Saturday, September 08, 2012

B&O Express 10k

This morning I ran the local 10k, the B&O Express 10k and 5k. it's an annual event that raises money to fund the building of a rail trail through our county. The trail is only 3 miles from my house so I've run on it many times and am really, really looking forward to when they can extend it.
I just ran a HM on Saturday and haven't been doing speedwork this summer. I wasn't expecting much from this race but I did, of course, want to do my best. It's been very hot this week as well so was just wanting to finish under 55 mins.
This is a newer race but the RD sent an email out saying there were over 200 runners preregistered. I figured any chance of an AG placement was out the window with a larger field.
Woke up to 60* temps and overcast skies. The start/finish was at a hospital a mile from our house. DH and I got our bibs and used the facilities. The 10k started at 8:00 and the 5k 10 mins after so we lined up and waited for the start. I checked out the crowd and looked like 2 fast girls up front and a several average looking girls around me. After the usual sponsor welcome and race info, we were off! Dh and I ran together out of the parking lot to the main road (we both run this road at least once a week so it was kinda neat to run it in a race). He gave me a quick slap on the a$$ and wished me good luck as he ran ahead.

The cooler weather feels amazing and I'm feeling equally amazing as I settle into a pace and pass some of the slower runners. Pass up the first water stop and hit mile 1 in 8:29. Soon we turn onto the Rail Trail and I settle in right behind two men who were running a steady 8:05 pace. I decide to pace behind them and see how long I can hold this. Mile 2 goes by in 8:22.

Mile 3 starts off as we exit the trail and into a neighborhood. They had to re-route us due to the National Dragster race being rescheduled this weekend due to being rained out last weekend. So instead of a nice, straight road, we're doing loops around a boring neighborhood. I pass up the men in here but they are right on my tail. Skip the water stop. 8:03 for this mile.
I expected to start feeling pretty crappy by this time but mile 4 went by really well too. I must have lost some focus because my time for mile 4 was 8:22.

We leave the neighborhood and run alittle bit before turning and joining the 5k runners. The road gets more crowded as the 5kers are running in small groups and at a slower pace. One of the men who I had been running behind starts matching me stride for stride. I was not going to be passed by him so this mile went by pretty fast - 8:07.

The guy stays with me and I stay with him so the next mile hurts some but not terrible. There were a few little rolling hills (hills in the Central Indiana flat-as-a-pancake sense) but I push up them without issue. Skip the last water stop (oh how I love cooler weather!) and turn into the hospital for the last part. I'm still running with the guy and we're passing 5kers left and right. I can't tell if there are any 10k women in front of me but I hadn't seen any since mile 2 so I figured that I couldn't pass any now anyways. I see DH at mile 6 and he yells something about get moving. Mile 6 was 8:09.
Another turn in the parking lot and theres the finish line. I give it a kick and so does my shadow-guy. We cross the finish at the exact as time. I check my watch and it says 50:02! A PR by 3 minutes!!

DH and I walk around as I cool down. We decide to stick around for awards, just in case. DH said he only noticed a few other women finish before me.
The awards start and I won my AG! I was 1st out of 10, 5/33 females, 38/94 overall, 8:05 pace.

I got a nice medal in the shape of a train and a $15 gift card to the LRS. Oh and a huge smile.
DH had a great race too, he finished 15th over all, 5th in his AG. Good morning for our house!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Indy Women's Half Marathon

Saturday was the 2nd Indy Women's HM, held in Indianapolis, my city. I was running the half while my 8 yo DD was running the 5k. She won her AG last year and was really hoping to repeat.  My mom was also run/walking the 5k.

Last year, it was so hot that they blackflagged the race at the 3 hour mark. This year, we had the remenants of Issac looming over us. Here's the snapshot on race morning at 5:20am.

I warned DD that she's probably be running in the rain but that it wouldn't hurt her (DH was planning on running with her as well just so she wasn't by herself). I didn't care about the rain and was just hoping that we wouldn't have thunderstorms. Temp was 75* and humidity was high with the storm rolling in.

Race starts on time at 7:00. I don't have any plans to PR at this race as I haven't been training for a PR but I was hoping to finish by 1:55 and no later then 2:00. I set my Garmin pace keeper at 9:00.

Mile 1-3 8:39, 8:35, 8:43 - Started up close to the front, knowing this was going to be a popular race for first timers. Even with starting 10 feet from the start line, I had to dodge slow movers. Got settled into my pace and really tried to just enjoy running through downtown Indianapolis in the pre-dawn hours. Skipped the first water stop and walked quickly through the next one.

Mile 3-6 8:38, 8:31, 8:33 - Felt pretty good, course was still crowded but moving well. But the humidity was kicking in for me. I decided to walk the water stops from here on out, knowing they would be every mile or so. Ha. I'm running and see the neon yellow shirts of volunteers and get excited about water only to see that they have water, a table but no cups. Well, that means I'm going to at least mile 7 without water after getting water at mile 5. I start to get discouraged but decide to just keep going.

Miles 7-9 8:55, 8:42, 8:47 - Yea - water stop! And I'm not the only one who was happy to see it, nearly everyone stops and walks for a few steps here. The water was cold too so now I'm feeling refreshed. I check my watch and figure that DD is finishing her 5k by now and I'm sending her good thoughts. A guy driving a Uhaul ignores the orange cones and pulls out into our lane, about 10 feet in front of me. I pound on his window and yell "Closed road, dumba$$".

Mile 10-12 8:46, 8:31, 8:54 - Downtown buildings are now in sight. I'm thankful for the overcast weather but wishing it would just rain as the humidity was nasty. I want to be done. I'm running now on roads that I've run on for nearly every race I've done in Indianapolis and distract myself by reading the different races mile markers , start and finish lines that are spray painted on the roads and try to figure out which races they were from. I also start thinking about the post race party and deciding what type of beer I'm gonna get. I see my dad at mile 12 and he grabs a picture of me. I take my time walking through this last water stop. I can see the post race party and just want to be done.
Mile 13, 1/18th - 9:04, 1:35 Like I said, I just wanted to be done and mentally unfocused for a few seconds. I charge to the finish line and cross, happy to be done. Grab my medal, lose my breakfast off to the side (not unusual for me to puke after a sprint to the finish). My dad is there and tells me that DD did well but wasn't sure of her time. DH finds me and tells me that DD finished in 32 mins, a 10 min PR! But finished 3rd and was pretty upset about it. The first place girl for 10 and under finished in 23:20! And the second place girl beat DD by 15 seconds.
I grab a beer from the local brewery, some strawberries and pineapple and a turkey wrap. Turn around and there's DD walking towards me, with a trophy in hand but major tears. She just kept saying that she had wanted to win, that she was upset about losing. I just hugged and hugged her and told her how proud I was of her. We checked the results board and she finished 80th/414 so that helped cheer her up.

Her winnings:

My final finishing time was 1:54:51, just under what I wanted to finish at. I was pretty happy with that since my long runs and speed work have been pretty non-existent this summer. 15th in AG, 90/1414 finishers.
Mom finished in 47 mins and got 4th in her AG!  I hope she decides to push a little more with her training and try for another 5k this fall.
I love this race. I know there is controversy about women only races and "fru-fru" post race parties but there were some fast women there. The winner finished in 1:16 and won $1000. There was $4000 in prize money for the first 10 finishers and extra bonus money if you finished under 1:15. It's a well run race, nice expo, excellent post-race party, beautiful medal. And only $35 ($10 extra for a shirt, long sleeved) during early registration. I'll be back next year!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Eagle Creek Trail Marathon

Eagle Creek Trail Marathon

The EC Trail Marathon is listed in RW’s Trail Magazine as the #1 urban trail marathon.  How lucky am I that I live 15 mins from this wonderful park and do most of my long runs on their roads?   I ran the HM here last year (2:40ish finishing time) and really enjoyed it.  I knew I wanted to push myself to run the full here so I happily signed up after I finished my 3rd road marathon in April.  After all, I have all summer to get back onto the trails and build up strength, right?  LOL

Summer came and things changed.  Two kids out of school, me working 3 days and one evening a week (last year I was only working one day a week), record breaking temps and a major drought in the Midwest all combined to send me into a major running funk.  My miles dropped, averaging just 30 miles a week and a big part of that average was my 70 mile All-Star week.  My head wasn’t in the game.  I didn’t want to be away from my family for my long runs as I was already missing out on time with them while working.  Most of my runs were early mornings, between 4-6 miles.  Two weeks before the race, my DH and I ran 15 miles with a 10:00 pace so I felt that I could do the full.  There wasn’t a time limit so I put no pressure on myself to hit any specific time goal.  I really just wanted to finish and if I could do that under 6 hours, then I would be happy.   

Race morning and I was up at 5:45.  I was tired, hadn’t slept well.  I ate my oatmeal and packed my drop bag.  Weather was good for August, humid and 74*, cloudy but heating up to low-90’s.  Decided to use my son’s lunch box as my drop bag so it wouldn’t be confused with anyone elses.  I drove to the start/finish area and got my packet.   I knew Christy from BF would be here and my dad (prof photographer) was going to try and get pics of both of us.  I found dad easily and together we found Christy.  The race was scheduled to start at 7:30 and after some brief announcements and the national anthem, we were ready to go.  The full was in two waves so I started towards the middle of the first wave.  Last year, there had been a major bottleneck when the route goes into the single track trail that lasted for the first mile so I wanted to be ahead of any possible bottleneck.   I started off strong and happy. 

The course is split into ½’s.  The first half is single track with a short part on a road, very hilly, roots for steps, holding onto small trees to climb up and get down ravines.  Then you cross the reservoir on a two lane causeway (we had a lane to ourselves) and enter the second half of the park, which is more pedestrian friendly with wide, groomed trails, some chunky gravel as well.  Then you double back to the start line and repeat for the full marathon. 

The first part of the race, miles 1-3.5 were challenging but fun.  10:44, 10:16, 11:52.  Plenty of other runners but everyone was moving well so no bottle neck.  I carried a handheld so I skipped the first 2 aid stations.  There are many, many downed trees/logs to climb or jump over.  These slowed me down because I trip easily so I’m careful.  I made it to the causeway, roughly 3.5 miles, happy and feeling strong.  The causeway is about ¾ of a mile long and flat so I do some passing here as well as was passed by some very fast HMers who started 20 mins after me.    Note to anyone who runs with music – don’t have it so loud that the person in front of you can hear all your songs, it’s really annoying.  My dad gets this cool picture of me in front of the bear sculpture. 

Mile 4-7 11:46, 12:25, 12:14, 10:25  We enter the east side of the park on a single track trail but pass another aid station and the trail opens up to the groomed, wide trail.   Dad snaps a few more pics.  There are stair wells in this area which I walk down.  The leader of the full dashes past me with a wide look in his eyes, that guy was FLYING.  About 10 mins later, another runner came past and asked how far ahead the leader was so I told him about 5 or so minutes.   We enter a man made dam that circles part of the reservoir which has large, gravel chunks as the surface.  I stop here at a picnic table to get a rock out of my shoe and then continue on.  I start running with another lady who was wearing a skirt that I admired and we talked for a minute.  I drop her and continue on to the aid station at mile 7, the ½ way point of the route.  I take my Gu and eat some trail mix here. 

Mile 8-11 10:36, 12:21, 11:31, 13:23.  I started walking just to catch my breath when the lady who I had talked to came up behind me and yelled “Come on, Skirt, get moving!” so I started running and chatting with her.  She’s run several Ultras and really enjoyed running trails.  We ran and talked for the next 2 miles or so.  She dropped me after I slowly climbed up a set of stairs.  I see Christy and her friend coming at me and I give her a “Looking good”.  The trail is much busier now as half marathoners were heading one way and I’m doubling back but it’s wide enough that it’s not a problem.  I see my dad again and let him know that Christy is a few miles behind me so he can get her picture as well.  I get to the aid station and run past it.  Hit the causeway and ran the length of it, passing a few people. 

Mile 12-13.1 – 13:35, 12:06.  I stop at this aid station and the volunteer filled up my water bottle as I drank some Coke and ate a Gu.  I refocused, knowing that the ½ point was just a few miles away but they would be the most difficult of the course.  It was trickier because it was single trail and there were still ½ marathon and ¼ marathon runners/walkers coming at me.   Most of the time, they would move to the side so that helped.   I did move aside for the leader who still looked like he wasn’t even working hard.  Up and down a few serious ravines and I can hear the announcer.  I come out into the field and see my DH and kids cheering for me.  I slow up and tell DH to go to the drop table and I’d talk to him there.  He met me there and filled up my water bottle while I greeted the kids.    I tell him that I’d see him at home and head back out.  HM split time was 2:38 (5 mins faster then last year).

Mile 14-16 15:20, 13:03, 16:38.  This part was much different.  The first mile is not the same as the last mile of the loop so I was completely on my own, no HM or FM around.  Mentally, I relaxed but slowed down too much.  Yes, it’s a challenging area but looking back, I was conservative to a fault.  I knew I was only ½ way so I wanted to take it easy but without other people around, it felt more like a training run instead of a race.  Once I saw people again, my head got back into the game.  The FM leader passes me on his way to the finish (3:30 finishing time!!) Saw Christy again as she was heading to the ½ way point.  I pass a runner who cramped up on the service road but he was being attended too so I keep going.  This is when I notice that my quads were starting to cramp as well but the cramping went away when I got back onto the trail.   I stopped at the aid station for a bite-sized potato and some Heed.  Saw Dad again and he said he had some good pics and was heading home.  He did pass me on the causeway and gave me a nice honk and thumbs up.   The clouds are gone now and the sun is beating down on me, I’m so thankful to be heading back into the woods and shade.

Mile 17-20 16:22, 14:56, 14:30, 14:46.  I’m back on the groomed trails and see all the fast FMers coming back around.  We all give each other “Good job” and “Looking goods”.  I stop at the aid station for some Coke and trail mix.   There is a girl now in front of me that I keep trying to gain on.  We’re both walking and running so I wasn’t gaining much on her.  We reach the gravel dam and she stops at a picnic table that another runner was at and just sat there.  So I pass her and continue on, making a deal with myself to run as far as I can on the flat dam.  I see another runner, a guy in gray, walking slowly a few hundred yards in front of me.  I pass him just before the aid station but I stop to use the restroom and refuel.  The aid station guy fills up my handheld with ice water.  I check my watch and my time at 20 miles is 4:30ish.

Mile 21-23 16:58, 16:06, 17:14  I push forward, walking more than running right now.  I see more FMers coming towards me and we’re all looking pretty tired.  The guy in gray appears again so I make a pack with myself to catch him.  The stairs that I took my time going down were now a painful effort to climb up.  I’m gaining on the Rabbit but he hears me, turns around, sees me and starts running.  That always drives me crazy because I don’t know if he doesn’t want to be passed or doesn’t want to be passed by a girl.  I can pass him but we’re coming to an aid station so I let up.   The aid station worker fills my bottle with ice and I refuel with another potato and Gu.  Grey guy skipped the station.    I see Christy for the last time as she enters that station as I exit it.  I get excited because I can hit my 6:00 hour mark. 

Mile 24-26  14:42, 16:04, 15:43  I hit the cause way and the heat is insane.  It’s at least 90 and sunny.  The sun is reflecting off the water and I’m not a happy camper.  But I see 2 other runners on the road, one of them is my Grey Rabbit who’s walking.  I vow to not only pass him but put some distance on him so I don’t have to see him again.  I pass the first guy and say hi as we both complain about the sun.  Then I pass the Grey Rabbit but don’t say a word.  I run and don’t stop until I have to climb the guardrail to enter the park again.  I get to this aid station and joke with the girls working about passing the guy.  I refuel and catch my breath but head back out as soon as I see the Rabbit enter the station.  My watch says 5:30, I can make 6:00 still, can’t I?   Ummm, no.  The hills suck.  My energy is zapped.  I just want to finish.  I’m completely alone.  Wait, there’s some orange. It’s a guy walking, I can pass him!  Yeah, a little emotional boost.  I pass up the last aid station and yell to them that I just want to finish.  I know I’m 1 mile out.  There is a sweet teenage volunteer who’s been sitting at the trail split all day and I thank her for being there.  She tells me I have one mile left.  Wait, a whole mile still?!  My Garmin says 25.8 and 5:52.  There goes my 6:00 finish idea.  I start to get down on myself but happened to glance at my watch again and it said 26.12 and 5:58:00.  I decide that I’m going to finish 26.2 in 6 hours so I painfully start “running” and continue until I see my watch turn 26.2 at 5:59:36.  Minor victory. 

Mile 26-26.81  15:01.  The hills are the steepest here, ravines that you have to hold onto trees to get down.  My quads are trashed, I’m really regretting not trimming my toenails as I’ll be losing a few now and somehow I have a scratch on my thigh that has bled down my leg.  I can hear the announcer and am just willing myself to keep moving forward.  I come out to the field for the last 2/10th and see my DH and family.  The kids cheer as I cross the finish line, arms raised.  I’m done, in so many ways. 

 I get my hand-made medal and stand under the sprinkler.   DH takes off with the kids and I stay to cool down and stretch out.  I’m shocked to find 3 blisters as I didn’t notice any hot spots.  I bum a beer off a runner wearing a Mich Ultra shirt and hide in her van as a thunderstorm appears out of nowhere. Thunder and lightning but the storm seems to be fast moving so the race director keeps the race going.  I worry about Christy, knowing that she’s out there.  I finish my beer and decide to head home. 

So, there you go.  It wasn’t pretty.  I wasn’t trained well enough to handle all the up and down hills of the trail.  I’ve decided to hold off on doing an Ultra as I don’t have the time or desire right now to train properly for the one in November that I was looking at doing.  I did have a really fun time and I’m very proud of what I did though.  I would and probably will do this one again next August.  Maybe you’ll join me?

Official stats:  6:10:38, 6th out of 10 in AG, 72/122 finishers.  Pace for first 13.1 was 12:05 and second half was 14:09.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder – Minnesota

I competed in a Tough Mudder race on Saturday to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday.  I was finishing up some pretty serious training with a marathon 4 weeks prior and a HM 2 weeks before so I was looking forward to something different.  But, I’ll be honest, I was really unsure about how my lack of strength training would hurt me during the race.  I was banking on my distance running and mental strength to get me through. 

For those who don’t know, Tough Mudder is a mud obstacle race that is 11.5 miles long with 28 obstacles.  There is no timing system, the focus is on team work, not just helping your own team but others that need it along the way too.  Proceeds go to support Wounded Warrior Foundation.  I checked out the map on the website and was greeted by names like Arctic Enema, Spider Web and Berlin Wall.  Gulp. 

My parents and I drove the 10 hours to Minneapolis on Friday.  I did some carb loading on the way up there and we went to a nice dinner that night.  I did not sleep well on Friday night (nerves, hotel room).  Up about 6:00 and headed to Josh’s house with him and teammate Chris and Lauren.    We drove about an hour to an amphitheater in Wisconsin that boarder a farm, which is where the race would be held.  Got parked without a problem ($10 parking) and got up to the registration area to get our bibs.  My parents came along to cheer and take pictures ($20 per person spectator fee on-line, $40 at the gate). 

I’m wearing a black CrossFitMN s/s tech shirt and short, booty style shorts (figured they might help me get a boost if I needed it).  Trail running shoes too.  Weather is hot, 80* at the start.

We got our bibs (pinned on to our backs so they wouldn’t rib off during the race), had our bib numbers marked onto our arms and found our other two team mates who we hadn’t met before.  They signed up with the Cross-fit gym and joined our team. Here is a team pic about ½ mile into the race, see how clean and happy we are? Our team consists of these people, left to right:

John: 5’ 6” Cross-fitter, played college football, hasn’t ever competed or ran in any race before, not a runner, has never gone more then 5k

Jeff: 5’ 9” Cross-fitter, has run up to 7 miles before, first competition/race of any kind

Chris: 6’3”, ex-Army, marathoner, long distance bike rider but has a titanium shoulder therefore no shoulder strength

Me: 5’ 0”, marathon runner, trail runner, small

Lauren: 5’4”, runner training for her first marathon, average 10:30 min miles

Josh: 6’, brother, Cross-fitter with some shorter distance running experience

We start off by taking the TM oath, scaled an 8’ wall to enter the starting corral and took off.  We would run about ¾ mile around rolling hills to our first obstacle, named Arctic Enema.  I was first in line so I climbed the ladder and looked down into a 4’ deep pool of neon pink ice water, being kept near freezing by a huge refrigerator trailer next to it.  I jump in and am instantly shrieking in shock.  I wade about 5’ to a wood wall with arrows pointing down so I’m forced to completely submerge to get under it.  DA@N that’s cold water!!   My body is now instinctually running the next 5 feet to the ladder to pull myself out.   Ok, that will wake you up.  One down, 27 to go.  Here’s a pic from Brightroom, not of me (Brightroom posted 200 pics of random people on the TM FB page so lots of these pics aren’t of me but just the obstacle).

Next up was hay bales; my dad was here to capture the moment.  These weren’t too hard.  John, having the best upper body strength volunteered to go first and help everyone else up.  I took a running start and leapt for his hand.  Then I climbed over the bales and slide down the other side.  Not too bad!

Kiss of Mud was next.  This was probably 25 yards of foot deep, muddy water with barbed wire about 8 inches over the surface.  I did very well with this one as I’m small enough to easily slide under the wires.  And it was funny to get muddy too.  My mom did see a guy get a 2” long cut on his bald head.  The mud was a blessing, it kept us very cool and comfortable in the heat.

The terrain was hilly but not ski mountain hilly.  But my trail running strength really came through with this.  I wasn’t having any problem tackling the endless hills.  But I’d wait at the top for the rest of my team. 

Next we had Devil’s Beard, which was just a long, long net that people held up as we walked under it.  I attempted to help but since my vertical reach isn’t much, I just walked through.  We also had black plastic tunnels that were about 24” in diameter to crawl through, again, no issue for little ol’ me but it did slow our bigger guys down.  More hills.   Next was Spider Web, a cargo net climb.  Men were already holding the bottom of the opposite side to secure the next so John and Josh climbed over and relieved two of them so I could climb over.  Jeff and Chris also took turns until the team behind us had enough people over to relieve them.  I cut up my knees a little here but got fist pumps for being the first to bleed.  Josh did get mud dropped into his eye which he struggled with for the rest of the race.

Berlin Wall #1 was next.  12’ walls with no foot holds of any kind.  John got a boost from Josh and Jeff and pulled himself up and straddled the wall.  Then Josh got up.  I was next so Jeff boosted me up and I was easily pulled over by John and Josh.  Chris, with the bum shoulder, walked around the wall and helped me down.  Lauren was next, she was convinced that she couldn’t do it but she was able to.  Jeff got a boost from a stranger and got over as well.  Josh stayed up to help up the next team’s first person and then we were on our way. 

Next up was the most difficult one that we had, the Mud Mile.  Nine 10’ mounds of the slickest mud on the planet, with water between the mounds.  Our team got split up some in the chaos of trying to find footholds and such.  The first mound wasn’t hard, there were several footholds to use but the rest of them, none.  Just slick, slick mud.  I did climb on the side of a few where it was more dirt then mud but couldn’t keep my balance and fell.  If you were able to get a boost from someone, then you would stretch up to whoever was straddling the mound and they would try to pull you over where you would slide on your back or butt down into the water for the next one.  Try because the people on top were slick and you were slick so many times I just slid right out of their grasps.  It was exhausting but we finally finished.  We all agreed that it was by far the most difficult. 

I don’t remember exactly what ones were next but we each carried a log down and up a hill, crawled through another muddy water stretch with barbed wire but this time there were live wires with 10K volts of electricity flowing through them (again, smallness won out as I didn’t get shocked, two of our team mates did and said they were numb for 20 minutes).  There was a stretch of about 1.5 miles of “trail” like this (I think they couldn’t get some obstacles set up or something because the map showed 4 that we didn’t do at all).  It wasn’t safe to run most of this part so we would run and walk it.  John got a bad calf cramp about this point too that bothered him to the end.  It’s very dusty as we’re winding our way around an unplowed cornfield and the wind is blowing.  We are all struggling with dust in our eyes and throats. 

I thought it was strange that we had such a long time between obstacles and then it hit me that they must want our upper bodies to recover for the next challenges.  I was right.  We hit the hanging rings next.  I was really worried about this as I don’t have much upper body strength and it was an individual challenge.  I grabbed the first ring and swung to the next one.  Then my lower body swung me forward so I could grab the next.  Continue to the end and yes, I did it!!!  I had such a sense of accomplishment after that one.  I think 4 of our members made it. 

Next up was the Boa Constrictor, another set of black tubes, one descending into a pool of muddy water and one going out of it.  No problem again for me.   Then Berlin Walls #2, this time they were 15’ high but we used the same strategy to get over these.  There were also numerous pools of mud with pits dug out in them so you’d be walking through and then drop down.  Nice. 

We keep trucking along, Chris and I are running ahead as we both find it easier then walking.  My shoes are filled with sand, mud, tiny rocks that are just cutting the heck out of my heels.  We see several pairs of shoes along the course from people who figured it would be easier to go on without shoes.  We’re about mile 10 or so now.  We’re starting to see spectators again.  I round a corner and see my mom, cheering in a group of people.  She looks pretty happy to see us.  Then I turn to look at what our obstacle is.  Holy crap.  It’s Mt. Everest, the ¼ pipe that’s 25 feet high and probably 40 yards wide.  The top of it has wall to wall guys catching and pulling people up.  There’s a line at the bottom so time for us to figure this out.   We decide to continue with the plan that’s worked so far, send John first and then Josh.  It looks like there are foot holds every 5 feet or so but it’s just the wood overlapping, the ramp is totally smooth.  My dad is on the sidelines getting amazing pictures. 

John gets up, grabs the hand of someone on the top and gets pulled up.  Josh follows and gets up on his first try.  I’m next.  My confidence is pretty high after all I’ve done so far but when there isn’t anything between me and the ¼ pipe, I get a little nervous.  So I sprint the 30 feet to the bottom of the pipe and reach up.  Ah, yeah, they don’t have Go, Go, Gadget Arms so I quickly slide back down.  Ok, that’s just a warm up.  Try #2, I sprint again and hear them both yelling “Keep running, keep running” so I run further and stretch as far as I can.  Nope.  Ok, not a problem, 3rd time’s the charm.  This time I sprint and keep running until my feet literally are climbing the wall and I reach as far up as I can.  Josh grabs my hand and John gets my other hand.   They pull me up and I keep saying “Don’t let me fall, don’t let me fall” so John hooks my knee and pulls me over.  YES!!!  I did it!!!!  

Jeff was next and he made it up the first try.  Lauren took 4 times but Chris gave her a boost and that got her there.  Then Chris made it up, even with the busted shoulder.  We were so elated to have conquered Everest as a team.

Funky Monkey was next, monkey bars that rotated in your hands.  I fell after the 3rd bar and only Jeff made it all the way across.  Twinkle Toes was after that.  This was a balance beam that wasn’t secured so it wobbled in the middle.   To add to the fun, it was covered in mud from everyone’s shoes.  I’ve got good balance so moved quickly across it and was the only teammate to make it without falling!

A really high jump into really deep water was next.  I climbed the ladder and waited my turn.  The guy in front of me did a fancy flip off the board.  For some reason, I froze up.  I’m not afraid of water or heights but I just was really hesitant to go.  I look over and Josh is next to me and he says “Go together?” so we jumped.  The water was so deep that I seemed to plunge down forever and took a long time to break the surface.   But I did (lost my headband).  The lifeguard asked if I needed help but I didn’t so I just swam to the end and climbed the cargo net out.  Woo-hoo!

Last but not least was Electroshock Therapy.  It was a run about 15 feet long with hay bales every few feet.  Wires, some of them live with 10K volts, were hanging down.  I know this is the last one so I run through first (too fast for my dad to get a picture).  Again, being little paid off as the wires were spaced about 18” apart and I’m only 12” wide!  I make it through without a problem.  Several of my teammates were shocked but we all were cheering at the end.  Then we turn a corner and there’s the finish line!  We charge across it as a team and are crowned with our bright orange sweat bands.  Sweet!!  Before this day, I thought it was pretty lame to get a sweat band instead of a medal for this event.  But afterwards, a medal didn’t seem right for it.  But an obnoxious orange terry cloth band?  Yes, that’s the right bling.  We also got our finishers shirts and some XXEquis beer. 

So…that’s my RR.  It took us just under 4 hours to complete the 11.5 miles.  A 20:52 pace.  LOL.  I’m scraped up and bruised, my shoulders are sore.   But I’d do it again in a second.  If you’re considering doing it, you should.  It’s intense but so fun.  They had a Medivac helicopter doing circles in the sky and I saw it land twice to get people out.  An ATV passed me on a trail to get someone and another passed me with a guy holding his ankle.  Another team lost a member to a broken arm when she fell off the Berlin Wall.  So injuries do happen so I wouldn’t do this race if you’re training for a goal marathon!  Do it with a team though, an individual cannot do it by themselves.  They would have to get help from other teams (which is freely given, BTW).   I had a blast and am proud to be a Tough Mudder. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carmel Marathon Race Report

Carmel Marathon Race Report

Short Story: PR 4:07:08, Overall place 293, Div place 9/33.
Today I ran my 3rd FM in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb just north of Indianapolis.  It was only their second time hosting this race but I had several friends who did it last year who reported good things about it.  2800 runners total in the full, half, 8k and 1 mile family walk.  564 finished the marathon.   
I had 3 goals for this race.  1. To PR, which would be a finishing time under 4:09:58, 2. To run the entire race without walking (I did a modified Gallow-walk last November) 3. To finish under 4:00. 

Training has gone well.  I took time off to recover from the full in November but ramped up again the 1st of January.  I had 5 runs of 20 miles or longer, the longest 2 being 22 miles.  My last long run was 21 miles, which I finished without walking and in at 10:13 pace.  I felt healthy and ready for this race.  I did have some nagging doubts about hitting a sub-4 (I lack self-confidence, issue I’m working on) but I was going for it anyways.  My plan was to stay glued to the 4:00 pacer for as long as I could.
I went to the expo on Friday evening with the kiddos.  It was smaller than I expected with very few vendors, mainly other races in the area.  Got my shirt (way too huge, why did they offer a youth large but not have it for me?).  The kids and I had fun counting all the 13.1 and 26.2 stickers in the parking lot as we left.  We ate dinner at Olive Garden, yummy.  Speaking of eating, I used a extreme carb-loading idea that I read about on Runners World.  I weigh 50kg so needed 400-500g of carbs.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought, especially since I drank three 32oz Gatorades.  I went to bed very full and up 4lbs. 

I woke up at 5:15 after sleeping pretty good.  My husband wasn’t running with me, he was coaching my son’s soccer game.  But my dad (a professional photographer) and mom would be there.  I ate 2 packets of oatmeal with choc chips and a coffee.  Made a deposit in the bathroom and left by 6:00.  Carmel is only about 30 mins from my house but I never go there so I don’t know the area very well.  But I was there earlier enough that I could park in the garage across the street from the starting corrals (score!!).  After I parked, I ran into one of my Bourbon Chase Relay teammates and chatted with her while walking to gear check.  It was cold, only 41* so I wore a S/S tech shirt with arm warmers, a black running skirt and calf sleeves.   I found the porto-potties and took care of business.  Found a wall the blocked the wind and just waiting till it was time to line up.  As I was shedding my throw-away clothes, I heard “Mary!!” and looked over to see a fellow RW friend, Christy, from the Indy Mini board.  I got up to the 9:00 min mile corral but couldn’t see the 4:00 pacer sign, only the 2:00 HM pacer.   I chatted with 2 more friends and then we were off! 

Mile 1: I need to run a 9:09 pace to hit 4:00.  The race seems crowded and fast, slow up so you don’t blow up.  Opps, 9:06.

Mile 2: 8:49 – Come on, get in control!  I hear wcrunner laughing in my head “No one ever banks time in a marathon!”  I see my parents at this mile marker, mom is proudly cheering while dad is playing photographer.  The route turns from a main road into a neighborhood. 

Mile 3: 9:06 – better.  Ran past my parents again and my mom shouts “4 hour finish, ok?!” 

Mile 4: 9:01 – umm, not better.  The HM splits from here, I see another RW friend dash around a corner, on his way to a HM PR.  I hear a lady behind me say “Where’s the 4 hour pacer” to which I respond ” I don’t think we have one”.  We fall into step and start chatting away.  This was her 23rd marathon and she’s run Boston twice.  Cool, I’ll hang with her.  Another good friend, Jerry, runs by me and briefly says hi.  He’s looking for the 3:45 pacer (he got there a few minutes after the start) so he takes off.

Mile 5-7:  9:03, 9:00, 9:10 – I’m only checking the Garmin occasionally as my new BFF and I are chatting about life.  The crowd is much thinner after the half split.  Mile 7 was through a nice park on a paved trail.  Some rolling hills to keep it interesting.  10K split was 56:05, 9:03 pace, 323 place.  Take a Gu at mile 6.  I see my dad again, he’s on his bike now so will be getting lots of pictures.

Mile 8 and 9: 9:01 (oops), 9:26 (over corrected).   We’re drinking and running through every water stop.  I didn’t drink enough during my marathon last fall and paid for it with cramping quads later in the race.   I was not going to let that happen.

Mile 10 – 13: 9:02, 9:11 and 9:10.  Ran through another park.  My runner partner started dropping back after a water stop at mile 13 so I told her I’d see her at the finish line.  I’m alone now.  My 13.1 mile split was 1:59:35, exactly where I needed it, 317 place.  Gu at mile 11.  Smile and wave for Dad again.

Miles 14-16 – 9:15, 9:15, 9:01.  Ran through another park, starting to pass the HM walkers.  Some rolling hills again but nothing that seemed challenging.   Gu at mile 16.

Mile 17- 9:12 Ok, I’m still on pace, my virtual training partner says I’m ahead.  But I’m not having as much fun.  I keep hearing LTH say “positive split?  He!l no, enter the pain cave, remember, I told you it would suck so EMBRACE THE SUCK”.  I’m running on the Monon Trail, which is over 25 miles long starting north of Carmel and ending in Downtown Indianapolis.  I’ve put a lot of miles in on this trail.  See my dad but I don’t feel much like smiling.

Miles 18- 9:23.  See a girl puke.  More people are starting to walk but I feel ok.  I get re-energized after walking through a water station.  Decide that walking through the water stations was not breaking my no-walking rule.  I pull down my arm warmers to cool down.

Mile 19 – 9:26.  See my friend, Rhonda, working the water station.  It was really nice to see a familiar face.  A guy runs past me who reeks of BO.  I have to decide if I can pass him or let him go just to get away from the smell. 

Mile 20 – 9:24.  Where is that next Gosh Darn water station?  I wanna walk.  I see it and the HS kids who are working it are chatting instead of passing out water.  I yell “WATER!!” and one hurries to get me one.  I don’t feel bad for yelling at the kid.  20 mile split 3:03:43, 9:12 pace, 300 ranking.

Mile 21 – 9:19.  See Dad again in another park.  Man, he’s putting some miles on his bike.  The park has winding trails so I see lots of runners.  Where is the next water station?  I really want to walk.  I focus on all the early morning runs I ran with my dog in the freezing cold.  I trained hard for this race and I will not give up.  Take my last Gu

Mile 22  - 9:33 – finally, water station and short walk break through it.  We’re back on the Monon again for a little bit then enter the last of the winding trails in that park.  I pass a girl who I had been chasing.  She compliments my outfit and I tell her the last 4 miles always suck.  She tells me the whole thing sucks. 

Mile 23 – 10:09.  Whoa, the wind.   Heading straight into it and it’s picked up.  Pull the arm warmers back up.  I know I can’t make 4:00 so I focus on the PR and not walking.   I think about something Room 317 wrote on FB to me about how when it hurts to think about all the people around the country who are cheering me on.

Mile 24 – 10:34.  This water station is handing out oranges, THANK YOU!  We’re running in a business park so not much to look at.  There is some construction which tore up the road so there was big, chunky gravel for 20 feet.  Just perfect.

Mile 25 – 10:57.  Come on, Mary.  You are not slipping over 11:00 min pace.  You will not.  I do enjoy this mile more because I know that I’ll PR and also know that I will not walk so making 2 out of 3 goals will be good enough for me today.  The course goes through the Carmel Arts and Design district so there are some people and fun statues along this area.  See my Dad again.  Man, he is putting on some miles on his bike today.  What a good dad.

Mile 26 – 10:09.  Ok, let’s finish this thing.  I can see the large building near the finish line and focus on that.  Oh, hello, there’s a huge hill.  Nice of them to put that in for me.   I see two HM walkers and hope to God that they take this last turn wide so I can take the inside by the curb as I don’t have the energy to run around them.

Last .02 – 2:51.  No one is in front of me, I’m all on my own.  So I play the crowd for all it’s worth, raising my hands like I’m raising the “roof”.  The crowd cheers and I get a cheesy grin.  I see my mom about 100 yards before the finish line.  She’s clapping and has tears in her eyes (she’s never been at one of my FM finishes).  Hear my dad but I don’t look over as I’m putting everything I have into my last kick.  I do see 2 other Bourbon Chase Relay Team members who are cheering and screaming for me.   The clock says 4:07 and I hit the finish line.  Whew, done.   Last 10K 10:14 pace, 307 place.

My BC friends snap a pic and text my hubby with my finishing time.  My parents find me and walk me through the runners shoot.  My dad put 15 miles on his bike, using the Monon to cut the course to see me as many times as possible.  Love them. 

The finishers chute provided next to nothing.  No Mylar blanket which would have been really nice considering it was 48*.  Bananas and water and a bag of Doritos were all that was offered.  I’m shaking violently as I sign up for a massage and get my gear.  My parents take off.  I run into my friend, Jerry, while waiting for my massage.  He caught the 3:45 pacer but fell off, finishing in 3:59, a 13 min PR.  He’s hurting so I offer to drive him to his car since he’s parked over a mile away.  The massage was good but I’m still very cold.  Jerry and I find my car and I drop him off at his car and drive to the first Noodles & Co for some real food. 

So – thoughts about the race.  Yeah, I went out to fast.  Maybe it would have been better if I had run with a pacer, if there had been a 4 hour pace.  But I’m still very happy for hitting 2 of my goals.  I could have given in and walked when it started hurting but at no time did my legs really feel sore.  I think the extreme carb-loading helped with that.  The weather was ideal and the course was ok.  There was very little crowd support.  No Gu’s offered on the course.  The medal is nice.  The shirt sucks – too big and plain.  The lack of food at the finish line was extremely disappointed (FYI – Carmel is the richest city in Indiana, the cars passing us were Jags and Mercedes) so I guess I thought it would have had more of a post-race party feel.  I don’t think I’d do it again as there are other Spring marathons within a 2 hour drive.  But I did PR so it couldn’t have been too bad!  And seeing numerous friends and having my parents there outweighed the bad things.

So, there you have it, thanks for reading!!