Friday, February 22, 2013

Myrtle Beach/Lost Dutchman Part 2

The marathon started at 6:30am, we were staying 30 minutes from the start, equals an early alarm. The start was across the street from a corner of the Broadway at the Beach Complex.

 The course is a huge skinny rectangle that parallels the shoreline and starts at the same time and follows most of the same course with the half marathoners.

Gratuitous beach shot that you could only see
snippets of from the race course

Also not on the course but nearish

Gratuitous palm tree photo

Just after where the halfers had turned to head to the finish line

Me in the gray shirt from Route 66 Marathon,
note the sleezy motels as far as the eye can see
This race went generally better than the indoor one that was about 1 month before, with regular gel intake for fueling, and more importantly, no gasteroenteritis afterwards!

Finish in just under 4 hours and 40 minutes!
 Our view from the walk back from the baseball stadium where the finish was to our car parked across the street at the Broadway at the Beach Complex.

Note the budding trees in mid-February

Upside down building at Broadway at the Beach
Our flight left Myrtle Beach, SC airport at 4pm and so we had about 2-3 hours to shower, eat at Cracker Barrel, return the rental car, and get past security. Our flight left on time and we even ran into fellow Marathon Maniacs/50 Staters from the race. Including World Record Holder Larry Macon, partially my inspiration for the crazy weekend. Kicking myself for not getting a picture with him!

Up next: Myrtle Beach/Lost Dutchman Double Marathon Weekend Part III

Myrtle Beach/Lost Dutchman Double Part 1

After registering for the Lost Dutchman Marathon and then finding out the Myrtle Beach Marathon was the same weekend, I began devising a double marathon weekend. First looking at flights to evaluate logistics, then proceeding after finding reasonable flights at reasonable times.

We flew to Myrtle Beach, SC via Charlotte, NC the day before the marathon (Friday 2/15) and was on the ground with our rental car by 1pm to the Expo a whopping 6 miles away. After getting race swag for both the Friday night 5k and the marathon, we headed out after touching base with a fellow Marathon Maniac who was also the RD (race director) for the 5k race. We went to PF Changs in a new nearby outdoor shopping area for a late lunch/early dinner because of the time of HH needing to be available to volunteer and the time of the 5k, which started at 7pm. It sounded good and both of us had not eaten at one for several years.

3 Local News Stations covering the 5k race start


Part of the Broadway at the Beach complex

Sunset just before the 5k start
Cadre of 5k packet pickup volunteers,
with me there in green for moral support

Me in the green long sleeve
 just before the start

Now, I have not run a 5k race in several years. When you run a lot of marathons you get cheap with your race money and prefer to spend $60 on 26.2 miles instead of $30 on only 5k (3.1 miles). Just like with the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon, HH and I have both continued to work 60-70 hour work weeks, week after week, leaving little time for actual physical exercise (I know, I know). So I was unsure of how both races would shake out. I ran without my GPS watch and just went by feel, ending up finishing right at about 25 minutes, compared to the 21-22 minute 5k cross country races from high school and college. Finisher medals were mini versions of the marathon finisher medal.

Marathon on the left, 5k on the right

Me in green crossing the finish line!
We stayed at my Marathon Maniac's friend's house that lived on the edge of town and before we knew it we were up for the marathon the next morning.

Up next: Part II The Myrtle Beach Marathon

Icebreaker Indoor Marathon 2013 Edition 1/20/13

There are not many marathons or ultras that I have repeated, but this is one of them out of convenience (close to home) and being in the middle of winter when there is not a whole lot going on with marathons. The only other repeat that I recall has been the Holiday Lake 50 in Virginia.

I went into this race having a monthly running average around 10-15 miles. So pretty much not trained at all for this. There is a reason for this, and the answer is not injury. HH and I have been working 60-70 hour weeks for the last few months to save up to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail this year.

Marathon Maniacs photo just before the start
Lined up at the startline on the backside of the track

This marathon is 96 laps around the outside running lanes at the Pettit National Ice Center (Apolo Anton Ohno trained here for a bit back in the day).

They also had a 50k (31 miles) speed skating race that went on during part of the marathon and the winner finished in about 90 minutes. I finished the marathon (26.2 miles) running in 4:44-ish.

50k racers
I got lazy about fueling and felt very sluggish for the middle 1/3 of the race, although I recall doing the same thing last year.

I was glad to finish and enjoyed the running shoe shaped sugar cookies that were repeats from last year. I proceeded to spend the evening at home with gastroenteritis (what many people mistakenly call the stomach flu, which is a virus but not inFLUenza). I thought I was initially feeling bad due to electrolyte imbalance and due to being so out of marathoning shape. Turns out I was wrong, and I likely got it at work due to sloppy hand washing.

-Wash your hands well
-Do not get lazy with fueling during long runs.

Next up: Myrtle Beach/Lost Dutchman Double Marathon Weekend.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

End of the World as we know it!

End of the World Marathon
Day after the End of the World Marathon
Humble, TX (the H is silent we learned)
Dec 21, 2012 and Dec 22, 2012

This really just turned into a weekend in the sun as my 2nd cold of the winter was hanging on tight. The first day I made it part way into the 3rd "loop" of 4 and decided to head back to the start/finish line to DNF. My thoughts were that it wasn't worth it to end up in the ER or having an issue somewhere on the course, and not worth it to become more sick due to participating in the marathon.

We earned some sunburns, enjoyed the vitamin d exposure, but hated the design of the roads and freeways in the area. We enjoyed the company tremendously of fellow marathon maniacs, 50 staters, and mega-marathoners (including 5 people that have done >100 marathons this year!). The race was a bit of a who's who in American marathoning, but not in terms of speed but rather in volume of races.

The course was this abandoned feeling lot including condos in various stages of completion, complete with the packet pick up condo having moderate water damage as noted by HH. They had fun signs along the course, including "pre's car" near an abandoned car frame, "dehydrated quick sand" near a sandy section, and "alien trip wire" in a section with some tall grass.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Hienten

Photo Credit: Glen Anderson

Back side of the sign that my dad had made
for the Fox Cities Marathon Sept 2012

Next up: Icebreaker Indoor Marathon in the Milwaukee suburbs, 96 laps in the Pettit Ice Center in the heart of a mid-west winter

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Katrina Story Part II

I was feeling motivated to continue my Katrina story in light of hearing about all things Sandy going on  in NYC and NJ right now. Part 1 of my Katrina story can be found here.

I am thrilled to see the rave reviews in the news of how FEMA has been handling things this time around when compared with with Katrina. I am always a little puzzled though when people are in a mandatory evacuation area and yet a few days after the storm are complaining about the government not providing enough food/water/electricity/etc. Umm, mandatory evacuation area. There just must be something about the human condition where we must re-learn the same lessons learned over and over again. Great story on NPR today about the garbage situation in NYC, I recall the large pile of garbage bags on our front lawn in New Orleans for weeks and recall that pickup began again in October, about 5 weeks or so after the storm hit.

The story left off that we had just evacuated from the hospital on Tuesday (the storm hit very early Monday morning) in New Orleans and had driven approx. 1 hour West to Baton Rouge, crashing at one of the ER MD's parents house. We took turns taking showers and calling family. I had someone at my house, I recall perhaps this was my sister, get on the interwebs right away and book a one way plane ticket from Baton Rouge to Seattle. Not knowing when the hospital may open and when life would return back to normal, I figured I could hangout in Seattle to wait for what was next. The return ticket was on the order of about $400 and was surprisingly for Thursday, 2 days away. Right after the phone call and a shower, I crashed hard on the bed in the spare bedroom for a several hour nap. We tried to watch some of the news on the TV, we were shocked at what we were seeing, but the group was not too into focusing on the TV and we didn't watch it for any length of time. After dinner, we headed next door for overflow sleeping area at the neighbors and while the kids slept in their parents bed with them, they allowed us to sleep in the kids beds. I will always remember the lady of the household setting us up with a carafe of coffee in an insulated container up in the kids play room so that we may have some once we got up. She said "I never want anyone to see me before I have had a cup of coffee."

We all felt guilty for leaving the hospital, and so on Wednesday, we had heard there was a makeshift hospital set up inside a large gym at LSU in town, so we headed there to volunteer for the day. Most of us were in the "ER section" where patients that were being evacuated from New Orleans, both private homes and hospitals and being flown in helicopters or driven in ambulances there for evaluation and then to rebook them a hospital room somewhere else in the state. There was a line of ambulances bringing patients there, and luckily an even longer line available to transfer patients to new hospitals. There were every private company of ambulances there along with helicopters landing in the adjacent field frequently. The entire setup was like a one floor hospital, with the main difference is that in disaster medical triage they will also have a black area for patients that will imminently die and/or are beyond any resources that we would have. As far as I know, they had 0-1 person over there the day we were there. The setup was run by the Public Health Corps and they were dressed in khaki uniforms that made them look like military personnel. We got armbands to show that we could administer medications after showing our medical licenses, however they had very limited medications. The ER MD whose parents we were staying with, volunteered to be in charge of the medical surgical area. Once it was decided by volunteer physicians that the patient needed to have continued or new hospitalization, then they would fill out a little slip of paper and bring it to a central desk where they had people calling hospitals to find an admitting physician and an available bed.

The most interesting thing here was there were 3-4 physicians to every RN in the whole place. So a patient would come in, they would all rattle off orders with almost no-one around to execute those orders. We had very little ancillary services so we couldn't execute most of their orders, but it was just a weird situation and opposite of staffing ratios in the hospitals. I did end up meeting a radiologist that lived a half a block away from me in New Orleans during volunteering, although I never talked to her or saw her again after that one day.

We had patients repeatedly ask to go home, and upon questioning finding out they lived in very hard hit areas where most homes had water up to the rafters. They were certainly in a bit of shock as they didn't listen to us when we told them that they would not be able to go home anytime soon. The day sped by and we headed home mid-afternoon, still uncertain of our own futures just as much as our patient's that day were.

My flight was to leave the next morning (Thursday, Katrina was early Monday morning) and I got a ride from one of my co-workers there. Sitting at the gate in a small regional airport, I chatted with a couple sitting nearby. They had evacuated from New Orleans East after walking from their flooded home to the elevated interstate from where they were evacuated from. The husband had recently had some type of brain surgery and had an extensive crown of sutures still in place across the entire top of his head. They had no idea where they would go once the plane landed in Texas (I roughly recall it was either a Houston airport that the plane was going to or Dallas-Fort Worth). We boarded on time but sat on the tarmac for 2 hours with the pilot telling us that the air traffic controllers of this small airport were directing traffic for both the airport and all of New Orleans, and they were overwhelmed which was probably an overstatement. After a layover in an airport in Texas, I arrived late night in Seattle but luckily before the last ferry to the island, where my parents live. I had with me a small bag of some clothes and camping gear, the stuff that I had taken with me to the hospital for "3 days of supplies."

It is now Friday, and to kill time I went with my sister to the local coffee shop to get online to start changing all my mailing addresses, to file with FEMA, and to figure out what was next. Early afternoon I get a call from a co-worker that had started working at a regional hospital, the same hospital that I was supposed to start orientation at on Monday, the day Katrina made landfall. They had called on Saturday, 2 days before the storm to let me know that orientation was suspended until further notice.

In this call, my friend had spoke to the ER manager at this hospital and she had said that I could start working whenever I showed up and that we could do orientation in a few weeks. I spurred into action and could find a flight only to Houston as the closest airport. I could not find a rental car from any of the regional airports, but as luck would have it, I got ahold of a co-worker that was planning to drive from Houston to NOLA on Saturday but was willing to wait until my plane landed at 1pm. So, the trip was a go with less than 48 hours in Seattle, and I was headed back to New Orleans.

After easily getting through a checkpoint on the interstate just before entering Jefferson Parish, we stopped by my co-workers home. I was spooked in an empty neighborhood at night with no power. After a quick look around, we headed to hospital #2 where I would live and work the next few weeks. He picked up his daughter and they dropped me off. This was 5 days after Katrina made landfall.

The next 7-10 days was a blur of sharing a room with a co-worker in the same day surgery unit that was not being used, sleeping on a very comfortable bed. Working at night 8 hours from 11p-7a, getting paid around the clock by the hospital for "disaster pay," and eating bad hospital food. A few times in the morning when we got off work we headed out with the national guard in their big trucks to deliver water and MRE's to people still living in their homes. We got a lot of request for ice and formula, but we had neither. Each day we would hear about a CVS opening or a gas station and to stave off boredom we would drive there during the day to buy things and to just get out. A few times I rode along as a co-worker bought chew and cigarettes to hand out to national guard to say thanks for their service.

We took a few trips to co-workers homes during the day to help clean out fridges and tear out wet carpet. Our hospital badges were a magical key for us to get around the city and through check points. One day, we took a trip from Jefferson Parish to Orleans Parish (the "county" in which NOLA resides) to pick up my car from the parking garage at the hospital I was in during the storm, and to check on one of the nurses homes in uptown NOLA. I did not grow up around guns, and during the entire storm ordeal, there were a lot of guns around and that came out of the woodwork whenever we would leave the hospital. We even had to wear our ID badged in the hospital at all times as the national guard would make rounds in the hospital and we could be stopped even when going to/from the shower area.

After 10 days of a lot of people drinking alcohol off shift, suspension of general morals that people often describe happen in war torn areas, we were told that we needed to move out of the hospital. My co-worker lived nearby and had a spare bedroom and invited me to live with her. In hindsight, the house had had 6-8 inches of water from flooding in it and there was more mold growing in it every day. We were puzzled that we couldn't get the fridge smelling non-moldy despite copious amounts of bleach to wash down the insides. Turns out we were just living in a box of mold, and after I moved back to my own apartment, they needed to cut out a good 1-2 feet of drywall throughout the home.

Part III - Continued recovery and a hospital re-opens.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 10/7/12

The Lakefront Marathon was a repeat state for me but I signed up for it after going back and forth a little on it. But knowing that it was Kris Hendrich's last year as the RD combined with having received several recommendations from 50 Staters that it was a good one to do for Wisconsin. Getting to sleep in my own bed the night before and after the race was a bonus too.

Kris in the flourescant green at the start line

I was my weekend to work, but I was able to finaegle off until 3pm, in which I was then scheduled to work until 11p. Packet pick up was about 3 blocks from our apartment at MSOE's gym, but I was working during expo hours the first day and had HH pick it up for me.

Race start was at Grafton High School which is North of Milwaukee and the course is a point to point running to the lakefront near downtown Milwaukee at Veteran's Park.

Runners hanging out in the high school pre-race

USPS were transporting drop bags from the start to finish,
first time I have seen USPS involved in this type of thing usually it is UPS

This is how I look like from HH's height

View from my start spot, they also had a sign for under 2 hrs and 2 minutes,
the current world record for marathons, there was no-one in front of that sign

Marathon start under way
My goal would be to try to break 4 hours due to the flat course, being trained up, and cool weather but I was unable to get out of 2nd gear and choose instead to cruise through the course. It was very scenic, road closed to traffic on the right side of the road, peak fall colors. However, apparently due to people living in the neighborhoods complaining about people cheering during the race, there were very few access points for spectators. I just had HH stay home with plans to meet up at the finish. The course because of the lack of spectators was quite, boring. I never wear music anymore due to safety concerns, but this would have been a great race for music and/or a podcast.

The lowlight was overhearing the 4:20 pace group leader say "because it is cooler today, I am drinking less water and more gatorade today." This statement makes no sense at all as a person when it is warmer would try to drink more gatorade to make sure you were replenishing electrolytes at a fast enough pace, particularly if you were not using electrolyte capsules. I unfortunately spent many miles being simultaneous confused and very annoyed at pace group LEADER's statement that I vowed to cross the finish line before she did. I finished 4:17:05, pace of 9:49 minutes/mile, and beat her and her group by almost a minute.

The finisher medals were awesome, it was great they had chocolate milk in the finishers area and that the post race food was already pre-filled in a bag and it was easy to grab and go. I met HH and his brother at the finish line, we walked about 0.5 mile back to the car and was home and in a hot shower in minutes. I showed off my medal at work the next 2 days and gave a co-worker jokingly a hard time that my medal was bigger than the Chicago Marathon medal that took place the same day. I am still pretty new to my department and I feel that the medal help to tell the story of my adventures. Luckily, I got a few comments that they were inspired to start running again......along with people asking what place I finished in, and the distance of the marathon.....

Before too long I hope for all of them to know these things......

US Bank building looming over the park

Almost done!

Finisher area, the magical chocolate milk came from inside that tent!

Trying to escape the finisher area,
note chocolate milk held tightly in the left hand

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lake Tahoe Marathon Day #3 9/30/12

Since we had "picked" the restaurant for the group to eat at after the Day #1 marathon, then it was on Jennifer H. to pick Day #2's dinner spot. It was a little North of Stateline (where the casinos are located) in Zephyr's Cove and we met there separately at what looked from the outside to be a dive bar. They were a few minutes late due to driving past the place and having to circle back. They had found it in a travel magazine at the hotel/casino and it was billed as one of the oldest bar and grill in the area. Once seated, we got the story from Jennifer about her wallet. Turns out, other people were off in the woods using the restroom, due to the whole only 1 port a potty thing at the startline and a girl had found the money, credit cards, and her ID. Then, with the powers of Facebook, the girl sent a Facebook message, found out where she was staying and then dropped it off at the front desk of the hotel! Nothing missing. Jennifer had also suffered from achilles tendonitis (heel pain) pain from day #2 which made for a slower day for the last marathon on day 3.

Anywhoo, dinner was actually really good, the waitress was great, and we hatched plans to track down the 72 mile runners that had just started in South Lake Tahoe at 8pm for the "early" start, in order to cheer them on. However, as we approached the turn back up to the top of Heavenly where our hotel was, we turned left to go to bed early. We were caught by the others as they saw us turn, but it was worth it to get the extra sleep since the start line was 1 hour away on the far side of the lake.

Start line was at a park beach in Tahoe City, with the race starting at 7am. They had a bag piper playing at the start, and we saw the same guy again about 13 miles into the race on a scenic overlook.

The walkers who started 30 minutes before the runners almost needed an alternative start as the sprinklers had turned on throughout the park....luckily they turned off just in time, albeit making for a wet ground start in the grass for all.

Triple Marathoners

Last minute instructions at the start line,
note the tree as it was the official start line

As a slight reprieve from the first 2 days, the first 10 miles were mostly flat and mostly had an entire lane of the road closed for the runners. The other days we were primarily on the shoulder of the road and it got close a few times with both cars and bicyclists along the course. We hugged the lake as we headed south and were treated to being able to watch the full sunrise progression.

Flat at altitude
I'm in green, Jennifer in the blue tank
Now, HH's crewing skills ramped up a notch for this race with adaptation of a resupply messenger bag, as the race was on the left side of the rode and cars needed to park on the right side and then crew had to cross one lane of traffic to offer support.

Work bag turned crew support bag, like magic!
We picked up the half marathoners at, the halfway point, and from there to the finish the left lane was completely closed to traffic which was nice on those windy mountain roads. Then the hills set in, first once that was 1.3 miles long, the second passing Emerald Bay was "only" 0.5 miles long. Cumulative elevation gain for the course was 2,700ft!

Emerald Bay from HH's crew spot

Walking up the 0.5m hill,
I was a little winded while running
After the second big hill to inspiration point it was either downhill, flat, or a little uphill, and was all repeat terrain from the first 10k of the first day's marathon. We finished at Pope Beach (on the park's road) near the town of South Lake Tahoe and was treated to hot dogs from the city, water and gatorade from the race. Some people soaked again in the lake afterwards but it did not seem appealing and most in the group just sat at a picnic table socializing and telling stories.

Finished and in need of some sunglasses.
Marathon Maniac Photo
Hanging out with GREAT people, one of several reasons why I run
The real rockstar of the weekend was HH as my crew. He was super helpful in offering water/gatorade/pretzels on day 1 and 2 as there were only 4-5 aid stations each of those days. He also became a rockstar as he offered these things to all the Triple Marathoners that came by when he was in a particular crewing location. Once I had finished and sat down, he went to go cheer on those that he had helped the last few days. He got hugs from old ladies to thank him for his support, and one couple told him he had to come back next year to help with their attempt at the 72 mile race!

HH in his easy to spot shirt he wore to crew

Day 1 Emerald Bay to Spooner Lake (counter clockwise direction each race)
5:12:04 (11:55 min/mile)
44th/100 runners
1,700 ft of elevation gain

Day 2 Spooner Lake to Tahoe City
4:47:18 (10:58 min/mile)
42nd/111 runners
1,100 ft of elevation gain

Day 3 Tahoe City to Pope Beach
4:56:07 (11:18 min/mile)
2,700 ft of elevation gain

Next up, Lakefront Marathon, Milwaukee, WI 10/7/12
Repeat state, lifetime marathon or longer #48