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!

Monday, November 9, 2009

OBX Marathon ~ Post Race Thoughts

Yesterday, I finished my 16th Marathon for the year!!! After 16, you would think I'd be more tired, but I think my body is FINALLY accepting that these marathon things aren't going away anytime soon!

OBX Marathon is a TON of fun! You'll have more details in my Race Ratings, but for now...

(<--- Some OBX Marathon finishers with our fav fans!!!)

The marathon experience is exciting right from the expo to the finish. The expo was full of energy-- totally pirate-themed out-- and the volunteers sung to the "YMCA" (I joined in with my cow bell, again MBs and CBs approval). Oh yes, I bought a Pirate Cowbell!!! It came with me $6 pirate pack, which included a Pirate Cowbell, a Pirate Eyepatch and a Pirate Scully cap!!! SO EXCITING!!! The best part was-- we met up with ALL the Robillards (Including CB) & Hillery (aka Sacco)! Yayyyyy!!! (Me and MB with my pirate cap! -->)

Race Day:
On race day we were shuttled to the Start area by bus. As soon as we got on a fellow- 50-stater started chatting with MB. Turns out this is his SIXTH time through the 50 states!!! And you people call ME crazy!!! Eugene (Gene) Efronzo (CT) is in his early 70'd and will be completing his 6th round through the 50 states in around a dozen more marathons. He was joined by Neil King-- a writer for the WSJ-- who was doing an article on .. what else?... compulsive running!!! The article should come out soon-- I'll keep an eye out and post when I see it!

At the start we met up with a few Albany friends (Lois and Tara pic left) as well as CB, Sacco, and Mike "Boston" DeFrancesco (more on that later) from Florida (pic below minus Sacco)! We also saw Marina-- another maniac-- at the start. We stretched, got some water, and got ready then off we went...

The race is broken up in waves of anywhere from ~20 (elite) to a hundred. This part was a little unorganized because nobody knew what to do. Oh well... off we go! The race itself is run on asphalt, cement, trail, & sand! Great variety. We started off at a great pace (~7:45 min/mile) and continued until about the half point (~8:05 min/mile avg), when CB started feeling a little pain in her stomach. On top of that, we both needed a potty stop (TMI! sorry).

After the stop, CBs stomach wasn't feeling much better :( I got a little worried because it actually started to swell a little and that's right when it started to get HOT!!! The last 13 miles are run out in the open heat and boy did it get hot... even for NC. It WAS her birthday so she told me "IF she wanted to drop out she could!!!" I told her I would rugby tackle her if she tried (among many other threats I made). It helps that I'm actually bigger than her. During Mile 23 you hit the only serious hill and it's part of a 2 mile stretch of bridge bringing you onto Roanoke Island. Gorgeous view but a toughy of a hill at miles 23!!!

 We got CB through the race and I didn't kill her!!!! yayyyyy... I was sortttt of pushing her to keep going even after she told me how much pain she was in, so I would have felt VERY guilty if anything happened. I'm not sure if it was myself pushing her through or hopes of beer at the end-- but either way she got another marathon medal on her birthday and ran a GREAT time even with some serious stomach issues!!! GO CB!!!!

Post Race
One of the most stand-out parts of the entire race was somebody standing at the finish exit shoot saying "THANK YOU! Thank you SO much for participating!!!!" Wow! If you read my recent article on Race Directors you'll know why I really appreciated this!

We finished and were given ICE towels (YESSS!!!), our very cool "Pirate Coin" medals, and you could take your picture with Pirates or Queen Elizabeth (not sure I know the history on why shes connected but oh well!). We met up with the rest of CB's AMAZING fan club that followed us in cars the whole race and even made signs!!! Turns out that Mike (CB's sisters BF who also runs) finished in 3:10-- not only qualifying him for Boston on his SECOND ever marathon, but also placing him 3rd in his age group! Go Mike!!! We also met up with Hillery "I only do halves" Sacco Nicholas who finished her OBX-Half Marathon! Yay Hillery!!

We got our 2 free beers from the beer tent and joined the party at the finish in Roanoke Island, while waiting for MB to finish. MB came in at a great finish for her 8th marathon of the year!!! We took some more pirate pictures then off to a restaurant about 10 feet away from the start to sit down and relax. Finally.

GREAT trip all around and a VERY fun marathon with so much crowd support!

Friday, November 6, 2009

OBX Ahoyyyyyy

I leave tonight for OBX, NC to run a very pirate themed marathon!!! Pirate medals and all... Cannot wait!!! ARRRGGGG

For everyone with races this weekend-- Good Luck, have fun, set PRs!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do Race Directors REALLY Appreciate Their Runners???

Being a race director --from 5K up to marathons-- has to be one tough job! Each marathon has their own set of issues, including natural boundaries based on the nature of the city/course. But sometimes you have to wonder-- When does a race director start to lose sight on the runners IN the race?

We all know Boston is limited to the best of the marathon world (for the most part). And NYC gets so many registrations they need to limit their races due to the size of the city. But, some of these smaller races are starting to limit themselves!
Example 1 "Run Long, but do it locally" NipMuck Trail Marathon
~If you've read my prior post, you'll see that NipMuck- Man said "NO!" on letting me in the race even though we're a good 7 months out from the race. The reason (states on the website) was that too many non-local runners were signing up for the race and registration was getting filled 'too quickly.' Instead of letting it fill up, first come first serve, they closed it out to their local runners or people who have done NipMuck before, stating "No New Runners!"
~Well the plot thickens my friends: Melanie (AKA Tall Mom on the RUN) wrote to NipMuck- Man to see if she could try her hand at pleading with him to let me in! He not only said no, but also followed up with another reason he shut the race out:  "One reason I made this rule was to cut down on the carbon footprint created by runners traveling long distances to do a race. Run long but do it locally."
~ I'm all about being environmentally friendly and all that, but REALLY??? So, NipMuck-Man, you're telling me that you don't believe people should travel to races and enjoy not only the race itself, but the sites and culture of the places we travel for marathons??? We should limit ourselves to just what is in the non-travel boundaries??? How about I just run TO all my marathons-- would that make you happy???
~How about appreciating that people WANT to be part of YOUR race. They appreciate your hard work and show it by participating.

Example 2 "No Exceptions" Northern Central Trail Marathon:
This is a race that I signed up for and got in-- apparently on the LAST day before they closed out! Some, were not so lucky! Laura messaged me the week it closed out asking if I had gotten in. Apparently she had mailed her app in and after a few weeks they hadn't received it. Being such a small race, who would have thought it would fill up? Apparently since Laura's app was not in before the cutoff, they put her on a waiting list. Not ONE exception? I don't know too many runners that are lying to say they signed up for a race when they didn't!! Most people don't even WANT to run marathons, let alone trail marathons.

Now this is certainly not all races, and not even most! I've seen some incredible race directors who really care about the runners and appreciate that SO many people come out to participate! But, some of these are getting a little crazy. If I decided to start a race or marathon I would be THRILLED if people were calling and begging to participate!!! Wow! What a compliment! I understand a lot of these places have boundaries and limits based on the course and the towns, but 1) 1 extra person isn't going to kill anybody and 2) How many people are there that DONT show up? In a small race, at least 1 or 2.

On top of the field limitations, some races I've seen, seem to forget about the non-speedster marathoners! I've had a few marathons in the 4:20's and 4:30's this year becuse I'm either running doubles, or back-to-back marathons or altitude adjustments. And wow is there ever a difference in the treatment of runners who finish in the 3:40s and 3:50s to the runners who finish under 4:15! The water/food tables are bare-ish and the applause dwindles! That can almost be expected, but the directors job is to make sure there are volunteers encouraging and cheering on EVERY runner as they finish! In the Louisville marathon, the director was over giving awards out while the 5-hour finishers were coming in. Just sad!

My advice?
1. Keep posts up on how far you're away from capacity so people can sign up who are truly interested
2. If you want to encourage local runners, then offer them discounts early on so they get their entries in first
3. If your marathon is getting a little big for the original course, THINK about moving the course a little to accommodate for more runners, and let runners sign up for your race.
4. Sometimes exceptions need to be made on a person-by-person basis. Runners are honest people, if they said they mailed in registration a month before the deadline, they probably did! Yes, you CAN make an exception for one person and not everybody else-- that's why they call you the director!
5. If nobody else is at the finish line and the excitment is gone-- your top priority is to be at the finish line cheering your butt off until your last runner is in!
6. Make ALL runners feel important-- because they are! Have someone call out names over as many finishers as they can... right to the end!
7. Have a "later marathon" supply of goodies/food/drink that isn't to be pulled out until 4:15 or later. That way you know your later racers are getting their share. Ooooh-- and don't let those relay people into the marathon tent!!!
8. Let people worry about their own carbon footprint and appreciate that they have goals that may or may not include traveling. Just be happy that they want to travel to your race.

Sorry for the rant! I needed to get that out of my system. Thanks SO much for bloggie love and support from Melanie!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

REALLY Connecticut???? Poll: Which CT? (Right --->)

Yesterday and entire state managed to really make me mad! If you're trying for the 50 states (or if you simply look at Marathon Guide ) you would know that some states have dozens of marathons (Thank You: California, Florida, Washington, Texas, North Carolina), but there are a few states that give you very few options!!! I found out CT is one of those... not only that, but the options they do have aren't the best. They have THREE!!! No offense CT but it's a poor showing... ALASKA even has 5!!!!

(<--- hahaha funny sign, even if I AM mad at CT)

I've been putting my schedule together for the next year, slating in a few big ones that I really want to do and then looking for those uncommon states to slate in those hard to schedule ones! Well when I got to CT I saw the NipMuck Marathon  and thought "YES! a trail!!!" I'm doing so few of those and I REALLY enjoyed myself in the last trail marathon I completed. Not only that, but it was at a perfect month that I had very few other races. So I added it to my schedule and finished planning. WONDERFUL-- I managed to get at least 2 marathons in every month and it all seemed to fall in place beautifaully. Then, of course... there was a problem!!! NipMuck.. or what I'm now calling "NipYUCK"...

UGH! Well that was 2009, maybe 2010 wouldn't be so stringent!!! So I contacted the race director, explaining my goal, sending him my blog site and asking him if the rules were going to apply for 2010 or if there were ANY way I could possible get into this marathon. To that he replied simply...

That was IT! Double UGH-- Mystic Places hasn't been a marathon in 3 years!!! Soooo back to the drawing board (or excel sheet, since I'm a huge excel dork). What other CT marathons are there? The first I saw was Roxbury. A VERY small race, more designed for a running group in the town/city/whatever of Roxbury. It requires no entry fee (yay!) but they don't give out medals (boo!!!!). If I'm running 26.2 miles I'm getting a medal!

Onto the next one... and subsequently the ONLY one left: Hartford!!! This is actually a race I was planning on doing this year, but it decided to do my first double the week before and wasn't sure if I should have a race RIGHT after. It's a big race (plus), it's close to a few of my friends from college (double plus), it's cheap to fly to-- lots of airport options (plus, plus, plus)-- it's on the same weekend as Chicago (BAD!!!!). Chicago was one of those races I have got to include in my 50-states. I'm already cutting out NYC in lieu of running in my home town for my NY-- I will not give up Chicago!

So now I have 2 options:
1. Run Roxbury (this year or next since it's December) and DON'T get a medal-- albeit, Wild Willy has told me he will be asking a local shop to design and make him medals for those non-medal marathons... not a bad idea!
2. Run Hartford on Saturday then run Chicago on Sunday. I love my doubles, but i was hoping to run Chicago well...

What to do, what to do.... What do you think??? I'll be putting up a poll in the upper right corner. Help me decide!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

OBX Marathon... Race RUNdown

Gearing up for November -- 3 marathons this month, where the terrain varries as much as the goals. The first one to be run hard on the beaches of OBX, NC. The next is an ultra, run on a 2.7M loop repeat around Warwick, RI. Finally off to the Northern Central Trails of MD for a (mostly) trail marathon. What a way to end the year!

When there are rough trails ahead, I just ask myself... what would Kara Goucher do??? Win! Duh! Ok, well I won't be winning any of these but I'll defintely be K'ing some serious A!

OBX Marathon, OBX, NC
Inspiration Points...
1. This will hopefully be my last HARD marathon for the year- I've got my speed work in and I'm hoping to get my PR time down. If not-- MD is going to be all out.
2. I get my SIXTH spinny star for the year!!! ~ 16 marathons in 16 states in 1 year. Woohoo!
3. It is CB's Bday and she'll be joining me for the marathon!

Race RUNdown...
OBX Marathon
Registration Fees: $75 early reg ($85-$100 late) $100 at Expo~ Only Open to Expo Reg Now!!!
When: Sunday November 8, 2009
Where: OBX, NC
Year Running: 4
2009 Expected Field: 2226 Currently signed up, caps at 2,500!
...Age Group: 68
2008 Field: 1,309 Finishers
... Females: 527
... Age Group: 51 (Winning Time: 2:56:59)
2008 Avg. Finish Time: 4:33:53
Uh-oh! It's definitely going to be warmer than I'm used to in Cincinnati, OH! Let's hope the forecast brings in some rain clouds!!! On the BRIGHT side (yes, there definitely was a pun intended!), there is low wind-- that can make a difference for a marathon out on the beaches!

The course looks to be pretty flat-- NOT my favorite! But I hear you take lots of turns and its VERY scenic with lots of crowd support! Hopefully that will help. Also, the course has some beach-esque parts to it, so it may call for some lighter shoes that won't fill up with sand.

Race 411:
~This marathon has a PIRATE theme-- ARGGGGGG. Including the T-shirts, Pirate Map Medals, and crowd!
~Oh Those Trails: Rumor has it, part of the race detourse onto beach 'Trails'-- be ready for a little sand and brush in your shoes!!!
~The SUN!: The only potential downside I've hurd about this race, is the sun! If it comes out-- its HOT! Let's hope it stays in until about noon-time when its time to go to the beach and have a drink!
~I hear there is lots of crowd support and guess what??? They're dressed as pirates too!

Race Plan:
Well I've put in my speed work and 9 Yassos felt VERY easy... even at a faster pace than is designated for my marathon goal. Who knows-- maybe I can finally get past this "boston" mental block! If not, it's going to be a beautiful course and I always have better temperature (and better course elevation) at MD in 3 weeks!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dueling Marathon Goals... Can they Both Win?

Dueling Goals...
I have 1 marathon and 1 ultra coming up over the next 2 weeks. When I know I'm running a few back to back marathons I usually don't mind, however this one gets a little tricky.

Marathon #1: OBX Marathon in NC ~ 11/8/09
~Goal: 3:40 time goal~ Run hard, leave nothing out there, get CB her BDay wish!

Marathon #2: RI 6-Hour Ultra ~ 11/15/09
~Goal: 36 mile distance goal, back-up goal: 27 Miles (2.7 Mile loop, so 27 is the least amount I can do and still complete a marathon distance)

Normally, I would have no problem covering the 2nd marathon distance goal, but if I run really hard the week before, I can definitely feel it the weekend after.

Marathon Prep:
~ Speed Work: 1 Last speedwork session tonight then continue with the taper! I did 8 (3 Min) Yassos early last week and it left me with very little discomfort after. If I do 9, I'll have the footwork in for the full this weekend, and not loose any fitness for next weeks ultra!
~ 2 X 3: Twice this week I'll run about 3 miles at a mild pace. Keep up the intensity but keep up with the taper.
~ STRETCHING! We all know about my leg cramps and ridiculous measures I took to get rid of the leg cramps last time. Including:
... Bottles of Pickle Juics
... Coconut water
... Drinking packets of mustard
After NH (the night before ME) on my double I found that stretching a LOT right after NH helped to make ME a much easier race. HuH! Stretching helps to run... who would have thought?!?!?! haha

Well this will be a tough couple of weeks, but the good news is I'm taking off the month of December! 3 more races for 2009 then we jump right into a double for January 2010. MS & AL!!!