Thursday, May 29, 2014

5-way Challenge

In Cincinnati, runners could do the 3-way challenge, which was the 10k, 5k and half marathon. They could also choose the 4-way challenge, which was the 10k, 5k and marathon. What about the 1-miler on Friday? Why was there no "5-way" challenge?

According to runners like myself and Mad Dog, such an event did exist. Granted, it was an unofficial event, but that's ok. I printed up my own race sign and wore it on my back all weekend. Maybe next year they'll recognize it as an official event. What do you think, Mr. Pig?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cincinnati - Livin' on a Prayer

Clothing mountain at the start
When I ran Disney, I had no time expectations whatsoever. It was the wrong time of year and my hip was aching. I knew I'd finish in the 6+ hour vicinity, and I was totally ok with that. There was a certain freedom in knowing I had zero pressure whatsoever to PR. I had the same mindset going in to Cincinnati. My legs were aching after the 10k and I warned Bill to not expect me before 6 hours. It was even moreso after dinner on Saturday. We went to Panera and I got what I often get - a half serving of pasta and a small bowl of soup. Something was definitely wrong with the sodium level though because while it tasted fine, I gulped down an entire Nalgene bottle of water with my dinner (32 ounces) and had another within 20 minutes. Many days I struggle to finish two Nalgenes, and I just devoured both in a very short window. I only stopped drinking because it was bedtime, but my mouth and throat were on fire and no amount of water was helping.

I had tried to pace myself in Toledo and that was a dismal failure, so I approached Cincinnati with the "whatever feels good" strategy. Somehow it worked! I was all too aware of my exhausted legs, but I was totally ok with it because the discomfort meant they were working and DOING something!

#17 baby!
Mile 5ish was right downtown on the stretch with the most spectators and someone was playing Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer." It was a perfect theme song for the day. So what if I was slow? I was living the dream, doing something that less than 1% of the country will ever do. Later in the course we passed a church that had the lyrics to "Amazing Grace" printed on signs and lining the course. One that yelled my name and stayed with me in particular was "'Twas Grace that kept me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home." I would dare anyone to run a marathon and not believe in God or some higher power. There is nothing within us that says we should be able to run 26 miles, yet we do.

It was seriously hot - 64 at the start, mid 70s after an hour or so, and sunny. It was beautiful weather, but not ideal for running. My hydration strategy became "yes, please." After 18 miles I started drinking yellow Gatorade, which I despise, because I was sweating out salt and didn't have any salt packets to replenish it. Mile 19 I saw a man laying on the side of the road, receiving oxygen and iv fluids. If not for the Grace of God, that could have been me.

Hey there Mr. Pig :) He was paper machie - I almost knocked him over!
Somehow I completely kept my sh-- together and didn't fall apart in the second half!!!! I need to figure out how I did it, because the weather wasn't ideal and I was exhausted, but I kept my miles consistent and never once thought "I should walk this whole mile." Only three miles the entire way were in the 13-minute range, and nothing slower than that. One of them I can pinpoint as being part of a massive 3-mile incline where I was walking.

I wasn't the only runner who brought Saturday's medals
for a post-race photo
Hal says you aren't going to PR if you're busy taking pictures and slapping 5 with kids. Perhaps, but that makes for a much more enjoyable experience. He says you need to focus on every step. I just don't have that kind of focus. I need to have fun with the race, or it's going to be a long miserable morning. Over the course of the race, I realized of course I'm not going to retire! I'm going to be really selective though and unless it's Cincinnati or Chicago, there are no guaranteed marathons on my schedule. Even Detroit is a definite maybe in the future.

I didn't PR, but my second half was double +11, which is one of the closest splits I've done. My final time was 5:11 and change. I knew it was a matter of seconds whether or not I beat my Chicago time, and after looking up my Chicago time, I had beaten it by 30ish seconds, so this was my 4th best ever, and my best since November 2012.

It was a difference of less than 15 minutes from my Toledo time, but felt like a completely different experience, one that I was happy with. Given the winter and my resulting lackadaisical training, the heat and the sun, and the hills, I regard this one as a win!

After, I picked up my 4-way goodies and we lounged on the grass and ate and relaxed. Something seriously cool that I've never seen before was a table of volunteers with computers and receipt printers. They looked up my bib and instantly printed my time, including all the timing mat splits. By the time I was ready to go back to the car, there were still tons of people finishing so it was nice to stop and watch them. I don't often get to watch other finishers. When I looked at my photo proofs online, there was a woman on my heels the entire finishing way, but I never let her pass. Had I known she was that close, I would have finished a few seconds faster, knowing she was trying to pass me. As it was, I passed no fewer than 15 people in the last 0.2 miles.

5 medals, 5 shirts, 3 posters, a tote bag, a plaque and a Skyline gift card that we used
L-R: 1-mile, 5k, marathon, 10k, 4-way challenge

Pretty decent consistency. I didn't fall apart!!!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pig 10k - PR

Here are two things I never expected to say:
With Ryan Hall

1. I was in corral A.
2. I was in the same corral as Ryan Hall.

Thanks to Mr. Pig, both are true. Granted, I think everyone who expected to break 1-hour for the 10k was put in the first corral, and I'm glad I was there. I would be one of the slower runners, but I didn't have to dodge walkers or strollers the entire way :)

Everyone expected Ryan Hall to win. He set a course record in the process, beating the 2nd place runner by over 3 minutes. Bill and I agreed it was probably just a warm up run for him.

For me, however, it was a serious run and my time to hit a PR. It always helps to run a course I've done before because I know how and where it turns. The Piggie, for example, I knew I wanted to start on the right side.

To PR I'd need to average a 9:40. My first mile was sub-9, as was the second. By the third mile I was "slowing down" to 9:30s, but I had banked over a minute. By mile 5 I KNEW I was going to PR so when I saw the water table, I walked and sipped. *shrug* I was thirsty :)

Hit the final stretch and I was cruising to a big PR. My previous best had been 60:33 at last year's Pig. This time? 58:44, with an average pace of 9:28. My goal was anything under an hour, so I hit it with plenty of time to spare.
5k medallions

I finished 37/338 for my age group - I'm not used to such high placements!!!!

My legs were BEAT after the 10k, but less than an hour later, I had the 5k. Luckily I had already set a PR for this year at the Twinkie run, so I didn't stress when I finished in 30:12, almost 2 minutes above my PR. Oops :) Nevertheless it was good for 40th out of 343 age group. Something nice is that both races are within a 2-hour window, so runners don't have to make multiple trips for short races *ahem* Disney *cough*

I AM wearing shorts :P 
The "Finish Swine"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

1-mile PR

The night before the Flying Pig marathon, the Little Kings 1-mile race is held. It's not part of the Pig per se, but it benefits the same charities and is held in the same downtown area. Since I would already be there, I decided to do it. Why not, right? A straight 1 mile race with a steep downhill at the end? Count me in!

It was the shortest of the four races I would do that weekend, and the one I was most concerned about getting injured. A marathon on Sunday? No biggie! But a single fast mile? I had visions of blowing out a hamstring so I made sure to warm up more for this race than any other. I did a nice slow jog of almost a mile to pick up my stuff then stretched and stretched.

The medal is a bottle opener :)
The city closed the street one mile from the finish line and we ran straight, flying downhill at the end. It kept reminding me of the running of the bulls for some reason. Longer races never give me this image.

It's probably the only race where you want to be in a higher corral because the slowest finishers went first, then every ten minutes a faster group started. I predicted a 7:40 finish because I knew I'd be affected by the pace around me, and I wanted to be in the 7-minute group, not the 8-minute group.

The first 0.3 miles I was in the 6-minute range. It was hard! I was sucking in air so violently that I lost my voice almost immediately (I was fine by the next morning). I finished in 7:45 by my watch, 7:51 by their clock. My previous best had been an 8:40, so I'll take it! After I finished we stuck around to watch the other races finish. The male winner's time was 4:19 and the female's was 4:55. Crazy!

We actually got medals for this race, and the t-shirt is cute. Also included were coupons for 2 beers and a Skyline coney dog. Bill and I used the beer coupons, then I tore off the hot dog coupon and offered it to whoever wanted it. The goodies are nice, but I would have done the race for nothing. Had they said "donate $10 to our charity and you can use our clock and closed course" I would have done that.

This is going to be a more difficult PR to beat because it's not a super common distance for adults. Almost immediately after finishing I wanted to try again! My goal was anything under 8:00. Race 1 - win!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Toledo marathon 2014

The Toledo marathon wasn't fun. It was the same course as always (with a very small detour that I actually preferred), but I didn't enjoy it. I was bored and kept giving in to the pain and the hurt. I did the first half around 2:25, which is right in my normal range, perhaps a minute or two slower, but nothing to be concerned about. I kept my pace under control until about mile 18 or 19 when I gave in to the suck and started logging embarrassingly slow miles.

I finished. Sometimes that's all that can be said.

The weather was beautiful, but it didn't help with my time or my mental strength. Something I learned though is that it doesn't make one iota of difference whether or not I train for a race. In 2013, I did every single run Hal prescribed, even increased my two longest ones to 21 and 22 miles. This year I did what I could with the weather. My longest run was a terrible 16, but my finishing time was within 2 minutes of what it was last year.

I realized ahead of time that I can't make "16" with my fingers, so I carried an index card the entire way, to mark the race number at the end.

Shirt is a nice change from the gaggy chartreuse it's been the past two years. They always fit super great. Medal - meh. Same design as last year and I didn't love it then either.

Not my best or favorite race this year. Not even something I enjoyed. Immediately thereafter I announced my retirement from marathons.

The Flying Pig, however, changed everything...