Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Christmas Story house run goodies

My "fragile" package arrived today from Cleveland. It could only be one thing - my goodies for the virtual 10k Christmas Story House run!!! Truth be told, I only entered this one because I wanted the  medal - it's a major award!!!!

Aside from the medal, I got a shirt, which is enormous. When did "medium" become a euphemism for XXL???? It's cotton and totally not worth mailing back for a smaller size, assuming they'd even offer that. It'll become part of the "lounge around on Saturday and never leave the house" rotation. Also included were a race number, a certificate of completion and a single serving of Ovaltine :D
The medal is gargantuan. I held it in my hand for sake of comparison. It's bigger than my Chocolate 10k, which was the biggest in my collection. When they said it was a MAJOR award, they weren't kidding!!!! The ribbon is solid red. The back is empty - nothing engraved.
This one started the third row of my hanger, where the half marathon medals and the Chocolate 10k medals will quickly be relegated after the Goofy. Side note: I hung my bars further apart than the company displays show because I want to see the ribbons too, not just the medals.
Since it's a virtual race, I don't actually have to do the miles to receive the medal, but I will. Maybe this Saturday, perhaps next. The actual race in Cleveland is December 7th, so maybe then. They will be done!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

They say that breaking up is hard to do

I love Hal Higdon. He's been the most important man in my life since 2010, yet I've slowly been coming to the horrible realization that this relationship isn't really working for me anymore. We've reached the point that we have different goals and expectations and need to take some time away from each other.

Hal's expectation is that I'll be ready to finish each race, that I will have trained safely and injury free, so I can experience the thrill of finishing a full marathon.

That was good for me the first couple years, but I'm ready to progress a little. I'm slow slow slow and while it was a perfectly ok goal just to finish the first few races, eventually I want to consistently be out of the 5-hour range.

Disney is at a weird time of year because it's too late to be part of my fall race schedule, but too early to be considered a spring race. I decided months ago, after reading tons of accounts of it that I'm not going to run it for time, I'm going there to have fun. If a ride is open during the marathon, I'll ride it. I'll be the dork lined up to take photos with the characters. I'm not buying park tickets (park admission is NOT included in the race fee) so I need to enjoy the park for the few hours I'm in it. As long as I finish within 6:30 from the time of the last starter, I'm good to go. I submitted a finishing time, so I won't be in the last corral, so that gives me 6:46-ish or more to finish. I managed to finish my first full in less time than that, even with walking 9 miles straight, so I'm not worried about getting swept off the course.

Hal always says to take considerable rest time after marathons, but I've always scoffed at his advice. That's for newbies, right? Maybe not. I was burnt out after Cincinnati and didn't feel ready to begin fall training when it came time. After Columbia City, however, I've taken two weeks off, with the exception of the Chocolate 10k. 6 miles in two weeks counts as good rest :)

Tuesday is back to running day. My plan for Tuesday through Disney is the following:
Tuesday - set treadmill at 8:00 mile pace and run until I fall off. I might only make it 0.3 miles the first time, but then I try for 0.4 the next week. Yes, I'll have a spreadsheet with me at the gym to keep track :)

Thursday - go to the track and run 800m repeats at a harder-than-comfortable pace.

Saturday - Hal says it's perfectly acceptable to walk. He says a good strategy is to run 9 minutes then walk 1. I've always used this strategy, but like our relationship, that strategy is coming to an end. Saturdays are now run a comfortable pace as long as I can without walking. Then go further the next week.

I've already paid for Disney, booked my hotel and paid for the flight, so I'm doing it, but at this point, Cincinnati is the only spring race I've entered. If I can't get faster and maintain it, I need to stop running myself into the ground. The fall was not fun (except Chicago - that was a blast!) and after every single race I said I'm quitting running. It's still possible, or maybe I become a 5k or 10k runner for a few years until I figure out the speed thing. At this point, I'll trade distance for speed. Obviously I CAN finish multiple marathons, but that's not good enough anymore.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Logistics of my fall race schedule

To keep straight six races in seven weeks, three of which involved traveling, I had to make a spreadsheet, then print it and carry it around with me. Dorky? I prefer "organized." It definitely worked and I always knew what needed to be done, when, and where I needed to be :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Kona Chocolate 10k Race Review

Sunday was the Chocolate 10k, the first Kona sponsored race I've done. Jeff raves about the company and their races, so I was looking forward to it, especially considering the majority of my running friends were doing it, and it would be Bill's first 10k. He's come to my last five marathons, but this was his first race in many years.

They offered number pick-up on race day, so we did that. Bill hopped out of the car to get our numbers while I found a parking spot, then I went inside to meet him. The first person I ran into was Nita! It was great meeting her, after following each other's blogs for two years :)

Bill had our jackets and numbers. His jacket isn't what it was supposed to be. The men were supposed to get black jackets with blue vertical stripes. Instead he got a navy blue jacket with white stitching. I actually like it better than the original design, but seems pretty crappy they were giving different jackets to different men without any rhyme or reason.

Tutu from 6th grade ballet recital :D
We headed to the start and saw... ZERO bathroom. Huh??? Evidently there were 22 porta potties, but they were hidden so well we never saw them before, during, or after the race. Panera and StarBucks were both open, but 4 toilets isn't going to work for 6,000 people.

It rained. All my clothing got soaked and I got chilled. I had really wanted to break 1 hour, but it took me 1:02:13. My "official" time is completely wrong, but I did cross the finish line three times....

I finished the race in 62:13 by my watch. The big clock was at 64:04, yet the website claims it took me 1:05:35. I wasn't right at the front of the start line, so my time was less than the big clock. There's no way possible to be over the big clock time.

I told Bill that after I finished, I would immediately turn around and find him, then run in together. 25 steps from the finish line, a woman had collapsed and was lying on the ground. A police officer was talking to her, asking her name, her age and where she was, but NO ONE was helping her. I understand the other runners wanted to finish their races, but the spectators were just standing there and I didn't see any medics, so without giving it a second thought I hopped back on the course, and a man volunteer and I supported her weight so she could finish. Her body wanted to collapse again at the finish, but we kept her upright until medics arrived. I think finishing with her overrode my original time, but that's totally ok.

I headed back and found Bill and ran in with him, for my third finish. He really wanted to break 70 minutes, and managed a 69:38. Yay!!!!!
Bill's group!
We got in line for the chocolate and it was ridiculous. There were THOUSANDS of people in line, and it split in to TWO lines??? They needed 6-8 lines, if not more. Even once we got through it, we got a small cup of hot chocolate, half a cookie, and a pretzel, marshmallow and 1-bite Rice Krispie treat dipped in chocolate. That's a far cry from the "chocolate buffet" they advertised.
There were so many people that it was impossible to sit anywhere, so we ate everything in about 3 minutes and left. It seemed like Kona kept expanding registration and wound up with tons more people than the park and logistics could physically support.
Pretty weak food. This was EVERYTHING I got :(
The jacket is ok. The medal is massive - bigger than any of my full marathon medals. Yes, it's nice, but it feels like it diminishes my marathon medals. I don't even know if I'll keep it on the hanger because it was just a whatever race, certainly not on par with a marathon.
Kona is offering the "grand slam" option next year for runners who complete all four of their sponsored races. I had planned to do it, but after the disorganization of the chocolate run, I'll keep my $200+ and avoid the headaches.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans Marathon race review

I have a special place in my heart for the Veterans Marathon in Columbia City, Indiana because it's where I set my all-time, lifetime, best ever PR. I was hoping and anticipating that lightning would strike twice after a PR eluded me all year.

Bill and I arrived late afternoon on Friday and picked up my jacket and number. He had gone to Chicago with me, and I told him this race was a completely different world, and sometimes that's really nice. It was so easy and convenient to park anywhere and walk right in to pick up my stuff. Rather than another shirt, participants got a jacket. I ordered a jacket that was tons too big, but AJ immediately exchanged it for a smaller size. Even better, Joann brought her printing stuff and would customize jackets for $5. I added 26.2 to mine, and a line from Eminem's "Lose Yourself," my go-to running song. 
We had dinner right across from the pickup tent, then went to the hotel to relax and let me get to bed early! 
The weather on Saturday was in the mid-40s and mostly sunny. The start was really isolated - evidently everyone else had found warm places to wait. The high school marching band played, the cannon shot a blank and we were off. 

I always thought hills were a problem and difficult to conquer. Oh my goodness I would rather run hills all day long for the rest of my days than deal with the WIND we had! It was a near constant 20+ mph gusting wind that felt like running in a wind tunnel. There were many times that it was so strong I could barely stand up. Every time I saw a car, I wanted to ask it to drive next to me, to block the wind. The mile markers were spray painted on the ground and posted next to the road, much like political signs. I wanted to pick up one of those and use it to block the wind. Most of the race was next to fields that had already been harvested and cut down to the ground, so there was nothing to block the wind. It was brutal!!!!!

This year the race was two loops of the half. Bill was waiting for me at mile 13 with Gu and Chomps to restock my pockets and most importantly - tissues! I gulped Red Bull while we walked a few steps then I was off for my second loop.

I really struggled with the second half. Doing so many races this year and this fall was a bad idea, but I've never DNFed and Saturday wasn't going to be the day. After I exhausted my cardio playmix, I hit shuffle on my iPod and one of the first songs to play was Bob Seger's "Against the Wind." Not helping here!!!

Around mile 17 a man tapped me on the shoulder and said he was running 2 minutes, walking 1, and I should stay with him. I could manage two minutes, so I stayed with Steve until mile 21. The hills were easier and the wind was bearable knowing we only had to do two minutes, but it seemed he was getting faster with every time he ran. I finally had to tell him to go on without me. The temporary distraction was GREAT!!!! Thanks for the company!!!

Every mile after Steve left, I wanted to call Bill and beg him to come meet me and finish with me, even if we walked the entire rest of the way. I kept going, kept getting passed. I wasn't even looking for cars the few times I had to cross the street. Either they'd wait for me, or they'd hit me and put me out of my misery.

Around mile 25 I hadn't seen another runner in quite a while and I was pretty sure I was in absolute last place. Then a man came up on me and asked if I had the time. Did he want race time or real time? He wanted race time because he was concerned about missing the maximum time cut-off. Huh? There's a maximum time???

At mile 25.9 I could see Bill and hear him and the police officers cheering for me. I mustered a tiny bit of energy and slooooooow jogged to mile 26, where he met me and despite wearing jeans and loafers, and his arms full of my food and blanket, he ran with me almost to the finish.

It was definitely not the result I was looking for, but I finished and I got an orange medal, which is great because it's my only orange. After we were home I looked at the finish times. I expected that I was last place for my division, but there were four after me, and four DNFs. I'll focus on that, rather than on finishing in 20th place.

We stopped for hot coffee on the way to the car and it was so good! The only food left at the finish were bananas. Yup, I missed the church ladies' soup :( Hot coffee, followed by a hot shower at the Y and it was time to come home.
I carried my camera in my waist pack for the first half, but I didn't take any pictures because that took too much energy and my cold hands were fumbling, especially with small zippers, so I gave Bill the pack at the half. I wanted to take a few pictures of the course, but oh well. We stopped on the way home so I could photograph a beautiful sunset.  
 The medal was the same size and design for the half and full. The half was dark blue and the full is orange. Runners who've finished it all five years got a MASSIVE medal in addition to the orange one. It's roughly the size of an index card and I wanted one so badly!!!! Ah well, I wasn't even running when the inaugural race was held in 2009.
I generally prefer the really big races because I thrive on the crowd support and energy, but there's a lot to like about the smaller races and Columbia City is my favorite small town race. See you next year!!!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Columbia City - done!

Holy wind tunnel, Batman! Columbia City was BRUTAL!!! I finished and I'm done done done!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon review 2013

I didn't particularly want to do the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. After completing Chicago and Detroit, and between the stomach flu and a sinus infection, my health was far from ideal. The sicknesses ensured that I was able to run no more than two miles in the two weeks between Detroit and Indy, and I just wasn't in tip-top shape.

Yet I had already paid for the race and pre-paid the hotel to get the cheapest rate, and I hate wasting money. I'd rather drag myself through a marathon than waste $140. Weird, I know.

Bill and I left on Friday afternoon and seemed to drive forever. I didn't have any gloves, and it just happened that a Salvation Army was right next to where we had dinner, so I ran in to pick up gloves and the cheapest sweatshirt I could find. For $1.19 I represented the Rockford United Methodist Church. Not only was it cheap, it was still fuzzy inside, as though it had never been worn. 

The expo was at the Indiana Convention Center, which is gargantuan, but our section was small and I could run in and out within 10 minutes while Bill idled on the street. Aside from a pint glass here and there, I'm not one for buying stuff at the expo. I certainly don't buy shirts because I have a plethora from all the races I've done. Yet on my way out, I saw a guy with shirt designs I had never seen before, and I had to decide quickly. In the grand scheme, it's just a few dollars, so I got one. I always write the message on my arm in Sharpie anyway, so now I can stop that and wear it on my back.

At the start line I immediately ran into "Mad Dog." He asked if I was doing anything the next day. You mean, beside laying on the couch eating ice cream? He does back to back marathons, and while I'm crazy, I'm not that crazy!!!

Within 5 steps, my right quad was really tight. Luckily I was able to run through it and it passed, as did the miles. At mile 6, we ran past the state fairgrounds. Traffic going our way had been re-routed. Traffic going the other way was stopped all three lanes across, and the drivers had largely shut off their cars and gotten out. Then we heard the distinctive sound of a wailing siren from a fire truck that needed to head our way. There's no way the stopped cars could have moved, so the truck ran THROUGH THE MARATHON!!!!! It was like Moses parting the Red Sea and I ran on the median until it passed.

My first half was slower than normal, but I thought perhaps with the slower start, I wouldn't crash and burn as much in the second half. Nope, no such luck. I fell apart in the second half, because that's what I do.

At mile 19, I gave up mentally. I was DONE! I was bored, hungry, thirsty, cranky, etc. I didn't want to be there anymore, I certainly didn't want to go another seven miles. Yet, once I make it that far, I'm not giving up for anything!!!!

The course map said Gu would be available at miles 10, 14, 17 and 21. In actuality, the only place I could pick up any was mile 21.5, and I hadn't passed a water table in at least three miles by then. My strategy had been to take a Gu every 10k, which didn't last past the two Gu I had packed. Not sure it would have made a difference, but it was definitely inconvenient.

I kept going. I saw a blind runner, with a guide on either side, attached at the waist by a 2-3' rope. Well into mile 25, I saw a woman whose body was wrapped in Ace bandages from her rib cage to her knee and she was unable to walk. Two men were on either side, supporting her weight so she could get across the finish line. I cried when I saw that.

At the very very end, 15 steps from the finish line, a woman tried to pass me. I could sense her, and refused to let her pass me. It was the fastest 8 steps of my entire run, but I crossed before her.

My time was awful. Somehow though it was within 8 minutes of my Free Press time and I have no idea how I managed that because I had been trying at the FP, unlike Indy when I walked the entire 22nd mile. There was nothing lucky about #13. 
Not a happy camper :(
Bill made my sign, then let me go to town with the Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh stickers. He said he got a lot of looks from women runners much like "awwwh, why won't my man hold a Hello Kitty sign for me????"

The food at the end was total crap - bananas, and one-bite bread things. I guess there had been much more and better food earlier, but like the Gu on the course, it was poorly managed, so anyone over a 3-hour finish was left out in the cold.
A small section of the clothing mountain
The best part of the day was at the very end when we stopped at a rest stop off the highway in Michigan. Two women were walking back to their car as I shuffled toward the door.

"Did you run?" one of them asked, recognizing the race shirt I wore.
"How did you do?" she asked.
"I finished."
"Woo hoo!!!!" she cheered.
"You did it!" her friend cheered, raising both arms overhead. I felt crappy about my finish and they were cheering for me!

I still maintain that the shirt is the ugliest race shirt I've ever gotten, despite Bill and "Indy" arguing that it's GREAT! It's not great, it's hideous, yet it fits better than any other running shirt I have. Go figure! They offered shirt exchange right at the expo, but I didn't need it. Something really small that I like is the running figure in the zero, and on the side, are both women. It would have been easier to use the generic man for both shirts, so I appreciate that there's a woman on the women's shirt.
All runners also got a race program and poster. I registered early enough this year that my name is printed on the poster. All finishers also get a hat. I still haven't worn my 2012 hat, but I like the little extras like that, or the beer mug in Toledo. 

The medal is GREAT! It's huge and gaudy and I like it! The only problem is that mine wasn't sewed exactly right, so the fabric is frayed at the seam. Since it's a flat bar hung medal, the seam is right in front and it looks noticeable damaged. Naturally I didn't notice this until several hours after the race. I emailed the director that night to request a replacement be mailed to me. He said the registration coordinator would take care of it, so once I receive the new one, I'll donate the damaged one to Medals for Mettle - they change the ribbons anyway.

I really doubt I'll do this one again next year. Nothing against the race, but there are so many that are closer to home. Besides, it was tons hillier than I had remembered!!!! Very little spectator support as well. Last year, we could blame it on the weather, but it was low 50s and sunny this year.  

I've been reading one of Hal's books "Marathoning A-Z" and he says it all. "You grade 'A' in the marathon as long as you finish. How fast you run the race is not as important as many would think." We'll have to discuss this further after Columbia City.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Indy - done!

Marathon #13 is in the books! I probably should have skipped this one, but I've never DNFed, or worse, DNSed and didn't want it for the first time. (Did not finish, did not start).