Friday, June 27, 2014

Done! Bucket list #30

Several years ago I read a human interest story Neal Rubin wrote about a family who swam in all five Great Lakes in one day. It sounded interesting and like something that I would like to attempt someday. Coincidentally the summer solstice was on a Saturday this year, so Bill and I made concrete plans to do it. We met a few people along the way who doubted it was even possible. It took 13 1/2 hours (granted we stopped twice for coffee and once for sit-down lunch), but it's definitely possible, with good planning.

Our route was very deliberate and went east to west, knowing the western side of the time zone would be light a few minutes later. The goal was - obviously - to drive the least number of miles between lakes. It would be significantly shorter if we could hit the first three lakes from the Canadian side, so on Friday we headed toward Toronto and immediately we got off to a bad start. We had to wait about 20 minutes to get through customs at the Ambassador Bridge. We weren't stopped, and there was no problem, just a lot of cars trying to get through. Immediately thereafter we ran into massive construction getting onto the 401. What normally takes 10 minutes took almost two hours :( Would it have been better from the tunnel? Probably.

We stayed in Oakville on Friday so we'd be right there on Saturday. The original plan was to swim in Hamilton, but our hotel was less than five minutes from the lake, so we went while we were there. It wasn't a beach. It was really rocky and no one else was in the lake. The woman who took our photo implied we were crazy haha It was so cold (and rocky) that I made it to mid-thigh and decided it was enough. I didn't need to get my hair wet when it was only 61 degrees!

Next stop was Lake Erie, which was more beachlike, and the nicest experience of the day because it was warm and at a beach. We didn't stay long though.

Lake Huron was soooooo cold! It was cool and windy and the water was freezing! That was a quick visit :)

(I was very deliberate in making sure Lake Huron and Lake Michigan were different. Had we swam right at / under the Mackinaw Bridge, haters would claim it was only one lake, or it was cheating. Just for fun, we took this photo the next day, but on Saturday it was five distinct lakes.)

The longest drive would be up to Lake Michigan in Petoskey. We made it there around 6:30 and the beach was largely deserted. The man who took our photo works at a medical complex in Southgate. Of course he does - I meet Michiganders everywhere in the world, so it was only fitting that I'd meet someone from my hometown while traveling in Michigan.

The final drive was through the Upper Peninsula and was getting close to sunset. We were the only car in the parking lot and the beach was super small - maybe 4 feet from the water to the tree line. There was a boat launch, and the water at the beach was all rocks, so we "swam" from the boat launch. Lake Superior was beautiful, but very buggy!

Lake Superior. We were in a super small corner of the lake in a bay area.
Here is the original route, for anyone who wants to try this:

Lake Ontario
Beachway Park
1100 Lakeshore RD
Hamilton, Ontario

Lake Erie
Main Beach
202 Main St.
Port Stanley, Ontario

Lake Huron
Canatara Beach
1200 Lake Chipigan Drive
Sarnia, Ontario

Lake Michigan
Petoskey State Park
2475 State Route 119
Petoskey, Michigan

Lake Superior
Brimley State Park
9200 West 6-mile RD
Brimley, Michigan

Monday, June 23, 2014

A slight tweak

Bill and I had plans for Saturday to tackle item 30 on my bucket list - swim in all five Great Lakes in one day. It would be a massive day and I absolutely did NOT want to add a 9-mile run to it. So last week I shifted my running schedule from the normal Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday.

It worked. I got the mileage done, I did the prescribed rest. What difference does one day make? I decided to make it a permanent shift, at least while I'm not working. I'll do my long runs on Fridays, then have my entire weekend free. Going on vacation with a 14-mile run on the agenda just isn't the same, but this way I'll have my monster run done before Bill gets off work.

I was zonked today since I hadn't slept well in the hotels, but I knew the run had to happen and I didn't want to shower multiple times, so I did it on the early side. It was super humid, which turned into light rain the last mile or so. The run gave me energy, as I knew it would. Getting started is always the hardest part.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bucket list #23 - Maryland

Driving from Gettysburg to Harpers Ferry took me through Maryland for 40-50 miles. I never left the car, but I was counting it as another state, knowing that I'd be back eventually to see the Tigers play the Orioles in Baltimore. At one point I drove past a brown road sign for the Antietam battle field. It sounded really interesting, but Harpers Ferry was the destination so I kept on driving.

After that was a wash, I looked online at lunch to see just how close Sharpsburg was anyway. It was a 37 minute drive and the visitors center closed at 5 pm. I finished eating really quickly and got on the road! I had a new destination to hit before closing time! Unfortunately Dumb Carmen (GPS) got lost! I had no idea where I was, or even what state I was in. Finally though, she figured it out and got me to the park within 15 minutes of closing time.

I don't know if I would call it a park exactly. It was all fields and monuments with a visitors center for maps, bathroom, etc. Obviously I could drive around the roads and walk in the fields after closing time, so I went inside and met a woman from Michigan, because I meet Michiganders everywhere in the world. I bought a book and a pin - much cheaper than at Gettysburg - and she gave me a map of the battlefield.

It was still pouring rain so I didn't enjoy walking much. Likewise, I was alone so I couldn't exactly drive a manual transmission, look at the map, and look at the sites. I completely missed Burnside Bridge and the National Cemetery. Altogether I spent less than an hour there, and I want to go back, especially after reading Landscape Turned Red by Stephen Sears.

Now I want to go to Virginia and see Manassas / Bull Run, Chancellorsville and Appomattox Courthouse. Had I planned it better I could have seen all three on the same trip, but when I set out, it was intended to be Gettysburg only. Harpers Ferry and Antietam were bonuses.
Visitors center 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bucket list #23 - Another step, or two?

While I was at Gettysburg, I realized I was within an hour of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia so I planned to get moving early, see the national cemetery before the battlefield tour, then run down to Harper's Ferry while I was so close. West Virginia would be another new state for me so it seemed like a great plan.

Unfortunately by the time I got there, it was pouring rain, and I couldn't really see what there was to see! I drove around a little, took a few pictures from my car, then had to drive to the next town to have lunch because I didn't see a single restaurant in HF. At 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, it was an absolute ghost town.

There is a national park in Harper's Ferry, but it was $10 to enter and given the rain, not much to see. I sure wasn't about to get out of my car and take a nature walk. Besides, I had read beforehand that the federal arsenal John Brown had raided in 1859 in his attempt to arm the slaves and incite an uprising had been burned to the ground. The city had significance during the Civil War because of its location and changed hands several times, but on a rainy day in April, there wasn't much. Ah well, another Civil War site, another state.

Town Hall
Park Headquarters - not even close to the park.
It looked closed, so I didn't get out of the car.
Historical marker from John Brown's Fort
Current location of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy 
National Historical Park. Might have been nice on a dry day :(
I snapped this photo of entering Virginia. I was in the state less than 2 minutes -
does that count as having visited the state....?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Funny Friday

Several months ago Bill and I ran together at the track. I wore my watch to keep track of the pace. Here's a picture of my route :)

Check out the elevation gain - my kind of run :D

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And we're off!

It's Tuesday, also known as the start of my Chicago marathon training! The month between Cincinnati and training always goes so fast! Once again I'm using Hal's novice 2 program, the program I've used almost every time. I'm making two executive changes this time right from the get-go: (1) Thursdays are no longer an easy run of 3-5 miles, but dedicated to speed work on the treadmill, and (2) I'm going to be cognizant of my time on all runs, especially the long Saturday runs. He says to not really worry about pace so much, but when I don't worry, I wind up with 5:20s. If I can stay at 10:30 or below, I'll finally hit my 4:33 goal.

I averaged a 9:54 today, which is quite fine by me. So often when I'm nearing the end of a 3-miler, I look at Baby Carmen and see my time, then think about my 5k PR and think "Do it!!!!" Not today though. The goal is to complete my training without injury. Besides, if I'm going to PR, I'll do it at a race, not around the neighborhood :)

It's crazy to think the entire program is 71 runs. That doesn't seem like nearly enough to get ready for a marathon, but Hal knows what he's talking about. The next 18 weeks will pass in a blink of an eye. The hotel is booked and I'm ready to set a huge PR then retire.*
Can't wait to join this mob scene again!!!!! Best race of my life!!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Done! Bucket List #38 - Gettysburg

This weekend is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of northern France in 1944. I really wish I had gone, but finances being what they are, I can't justify making the same trip two years in a row. Over Easter break, I did the next best thing, which was visit Gettysburg. After I spent several days watching tv, including an entire season of Being Human, and doing my taper running, I decided on a whim to go to Gettysburg and see the battlefield.
I pulled over when driving in,
when I realized I was driving through the battlefield

After a 7-hour drive, I spent the evening in the city, walking around, seeing the historic sites, and having dinner at a yummy French cafe. In the morning, I walked around the national cemetery, then met up with a guided tour of the battlefields. There was a movie and a cyclorama at the visitors center, but I didn't pay to see either. I did see the Starbucks though. Ain't that America...?

I had to pay for the tour - there were several options from a bus tour, to a tour guide driving your car, to a self tour with cd narrative. The park itself was free, as was parking.

Bill ordered me a copy of Gettysburg: The Last Invasion by Allan Guelzo and had it delivered to my house days after I returned home. It was great to read after I saw everything because I could picture the locations and events the author described. I think it made more sense that way, than if I had read the book beforehand. Excellent book, although a bit more military based than I normally read. (I'm more of a social historian).

There are approximately 1,300 monuments, statues and memorials in the battlefield. I want to go back sometime and photograph every one of them. Another reason to go back is the Gettysburg marathon, which was the same day as Toledo. Runners pick to represent either the north or the south, and their shirt is blue or gray, respectively. All the runners on the winning side get an extra prize (they have a way to determine the winners based on time, or placement, etc.)
Walking in to downtown Gettysburg 
Abe and me outside the visitors center
Graves at the national cemetery 
Outside the cemetery and across the street
The cemetery was small. There was a larger part for more
recent graves, but the Civil War burials were a small area.
Where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address
View of the battlefield from atop Little Round Top
Site of Pickett's charge

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DXA2 on a whim

Every week I write down what I need/want to do. It's usually boring things like laundry, vacuum, etc., but also includes all the exercise I have planned for the week. Last week I had Saturday: Run 4-6 miles < 10:00. Somehow that became the Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon.

I knew the race existed, but I didn't put much thought in to it, until Bill emailed me a link on Thursday from the Ann Arbor News that mentioned it would be the Road Runners Club of America national championship half marathon, and they expected a field of 6,000 runners. He mentioned perhaps we spectate, but I decided that with a field that size, I was running it!

He decided to do the 5k as well, despite neither of us having trained for our race. I hadn't done more than 4.22 since the Flying Pig on May 4, but I figured I could manage 13.1. No big difference, right? Ha! We picked up our shirts and numbers on Saturday at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor and I was pleasantly surprised to see they had gender cut shirts. When I registered, I selected a size, but not if I wanted a mens or ladies shirt. I really appreciate when races have specific shirts, because the unisex shirts fit like a garbage bag, whereas ladies shirts have a v-neck and a tighter, more flattering fit. I don't love the sponsors all over the back, but since they surprised me with the ladies fit, I won't complain too loudly.

The course is a point-to-point race, so we parked downtown, then took separate buses to our start lines. The half start was at a school in Dexter, which was open so runners could wait in the gym, and have access to flush toilets. There were 30-40 porta-potties outside as well. They also had tables of beverages and a bag check area.

12.9 miles
My plan for the race was to PR. Is there ever a different plan??? At 5k, I was within 20 seconds of a PR, then at the 10k, I was again within 20 seconds of a PR for that distance. I hit 6.25 at 1 hour, which suggested I would be at 12.5 at 2 hours, and score another PR. Good plan, right?

Unfortunately, the weather interfered with my plan. It was HOT! It was in the mid-80s and sunny. Some parts of the race were in full shade, others were in full sun. It was hilly as well, but not as bad as the Pig. The hills were less of a problem than the heat. Thankfully there were water stops at miles 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. At a cooler race, I would drink maybe 4 times on a half, but at DXA2 I stopped every single time, grabbing two cups of water - one to drink and one to dump on my head, chest or back. Every time I did so, it slowed down my time a little, but I had to. I passed at least 10 runners laying on the side of the road, getting medical attention, and I did not want to be one of them, even if it meant I wouldn't PR. Presumably there were even more needing assistance behind me who had been on the course longer.

Bill was waiting for me at mile 12.9 and I was light headed when I saw him, but I wasn't stopping for anything. I crossed the finish line and just stopped. A medical volunteer was immediately at my side and gave me a bottle of water, which last for about 3 sips.

Bill met me very soon, and we mostly bypassed the food. There were small nutrition bars - yum, bagels cut in pieces, apples and pizza. I like pizza at 10:30 am as much as the next girl, but many years ago I had a bad reaction to pizza after a race, so I've avoided it since then.

My final time was 2:11:37, which is ok. It's less than 3 minutes off my PR for the half, and I hadn't been preparing for this race. Add in the crazy heat and related hydration breaks, and I'll take it. I felt strong and did great for the first six miles.
The medal is nice :) It didn't impress me when I saw it online, but the actual one is tons nicer than the picture. I finished 103/190 for my age group, which is about what I was expecting. I'm happy with it :)

The temperature and my time have a direction correlation - both increase together