Saturday, May 20, 2017

The pig, the bad and the ugly - Part 2

As I taped every one of my toes at 5:45 in the morning, the only thought going through my head was the absolute certainty of "I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!!!!!" I knew I wasn't ready for the race and it was going to be a long slow painful trip through Cincinnati. I didn't do a very good job with training, then with a month out, I realized I wasn't going to be ready and mentally gave up on training. I tweaked my lower back at the Martian and babied that perhaps a bit too much in the two weeks between races. Coming back from injury. Blah blah blah. Plenty of ways I could justify the forthcoming time.

#24 - At the start before the spit hit the fan
The boyfriend and I didn't even leave until 6:15 - the race started at 6:30 and we had a mile walk to the start. The first wave went off and we were still over a quarter mile away, walking in the opposite direction because I had to cross the start timing mat. I hopped in an opening in the gates and tried to get myself psyched up for the run. I was going to start slow slow slow and do what I could.

Some parts felt good, most of it was painful. Despite my crying hissy fit all week about the forecast (low 30s....), it wound up being perfect - upper 30s at the start, mid 60s at the finish, with the lowest humidity in the five years I've run it.

The course was different. I couldn't say where exactly we were going that was different, but I knew there were normal parts we missed. Where was the church with the lyrics to Amazing Grace, then the mother of all downhills? Where was the relay exchange behind Kroger? With the different route, I thought maybe we won't have to go up on the highway? Maybe we won't be in the part of town that has zero shade? No such luck.

Mile 7 "Bacon" is wearing wings
I ate a lot, I drank a lot. A group of college aged kids had tequila shots around mile 21. Why not? May as well have fun, right? When else would I take shots on a race course? (or off a course, for that matter? I rarely rarely drink, certainly not shots)

Mile 16, I texted the boyfriend to say I was at 16 and in a lot of pain.

Mile 22, we passed a younger girl, maybe 12 or 13, sitting on a blanket in the front of her yard. Three black and white guinea pigs were with her, perfectly content to sit in the sun next to their sign "Run Pigs Run" I wish I had taken a picture.

Mile 23 I texted the boyfriend, asking him to come meet me. Walk against the running traffic until he ran into me, and we'd walk/run to the finish. He declined, not aware if he walked past the gates the last 1/4 mile, he could hop on the course
and come meet me.

Mile 25.9 a group of baseball tailgaters had shots of beer. Had they been on my side of the street... :)

Mile 26.1, a man was a tiny bit in front of me and it seemed like a good idea to try and pass him. I got close, he sped up. I got closer, he sped up again, and he finally edged me out. Where was that energy and determination the past 26 miles???

The bling is always great. Maybe not my favorite race shirt they've ever done, but I give the Piggies credit for designing a new theme every single year.

They had 2018 registration on site. I declined. I wasn't ready to commit to another until after Chicago. Of course I'll do it. It's the 20th anniversary, and I "need" to keep my 4-way streaker status in tact.

This post is really disjointed. Just like the 2017 Piggie.
The 5-year finisher medal isn't an actual medal, it's an attachment for the ribbon 
Backpacks this year!!!! And for once the Little Kings shirt isn't green! 4-way shirt is cotton this time - love it!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Pig, the bad, and the ugly

Getting to Cincinnati can be a harrowing experience. Every year I've done the race though, I've left at noon and had no problem whatsoever, even with having to make multiple race expo and packet pickup stops before the 8pm race.

This year...

We were in the car at 11:55 am. It was raining. I-75 south is closed for 2 years - it took us until 1:20 to get out of Michigan. Toledo has been under construction longer than I've been running. Dayton has been under construction since 1894. The INTERSTATE cinches down to 2 lanes in Cincinnati. It makes ZERO sense. I started watching the clock, thankful I was already dressed for the Friday night race.
Yes, those are C3-PO leggings :)

We didn't make it downtown until 7:30. Yes, it took 7 1/2 hours to drive 250 miles. Our only stop was 15 minutes for gas and a lunch drive through. Talk about the *#&^ing miserable nightmarish hell of traffic!!! It didn't help one bit that the Cincinnati Reds had a home game and we had pick up and the finish line right next to the stadium.

I had to adjust my plans at the last minute. If I didn't run the 1-miler, we may as well have gone home right then because I had to complete all 4 races to finish the challenge. There was no time to go to the expo. Thankfully they offered Saturday morning pickup for the 10k and 5k right at the start line. I had booked a room right across the bridge in Kentucky, with plans to park and leave the car, walking back and forth. Unfortunately, I didn't know exactly where it was and I was feeling the time crunch, so I paid for parking and got myself to the 1-mile starting line 15 minutes before it started. Yes, it was still raining.

My arbitrary goal - after not doing a mile race since the 2016 Pig, and after very little speed training - was a sub-8. By my watch, I ran 1.01 miles in 8:00.47. By their clock, it took me 8:01.30. I'm still waiting for them to adjust it to "chip time."

Saturday was a ton better. I walked across from Kentucky, picked up my 10k and 5k stuff and had to use gear check for the shirts. Not a fan... The volunteers were all very nice, and it was as organized as one could hope, just a hassle I don't usually have. I wore both race bibs and carried the 10k medal in my waist pack so I didn't have to use gear check between the races. Then I had to walk up to the expo to get my marathon gear, my 5-year wristband, poster, etc.

My arbitrary 10k goal was sub-60. Actual was 62 and change. Along the course we were offered pretzels, cookies, licorice, orange slices and tissue! On a 10k!! I only took the tissue - it was cold!

5k, I just wanted to finish. I ran into "Mad Dog" at mile 2. He's also on his 5th year of the "5-way challenge." We ran together for almost a mile until I decided I needed a piece of candy and took a sugar break. I finished in 32 something. The important thing is that I finished.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Summer goal

I read something before that stuck with me: my marathons are slow because my 5Ks are slow. Of course it's not that simple, but at the same time it is really that simple. 5Ks are horrible, they're too short for an easy pace, but way too long for a full out sprint. They require diving in the hurt locker and staying there no matter how miserable it is. One of my weaknesses is doing painful runs. I'd so much rather take it easy and enjoy it. Such perfunctory mileage, though, is what has me mired in mediocracy.

New plan!!!!!
1. Train for Chicago (duh), do a better job than I did this spring, work on stamina. There is NO excuse for blaming bad weather in the spring and summer.
2. Run a 5k PR. I'm currently sitting on a 26:08 at the Pi run of 3.14 miles. The plan is to tack on a little speed work to most runs. I need to get acclimated to consistently running sub-8:00. Today, for example, I'm going to do a nice easy gentle 2-mile run, then go for speed. Once I get my pace under 8, I'm going to maintain it for a short short time - 0.05 or 0.1 miles. Next time, increase it a little. Repeat. Or if I'm running 5 miles, run miles 1, 3 and 5 at an easy pace, and miles 2 and 4 at a sub-9. Or something. I need to be more deliberate about incorporating speed into most of my runs.

It's exciting to have a new goal. I've gotten bored with the same old same old marathon training. I want to win my age group for once. I have 2 second place finishes, both at the Electric Bolt 5k, but I really want to win, and I'm finally ready to put in the effort and make it happen.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Piggie goals

The Flying Pig seems to be a race of extremes for me. In 2015 I set the audacious goal of running a PR in 3 of the 4 races. The times I set in the 1-mile, 10k and full are still my PRs, two years later. In 2016, my entire goal was to finish and keep the streak alive.

This year is somewhere in between. I'm not in shape for running PRs, but I'll finish everything, no doubt about that. I don't have specific absolute time goals for each race, more of an overall total time goal. In a perfect weekend, that goal is 6:45:00, in a realistic world where bad weather happens, 7:00:00 is ok too. I got that number from approximating:

5:00:00 marathon (start at a slow 11:00 pace in the hope of not falling apart later)
+ 1:00:00 ish for the 10k
+ 30:00 5k
+ 8:00 1-mile
That's 6:38:00, allow 5-7 minutes here and there. For example, the 10k won't be under 1-hour exactly. We'll see.

They already emailed - register for the 2018 race at the expo and get a free tshirt. Why yes, I NEED another Piggie tshirt... You know I'll do it so I get the lowest registration price. I'm going for the 10-year medal next. Don't I get tired of running the same race year after year after year? Nah, it's a good one :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The No Stress Marathon

Saturday was my 3rd full Martian. After the flooded course in 2013 forced a 2-loop alternate route, I swore I'd never do it again. But then Mandy offered free entry for sweeping, and it seemed like a good deal. The course was changed with more distance in the neighborhoods and less on Hines, but it was still beyond boring. It was a good experience though. It helped that the weather was perfect at low 50s and sun :D

Originally there were 4 of us selected - with a separate team for the half - but one of the girls had to pull out due to injury. That left me, Brenna who was doing her 3rd marathon and was around my age, and Connie a 60-year old barrel of fun.

I started with a big trash bag to collect clothing, in the hopes that a charity will get them trash free and be able to use for donation or resale. After that, we each had a grocery size plastic bag and collected errant race trash - stray cups, Gu wrappers, a CD, a Frisbee...

There wasn't much trash. The water tables were responsible for their own areas; we needed to get the in between space. Over the entire race, I went through 3-4 trash bags.

At the start, we were held back 15 minutes after the last starter, but at mile 16, our support team in the Jeep wanted us to catch up with the last finisher who was wearing a Veterans Marathon jacket! Then....why did you delay us at the start....? The Jeep guys even wanted to drive us to the last finisher, but that's cheating. Besides, if I got in the car, I would have had a near impossible time getting out.

We caught up, with some of our fastest miles between 16-20. Along the way we met Frank Bartocci. I'd never heard of him, but he's a pillar in the running community and we got to spend the last hour with him on a podunk little course. Small world! This guy is in his 70s, hasn't just done the 50-state challenge, he's done it 9 times, is a member of the 100-marathon club, the 300-marathon club, the 500-marathon club, co-founded the Savage Seven series in Florida of 7 marathons on 7 days. At one point I mentioned the Dean Karnazes book I read about running 50 marathons in as many days in as many states. Small world - Frank said he was consulted as to whether or not Dean qualified for the 50-state status. He ultimately said no because there are certain requirements for official races that Dean wasn't always meeting (ie so many runners need to start, there's a minimum number that needs to finish; start and finish lines can only be so many miles apart, etc). Frank was fascinating and I wish we could have spent the whole 26.2 miles with him. He was on his way to Toledo to do another marathon on Sunday. He did 100+ marathons last year, and is on pace to do it again this year.

We girls all finished, after assuring him that we'd been hired to finish last, and absolutely would so; he wouldn't have that designation. There's no shame in being the caboose anyway. Originally we were asked for a 6:30 finish, we all crossed the line in the 6:14 range. All we had to do was finish, so there was no stress, no defeat in averaging a 14:10 :) Great experience, I hope to do it again next year!!!!
Bling bling bling. The medal glows in the dark

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why I love the Pig

The Flying Pig makes a big deal out of "streakers" or those runners who have completed multiple marathons. One of their distinctions is the Squadron, for runners who have completed 5 or more marathons. Getting to this level was the primary reason I dragged my injured untrained self through it last year. This will be my 5th finish, which I'm well aware of, but because they are so awesome, I got this email on my birthday, no less. A+ for communication Mr. Piggie :)

We have so many loyal Flying Pig Marathon participants that we want to reward your loyalty by expanding our Flying Pig Squadron.  Our records indicate that you have completed four Flying Pig marathons and are close to becoming a Squadron member! Squadron members will receive special recognition, plus a commemorative medal for each five-marathon milestone.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Shamrocking again

I haven't gotten fat - wearing multiple layers
of clothing bc it was 12 degrees
I've wanted to wear my StormTrooper pajamas in a race for a long time. I finally had the chance at Shamrocks and Shenanigans in March. The boyfriend was off work and I had my $30 RunningFit voucher that wasn't being used for the Martian, so with a dry, sunny forecast, it seemed like a good idea.

Here is his fb write-up of our time:

Yesterday morning it was cold. That's Michigan in March, right. 
We were dressed for it. I couldn't wait to run this race with Liz [me. He calls me Liz or Lizzie], but leading up to it, I got sick so my training was minimal. 
With the fact I had a busy week, I just never had any legs to stand on, much less to run on. 
As the race started, I felt fine. Kept a good comfortable pace but my energy was short lived. I worked to get up a hill and when I did I was sweating from being overly dressed. 
I took my gloves off, I unzipped my vest a bit, and removed my shades. They kept fogging up and my vision wasn't the greatest. 
I saw people around me starting to walk. Liz pulled away infront of me. 
I had no music to keep time with and worst of all I had no chewing gum to help my rhythm. 
Seeing more people start walking, I kept telling myself I can slow down but absolutely no stopping. 
I was hitting that mental wall but I kept moving. As the Big House came into view and more specifically that block M. 
I felt a bit of an energy surge reenter my body. 
How cool was this? The sun was shining ever so bright and now I was next to Liz, the only thing missing was theme music. 
As we made our turn to head back, Lizzie said it's downhill for a while. I found this harder to do than the hill, because I didn't want to end up on my face.  But as we got closer to the finish I made a point to look around downtown Main Street. About 1300 ran the race. As we approached our last hill for the second time. 
I mustered up my reserve tank and galloped like a thoroughbred. My strides were long and I knew it was either this or a struggle to get up. 
When I came around the corner with the finish in sight. I slowed down. My legs were taxed beyond anything. I raised my hands over my head. I had accomplished my goal of never stopping. 
I took my medal and found a curb to sit on. 
When Liz came over I handed it to her and she placed it around my neck. 
It may have only been 3.1 miles but the mental victory felt like a real marathon. 
Liz was a great running partner. She could have easily gone ahead but she stayed back to keep me company. 
Doing something that she enjoys doing with her made it all the better. 
Now to hit the bike and start preparing for the next one. 

It was by far my slowest 5k and that's totally ok. I could run ahead of him and have a mediocre 29-minute race, top 15 placement, but nowhere near top 3. Or I could stay with him and support him through his first race, through the longest distance he's ever run, and he was determined to run the entire way, no walking whatsoever. It was a no-brainer :)