Monday, December 21, 2009

Best of 2009... Marathon Medals Edition!

Best Marathon Medals of 2009...
I've taken all of my ratings from my 2009 Marathons (18 in total) and ranked them best to worst, with the top 5 taking the prizes*. I'll do a new "Best of" each day for the next few days, ending with "Best overall marathon." I've included pictures below to the "Best of" as well as the remaining marathons.... and I've thrown in a few from prior years as well. Links will bring you to the full race ratings. Hope you enjoy.
*Actual prizes can be redeemed in "cool points"

4c. Leading Ladies "It's All in the Bag- Purse" Medal (3-way tie for 4th place) 4.0/5.0
Date: Aug 16, 2009
Spearfish, SD
Overall rating: 4.3/5.0

Info: This seemed like a great design for an all-women's marathon- great slogan, a purse, a touch of pink. But, it is a little hard to read the lettering... brown and red may not have been a great combo.

 4b Vermont City Marathon Medal (3-way tie for 4th place) 4.0/5.0
Date: May 24, 2009
Burlington, VT
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0

Info: There is just something I love about this one... the size, design, and color, give it sort of a distinctive regal look. Some may think it's boring because it's just an emblem, but I liked it!

4a. OBX "Pirate Coin" Medal (3-way tie for 4th place) 4.0/5.0
Date: Nov 8, 2009
Overall rating: 4.8/5.0

Info: I gave this one the 4A of the tie because, if I had to choose, it would definitely be above the other two. I think I was sort of disappointed when I found out it wasn't the treasure map they had the year before. Still... a pirate coin is very cool!

3. Nashville Country Music "Ten Year Anniversary" Medal 4.2/5.0
Date: Apr 25, 2009
Nashville, TN
Overall rating: 3.2/5.0

Info: The X representing the 10-years, gave a little something special for those of us at the anniversary. This is a rock-n-roll marathon, so the guitars added an appropriate touch. Not for the weak... this medal is HEAVY- as thick as it is colorful!!!

2. ING Georgia "Skyline Spin" Medal 4.5/5.0
Date: Mar 29, 2009
Atlanta, GA
Overall rating: 4.1/5.0

Info: If you click on the picture, you'll have a better idea of how cool this is. The skyline actually spins and the color and design are awesome! I really love when the designer put effort into the laynard as much as the medal itself. Colorful, fun, different... love it!

And the Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge #1 rated medal for 2009 is.... *Drum roll*...

1. Walt Disney World "Mickey" Medal 4.8/5.0
Date: Jan 11, 2009
Orlando, FL
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0

Info: A medal as distinctive and fun as it's race... it's very tough to beat a Disney World Medal. These are new due to complaints that the previous design was overused... they kept the Mickey and have a colorful and fun lanyard. The back is actually velcro for our convenience. This was my first race for 2009, so the medal got a 4.8 in case something better came along... there's still hope for a 5.0.

3 Worst Medals of 2009
I like to call this years worst the...
"Where's my medal?"... "That IS your medal!"... "THIS?? Oh dear lord!" Awards!

3. Louisville Marathon's "Did I get this out of a cracker jax box" medal 2.6/5.0
Date: Oct 18, 2009

Louisville, KY
Overall rating: 2.5/5.0

Info: Images in picture are NOT bigger than they appear... you really can't get the total feel for the medal until you see it. That shiney coat on th top is paint... its actually plastic.

2. Erie Marathon at Presque Isle "I'm so breaking this before I get home" Medal 2.2/5.0
Date: Sep 13, 2009
Erie, PA
Overall rating: 3.8/5.0

Info: Sometimes "different" isn't always good. This medal is glass... and we're lucky I got a picture of it in one piece. It's kind of hard to read, and it's not the prettiest picture on the front. Great marathon.... not a great medal.

And the Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge WORST medal of 2009 is... *drum roll*...

1. Park City's "What exactly IS that" Medal 2.0/5.0
Date: Aug 22, 2009
Park City, UT
Overall Rating: 3.0/5.0

Info: I don't think there is much more required here except the picture... ick. I actually asked a person in the finish shoot where we got our medals. She told me I was holding it... I tried not to look too disapointed. Great Race... great area... poor medal.

Remaining Medals of 2009...
The "Betweener" Medals

Date: Jun 13, 2009
Williamson, WV
Overall Rating: 4.8/5.0

Info: The entire race weekend was about these two families... specifically these two men, so it was appropriate to have their faces on the medal. Very intricate and nice for such a small race.
Date: Jul 26, 2009
San Fracisco, CA
Overall Rating: 2.8/5.0

Info: This is a pretty good sized medal. The back of it, has little legs so that it can be turned into a drink coaster... that's pretty cool. It scored a little lower because the design is awfully boring for such a huge race!

Date: Jul 11, 2009
Baraboo, WI
Overall Rating: 4.2/5.0

Info: I love the little running devil on these. Cute medal, but my issue with this one was that the half marathoners took all the medals, and we had to wait 3 weeks to get ours. Definitely affected the way I scored. Oops. Also, I think they use the same medal for all the DWD marathons, but I could be wrong.

RI 6-Hour Ultra"6th Place???" Medal 3.7/5.0
Date: Nov 15, 2009
Warwick RI
Overall Rating: 4.9/5.0

Info: I thought for a first attempt at a medal (new race with a new race director) this was a pretty good job! I like the colors on the laynyard, it has the race logo on the front, waves and all, just nice. Bad side? People kept asking me if I got 6th place... some people are so dense.

Date: Oct 4, 2009
Portland, ME
Overall Rating: 3.8/5.0

Info:  This one is kind of little, but I like the whole State-shaped one-- especially for all the 50-staters that participated in this one!

Date: Sep 20, 2009
Boulder, CO
Overall Rating: 3.4/5.0

This is an unusual medal done well.

Date: Jun 6, 2009
South Bend, IN
Overall Rating: 3.0/5.0

Info: And this is a great example of a smaller medal done well. The entry fee for this race was pretty low, which usually means a bad medal, but this one wasn't too bad! I like the gold... it definitely stands out.

New Hampshire Marathon Medal 3.0/5.0
Date: Oct 3, 2009
Bristol, NH
Overall Rating: 4.0/5.0

Info: I liked this one because it also had a state on it and it was a big 50-Stater marathon. But the medal was a little dull other than that.

Northern Central Trails Medal 2.8/5.0
Date: Nov 28, 2009
Sparks, MD
Overall Rating: 2.9/5.0

Info: Picture Coming Soon....

Distinctive Medals of Stephanie's Marathon Past...
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon
Cincinnati, OH
First weekend in May!
Info: Double-click on this one!!! Yes, that's a butt you see on the back-side of the medal. One of my favorite races (and not because I live in cinci) and one of my favorite medals. This one would get a 4.9, maybe even a 5.0 if it were in the 2009 ratings. Yes... it would be Mickey!!!!! The blue ribbon, is the half-marathon medal. It's a little bit smaller, and the lanyard is not as nice-- but then again its half the race!

Marine Corp Marathon 2007 Medal
Quantico, VA
Late October

Athens Classic Marathon
Athens, Greece
Info: This is my first marathon medal. The medal says (spelled in english) Klasikos Marathonos Athinon... Classic Marathon of Athens. There isn't anything too grand about this medal... which, surprisingly I can say the same about the very low-key race-- but it's pretty cool because its THE marathon. :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Northern Central Trails Marathon... Race Ratings!!!

Tagline: "Up hill both way, in the cold... with no shoes"
2009 Northern Central Trail Marathon

Registration Fee: $85 (Early Reg., $95 after)- The raced closed out before it reached late reg.

Overall Race Rating (weighted): 2.9/5.0
Average Calculated Rating: 3.17/5.0

~ This wasn't a bad race, but it definitely could use some work-- especially for the amount of money the registration is! Some of the race organization lacked a little and I felt the registration closed out a lot of runners-- they capped out the course, but they didnt get the whole path for the run either. The bikers on the course were a big problem and there was no GU. The swag was pretty cool... different from the normal: Jacket (albeit, not great looking), a pin, an OK medal.

Race Director: Let's place race director...
~What would I have changed if I were race director? The most important change I would make is to clear the bike path. Not only do the bikers slow down the runners, but it's not safe to have so many bikers on the course while a race is going on. GU or some sort of Gel could definitely be at one stop (2, since it is an out and back course). Instead of having tables on both sides of the course, make a longer water stop on one side or designate the right side for the out group and the left side for the runners coming back in the other direction.

Event Organization: 2.5/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll go ahead and include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
Distance from Airport to Expo/Race: ~35 Miles
Rental Car Required: YES
~ To get to this race, you will likely fly into a Baltimore airport. If you fly southwest this can be a fairly cheap flight!!! I can see traffic being tricky depending on the day because you need to drive through Baltimore to get from the race to the aiport... but we lucked out and got there and back with plenty of time to spare! We did stay in one of the websites hotels (Crown Plaza) and had an excellent stay.. nice hotel, nice stay but they don't take breakfast orders until 7am (Even if the lady tells you they take them at 6am... grrr). The website is very basic, giving you a limited amount of information, but then again the race isn't huge so they only needed to communicate so much. There WERE some issues from closing out so early with mail-in registrations that I mentioned in a prior post.

Race Organization: 2.3/5.0
~ Race organizatoin wasn't great. There were no Gel Stops and the water stops kind of annoyed me... there were tables on both sides, which I'm sure was to be a convenience to the runners, but on such a small path, runners trying to go through got caught up behind runners that slowed or stopped. They also did not have the path cleared from bikers that were out for a ride... I got cut off a few times after crossing a street and entering onto a path. They DID have a sports drink at most, if not all, of the stops so that was a plus! Rest rooms were far and few between... but they were structures rather than port a johns, which was nice.

Once again, I asked to get my "State #" (21) somewhere on my race bib (21, 121, 221, etc) and they said they would try, but they gave me 22 instead. I mean C- for a little bit of effort, but thats not really the point of asking for 21. MB also asked for hers, and they didn't even come close.

Course: 3.0/5.0
~ I can see how this course COULD be appealing to some people... if you don't mind the long sloped uphill and still have the strength in your hamstrings after to fly back down, you're in good shape for this course. I found the course slightly annoying, as it went at so much of an incline for the first 14 miles that is started getting a little annoying around miles 8-10, but not enough of an incline up to feel like you were actually going downhill on the way back-- you just felt like it was flat on the way back. You end on an additional 1.2 mile of good sized hills to the finish. You were  shaded for most of the race if it happened to get hot and you had the option of going slightly off to path to run on softer ground, so that was a little plus.

Spectators: 3.0/5.0
~ There were a few breaks in the path where spectators could be. This is definitely a quiter crowd and a much more subdued race. There was a woman handing out gummy bears at one point and the relay pass-off point was a little more spirited (you go through that twice).

Pace Group: /5.0
~ DNE and didn't need

Runner/Corrals: 4.0/5.0
~ No corrals. Runners were pretty nice... quiet all around, but you could get some to chat if you felt like it. I think the first 14 uphill made the runners a little quiet as they started huffing and puffing toward the top.

Expo: 3.4/5.0
~ The packet pick-up was at a running store so we'll go ahead and call this the "expo." The store (Charm City Run) was not a bad size... you could get anything you needed-- GU, sports beans, bottles, clothing, shoes, etc. Prices weren't bad, but of course it wasn't like a real expo with the discounts. They did have a map of the courses and more information if you were looking for it.

Swag: 4.0/5.0
~T-Shirt: This was the 20th running of the marathon, so they had jackets instead of shirts. They are black jackets that look a little like a fireman's jacket and are almost as heavy. They had a hood with their track club name on the back and the race on the front. Where these jackets lack in appearence, they make up in warmth for the long cold winter runs. 4.0
~Medals: The medals were pretty basic, but they kind of had a shine to them that made them look plastic instead of metal. 2.8
~ Goodie Bag: The goodie bag itself was kind of cool... a red track club back-pack bag with double drawstrings. There was also a 20th anniversary pin inside... pretty cool! +.5
~ Race pics: I tried to avoid the camera this time... after my RI disaster pics. They weren't bad though... giving the runners abour 5-10 shots. A really good one at the finish.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Northern Central Trail Marathon... Post-Race Thoughts

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry not only did I NOT do a race Run-Down, but it's been like 4 days and I haven't posted anything about last weekends race.

Northern Central Trail Marathon ~ November 28, 2009
Sparks, MD
450 runners and another 36 teams of 2, participated in the 20th annual Northern Central Trail Marathon. Sparks, it just outside of Baltimore and the course is (mostly) on an out-and-back rail-trail aka bike path. This was my 18th marathon of the year (21st state) and final race for 2009!!!  Woohoo Happy to have completed every marathon I participated in and had some great times as well.

Expo & Area
The expo is run the day/night before at Charm City Run-- a running store in the area. If you need any last minute clothes/GU/sports beans, etc you're set... MB got a pair of gloves when we felt just how chilly MD was! At the expo you receive your 20th running commemorative jacket that you paid a little extra for this year... the jacket is very heavy (good for the cold) but left a little to be desired in styling.

The expo & hotels are not too far from Baltimore if you would like to explore the city. There are also a few large malls in the area to do a little shopping. We went to a Carrabas close to the hotel/packet pick-up, but there is a pretty good selection of dining options.

Race Morning
They suggest that you park at a nearby business park and take the shuttle a few miles to the race. If possible, I suggest trying to park at the school. When I finished I hurried to get my stuff and get on the first shuttle to take me to our rental car... made a quick dash back with the car to get MB-- we didn't want to miss our plane and didn't know how bad traffic would be getting out. Best to park on the Rd in front of the school if possible.

The Race
The course is mostly an out and back, with 14 miles out and cutting off a mile on the way back. Obviously, since I didn't do my Race RUN-down I knew very little about the actual course and worked out as normal through the week... including a very serious hamstring/Glute workout-- bad idea!! The first 14 miles are on a slight incline straight up. The incline was just steep enough to start annoying your hammies by mile 8/9, but not steep enough to feel like you were actually going downhill on the way back. :( All the work with no benefit. Ah well. The one issue I really had with the race was the number of bikes allowed on the trail while the race was in progress. I had a few cut me off trying to get through the path entrances. The end of the race is about a 1.2M uphill climb... ouch.

As I said, I was in a bit of a rush to get the shuttle to the car and bring the car back to catch MB. The shuttle was actually quite quick getting out and the traffic wasn't too bad getting back... much better than Boulder Backroads! The post-race food is in the school's large gym where everybody congregated. All I kept hearing about was "THE soup" that I was supposed to get... but every time I went up they had "just" run out and were heating up more :( ... if anybody is reading this and ran the race and got soup, let me know how it was! MB finished the race in great time and off to the airport we went!!

Post-Race Thoughts
This was far from one of my favorite races and I felt like I could have done a LOT better than I did... by mile 12 I was just plain annoyed by the course and started slacking majorly. On top of that I started feeling a little sniffly, which of course turned into a full cold over the next day and a half... Still have the cold and I've now decided I NEVER want to run in the north again until summer!!! Well... except for my race in Albany coming up in February. Hmmm...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yay! I got 2nd in a race and I haven't even run one this week!!!

I've corrected my post-race thoughts for RI-6Hour because it turns out, I actually got 2nd place! Allison (originally given 2nd) sent me a note to check out the updated results because they had given her an extra whole 2 laps. CRAZY! Thanks Allison for letting me know!!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

RI 6-Hour Ultra... Race Ratings

Tagline: "RI 6-Hr Ultra... So much fun you'll run the course 12 times!!!"

RI 6-Hour Ultra- Warwick, RI

Registration Fee: $40 (Early Reg., $50-$60 after)
Overall Race Rating (weighted): 4.9/5.0
Average Calculated Rating: 4.7/5.0

~ I couldn't think of a single problem/trouble spot with this race. Excellent support and organization. Great loop and fantastic spectators. I love that you can run as much as you want... a great way to ease into ultras without having pressure from a set distance. The only thing that could make this race bad is if MORE people find out about it and want in! So shhhh
Race Director: Let's place race director...
~What would I have changed if I were race director? I wouldn't change a thing... excellent all around!!!

Event Organization: 5.0/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll go ahead and include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
~ The website is EXCELLENT and the communication is more than you can ask for. I had to send my registration by mail to get a 50-stater discount and as soon as Bob Jackman (the director) received it he sent me a note to confirm and said if I had any questions to let him know. Well... I did have just 1: Can I get my State Number as my bib for the race? The Big 20!!! He replied yes and that it was a great idea! He did the same for MB and gave her #14. (Pictured Right: #20 & #14-->)

The race is put on within 10 miles of an airport, so your hotel, air, and race are all VERY close. The park is easy to find because we found signs all over the streets within a few miles.
Race Organization: 5.0/5.0

~ This race organization was flawless! The part I really liked was that the ultra runners were separated from the relay runners for things like fluid/food station and port-a-johns. We definitely had a little extra bit of pride from our treatment over the relay people. The food station (yes 1, because the loop is less than 3 miles) had a TON of food, candy, hammer gels, water, head (LOVE head), and much more. The people attending to the ultra runners there were FABULOUS. By my 4th time through they knew exactly what I wanted and had it ready as I came through. (<-- Pic left, the water crew with my head ready and cup pinched for me!)

The tricky part for the organizers was that they had to mark down every time a person came through and the time. From what I can tell they never missed a lap. This Im SURE became tricky when people added in their add-on laps, but they had a very good method for keeping all this information with a team of people to help. They also sent people out to the marathon, 50k and 50 mile point to write down times when people hit them. They walkie-talkied ahead when somebody was going through for one of these points so we didn't need to stop or check in... they just knew!

Course: 4.7/5.0
~ I really liked the course. Of course it was 2.7 miles that we had to repeat as many times as possible in 6-hours. As I mentioned in my Post-Race Thoughts, I actually found this to be a benefit to the mental challenges of distance running. You only had to take 2.7 mile at a time. The course was VERY well marked for the 1 mile, 2 mile, 2.7 (loop finish), marathon, 50k, & 50 miler. There was enough variation to keep your legs from getting stiff but not huge uphill challenges. The race is done in a park, in the northeast in the fall so the leaves are still very pretty and so is the park. If you're looking for a quick race and don't mind a few small hills, then this could be a potentially very quick marathon. You know what's coming up and how t pace yourself so that is a definite benefit to this course.

Spectators: 4.7/5.0
~ The spectators (mostly relay people & volunteers) were great! Since the ultra runners came through the laps in a separate area, it was easy for them to cheer us on. A lot of ultra runners dropped after 26.2 or 50k or when they were done and went on to finish to help cheer on the rest! Going though the group of people cheering you on individually, made you want to go out for another loop!

Pace Group: /5.0
~ DNE and didn't need

Runner/Corrals: 4.5/5.0
~ No corrals of course, but the runners were very nice! For once I really apprecaited having the relay teams... it added more people to run and pace with, but they didn't get in the way or get marathoner-treatment for running 3-6 miles. There were a few people I spoke to during the race and they were all very talkative and a lot of fun. There was a father/daughter pair wearing shirts that said "Julie" and "Julie's Dad"-- on my last full lap I said good job to them and Julie cheerfully said "ONLY 35 minutes to go!!"

Expo: /5.0
~ No Expo

Swag: 4.2/5.0
~T-Shirt... BLUE longsleeve Tech T. LOVE the long sleeve and it's a nice change away from white. Cute design and they actually gave me my size. 4.7
~Medals: Haha funny story... the medals are medal with the logo on it. Well the logo is a big 6 with some waves behind it and the name. I had about a dozen people ask me if I got 6th place in something... oy!!! They were cute, basic but nice! 3.7
~ Goodie Bag: The goodie bags were pretty basic with some stickers, handouts, etc in them. Nothing crazy.
~ Race pics... ick!!! They actually took a TON of pictures (since you go through so many times) but holy lord I look like DEATH!!! (See Proof Below) They hit the extra-ugly button before developing these pics!

<-- Me saying I have one more lap. In my head I'm thinking "Yay!! .9 miles and I'm done!" But apparently... I look more like I'm about to cry!

Mega Marathoners hit the Wall Street Journal

I wouldn't blame you if you haven't been reading the WSJ lately to find your marathon news, but you may have some catching up to do this week! If you remember, after the OBX marathon I included a note about meeting an (almost) 6-time finisher of the 50 states in my  Post-Race Thoughts. Well the article I mentioned has finally been published. For full article click here.

I had the opportunity to meet Eugene when we hoped on the bus to bring us to the start line. At 73 years old he is finishing up his 6th time through the 50 states!!! He was able to suggest a few marathons (he would know) and also mentioned that he estimated a full around through the 50 states costs approx. $25k! Yikes.

Article Highlights... and why I'm perfectly normal!
Well the article had a few key items that I would like to highlight-- slash use to explain why I'm NOT as crazy as I seem! Hehe
~ 'Scientists have studied compulsive running, not only in humans but in rats and mice. Some compare it to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa.' - This definitely explains why I've started running 2-3 marathons per month and if I run any less I get a little itchy. So when I say I'm taking December off and don't think I'll be capable of doing it-- it's not that I'm crazy, it's a disease with no prescription!

~'...runners enter addiction territory only when they can't control their urge to race. "If running marathons is at the top of your list of values above all else," says Dr. Sachs, "that might be something to worry about.' - HA! See?? I'm ok. I most DEFINITELY put eating above running! Put a big piece of cake and a marathon in front of me and I'll most definitely pick the cake!

~'One tally of mega marathoners, compiled by Japan's 100 Marathon Club, counts 167 runners world-wide who have logged at least 300' - Haven't done that... yet

Definitely read the article. It's nice to see running and marathoning hitting the racks on some pretty important papers. Its also nice to see the Drs interviewed for the article NOT saying how bad it is to be a mega-marathoner! I've heard a number of people tell me "wow it HAS to be bad for you to run 20 marathons a year." Yeah well... it's also pretty bad for you to drink and eat whatever you want and NOT workout. That's my take.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

RI 6-Hour Ultra... Post-Race Thoughts

The RI-6 Hour is over and done and is definitely the furthest I've ever run... in 1 day at least! If you haven't been keeping up, this is a Timed Ultra-- meaning, we had 6 hours to get as many loops completed on a 2.7 mile course, with the option of 2 additional "Add-on loops" of 0.9m each.

Total full Loops Completed:         13 = 35.1 miles
Total Add-on loops completed:      2 =   1.8 miles
Distance:                                              36.9* miles!!! in ~ 5:44 minutes

Overall Awards: I was the 2nd woman overall!! The 1st place was 41.4 miles
**THIS IS A CORRECTION- I originally posted that I got 3rd, Allison (who was given second) sent me a note to tell me to check the updated results-- I actually got second, they had given her an extra 2-laps. Craziness!!!!
*For this I give myself a silver (just short of a gold) for myself (read last post)

This race was actually a big surprise in many ways. All the parts I thought would be challenging and scary (running the same loops, getting the distance in) were actually pretty easy while the parts I thought would be easy (the course, the competition) were very tough!

My Race!
I started by doing the first 9 loops plus the extra distance for the marathon and felt great with ~3:50 time. When I finished up the 10th lap I stretched a little to give my tight knees/hips a break then went off for 2 more. After that I made myself use the rest room because I hadn't all day and was worried because my fingers were swelling like crazy. I finished up another loops and decided I was definitely tired. I had enough time to finish another loop, but I was worried I was going to get halfway around and my body would say "OK I'm done" and I wouldn't finish up a loop... so I opted instead to take my 2 "add-on loops." This turned out to be a good idea because by the time I got to that 1.8 miles I was getting very tight. After my last two loops it was 5hours and 44 minutes into the race. I was happy to have run MOST of the 6 hours, because it seemed most people stopped after the marathon or 50K distance.

The Loops!!!
A few people (including myself) made comments about running the same loops for 6 hours and how much of a mental challenge that would be. Turns out, its actually a huge advantage for this sport that is 90% mental (I truely believe that). You only had to run 2.7 miles at a time-- if you kept telling yourself that, it was awesome. "Just one more lap." There were a few "goal points" you could shoot for too (marathon, 50K, 50 miles), which would break your run up even more! This was especially great after I completed the marathon distance at 3:50 and had the choice to "go out for 1 or 2 more"... turns out I went out for quite a few more.

The Distance!!!
I knew I would be running more than 26.2 miles. The most I had run was ~28 miles in the DWD  (by accident) and I wasn't sure how my body would take it. Turns out 26.2 is getting easier and easier!!! And going past that? Wasn't bad at all. It was especially nice because there was no pressure to get to a certain milage.... just as many as I could/wanted to do.

The Course!!!
The course looked to be very smooth and flat from the pictures and I thought -- "hey! at least you know whats coming up on every loop! It has to be easy!" WRONG. The course had some pretty good sized rolling hills, especially in the back portion of the loop. At first I hardly noticed them, keeping a steady pace of 7:50 for my first loop. Well by the 5th or 6th loop, somebody must have watered those hills, cause they got bigger!!! As for the "knowing whats coming up"-- that's not always a good thing. It made you dread certain points of the course and made you question if you really needed to do another loop. haha Definitely a challenege, but fun.

The competition!
I wasn't sure what kind of showing they would have at this race beause it was the first one and it was a timed race v. a specific distance. But, turns out there were 80 ultra runners signed up my marathon morning. Not only that, there were some pretty good ultra runners!! In fact, a gentleman came up to me around my fourth loop and said "So I assume Daniele is in front of you." I said "umm I don't know who Daniele is!" He looked at me like I was crazy and said "the US ultra marathon record holder!!" -- well exqueeeeeeeze me! Daniele WAS in front of me-- I know because I ran with her for the first 4 laps and she has a very unique running style. This is Daniele Cherniak who came in first and is a fairly well known ultra marathon runner.

Friday, November 13, 2009

RI- 6 Hour Ultra... Race RUNdown

Rhode Island 6-Hour Ultra, Warwick, RI
The state people ask me about the most when they find out about my quest for 50 is RI. They always say...
 "well what are you going to do with RI??? Run the perimeter several times??"
To that I would roll my eys and say "NO!!!" Well apparently I was wrong... the marathon I've chosen for RI is, in fact, a 2.7 M loop, played on repeat!

The race: This is a very different race from what I've been used to this year. Instead of trying to simply finish 26.2 miles in a race, we'll be given 6 hours to complete as many laps on a 2.7M course as possible.

The Rules:
~The course itself is 2.7 miles and only FULL loops count...
~However, there is also a 0.9m for "add on loops" as well as an additional 1.86M and 1.28/.29 markers to score a marathon, or one of the two classic ultras (50K and 50Miles).
~The goal, of course, is to get 9 full loops, plus the 1.86 minimum to reach the marathon distance, BUT you cannot get a medal in this race unless you complete an ultra (anything over a 26.2 marathon distance) so you MUST complete at least 10 full laps for your medal!

The Strategy:
I'll have to catch at least 26.2 miles, but of course I'm hoping to do more. Since I love counting my marathon maniac spinny stars, I thought I would do my own RI-6Hour version here. I'm giving myself a medal based on the number of miles I get in...
Laps           Miles                Medal
9+              26.2                  Bronze
10              27                     Bronze* (*qualify for a medal)
11+            30.99M (50K)  Silver*
13 + .9M    36M                 Gold*
More???                             Gold* AND a cookie!!!

Race RUNdown...
RI 6 Hour Ultra
Registration Fees: $40 early reg ($50-$60 late)
When: Sunday November 15, 2009
Where: Warwick, RI
Year Running: 1
2009 Expected Field: DNA


Currently it looks like its going to rain for the next 3 days, and around 3am on Sun morning clear up just in time for the race. Since I will be draining myself with so many miles, I'm really hoping not to add rain into the mix... 30 Miles + Rain = 1 sick girl! Lets all hope the rain DOES stop by Sunday, leaving us with a cool 50 degrees to run in!

The primary course is a 2.7 mile loop described on the website as a...
"Wooded, paved, slightly rolling 2.7 mile main loop, 0.9 mile add-on loop." -RI6Hour.Com
 The pictures below are from the website, and it looks like there is a little bit of elevation change on oh, so slightly rolling hills. We simply follow the white line for loop upon loop upon loop... this may have potential to drive me crazy.

There is also the .9M add on loop that I'm assuming is the same type of path. Along the course there are markers for the extra distance to complete a marathon, 50K or 50 Miler.

Race 411:
~ This is the inaguarl running of the RI-6Hour, however the race director is not unfamiliar with marathons or ultras. Word of mouth says Bob Jackman runs a number of races in RI! He has already shown to be a fairly dependable director-- personally sending confirmation emails for both mail in and online registrations as well as sending out an email with tons of details on the event and race.
~The T-Shirt: Is a long sleeve Tech T!!! LOVE those!!!!
~Medals go out to only ultra finishers (<26.2 miles)!!! Although there is a relay going on, this is a clear way to making the distinction between the races!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

OBX Marathon... Race Rating

Tagline: "OBX Marathon... Our crowd loves you so much, they'll give you their childrens Halloween candy!!!"

Registration Fee: $75 (Early Reg., $85-$100 Late)

Overall Race Rating (weighted): 4.8/5.0

(The Rating Feet are back!!!)

Average Calculated Rating: 4.4/5.0
~ Small race price for a big race experience! This was a very fun race with a very a different/pretty course, a great group of volunteers & crowd, and a fantastic afterparty. The expo was fun and the size of the race was perfect. It's definitely hot so get ready for the heat!

Note: If you're going definitely carry or store some money in your checked bag because there is lots to do after the race, but you'll need cash.

Race Director: Let's place race director...
~What would I have changed if I were race director?
The only big thing I would suggest is more gatorade stops, but besides that Robyn did a great job especially for a newer race that growing by leaps and bounds every year. The wave start and pace groups need a little work on organization, but other than that it was awesome.

Event Organization: 4.8/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll go ahead and include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
~ Let's start with the website: Looks great and VERY easy to use-- includes all the information that you need, and if you have a problem simply email the race director and she'll get right back to you! The closest airport IS a little out of the way (~1.5 hours), but you're going out to an island so you'll have to expect that. You'll also have to expect to get a rental car! The actual race was easy to get to-- shuttles to either the start or the finish from designated parking areas. No long waits for shuttles either before or after. The even ends in Roanoke Island and the party is definitely something to stay for!!! And 2 free beers to every adult-- participants and spectator and... it was COORS LIGHT!!! non of that "mica-can't get me drunk but I'm only 50 calories" junk!

Race Organization: 4.25/5.0

~ The race was fairly well put together: Streets were definitely open for runners (lots of room!), Great amount of water stops, lots of opportunities/places for your fans & family to meet you and take pictures! Potties weren't too far and few between-- and the website shows you where they all are if you know you're a frequenter of the john during races. Hammer Gel provided at 4 key spots in the race in a few flavors. Ooooh also, the half was started 20 min before the full and at the 13.1 mile mark so we never got caught up with them except maybe a few stragglers! That was awesome!

The bad: The only problems I saw on the race itself were the gatorade stops and the start. The start went off in waves for the first time-- this was a little shaky because people weren't really clear on where to go or what to do. Also, the pace teams went off in random waves, making it hard to spot them. The gatorade was definitely given out, but you couldn't get any until mile 7 and then it was every other stop that had some... on a hot day we definitely needed a lot of gatorade!

Course: 4.3/5.0
~ If you're looking for a little bit of everthing, this is your race. This is a stright point to point course out that runs southbound (mostly). You start on asphalt in a park-type area, then you move into the "trails" that have trail-esque floors in places as well as sand and bark! Then you move out to the ashalt/cement areas that bring you on "highways" (for an island), into suburban-type neighborhoods, out onto a VERY long bridge over beautiful water and to the finish in a cute little town on roanoke island. The trails had a few rolling hills, and the bridge has one GIANT hill at mile 23 (Pictured left from the bridge start)-- that was a little rough! Besides that it was mostly flat.

A few tough spots: Definitely having the one giant hill on the 23rd mile is a little cruel! Also, the footing in the trails were hurting my ankles toward the end. Finally, the course was completely open for the second half of the race and it was HOT on race day! A few people mentioned possible turning the course around because the first half was in the shade and the second half out in the open heat... but that wouldn't take you into the cute town where the afterparty is!

Spectators: 5.0/5.0
~ The spectators REALLY made this race FUN! There were people out ALL over the course-- both fans as well as locals. You constantly saw locals out front of their houses or on the course giving out water, food, candy, etc to everyone. In fact... at one point there was a mom giving out a giant bowl of halloween candy-- almost as if she had taken it right from her kids. Coincidentally, there were children about 4 ft away from her looking pretty PO'd.  Hmmmm...

For some reason they seemed to REALLY support women in this race. If they saw women, the fans went CRAZY, some girls yelled "girl power" to us, even though we were surrounded by men. Way cool! Also, the people in traffic were hooting and hollaring out of their windows. At a lot of races, locals are pretty pissed that we shut down their roads and cause traffic, but these people were SO excited to be watching the race, even in traffic!

Pace Group: 2.5/5.0
~ This was the first year they had pace groups and I was actually thinking about being one-- but I wasn't feeling terriffic about a month ago and I wanted to run with CB, so I opted not to participate. The pace groups need a little work.... lessons to be learned for 2010. The main problem was that this was also the first year for wave starts and those went off a little shaky. The pacers didn't really hold up their signs (if they had any) so were hard to spot. Also, they went off randomly in the waves, so some faster pacers started behind some slower ones, causeing a bit of confusion. We saw some 3:30 group yell at the 3:40 pacer because he jumped out in the first wave AND was going at about a 3:30 pace... tsk tsk. I'm sure they'll work on it for next year and get the kinks worked out. Good points though: the pace groups that we did see seemed to be having lots of fun with very experienced runners--- chatting the whole way without skipping a beat!

~  This was the first year for wave starts and as mentioned was a little shaky but it WAS very very nice not to get caught up in a huge mass of people, especially the ones that were a little slower that like to jump to the front. Runners were great throughout. The size of the race was perfect... you always had lots of people around, but you weren't caught in a big mess and trying to squeeze by for room. Also, the halfies went off ahead and actually started at the halfway point, so it didn't get congested with them. yay! well done.

Expo: 5.0/5.0
~ Most fun expo! Loved it! Not too big, not too small... you could get anything and everything you needed but you didn't put in miles of walking to do it. Also, they were all decked out in pirate gear and they sang along to set songs that came on by the... DJ!!! That's right, they had a DJ. You could also pick up a few discount coupons for local restaurants, which was nice because the restaurants are kind of all over the place, so if you're unfamiliar with the area it gives you some idea of where to go. Also-- my favorite part, they offered a pirate packfor $6. I mentioned this already, but I'll mention it again: Piarate Scully cap, eye patch AND cowbell! Couldn't be more excited.

Swag: 4.8/5.0
~T-Shirt: Yay another long sleeve teck T! Very cute design and worked well for both men and women! 4.8
~Medals: They weren't the pirate map medals medals but they were Pirate Coin Medals!!! (Ooh- Ahhh) 4.4
~ PS! Almost forgot this... when you finished you were handed an OBX marathon visor!!! Didn't even know about it.... I LOVE surprises at the end of a race!
~ Goodie Bag: We got a few cups with the OBX marathon design on it, along with some coupons to local eateries-- also the bag itself was really pretty cool! It had "booty bag" on it. hahahahahahahahaa I loved it... I eat that cheesy stuff right up! In fact... I took 2! + a few tenths of a point for the booty bag!