Friday, October 30, 2009

Races and Race Reports

What could be better than swimming, biking and running through some of this country's most gorgeous wine country? Why, eating and drinking your way through wine country with great friends too! Time to plan your summer vacation with a little 70.3 thrown in for good measure. Sign ups for Vineman open this Sunday at midnight (is that 11pm or 1am with the time change???)

Jen C and I have been scheming and this is what we've come up with:

  • We have a couple of ideas on houses to rent in the area, all that would accomodate 6-10, and all have a pool.

  • Jen has her professional chef friends lined up to prepare an awesome post race meal, complete with wine pairings!

  • We were also thinking of organizing a little barrel tasting too (can you say carb load???)

  • Thank you Molly for offering to be our sherpa and cheerleader extraordinaire! She's done this race twice so she knows how this whole point to point thing works. Yey Molly!

Race day is July 18th. I figure we'd need the house from Friday, July 16th to Monday the 19th. Let me know if you're in and I'll get working on it. Ideally I'd like to keep that cost down to about $100/night per person. If we have fewer than 6 we MIGHT be able to just horn in at my in-laws house which is just 20 mins from the race start, and 5 mins from the race finish, but I have to clear that with them. The chef's meal would run about $75 (that includes wine!) Who's in???

On a less fun note, I guess I need to talk/blog about the Marine Corps Marathon. For all my chatting about getting faster, I didn't deliver. I posted a disappointing 4:55, 4 mins off my current best time. It was a beautiful day for the run. You couldn't ask for better weather--sunny skies, breezy, and about 60 degrees. I was able to make it to the race start in plenty of time, and seeded myself in the 4:30 to 5:00 time corral. I looked all around for my high school friend's husband and he found me just after the gun. I was so glad to have someone to run with! Thank you Tony for the company. The first few miles went by really quickly, with the first hill up Lee Hwy and then down Spout Run. 30,000 is a lot of running company, and it was very crowded (yet only 21,000 finish). There was a lot of people dodging and maneuvering.

Running up Canal Road was beautiful and shady. We made it up the second hill to the reservoir fine and I took in my first gu at the 7 mile point. The downhill back into Georgetown was steep! I knew we'd fly down it, but kept in mind that such steep hills make for owie legs later on (thank you IMLP for that lesson). Lots of crowd support all the way down M Street, and then another downhill and around to the Kennedy Center. This part of the run is familiar since it follows roughly the same path as the Army 10 Miler. Joe was hoping to be at the Lincoln Memorial around mile 11, but didn't make it. There were TONS of spectators around there, which really helped, and I doubt I could've found him in the crowd anyways.

Then came the flat flat flat portion of the race out to Hains Point and back. Nice views along the Potomac and more shade. Aaah. Around the corner, beep beep over the 1/2 way timing mat. At this point I was hanging in there with the 4:30 pace group and doing ok but then I lost Tony at a water stop. And between here and mile 16, the wheels came off the bus. Maybe I should blame that Russian dude that started running with me and chatting up a storm (see pic below and can you believe his name was Boris?). He had been a professional volleyball player in Russia, moved to the US and took up beach volleyball, and now was getting into IM training. He seemed nice enough, but just kept talking my ear off. I wasn't sorry to lose him at a water stop. I knew these miles coming up (18-20) would be the toughest since you loop out to the Capitol and back along the Mall and didn't want to talk about how he should train for Ironman Nice.

At mile 18 I checked my phone and sure enough Joe had texted that he and the kids were waiting for me at mile 22. Not close enough! I found Tony again, poor guy was massaging out cramps just before the Capitol turn around. I asked if he wanted me to stick around and he said to keep going! I finally made it to the 14th Street Bridge and knew if I could make it to Joe, I'd be ok. That bridge is long. It's the last 2 miles of the A10M course, so I know the feeling well of running running running (along a freeway, no less) feeling like you'll never get to the Pentagon. The guy dressed as the Grim Reaper had it somewhat right: he was holding up a huge sign that said "THE END IS NEAR" which 22 miles in is technically correct, but it still feels impossibly far. I was so glad getting off that ramp into Pentagon City, and then saw Joey looking out for me! Yey.

I hit my goal time of 4:30 at the 24 mile point. For a few moments I did consider just stopping at that point. I had just seen my family (for the first time during the race) and the car and hotel were just behind me. Ahead lay 2.2 more miles of pain and frustration. Luckily the handsome young Marine with a bullhorn started talking to ME ("Hey, Ironwoman, get your ass moving! Just 2 more miles!" was about what he was saying) and motivated me to finish it up. I did find Tony again (he must've passed me as I was in the Cosi bathroom at the turn around at mile 23), and he used the phone to call his wife to let her know his expected finish time. He urged me to run it in if I could, so I took off, cranked up the ipod and tried to ignore my legs.

Coming up the final hill to the Iwo Jima memorial was bittersweet. Tons of spectators, lots of young marines, all cheering you up the hill (it's a steep one!). You can't let them down and not RUN up it. Ow ow ow. And whew, the finish line. The medals they give you are impressive--big hunks of metal of the globe, anchor, and eagle. I immediately called first Joe to say "come get me!" and Jen to weep into the phone, and tell her I finished...but.

I have been training for long distance racing for over a year and a half--I started training for IMFL in May of '08. That's a long time to be devoted to distance training, with no emphasis on speed. In talking with Jen H, we agree that my goal time is in me, somewhere. I need this coming year to see if I can translate my improved shorter distance PRs (Shamrock and the Army10Miler) into more consistent speed. Until then, I need to keep ahead of Joe. He's thrown down a challenge that he'll beat me in the Turkey Trot this year. I'll give him a run for his money!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Conquering the Red Baron?

In January I blogged about a rare run with my husband (read it again here). Back then I wasn't able to keep up with his pace--which is usually right around an 8 minute mile. My husband has the gift of natural speed. Here's a guy whose dad--who started running when he was 45--has run over 20 marathons, including Boston. Joe ran his first (and possibly his last...) marathon the year he turned 40. He found a training plan online and ran it almost to the letter, cranking out a 4:05 marathon. This was before I started the ironman journey and now I keep wondering how he'd do with a little coaching, some track workouts, and a better nutrition plan... Running with Joe was a lesson in humility about how slow I was, and that day in January I was left cursing him with raised fist, much like Snoopy at the Red Baron.

Yesterday we ran together, my regular 4.5 mi loop. Sophie pulled me along as usual, but where I'd normally reign her back with a strict "NO PULL!" I was keeping up with her just fine. And I was also keeping up with Joe. He might have slowed down a bit since his marathon training year since he hasn't been running as regularly, but he's still pretty quick. And yesterday was the culmination of the biggest running milage week for me EVER--almost 40 miles of pounding the pavement. And I did that loop in about 40 minutes and could've kept going!

I'm liking this new running pace. I'm sure at some point I'll still get my ass kicked by Lynnie, since she's getting better and stronger every day. But you know what? I'm thinking this 4:30 marathon thing is in my reach. Now all I need is a trio of farm animals to boogie with at mile 20!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Morning Run with Sophie

This video is a little wobbly, so I apologize in advance. Hopefully you won't get too woozy watching it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Madness

Here we are already half way through October, with the end of the year in sight. I have one more "A" race this year, and it's now just two weeks away! This week is my last big running week before the Marine Corps Marathon on the 25th, time to start believing! In TP, Jen has instructed me to start "thinking PR!" So that is what I will do.

The Army 10 Miler on October 4th was fun, even though I ran it with no one to find me at the finish line. I can't believe I pr'd, and by 10 minutes!! I was hoping for anything less than a 1:35, and I came in at 1:31:48. If only I hadn't stopped so long a the water stop at Mile 2...

That was a beautiful morning for a race--at the start it was about 60 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. I had a fun evening the night before with my friend Heidi, shopping for wedding jewelry and then dinner at a Thai restaurant. Pre race I had my normal breakfast and coffee, and ate my clif bar just before walking to the start. I was early (unlike the Rock n' Roll half that started at 7am, not 7:30...ooops), and I hung out in my corral and watched the paratroopers drop out of the plane. Some guy behind me noticed my tattoo and asked which Ironman I had done. He then just wouldn't stop talking! I was glad for the start of the race so I could move away from him and hopefully lose him in the 30,000 people running. He found me at mile 2 while I was trying to down a gu. Ack!

I hit mile 5 and took stock--I was just at 45 minutes, and half way through the race. I realized I could, if I just maintained my pace, come in close to 1:30 so that became my focus. Don't slow down...steady... I didn't walk through any more water stops. At mile 7 I passed this kid, and commented to another woman that we couldn't let an 8 year old kick our ass. The kid piped up that he was 10! At the turn onto the 14th street bridge at mile 8, I took in my last gu, downed some water, and bucked up for the last 2 miles which are the worst! Running on a freeway, with no shade, and tormenting signs saying "Pentagon 1/2 mile" when you feel like you've run an extra 12 miles. I had been hitting my watch at every mile marker and at mile 9 it felt like I had no gas left, but I got it done in 8:50! Bonus! I sprinted in and just knew I nailed that run. Whew!

This weekend was more travel, down to Naples FL for my dear friend Heidi's wedding. Some pictures:
The Bridesmaids

The Bride and Maid of Honor--little ows on wedding morning

The Bride and her attendants

Post Wedding Fun

Live Sand Dollars!

Many congratulations to my friends who finished Kona--I am in awe! I am so so so happy for my friends Fave and IronGreg who got engaged this weekend. I also send lots of love out to dear Julia this week.