Saturday, June 30, 2012

Inaugural Maritime Marathon 6/24/12

In training for Vermont 100k, this race fit well with doubling with the Keyes Peak 50k race the day before as they were 2.5 hours apart. Plus there was a good contingent of Marathon Maniacs signed up for the race, including Kino and Peter "from"NYC. I had last seen them about 5 weeks earlier at the Delaware Marathon.

Earlier in the week when I was thinking that I would just not do the races to get caught up on school and let my hip heal, I had cancelled my hotel room in Manitowoc. HH was supposed to join me for the weekend as he was off, but a large water loss job came in earlier that week further complicated but a major fire in an unrelated building across the street, then causing smoke damage to the same space they were already working on. They also wanted the building open in 1 weeks time. So needless to say, he had a 90 hour work week and I got to go to the races by myself. I have gone to the majority of my races alone, even starting with my very first one, as that is not an issue, but it is nice to travel with others some of the time. Plus both of the races were in beautiful areas of Wisconsin.

So I ended up driving the 90 minutes the morning before the race, early enough to catch the Marathon Maniac pre-race photo that was taken under the extended fire truck ladder that had the start banner hanging from it. One of the RDs ran over during the photo to exclaim "we love maniacs!" We were off after some wonderfully succinct speeches from area leaders, as well as a prayer that could have been written by a marathoner.

The course was an out and back right along Lake Michigan from the town of Manitowoc, North to the town of Two Rivers, and then back. Being right next to the lake was key, as the temperatures rose a little, and with the rare shade, the breeze off the lake kept temperatures reasonable for a long run. I ran most of the way with Peter from NYC, which was interesting as he is a relatively new maniac, only running his first marathon something like 6 months before. We also crossed over a bridge where a piece of the Ice Age Trail runs and I got to share with those running around me the story about that trail.

I finished 4:24, pleased to have broken 4:30 on a double weekend, and headed for the chocolate milk, Dairy Queen blizzards and brats that they had free for all the runners. We were able to enjoy a view of the lake as we watched others finish. I had offered the guys that they could shower at my apartment in downtown Milwaukee, as late hotel checkout is always a challenge and unsure thing after marathons. They accepted and after the drive back and showers we had a meal at the noodle place across the street.  Kino was great about taking lots of people photos but his race report is not quite up yet.

Both weekend races were great and I would add them both to my top 10 races!
Also, the Maritime Marathon is a great small marathon but many of us don't think it will remain small for long!!!

Keyes Peak 50k Trail Run 6/23/12

Just getting to the start line of this race was up in the air. My hip was still hurting, a combo of abductor tendonitis and ilieopsoas irritation, combined with a stressful week filled with more things than I could accomplish. At 4pm the night before I went for a trial run and things felt not great but not horrible either, so I returned home quickly showered and packed and hit the road. I had a little of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) going on, so that helped me get out of the door even at the late hour with a 4 hour drive ahead of me.

I stayed in a hotel in nearby Iron Mountain, Michigan, just across the state line from Florence, Wisconsin where the race was being held at a small ski hill on the outskirts of town. They were about 15 minute drive apart and I arrived early at the race start after not making it to packet pickup the night before and stumbled upon the early starters being briefed before their 6:20a start. The regular start was a 7am. I quickly asked the RD and then timers if I could start, and after tossing my sweatshirt in the car I started about 2 min behind the rest of the group. My rationale was that since I was doing the double, the sooner I finished, the sooner I would get home, get showered, could rest, etc.

I spent the first hour with an older gentleman from nearby Green Bay whom I would find out the next day had run over 800 marathons in his lifetime. We chatted as the trail, which was a dirt road, meandering through the woods, aid stations about every 4-5 miles apart. He was working on running all of the marathons in Wisconsin, which there have been several new ones start in the last few years. He was also running the double race weekend paired up with the inaugural Maritime Marathon in Manitowoc, WI. 

The front runners ran past us and I began to pick up the pace. The hip was not too bad on the relatively even terrain and the temps were warm but being moderated but the surrounding trees and frequent shade. At mile 15, the 50k runners make a left turn and do a side loop of 5 miles to make their distance longer than the marathoners as they kept going straight. I misunderstood and thought that the 50k had a race cutoff of 6 hours, when it turned out that the marathon was 6 hour cutoff and the 50k was 7.5 hours. Needless to say, this kept me moving when I may have walked a few places.

At mile 22 there is a significant river crossing where the water is chest deep and they hung a rope across the river and hired local river guides to stand in the water to walk with people across. They also offered a swim across option, about 100 ft above the rope crossing where the water was over my head. I opted for that one for some reason and used the ziplock baggies they had to encase my electrolyte capsules holder. Due to the current I had to swim at a slight upriver angle, and got a little scared as I headed into the current in the middle. But I was out of the strongest part of the current pretty quick and to the shore in time. There was a lady with a big camera taking pictures, I just have not been able to find them with my Google-fu at this time.

The aid station was right after the crossing, and they had glorious cookies and pretzels. There had been water, heed (electrolyte drink known to make stomachs churn), and hammer gels, but not really any food until that point. What also didn't help is that due to my quick morning start I didn't eat a bar for breakfast. This also likely affected my energy levels.

The race finishes in dramatic fashion cresting the top of the ski hill and then zig zagging back and forth across it. Finishing essentially where you started with the small crowd watching people come down the hill before the finish. I got my car keys back from the timing lady that had offered to take my keys at the start when she saw I was going to run with them. "You run with your keys?!? Here give me those."

Wooden finishers medal. Got a tech tee before the race. I think they did a great job at making this race pretty well a "green" event.

Cool homemade RV in the parking lot,
this was an aid station along the course, complete with a lit up open sign

Finisher wood "medal", race bib, and tech tee

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Green Bay Running Club 6/8 Hour Ultra 6/16/12

I came across this race I think from random facebook postings and decided to sign up so I could do a race on my birthday. With the timed race it gave me an opportunity if the run was going well to run my age in miles, or to also stop after 6 loops which was just over a marathon at 26.4 miles. Also a factor in the distance was my hip pain, diagnosed as abductor tendonitis, something my google-fu had failed me in trying to self diagnose (what!? I have crappy grad student health insurance).

A fellow Marathon Maniac that I had roomed with at the Route 66 Marathon last fall in Tulsa, OK had emailed me when she saw my name on the race calendar and we planned to share a hotel room in Green Bay the night before the race. We met at the hotel early evening, and for a pre-race meal I requested Olive Garden, and there was one in town about 15 minutes away. The place was hopping and we had to wait 25 minutes for a table but we chatted about races so the time went by fast. After dinner we drove past our hotel to the race start since we had time and to get a sense of where the start was located. I snapped this photo of the waters of Green Bay at sunset.

The race started at 5am, but we started 13 minutes late getting everyone checked in and things ready. This is a small race of only about 30 people running. What is typical of ultrarunners is humility, so at the start line almost no-one is willing to stand in the front, so the race director after cajoling us to the start line, she just made it a few feet back where we were all standing. Hilarious! I love ultrarunners.

The race is a 4.4 mile loop around the campus of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. It is a mostly woody campus with the path that we ran was about 1/2 dirt/gravel and 1/2 bark chips, with 1/4 mile asphalt mixed in. Wildlife that I saw in no particular order: deer, small rabbit, chipmunks, various birds (don't ask me what kind), snakes, and golfers. The golfers in particular were very interested in what we were doing and I explained at various points in the race to about half a dozen of them what we were doing, they pretended to be impressed. There was also an aid station at the start/finish and a second one 1.7 miles from the start.

All the runners spread out pretty quick, and while I leapfrogged with 3-4 of the same runners a few times, I was primarily running by myself. (check out the elevation profile)

I was conflicted about how far to run beyond a marathon, with a DNF 2 weeks ago at the Kettle Fun Run but with a double marathon weekend planned for next weekend. My hip was feeling alright but with occasional pain and things were heating up. I opted to stop after the 6 loops, got my awesome "woodal" (medal made of wood, duh), headed inside to the golf course clubhouse where the race had paid for us to have a catered lunch. I got a veggie burger and quietly ate before hitting the road. Sitting there in my sweaty workout clothes I felt a little like a thruhiker in town dressed somewhat inappropriate for the situation yet not being able to do anything about it at that moment.

Great race for anyone that needs Wisconsin. And remember, ultras usually don't cancel their races unless there is a very, very important reason to.

Bob Potts Marathon (PA) 5/20 State #26

The drive from WV to York, PA was uneventful with only one stop at a rest area to change into non salt sweat soaked clothes. I was just arriving at our hotel as my PA running friends were getting back from dinner (I had first met a few of them in VA in 2010 at one of David Horton's ultra races). But I was in luck, my good friend from the group had gotten a spaghetti dinner from the restaurant and brought it back to the hotel with her. They had also already picked up my packet for me. Very helpful.

The race start was a quick 10 minute drive across town, and with a small race that starts and ends at essentially the same spot, logistics were easy.

Quick Marathon Maniac photo at the start time and we were off for a small loop around the neighborhood, then on to the gravel/dirt bike path for the remainder of the race, except for the last 0.2 miles.

Marathon Maniacs before the start
Photos courtesy of Wayne Sherman

About 11-12 miles to go!
My energy level was better for this race than the day before, but my legs had no pep, so it was a constant forward motion type of run to keep on top of fluids, electrolytes, and fuel. It kept warming up and you could feel the heat in the periodic shadeless areas.

At the aid station at about mile 20, I joked with a high school aged girl that she should run with us, and I was surprised for her to answer OK, and to actually join me. It was nice to have someone to chat with that had a little energy and she kept me pacing at a good clip for that point in the run of a double weekend. Her dad had run the marathon and had probably already finished, they we all still waiting on her uncle to finish as he was running his first marathon.

Cool finisher's medal!
Back to the hotel for a late checkout shower and the entire running group headed out in a big caravan to the next town over to stop at 5 guys/subway for lunch. After a short rest in Chambersberg, PA I continued the rest of the drive back to Central Virginia.

Great race, nice a flat, small, well organized, and most importantly, cool medal!!!!

I was glad to get a marathon complete in PA particularly that my first attempt ended in me getting to buy a new to me engine for my Subaru!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Capon Valley 50k (WV) 5/19 State #25!

The Capon Valley 50k is held in Yellow Springs, WV. I got to meet Shelly from It's Just One Foot in Front of the Other blog, and reconnect with Abbi from Higher Miles blog. I stayed at the Capon Springs and Farms, an 80 year old resort tucked in the West Virginia mountains, complete with a family style dinner with 70 or so of your closest friends. After dinner, I rode with a runner from New York about 10 minutes away to the start of the race and packet pickup. It is good that I have a decent sense of direction as there was little to no cell phone reception in the area.

Capon Springs Resort

Bedtime came, and what seems to be a new theme with races I travel to (i.e. most of them) there seems to be loud people nearby. In this case there is a huge lawn in the middle of the resort with the cabins surrounding the lawn and lights out is at 11pm. It is a nice summer evening, people are enjoying themselves but making it hard to sleep. I go downstairs to ask the front desk for some earplugs but they did not have any, and I had forgot to pack mine (or so I thought!).

This race runs primarily through private property that is only open to the public for this race each year. It is a mix of dirt roads, pasture land, sweet sweet single track, and single track that maybe gets used only a few times each year. Within a 1/4 mile of running after the start my back felt cold and wet and kept getting worse. I stopped at the side of the road and my super new water bladder didn't have the connector hose pushed in all the way into the bag. Half my water was gone, but there were plenty of aid stations. My initial worry was that there was a hole in the new bladder and it was my only water container! I started running again, dead last but started to pass people on the first uphill.

Me being annoyed about my water bladder issue

The week leading up to the race I had been fighting a cold, making no real decisions about whether or not to run but to play it by ear. I was just starting to improve the day before the race and I gave myself permission to start the race and to drop if I needed to. How this translated on race day was LOW energy all day long. I was really struggling between miles 10 and 15 and started thinking about dropping. When I ran into Abbi (see above) and her sister I told them my thoughts and to help me think them out. Abbi's sister simply said, go to the aid station after the next one and just see how you feel. Not sure if I started having more energy or I had just reached a mileage tipping point where it made more sense to just go ahead with the "run"and finish it off.

Stream crossing action shot
(there were several stream crossings throughout the course)

This race was generally well run, course well marked, great aid stations, good small size race. However, my tiredness tainted perception of the run and the description that the course was "very runnable" annoyed me. But I understand it is all relative, what is runnable to some is not runnable to others. Maybe doing the majority of running in a flat state has made me soft....

Last 1/4 mile

Finished the 50k in 6:45:09 and hot the road pretty quickly before I stiffened up for a 3 hour drive to York, PA for the Bob Potts Marathon the next day (with Abbi's running group from PA that I had originally met in 2010 in Virginia at the Holiday Lake 50k).

Delaware Marathon 5/13/12 State #24

I had never been to Delaware and honestly have a hard time picking it out on a U.S. map. The most I really knew about this fine state is that it was in the Mid-Atlantic, the Appalachian Trail does not run through it, and the movie Wayne's World makes fun of it.

This marathon had a great story. About 9-10 years ago, the president of the 50 states marathon club, Steve Boone, called up the mayor of Wilmington and suggested that they start a marathon in May so that the club members could run in Delaware. Turns out the same weekend that Steve had mentioned, the city had just had a 5k race cancelled. They held the race that year and it has been going on ever since. The course has changed a little every few years but still a great smaller sized running event.

This year it was 2 loops around town, running through a mix of pathway along the river, industrial area, through a park, winding road through a greenspace, through residential, and back through the downtown area. It was a warm day with shade only at certain spots on the course, so this kept times a little slow.

The night before the race, we joined a dinner at an italian place near our hotel to celebrate Greg Kobel's 50th state, including completion of the marathon the next morning. It was group of about 15 and interesting to hear everyone's stories.

I had roomed with another maniac from NYC to split hotel costs, she had ridden down with Kino and I had driven up from Virginia. The next morning, we met up with a Marathon Maniac in the lobby through the powers of facebook to walk the mile downhill to the start. Our hotel was on the edge of an "interesting" neighborhood, so figured going in a group was a good idea.

The race shirt was a bright pink brooks short sleve tech tee, and I am pictured in the Kettle Fun Run wearing it. I also wore it all day as a volunteer so that friends could easily find me.

Ran 4:32:59

Kettle Moraine 38 Mile Night Fun Run 6/2/12 DNF

I didn't run on National Running Day due to injury,
but I re-posted this on FB and here as a substitute :)

This will be a little out of order for race reports, but I guess that is how it goes. So, I am taking the week off of running to rehab a flare of achilles tendonitis that has been angry for a few weeks but got really angry on the uneven trails of the Ice Age Trail during the fun run. I first spent all day volunteering primarily at the Scuppernog Aid Station, mile 31-ish to get my service requirement in for VT100 and to learn what I could. I ended up having a great time, but really did not drink or eat much all day, too busy!
Ready for runners!

Some people looked great, while others were running the 100k and had never heard of electrolyte capsules before (!!!). I learned that there are more brands of water bladder backpacks, and that there is no easy to hand design of those other than just handheld running water bottles. People either WANTED ice or really really didn't want any despite our strong recommendations. It was a perfect temperature in the early hours but started to get a little warm mid-day, albeit not anywhere near what it sounded like the temps reached last year.

At the start in the pink, great shirt from the Delaware Marathon

7pm Fun Run wave begins

For the fun run, due to a large amount of runners, we got a last minute email that instead of starting at 8p, they were going to release a wave of runners every 20 minutes starting at 6p, to avoid overwhelming the aid stations. It was a chip starting line, with timing mats at many of the aid stations. Things started out well and it was still light for the first 90 minutes until about 8:45p in the trees. Lights were needed where there was tree cover initially but not in the open areas due to the almost full moon. The night running took a bit of getting used to, as did interacting with the 100 milers who were getting pretty tired at this point, as well as the co-mingling with the relay runners. It made it hard to gauze your pace and to "run into" people that may be going the same pace as you to run with. It felt lonely but not scary knowing that there were people not too far ahead and behind you on the trails, even if you couldn't see them.

Coming in to the 2nd aid station @ Bluff Road

Filling up and chatting with a
mardi gras bead wearing volunteer

Browsing the picnic, I mean aid station

From the start my achilles hurt and my hip hurt, both that have been nagging issues for the last month or so, but don't stop my running per se. In combination of being up and running after my bedtime with the constant pain, I wanted to stop. I was worried about creating further damage in my achilles making it harder to rehab for upcoming races in the next few months. Besides, I have learned that my motivation to complete a race is a little lower in a state that I have already completed a marathon, as I work on completing my 50 states marathon circuit.

Crew and volunteer cars at the bluff road aid station
I passed through the aid station at Highway 12, hoping that HH would be there. It was dark, there were tons of people hanging out and seemed like all the crews were partying with themselves. I pushed on and the trail immediately started to climb and get a little gnarly. This aggravated things further and after a mile I turned around to walk/run back to the aid station to drop and ask or call for a ride. At the aid station a volunteer offered to give me a ride back to the start and where my car was parked. He said he wasn't a long distance runner, but that him and his friend volunteered at that particular aid station each year because to him it was interesting to see what happens to people when they broke down after running so far, for so long, during the night. I found this very interesting. It was 11pm and they wouldn't break down the aid station until 8am the next day. I drove to HH's family's home nearby, showered, ate a salmon dinner, and headed to bed.

I emailed the RD for Vermont and dropped from the 100 miler to the 100k race the next day.