Race Report : Run Woodstock 1/2 Marathon

After scaring my friends for life with the mental image of my t&a and making my first two hot-dogs of an embarrassing amount of processed food for the weekend, most of my group opted for bed as we were going out in the morning for the 1/2 marathon.

Sleeping in a tent alone was all kinds of creepy. The noises didn’t bother me too much, but the random flickers of headlamps kept waking me up. I did manage to stop thinking creatures were trying to sneak in though. Before I knew it, my alarm was going off and it was time to run 13.1. Well WALK 13.1.

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The ladies and I gathered and off we went into the wilderness. Except it wasn’t wilderness. Most of us were trying to “win” last place, but I quickly became the “winner” in that category. Luckily for my pride it was last of our group, turns out 3-4 people finished overall after me. The first 6 miles were crushed limestone, like the local Towpath. I won’t lie, I struggled a lot mentally and physically the first half of the race. My friends were just far enough ahead of me I could tell they were laughing, but I wasn’t able to keep up or hear. I tried to tell them I wanted them to stay with me, but they told me I’d be fine on my own. Unfortunately the surface was just similar enough to pavement that it wasn’t doing my leg any favors during the third consecutive weekend of moving it 13.1 miles. My heart and body hurt, but I realized just as they couldn’t expect me to keep up, I couldn’t expect them to slow down just to keep me company.

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The first mile was actual road then we turned off onto the limestone. Another few miles out before a turn around and then along the way back we entered the trail. With nearly 600 people entered into the event, it was probably a good move on the directors to adjust the course this way for force people to spread out. Along the way we crossed paths with several other distance runners as the different loops dipped in and out of each other. There were the 100 milers, 100K, 50K, marathon, half marathon and 5 miler runners. Also along the way we kept wondering why our miles felt so long, our pace only dropped about a minute per mile. Thankfully, the scenery was beautiful and the elevation was gentle. There was quite a bit of sand which was difficult to navigate and also caused a lot of blister related issues.

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An interesting thing about 13.1 miles is you are able to see what your personal strengths and weakness are and you’re able to see other people have their own ups and downs too. I really thrive on the trails, this is one reason I miss trail running so badly, I was good at it and I was on my way to getting better. I was slightly reminded of this as different members of our group slipped in and out of the lead (myself included). We all power hiked/ran together (my leg prefers trail surfaces and I was able to stretch at an aid station picnic table) and I can say this is a very runnable course. Under different circumstances this would have been an A+ game day for me.

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Nearing the end my body decided to try and shut down. Maybe not that dramatically, but it felt like it at the time. Over the duration of 4 hours and 15 minutes (yuck) we had maybe 3 aid stations despite the heat (I remembered to bring my own) and there were 0 bathrooms. You were told you could use the woods, but I didn’t see a good ducking in spot. By the end of it I was dehydrated, hungry, overheated and tired. I zombie-walked to the end. Picked up my medal and made my way to the bathroom.

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From 11:45 when I finished to 12:00 I used the bathroom, ate 1/2 a bagel and changed my shoes/socks. Then at 12:00 I joined the crowd for a 4 mile hike into town for lunch. Yep, immediately after my 13.1 miles I added another 4. What was I thinking? Ha! This is one of the reasons my group opted to walk the 1/2.

For simplicity’s sake I’ll summaries the rest of the day and then share some pictures.

The “Hike to Hell” was fun, I was able to zone out and not fear a time cut off. While in town we took pictures and waited for lunch. It started to rain so I cut back early, and wanted to do the hula-hooping anyway. Due to the rain I don’t have hooping pictures. I grabbed some lunch, worked my abs, and then met up with friends for Yoga and then tie-dying shirts. Finally it was nap time before heading out for the second natural run and spending the rest of the night by the fire with good company.

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Sunday I woke up in the back of my car (I was freezing and not prepared) and opted to skip the Sunday 5 miler. I wanted to do it because each time you did an event you were given a tiny button for your medal. If you did all 4 “extra” running events you were given a BIG button.

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It gives me something to look forward to next year I suppose. Besides I did a lot for someone still making a comeback! 23 miles in 24 hours! Yikes. No wonder my feet were swollen until Wednesday. Haha.  Sunday we all had some breakfast before heading home. It was a wonderful weekend and I can’t wait to head back next year!

Race Report : Virginia Beach Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon

Well folks I said I would never go back….and for two years I kept my word. Once again I attempted to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll VA Beach half marathon and on Sunday Sept 1, 2013 I completed my 25th official half marathon. I can honestly say it has not gotten old and each and every finish is special. Two of my friends went with me, one completing his 2nd half the other completing his first half a day before turning 31.

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The whole weekend wasn’t easy for me. The drive down was long (as was to be expected) and my friend did most of the driving, as a way to be nice probably. Unfortunately I become ill and do not travel well unless I’m driving. This was also a concern because if I had driven my leg would have given out on me and I wouldn’t be able to run. Really I was screwed either way. Friday night we arrived in enough time to unpack sleeping equipment and curl up to sleep. I didn’t even make it to the couch, I slept on the floor.

Saturday I was MASSIVELY pouting because I missed John Bingham’s presentation. Technically we could have made it, but my friends didn’t feel like rushing to get to the EXPO early. Not cool. Oh well. When we arrived I started to have flashbacks to my last trip there and how uncomfortable I felt. It also didn’t help I have been dealing with my leg issues for over a year. I don’t feel like a “real” runner. I didn’t feel like I belonged and I was scared and nervous and embarrassed. I told the boys how I felt, but they seemed to blow it off. Then there was a mis-communication about sticking together and when I realized I was alone I couldn’t hold back the tears. Knowing how stupid I looked only made me cry and panic more. When I finally found them I couldn’t get the words out for WHY I was upset and one of my friends became very upset and yelled/cursed at me. Not a good way to start the day. I was able to get a stuffed cow from Chick-fil-a, take a cool REFUEL picture, “win” a new towel designed to stay cooler longer and visit a few other fun booths. The fun photo op booths I couldn’t do because I wore a green shirt and would blend into the green screen! oops!

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After the EXPO we walked around downtown Norfolk and grabbed some dinner. I was super nervous and distracted the whole afternoon because I didn’t know what race day would bring.

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RACE DAY

Race day I was up and bouncy way more than I expected to be for 4 AM. Yes FOUR FREAKING A IN THE MORNING M. I think like with Moebius, accepting I didn’t know my fate helped me to let go of the pressure. We were out the door and driving to the parking area in no time. Although the boys didn’t sleep well and were all over the place not being seasoned running professionals like myself. HA! Right?!

We found the field and parked with moments to spare before the cut off for the buses to take us to the starting line. I used the potty and we climbed onto the bus. A short 20 minute commute later we were there and giving drop bags to crew. I was excited to know when I saw that bag again it was bathing suit and beach time! I applied extra sunscreen to myself and ran off to use the bathroom again. I couldn’t believe how many people were there! Well, maybe I could as I had seen it before…but still! Yikes!

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I was excited to see my friend Toni, who was also running the race and I was playing phone tag with all weekend. Wouldn’t you know it though, I found myself stuck in a massive potty line and missed her. Boo.

After potty time I found the boys again and we took a quick “before” shot to prove there was a time we all still loved each other. JK.

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Then it was time to decide. Do I start with my assigned corral? Do I start with the walkers? I opted to line up with the 2:45 pace bunnies.

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The race started and I managed to keep an even pace with the bunnies until the 5K mark. I was fully prepared to duck out at the 5K mark, call it a day and build a sandcastle. Then on the opposite side of the road from the 5K turn was a sign and on it was the message “There will be a day when you can no longer do this…today is not that day”. Luckily I was wearing my sunglasses, because this made me tear up hard core.

I knew it wouldn’t be the BEST performance, in fact I didn’t even know if I would complete the event. I knew I could do more than the 5K though and I knew tomorrow isn’t promised, so I kept running and walking. I finished the 5K portion in about 38 minutes.

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In my careless morning efforts, I had only eaten a yogurt as fuel. I can’t process GU so I was worried how I would deal out on the course. By other stroke of luck they were serving lemon-lime Gatorade…one of the very few sports drinks I can drink! I drank 1-2 cups at the stations for my calorie boost. The first time was at mile 3.5 or 4 ish. I found although I wasn’t sick, I also wasn’t able to make it settle at first so I was forced to walk.

A quick stop at the med tent at mile 5 for a massage (hurts so good) and a bathroom break and I was a new woman. I ran to mile 6 and up to the 10K mark. I finished this section around 1:30:00. I was happy when I realized running 3 miles took about 40 minutes and walk/running took 50 so I wasn’t slowing down too badly.

After the 10K mark and as I approached mile 7 I couldn’t find my oomph anymore. Although the friendly neighborhood gorilla did put a smile back on my face.

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Maybe it was my leg or being on pavement? More than likely it was lack of nutrition. It was around this point I met Jennie.

Jennie randomly began talking to me along the course and had been doing interval running. We were hitting it off and decided we both walked faster together and neither of us wanted to run anymore. We talked and enjoyed the next 5-6 miles of the course. One of my highlights was entering the camp/military base (roughly miles 8-10) and telling her they were terribly boring and soul-sucking miles so be careful. A woman passing by on the left laughed and told me everyone thinks that about this section. She looked a lot like Yoga Jones from OITNB.

The last few miles were rough physically, but when we knew we made it to boardwalk we could see the ocean and we knew it was over. She told me she couldn’t have done it without me. I told her the same thing applied to me.

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I finished my 25th half marathon in 3 hours and 34 minutes and with a new friend.

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Every race is different and for me it’s always better when you can share the experience with someone else. I still don’t feel like a “real” runner, but I’m getting used to this walking thing and if it gets me out there, it’s better than sitting at home and pouting.

After the race I promptly walked down the sand and into the water where I sat down fully dressed (sans shoes of course). I spent a glorious 15-20 minutes in the water before the boys made me leave. So I STILL have not been able to go to a beach and relax and enjoy it, but at least I was able to spend time in the water this time around. I couldn’t have swam anyway, I was so tired I would have drowned for sure!

PS. Word of advice, the ocean is salty.

Race Report : Hemophilia 5k Superhero Run

I knew I was going to run in the Hemophilia 5k Superhero Run over the weekend, but I just never really got around to talking about it. In a way it is an unexpected 5k, although it was totally expected.

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My friend Laura from work (she was an intern for the past year) knew I liked to run and invited me to be a part of her team, “Mikey’s Team”. Her younger brother has the condition and her Mom was recently elected to the local board, so they were doing their best to raise awareness and funds at this year’s walk/run fundraiser. Here is a snippet of the lovely email she sent inviting people to join her team:

Many of you don’t know my little brother was born with a condition called hemophilia. Hemophilia is an inherited disease that keeps your blood from clotting and requires an IV infusion of Factor 8 (what’s missing in their blood) to stop internal and external bleeding of even minor scrapes and bruises. This condition can be severe or mild, but either way, it’s life altering. Though my brother Michael is a mild hemophiliac, we have had to keep a close eye on every bump and bruise since he was born. He is unable to play contact sports and has to travel long distances and to doctors appointments with medication just to be safe. Having experienced this less traumatic situation with Mikey, we can only imagine what other families go through just to keep their family members with severe hemophilia alive. The medication needed for this condition ranges in the thousands on a daily basis.

Each entry was about $25 and their goal was to raise at least $2000, with over 100 people attending for her her, we raised over $2500! Her family donated the money on our behalf so we were able to participate for free. A number I like to hear! And we were given team shirts, and I’m a sucker for a matching event.

The race was held at Sunny Lake Park in Aurora, the same place I have been training for the Moebius-Green Monster Trail race for next weekend. It’s an underutilized area for sure. We had beautiful weather and used the paved path around the lake. Runners did about two laps to reach the 3.1 mile goal.

I was up and ready in my “superhero” getup.  I didn’t realize until the night before we could dress up or I would have been much better prepared.

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Once at the race very few people were as “homemade” as I was and I didn’t want to leave the car. Eventually I did though and the kids loved me! The adults I think were a little apprehensive.

After meeting up with Laura and crew I put on my shirt and re-pinned my towel.  With barely minutes to spare I lined up with the small but mighty crowd of runners. FAR more people were there for the 2 mile walk an hour later.

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The course itself wasn’t too terrible. My quads hurt a lot from Zumba the night before and from a lack of road training. Lack of road training also meant numb feet from hitting a hard surface repeatedly. Loved my Saucony’s though! Very good shoes. It also didn’t help I had a bath towel pinned to my body, trapping any and all heat against my back. I was a hot and sore mess by the end of it all.

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Official results have not been posted yet, but my own watch and phone app said I finished just under 38 minutes. One of the slowest 5k’s I have done in a long long long time. There were a ton of factors playing into it though…and I tried to simply be thankful I was out there and I was running.

Hoping and planning to do it again next year and maybe I can get some of my friends to join in too?