Monday, October 18, 2010

Mount Desert Island Marathon, Bar Harbor, Maine 10/17/10

State #11

Short Report

Peak fall colors, endless amazing views, cool sunny weather.

Full Report
I flew out of Charlottesville early Saturday morning to Portland Maine, connected in Charlotte. The flight left late out of Charlotte due to “cleaning” and thus my tight 3.25 hour window to get to the expo before it closed dwindled to 2.5 hours, the drive is 3 hrs 20 min. I figured I will get there and figure it out, maybe they would bring the race numbers to the pasta dinner, there was no race day pickup (although the morning of the race they were set up on the village green handing out numbers).

In the Portland airport I spotted a couple, with one of them wearing a Boston Marathon jacket on, I figured they were going to the race. Sure enough, 3 hours later we both pull into the expo 30 minutes after they close at the same exact time. The volunteers were kind enough to go and dig in their car for our numbers and race jackets. They were blaze orange wind jacket pullovers but mine was too big. Derek doesn’t know that he just acquired a new fall hiking jacket. 10/16 also marked my 2 year anniversary of dating Derek, so he called me with the power of Skype from Chile as I headed out of town, I almost never ever talk and drive, but I put it on speaker phone and made this slight exception.

Fall colors were EXPLODING this time of year. Amazing, gorgeous, continuous eye candy. Vibrant Yellow, Red, and Orange. Slight overcast and very, very windy on the drive up. Once I got my race number, I drove a short ways up highway 3 to my hotel, checked in, then drove to the local high school who was hosting the pasta dinner. Good and plentiful food, and I met a few more Marathon Maniacs, Maine Maine-iac and Dana, whose blog I read and is running 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money for South African AIDS orphans. To bed shortly after dinner.

Morning of the race the hotel set out breakfast earlier than they normally do, and thankfully their coffee was not too bad. It was cold outside, but the wind had died down and the sky was clear. I had time to kill, and the hotel wifi was pretty much not working, so I hopped in the car to check out the start in downtown Bar Harbor and turn in my drop bag so I could get a shower at the finish line.  A local cafĂ© was handing out free coffee and tea to runners, so I got a cup from them, it was very good. Headed back to the hotel to finish getting ready. Parked the car, milled about the start and chatted with other Marathon Maniacs. Also got to meet a 22 year old gal who was finishing her 50 states with the MDI marathon and she would now be the record holder for the youngest female 50 stater, friendly and humble girl. As I turned on my garmin, it flashed low battery, I didn’t even try to charge it last night, I guess I should have checked on that.  So I turned it off, and got to run the whole race with extra weight on my right wrist.

I was very chatty the first half and was on cloud 9 from all the amazing scenary. I told the runner next to me that there is no reason to be in a hurry today, it is just too nice out. I took several pictures and enjoyed the moment. I had no idea what my pace was until the finish line, I felt as if I was running slow. My finish time was 4:37 and I thought I was running in the 5 hour range. Much hillier course than in Chicago last week but the cooler temperatures made all the difference.

Towards the end, I sought out runners with green bib numbers, indicating they were first time marathoners and I tried to give them tips. I had also picked up several unopened Gu packets that had been dropped on the ground after the Gu handout spot just before mile 16.  I gave them out to the new marathoners to take again before the finish. I ran and chatted with a new marathoner that had spend the summer working trail crew in Baxter State Park. Another guy ran up to me and told me that he wished that he could get trained up so that he would have springy legs like I did this late in the race, he told me that he was hurting.  I lost him as I walked throught the next aid station to drink, and he briefly looked back to try to find me then turned around and kept running. About 2 miles out, I came up to a girl and started chatting with her, she had a green race number on and lived near Portland, Maine. As often happens, she got pulled along with me and my pace and in the last half mile she confessed that I had saved her and her race, that felt good to hear and ultimately made my race.

They had plentiful and tasty after race food available, I saw the RD taking out a full trash bag and told him what a great race with great scenary it was. Got a quick light massage in the school gym, then headed for the showers but did not have the patience to wait so I headed out to catch the shuttle back to the start. Ran into the Mainiacs that I had been chatting with at the end and we had an energetic conversation on the shuttle ride about marathons that we all liked and our upcoming races. Very neat people.

Bar Harbor downtown was inundated with European tourists from the 2 huge cruise ships moored just offshore and I decided to forgo playing tourist and headed straight to the car. I wished my stomach was ready for a big meal as there were several nice restaurants with lobster, and all manner of seafood on their menus. Next time, Bar Harbor, next time.

The less speedy 3.5 hour drive back to Portland was uneventful, steak dinner at Applebees near my hotel, and straight to bed. A massage Monday evening awaits me, courtesy of my 2 year anniversary gift. Thank you Derek and Maine for a great weekend.

Marine Corps Marathon in DC/VA in 2 weeks on Halloween!!!! Can’t wait.

P.S. When I got home I installed two coat racks for my race medals. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicago Marathon 10-10-10

OR At least the Eiffel Tower Runner Guy did not beat me

It took me several miles to figure out that I was in fact running a marathon in my 10th state on 10-10-10, however, I did not plan this out. I saw a runner with a shirt that said 10th marathon on 10-10-10, I started to chat with him and he said that he explicitly ran a few extra marathons to make sure he was running his 10th marathon (not 10th state) for Chicago. So that got me thinking that this was my 10th state on the above mentioned date. Neat.

I was supposed to complete my 10th state last month in PA, but due to the mental anguish (maybe slightly over exaggerating) over my dead car, I had a DNS (Did Not Start) for that run.  See my previous post for the full story.

So, let’s backtrack to the start of the weekend. Saturday morning I flew to Milwaukee to meet up with a member of my trail family from the Appalachian Trail in 2007, “Hedgehog,” and we were then going to drive down to Chicago. Turns out a member of the AT Southbound Class of 2008 lived in Chicago, so we connected with her and were blessed with a sleep spot in her apartment. After Hedgehog picked me up at the airport, we planned to drive to his place to pick up a few things then head out of town. When we get to his exit the road is closed due to a local charity run, great, we will circle around and get off on another exit. We loop around and can’t even get to the alternative exit, so we head to loop around again.  By this time 90 minutes have elapsed since leaving the airport. We decide to forgo his stuff and just head on out of town and he could make due with what he was wearing for the weekend.

Fast forward through the exciting drive from Milwaukee to Chicago and we make it to the expo without incident. Huge set-up but luckily NOT a forced maze like just about every other marathon expo (Detroit, Richmond, Flying Pig) where you cannot get to your goody bag and t-shirt without walking past every-single-booth. Got the race number, shirt and goody bag then proceeded to make the rounds. Samples – 2 yogurt ones, several energy bar handouts,  there were also several charity group booths, other marathons, and a few gear shops. Probably the single most cool thing there was the Nike Store had a wall with the names of all the registered runners, it took us almost 10 min to find my name, but a nice touch Nike, well done.

We left the expo with an hour to kill before our friend “Flambo” was home. Headed to her place to park and walked all 6 blocks to Grant Park to check out the Start/Finish. Nice park and fountain and it was helpful to scope out the area the day before to keep the morning of the race as simple as possible. Great views from her 22nd floor apartment in downtown Chicago, homemade pasta dinner and on to bed by 9pm.

The morning of the race started at 70 degrees. Had some delicious vacuum pot brewed coffee and walked to Grant Park. Missed the Marathon Maniac group photo at the fountain by a few minutes but a few were lingering around and Dave Mari took a photo of me and said he would photoshop me into the group picture, he is one enthusiastic person. For the start, it took me almost 22 minutes from the gun to actually cross the start line. Within the first mile we all had a little perspiration from the warm start and I figured it was going to get quite toasty as the day progressed, so I proceeded to drink 2-3 cups of Gatorade and water at every aid station. Now I have never ever done this at any marathon or long training run, usually there is not the need for that much intake. I ended up stopping 4 times to get rid of that fluid, but it also allowed me to stay strong for the whole run, whereas there was a TON of people walking and cramping up for the last 8-10 miles. There was a lot of weaving in and out of people at the start and then again at the end with people walking in all parts of the road (etiquette is to move to the side of the road if you are going to walk). The weather color coded warning started at green and progressed to yellow then quickly to red, meaning good weather, then moderate, then severe as the temperature climbed. One more color change to black and they cancel the race at that moment, which is something they had to do in 2007, crazy!

The course in general is all in the city, lots of buildings, with all the turns I had a hard time getting a sense of where I was. I liked running through the “gay” section as they had some fabulous entertainment (rifle guard, Ace and Gary, men dressed as Wonder Women, and a few others I can’t recall with my post marathon brain. They need to put this section at the end to give runners a boost. The other section I enjoyed was the tree-lined residential streets. Spectators were great along the entire course and the aid station volunteers always were cheering on the runners and looked like they really wanted to be there. I hit all but 2 sprinklers along the route to help cool off. The sponges were a nice touch too, helped to cool off and wash off some of the salt that was on our skin.

I crossed the finish line at 4:54:50 chip time, roughly 1pm, feeling great. Made my way through the runner chute to the family meetup area, then walked back to the condo for a shower then headed out for some Chicago deep dish pizza and vital salt replenishment. Drive back to Milwaukee, stayed at Hedgehog’s apartment, then flew home the next morning. Only delay was leaving Atlanta, not too surprising though for that airport.

Next up, Mount Desert Island Marathon in Maine next weekend 10-17-10.

P.S. I showed my medal around work and 1 person did ask what place earned me my medal. I did explain that everyone got one, I thought that was cute. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lehigh Valley Marathon - DNS

Lehigh Valley Marathon, PA Sept 12, 2010

The day before the race, I got up at 3 am for a 3 hour drive to Maryland. I was meeting a running gal that I had met at the Holiday Lake 50k++ run in February, along with a few of her running peeps, to run the Appalachian Trail section of the JFK 50 Miler on November 20th. The meetup was smooth, and we were off, had a great but rocky 13 mile run.

Afterwards, we had lunch at IHOP then I hit the road for the 2nd half of my drive to Allentown/Bethlehem, PA for the marathon the next day. Dun, dun, dun.

As I was exiting to go to the expo to pick up my race packet, my car made some funny noises and as I was pulling onto the shoulder it died, no restarting, dead. So I called AAA, got the car towed to the nearest Subaru dealer (only 4 miles) and then got a ride from the tow truck guy to the race expo, 5 min after they closed. Luckily they were still there and I got my stuff. I then ask if anyone knows of a good way to get to the hotel I was staying at (bus, taxi, what have you), and one of the volunteers offered me a ride (sweet!).

However, the next day I did not head to the marathon. You see, I didn't want to be wiped out come Monday to do some hard decision making about the car and opted to sleep in instead and not run. I was also wildly undertrained with my excuse being the overly hot summer and working too much.

So what did I do? I called in to work for Monday, rented a car, told the dealer to replace the engine, and headed back to Virginia.

Now on to Chicago this weekend to redeem myself, and to pick up state #10 so I can then apply to the 50 states club and get one of those neat shirts where you cross off each state that you finish on the back.

Gorgeous weather today, which is slowing down my packing for this weekend. There are worse things I guess....