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.

IMG_2846

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.

IMG_2850

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.

IMG_2855

IMG_2851

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.

1185031_10202030459028906_2096691962_n IMG_2852 IMG_2853

IMG_2856 IMG_2854

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.

IMG_2880

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.

IMG_2861 IMG_2862 IMG_2857 IMG_2858

IMG_2863 IMG_2864 IMG_2876 IMG_2866

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.

IMG_2879

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.

1274477_10151885846170786_1654081327_o

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!

IMG_2813 IMG_2817 2e23748d-c64b-4588-a24d-b22d007e493d

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.

IMAG1016 IMG_2823 IMG_2825 IMG_2826 IMG_2827 IMG_2818

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!

IMAG1018

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.

IMAG1019

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.

IMAG1022

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.

VA9

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.

IMAG1023

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.

VA10

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

VA1

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 : Moebius-Green Monster Trail 50K

This past Saturday I spent my second year at the third annual Moebius-Green Monster trail 50K. Those of you around for the long haul will remember the 2012 version of this race as the last REAL race I’ve done. I 2012 I was too damn prideful and insisted on finishing despite pain in my leg. Somehow I decided everyone would judge me and I would be an outcast if I dropped. Whatever. I ruined my hamstring, ITB and piriformis that day and I have regretted it deeply ever since. SIGH. So I went back in 2013, but not to redeem myself, not to finish what I started, I went back to spend time on the trails with my friends.

IMAG0999

Knowing I wasn’t “racing” lifted a HUGE weight from my shoulders. I woke up on time, left on time, and arrived on time. No joke. I chatted with a few friends and gathered my new shirt and number. The cool thing about the shirts? The RD bases the color off the previous winner’s color. How fun, right?

IMAG1004

We took off on time at 700 AM and I quickly fell behind the pack. Immediately I was freaking out and second guessing my decision. A few deep breaths later I was jogging along the trail enjoying my Saturday morning. Even if I was alone, I could still have fun and it was a loop course so I would soon see people. Plus Gale was meeting up with me in a little while! I kept a pace between 15-18 minutes for the first 5 miles of the loop. Including the half mile “detour” I took when I missed a flag. Oops. The last mile I was texting Gale for an ETA and didn’t keep up pace too well.

She said she was on her way so after completing about 6.7 miles, I plopped down and waited. To my surprise LOTS of other runners called it “quits” after 1 loop. All smiles they were waiting for friends and helping with the aid station.

IMAG1003

IMAG1007

Gale arrived and we took off on another loop of simply walking and hiding mystery animals along the trail. It was so nice to spend trail time with her and not a group where it feels like we’re always being separated from each other. It meant a lot to me to tell her how much she means to me and how scared I was when she thought she had her stroke. Of course it wasn’t all seriousness! There were M&Ms and fart jokes and plans for geo-caching!

IMAG1001

We walked the second loop (6.2 miles) in about 2.5 hours. We didn’t care at all. I called it “quits” after that and stayed around the aid station cheering on other runners. When all was said and done Gale and I took off to find 2 more geo-caches and then I help to tear down the main aid station. Mostly because I think the RD is a fun guy and I wish we were closer in age so we could be real friends. Haha. Yes, I know I’m a dork for writing that…deal with it.

IMAG1005

IMAG1006

I know some of you probably wish there was more to the story than what you just read. I’m glad there isn’t though. A few weeks ago I could barely walk one loop without terrible pain. This weekend I completed 13 miles without much difficulty and an easy recovery. I remembered what it meant to be out on the trails with the people you love. I went home feeling accomplished and looking forward to the coming weeks. Things I haven’t experienced in nearly a year. Sometimes events are about more than the numbers on the page at the end of the day.

IMAG1009

IMAG1008

A big congrats to everyone who started Saturday no matter what distance your race ended with, you were awesome! Love my trail running pals and looking forward to so many more miles with you all, even those who weren’t there and we run together in spirit!

Have a safe and happy week everyone. I have a minor sunburn to tend to and packing for my trip to Virginia Beach!