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.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Black Mountain Madness Ride Recap

I think I alluded to something big happening this weekend, but since it was a really last minute trip, I didn't want to give too many details if it fell through.

Ryan had been planning this ride for a while.  It was a 70 mile ride that included a ride up to the top of Black Mountain, KY's highest point at over 4000ft of elevation.  Our initial plan was that we would go as a family, and I would be able to do touristy things with the kids while Ryan rode with friends.  We had booked a room in an really quaint hotel in Benham, KY, which has a rich coal mining history, the Benham Schoolhouse Inn.  There was also a coal mining museum, so we figured I could stay busy enough with the kids.  There was also a night 5K glow run on the Friday before.  However, as things got closer, it turned out that we didn't really knows anyone going.  So, this is where my parents came to the rescue.  They were thankfully available for the weekend, and I was able to do the ride as well.  When Ryan asked me if I wanted to ride, I for some reason thought the ride was 50 miles.  I figured I could make it through 50 miles since I had been riding a decent amount on the mountain bike on the road.  I had everything all lined up for my parents to come when I realized it was 70.  I told myself that I am generally ill prepared for my cycling events, so it should just be more of the same.  My running fitness is really great right now, and "they" say that 1 hour of running fitness translates into 3 hours of cycling fitness, so the fact that I can "comfortably" run for 2 hours made me feel more confident.  It was 70 miles, so that should take me around 4 hours, right?  I could do that.  Sure.  No problem.  Forget the fact that I hadn't ridden my tri bike since early September, and my longest ride before THAT was at Muncie, in mid July, and 56 miles.  70 miles is only 14 miles longer than that, so not a big increase.

We drove out to Cumberland, KY, and Benham was just minutes outside of it.  We found our hotel and it was super charming.  It was a former schoolhouse turned into a hotel.  The classrooms had been converted into the guest rooms.  The lockers still lined the hallways, and the gymnasium was now a banquet center that could handle events up to 250 people.  It was built in 1927, so it was a bit newer than the really cool elementary school that I went to from kindergarten through 5th grade, Emerson Elementary, but still a beautiful building.  Here is a photo of Emerson from Bing.  It was built in 1896, and I attended the school in 1986, when it turned 90.  I also felt the need to share this info with the lady who handled our check-in.  She was super friendly and very intrigued by my story, which I appreciated.  She was excited to learn that we were there for the ride, and asked if we were going to drive up there beforehand to check it out, because I think she thought we were a bit nuts for trying to bike up it, despite being incredibly sweet and friendly.

Here are some photos from the Benham Schoolhouse Inn.  The pictures from the website all lit up at Christmas look very cool.  We didn't take a picture of our guest room because it really wasn't all that exciting or different from any standard hotel room, except that it was an older building.

 This is a view of the hallway on the first floor. 
 The reading room
 Inside the reading room
There were not very many restaurants in the area for a good pre-ride meal.  We were debating on eating at the Applebee's in Cumberland (I have a long standing issue with the chain due to something odd happening nearly every time I have ever dined at one, regardless of location nationwide), or take our chances driving to Whitesburg, KY, about 30 minutes away, to eat at the Pine Mountain Grill.  We took a look at the menu and website, and it looked fine, and less of a gamble than eating at Applebee's.  I am so glad we decided to go this way.  While we drove up Pine Mountain and not Black Mountain, the views we saw were incredible!  Wow, these are real mountains.  The Appalachian Mountains are no joke!  We had been wanting to go to the Smoky Mountain National Forest for our upcoming fall break (OC schools), but were worried about the whole NPS system being shut down, and according to a friend who is there, the pull offs and parking areas for the scenic overlooks were blocked off!  It was really a  huge source of frustration for me because we have been unable to plan.   Sorry for the digression, but WOW!  These views going up Pine Mountain were fabulous!  I don't need to go to the Smoky Mountains anymore!  The sun was starting to set as we were driving, and we stopped several times to take pictures on little pull offs on the side of the road, and drove up to the start of the Pine Mountain Trail for some pictures too.  It was so beautiful.  Kentucky is so pretty, and I felt so blessed to be here and enjoy this with Ryan.  It also started to make me freak out about tomorrow's ride, since the hotel receptionist had said that Black Mountain was steeper/more treacherous than Pine Mountain.

We arrived at the Pine Mountain Grill and it was a good choice.  The funny thing about this place is that it contained the full range of attire.  There were ladies in formal wear (homecoming or a wedding?) and a guy in denim overalls.  We didn't have to wait long for a table for two, despite the parking lot being packed when we arrived.  They had a cute little country store in the front that we browsed while we waited.  It reminded me of the store at Three Cedars in MI.  Ryan and I were both able to get some grilled chicken and some carbs for dinner, plus a side salad from a salad bar.  We also opted to get dessert.  They had a maple blondie sundae that I just couldn't pass up.  I figured the ride tomorrow was going to hurt plenty bad, and that a dessert this evening wasn't going to make a big difference in the grand scheme of things, and that I had better just enjoy this meal.  It wasn't a huge scoop of ice cream, mostly just a large warm blondie with the maple cream on it.  It was worth it.  We headed back, and the sky was so clear that you could see an amazing amount of stars.  I feel like we live in the country in Oldham County compared to Detroit, but WOW, these stars were so bright, I felt like we were out in the desert somewhere.  Being up on the mountain, there weren't too many trees to block out the view either.  This evening alone was worth the trip, no matter how bad tomorrow's ride went.

The next morning, we got up at 6am, had breakfast with a couple other people who were riding, and then headed out to get ourselves registered.  It was a small ride, as expected based off the number of facebook likes for their posts.  Ryan found one guy from Louisville that he knew would be out here, and Susan, one of the Landsharks was here with a friend too.  Here we are before the ride.

It was a pretty straightforward route, two out and backs from the start/finish area, without many turns.  The first section was out for 23 miles, and then back to a sag stop, and then we had the climb.  The first section went pretty quickly.  We headed out mostly downhill and I stayed pretty much with Ryan and another lady until we stopped.  She didn't stop as long as we did.  Ryan needed to find a restroom and I wanted to refill water and I ate a honey stinger waffle and a GU.  The return trip was a bit harder.  I could tell that it was gradually uphill, but still not too bad.  I felt pretty good, but I struggled to stay with Ryan, dropped my chain at one point (and had an ambulance make sure I was really OK while fixing it, I should have asked for an alcohol wipe for my hands), and then Ryan followed me in to the stop back in Cumberland.  I ate my bonk breaker bar, used the bathroom, and tried to clean up my hands from dropping my chain.  We took a quick picture with this bear.  They had them all over the area, and some were decorated differently.  The one by the current school had cute handprints on it, and I really liked that one, but we didn't stop with either the car or the bikes there for a picture.

This was when it got really hard.  Ryan and I had discussed that we would not stay together on this part of the climb.  He was going for time, and had just signed up for a STRAVA account and wanted to get KOM on this climb.  Funny.  We stayed together for a very short amount of time.  I kept telling myself it was only 12 more miles, because once I got to the top, it was all downhill from there.  I was tired, and already using a bunch of my lower gears, so I was getting stressed.  I thought to myself, well, if I don't make it up, I can just turn around and go back early.  That was the nice thing about the out and back route.  It started with this gradual climb, and then the last 6 or so miles up to the top were just brutal.  It took me forever to do this.  I looked down and was going around 6 miles an hour.  Oh My!  It was going to take me an hour to get to the top at this rate!!!  The nice thing is that it wasn't crazy steep, just forever long, and there were a few flatish places on the sides, so I felt confident that if I stopped to take a break, I would be able to restart again.  At MMM last year, there were a couple sections that my chain dropped, and I couldn't get restarted once I fixed it because of the grade.  I think I took 3 breaks.  I didn't walk with my bike, just because it seemed dangerous to be walking my bike and when I was stopped, I was at least completely off the road and attempting to recover.  I felt a lot better for a few minutes when I took these breaks.  I went back and forth passing and then taking a break and being passed with a couple of guys.  I knew Ryan was at the top because I saw guys riding down.  It was like climbing in spin class but like for the whole class!  I would stand up for a few strokes, and then sit down.  It was the hardest ride I have ever done.  Oh, and did I mention that by bottom two gears wouldn't work?  My rear derailleur wouldn't let me stay in my 27 or my 28!  Crud!  I was worried if I messed with it myself, I would really mess things up and not be able to finish.  However, it was incredible once I got to the top.  I had Ryan waiting for me, and we were at the highest point in KY.  The ride organizers were up there, and we were at the Virginia state line with a scenic overlook.  It was awesome.  I felt so proud that I had done it. 

Then, we had the ride down.  Since I crashed on a descent in May, I really rode the brakes on the way down.  I probably need new pads now!   It was so much faster going down and up, and the hardest thing was just controlling my speed and bike.  My legs were toast, and I just didn't want to cramp up because I would have to actually pedal for about 5 miles or so to get through Benham and into Cumberland to the finish.  It was a lot easier than I thought.  Some kids on the side of the street commented on how fast I was going.  My total ride time (moving time) was 4:26, with about another hour of stopped time, between the sag stops, breaks, and photo ops.  Ryan and I were the first couple to the top, and I was the first female.  That felt pretty cool.  Ryan also scored some KOM awards on Strava, and I even got a QOM!  There was a lady who did a few segments faster than me, but I did the overall climb faster than her.  They had a lunch for us with pizza, pasta salad, breadsticks, and treats.  They had my favorite, iced sugar cookies, as well as Halloween candy.  They even had medals for us!  That was pretty cool because a lot of the cycling events don't give you anything for finishing.  My parents were waiting on us to return, so we didn't stay long, and got on the road fairly quickly.  I am super glad we did this.  The area seems a bit economically depressed, with lots of closed and vacant storefronts, so it was nice to be able to do a beautiful ride and help out their local economy.  It was a small ride, and I really felt like they did a great job keeping track of all of us via two way radios and I felt very safe the whole time.  The route was simple to follow and well marked, and cue sheets are provided.  I would definitely recommend this ride to anyone who is looking for a challenging climb.

On another note, when I was at the top of the Black Mountain, both Ryan and I got a couple incoming voicemails.  Cell service was spotty, and at the summit, my phone picked up two voicemails.  The first was from Warren, MI.  I had won the drawing I entered for the free Detroit Free Press Marathon race of my choice!  It is two weeks away, so I had figured they would be notifying people soon, and I also figured that not too many people had entered the contest since the end date was three weeks prior to the race, and they were giving away 55 spots!  I have until Tuesday to call them back and get registered.  I can pick the full marathon, half, or International Half.  I will be selecting the International half.  It is an amazing race with both the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit Windsor Tunnel.  It will be tight to fit this into my race schedule, so it will likely be for "fun", if I can actually run a race for fun.  It is a week after the Iron Horse, so that will be back to back 13.1s.  I've done this before, and it is tough, but it will at least help me keep my mileage up before the LSC half. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Update- Training and a bit more info on Boston

Wow, how did it get to be October already?  I LOVE fall!  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  There really isn't that much better than a nice run outside through pretty scenery.  I say this, however, my last two runs were not scenic at all.  Saturday was a big day for us.  We had our son's 5th birthday party, so I opted to forgo two different group run opportunities to run before Ryan's ride, and sleep.  Lame, totally lame.  Did I skip my workouts?  No, I did not.  I just skipped out on running with Oldham County Multisport at 7, and also running with the YMCA at Norton Commons group at 8.  Knowing that the party was going to stress me out and be a long day meant that I did not want to wake myself up early on purpose, and as long as the kids would sleep, I would let them.  They would need to be well rested.  What I did was go to the YMCA and run at 9:30am, indoors, on the treadmill, while Ryan rode outside.  Could I have gotten up early and be home by 9:30?  Sure, but school, work, and extra curriculars just wear me out, and I had been up early the past several Saturdays for training or racing reason.  Sometimes you just need to sleep, even if your workout isn't perfect, but you can still get it done.  I ran a quick 6 miles on the treadmill.  I did my long run of 10 miles last Thursday, outside. 

Then yesterday, I opted to ride my mountain bike on the road for my iceman training.  I rode out in Oldham County taking 329B to 1694, to 42, 393, to 146 into Crestwood, stopping at Time Warner Cable (we've had internet problems off and on for a week now), and then home for a total of 24 miles.  Goodness, that is hard.  There is a reason road bike and time trial bikes are made with skinny tires and stiff frames.  My mountain bike is heavy and squishy.  I made it, though.  Whew.  It was really a fabulous day for running.  When I got back, I ran a short 2 miles in my neighborhood.  Also not terribly scenic, but again, getting it done.  I did really get to enjoy the nice fall weather and the start of the leaves turning on my bike, though.  In fact, that was one of the only things that made this ride tolerable, as it is just so difficult to ride a bike like that on those hilly roads.  I did ride a little on a gravel shoulder and on some grated road under construction, so I appreciated my mountain bike on those sections, but the brand new section of 42 wasn't as noticeable as it would have been on my TT bike.  It was smooth like butter, and I could tell on the mountain bike, but not a huge difference. 

Keira had a cross country meet  yesterday, so she got to enjoy the pretty day.  It was a tad warm by race time, but she did great.  The kids received popsicles when they finished up.  I ran with her for part of it, in jeans, carrying my son, so my legs were trashed last night.  I think today will be a rest day, which is fine.  If you add up everything I did yesterday, it is about 2.5 workouts, and a lot for one day.  I have my long run tomorrow (outside!!!), and I am in taper mode for Iron Horse anyway.  Not the time to push, and I have a big ride on Saturday planned with Ryan.  I'll post more on that after the fact, because it is contingent on my parents coming into town to watch the kids, otherwise I am just going as a spectator.  Also, the weather will be a deciding factor too.  We are not signed up, so if the weather turns bad (which is shouldn't), I don't think we will ride.  That's what I love about running.  It isn't so dependent on the weather.  You can run in the rain just fine.  Riding, on the other hand, is much more difficult.

Now, back to the Boston update.  I posted last week that I got in.  I didn't elaborate on the circumstances.  I was in the final group to sign up, those people that met the requirement.  We had about 5 days to sign up, and then after that, registration would be closed and they would rank everyone by how much time they had beat their required time, and then make a new cut off time based on the entrants.  It is very scientific.  I am a math person, so it was causing a ton of stress.  By the end of the first day of registration, it was estimated that 7500 people had applied for what we thought was 5000 spots.  Using the assumption that the entrants' times were evenly distributed amongst the 0-5 minute range, the new cut off time would be 1:40.  I was 1:44, so for every additional registrant, it would raise that time.  By week end, the reports were up to approximately 8000.   That meant that if it was evenly distributed, I was out.  You'd need to be around 1:52 better.  What we didn't know was the shape of the distribution.  Would it be a normal distribution?  What was the mean and sigma value?  Would it be biased to the faster people because only the fast people submitted and the people with the slower times that beat it by only a second or so even be in that pool? 

I tried to not worry about it, since it was out of my control, but it was really hard to avoid thinking about it.  Thankfully, I got one of those rainbow loom things, and that kept me off the internet stressing about it and on youtube learning how to make bracelets!  I have made so many of them, and have even taught some of the neighbor's children to make them.  This is a small sampling of what I have made. 

I knew the announcement would be made on Wednesday, the 25th, but I didn't know when.  I figured it would not be at least until 10am EST, because all of the registration times started at that time.  I hoped it would be before 5pm, because that is when things needed to close.  Every noise my phone made stressed me out. Was it an email?  I was afraid to look during work because I didn't want to have a breakdown there, either way.  I was really unsure that I would get in.  I had been trying to be hopeful, but at the same time not be devastated if I didn't get in.  I got home from work and got online.  Surely people on facebook in my same boat would have heard or not heard.  I got the email around 1:30, and just cried.  I couldn't believe I was in.  6 seconds was the difference between my time and the new cut off time.  Talk about cutting it close!!!  You had to be faster than 1:38, and I was 1:44.  Wow!  I get to run the 2014 Boston Marathon on April 21st.  My birthday.  How often will that happen that 1, the race is on my birthday and 2, I am actually qualified.  I don't know, and I wanted to take advantage of it!  Yay!  Cristina is in, and I am excited that I finally get to run it with her.