Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Mario

Welcome to a very special edition of "Monday Mario." I never thought I'd be lucky enough to nab a photo of Mario doing this... I was SO happy when I got it that I immediately downloaded it to my computer for fear it would somehow erase itself. Enjoy...






The Bunny Yawn

Friday, October 22, 2010

Humboldt Redwoods Marathon

The Mario Recap, Marathon #24:
Gorgeous course. Third marathon in four weeks (ran each one slightly faster without intentionally sandbagging). Last marathon of 2010.

The Full Recap, Marathon #24:

This race was an extra special one out of the year. Boyfriend is training to run the Texas Marathon with me in January so he signed up to do the half marathon. We drove up from San Francisco the day before the race (love how there is race morning bib pick-up at these smaller races). The drive up deserves its own special report later.

I will spoil one thing and just post this photo of our pre-race dinner:

Two cheeseburgers each and fries. I've PR'd at the half twice and ran my second fastest marathon at the time after this meal. Tried and true and readily available. They also had pumpkin pie (which wasn't as good as good 'ole apple).

I had a bunch of little goals for this race.
A- goal: Sub 5 finish. I never paid attention to it, but the race opens up the course to traffic after this point in time and the finish mat may or may not be there afterward. A bad day for me puts me safely into the 5 hour finish time so my ultimate goal was to get to the mat before it got lifted.
D-goal: Sub 4:45 finish. Beat Akron.
C-goal: Sub 4:41 finish. Beat Portland.
B-goal: Sub 4:40 finish. Let's get a "3" in that second number position.

I went on one pretty sad 2 mile run the Friday before the race. That run pretty much solidified the idea that my legs were totally over this multiple marathon streak.

The race started at 9:00 am. This is a pretty late start for a race. It was really nice setting my alarm the night before, but I'd much prefer a 7:00 or even 8:00 am start. My body is thrown all out of whack running so far later in the morning. If I get up and go early I can surprise it, but 9:00 am -- it's expecting all sorts of creature comforts like a real breakfast, bathrooms that flush, and lunch before my finish time. Boo.

The course is made up of of two out-and-backs. Normally this would totally suck but I didn't really mind. It broke the race down into mini chunks for me. The scenery doesn't change a whole lot (pretty redwoods lining the road) so it didn't really matter much if we were doing an out-and-back, loop, or point-to-point. We ran the first leg with the half marathoners (of which there were tons) and the second leg was just for the full marathoners.

Boyfriend and I started off together, probably a little too far back in the crowd. If you're racing this one, get up to the front because the course was pretty crowded for the first few miles. He stayed with me for about a quarter of a mile before taking off to do a marathon-paced run with some negative split action at the end. I was looking forward to seeing him at the turnaround.

I pulled over to the side to catch this photo on Avenue of the Giants (probably 0.3 mi into the race); To give you an idea of how many half runners there were, during the full marathon there was often no one in front or in back of me that I could see. I just checked and there were 206 full finishers and 607 half finishers.

Here's the elevation chart:

The first half is fairly flat (one nice overpass to get over). The second half has a nasty uphill trend before the second turnaround where you get to run back down the incline.

As I was running out towards the first turnaround I started getting sort of angry. It looked like we were constantly running downhill. If the whole first leg was downhill, that meant when we turned around it would be all uphill. I actually almost asked people running around me if they thought we were running downhill, too. "Does this seem like we're running downhill? Shouldn't it be flat?" But I didn't.

Pretty soon the leaders started coming back from the turnaround. I cheered on the very first ones and then the first women later on, but decided to save some energy after that. Shortly before I saw Boyfriend a man coming back towards me was cheering very loudly for all of us still heading out to the turnaround. I thought this was so nice of him. I guess as a slower runner I'm used to being the one cheering for all the faster people. It was cool of him to take some time out for us. I decided to cheer for everyone still heading out to turnarounds the rest of the day.

I saw Boyfriend coming back and stopped to snap a picture of him. We high-fived each other as we crossed paths. He was probably a mile ahead of me at this point so shortly after seeing him I reached the turnaround. One "out" portion done, one more to go!

The road was really windy like a snake so it made running the tangents a real brain exercise. Boyfriend noted that on the way back in to the half finish everyone kept to the right side of the road. If I run this again I will definitely cross over to the other side when doing the return run. I did note that once the leaders started coming back it was impossible to run all the tangents since they were taking up the entire left side of the road. I could have done better that return leg of the first out and back if I had crossed over the middle line. On the second leg, people heading out and in were on all sides of the road. There was no "keep to the right" rule.

I did notice that after the first turnaround, I still felt like we were running downhill. I didn't believe it when I read it but supposedly the tall redwoods give you the illusion of running downhill in both directions. PLUS in my book! (In reality I'm sure the terrain is pretty flat)

I kept plugging along. I decided to fuel with both shot bloks and gels. I took a bunch of bloks first and decided to save the gels for the middle miles. I took one gel (and my first walk break) at mile 11. I calculated that my next gel would be at mile 17. I told myself I wouldn't walk again until mile 17. By mile 17 I'd be halfway up the uphill climb of the second leg and that would be a nice time to take a little break and regroup.

All of my on-the-the-run photos were blurry like this. Sorry.

I approached the halfway point and saw Boyfriend. I handed him my camera since I hadn't been taking many pictures up to this point. He used it to get some shots of me before I disappeared off into the second out and back.

The first thing I noticed about the second leg was how few runners there were. This is definitely a predominately half marathon event. The second thing I noticed was how peaceful it was. I definitely prefer to not have other runners around me during marathons. Especially ones like this with serene nature settings. I had read online that the second leg was not quite as pretty as the first, there were some areas of torn up road (I did notice there were many sections of freshly paved road. So while there were some gnarly bits of pavement I think the worse of it has been repaved since the old reviews online were written), and also a stretch where the trees weren't shading you. Add to this the uphill fight to the turnaround and you have a bit of a mental and physical challenge. My attitude heading out towards the second leg was, "Bring it!"

I was slowly catching up to a runner up ahead. She turned around and saw me at one point and motioned for me to catch up to her. It took a while but I finally did. We exchanged a few words of encouragement but she had headphones in and I was content to just run with her for a bit. We were doing the same pace. I vacillated between being happy with her company, wanting to be by myself, being upset running beside her meant I couldn't run the tangents as well, and wishing she didn't have headphones on so we could chat and pass the time. Bipolar, I know!

A little out of sequence, this was shot on the return trip of the first leg.

When Boyfriend and I looked at the elevation profile, he commented that the elevation gain the second half over so many miles was nothing. Well, I'm here to tell you that it was definitely something! I noticed that my effort hadn't lowered but my pace was slowing. The hills weren't very steep looking but they were definitely affecting me. But I was amazed when mile 17 came around and it was time to take a gel and walk a little. This race was going by SO fast! I didn't want to lose my running buddy, but I knew there were still 2.5 more uphill miles to go. I told my pace buddy I was going to walk and take a gel and that I'd see her at the turnaround.

Once I downed the gel I picked back up my running pace. Now my goal was to make it to mile 19.5 so that I could turn around and run DOWN this incline. By the time I hit the half the sun had come up. The second leg of the course has areas of less tree cover so things were warming up a little bit. I wished I had brought along my sunglasses (it had been overcast at the start and that combined with the tree cover made me leave them in the car). I was afraid that there would be a very long stretch of unshaded road where I would melt into a we-started-so-late-and-now-it-is-high-noon puddle but luckily the unshaded sections were broken up by shade just enough to keep that from happening.

The incline slowly got to me, though, and I took another walk break around mile 18.5 or so. Just a short one. My pace buddy up ahead kept my place and I didn't lose much time doing that. She seemed to be pretty rock-steady and I wasn't sure I'd catch her in the future.

As I approached the turnaround my pace buddy ran off into the woods (she later told me she had to pee). I never saw her again during the race. Then, my favorite part of the race: I saw the last turnaround at mile 19.5. I put my hands in the air and did a little, "Whoo!!" as I turned around the cone. Instantly things got easier. I felt like I was flying. I made it a point to tell every runner who was still heading out to the turnaround "The turnaround is just ahead!" and, "Things are a lot easier going this direction!" They seemed to appreciate the encouragement. Eventually I got far enough from the turnaround I couldn't say this kind of stuff so I went back to the old, "Great job! Keep it up!"

I let my pace quicken with the downhill and started passing people. I kept thinking how the uphill didn't feel so bad, but if I was feeling this good going in the opposite direction it must have been a doozy! My pace quickened about a minute a mile without any extra effort. I loved this part of the race because the early 20+ miles just kept clicking away as I felt so great on the downhill return.

All good things must come to an end and the keep-you-honest flat to rolling segments started up again. In this part of the race the uphills were fairly short and I let myself walk up a couple of them. When I got to mile 24 I looked at my overall time and realized I had a good shot of breaking 4:40 if I just kept running. I took a last walk break up a short little incline and told myself to suck it up the rest of the race.

I was running and pushing a little. Around mile 25+ another short little uphill came. I kept telling myself I could slow down but I couldn't walk. If I walked I'd lose my sub 4:40 finish. I passed the mile 26 sign and looked at my time. I don't remember exactly what I saw (4:38 something) but I know what I thought because I said out loud, "I'm not going to make it."

And you know, I can't tell you what I thought or what made me decide to go for it and try harder, but I dug deep and started pushing really hard. I wasn't going to come all this way and come so close to my main time goal. I had pretty crappy finish times at Akron and Portland and I really wanted this for my last marathon.

That's me heading towards the finish line. LOVE those awesome finish line crowds. Ha ha. Actually, even with the dearth of cheerers I felt like lots of people were cheering. Or maybe Boyfriend was just making all the racket himself? They had an announcer saying all our names/cities but honestly I never hear those things as I'm pushing to the finish.

I headed down the finish chute. And hit the mat in 4:39:47. I was SO freakin' happy.

The interesting thing about myself is that for these non-PR races I have a rough idea of what sort of time I can do depending on how I'm feeling. Then I set these time goals with NO clue about what pace that entails. Somewhere around mile 24 I'll look at my time and have to dig deep to make the cut. It would be far simpler for me to know what pace I need and try to stick with it the whole race. Instead I run comfortably the first 24 miles and see where that leaves me for that particular day.

The medal for the race was sad. Lightweight with basically a sticker stuck on it with the logo:

What made it even sadder was that the half marathoners didn't get a medal! I mean really, how much could a sticker medal possibly cost?

But Humboldt redeemed itself with its race shirts. I wasn't expecting a technical shirt. I wasn't expecting gender specific technical shirts. And I certainly wasn't expecting women's XS tech shirts.

Hallelujah! A race shirt I can wear!
And you'll notice it is a long-sleeve V-neck Ha!

There is another race which runs on the same course called Avenue of the Giants. I imagine this race is the more famous of the two. The Avenue race runs the two legs in the opposite order as Humboldt. Therefore for the marathon the hills would come earlier. I am not sure what I would prefer for the marathon, but I would definitely prefer to run the half at the Humboldt event. The first leg for my race is definitely faster and more beautiful which is a win-win situation in my book. I would run the marathon again and I certainly would run the half at race effort.

We drove back out onto the first leg of the course to get some photos. The majority of the course looks just like this. So beautiful and the shade keeps things wonderfully cool.

Look at the size of the road in relation to the trees. Simply breathtaking.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Portland Marathon

The Mario Recap, Marathon #23:
It's raining, it's pouring...

Not the best medal shot, but such a cute Mario nose shot :)

The Full Recap, Marathon #23:

I had been following the weather reports for Portland for a while before the race. The chance of rain was looking very good. Naomi texted me Saturday morning, "It's pouring rain and windy." Times like this remind me why I rarely reschedule runs for weather. I won't run in thunderstorms and try not to run in dangerously high winds, either. But rain? I'll always head out in rain. The longest I've run in steady rain is 20 miles so I had a moderate amount of confidence that I'd hold up.

Alisa and her hubby dropped me off at the start area. The start area was sort of confusing because the different corrals were on different blocks. I couldn't even really tell where I was supposed to line up. I huddled under available shelter with other runners as we watched the rain come down. It was raining pretty steadily as we waited, and as they released the first corral of runners it started raining even harder. It was slightly comical.

Luckily the temperature was not so bad (high 50's/60's) and overall there wasn't much wind. So once you surrender to the idea of getting soaked, the rain was actually a lot of fun. Alisa had given me a garbage bag which I wore until mile 8 (when I realized that I was totally soaked anyway and it didn't seem like the wind would pick up).

I have to say that Portland really came through with the crowd support. Considering how nasty the weather was, I was really surprised at how many fearless people braved the elements to support the runners.

Garmin's trace of the day

I was unusually thirsty during this race given the weather conditions. I usually run with Cliff Shot Bloks. I'll generally alternate the margarita flavor (extra sodium) and another berry flavor. Since it was raining so hard, I didn't want both packets to be open at once. So I started eating just the margarita ones every two miles or so. I'm not sure if that is what set the whole thing off, but there were times I had no water in my little handheld and there was no aid station in sight. I accidentally threw away the last two margarita shot bloks at an aid station when I threw away my garbage bag. It didn't bother me since I was so thirsty. I figured I didn't need any extra sodium the rest of the day.

The marathon was handing out gummy bears on the course. At first I doubted the wisdom of gummy bears on a rainy day (the pretzel station for sure probably didn't fare well in the rain) but eventually everything is so wet, eating some already moist gummy bears is not a big deal. Since I was down two shot bloks (and also not so much in the mood to eat them) I started eating the bears. The bears were yummy and a fun distraction. There were gummy bears everywhere on the ground after the aid stations which stocked them. With the pouring rain it was a sad vision of gummy bear carnage.

Alisa & Co. was out cheering early on in the race by the first out-and-back section. They were also camped out at mile 18. It was great to see some familiar faces. I had given her a little bag of all sorts of mid-race provisions (change of socks, gloves, sunglasses, etc.) My feet were quite sloshy by mile 18 but I didn't see the point to stop and change my socks.

Alisa running with me to see if I needed anything. She said, "We'll see you at the finish!" Which made me feel like it was sort of just around the corner (in a good way).

The one thing I have learned from my rainy training runs, is that I need to be more careful about chafing. I was quite liberal with the body glide and couldn't feel any trouble spots during the run. The bottom of my right foot started hurting a little towards the end of the race, but nothing too serious (turned out the skin had gotten so wrinkly it had folded over on itself in a strange way -- but no blister). I did have three chafed spots that I hadn't body-glided (a spot under the arm warmer band, a totally random spot on my hip -- the worse by far -- and some bits under the neckline of my sports bra). But for 26.2 miles in the rain I thought that was pretty good! I didn't get one blister (though I think 1.5 toenails are on their way off since my feet were sliding forward in my shoes) but my feet looked like cadaver feet when I finally got my socks off. They were grey and wrinkly and really gross. Sorry, I didn't snap a photo of that.

I think that the Portland course is fairly fast. There are some hills/inclines early on in the race, and one nasty climb up to the bridge (but the view on the crossing was totally worth it). But overall it is pretty flat. With a bit of hill training I think it would be possible to run a fairly fast race on this course. The course was varied -- city, then industrial (lots of those infamous train tracks to cross -- I didn't get stopped by a train), then cute little neighborhoods.

They had a lot of on-the-course entertainment. My one disappointment was that the bagpipe group was taking a break when I passed. I loved the reggae guy towards the end of the race who was saying, "Reggae, rain and the Portland Marathon? Who would have thought?!" There was another guy on a microphone saying, "Anyone can do it in the sunshine! You're doing it in the rain!" I'm not sure this warm weather weenie agrees, but it was a fun sentiment.

A first in a marathon -- one of the underpasses housed a group of homeless people. We passed this point on the way out and on the way back. The first time I ran through, they were all sort of staring at us like they had no clue what had happened to their peaceful Sunday morning. On the way back, one of the men had gotten into the cheering and was yelling, "Just one more mile to go!" I wondered if he had been a runner before and it made me a little sad.

As far as how I felt -- somewhere after the halfway point my legs got heavy. I remember thinking they felt like I was at mile 20. With all my multiple marathoning I've learned this feeling comes earlier but then it doesn't necessarily get worse. My main goal was to beat my Akron time. My A goal was to come in under 4:40.

Around mile 24 I switched over to see what my time was. I realized if I could run just under 10 minute miles the rest of the way I'd squeak under 4:40. I knew there was no way that was going to happen. By that time my legs were protesting very loudly and with Humboldt coming up the week after I didn't have it in me to leave everything I had out there. But at that point I knew if I just kept running I'd definitely beat my Akron time. I took a short walk break up the last bridge and told myself I'd keep running to the finish.

I have to say that last mile was the longest mile ever. I did manage to kick things up a little towards the end and crossed in 4:41. I got my medal and mylar blanket and proceeded through the best post-marathon food spread I've seen yet. I am usually not very hungry after a race and will take the food to munch on later. But I was actually sort of hungry and walking down the line of tables eating as I went along. Banana? Why thank you! String cheese? Don't mind if I do! Red Vines?! My fave!!

I was then given a pretty sad looking rose and a baby douglas fir. My poor rose got decapitated when I put it down to use the bathroom but I brought it home to let Mario munch on. I'm planning on putting the baby tree in a pot, but I am not sure what sort of future it has since I live in an apartment in a city.

Portland has an enormous amount of swag. Let's go through it here. Besides the above rose and baby tree there was...

A rose pendant (gold for the marathon, silver for the half)

A marathon shirt (props to them for going gender specific, but the size small is still too big for me), not to be confused with...

The finisher's shirt you got at the finish. Sadly these were not gender specific and so of course, does not fit.

A challenge coin. This was in the race goody bag. Since it says "Finisher" on it, I almost didn't bother running the race. I put my thumb in the shot to give you an idea of the size.

The challenge coin was two-sided.

And the medal (exact same design as the challenge coin)

The other side of the medal.

The following may sound to be in exact contradiction to what I said about Akron and all their swag. However, I feel that Portland went a little overboard with all of this stuff. I guess if it were my first marathon I'd love all these little mementos. But I sort of feel like instead of giving so many things, maybe they could do two of the things really well. For example, the challenge coin and the medal:

Same design and almost the same size! Maybe they could have done the medal in color & a little bigger instead of doing both. And the two shirts? Maybe one really nice shirt (or a jacket or zip up -- oh, and maybe they could offer a size that fits)? But that is just me.

An area I think Portland really dropped the ball on was the 10-10-10 marketing. Many runners (myself included) thought it was neat to be running a marathon on 10-10-10. There is not one mention of this date on any of the swag.

I also think it is fairly cool that I probably spent over 5 hours outside in the rain without any rain gear or an umbrella. I think that is a lifetime rain PR. The little things running adds to your life :)

My race report would not be complete without a shout-out to Alisa and Justin. They were awesome hosts and made my Portland Marathon experience very special. After my fatigue pre- and post-Akron I wasn't looking forward to running another marathon so soon. But the idea of getting to visit with them made me really look forward to the weekend. On top of cooking up a mean pre-race dinner and helping me get to the race on time with my bib attached to my body, they also were out in the rain all day cheering me on. Thanks so much, you two!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Mario

I have a balance board I use to try to help prevent sprained ankles. Sadly, it was a Mario Fail at sitting on the board.

What is this? A new object to sit on?!

Hmm... Trickier than it looks.

Maybe if I just inch on this way...

Ta-da! All four feet on! (screamed quickly as he slid off)


These photos were taken a few months ago the first time I left the board out in the living room. Mario doesn't even try to sit on it anymore. He does love hopping over it as he does his Bunny 500's, though!

Gratuitious bunny butt shot.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Akron Marathon

The Mario Recap, Marathon #22:
Totally awesome race. Highly, highly recommend.

The Full Recap, Marathon #22:

For perhaps the first time out of 22 marathons I was lucky enough to have a bed that was a close walking distance to the start line. So I planned to leave the hotel 30 minutes before the start and head straight to the starting line. When I got to the hotel elevator another runner joined me. "This is awesome!" he exclaimed, "I'm never so close to the start line!" Preaching to the choir, buddy.

When I arrived in Akron the day before, it had been muggy and hot. By some miracle the high temperature dropped 30 degrees overnight. I was super happy about this. It was still pretty warm for this San Franciscan, but workable weather for a for-fun marathon.

My body had been in a definite running funk the whole week leading up to Akron. Three milers had been grueling and an attempted 3 mile tempo pick-up turned into a one mile pick-up. To top it off, in the 4 weeks prior to the race my longest run had been 13.1 miles. I was really worried about how I would do in Akron. The good news is, I didn't truly care about how I did. Relentless forward motion.

Akron has concurrent half marathon and relay events. I've aired my opinions before about this type of thing before. So I was really looking forward to dropping at least the halvers at mile 11. There was a funny guy cheering at mile 10 who was yelling, "Half marathoners, you're almost there! Full marathoners, not so much!" That made me smile. At least some people get it. (That same guy was out cheering at mile 24 yelling, "You're almost there! You're almost there!" That was funny, too)

I had heard that the race had rolling hills but the course profile didn't look too intimidating after something like Big Sur. I knew there was a nasty uphill trend during the latter miles of the race, though.

Akron has a blue line painted on the roads which mark the course (I was seriously disappointed that a rather large section of the course did not have the painted lines). So I snapped this photo of these runners:

The blue line was neat because after the race I'd be walking around the city and see the line and realize I was on the course.

The blue line

One thing that pleasantly surprised me about Akron was the diversity of the course. It starts off in downtown Akron, runs through some suburbs, returns to the city and through the university. Then it spits you out onto the Towpath trail. I hadn't realized that part of the course was unpaved until a day or two before the race. I had flashbacks to the loose gravel trails of Santa Rosa and was really dreading this section of the race. However, the surface of the trail was very smooth. It was almost like a compacted powder. And the scenery was so nice! Tree-lined on both sides, birds chirping, insects buzzing, and you could even hear water from a river/creek thing. It was beautiful and my favorite part of the course.

I only got this one sad, blurry, photo of the trail area. But it went on for 4 wonderful miles. There was even a raised boardwalk section that overlooked a golf course.

After the trail we were treated to another beautiful change of scenery. This part reminded me a little of the early miles of Big Sur. Sadly, part of the reason it reminded me of Big Sur were the hills which started. Nothing too terrible, but they kept coming. The sun, as you can see, had been out for quite some while at this point. But luckily all the tree coverage on the trail and in this area kept things relatively pleasant.

So pretty

There was a cyclist who was out cheering for runners who kept yelling, "Sand Run in the middle of a marathon?! That's crazy!" which made me seriously suspicious about whether we were out running the hilliest stretch of road in the area.

Why yes, I walked this hill at mile 22. Sue me.

I then got sort of lazy with the picture taking. We ran through a portion of the Stan Hywet Gardens. There were apple trees lining the driveway up to the house and I thought about how Mario would have loved to munch on the fallen apples.

There were tons of these fun and motivational signs along the course. This was one of my favorites. I also liked, "Doncha wish your girlfriend could run like me."

So how was I feeling? I felt pretty good until about the halfway point. Then my pace slowly started slowing up. The first 16 miles I mainly only took walking breaks while eating gels, but after that I let myself walk up more of the inclines. The hills weren't terrible individually, but they definitely wore me out.

The top of my right foot started hurting at some point which worried me. I promised myself I'd ice it after the race.

A quick note about relays -- While I love how relay exchange points are basically cheer stations (and nothing makes you feel like more of a bad ass in the middle of a marathon than running through a relay exchange station as a solo runner) I just can't get on board with running with people who are doing any distance shorter than what I am running. At one point I was running by two relay people who were talking about how they had one more mile to go and they didn't know if they were going to make it. Seriously? Could you please keep comments like that to yourself when others around have 10+ more miles to go? Also, I have realized that races put a bib on the back of relay runners that says, "Relay" to help assuage your ego as you get run over by these fresh legged runners at various points in the race.

There were more suburbs then we reentered the outskirts of the city. There was a really nice downhill stretch for a bit before a few short hills towards the finish.

I crossed the line in 4:45 which I know is a pretty slow time for me nowadays. But given how I felt coming into the race it could have been much worse. Happy finish? I'll take it.

The finish was in Canal Park which was really cool. I didn't realize until after, but they had the runners up on the jumbotron. You could also hang out in the stands and enjoy watching other people finish afterward. The race director was out shaking every finisher's hand after they came across the finish.

The finish area

I have to say that hands down the Akron Marathon was the best organized marathon I have ever run. The signage on the course, the way they set up the aid stations, and the frequency of portapotties was exceptional. And the swag. Dear lord the swag! I loved the variety of the scenery on the course and I actually prefer rolling hills to something totally flat. I am hoping to go back and run this again in 2012.

Post-race foot dunk. I think the pain was from the pressure from my shoe on the top of my foot. My foot was fine walking around after the race, but once I put my shoes back on, they would hurt again.

On to the awesome swag. First, race entry came with a year's subscription to "Running Times" which is not nearly as how-do-I-lose-five-pounds-and-get-great-abs-running-two-times-a-week as "Runner's World." Highly recommend.

The medal was of very good quality. Second only to my Austin medal. Dense, heavy, high quality medal. Me likey

And the thing that really got me excited about signing up for this race, was that everyone got a running jacket. And not just some thin, lame windbreaker. A real Brooks running jacket.

Me double likey.

Roadrunner detail from shoulder

At the finish we were also given fleecy ear-warmer headbands which I guess if you live in Ohio is quite useful in the winter. If I remember correctly, race entry was only $85. In a day when many races with sub par swag (and sub par races) cost $125 I think this is totally amazing.

Garmin's trace of our day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Mario

Mario often places his little ring toy into his food bowl.
Bunny art?
Protest against an empty bowl?
You decide.

I figured Cliff would post a comment about how this is a lame "Monday Mario," if I stopped with just the above photo. So I also got this shot of what Mario was doing while I admired his handiwork (which is apparently admiring his handiwork, too).

Oops, spoke too soon. He's just being lazy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dick Beardsley Half Marathon

My goal going into this race was to run it as a training run. I had run Santa Rosa two weeks before, Disney the week before, and had done some hard workouts during the week at camp. I knew my body was tired. I figured I'd go out at a easy effort the first half, and made it my goal to try to negative split the second.

Since the race fell on September 11th, they had a short segment of the course which was lined with servicemen holding American flags. We had been asked to be silent through this stretch. I was surprised at how emotional I felt running through.

The majority of the race winds around Detroit Lake. Very pretty!

I wore a heart rate monitor during this race for the second time ever (the first being the day before on a five miler). I had been talking to one of the camp coaches about heart rate and he had said for the effort I wanted to do I should try to stay in the 155 range. The majority of the race my HR was in the low to mid 170's. In fact, at one point the coach came by on his bike and asked what my HR was. I said, "I don't want to tell you!" Ha ha. But I told him by perceived exertion I felt like I was where I wanted to be. We calculated my zones based off my age, and he recommended doing an actual full-exertion run to see what it really is, so that is still on my agenda.

I hit the halfway mark mat and kicked it up one notch. The course is fairly flat but does have some nice rollers here and there.

The spectator support was surprisingly good. A young girl had a sign that said, "Don't slow down! People are watching!" And the Fargo Marathon had a water stop/cheer section that was so great it made me want to run their race one day.

As I approached the finish another of the camp's coaches was on the side cheering and running campers in to the finish. "Come on girl! Keep up with me!" she yelled. I tried my hardest and gave it the finest finishing kick I have ever executed. The last quarter mile I averaged a 7:25 pace. Believe me, I have never seen numbers so low on my Garmin before.

My final time was 2:10 and I ran a 2 minute negative split. Mission accomplished. After two weeks in a row of half marathons after so many marathons, I have to say, I can definitely get used to stopping at 13.1!

Thanks, everyone, for all of your comments on my previous post. I will still be doing many marathons "for fun" in the future. I truly believe you need to have a balance of race-effort races and enjoy-the-day races.

I'd like to be clear that a 3:30 is not my goal. Maybe this goes against everything I said in the last post, but I think that is some sort of ridiculous for me. Right now I think a sub-4 is a goal that would be really difficult for me but possibly realistically attainable and for now that is what I'm hoping to accomplish one day.

I think that what the pep talks I got gave me was the permission to dream a little bigger for myself. And also the reality check that if it is something I want, I need to get on it sooner than later.

I'm flying up to Portland tomorrow to run the Portland Marathon this Sunday. I haven't posted my Akron Marathon report from two weeks ago yet (trying to keep things sequential over here). All you need to know is that my body was super tired going into that race and my finish time reflected that. I took an entire week off from running after Akron which is something I don't think I've done very often this year. I've gone on a handful of short runs this week and all of them were less than stellar. I had a foot issue crop up at Akron and I am unsure how that will play out in Portland.

I didn't realize I had set myself up for this until shortly before Akron, but I am doing another 3 marathons in 4 week venture this month. If I am being completely honest, after Akron the thought of running Portland and Humboldt this week and next made me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry.

I feel as if my legs got wind of this 3 in 4 week development and said, "Wait a second. We did that in March. You said it was to celebrate your 30th. And now we are doing it again? W-T-F."

My optimism I can get these done lies solely in the people involved the next two weeks. I'm visiting Alisa & Justin in Portland and Boyfriend is running the half at Humboldt next week. This has added some happiness and excitement to the dread of the races. One foot in front of the other...