Monday, May 28, 2012

Part 2 Wisconsin/Kalamazoo Marathon Double Weekend May 5-6

Part 2 - Kalamazoo Marathon
May 6, 2012
Kalamazoo, MI

Cool time lapse of photos of the marathon start.

I am holding Sock Monkey. BTW he has 400 friends on FB!
One of the tougher things for a double marathon is getting out of bed the second day. You are stiff and you know what lies ahead. They were honoring late check out, so I just got my stuff organized that I would want after my post race shower. I made some in room coffee using the coffee maker to make hot water and Starbucks Via coffee. My go to when traveling and you know that where you are going has bad coffee. It was a short drive across town to the race start and the parking system was very well organized. I was very impressed already, even before the race started. I made my way over to the 50 States Challenge tent near-ish to the race start for the group photo. They did not get all 50 states for the second time, so Steve Boone of the 50 States Club said he would actively recruit the states they were missing both years. I am confident that next year they will get them all! Another race that pushes for this is the Hatfield McCoy Marathon in June in KY/WV, though they do not comp race entries or give out free shoes.

Holding Sock Money (Photo: Paula Boone)

This course meandered through town and campus of Western Michigan University. A little hilly and started to get a little warm after a few hours. I should have written this race report sooner, but what I recall is all the spectators on the course for being a small marathon. I also remember my IT band bothering me on a long downhill somewhere near the 17 mile mark or so but this went away on the next flat section. I wore very different types of running shoes for each marathon, so perhaps some of this was a change in the motion control characteristics of the shoes on fatigued legs.

The bummer was when I finished, I realized I had forgotten my meal ticket that we got as part of the 50 States Challenge back in the hotel with the rest of my stuff. Bummer. But I quickly planned on stopping at a Panera that I had seen an hour outside of town for some salty tortilla soup! Yum!

A quick shower at the hotel and back to the road for 5.5 hour drive back to Milwaukee. Thank goodness for the toll tags for speeding up the trip and for not needing to carry cash!

Great race, I would do this one again as it was well organized and was a good size. This weekend was a repeat of both Wisconsin and Michigan for me, but it was a great training weekend for the Vermont 100 July 21!

Next up: Delaware Marathon (new state) one week later.

Part 1 Wisconsin/Kalamazoo Marathon Double Weekend May 5-6

Back-to-back: Handful of Kalamazoo Marathon runners to compete in Wisconsin Marathon the day before

After getting in to the the Kalamazoo Marathon for "free" under their 50 state challenge, I decided to add on the Wisconsin Marathon to make it a double marathon weekend to aid in my Vermont 100 training. The 50 state challenge was a partnership with New Balance to provide both a free pair of shoes to the first person from each state to register for the marathon, along with the race entry fee being reimbursed by check issued at the race expo. HH was back up on call for work for the weekend, so he was unable to enjoy the *cough* fun weekend of spectating.

Part 1, the Wisconsin Marathon, "America's Cheesiest Marathon."
May 5, 2012
Kenosha, WI

I hosted a marathon maniac from Florida the night before the race. It is in Kenosha, WI, about 1 hour south of Milwaukee. We had some nice carbo loading at Via near UW-Milwaukee and in bed by 10pm. The first of two important discoveries was that the Trigger Point rollers are amazing and the next step in injury prevention. They are smaller than foam rollers and can target spots that you can't get to with the foam rollers. The second discovery came at the end of the weekend.

The morning of the race we of course looked at the doppler radar and the rain line was just south of Kenosha. Phew! Dodged a bullet there. Of course, that meant it started raining hard about 30 minutes North of the race location on up to about 30 minutes before the start of the race. I opted to stay in my dry car until the last minute, finishing up the 'ole morning coffee and pre-race scone from Panera, but missed the Marathon Maniac photo.

The course is a North then South out and back, starting near downtown along with the half marathoners, going North for 1/4 of the marathon, turning back to town, "dropping off" the half marathoners where we had started, then continuing South for a similar course. The rain had stopped but low clouds and a very light drizzle remained. I saw some runners from my Meetup group just before they finished their half marathon. I also saw Larry Macon I think just after the half way point, he was running in Rhode Island the next day! He is my example whenever people tell me that they are "too old" to run.

I enjoyed the sections on the gravel roads on the second half of the race, and as usual, enjoyed chatting with people from all over. I even ran into a pair of ladies that run marathons together from Texas that I had last seen at Mount Desert Island Marathon in October 2010!!! I love that!

Two Maniacs from Texas (Photo: Dave Mari)

Finished the race in about 4 hours 17 minutes. Enjoyed a brat and mountain dew at the after party but quickly headed out on the 1 mile walk to my car to get to Kalamazoo before the expo closed (had to pass from Central to Eastern time, losing 1 hour) and to get warm. It took me an hour with the heat blaring in the car but I eventually felt comfortable. The key here is that I had various liquids ready to go (water, gatorade, ensure) to hydrate enroute. I had to stop 3 times in total, but this aided tremendously in quick recovery and feeling good the next day.

At the expo in Kalamazoo, I ran into Steve and Paula Boone, the lead folks at the 50 States Marathon Club, and they invited me to join them at the pasta dinner downstairs. I think it was $15 and it was very good food catered by the hotel, great company as well.

Heading back to my hotel for the night, I saw prom kids downtown and then another group at the hotel, where their prom was being hosted. They all looked great and outfits amazingly coordinated. Luckily I couldn't hear their music, and after a quick soak in the hot tub to loosen up, I was in bed early.

Next post: Part 2 - Kalamazoo Marathon

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Free State Trail Marathon (KS) State #23

Lawrence, KS April 21, 2012
State #23

Trail Marathon

My original plan was to run the 100k race at this event but with both ileopsoas injuries and a calf strain, my running mileage was quite low after the New Orleans Marathon. One week before the race I emailed the race director to drop down to the marathon distance, he granted my request no problem.

I flew from Milwaukee into Kansas City, MO and rented a car for the hour drive West to Lawrence. This ended up being the same weekend as a big NASCAR race in the area, as well at the Garmin Marathon in nearby Olathe, KS (pronounce Olathie). I had no real travel issues and made good time to downtown Lawrence where race packet pick up was at the local running store. About 1 block away was an outfitter where I bought a fuel canister for my jetboil as I was camping at the state campground near the race start. Once I got my campsite setup I drove the few minutes back into town for dinner and some interwebs to check on some school work that was going through some final end of term editing. Dinner at a chain pasta place with desert and internet at Starbucks.

I headed to bed early in my tent in the quiet and relatively empty campground. Race morning always comes early.

And then the fun began. A group of campers showed up about midnight and set up 2 sites away from me, proceeding to start a campfire and drink for several hours. Of course I had left my ear plugs in my car, thinking I was in for a nice quiet night. But before going to my car I first had to listen for a bit to see if I was in any danger of harm from them if I were to get out of my tent and attract attention with my headlamp. After getting my earplugs with only minimal noise control, probably an hour later I finally got out of my tent to yell at them. “At least pretend that you are trying to be quiet” seemed to do the trick. But the damage was done, I was out 3 hours of sleep in the middle of the night. I accidentally bumped my car horn several times as I pulled out of my camp spot heading to the race at 5am.

What I found out later that the “right thing to do” was to call 911 to report the noise. Really?!? I work in an industry where 911 is overused, abused, and misused. It did not occur to me to take that action. I was thinking where is the camp host that is nearby? Where is park ranger? Why is the park open for new guests at midnight anyway?

I had also decided I wasn’t going to spend a second night there, and on my phone, as they partied next door, changed my flight for the afternoon after the race, one day early. Ugh.

The race ended up being amazing single track trail in the woods along the edge of the lake for most of the race. Due to the significant leaf coverage GPS watches were off quite a bit as well and this threw me a little. My effort was feeling like 9:30-10 min miles on the trails but Garmin read most of the time 12 min miles, making me feel like I was really struggling for some reason. Nope, turns out the GPS was 2 miles short by the end of the run and I ended up finishing as 3rd female overall. This NEVER happens.

Great race, great single track trail running. Turns out there are hills in Kansas!!!  If I need Kansas again for a state I would do this one again!!!!

All photos were provided to the participants from the race photographer

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Orleans, LA Marathon 3/4/12 State #22

The Trip

HH had never been to New Orleans or Louisiana and when the discount popped up for dollars off the race entry the number of points that the Saints won that week's game by, I jumped at the chance to pick up a new state. Before he knew it, HH was signed up for his second marathon. I think a few weeks later they put a cap on the discount about $15, we ended up with $50 or so dollars off and ended up paying about $40/pp per marathon entry fee. And who wouldn't want an excuse to get some chicory coffee and beignets from Cafe du Monde?

I lived in uptown New Orleans from December 2001 to December 2005 and left to earn my Bachelor's degree from University of Washington (then hike the AT, and move a few more times, etc.). So, we made a long weekend of the trip to play tourist to see the city, nearby plantation homes, and the damage from Katrina. I used to work for a tour company before starting nursing school and we went on 2 tours with that company. Despite living and working there when Katrina hit, I avoided seeing the levee breaches either intentionally or unintentionally in the months following the storm. I had seen the Lakeview neighborhood near Lake Ponchartrain about 4-5 days after the storm when the water was to the rafters and a leaking natural gas line was burning on the surface of the water. I worked at the hospital on nights, and during the day we would ride along with the National Guard in big trucks handing out MREs and water to the surrounding neighborhoods.

We stayed in a few different hotels in the city in a game of picking hotels that had been somewhat properly restored after Katrina as well as those that had no recent or re-occuring bedbug issues, as well as staying close to the race start the night before and after, and in quiet hotels the rest of our stay.

We stayed at Prytania Park (uptown), the Dauphine Orleans (French Quarter), and the Maison Perrier (uptown). If I were to do it again, I would just stay at Prytania Park or their sister hotel Prytania Oaks for the entire stay as I know the streetcar system and don't mind using it or walking if it is a long time between them. We did not rent a car and took a taxi to and from the airport.

Mint Julep at Oak Alley Plantation

View of the oaks at Oak Alley Plantation,
looking towards the Mississippi River

One of Brad Pitt's "Make it Right" homes

Typical cemetery group grave plot

Laura Plantation

The Race

"Practicing" at the expo

I was a little nervous about doing a Competitor/Rock n Roll race in light of the recent debacle at their "night" race in Las Vegas. Even when I was booking hotels, they had not even yet announced the race course so I assumed they were going to start and/or finish downtown and picked a hotel based on that. The weather had been warm and humid in the days leading up to the race but a cold front came through 2 nights before, cooling things down. I was even cold during a complimentary walking cemetery tour we went on the day before the race, provided by an Appalachian Trail section hiker, providing it to us from "one hiker to another." He even adamantly refused our tip!

Back to the race. We had some actually good in room coffee and that was great to get us started along with scones we had purchased the day before. It was about a 10 minute walk to the starting corrals. We were plenty early but not crazy early, and before we knew it we had started. The first half of the race is in uptown (St. Charles Ave, streetcar, big homes, large old oaks), downtown, and then up Esplanade Ave to city park, where the half marathoners peeled off to finish. Running in general went smoother with HH this race because we had spent a lot more time training and running together, where for Grandma's we were essentially training separately.

The race got long on the second half as it sometimes does, as we did a weird out and back "T" along the exposed road along Lake Ponchartrain. The bands were helpful to boost your mood, but it would have been helpful for me to have studied the course map a bit more to know more precisely where the turnarounds were. The last few miles were a difficult mental struggle for HH with all the people yelling "you are almost there!" despite having still 2 miles to go. We walked several times after passing by people cheering this phrase, and each time I worked to rule out any other issues such as hydration or fuel status. After several twists and turns in City Park, we could finally see the finish and we were done in 4 hours 30 minutes, a full 30 minutes faster than HH's first marathon 9 months earlier.

After walking about 1/4 mile to get in a 1/4 mile long line for buses back downtown, we rested for a short bit in the hotel after showers. We had saved 1/2 a muffuletta from the day before for a post race salty recovery snack.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

John Dick 50k DNF Feb 4, 2012

I DNF'd after one 6 mile loop. This was primarily a mental thing for me after hearing at the start that the race had more of a fat ass style to it where most people were not planning on running the entire way. To me, this says, "this doesn't really matter," and it went downhill from there. Additionally, the trails were very icy which was a slight surprise considering there was no snow in downtown Milwaukee. I was unprepared for the ice, without yak tracks or shoe screws. Those with the screws had great days. Other than my own issues the course was well marked and the aid stations were great.

Lesson learned: I do not do well mentally with fat ass style events in pushing myself to continue to run.

John Dick Memorial 50k

Race Photos
I had found a fun one of me running at the start but I cannot find that photo now.