until some spectators helped me out. Didn’t hurt my time but was a little un-nerving.

Mile 12 8:35 – let’s just get this thing done.

Mile 13 8:35 – Come on finish line, where are you?

.16 – 1:21 – Finally!! And I made my goals – finished under two hours (1:54.23) and didn’t walk a step

I got the most beautiful medal, I love it! And I was also given a rose, water, banana, orange slices as I made my way through the chute. I called DH on the phone, saw him right before the finish line, to see how DD did. She hadn’t finished her 5k yet! So I hurried back up to the finish area and waited for her to finish, which she did in just a few minutes. Her finishing time was 41:23, which put her first for her age group!!!! Her friend also placed first in her age group (glad they were in different groups!)

After DD got her medal, we cooled down and got some refreshments. Strawberries dipped in chocolate, turkey wraps, sushi, bloody Mary’s, Mimosas, and beer (I drank DD’s!). We hung around until the awards ceremony where Kylie was given a nice little trophy that she is so proud of. The winner of the HM got $1500! Money was given out to the top 10 finishers, a purse of over $7000. Not bad for a small, first year race.

So now we started waiting for my mom to finish. It’s getting hotter and hotter so we are concerned. Temps are well over 80 and the shade on the course is gone. They announce that the race is now under red flag. DH walks up the course, searching for my mom while my dad waits near the finish line to get her picture (he’s a professional photographer). I’m getting worried. Soon, they announce that they are black flagging the race but runners can continue if they feel that they can. But no times would be official. DH calls me about 10 minutes later to say that he saw a woman swaying while walking so he stopped to give her his water and walk/talk to her some. She was soon approached by medical personal who tell her that the race had been black flagged and she could stop. DH tells her that she’s only 3 blocks from the finish but she decides to take the offer to stop and waits for transport. So DH keeps walking, looking for my mom. He finds her just past mile 12 and called to let me know that she’s looking good and is focused on finishing. I call my dad to let him know too. I can hear the relief in his voice. Soon I see mom walking towards the finish line, with a huge smile on her face. We all cheer and yell for her as she crosses, 3:22, only 3 minutes slower than her first HM time and under much worse conditions.

A volunteer in the finishing chute did help mom to the medical tent, which was hopping, and covered her head and shoulders with iced towels. Seeing her like that got me pretty choked up, I just kept telling her how proud we were of her. Mom said that a volunteer told her at mile 12 that the race had been black flagged and she told him that nothing was going to keep her from crossing the finish line. She’s a stubborn woman! They did allow women to finish for allotted amount of time that they had the course open, 200 more women finished after mom.

This was a very well run and fun race. The extra touches they added throughout really set it apart. I’ll be doing it again!

Monday, August 08, 2011

“Passed by a f*&%^ing SKIRT!!” Yeah, buddy, I did pass you so deal with it.

“Could you please take this into the potty with you when it’s your turn?” I turn and look at the guy in the car talking to me while I’m in line for the porta-let, with wide eyes. He’s handing me 2 packages of toilet paper and smiling at my expression. Ok, I think I’m gonna like this race, at least the organization of it!

I was running my first ever trail race this morning, the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon and Half Marathon in Indianapolis. I was doing the half. I felt very nervous going into the race as I’ve never done anything like this before. I trained at least once a week on trails, actually on these trails as this is my “home” park” but never went beyond 9 miles. The race was sold out at 500 runners, nearly ½ were there for the half.

I got up at 5am to dress, eat breakfast, drink coffee and take care of some bathroom business. I was on the road by 6 and at the starting area by 6:20. I get parked and started heading up to packet pickup. It’s still dark so I just follow the crowd and music. I’m walking along and pass a lady who suddenly asks “Are you Mary? From Runners World?” Turns out, an impromptu FE was brought on by Heidi, who recognized me from pictures and my headband. It was so great to have someone to chat with while we waited for the start! We were both nervous as it was our first trail race but we talked about Bob! And his amazing feat last week (he ran a 100.8 mile ultramarathon) and took comfort in the fact that we only had to run 13.1 miles.

The announcer explained details about the course and had the full marathoners line up. We started about 25 minutes late, not good when we were looking at some high 80’s temps. Anyways, we take off and run on a field for the first ¼ mile. We had been told that we would bottleneck onto a single track trail and to expect to not be able to pass for about a mile after that. That’s exactly what happened (I lost Heidi at this point). Once I got onto the trail, it was very technical. Everyone was walking in a single filed line up the hills and down some very steep parts as well. About 1.2 miles in, it started to thin out and I was able to do a little passing. There were many logs across the trail that everyone was jumping or climbing over. Some were so high that I just ducked under them (passed a guy by doing this, it pays to be short sometimes). The next 2 miles were still single track but a little wider so you could pass in the brush along the trail. People were good about stepping aside as well. I was carrying my own handheld so I passed up the first two Aid Stations which allowed me to get past some other people as well.

The route went on a causeway, across the reservoir about mile 3.5. This was under construction but the road itself was fine and the cars were very considerate of the runners as well. After the causeway, we were on a bike path that brought us into the East side of the park, the more popular area where I do all my trail running. I know my DH and kids would be along this route so I was happy to see them about mile 4.5. The kids had their “Run mom Run signs” and cow bells. I got several compliments about my cheer squad!

I fell into a zone as I ran on this part, I knew every turn, every stump, every log. These trails were wide and groomed so I passed many, many runners. I ran up most hills and had fun running down them. I took a Gu at this point, I didn’t feel like I needed it but wanted to get it into my system. My kids and DH were at mile 6 and I paused to take a picture with them. Mile 6.5 was the halfway point and AS. I stopped and refilled my water bottle and ate some trail mix. This portion was on a gravel road which I ran, again, passing numerous people. Next up was a tricky part that entailed a gravel dam but the gravel was very large rocks, hard to run on because it really works your ankles. I was strong along this area because I run this dam at least once a week. Not all runners were happy at this point! I did have one guy, after I said good morning as I passed him say “There is always one of you, a blond who is just so happy to be out here. It’s refreshing to see!” Thanks, sir!

Dad was there with his camera!  Mile 4.5
 My cheerleaders were there again at mile 6.
 This dog ran the entire full marathon, 26.2 miles, with her owner.
Coming up to the 6 mile mark.
I walked up the next hill, knowing it was steep and caught my breath for a few seconds. My Garmin wasn’t matching any of the mile markers, which stopped at 6 miles anyways so I was trying not to look at it. But when I passed the 5 mile sign, and my Garmin read 9.6, I was a little dishearted, knowing that I had 5 more miles to go. But a race isn’t over when your Garmin says 13.1, it’s over when you cross the finish line. So I kept pushing on. Saw my kids and DH in this area and I refilled my water at the AS. Soon I was out of this part of the park and back on the causeway.

Mile 9, just before the aid station and seeing the kids again.
There were a lot of people walking on this stretch but I made myself run the whole way. I knew if I wanted to make up any time, I couldn’t walk on the flat road. The thought of placing in my AG entered my head at this point. I tried not to think about it but I won’t lie, it did help me to keep passing all the rabbits. One such rabbit was a man who caught a glimpse of me coming up from behind as he turned off the causeway, onto the trail. His look was not a nice one. There was an AS here so I grabbed a gel and set this guy in my sights as my next rabbit. I pass a few others and stumbled for a second on a root. We were back in the very technical area so I walked up a few hills (there were so many roots it seemed like a staircase). About mile 11, I see my chance on a hill and pass the rabbit. He muttered “passed by a f*&%ing skirt” under his breath, which just pushed me that much harder to get some distance on him.

I pass the 5k turn around area and my Garmin is reading 12.5. I’m still feeling pretty good but was unsure when to start to push hard for my finish. A full marathoner passed me on his second lap and said “You’re looking good, 1.5 miles left.” Ugh, seriously?? We had a old, paved trail section here, again lots of walkers so I just kept going and passing. The AG placement enters my mind again. Can’t stop, keep pushing. I hear someone come up behind me and stay right on my heels so I ask him if he wanted to pass. He says no, he’ll stay behind me. Ok, I don’t mind. I pass a few more people, had to sit on a log to get my feet over it at one point, ducked under another. Suddenly, there was a ravine so steep that I actually say “No way, are you kidding me??!” as I come up to it. I slid/walked/stumbled down and pull myself up using the roots and trees. There were two ravines like this, in the last ½ mile. Not pleasant. But after the last one, I see some daylight and yell to the guy tailing me “I see daylight, we must be getting close!” and he says “for you, I’m running the full. But you’re really helping pace me in.” I tell him that I’ll keep the pace and told him to stay on me. I pass another runner and my tail doesn’t come along. Soon, I see the break in the trees. I come around and see my DH and kids there, cheering me on. My DD7 jumped out and ran the last 10th with me. As I’m kicking to the finish, I see a lady on my side who was also sprinting. My competitive spirit came out and I thought “no way are you passing me at the end” and I kicked so hard across the finish!
Love my wood medal. 
Whew, I was done! I felt sick for a few seconds as I cooled down. I got my very cool medal, made out of a log from the park. Checked the official results and I finished 2:23.01, 81st overall and 5th in my AG. I waited for the awards and for Heidi to finish.  I was just 2 minutes from 4th place.  I don’t know how I could have made up those two minutes unless I started closer to the front so I wasn’t behind such a big group at the bottle neck. Oh and maybe if I didn’t need to water the bushes at mile 2.5 too!

The guy who swore about my skirt when I passed him tracked me down afterwards. He said he didn’t realize he said it what he was thinking out loud. I just told him that I gotta look good for my races. He didn’t apologize, just apologized that I heard what he said! LOL

So, all in all, a very good race. I had a blast. I knew the hills would be rough so I concentrated on hill work a lot this summer. I think that and running in all this heat/humidity really paid off for me as I felt very strong the entire way. It was great to see Heidi finish and get a picture with her. I’ll be back for more trail races!!

Elevation chart