Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shamrock 1/2 Race Report

What a great weekend with good friends.

Anita, CrazyTrain (J9's new nickname) & I went down to VA Beach Friday night. We picked up our race packets, cruised through the expo with just minutes to spare before closing & ate at Nick's restaurant (local dive on 32nd St). Nick's wasn't really very good (last time it was awesome). Not sure if we were just too late in the evening or not as hungry as last time. Anita had mentioned that she did not want to eat every meal at Nick's. Well, we managed to avoid it a couple of times, but we still ate there 3 times this weekend - it got progressively better.

After checking into the Marriott Courtyard on 37th street, we were disappointed to find ourselves on the 4th floor - we normally have the 10th or 11th floor. But whatever, right, no big deal, right? Actually it was a big deal. The beds were awful - normally they're great. Anita actually got a housekeeper to put an extra quilt on our bed and an extra mattress pad on CrazyTrain's sofabed. That lead to a very nice pre-race sleep, but Marriott will get a bit of an earful on the bed quality and low floor as well as kudo's to Beth the housekeeper who made the situation livable (the hotel was pretty much sold out Fri-Sat nights).

We were so tired on Saturday, that we decided to cut golf short and only play 9, which really was perfect. Had fun introducing CrazyTrain to golf - she is a decent caddy in training. I look forward to her soon to be ninja caddy skills. She was a better golf photographer, but now everyone says I need new pants as my 8 month old pants are too big. Whatever. Let's just see what I look like 3 months after IMTX - could be sitting on the couch straining the seams on these golf pants.

Had a sub & salad as my pre-race meal. That worked out surprisingly well for me. I think I might use that again. The team ate various things - there was way too much fried food on the table if you ask me - that'll slow you down for sure. Lots of pasta and sandwiches. Various degrees of comfort the next day.

So had a good night's sleep which was easy for me as this was just a training run and I needed to run 3 additional miles after the race (instead of heading immediately to the beer tent - very poor planning on my part). Yogurt for breakfast and gu's ready for the road. We tried to get in the Shamrock spirit with some washout green hair dye, but it just made our hair look dirty and greasy - can't wait for the race photo's!

And now for probably my favorite part of the race. The starting line is about 2 blocks from the hotel. How awesome to roll out of the room and hear the gun go off for the first corral start as we just come out of the hotel and still not feel rushed to get to the line for our corral 4 starts. Never saw DS, PH or JS before the race (they seemed to think it important to be on time to the starting line - I submit it was too cold to be outside until the last moment). CrazyTrain had an hour to her BIG ASS race, but still came outside to see us off and wish us luck. That was cool (crazy, but cool).

I start the race with Bad Idea Girl (BIG) and Anita and their pace feels great for the first few minutes. Then I start wondering if I'm lulling them into running faster than they want and I let them know that I'm going to move along. BIG gives me the very accurate reminder speech about the Long Slow Distance I'm doing today and that I'm not after a PR. That I should catch up to the 2:30 pace team and hang with them.

I meant to do that. Really I did. I caught up to that pace team and I got just in front of them, thinking that way I'd know if I was slowing down too much when they passed me. Had a beer at mile 2.67. I was really impressed with that. That is EARLY for a 1/2. So first beer at about 7:30 - going to be an interesting day. Next 3-4 miles went by and I just kept trying to find someone to draft as the headwinds were pretty significant and more than slowing me down, they were keeping me a little too cool. I never really found anyone to draft for very long. When the wind hit big, I'd head for the middle of the road and whatever pack was there. Then I ended up running through them and finding myself by one of the sides of the road. I think I crossed the road more than in any other race - not so much avoiding folks, but because there was no comfortably flat place on these roads. There was either a pretty big difference in the height of each footfall, or the road was very rough and/or stone & gravel filled. Kind of annoying, but not a large concern - just had to keep my head down so I could see the obstacles. We're 2 months from the big race, so NO INJURIES needed.

At mile 8, I realized I was more than halfway through and hadn't really given any thought to doing a negative split, which is always a good thing to try for. So I picked it up a bit, wondering if it was too much to manage for another 5 miles. It felt great. Let me write that again. I felt great - picked the pace up a bit more. I was very aware of the feeling that my turnover was faster than I'd ever been able to carry for any significant distance. Probably had something to do with the headwind now being a tailwind. That's OK. I know it's partly that and partly training. I think a big part training. Had another beer about 3 miles from the finish. Cool.

Skipped a water stop so that I could double high-five a long line of folks begging for it! It was awesome and fun. Made me feel like a little kid, just a bit giddy. Just after that, there were a couple of older folks not high fiving, but loudly cheering and another woman swinging one of those hand-clicky noisemaker thingy's. I still wasn't done high fiving, so I high fived the clicky thing and it made a huge noise! Made a bunch of us laugh.

A few minutes later, PH taps me on the shoulder and asks how I'm doing as we're just a couple of miles from home! It was great to see her and exchange some race reports. She kept saying how great I was doing and I let her know I was going to go ahead and go for the PR as I was running so well. She told me I had it in the bag and we parted ways - she looked strong too.

Had another beer about a mile from the finish (so a pr as I'd never had 3 beers during a race, keeping in mind that a "beer" in this case is just a swig or 2). Makes me nervous to grab a cup from guys by the side of the road, not associated with the Hash House Harriers (drinkers witha running problem), but I had to PR!

Making the turn for the boardwalk, a massive headwind hit, but knowing it was only a couple of hundred yards until it was more of a sidewind made it manageable. Checked the watch and new that I had the PR in the bag, so I started varying my pace to get in an open space for a good finishing picture - forgot that I had greasy grey-green hair. Oh well, I still have the PR: 2:13:13. A pr by over 5 minutes!

A great celebration followed as each of us had good races. BIG persevered when she wasn't feeling well for a lot of the race and lots of new PRs were established.

CrazyTrain completed her first marathon very quickly as we tracked her Lojacked ass on the internet. Sad to know that the updates were a few minutes delayed as we could have seen her at about mile 15 of the marathon. Stood there for 15 minutes before we realized there was no way she hadn't already gone by. At that point, it was too late to catch up with her with the road closures. We were very disappointed, so settled for watching her online progress until she was 5 miles out. Then we headed for the finish line, but only managed to get a couple of pics as she flew by for an awesome finish.

Much more celebrating followed, as it should have. We had a great time with great friends.

Sorry for the long report.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Training failure

Last Saturday, I had a miserable bike ride. I was supposed to ride 70, but wound up quitting after 40 because I hurt so much in my ladyparts. Yes, TMI, I know. But it sucked. Amazingly, as I was cry/whining in the car on the way home, my phone rang. Now all my friends knew I'd be biking & running for 5-6 hours, not 3. Somehow, The Bad Idea Girl (oh, she may not like the new acronym), just knew that I needed her to call. I'd already decided that when she called to see how my ride/run went, I'd let it go to voicemail. But she blindsided me by calling 3 hours early. HTF did she know? One pep talk later, I understood that this wasn't a failure on my part, it was an equipment failure. I like that a lot better. Thanks.