Sunday, December 22, 2013

Coeur Sports Announcement!

I've been pretty quiet lately.  I finished up my season with an 8K Turkey Trot, ending my racing 5 out of 6 consecutive weekends or something odd like that (Black Mountain Madness, Iron Horse Half, off, Detroit Half, Iceman, LSC Half, and then Turkey Trot).  Ok, that is 6 out of 7 weekends.  You can see why I took a break from updates!   I took a break from about everything.  I even took some strength training classes at the Y, and got my YMCA Group Fitness Instructor certification.  However, I have a huge announcement to make!

See, my name is on there!  Wow!  I still can't believe it is real.  I LOVE what Coeur represents as a brand.  They represent the heart and courage that it takes for us as athletes to get out there and do what we do.  You can read about them here.  I am so amazed and grateful to be a part of this team.  Everyone is so amazing.  I am so inspired by everyone, and hope that I can do the same for others.  You will also notice that Amy is on there.  She was on one of my first teams, Team Stayput.  She is still recovering, and working hard at her therapy.  I know one day she will be back at the level she was, but until then, she will inspire everyone around her to be better.  I know she has been an inspiration to me for a long time, and I am honored to be her teammate again.

Also, here is the elite team. 

I am so excited for 2014!!!!  It's going to be a great year.  The Boston Marathon is 16 weeks from tomorrow (Monday) and I got a jump start on my plan due to the holidays.  I expect I may need to miss a workout or two with all of our traveling.  I'm doing the Run Less Run Faster Plan again, except I'm attempting the 3:25 plan.  So far I completed the first 2 workouts, but I still have the tempo run left to try from the first week.  The tempo runs always seem to give me problems.  I may end up doing a combo of the 3:25 and the 3:30 plan, since the chart's barely have me at completing a 3:30 marathon based on my recent half marathon times. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Louisville Sports Commission Half Marathon 2013 Race Recap

Wow, what a great fall I have had.  I am beyond pleased with the way these past 6 weekends have gone.  On October 5th, I did the 70 mile Black Mountain Madness Ride to the Summit, followed by a stellar performance at Iron Horse, with my fastest time in over 2 years (1:40:45), Detroit International Half Marathon (1:42:28- course PR for me), a week off, then my first Iceman Cometh finish, followed by the Louisville Sports Commission Half.  It ended up being 3 half marathons in 30 days, plus one mountain bike race thrown in there.

I love running.  I was feeling pretty worked over after Iceman, and took Sunday and Monday off everything.  I did a light run on Tuesday, and still felt tired.  Wednesday was another day off, and then I had a much better run on Thursday.  Since the race was another Sunday race, I figured I could go ahead and have a short 1000y swim on Friday, and Saturday would be a rest day.

I went down to packet pick up on Friday after my swim to pick up my bib and shirt.  There really wasn't an expo.  I got my number, shirt, and a fall runathon poster.  I forgot pins.  Sheesh.  You'd think I'd never done this before.  Thankfully, I have a bag of pins at home.  The shirt was a really bright blue color.  I thought, hmm, maybe I will break my rule of not racing the "race shirt" on race day and use it as an undershirt with my Team Aquaphor tank.  It didn't look right, though, once I got it home and put them together.  Then, I had the dilemma of selecting an undershirt.  Usually I will wear my short sleeve Aquaphor tee with white removable sleeves, but if I am fully committed to long sleeves, then I wouldn't need to deal with add on sleeves.  I liked wearing a long sleeve tee in Detroit, and thought I could do it again.  The Detroit shirt was red this year, and I had a blue one from 2011, as well as my Boston shirt that was blue.  I had lots of choices.  I finally decided to wear the blue Detroit shirt, because I thought I might want to wear shorts, and red sleeves would look bad with pink tall socks.  You'd think after all this racing, it wouldn't be so complicated to figure out what to wear, but the temps were really different for each event. 

I like to be at races early, and with the race being on a Sunday, I knew that there would be free on street parking available.  I ended up parking on 3rd, between Main and Market, which was a great spot.  The start line was on Main, at 2nd, and the finish was also on Main, but at 5th.  I was glad I was between the start and finish.  It was funny, from my car at a meter, I could see a sign on a lot that said $10 event parking.  Street parking is such a score!!!  When I did the race in 2011, I parked further east of the staring line, and with the finish more to the west, I had a pretty decent walk back to the car (also, the start and finish with further apart that year).  I was so glad that I would be parked so close to the start, because I could easily put all of my things into my car fairly close to the start, and I wouldn't need to waste a mylar blanket by throwing one away before the start or deal with gear check.  I had a blanket that I had planned to donate to the Catholic Charities at the packet pick up, but I forgot to bring it with me.  I remembered it on race day, and although I had washed it in preparation to donate it, I thought I could potentially use it to wrap up if I needed to.  I walked over to the start, and I got this picture.  My ponytail was flat-ironed and sticking up a bit, but overall, I love this picture.  It was definitely one of the perks of being there super early.  Also, a photographer took it, which is how it was framed so nicely.  He actually asked me to move to a specific spot.

I met up with the Louisville Landsharks on the steps of the YUM Center.  Here I am with Rhonda (and my charity blanket)

Me and Sonja

Landshark Group Picture: 

Then, I realized I had to go the bathroom one last time.  Goodness!  How on earth do I arrive at a race over an hour early and then get 15 minutes or so away from the start time and NEED to go to the bathroom!  Ugh!  I ran over to the porto potty area and it was a mess.  Huge lines everywhere.  I could not wait in those lines.  I needed another option.  I ran off in search of something, but I wasn't exactly sure what.  I ran into one of the mom's from Soren's preschool, and explained my predicament.  She said that across one of the nearby parking lots, there was a lone construction site port o potty.  I didn't exactly know where it was, but I took off, and amazingly found it!  It was fenced off, but not locked, and I was able to slip between two parts of the fence.  Yay!  I ran back up to Main street and approached the start from the course side, which meant I was right in the front of the starting area.  I found my friend Lisa's husband, John because he is super fast.  We got a quick picture and I chatted with him for a couple minutes. 

I also ran into a friend Mike, who I met at the Derby Marathon earlier in the year, and met his girlfriend Carrie.  They had both just run a full in Indy, and none of us were sure how today was going to go.  This is not a flat course, so I was just hoping to be ahead of 1:45 and beat my 2011 time (1:44:55ish).  The unofficial 1:45 pacer was the same guy that did it in 2011. They had the bugler from Churchill Downs, and he played My Old Kentucky Home.  A previous time I had heard this song before a race, I was jumping into the Ohio River, so I got a bit emotional upon hearing it.  They played the National Anthem leading up to the start.  They played part of Avici's "Wake Me Up", which I first heard before Muncie, and we were off shortly after that.  Here's the map and elevation:

I started off feeling awesome.  We were running straight into the sun (which is why most of my pictures with my visor are completely obstructing my eyes), but had some shade from buildings.  I had studied the elevation profile of this race, and I knew that the middle third, miles 4-8ish, would have most of the hills.  It would be flattish until Mile 4, and hit Cherokee Park for 2 big hills, and then enter a cemetery for another 2 hills, and then at mile 9, things would flatten out.  Sort of like Detroit (bridge at 4, tunnel at 8, and then a non exciting yet painful 9-13).  I was going to fast, and I knew it for the first mile.  I slowed it down a bit for the second and third, but I still thought I was going too fast.  Just as I was starting mile 4, a guy running near me said we were on pace to go under 1:40.  Haha!  He was pacing off of me.  I told him that yes, we were, for now... I would hit the hills and need to slow down, so please, don't mind me.  Let me blow up in Cherokee and don't hold me responsible!  I have run those hills before and know they are hard.  I definitely slowed down a bit going up the two big hills, but similar to Iron Horse, I felt like I was able to recover well on the downhills.  I hit the halfway point with a slower time than Detroit, which was a good thing.  I was just over 50 minutes, which was still great.  I was wondering how much slower my second half would be.  We went into the cemetery.  It had some hills there too, but I hadn't ever been in it before.  I came upon Mike, who was struggling with a pulled muscle, but I kept plowing on.  It felt tough, but I kept up with my GU every 5 miles and by mile 9, we were on the flattish parts.  It was windy going into the city, and it felt like we should be done sooner, because of the course being two loops in opposite directions.  At mile 10, I was at 1:16:xx, and I still felt pretty good.  I though, wow, if I can get the last 5K done in 23 or 24 minutes, I just might be able to go under 1:40!  I can't remember what point I passed the man who I spoke with before the hills, but I did pass him.  He had said a couple things to me that I really believed, but it felt nice to have someone remind me- at 10 miles, you have just a 5K to go, and at 11 miles, you have about 15 minutes left to go.  I was keeping it under 8, but just barely according to my Garmin.  At mile 10.5, I thought about 20 minutes left.  I could keep this up for 20 more minutes.  There was an out and back section which was fun to be able to see faster people running towards me.  I just kept telling myself that this was a good day.  There was a lady in pink ahead of me.  I wasn't sure if she was in my age group or not.  She wasn't that far ahead.  I estimated that at mile 11.75, we would turn around and head back to the finish.  At this point, it was less mileage than running from 146 to my house, and flatter.  I was trying to just keep my pace up.  At mile 12.5, there were some police officers and a huge speaker BLARING Eminem's Berzerk.  "Life's to Short to Not Go for Broke!"  That picked up my spirits.  I knew I had to try to catch her.  I had .6 to go!  By mile 13, I had caught up, but I felt like I may have started sprinting to early.  I tried to keep pushing into the finish line, but that clock had a 1:40 on it!  Again!  My Garmin had me at 1:40:18!  This was even faster than my Iron Horse time!  I was thrilled.  I actually ran my first half and my second half pretty close to each other.  I congratulated the woman behind me.  I later learned that she was in fact, in my age group, and I had only finished 1 second ahead of her.  My time was 1:40:15.  I got this picture at the finish:

I couldn't stick around long.  I went through the food line and then circled back and found someone with a paper copy of the results.  I was 5th, so again, a fabulous time, and no podium.  However, I am still thrilled with how I did.  I was amazed that I had the strength to pull out such a fantastic run.  Here is my hardware from the last 30 days.  I can't decide which is my favorite.  I LOVED the Iron Horse because it was just so cool, and it was my second fastest time.  Well, I LOVE fleur de lis, and this one is NOW my second fastest time.  I don't know if I can decide!  I have thought for a couple years now that Detroit was ready for a refresh in their design.  They did update the ribbon, which was great, but now I have 3 almost identical medals from 2011-13, with the Mustang medal being my favorite of those.

I cannot believe how blessed I am that I was able to have such a strong race season.  I am very thankful for the Louisville Sports Commission allowing me to share my stories in exchange for running their race.  It was a great event, and I'm happy I could participate in it.  I did some amazing things over the last month.  I am very sore today, but I feel like I did a good job resting and cross training between my events that allowed me to perform as well as I did.  Plus, I might have a new pre-race meal.  I think I had Papa John's pizza before the Iron Horse race, and I did it again before this race.  I definitely feel more confident about my running and my desire to have a great marathon in April.  Two 1:40s show that it is not a fluke.  I still have no idea how to get back to a 1:38, but I'm just glad to be under 1:42, where I seemed to be stuck for a while.  I have an 8k turkey trot race to do, but then I am done with racing for a while.  I don't race much while training for a full marathon because I like to go all out for my races, and I just don't feel like that is helpful for me when marathon training.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

24th Iceman Cometh 2013 Race Recap

Iceman Cometh is a huge, if not the biggest, mountain bike race in the US.  It takes place in northern Michigan, and goes from Kalkaska to Traverse City.  It is 30 miles, and follows a combination of dirt roads, double track, and single track.  It's been on my "must do" list for a while, pretty much ever since I raced my mountain bike in 2007.  With it being 30 miles long, it was something that I would need to work up to doing.  Also, since mountain biking is really Ryan's strength, I wouldn't do it without him.  It's one thing to drive up to SE MI and do my girls Tree Farm Relay that is 10 miles of trails with a bunch of hanging out, but Iceman is three times as long, and it isn't really very easy for us to get to now that we are in KY.  It sells out crazy fast, so you have to be decided before registration opens, or else spend a fortune on a bib transfer as the race draws nearer.  Ryan had never seemed really interested in doing the race.  In 2010, when I sprained my ankle and had to stop training for the Detroit Marathon, we opted to Crystal Mountain and Ryan raced in the Peak to Peak race.  It is sort of a warm up race for the Iceman.  It was a different style of racing than what Ryan loves.  He really enjoys very tight technical turns, and this race was steep and fast.  There were guys that did this ride with fully rigid frames that were lighter and faster than his full suspension bike.  I thought he did great, but he did not.  It took some of the allure of Iceman away for him.  I had always just been threatened by the distance.  However, Kent, Ryan's road cycling partner in crime, won a mountain bike in a contest a year or so ago, and despite struggling with it (see video here), really wanted to do it.  We have lots of friends that do this race every year and do really well.  I knew Ryan would want to do it if Kent was doing it, and that was my ticket to get to do it.  You can actually read my post about the whole decision and registration process here.

So, here we are.  The race has been on the calendar since March.  I crashed spectacularly on the road in May.  I recovered and did several races over the summer, including the Tree Farm Relay mountain bike race after the crash.  I raced back to back half marathons in Oct.  I'm training for a third half marathon (this weekend), and trying to fit my mountain bike training in.  We did the Black Mountain Madness ride, and I have been riding my mountain bike on the hills of the IMKY course.  With fall upon us, it is too dark for me to ride after Ryan gets home from work, and it is too far for me to drive to trails while Soren is at school.  Also, I don't have anyone who can go with me, and I just don't feel comfortable on the trails by myself here yet.  I'm fine going to Maybury or Tree Farm on my own, but that is because I know I can't get lost and there aren't any sketchy parts.  The trails here make me nervous because they aren't well marked and there are steep drop offs.  Also, most people said that the trail portion isn't terribly technical, and road fitness would be helpful.   I missed a bit of riding on account of the late addition of the Detroit Half, but I prepared as best as I could.  Besides, I am NEVER prepared properly for cycling events.  I plan to be on the "underprepared" side.  I just like running too much to devote the time to cycling that I should.  I had two of my team TUTU ladies bail on this ride for being underprepared.  They did it last year, and had a rough time of it.  I knew it was going to be hard, but I knew I had the fitness ad the willpower to do it.

Since the race is so far away from KY, it meant we had to miss Halloween.  This was a bit of a bummer.  I love Halloween, but we did take the kids to two trick or treating events earlier.  Also, my parents would be staying with them and getting to enjoy the fun.  The weather was horrible in KY for Halloween, so they actually moved trick or treating to Friday, which in a way, made me feel less bad about leaving on the 31st.  Part of me felt like we should have gotten up at the crack of dawn on Friday morning and made the drive all the way up, but since we didn't miss anything by leaving Thursday, it was fine the way we did it.  We drove up through Canton, MI, and stayed with Ryan's parents.  We only stayed the night, and then got up in the morning, made a quick stop into Town and Country in Northville for some last minute items, and then were on our way up north!  The weather was less than promising.  It had been raining or misting almost all day, and the weather wasn't looking great for the race either.  Cold and raining.  Ugh.  Not really what I wanted for my first Iceman.  On our way to the expo, in Traverse City, we drove through Kalkaska, and there was this banner hanging over the road.  I got super excited as we drove under it.  Ryan was excited too because he was glad I took the picture.  Usually I take too many pictures, but it was OK to stick my arms out the sunroof trying to capture this. 

We arrived at the expo shortly after.  Kent arrived just a few minutes before we did, and we met up inside.  It was a huge expo.  We got our number plates and then bought jerseys. 

We talked with a lot of friends that were there.  Since it was our first time doing this event, we were in the "unseeded" category of waves.  That meant that it was pretty well sure that we wouldn't be winning any awards this year, no matter how prepared or unprepared we felt.  Since there were 5300 riders, there would be a lot of waves.  We knew a couple people starting in Wave 1 and earlier waves.  We had to wait a while to start, which meant that we would be just starting at the back.  Ryan started at 10:06am, in Wave 23, and I was at 11:00am, in Wave 41, and Kent was right in the middle of us.  Everyone was telling us how there would be backups in the singletrack areas and that we may even need to wait for sections.  This was going to be an experience for sure.  We browsed the expo a little bit longer and Ryan and I found the photo booth section.  Here is our serious picture:

Here is our fun picture.  I actually joked with the guys that I wanted the tutu for the ride tomorrow, since it would act as a mud flap.  I had sort of wished I had brought one of my own, but none of my other tutu girls were racing.

We checked into our hotel next.  It would be a cool place to stay in the summer.  It had its own beach on Traverse Bay.  We would stay here again for sure.

Plus, they didn't mind that we brought our bikes inside.  They even left their hose set up outside for rinsing them and opted to have breakfast available early for all of us in town for the race.

We had a little trouble figuring out our prerace dinner.  We found what we thought would be a cool Italian place, but once we got there, it was a bit pricey, and not exactly what Ryan and I were looking for.  Kent was starving, but we got back in the car and drove a few minutes away to Olive Garden. I feel bad eating there without the kids because it is their favorite, and Ryan and I could take or leave it.  We found a table in the bar area so that we could be seated immediately, and  had a good meal that served its purpose.  Probably the best thing is that the weather was looking marginally better for the morning.  The chance of rain was dropping.  We turned in pretty early, but since we didn't start super early, we didn't need to get up too crazy early.

The next morning, we woke up at 6:30, and got breakfast at the hotel.  Everyone was asking us if we were starting really early since we were there.  Um, no, Kent and I were just in charge of when we were leaving, and neither of us can be too early to a race.   Here is Kent in his throwaway coat purchased at Goodwill for $10.

With the race being a point to point, the logistics weren't as simple.  We needed to load all three bikes into/onto our car and follow Kent over to the parking area for the finish, at Rasho farm.  Here is what the back of our truck looked like before Kent's 29in front wheel was put in the back.  Two bikes were on the roof.  Mine got to ride inside because it was the smallest and fit the easiest.  We each had a bike bag and hydration pack, plus the two dry clothes bags to be checked; one for Kent and one that Ryan and I shared.  Additionally, we had a pump and a park tool set.

Then, Kent got into our truck and we headed over to the start area.  Thankfully, it wasn't raining.  We had dry clothes bags for the finish area that we dropped off at the start, and then got ready to ride.  We took a few pictures while we were all at the truck, but it was a short ride from there to get to the start.  Ryan before his start:
 Ryan and I

Ryan headed off first.  Kent and I finished up a few minutes later.  I wished we had been ready to go just a few minutes earlier, because right as we rolled over there, Ryan's wave went off.  We had just missed him.  Kent got lined up and was gone next. 
Kent giving me the thumbs up!

While I was waiting on my own, I met up with Michelle, who was there to support her husband.  He started close to Ryan, so she had time to wait with me before I started.  I also met up with Kari, who is the wife of one my Aquaphor teammates.  We had met earlier at the Triceratops Tri and she zipped me into my wetsuit that day.  I literally ran into her.  Like, when I was walking to find Michelle, our bikes clipped each other in the tent.  That's how I found her!  I also found Janelle, who was on Ryan's tree farm team.  I gave her a big hug and wished her luck.  She started in the wave ahead of me.

Then, it was my turn.  I got to the front of my wave, just because it sounded like the really fast people should have already started, unless it was their first time.  It was Kari's first iceman too.  I really didn't need to be up front though.  The first section of the race was on road/dirt road and very wide, so there was plenty of room to pass.   I wish I could really remember exactly how the course went, in terms of where the climbs were, where it was two track, and where it was single track, but I remembered that I am glad that I know how to mountain bike.  I also felt like the training I did with the mountain bike on the road bike was paying off for the climbs.  There were lots of short sandy steep climbs.  There were a few people that would fly by me on the flats on their 29ers that were not able to climb up the steep stuff.  I actually went back and forth with Kari a couple times because of this and other backups that we would encounter.  I took the single track sections a bit conservatively on the downhills, just because I didn't want to crash.  I didn't have a chance to preride any of the sections to know what to expect.  Also, no one starting in my wave or behind me was going to be winning any awards this year, so everyone should just chill.  For the most part, everyone was.  There were a few guys bombing through bushes here and there to cut corners to pass, but for the majority of the race, there weren't really any problems.  I did get stuck at one point when a lady in front of me tipped over, and I stopped.  Then, there was such a huge backup behind me that I couldn't jump back in.  I was running alongside the trail trying to find a break in the "train".  I made a horrible failed attempt at a flying mount, and ended up back in the bushes, but no crashes.  I also had a really loud guy behind me for a while.  As much as I wanted to be faster than him, I was really happy when he finally did pass me because I just could not tolerate his commentary on EVERYTHING.  He was just so loud!  He wasn't offensive, just annoying.  There was one road with several large puddles in it.  Everyone would be spread out, and then need to funnel in to go around (turns out Eric went through one earlier in the day and it caused a bunch of bike problems because it was about a foot and a half deep and he got all kinds of crud in his drivetrain).  The first one, I went around just fine, but it was either the second or third puddle when I lost a wheel into the drink.  I was very close to a tree on the right, and grabbed it, while my bike dropped a bit to the left into the water.  I wasn't hurt, didn't fall or get wet, but I did feel bad because I created a big traffic jam.  I got about halfway through and then I started feeling tired.  It wasn't too shocking, because I had been regularly riding only about 17 miles.  The climbs were challenging, but the flats seemed challenging too!  My Garmin isn't too terribly accurate in trees with lots of turns, so I couldn't really use it for distance so much.  They did have km markers counting down.  My math always gets a bit rusty when under exertion, so I was watching them, but not converting all of them to miles.  I remembered when I got to the 15k to go sign, I was so happy because it was 9.3 miles!  Some of the people around me were even more bewildered by them, and asking all kinds of questions akin to the adult version of "are we there yet?"  Kari and I had a bit more back and forth.  I was ahead before the last aid station.  I stopped.  Like complete stop, got off my bike, to refill my camelback and just take a little breather.  I ate my last gu, had a glass of heed, and saw Kari go by.  I tried to catch back up with her and couldn't.  I was struggling with some of the climbs (and had been).  They were so hard to bike up, but they were almost harder to walk up!  The thing about walking up is that my heart rate seemed to go down a bit, but on the bike, it was just taking everything I could to bike up them, and then I would just feel like stopping at the top. Sometimes I could get a little bit of active recovery on a downhill on the other side, but some of them were short, or they dumped us out on the road where everyone was going fast.  It was all pretty sandy, but the rain had packed it down somewhat, but unless I was going downhill, there was pretty much no coasting.    This was such a hard race!  Wow!  With 5k to go, I told myself that I wasn't doing any walking the bike up climbs.  Well, that didn't really work.  I did try them all, but I did have to hop off.  Then, with 3k to go, I really meant it.  It was 1.8 miles.  I could do it.  I watched a video of this section at the hotel, and I knew that you would go through this tunnel and it was not the end.  There was still another k to go or so before the finish.  It was kind of a mean tease.  A guy near me had not watched the video and was really bummed out that it was not the end.  I finally made it to the "fly over" section which if you were going really fast, you could get a little air off of, but I just rode over it normal.  I was so happy to be done!  My official time was 3:21:52.  It was a bit slower than I had hoped, but it was still an accomplishment to just finish. 

Adam, from Level Multisport (and Ryan's tree farm team), found me before I was even done with the finisher's chute.  He had been tracking Ryan on his phone, and showed me his times as I walked through the finisher's area.  It was a long walk, and my bike felt heavy.  There was a bike check area where you could leave your bike before picking up your warm clothes bag so you didn't have to worry about it.  I grabbed a cookie from Meijer on my way in.  It was sort of a mess, though, finding a spot for my bike, and I was so spent that I could barely lift it to find a spot.  As I came out, it was just a huge mess of people everywhere.  I didn't know where Ryan or Kent were, but I was glad Adam told me they finished.  I was exhausted and a bit bewildered at this point, since I didn't know where Adam had gone, or where anyone else was yet.  I found somewhere to sit down, and got out my phone.  First thing I noticed was that Erin had texted me, she BQed at Indy!!!   I texted her back with a quick congrats, but also said I couldn't chat because I was cold and needed to find Ryan and my warm clothes.  I called Ryan, but he didn't answer!  Neither did Kent!  AHHH!!!  I texted Mindy, and thankfully, she texted me right back.  She was thankfully standing right under a sign that was easy to spot from where I was, so I found her and Eric.

She did great, and got 4th in her (our) AG!  Eric was 3rd in his too!  One of her friends gave me a sweatshirt to wear while I tried to track down Ryan.  I texted him, and he was with Kent taking their bikes to the van.  He had taken his things out of the gear bag and put the bag back into the gear check under my number, so I could grab it myself.  Mindy was about to receive her award, so we headed over towards that area.  After she received her award, I grabbed my gear and headed to the showers.  The men had shower trucks, but the women were able to use the shower building.  It was warm inside and the wait was short.  The water was surprisingly warm and I felt a million times better after having a shower and putting on dry clothes.  Taking a tip from Mindy, I did not get my hair wet since neither of us thought to bring our hair dryer (Mindy said she saw a lady that did, and it was a genius idea).  By the time I was done, Ryan and Kent were back, and had met up with Mindy, Eric, Adam, and a few others.  I didn't see Kari after the race, or Janelle.  Mindy told me Janelle wasn't feeling well after her race, and I think was in medical.  She had flipped over on a crash, and had an upset stomach.  She still finished very well for her first Iceman.  Ryan and I,
Kent, Ryan, and I

We hung out for a little bit.  They had a lot of food available for purchase there, but since we love the town of Traverse City, we had planned to go out for a nice dinner there after we got all the bikes and vehicles back to the hotel.  I grabbed my bike from the bike check and we took a bus back to the van at Rasho Farm, and then drove back to Kalkaska to pick up the truck, and then back to Traverse City.

I was exhausted and starving afterwards.  It really took a lot out of me.  It was so fun though!  We had dinner in downtown Traverse City at North Peak, a microbrewery.  We had to wait a bit for a table, and it took everything I had in me to NOT lay down on this coffee table/bench they had in their waiting area.  I was feeling really rough.  Right as I was about to go to the bar to order a Coke or something with sugar in it, we were finally seated.  After a Cherry Coke and dinner, I felt human again.  The online results had just come and, and I didn't do stellar in my age group.  I didn't think I would, plus I have a super tough AG.  Ryan and Kent recognized many friends from the Wolverine Sports Club and Racing Greyhounds that they rode with on road rides in top slots.  We need to get a few more Iceman races under our belts and get better starting positions (and 29ers) before we will anywhere near contention for awards.  However, finishing in itself is an achievement.  I would love to do this race again.  Hopefully we can continue to get registered as well as line up childcare for this race.  I would love to come back with the kids and have them do the Snow Cone race.  Soren would eat it up!  Plus, I know I will be able to finish before it starts now, since it is at 3pm.

They had some great race photos posted.  Once I decide which ones I want and get them ordered, I will post an action shot.  Also, Eric actually filmed his entire race.  So, if you want to spend 2 hours watching what the first wave looks like, you can find it here.

Now I am home and recovering, and looking forward to the LSC Half on Sunday.  Whew, what a season.  My legs don't feel terrible, but I can tell I haven't spend enough time on trails.  My upper body seemed thrashed.  I ran yesterday, and while I was slow, I don't really have any lingering problems aside from just fatigue.  Hopefully I can rest up and have a great half marathon this weekend. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Detroit International Half Marathon Race Recap. Back to Back Halves- how to get it done!

Sorry this is late.  This past week was Oldham County's fall break.  We never had fall break in Michigan, so it is a cool concept to me.  We didn't bring the computer with us.  While we weren't entirely unplugged for the week, I just didn't get a blog post done.  We were plenty busy.

The Detroit International Half Marathon was a late addition to my schedule, because I won it the entry in a drawing.  It worked out nicely because it was during fall break, and we didn't really have any plans set in stone.  If anything, it helped us figure out our fall break.  I love this race, and have done the half 5 times now, and the full once.  I'm really glad I was able to have this opportunity to do it.  Since it was a late addition, it didn't really fit well into my schedule. Aside from being an open weekend, that was about the best that it fit.  I had the Iron Horse Half Marathon the previous weekend.  I have done back to back halves once before, and I love the half marathon, so I figured it wasn't a terrible idea.  With the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (and Half) coming up this weekend, and then the LSC Half Marathon coming up next weekend, there is a good opportunity to try it.  I did this combo in 2011.  There are a few ways to look at the combo, and I thought about it a little (not a ton) in advance of the Iron Horse.  First, I could use Iron Horse as a training run, and race Detroit full out, Second, I could race Iron Horse, and do Detroit as a recovery race, taking it easy, third, I could take them both easy (this would be useful if I was training for a full marathon down the line and just needed lots of mileage), or 4th, race them both and see what happens.  Well, going into Iron Horse, the plan was to race it.  I had it on my schedule since June, and had been training specifically for it.  Racing it hard would still allow me to do the rest of my races (Iceman, LSC) with no problems.  It just might make Detroit a little tougher.  Its a unique course with large crowds, so PRs aren't super easy to come by there.  Plus, with the border crossings there is always the remote chance that you will get stopped.  So, the plan would be to take Detroit easy, and just have fun and enjoy the sights.  The sunrise over the bridge is pretty cool, and the skyline in Detroit from Canada is great too.  Plus, they break up the course into mental chunks pretty well.  I did two short easy runs between the two races (3 and 4 miles).

We went to the expo early on Saturday morning.  It was busy, as expected for a huge race.  I got a mediocre picture from the person behind me.   Keira was hanging out with her cousin for the morning, so Ryan was with me and Soren.  We were running out of time at the expo before we needed to pick up Keira, and Soren NEEDED a Talmer Bank shopping bag.  My kids love expo swag.  We thought he could spin a wheel over there, so I told them to check it out while I got my picture taken.  It was a bad call.  The picture wasn't the best, and there was no wheel to spin.  However, Soren did get his tote bag and I did get two white cowbells.

Also, I wasn't able to find everyone I wanted at the expo, but we did find Janelle from Ryan's tree farm team at the Level Multisport booth, Randy from Running Fit, and Dave from New Balance.  Dave entered me into the contest, and is a very experienced runner and coach.  I told him how well the Iron Horse went, and then he thought I should be able to beat my Iron Horse time.  What?  NO NO NO!  I was super tired still.  Yikes.  However, I have known Dave for a long time and really trusted what he said.  If he thought I could do, well, maybe I could?  I did some math on the way home and realized that a 7:38 pace would get me under 1:40, which is what Dave thought.  Eek.  But, it was only a couple seconds per mile faster than what I did at Iron Horse.  Not a ton.  I got nervous for the first time for this race.

The race bibs were MASSIVE for this race.  They were made to look like a license plate, and about the same size!  I am small, so figuring a way to pin it was tricky.  I had taped my passport inside a ziplock to the back of it.  I did it last year, and it worked just fine.  I trusted that better than trying to put it in a pouch.  I like my spibelt, and didn't want to try a new belt for the race.  I struggle with chaffing around my midsection from belts, and I know where I need my Aquaphor for what I currently use.  I didn't want to experiment with this.  I was happy to be in corral B.  That meant that I would at least have the 1:40 pacer available to me if I felt like it.  This was Detroit, and to quote Eminem, "Life's too short to not go for broke".  I was going to go for it.

I went to bed early, and then got up crazy early on Sunday.  I texted our friend Austin from the parking garage (I actually got into my first choice garage this year for the first time ever!!!).  Turns out, he was still at home!  Lol!  I like being to races early.  I crashed my friend Randy's party at Cobo Joe's for his running class.  Running Fit offers a couple classes, and they typically have someplace reserved for the class participants and their families to hang out that is indoors, warm, close to the start, and with flush toilets.  I have been fortunate to take advantage this the past 3 Detroit races.  Its been a lifesaver.  I even took advantage of the "gear check" there, despite the fact that my truck was next door.  I hung out there and had my picture taken, plus took advantage of the restrooms. 

Before leaving Cobo Joe's, I wrapped up in an old mylar race blanket for the walk to the start.  I planned to throw it away before the race started so that no one behind me would get caught in it.  It was 39 degrees at the start, and would stay cold for the less than 2 hours that I would be running.  I opted for tights, my Detroit race shirt from LAST year (never wear the race shirt from the current race in the race), and my Aquaphor singlet on top.

The nice thing about being in Corral B is that I have pretty clear view of the start line from the front of it.  I got this picture, which is also not so stellar, at the start, before moving back to a better position.  I did meet a Swirlgear teammate, Angela, so that was fun. She went on to have a killer marathon time, and was ahead of me the entire race.  I couldn't find Austin in my corral before starting.  Since I am short, I'm not the easiest to find or the best at finding people in crowds.  I heard them play Eminem's Lose Yourself, and the Kiss's Detroit Rock City and we were off, crossing the start line. 

I felt great!  It was still very dark, with the race starting at 7am and sunrise not being until 7:48am.  They had helicopters with searchlights shining on us (probably for border security) and it was hard to read my Garmin.  I clicked off a couple miles in the 7:30s, and then started to head up the incline to the Ambassador Bridge.  One of the highlights of this race is that the sun starts to rise over the Detroit River while most people are on the bridge.  I arrived a bit early for it, but the sky still looked pretty.  My college friend Fred Felter took several awesome pictures during the race. He gave me the OK to use his photos.  I had considered running with my camera until I spoke to Dave at the expo, so I am especially thankful that he took these and allowed me to use them.  I got a chill looking at the bridge picture.  Its crazy to come around the turn and get ready to run up it!!!
Here is Fred's sunrise on the bridge.  It is awesome. It was a little darker when I went across.
Crossing into Canada on the Bridge:
 The tunnel is hard, but not terrible.  The worse thing about it is that you go from the cold to warm, and then you have a long uphill out.  People have asked if I felt claustrophobic in it before.  Um, no, not until you mention it!  I guess I have run this race so many times before I had the idea to be freaked out about running UNDERWATER for a MILE that it is no big deal.  Its cool!  You do have to take the autopause feature off your Garmin, otherwise you lose a mile of data.  You don't get pace in the tunnel, but since it is pretty much a straight line, you come out and it picks up the difference where you lost signal.   Going into the tunnel (from Fred still)
 The tunnel pretty much  looks like this for a mile.  Its hard to gauge how long you've been in there because it looks the same.
 Cool shot of the border in the tunnel.  This one I think was photoshopped to remove some people
 Coming back into the USA!  This is such a great feeling.  I saw some guys wearing IMKY finisher gear on the side, cheering, and they saw me notice (I had my IM visor on), and got some cheers.
Then, you are out of the tunnel and run around a bit.  This is where I really started to feel slow and heavy.  I lost the 3:20/1:40 pace group here.  I just looked forward to seeing friends, Amy and Anna, at the finish.  I knew I had them waiting for me, because they are volunteering.  Anna has volunteered with her mom for years.  This year she was bringing Amy with her to volunteer.  Last year, when I ran this race, I ran it with Amy in my heart because we still didn't know much about her condition.  Now, a year later she was going to give me  my medal.  Its crazy what can happen in a year.  I also know that every start is a blessing.  Its such a gift to be out there racing and doing what I love.

Mile  11 had some Rage Against the Machine playing at the DMC medical station with water bottles.  I drank a water and it helped a little.  But by 12, it was starting to get really hard.  I was just wanting to be done.  Then I heard someone call me.  I looked back and I saw an Aquaphor teammate behind me.  Then, I looked next to me, and saw someone who shouldn't have been there.  Needless to say, it kind of shocked me, and we chatted a bit about how I was almost done and why talking to Dave is dangerous before a race.  He'll have you trying very hard.  I said my goodbyes with a fist bump to this runner at the marathon/half split.  I was able to bring my pace back down to where it should be for the last mile, but I had done enough damage during miles 10-12 that I finished with a course record for me, 1:42:28, by 7 seconds from 2011.  It seems like I end up in the 1:42s quite often.  Upon crossing the finish line, I immediately stopped and gave Anna's mom a huge hug.  I saw her first.  She directed me to Anna, who got another hug, and I asked for Amy, who got a third hug.  Anna and Amy together gave me my medal, and I got a quick picture with them before walking into the actual finisher's chute.  Last year I kept getting asked to move down as I looked for friends finishing up.  This year I tried to avoid that.  It was colder and I needed my foil blanket too.

I lost the teammate in the finish area.  I looked and looked, and he probably passed me during my stop right at the line.  I did find Austin!  Yay!  He finished about 4 minutes ahead of me, and said he passed me in the tunnel, which looking at our splits, was right.  He was able to hold his pace better and even pick up speed at the end, where I faded the last 3-4 miles.  Very typical me, but I was still very pleased with the way I did based on the fact that I didn't train specifically for this race, and I had raced my heart out the week prior. 

I did try to find my teammate one more time, and instead found teammate Kevin! I initially thought that lost teammate was Tim, but looking at results, that doesn't seem possible.  I have no idea who I was looking for now!

I'm really glad I went for it on this race.  Last year, I was more conservative to start, and finished worse here, and I really thought that I might be able to have a better race on a flatter course.  Since it was a late addition with little expectations, it was fun to just go out there and have a great time.  I felt strong in the early miles, and I always feel good knowing I left it all out there and did the best I could.

The medals were pretty much the same as they have been for the past three years.  In fact, the fact that they had a Camaro on them was initially a deterrent for me to sign up, yet as the race grew closer, I wanted to do it more and more, but the price had gotten insane, and I already had Iron Horse.  When this contest came around, I just knew I had to enter it, and that I would win an entry.  I'm so thankful for this opportunity to run my heart out in Detroit. 

Since I waited so long to do this post, the professional race pictures are available.  I don't typically copy the professional photos from their site to use here, but this one was just too funny to not share.  Since it is funny, I'm not going to be buying it though.
 The poor dude has the worst expression. Then there's me.  Super happy and smiling, as usual, when I see the finish line.  Now, to give this man the benefit of the doubt, I did have one pic where I was in a blink and looked funny too, but the contrast in expressions is what made it so funny.  When I was first looking at the photos, I wondered why this one was in "my" photos, but then realized that it was hysterical.  The folks at finisherpix must have a sense of humor.  They did do a really nice job with the pictures, though.  I'm not going to steal the good ones.  If I buy them, I will post them.

Also, I want to offer you a peek a the medal for the LSC Half Marathon!  It is AWESOME!  I just love Fleur de lis, and I even hand cut my own vinyl stickers to decorate my aero box on my Trek Speed Concept for IM with them.  This medal is made for me.  I just can't wait to earn it, and I hope to see you there!  Hopefully I live through Iceman first.  Eek!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Iron Horse Half Marathon Race Recap

(photo courtesy Mike Zimmerman during the race)
This race was a big deal to me.  I have been training specifically with this race in mind, and despite doing the Black Mountain Madness ride last weekend, I had been really focused on having this be a great half marathon.  Thinking about it, it was my first half marathon of the year, which is unusual for me.  The past several years, I have run a half marathon in the spring in addition to the fall.  I did one 70.3 this year, but that doesn't really count because aside from my fueling strategy, the pacing is completely different, and my run mileage is typically lower because my bike mileage is higher.  Also, this was my opportunity to return to the same county (although not same road), where my crash had occurred earlier in the year at the Horsey Hundred.  At the Derby Marathon, I received an advertisement for this race in my goody bag, and when I rode through the town of Midway in the first part of the Horsey Hundred, I recognized the town name and put the two together.  It was beautiful out there, and I told my friends that there was a half marathon in this location, and that I wanted to do it.  This was before my crash.  After my crash, I knew I had to do this race.  I asked around a bit, and from everything I had heard, it sounded like a great race.  It is small (1500 runners), due to the fact the area cannot handle a lot of runners, and I was able to get signed up when it was about halfway full.  It sold out fairly quickly after I registered, but a friend from MI, who was my partner coaching a Girls on the Run team in Novi, was able to get signed up as well. 

Race day was approaching, and I made sure to get rested up from my ride.  I did a couple short light runs, and no more cycling.  I had one swim, and that was it.  The weather was looking great too.  I opted to wear my yellow Swirlgear top instead of my Aquaphor tee.  One of the perks of this race was unlimited downloads of race pictures, so I thought it would be nice to have some in my new tee.  It was also warm enough for short sleeves and shorts.  The race pics are not up yet, but I hope to have those soon. 

I woke up early and got on the road.  I  had wanted to be there early since I had to use race day pick up, and it sounded like it could get backed up.  I also wasn't exactly sure how far away I would need to park, and I would need to put my shirt and things in the car before the start.  Thankfully, I found a spot on street right in downtown Midway, which is adorable, and walked to race headquarters at Darlin Jean's restaurant.  It would be super fun to just come and visit here without doing a race, or be able to stay longer, but since the race was on Sunday, a lot of the places were closed.  It would be fun to come in the day before though.  Its just not far enough away to justify a hotel for me.  I found Ron, who is similar to my pace, and his wife Shawn, pretty easily.  Then I found Carla.  It was great to see her.  We took a few pictures by the caboose, and then walked back to the car one more time to put everything away, and then it was time to head to the start.

The course was two out and backs, running through Midway in the middle and the finish.  It would be rolling, and with the two out and backs, you would sort of get to preview the hills for the way back.  I usually start out a little too quick, and slow down a tad, so I figured I would go with the same strategy, but just start a little slower than a PR pace, but not too fast.  Looking back at previous race times, I can usually hit 1:42 fairly consistently.  I thought this might be a little slower, because of the hills, but then I had trained really well, so I just thought I would try to stay between 7:30 and 8s.  That should get me in below 1:45 I figured, and we would just see how fast I could do.  I felt great, and just tried to keep an even pace.  It was just really beautiful running through this area.  I recognized it from the Horsey Hundred.  Running by the horse farms was fabulous.  They loved us.  There were points when the horses ran along with us, inside their fences.  At the first turn around, I could see that I was around 20 ladies back.  I got passed by one lady heading back towards midway, but I felt like my pace was holding ok.  It was nice to be able to see my friends out on the course too.  I hit the halfway point in around 50 minutes, just a little over.  I really felt like I could hold onto the pace too, depending on what the second half of the race would have in store.  I wasn't on PR pace, but since I haven't had a PR at this distance in over 2 years, I was still on pace to have a really great time.  I also felt like the downhill portions let me speed up while recovering my legs.  I felt like I could push on the uphills because of the downhills.  On the second half, I felt like there was this huge downhill on the way out of town.  I was worried a bit about having to run back up into the city, and felt like I needed to save a little.  However, it was great running through the city.  There was tons of crowd support.  I saw an ambulance ahead.  It was the one I rode in, driven by the paramedic that tended to me on the side of the road.  I waved, but I don't think he recognized me.  I had thought on my drive out that maybe I should have worn the pink kit, but I was glad I went with the outfit that I did.  I was able to pass another lady who laid down on the side of the road.  That made me nervous.  I asked her if she was OK as I ran by and she said she was.  Thankfully, I saw her again running after the turn around.  I had one lady pass me on a downhill, and I was thinking that was probably a bad call on her end with the uphill ahead, and while it didn't seem as bad as I thought, I was still able to pass her.  I was able to have a really strong finish, and my official time was 1:40:45!  I was thrilled!  I haven't been this fast in over 2 years.  This was a minute faster than my fastest time last year, and close to a minute faster than my second fastest previous time from 2011, the year I ran my fastest time.

I must say I was a bit bummed to see that I was only 6th in my age group with such a stellar time.  What?  My age group is so dang hard!  What the heck! I was the 19th female, which meant my counting was about right.  This is a prime example how having a goal based on other people's performance is not always the best.  I was still thrilled with my performance.

Ron finished a few minutes after I did, and we went back to Darlin Jean's and the car for the camera. We got a few pictures, and I stocked up on Honey Stinger Waffles and a custom 13.1 sticker.  I didn't win a cool mug, so I bought a cup.  I should have bought one beforehand, because they were sold out of the ones that looked like the awards, but I got a slightly different style.  

I had to head back home pretty quickly since it was Sunday, and Ryan had a meeting before church at 11:30.  I was pretty confident that I could be home in time for this.  It was also the Primary Sacrament Program Sunday, which meant that my children had speaking parts in the service.  It's pretty much the best Sunday all year to hear the children, because they have generally written the parts themselves.   I arrived home just in time for Ryan to head out, and the kids were super happy to see me.  I had told Soren that I would bring him a poster, (we had gone to the train festival in La Grange on Saturday, and come home empty handed), so that was the first thing he asked to see. 

The medal for this race was awesome.  It is HUGE, and I love the logo.  They have the logo for next year already posted on their facebook page.  I must say, I am partial to this year's logo. 

There were so many positives to this race.  It was just beautiful.  The course was fantastic.  Seeing the horses and the pretty fall colors in the countryside was breathtaking.  It was a nice size.  I don't always need to do the huge races, and this was a nice middle ground.  The swag was great.  The shirts were gender specific, with the race logo on the front and no other logos.  I know I will wear this one.  It was quiet out there.  I like quiet.  It really helped me focus on my running and having a good race.  The medal was great, and they had ice cream at the finish!  There were only a couple things that I thought were missing.  The first was that I couldn't find any bagels or cookies at the finish.  They did have the Honey Stinger waffles, though, and those are amazing.  Also, I always carry my own nutrition on the course so it didn't affect me at all, but they didn't have a gel station on the course.  I would love to do this race again.  I think it would be fun to have some more friends doing it, but it was amazing that Carla came down, as well as Ron and Shawn.  If I have friends that want to do it again next year, then perhaps I will do it again.

Looking ahead, I won a free entry into the Detroit Marathon that is next weekend already, and chose to do the International Half Marathon.  I'm all signed up, and I just raced a great half marathon.  This week I did one hard cycling workout, because Iceman is my next really important race.  Detroit will be for fun, but I still want to do well.  I'll take Wednesday off, and then on Thursday, do a short run, and that will be it I think until Sunday so that I can rest up.  Hopefully that is enough rest.  Detroit is very high energy, and so I think even if I am going slow, I will still have a great time.  I love that race, it feels like coming home.  I'll have lots of support from friends out there.  My friend Anna and her mom always volunteer at the finish, and they are bringing Amy too!  Yay!  I am also officially registered for the LSC Half Marathon too.  Its going to be a busy fall for sure, but it should be a blast.  The LSC half is a week after Iceman, so I will likely do a similar plan for the week between them as I am this week, except I won't mountain bike, but maybe the time trial bike outside or a spin on the trainer.