Monday, December 26, 2011

Tecumseh Trail Marathon 12/3/11 State #21

Tecumseh Trail Marathon is a point to point trail marathon just outside of Bloomington, Indiana where the University of Indiana is located. It goes from one state forest to another. We drove down the night before the race, picked up my race packet and HH registered for the 5 mile fun run. Even though the race started at 10:30am, there was still a 1 hour bus ride from where you park at the finish line to the start line. The race was started about 10 minutes late and we were off. Luckily the first 2-ish miles were on road or logging road so the 700 runners could shuffle and spread out. It was a bluebird sky morning, cool but not freezing, and there had been very little precipitation in the week leading up to the race. It was well run in general, however I felt that 700 runners were too much for the trail, especially one that many people are running trails for the very first time and have yet to develop any sense of trail etiquette (the main one being step aside when you are on single track and holding up people that are running faster than you and bunching up behind you). We were warned to wear blaze orange as we would be running through active hunting areas but only about 20-25% of people actually did this. A few times at aid stations I was told by bystanders "man, you want to be visible today" as I was wearing a blaze orange vest.

Love the area but until the race cap is decreased will not be doing this as a repeat and will stick to smaller trail ultras. No pictures, but I found this link of a video that some folks filmed while running the race this year.

4:50:10 ("chip timed" but there was no timing mat at the beginning, making this a gun timed only event)
Approx 3,100 feet of elevation gain with 3,400 feet of loss (per my Garmin)

Up Next: Jan 22 Indoor Icebreaker Marathon Milwaukee, WI (repeat state, #30 marathon (or longer))

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

State #20 Route 66 Marathon Tulsa, OK 11/20/11

Headed out on the road at 8:30pm Friday night with 3 other marathoners (2 Marathon Maniacs and 
1 that we hopefully corrupted) to make the 12 hour drive to Tulsa, OK. We were in a 1-2 year old 
hybrid car with already over 100,000 miles on it, with most of the miles from the owner driving 
to marathons (he is on state #40). The only strange thing we saw on the drive down was in Kansas 
City (not sure if it was KS or MO) within a few miles of each other was a car randomly stopped in the 
middle of the 3 lane interstate with a cop behind it with flashing lights and the cop out of his car!!! 
And, a car that had plowed into a concrete support of an overpass with 6 firetrucks and a few police 
cars parked around it working on extrication, with no ambulance on scene.

We got to Tulsa around 8am (expo started at 10am) and stopped by the hotel to see if they would 
let us check in early, and they did! They even still had their continental breakfast out and offered it 
to us, in which 2 out of the 4 people in the group broke down to eat it after trying to fast for the last 
8 hours for the free health screening and cholesterol testing at the expo (they both still had pretty 
descent cholesterol panels). After a 3 hour nap we headed to the expo at noon at the convention 
center. There was a Marathon Maniac booth right next to the 50 States Marathon booth where we 
stopped to get our wrist bands to get entry to the Marathon Maniacs tent after the race.

This race included a 0.3 mile detour at about mile 17 to the "Center of the Universe" and we stopped 
by this spot after we finished at the expo to take pictures and to try out the echo chamber. This was 
a large circular area where if you stood exactly in the middle you could hear an echo, but someone 
standing 1/2 a foot away from you could not hear the echo (also does not work if you can only hear 
out of one ear). This is a very similar echo thing that is in Portland, Oregon at Council Crest Park. Back 
to the hotel for a quick nap before the pasta dinner at Cain's Ballroom, a historic Tulsa landmark.

Up early the next morning to a 30 degree drop in temperature from the day before (almost 70 
degrees when we went to the expo) and low clouds. Got to the start line in plenty of time before the
Maniac picture. The start was in waves, I was in corral B, but did not know how much time had 
elapsed between waves as I had forgot my Garmin watch.

The race started and I noticed that I was feeling pretty good and decided to push the pace as much 
as I could by feel. Chatted with some people along the way but it was either too cold, windy or 
people running at the 4 hour marathon pace are less talkative, but it was generally a quiet crowd. 
Probably another reason why I held a brisk for me pace. Aid stations were well organized, people 
announcing what drink type was first, and they even had people with signs marking speed bumps 
when we ran through campus.

On the out/back section along the river (photo by the famous Dave Mari)
Center of the Universe is in Tulsa, OK. Between mile 17 and 18 of the marathon.
I briefly pondered skipping the detour to the center of the universe but decided to go for it, thinking 
when would I be back to Tulsa? They gave you a commemorative detour coin and had an aid station 
with Michelob Ultra, but I declined the beverage after going for it but being told what it was. More 
hills in the second half than the first half but it is always motivating to know that you are close to the 
finish. Passed by Eric and Rich, two people I carpooled with in the last mile of the race and they 
cheered me in. Once finishing, a volunteer placed a "first marathon" finisher's medal around my neck, 
but I did notice until I was in the line to get my finish time and a lady asked me how I got a gold medal. 
I was able to swap this in the Marathon Maniac tent. This tent was awesome though! It has tables and 
chairs, catered and potluck food, along with the presidents of the club hanging out and talking with 
everyone. But, we cooled down fast and made our way to the car to sit with the heat on and wait for 
the last person in our carpool. 

Once on the road we stopped at truck stop for showers, but they were taking too long to clean the 
showers (as in they weren't cleaning the 2 open stalls during the 20 minutes we were waiting, then 
once we mentioned something, magically they started calling people for showers). So we all got 
refunds and hit the road again. Stopping at a Microtel to talk our way into renting the room for $40, 
the same price for all 4 of us to take a shower at the truck stop, and we were successful. An hour later 
we were on our way. Home by 5am Monday morning, but exhausted and sore.

Checked the results the next day and saw I broke 4 hours when you delete the detour.
3:59:11 with a 9:13 minute/mile average pace.

Next up: Tecumseh Trail Marathon near Bloomington, IN and State #21 (if completed).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Race Medal Holder and Surprise!!

Got my finisher's medal holder (2 wood coat hanger racks from Amazon) re-installed this weekend after moving 3 months ago. Also registered for Vermont 100 miler! It was time to register for my first (attempt) at 100 miles and this will help me get through my first REAL winter. Excited and scared at the same time. Now I have to concentrate on working on a few end-of-term papers for grad school for the rest of the day. 

Let the countdown to July (and VT 100) begin!!!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

State #19 11/6/11 City of Oaks, Raleigh, NC

19th State! Gorgeous fall day in Raleigh, NC, part of the Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Ran with Steve Hughes the first 18 miles and alone the rest of the way. He was running his 100th marathon that he had completed between age 60 and 63, his birthday was the next day, the RD gave him the race #100. Well organized race, plenty of aid stations, hilly, nice finisher's medal, non-crowded after race food area, plenty of parking. (Photos credit Steve Hughes)

Next up - Route 66 Marathon Tulsa, OK November 20, 2011, state #20!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chicago Lakefront 50/50 10/29/11

The Chicago Lakefront 50/50 is a combination 50 miler and 50k race on the lakefront bike path south of downtown Chicago. The 50 milers start at 6:30am and do 4 out and back segments (about 6 miles each out) of the path. The 50k runners start 2 hours later at 8:30am and do 3 out and backs of a slightly shorter segment of about 5 miles each out (and thus back). I ran the 50k. It was a bit chilly until the sun rose over the lake but it was gorgeous when it did.

There is a similar race that is held in the spring. I started out as usual at the back of the pack and started out at a "coasting" pace and see what the day held. As I warmed up I gradually sped up through the first out/back segment. Runners costumes I saw were superwomen with yellow hair, raggedy ann, and a guy with a racing singlet that was muscles like out of a anatomy book. It warmed up quick and as I completed the first section I ran to my car to drop off my gloves and long sleeve shirt. I was able to continue to maintain my speed, chatted with runners along the way although tons of people had their headphones in which messes up the whole talking thing. My true goal for this race was to meet local ultra runners. At the halfway point I realized that I would be able to break 5 hours if I maintained the pace, and luckily I was able to stay mentally strong and push myself to accomplish the goal I set mid-race. I had also promised myself that I could take the day off from school work and I could get a large frappachino from the Starbucks at the Oasis (rest area with several restaurants along the tollway for those that do not live near a tollway) on the drive back to Milwaukee.

With less than a mile to go I very slowly had caught up to a lady running and I tell her when I get to her that "if we keep our pace we can break 5 hours." We start running side by side and keep our pace, and I immediately in my mind concede that I will let her pull ahead at the end (I was at the edge of puking at this point). Well, on the last tiny uphill before the finish I pull ahead and that was that. Just after the race guy pulled of my bib tag and the lady put the finish medal around my neck I turned and took a few steps away quickly and threw up the liquids (half water half gatorade at that point) from the last 6-8 miles. I went to sit down on the side walk for a few minutes, then headed to my car to head home. Once in the car I always get to be reminded that I drive a stick, which is always very apparent after a long run. 

Slow traffic in downtown Chicago (this is about 2pm on a Sunday) but once I cleared downtown it was smooth sailing. I ended up stopping at a Culvers (burger and frozen custard place that is all over the upper mid-west) instead for a pumpkin spice milkshake. Got home, showered, put the legs up in the lazyboy chair, dinner at Beans and Barley. 

Great run, great weather, great people, great run!
Time (not chip timed) per Garmin 4:57:40 (official race results not yet posted)

Next up, City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh, NC on Nov 6! If I complete the race it will be State #19!

Fox Cities Marathon Appleton, WI 9/17/11

*This race was about 6 weeks ago and I am just now getting motivated to write a brief race report after a good few weeks of running.*

Fox Cities Marathon was a Marathon Maniacs' reunion run. Despite that this was a repeat state I figured this would be a good race to pull me out of my typical low-mileage-due-to-very-hot-summer routine. I did not know how this race was going to play out but I knew I would be able to finish. Not to be confused with the Fox Valley Marathon held on the same day nearby in Illinois. Nice course, well organized, small confusing expo, good frequent bus shuttles from the finish area to the start of the race. The two best things were the Cottonelle TP (as Kimberly Clark is a main sponsor of the race) in ALL of the port-a-potties (!) and the Marathon Maniac race medal in addition to the marathon completion medal. I also loved that there were several people that had run the North Face 50 miler and 50k in Wisconsin the previous day and were up early for another long run.

I drove up to the expo the night before and back in time for dinner, then drove up that morning for the race.

Chip Time 4:36:50, Pace 10:34

I completed the Chicago Lakefront 50k 2 days ago, race report to follow. Next up is City of Oaks Marathon next weekend in Raleigh, NC.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Grandmas Marathon Duluth, MN 6/18/11

State #18
5:08:36 Chip Time

Part One - Road Trip
This marathon started out as a road trip from Milwaukee to the Apostle Islands in Northern Wisconsin to celebrate my birthday with some car camping and a kayak trip to the caves, leaving 2 days before the marathon to tackle the 6 hour drive. We camped overnight at the state campground on Madeline Island, took the ferry back to the mainland the next morning for a guided sea kayak tour. When the guide started out by explaining this was his first group to lead, I was thinking he was going to say for the season. But he continued to share that this was his first ever trip to guide, ever. He did fine but I think he needed to check with each boat individually before we launched to make sure everyone was set-up. Neat area to explore.

Garmin Track (activity was kayaking, not running)

Lessons learned
1) Thruhikers have a hard time converting to being quality car campers. We (mainly me) brought way too much stuff.
2) Double kayaks are usually not a good idea when more than 1 captain gets into the boat.
3) Kayak rudders are Good, with a capital G.
4) Solitude is unrealistic when kayaking the same weekend as the kayak symposium is in town.
5) Lake Superior is cold.

Madeline Island Ferry (held about 10 cars)

Local coffeeshop in Bayfield, WI
Part Two - Grandmas Marathon
       This was my first experience exclusively pacing a first time marathoner. Typically when I am running a marathon I chat with the runners going the same pace and if they are first timers then offer them encouragement and check in with them to make sure they are fueling and hydrating properly, at least in a way that will help them not bonk and get them to the finish. In this case, my boyfriend was attempting his first marathon with a rapid decrease in running mileage the 5 weeks leading up to the race due to a sprained ankle from a long run on the treadmill. I was very nervous to say the least and gave him several bail out opportunities beforehand and one as we passed our cabin at the halfway point.
      The course is a point to point race along the shores of Lake Superior on roads from northeast of Duluth with the finish in downtown Duluth. You are not allowed to park at the start so we got up really really early to park at the finish line and take the train to the start. It was raining and overcast as we walked from the parking lot to the train, I was worried that the rain would persist for the entire marathon because that usually makes things pretty miserable. The train ride was an hour, we brought scones and coffee to fuel us up for the challenge. The race started a few minutes late, with the rain dissipating about 20 minutes before the start time. Luckily the rain held off for the race with clouds sticking around to keep temperatures cool. For most of the race, they had the "change of hypothermia" weather banners at the aid stations. My favorite aid station was a rogue one in the first few miles that a local coffee shop set up and they had mocha frappachino type drinks in small cups they were handing out.
Pre race sleepy photo in our rental cabin
Water and/or gatorade at every aid station, Gu Shot blocks with 1 package about every 8 miles, fueling was going pretty well. Hedgehog brought his nano to listen to music for late in the race and put it on around mile 18 as he said it was getting to him thinking about never running that far ever. He took it off 3-4 miles later when I started chatting with another runner, and when we were starting to approach town and the scenery changed with more houses and people cheering. The last mile in town was a convoluted series of twists and turns where you couldn't actually see the finish line until the last 0.2 miles, very challenging to the mind of a first time marathoner. Finish area was very crowded, they ran out of finishers shirts in my size, and the area was confusing and largely by pure luck we made it back to the car without any extra walking. We avoided the recovery area and grabbed chocolate milk, mountain dew and potato chips at a gas station heading back to the cabin. Showers, naps, then dinner at the mall with frozen custard for desert (custard shops are EVERYWHERE in Wisconsin/Minnesota).


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ice Age Trail 50K May 14, 2011

3rd and 4th place females, I slowed down after this first section finishing 13th female

Kept each other company once the field spread out

Finishing together
State #17 -Wisconsin
~ 2,000 ft of gain/loss
Lots of little ups and downs
5:58:14 Pace 11:32
Female 13/49
Overall 55/142

Rain held off until the last 2 hours of the race, temperature in the upper 40's but muggy so all the runners were warm and sweaty and the volunteers and crew all looked freezing cold. Well organized race, great long sleeve tech shirt, the 50k finishers got key chains that looked like the finisher's belt buckle that the 50 milers received.

Maybe next year I can be in better shape and place higher! One of the classic American Ultras!

American Oddyssey Relay Gettysburg to DC


I had the pleasure of being asked to join my running friends from Chambersberg, PA to run in this relay under the sponsorship of the local running store, The Runner's Sole. We were a team of 9 ladies and recruited a running friend and his wife to be our drivers.

We ran the most indirect route between Gettysburg and DC, saw some amazing parts of the area that we would not have otherwise seen. We ended up being started too late for our actual overall team speed and quickly found ourselves running alone, and once night fell we were running into transitions stations that had long packed up and gone home.

We wondered why the RD had not called us yet, as we had to turn in all our cell phone numbers of every van member at the team leader meeting the night before the race. We figured that nothing was wrong and to keep on trekking. Once we arrived at roughly the halfway point where I am supposed to start my second leg, the transition guy stops us and tells us since we are so far behind that we are going to need to skip the next several sections to catch up. We ask if we are disqualified and he tells us that we are not.  He also tells us that in no uncertain terms can we allow the runner to go ahead alone without the van closely behind since we "keep getting lost," when in fact we had only 1 runner get lost 1 time, sheesh. We are tired, we are upset, and we need a bathroom break, rest break and to gas up the van. We call the RD back to ask if we can skip a few more sections to allow for time to complete these tasks, we get the green light and assurance that we get medals at the finish line despite the skip ahead.

We restart, running through an old battlefield in the dark that is normally open only during daylight hours, it is eerie and neat at the same time. Before long, daylight comes about the same time that the long C&O towpath section begins, we get a second wind and for the first time in several hours we are running with other people now, joking that this wasn't just a Candid Camera sort of thing and that in fact we were actually running a relay with OTHER people.

Next year while I will not be joining the team or probably joining in another similar type relay, I can be fairly certain that the team will be sandbagging next year and predicting very slow times to secure an early start time and more relaxing adventure, with other runners.

Thanks to my Appalachian Trail friend Keegan for joining me on the towpath section heading into DC along on his bike after not seeing him for almost a year.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Promise Land 50k DNF

April 23, 2011 - First DNF

As I have been self rehabbing a right IT band overuse injury from January, I have been more cautious about paying attention to twinges in my body. My right knee on the consistent downhills were getting twingy and I decided to bail at the aid station at mile 13ish, then ran 6 miles back to the start down the end of the race trail.

Gorgeous area, gorgeous course with lots of up, and down. Probably won't try to run this to completion next year as I won't live in the area, but maybe in a few years....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Charlottesville Area Trail Runners

Great Central Virginia Trail Running group. Join us for a group run if you are in the area!

Charlottesville Area Trail Runners

Up Next: Promise Land 50k, another David Horton classic ultra!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

National HALF Marathon 3/26/11

This was originally going to be a full marathon run, but lingering IT band irritation from the last few months of racing was on the mend but still looming. My weekly mileage for the last 2 months hovered in the 3-20 range (except for the week of Holiday Lake 50k). So I did the "mature" thing and decided it would be smart to run the shorter race.  My running friend from Cville graciously waded through the crowds at the expo (1 day only) and got me officially changed from the full to the half marathon. As I had no desire to fight DC Friday night rush hour(s) traffic, I opted to hit the road at 3am and meet my friend at her hotel in DC. I had a pleasant traffic free drive up, found the hotel, and found the RFK Stadium and free parking with plenty of time to line up.

Meet up with the Marathon Maniacs in the Armory for the pre-race photo shoot and got caught up with a few Maniac friends, I had to repeat several times that I was "only" running the half, a few seem disappointed which I found mildly entertaining and I could certainly understand their perspective (it is "only" a marathon, you can do it!). I wandered outside and found it eerie how few people were lined up only 15 minutes from the start, especially after hearing there were 16,000 runners in the 2 distances combined. Not sure where to go I just headed for the first open corral, which ended up being #4 (no-one was checking bibs), this ended up being perfect for my pace. Race started a few minutes late and it took me another 7 minutes to cross the start line. Temps were at freezing at the start and warmed up 10 degrees in the next 2 hours, sun shining the entire time. For the first 10 min after crossing the start line there were dozens of people with race bibs on heading in the opposite direction, late for the race start. Sunshine was gorgeous, and it was interesting to see a normally very bustling DC, in a very quiet and empty state. Early morning is my favorite time of day. Very few spectators other than the few underpasses we went through, with people lined up on the streets above cheering.

I had no idea where the course went other than it was in DC and it was a loop, however I did not realize that the entire first half would be shared by the full and half marathoners. After the finish for the half, the full marathoners continued on, although I am not sure where, or if they had to repeat the loop we just did. This is a similar strategy to the Charlottesville Marathon and Half Marathon and for the marathoners it is very disheartening to run past the finish line with several miles still to complete. There were 2-3 mile markers total, 2 were chalk painted on the ground and 1 was on the back of a bathroom sign zip tied to a pole (really!!! no mileage markers?!really?). The finish line was chaos, with the half finishers trying to first get medals but we were told that they were for the relay folks. About 5 feet past them were for the half marathoners but you had to push your way up to them to get them. Several people ended up missing the medals all together. Then it was busy and chaotic trying to get water and the after race goodies, not very well organized for a large race.

I finished 1:56:14 with an average pace of about 8:50 min/mile.
Nice technical finisher shirt (although they handed them out at the expo and they said finisher on them) and neat finisher's medal. I would not recommend this run for next year, but I am glad I still went to have a nice run and to mark a turning point back into running longer distances, because I sure do love running.

Sugar Hollow Cville Area Trailrunners (CAT) training run

3/13/11 8am (Meet at Greenberry's to carpool to the TH at Sugar Hollow)

Parked at the lower lot and headed up the North Fork Moormans River Trail, then turning North on the Appalachian Trail to BlackRock Summit. Climbing 7 miles and about 1,900ft to reach this view from the summit.

David and Drew

Becca and Drew
Christian had joined us for the first few miles on his mountain bike due to recovering from a stress fracture (he even wore his brace! awesome), he turned around to attend other commitments he had that sunny Sunday.
While David and Drew continued South on the AT looping back to the TH on the Turk Branch Trail for a longer run, I headed back down the trail that we came up to keep the mileage down to rest a healing IT band. On the way down I stopped to take a few pictures. The river was still running high 3 days after the last rainstorm, so there were several wet crossings and thus kept the day hikers away. I had the trail to myself until the last few miles from the car.

Gorgeous section of SNP, crazy that it took over a year of living here to finally explore this section! Another Charlottesville gem and another great day on the trails.