Monday, March 29, 2010

Ocean Drive Marathon~Post Race Thoughts (#27-NJ)

A Marathon First! (Warning: The immediate PP following may contain language and suggestions not appropriate for some audiences and may be just plain TMI)

This weekend was my New Jersey Marathon (state #27) at the Ocean Drive Marathon in Cape May, NJ. Ok so before I go into "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" I need to address a "first time" event I had at this particular marathon. Today, I experienced... Boob chafing!!! Ok, ok I’m not going to lie (and you’ve seen picture)-- it’s definitely more of a sternum chafing-- but this is my blog so I’ll call it what I want… Deal? Ok Deal. I’ve never really had any sort of chafing, aside from the time or two I wore a textured tank top and the inside of my arms were a little tender after. This is good and bad-- Good because I’ve lost weight (I guess my controlled carb attempts are working), Bad because my sports bras are now too big.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (This is the start of the G-Rated portion of the post)
The Good
The race is run (mostly) near or along the ocean! The course is pretty nice-- mostly flat, with a few decent hills, mostly on bridges. Other runners were very friendly and I had a “you know you run too many marathons a year” moment when I realized I recognized a LOT more faces than usual. This is one of the few Jersey marathons, so of course a lot of 50-staters and maniacs would be in attendance. The weather was decent… cold with just a little sun. Once in a while I would feel a gust of wind with a little rain, then it would go away. Kind of like a little cooling system
The Bad...
Race shuttles-- This was a one-way marathon, with shuttles available to take runners from the finish to the start. Well we made it in time for the first one, but it was full (and small). The second one didn’t come for an hour (although the website promotes shuttles every 15-minutes), and still had a 30-40 minute drive, dropping us at the start just 15 minutes before the gun was to go off. There weren’t enough port-a-johns and with the 15-minute window to the start, we had no hope of waiting in line.
Race Port-a-Johns. I noticed quite a lot of potty stops in the first half of the race, but in the middle, they seemed to have disappeared a little. Of course, this was the exact time my body decided it desperately needed a stop! I made it to one at mile 17 and from then on I saw a stop about every 1.5 miles. Just my luck!
The Ugly...
Post-race food… ugh! They had bagels, some fruit, Chicken broth and water. Seriously? Now you’ll know how I feel about my food-- Kyle often refers to me as a fat kid stuck in a little persons body-- and I probably put more emphasis on food in my “race organization” category for my race ratings. The funny part was that last night at dinner I told MB that I was excited for the post-race food and hoped they had something good. My hopes were slightly crushed
No Timing Chips-- Now, this race isn’t HUGE, but judging from the port-o-john lines, it wasn’t exactly the kind of race you could forego timing chips either. This made the long shuttle wait even worse-- if we were late, we were losing time! Also, people were trying to line up toward the front to get a more accurate time, including some slower runners that clogged up the first quarter mile of the start.
Mile Markers-- The mile markers were extremely off! Mile 2 was at approximately mile 1.6-- making mile 3 very long. Then the miles seemed to consistently be .001 to .002 off through the rest of the race, then the last “mile” (as they had marked on the course) made up about a tenth of that. I was happy I had my garmin!

Overall: This 12-years of experience running this race, did not shine through in organization. If you’re looking for a quieter marathon with a subdued atmosphere near a beach (albeit too cold to jump in) then this race is decent, at best.

More information to come with my Ocean Drive Marathon~ Race Ratings!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bataan Memorial Death March ~ Race Ratings (NM-#26)

Tagline: "Like no other race you've done before." Ratings...

2010 Bataan Memorial Death March ~ March 21, 2010
White Sands, NM~ White Sands Missile Range
Registration Fee: $65 early ($130 late) Teams (5): $225. No Discounts
Runners: 2614 Individuals & 224 teams of 5... total: 3,734 Competed
Available Races: 26.2m March or 15.2m March for individuals or teams of 5. Civilian and Military divisions. Light and heavy carrying divisions.
Average Finish Time: 7:43:39 (individuals)
BQ %: .5% (individuals)

(Pic Rt: The happiest pic of me running a marathon I've ever seen)
Overall Race Rating (weighted): 4.9/5.0
Average Calculated Rating: 4.7/5.0

~ This is an unbelievable race with a challenging, but fun, course. The only down side is that the race is in the middle of nowhere so you're going to face a little extra travel time.. but it's well worth it for the beautiful scenery, a VERY well organized race, and to show your support for the thousands of soldier there!

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~ The only issues I saw with this race, were not controllable by the organizers. The distance to an airport, obviously can't be changed. And it's hard to get a ton of spectators to the top of a mountain in a desert with no homes around. The only changes I would suggest-- that the organizers are in control of-- are medals! In lieu of medals, they gave out dog tags, but I think it would be nice for everybody to get a medal as well. I'm not sure how this is handled for other "marches."

Event Organization: 4.2/5.0 (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: El Paso Airport... ~50 Min Drive
Rental Car Required: Yes!!
~ This marathon is not the easiest to get to... but then again we don't keep our military bases in the middle of crowded cities. And the treck out to White Sands, NM is well worth the trip for the unbelievable scenery. They suggest for travel to stay in El Paso or Las Cruces, NM-- we stayed in Las Cruces and it was definitely an experience. You get the true New Mexico feel-- I suggest finding a Mexican restaurant while there! Their website is well maintained with all the information you need. And they sent out reminders and important information by email in the weeks leading up to the race. Registration for teams is a little complicated-- the captain has to register everybody and only 1 name is confirmed in the registration database. We were required to get to the base VERY early (4am-4:30am for a 7am start) due to the security at the base. This was a little annoying, but they had a giant tent full of breakfast foods so you could eat and get all your marathon prep in there.

There should also be something said about including all of the bataan survivors and all the branches of the military, encouraging them to take part. I think that's what really helps to make this race what it is! Also, if you chose to stay on base you had that options-- they gave you a bunk and breakfast!

Race Organization: 5.0/5.0
~ I never doubt the military with race organization! Similarly to Marine Corp and Dayton AF Marathons, these were well stocked and well organized for anything you may need. Port-a-johns galore! The aid stations had anything you needed-- water, real gatorade (some thought this was too much), fruit. In the middle of the giant uphill there were several trucks forming a giant misting cloud to cool you off-- I've NEVER seen that before! There was a spot going out of the sand pit with chocolate chip cookies! The course was very well marked-- I believe the posts may be permanent fixtures for the missile range. There is also a giant medical tent midway in the march that you pass twice.

~Post Race Food: Every runner was given a lunch after with burger/hotedog/veggie burger options, chips, drinks, fruit, fruit bars, etc. You could also go back up and buy more later if you wished. Oh and they had beer! There was also Karaoke availble post-race while we ate... Beer + Karaoke = not soooo great lunch music, but fun!

(Pic Rt: Some horrible entertaining singing done by some of the marchers.

Course: 5.0/5.0
~MarathonGuide Rating

Garmin Distance: 25.95
~ This course is unreal both for the challenge and the view! The desert-scenery is amazing!! (See pic). The climb to the top of the mountain is well worth the trip! The other scenery you get is the treck back down-- as you're coming down there are hundreds of people (mostly military) coming up and watching the heavy pack marchers is unreal!

The course itself is very cool-- but challenging. You start with a nice warm up on the flat base, but at mile 5 you slowly start the climb... up a mountain. The climb end around mile 13-14, followed by a roller coaster of small steep hills, bringing you back down the mountain! Then there is the sand pit... 2 miles of deep sand that's definitely not easy to run through, especially with the little dips and hills! Garmin distance was about a quarter mile short for just about everybody... but who minds a shorter distance???

Spectators: 4.5/5.0
~ Oddly enough, even being in a desert and climbing a mountain mid-course there are spectators scattered throughout hte course. Not huge heards of them... but small groups here and there. We also have a few miles where we spectate each other as the course crosses itself. The aid stations were also stocked with spectators which was really nice to have the cheering! The end of the race had a ton of spectators, including the survivors of Bataan there to shake your hand...

Pace Group: /5.0
~ NA

Runner/Corrals: 5.0/5.0
~ I LOVE running with members from the military-- they are always so focused and serious, but as soon as you yell to them, they are very excitable!!! We even found our own AF LT and commandeered him for the remainder of the course! We encouraged him and he encouraged us. We had a ton of fun being part of a team too! What a great twist on a marathon.

Expo: 4.7/5.0
~ "In Processing" (as they called it here) was pretty cool. You were able to get all of your things (bib, chip, dog tag, etc), then you could get a finishers certificate printed with your name on it, followed by a long table full of all kinds of marathon gear from Tshirts and hats, to chairs and commemorative coins. In the next room they had all the survivors from Bataan who were able to get in. You could get their autograph, including a popular author of a book about the march. Then there was another room where the team captains were sent to get a formal reading of the rules and needed to sign off. Very organized!

Swag: 4.4/5.0
~T-Shirts: The cotton t-shirts were very military in color (tan), and they had a very neat, simple design. Almost nice enough to wear casually. 4.6
~Medals: There aren't medals given out for this race, but in keeping with the nature of the march there are Dog Tags with the marathon logo and information. We were also given professional finisher certificates with our names printed. 4.2
~ Goodie Bag: N/A
Team Beauty and the Geeks...
Time: 4:18:24
Place: Overall Teams 3/224~ Division 3/24 ~ Gender NA ~ Age Group NA

(MB finishing strong... and looking like me-- kind of creepy)

(MB and I in post-race!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chicago is the new NYC! & Mega Marathoning Weight Gain

If you're subscribed to the Chicago Marathon updates, you probably received this by email yesterday...
How freaking crazy is that?? When did Chi-town become the new NYC? I guess it has been growing in popularity over the past few years. My senior year of college was the first year that they had to cap the race off early. I ended up happy to miss out, because that was the major heat-wave year when half the runners had to be turned around and couldn't finish. Well good thing I'm signed up...

Mega Marathoning & Weight Gain?...
I'm almost half-way through these 2 months of what I'm going to call "Mega Marathoning"-- trying for 6 marathons in about 7 weeks: 3 in March and 3 in April, including the tough Bataan Death March and a double at the end of April. This weekend I'll be completing my NJ marathon (more details to come later this week).

One of the challenges I find that come with so many marathon is... (believe it or not) Weight Gain! As I've said before, I don't do a full taper because, well-- I'd be in a continuous taper! But, I do a sort of mild-taper, lowering my mileage a little toward the end of the week. Usually I take off the day before a marathon, and sometime I'll have to take off after, depending on how my legs feel. This becomes a problem as over time, my body has been totured so many times during a month, that it sucks up any and all calories that come in its path, soaking up fats and storing them for when it is sure to be taken through 26.2 again.

I've noticed that as I've increased the pace I participate in marathons and ultras, my body has started to handle weight loss and gain, similarly to a guy! If I take a few days off, I can put on weight like crazy. But, if I workout without a break for a few days in a row-- I shed lbs almost instantly and can't seem to consume enough calories. I also gain muscle very very quickly. Between the muscle gain, and the days off I need to take when I participate in so many marathons, I've started to gain weight. I'm fairly in tune with my body, so I can definitely feel the extra few lbs.

Carbs & Advanced Marathoning
Keeping that in mind, I've started following some of the philosophy from "Advanced Marathoning"-- or at least trying to. If it's a marathon week (as most are these days) I try to consume few carbs at the beginning of the week, and keep my runs at a slower pace that burns calories faster. Toward the end of the week, I'll pick up my pace a little and take in many carbs, hoping to store them for the marathon. This way I'll be carb-ready for marathons, but I'm not packing them on all week. They also note in the book, that starving your body of carbs like this, helps to actually store more when you finally allow your body to consume your favorite pastas and breads-- yummm :)

I'll try some of these methods for a few weeks... and keep you posted on what more I find in the book.

As always, check the Upcoming Races tab above for the states that are coming up and let me know if you'll be participating in the same races!

Happy Running,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bataan Memorial Death March ~ Post Race Thoughts

Team Beauty and the Geeks:
This weekend I was joined by a team to take on the Bataan Memorial Death March. Teams weren’t organized in the 2 typical fashions we normally see: Relays and team avg times. Rather, in keeping with the military spirit of “no man left behind,” we were tasked with the goal of starting, running, and completing the challenging marathon together—only allowed to finish within 20 seconds of each other. If somebody dropped out, the whole team was disqualified, but could finish the race. This wasn’t a requirement for the race (you could run as individuals) but I managed to convince 4 others to join me for team “Beauty and the Geeks.”
(Pic: Team Beauty and the geeks-- the far left guy is not on our team)

My team consisted of myself, Dave C. (Cinci runner), Jeff R. (Cinci Runner), John K. (Albany runner), and Brent S. (fellow 50-stater). We were also joined by 3 other Cincinnati runners (Kim R., Steve T. & Tony A) and MB (Albany) who were unable to find a 5th member to create a team but had a great time running as individuals. Team Beauty and the Geeks, also adopted an unofficial 6th member. As we approached the top of the climb, we found an Airforce 2nd Lieutenant (I’m hoping I got that right) named Roman who made us look bad, as we had to catch up with him and he was running in his full uniform (boots and all). He stayed with us the remainder of the race, answering our many questions and keeping us entertained and motivated. Roman ended up first for military individuals. My vote is, every individual and team be assigned a military personnel to run with!! You know... here is your timing chip, here is your t-shirt, and here is your soldier, enjoy the race!

Kicked out of NM??
It was a close call on getting my 26th state in, as MB nearly got us kicked out of NM twice! The first was at the military base. As we approached the base there were many signs indicating that we were NOT to take pictures at the entrance to the base. What does MB do? Rolls down her window as we’re approaching the guard shack and starts taking pics. What does the US military do? Aside from (likely) pointing missiles at our car—they told her to delete the pics and put the camera away, then they spent extra time on our ID’s getting into the base.

Close call #2 occurred about 2 hours later when we were leaving the base. MB was speeding (as per usual) and got pulled over by a state police officier. The flustered MB yelled that she’s not from that state and is here for the marathon, and any other excuse she could use. Luckily she managed to get out of the ticket. Since we were so very close to the Mexican border I thought for SURE she would find a way to get us involved with border control—but lucky for Brent, John and I (who were riding with MB) she avoided those guys!

The march was definitely a little challenge—There is a pretty good sized climb, mixed with altitude, as well as 1-2 miles of what they call the “sandpit” (very loose sand on small rolling hills), and the weather definitely started to heat up, but we lucked out with a cool breeze in the air.

(Pic: Elevation chart by water stops, not miles)
However, at the top of the hill you definitely realize the climb was worth the view! The desert mountains (some topped with snow) are absolutely beautiful!

(Pic: Bataan Start-- Sunrise on the beautiful scenery!)

Our team was in the civilian co-ed division and we ended up with 3rd overall, losing to a seriously fit national guard team that ran as civilians. Unfortunately they only give out medals to the top 2 in each division. Our team actually came in with a time of 4:18:23 and 3rd overall for ALL teams entered into the competition. Not bad! Note: My T-shirt is from the flying pig marathon... at the finish people were yelling out "GO PIG!" Ummm... not wearing that one in races anymore.

(Team Beauty and the Geeks at the finish!)

But, our results were definitely not the focus this weekend. The focus on this march (NOT a run) was the past and present soldiers fighting for the US. In most races, we break out all the results for individuals overall, in age groups, divisions, etc. This race had very little focus on the individual—the closing ceremonies didn’t even include the race results. Rather, it honored our military personnel, especially those who were part of the real Bataan Death March.

I would definitely reccomend this marathon to anybody! The amazing experience is worth the trip from ANYWHERE. There is a little challenge with the hills and heat, so I wouldn't go for time-- but hey, sometimes the 26.2 isn't enough and an added challenge is fun!

Note: Thanks Jeff R. for the pics!
Note 2: Thanks team Beauty and the Geeks for a great run and a great weekend!

Happy Running,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Birfday Status and A/G Analysis

Ok, so we're over the halfway point of the day and no major catastrophes have occured so far (knock on wood!!! Cross fingers, good luck dance). See my last post if you don't know why I'm afraid of my own birthday. I've had one close call. I wore "birthday heels" which have a little bit of a platform front. Well the shoe slipped and got caught on the clutch of my car so I couldn't depress it. I did not panic and managed to get it out without and accident-- then I promptly took my shoes off and drove barefoot. PHEWWWW

In keeping with the positive spirit and hoping the birthday gods stay on my side, I'm listing the many reasons why THIS is a good birthday....

1) Birthday Drink! This past weekend D made me a special birthday drink and it was AMAZING!! Bad news-- somebody spilled it while opening the fridgerator when I had only partaken in 2 cups. Good news... The 2 cups was more than enough-- if I had more I probably would have ended up over the toilet.

2) Birthday Watch! I already posted about my new birthday watch from Kyle. Want to see it again??? Ok twist my arm...

3) Birthday Pictured Cookies?? I came home last night and had a package sent from MB to my house that said "perishable" on it. --uh oh-- When I opened it I found these...

Yeah, that would be a giant chocolate cookie and a dozen chocolate pops with pictures of me printed into the chocolate. Ok settle down-- I know you want one!! But unfortunately there are not enough to share.

4) See analysis below... I've decided: 25 means that I'm getting faster!

F <25 and 25-29 Age Group Analysis...

This morning MB wrote on my facebook wall... "NEW AGE GROUP FOR RUNNING 25-29!!!" as if it was a good thing. I replied with "Uggg that is NOT good in my case." Then MB replied "No its good. you ger rid of all those college kids." ... I guess MB has a point there. But, I always though the sub-25 goup was slower because most people don't start running marathons til their late 20's. Also, running is the one sport that, for many reasons, we actually peak at later in life-- 30's and sometime in our 40's. So being the finance dork that I am, I did an analysis pulling data from the last 4 big marathons I was in (females 20-29 only) and compared the age groups. Results....

Overall the 25-29 group kicks serious butt on the youngsters. Even when the under 25 group does better on average, the top contenders in the 25-29 group KILL the top runners in the <25 group. Basically, there are more 25-29 year olds, dragging the average down, but they have also gotten a LOT faster.

There are 3 ways to interpret these numbers....
A) We are truely getting faster as we get older. We're improving, growing, and muscle memory is kicking in.
B) The newbie runners are friggen fast!!! Most people don't marathon til their later 20's, 30's or even later in life. Most young 20-something are busy going to college, finding jobs, starting their lives. Well when they start in their late 20's, they're fast and their good.
C) We drop out! As we get into our later 20's, the slower runners drop out. Unlikely!

Going against the econometrician inside, I'm going to create a cause-effect relationship and say... Option A--we get faster as we get older!! :) So, that means I'm going to get faster! Phew-- good thing too because I have some sub-3:30 marathon goal times in mind ;)

That's it for now kiddies. I'll update ya when I fall off a cliff. :)


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No Running = No Posting???

We're halfway through week 2 of the cold and I'm actually starting to feel a lot better... Ok I'm not 100% sure that's 100% accurate. I'm either feeling better or I'm keeping myself pretty dosed up on sudafed :)

So, I've attempted to blog several times but then I start thinking "what can I write on a running blog when I'm not actually running???" I promise I DO have a life outside of running... but I always feel kind of silly writing about other aspects of life, when people would obviously follow my blog for running/training purposes. Anyways-- what I'm trying to say is that I won't be offended if you choose to stop reading now and move onto other running-related posts out there (albeit there is a little bit about running below).
First... Happy St. Pat's Day!!! I've always loved St. Pat's because it means it is birthday time!!! My B-dizzle is the 18th :) I'm slightly less excited as I've had some serious BAD luck on my birthdays!! Something pretty bad happens just about every year. I won't go into details about last year, but let's just say it involved my work computer taking an impromptu flight to Atlanta without me on it--- and no I don't mean securely in a bag-- it was flying in the cabin.

Second Birthday problem #2-- I'm turning an age I don't agree with. As you can see from my last post, I'm choosing not to discuss the actual number. Maybe the number WILL be the bad luck? Turning 24+1 seems bad enough to me-- please can that be all that goes wrong??? Don't worry-- I'll keep ya'll posted if I fall down a flight of stairs. I'll even keep a camera handy in case something tangible happens I can take a pic of.

This weekend is Marathon #26 (yes people, this is the running portion of the post) in White Sands, NM. I'll be running in the crazy heat and sand, but lucky for me I'll have a team with me! Team "Beauty and the Geeks" (guess which one is me? I'll give you a hint... it will surprise you, considering I keep a blog). So the plan for the week is to "Just keep drinking"-- water that is. Allllllthough the birthday will end in a drink, of the martini variety, either in 1) Celebration 2) Recovery after the "bad" thing happens or 3) Depression when the 24+1 sinks in. 

That's it for today I believe. Thank you so much for updating me with your racing schedules that overlaps mine! I've updated even MORE marathons recently so please take a look and let me know which ones you'll be participating in!!! *Link at top for "upcoming races"* :) If you've told me and it's not up there please please please remind me--and forgive me, I've been sick!

Happy Running!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Annndddddd this is why I run...

When I was much younger than my current ALMOST 24+1 year old self, I had a hard time sitting still. Boredom wasn't exactly something I handled well and I tended to take it out on my hair! I would get into things that seemed harmless at the time-- but later I would find out weren't "OK" by most adult standards and my hair tended to be the defenseless victim. This has led to poor self-haircuts and even worse dye jobs. Once my hair was actually orange with pink and red highlights because I had picked a color with red in it-- bad idea. No there are no pictures!

Well apparently by the first anniversary of my 24th birthday, much hasn't changed. This Saturday I woke up even sicker than I've been all week. My cold just doesn't seem to be budging and I knew I shouldn't run. So, what is one to do on a Saturday afternoon that involves sitting still and getting rest? .... Hey~! I can go get my hair cut off!!!! Yeah, that sounds like a good idea!

So, I called my friend/hair dresser extroidinaire and guess what? She had a cancellation at 1 and I could have it. Uhhh ohhhh.... hey at least at 24 (plus a little) I've smartened up a little and went to a professional instead of doing it myself!!!! I would say that is definite progress!

So.... I cut ~8 inches off my long hair ! Now, mind you I'm NOT feeling my loveliest in this picture so don't judge too harshly.

So the hair is gone and I haven't run in a week!!! A WEEK!!!! Seriously??? I'm going a little stir crazy. Let's hope I don't find hair dye anywhere soon. 

I have a marathon in NM this weekend so I'm trying very hard to get better by just sitting still, drinking fluids, and rest rest rest. Since I wasn't feeling well, Kyle gave me an early Bday present to help me feel better!! Wanna see? Of COURSE you do! This is my new watch!!!

This is my new "boyfriend" style watch with an oversized face, white band and totally blinged out... I LOVE IT!!! Kyle is the best!!! 
Ok now, back to resting... joy. Does anybody know ANYTHING I can do to keep from going stir crazy??? I want to runnnn :(

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MB and the Flu

Or I should say "MB brings the flu..." but that's for later.

For now... I had a request about this strange "MB" person that seems to be following me everywhere and running my marathons. Well, MB is "MaryBeth" or "Crazy Lady" or just "Mom." Yep! My mom runs most of my marathons too! (*AWWWW*) She travels with me, stays with me at hotels and makes sure her baby gets fed while traveling!!! Very important! It's nice because almost 3 years ago, upon graduation of college, I left NY and didn't go back. Now, even though I live so far away, I get to see her 2 or 3 weekends a month. Crazy, right? Totally

Well it's funny somebody asked me about her last night because... TODAY happens to be her BIRTHDAY!!!!

Happy Birthday MB!!!
(MB finds a moose friend in NH for the NH marathon)

The Flu??
MB not only shares the same marathons, hotels, and overall super-model-esque looks-- errrr-- she also shares GERMS with me!!! She brought a Flu this weekend that she picked up from my "Pit Crew Chief"-- yeah so I give my parents fun names, who doesn't??-- and gave it to me!!

Yep, I have the FLU! I've been sick all week. But, this is the year of running smart!!! If I feel sick or rundown I rest! If I feel achy I give it a break and ice! So this week I'm resting, much against my nature. I just started feeling a little better today and I'm hoping to keep it up. This weekend is my birthday celebration weekend since I'll be away next weekend for a--duh-- marathon.

Anyways, hope you're all having a wonderful time running-- I'm having a wonderful time with my night time nyquil and sleep! :)

-Happy Running ZzZzZzZzzZZZzzz

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chi Town and Then & Now!

Chicago ~ 10.10.10! 
I'm officially signed up for the Bank of Chicago Marathon for 2010. It's a good thing too because they just sent out an email saying they have 30,000 already signed up with a cap of 45,000. Woah-- looks like it's filling up quick!

Because of my recent BQ Race I was able to sign up for Corral B (<3:35:59). The average time to cross the start line from corral B is only about 2 minutes, which is great considering the 45,000 runners! One of the worst marathon situations is...

You're waiting at the start line, having just come out of a warm tent and stripping your layers down to race gear. The garmin is ready, picking up the satellite and your ipod is set to your best 'pump me up' song. The announcers pumps us up with a few words as we get some last minute stretching and then *POW* the start gun goes off!!! Adrenaline pumps you start moving you feet and ugh-- walk right into the person in front of you. Ok, so you'll wait for your turn... and wait... and wait.... When its finally time to go it's too packed to really move for the next mile or two. *Yuck*

I'm hoping corral B will allow me to run without being run over!!! Hello people-- it's me, the person you're trying to step on! There are runners under 5'3 out here too!

Then and Now... the evolution of race gear in 5 years:

Over Christmas I framed pictures of my first marathon, my moms first marathon, and one of our recent races together. The change from the 90's high neon running shorts to 2009 on MB was hilarious! So I thought I would take a closer look to the changes I've made in my racing gear in just 5 years. My first marathon was the Athens Classic Marathon in 2005! I thought it was funny to look back only 5 years and see how racing attire has evolved.

2005 Picture
Let's take some notes...
-Shirt: Tank top, sometimes known as a "beater"~ At the time breathable Tech-T's were not big like they are now
-Shorts: Mesh Union College shorts, sometimes known as "Lacrosse shorts"~ At the time I thought I was way too cool for "dorky" running shorts with the (ick) built in undies.
-Hydration: None-- no bottle or pack
-Food: I pinned packs of gummy savers to my shorts to eat through the race. 
-Sneakers: I believe these were Nike Shox! I loved those heavy suckers
-Watch: A fashion watch by Nike that only went up to 99 minutes... real helpful

Flash Forward... 2010!!!
-Shirt: Ditched the "beater" for a thermal top over a Tech-T! Yep a little more breathable, and a lot less chafing.
-Shorts: I practically live in my once *ick* built in undie-running shorts! I have a ton of them and pretty much run exclusively in them. SO much easier to pull off and on during port-a-john stops!
-Hydration: I don't have it in this picture, but I now carry a small hand-held with a little built in pouch for sport beans, GU, etc. Being able to hydrate through the whole race makes a world of difference now!
-Food: I now carry and take GU every 5 miles and often use sport beans.
-Sneakers: Nike Free 5.0! Developing my running wardrobe with some 'barefoot' running technology. Much lighter than the shox of 2005!
-Watch: My garmin is one of the best purchases I've made to date. It helps me to pace myself and not get caught up in the hectic pace at starts. Much improved from my 99 minute- Nike watch.
Bondi Band! My newest addition to running gear-- the bondi band helps to keep my hair out to my face and--ahem--my ears pinned back. Yeah, that's no joke-- they stick out and I definitely wore the bondi band JUST over the tips so they held my ears back.
Much has changed and I hope much improved!!!

Remember to check my "upcoming races" link at the top of the page for my current marathon schedule. I add marathons all the time. If there is one not scheduled in your state and you have a race idea let me know! If you're going to the races I'm planning to run send me a note and I'll add you to the schedule.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Little Rock Marathon~ Race Ratings (#25)

Tagline: "We don't give out medals, we give out chest shields"
2010 Little Rock Marathon ~ March 7, 2010
Little Rock, AR~ Downtown and Historic Little Rock
Registration Fee: $90 early ($100-$110 late). $10 Discount for 50-Staters. $20 extra for the "perk tent" tickets (see below in organization or this post).
Runners: 1545 in the marathon (Plus half and relay teams)
Available Races: Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 4-Person Marathon Relay
Average Finish Time: 4:48:15
BQ %: 7.8%

Overall Race Rating (weighted): 4.9/5.0
Average Calculated Rating: 4.73/5.0

~ This very well organized race is going to make you feel fast and is definitely worth the little extra for the perks tent. The organizers did a spectacular job! This is just a FUN time so take advantage of everything it has to offer. 

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~ This race is almost to near perfection in terms of what the organizers can control. The only thing I would say they need to work on is the T-shirts. The design and colors could definitely be better. The weather was absolutely perfect with a 40-50 degree haze overhead, but if the sun did break I can imagine it getting VERY hot, especially on the long stretches without shade.

Event Organization: 4.7/5.0 (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: 5.8 Miles (12 min)
Rental Car Required: Yes
~ This was a very well managed marathon. I could tell it was going to be when they sent me a very professional looking book on the marathon with any info I could need about a month before the race. Travel was not too difficult to the expo/start area and parking was a breeze! There was a ton of it everywhere. Their website has a ton of information on the race, the area, travel, etc. The only bad part about traveling is the size of the airport-- although it's called "international" they only have some many flights in and out.

Race Organization: 5.0/5.0
~ Wonderfully organized!!! One of the best I've seen. This group has thought of everything to make this the most convenient marathon. They include bibs on the backs of half-marathoners and relay teams so we know who we're truely racing against. They had so many port-a-johns and water stops you were never in need. They had pleanty of hammer gels along the way. Prior to the race there were small medical teams walking around with tape, ibuprophen, bandaids-- anything you needed.

The perks tent! Full description below on my post-race thoughts, but this is definitely definitely worth the $20! You have any food you could imagine and all the room in the world. You only have so many people there so no lines are too long. There are heaters before and tons of beer after! I knew this was the best organized race when I was waiting in line for a massage with a beer and lap full of  food and a girl came over with a giant bottle of Ibuprophen and asked if I wanted any-- uhh! YES! There isn't a thing about this organization I could dream to change.
~Post Race Food: What DIDN'T they have? When you finished they handed you a bag full of yummy sweets and you walked around the corner to get hotdogs. In the perks tent there was also: Pizza, Smoothies, cookies, bagels and locks, a large arrangement of fruit, beer, candy, pretzels, ummm??? I'm sure a ton more!!! I was in piggy-heaven!

Course: 4.9/5.0
~MarathonGuide Rating

Garmin Distance: 26.36
~ This was my type of course. Long slow uphills and quick steep downhills you could fly down. The beginning of the course started in downtown, making turns to quickly, you hardly had a chance to look ahead (no boring endless miles ahead). The course goes out to "historic Little Rock" and is truly a 26 mile tour of the city, as the website claims. You have a ton of interesting and beautiful scenery. At one point you take a turn and as you start to descend a long downhill, the capital if framed in front of you in the distance. You pass the gorgeous governors mansion as well. The only boring areas are a few neighborhoods and they are filled with spectators with signs, drinks, food, and cheer. The other area that some found boring was the out and back between 18 and 24. I didn't mind this area because I was entering the area as the winners were coming out and I love to see them fly. I was also able to see almost every single runner, which is awesome if you're there with people or know a lot of people running. 

Spectators: 4.6/5.0
~ Spectators were lined throughout the race-- this is another marathon that the city seems proud to have and get very involved with. The race officials describe on their site that they purposely encourage and place spectators and cheering groups at slower place on the course and on some of the bad hills to keep you going. I found I had the most cheering-fueled adrenaline rush as I entered the biggest hill of the course because they had both sides of the street lined with spectators!

Pace Group: 5.0/5.0
~ I was able to run with/pass/get passed by/ and see at the out and back-- many pace groups and almost all of them seemed to be very accurately on time. They also seemed to have extremely knowledgeable pace leaders who were encouraging their runners. A few of the pace leaders were even dressed up in quirky outfits-- seriously?? wow I'm impressed. Nice job pace group leaders

Runner/Corrals: 4.8/5.0
~ This is the second year Little Rock chose to use corrals and they seemed to go off perfectly. They had the corral entrances guarded well and I had plenty of room to stretch out. The courses are wide, but with the number of runners they were still packed. I couldn't imagine the chaos that would have ensued if there weren't corrals.

This is a big marathon full of runners-- esp with the 50-staters reunion held there this year. I was feeling really good in the later miles of the race and it seemed like a LOT of the runners were slowing down so I made sure to yell encouraging things to each runners as I passed. Most of them perked up and yelled back-- some of the slower early starters seemed offended or confused-- hmm does anybody get why that is??? I had a great time chatting post-race with many of the runners while waiting in line for our massages.

Expo: 4.8/5.0
~ This was a good expo-- big and full of vendors for this mid-sized marathon. What I liked was that the expo wasn't too full of people trying to sign you up for other race (uh, please let me get through this one first) and it was not overly packed like some other marathons. If there was anything you needed, you were able to find it. There was also some GREAT LR marathon apparel. They gave you some casual marathon gear options that still look nice. Not just athletic gear or sweats.

Swag: 4.0/5.0
~T-Shirts: The T-shirt was the only place I thought they lacked. It was gray and not very attractive. The half marathoners got a white version (which was better) and the design on both was ok. It was a nice material tech-T, but the small is too big for me and the design is kind of ugly. 3.1
~Medals: Wow-- holy huge. I know there are other ones that are the same size, but this was just so cool. It definitely got some attention at the airport. 4.9!
~ Goodie Bag: The other goodies included a marathon poster that was cute, but I think I lost it in the airport (ooops)

Stephanie~ Marathon
Time: 3:44:36
Place: Overall 201/1545 ~ Gender 37/574 ~ Age Group 2/39

Monday, March 8, 2010

Little Rock Marathon~ Post Race Thoughts

Ok this is a long one, so let me sum it up with (most important to least):
~ The medal is beyond anything I showed in the picture last week! WOW
~ I made my 25th state before 25 and I got 2nd in my age group-- the last time in the under 25 age group!
~ There is a "Perks Tent" and it is the best thing to happen to marathoning since GU

*Yep, that huge chunk of medal in my hand is the actual marathon medal! 10.5 inches long.

I met up with MB as the CVG airport (her layover was here and I’m from Cinci). We got into LIT with no problems (it’s me, so obviously flight problems to come later—stay tuned.) We went straight to the expo, which was a pretty decent size for this growing marathon. Highlights? The clothes! They had some really cool ‘casual’ clothing options to buy with the marathon name on it. Sommeeetimes a little too casual… see picture. Ummm did nobody realize that there may be a double meaning when you put “its natural” on a thong? Seriously? Had to snap a pic! I also bough a really cool razor back tank that I can wear to out and about—instead of excluding my marathon gear from all non-athletic activities. I also bought my first Bondi Band (pictured above)! They have SO many options to choose from—I went with bright and obnoxious!

And this marathon is dedicated to… D!

When we got to the hotel, there was a BIG surprise waiting for me. My buddy (and soon to be half-marathoner) D had sent me a fruit-bouquet to congratulate me on my 25th marathon-state! (*awwwwww*) I contemplated waiting until I actually finished the marathon to eat the fruit, but those chocolate covered strawberries were just too darned tempting. SO GOOD! I recommend this gift over flowers ANY day—but then again I like to eat more than the average bear.

D will be running her first half-marathon the first weekend of may at the Flying Pig Marathon-- if you don't know anything about this marathon, its freaking awesome!!! If you want me info let me know! I've taken D on a few training runs and she's got her miles in-- she'll do great!
50-Staters Meeting and Pasta Dinner
We’ve never actually gone to a 50-staters meeting and at the pace I’m going, there aren’t going to be many before I’m done. So, we opted to go. Every quarter the 50-States Marathon Club  picks a “reunion” marathon. A lot of 50-Staters go, they usually have a table set up at the expo with more details, we all get a $10 discount on the race and they have their quarterly meeting. They give out awards for people who have made their 50-states and they have a guest speaker. The speaker was Kelly Luckett (a transtibial amputee) who poke about her running accomplishments as well as her goals.

The pasta dinner was at the Peabody hotel in downtown, Little Rock. We didn’t know this before, but I guess this hotel is known for the ducks in their indoor fountain—more importantly, how their ducks make a trip twice a day! They actually climb the stairs of the fountain, and walk along a red carpet to the elevator when they walk in and ride up to their room. Crazy, right? Oh PS my favorite animal is a Duck so I LOVED this part!

The Pasta dinner was ok—not sure it was worth the $20 and I definitely wouldn’t call it the “best marathon pasta dinner” as I saw a couple times on the marathonguide comments. There was a good dessert after—an apple and blueberry crumb dessert (you could also get peach). I should mention that the marathon people were very nice. We left at the hotel misplaced my bracelet to get into the pasta dinner and they gave us a new one.
Race Day!
We got to the start about an hour early and I have 2 words for the morning-- Perks Pavilion!  This is seriously the solution to any marathon-organizational issues you thought you might have had, from overcrowding to pre-race cold weather to running out of snacks and drinks. Let me explain...

Perks Pavillion
The perks pavillion has extra pre and post race perks available for an extra $20. They limit the number of tickets so you can take advantage of all the perks without being overcrowded. The morning had a full line of breakfast foods (bagels, fruit, drinks, smoothies, etc) as well as pre-race massages, a place to get a free 5x8 picture they send later, a heaters in the tent to stay warm, and perk-tent only gear drop off (easy to find post-race), private port-a-johns with wash station)-- among other things. Post race the buffet picked up (including pizza, locks for your bagels, candy, cookies, etc), beer was added to the menu, and more. I loved not being overcrowded post race and still being able to get a ton of food and beer. Yay!

The Race
The first thing I noticed was that the half-marathoners and the relay runners had signs with "relay" and "half" on their backs, which helps mentally while running to pace yourself and it helps when the half and full turn in different directions, so you go the correct way. The course? I thought it was pretty cool. The uphills weren't nearly as bad as they looked in the elevation charts, but they were definitely there. I love long graded uphills then steep downhills- My fav! The course had a ton of pit stops and water stops throughout and the spectators were absolutely amazing! Non-marathon-organized spectators were outside lining the streets with everything: water, beer, mimosas, oranges, candy, cookies, etc. One spectator in particular caught my attention...

The Gov’na!
It was hard to miss the Governor’s Mansion with all its grandeur—esp. with the Governor chilling out front of the gate with his cute little red sweater on. So cool! His “house” is right on a turn, so I was already about 10 feet past him before I realized whom it was. I’m neurotic about my garmin mileage so I didn’t want to go back, but I was tempted to go up and say “HI! I’m Stephanie! Thanks for coming to my 25th state!”

My Race

I started the race with my new audiobook: Twilight- New Moon! Yep-- not afraid to admit it. I find I can really zone out because I've already read the books. My legs were a little sore the morning of the race (not too sure why) and I was hoping the pain would go away-- it didn't. It sort of felt like I ran hard the day before. It was ok though-- I was planning on trying out negative splits and running slower in the beginning really helps for soreness.

To me, there are 2 ways a marathon goes for you mentally-- 1) You zone out well, with little pain to distract and will find that you've passed miles at a time without notice. 2) You feel and are aware of every tenth of a mile that ticks by. Due to the early leg soreness, this was one of the second kind. It was ok though-- I felt sore through most of the race, but it didn't get so bad that I had to walk or slow down too much.

I took a few ibuprophen around mile 15, which helped a ton. Miles 18 to about 24 are an out and back. This was about the time I really started catching up to the runners who took an early start. What I found funny was that runners really started slowing down in this area. I caught a ton of people. I'm not sure if I felt good or there were a lot of early starters, or it was a tough spot for runners and they slowed-- or a combination of all of them. I don't mind these out and back spots because I can distract myself by looking at the fast runners and counting the women on the way out, and distract myself by looking for MB on my way back.

I focused on keeping a steady pace for the last few miles and encouraging all the 50-stater early starters I saw. I finished with a 3:44:36. Not bad for a rough marathon, 2 weeks after running the hardest marathon I've ever run. Also-- I took 2nd for my age group! This was great because it's the last time I'm in the under-25 age group!!!

Finish and Post-Race
As you come to the finish, there is a guy giving out lipstick to apply for your finish picture! I missed this, but MB picked one up and brought it in. When I finished they handed me the biggest medal ever and I lugged it back up to the Perks Pavillion to get food, beer and a massage!

MB finished and found me a few beers, smoothies, and hot dogs deep, very happy waiting for my massage.

That's when I got a phonecall from Delta saying my 4:45 flight was cancelled and they had rescheduled me for the next day. Umm no! So I called and they managed to re-schedule me on a US Airways flight. Unfortunately they did it wrong and when I got to the airport, MB and I had to run between delta and US Air counters to try and straighten it out. Ugh. Well I got home, but not til around midnight. Ah well-- it was a good, long day in Little Rock!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Little Rock Marathon~ Race RUNdown (#25)

Inspiration Points...
1. We're Half-Way there --oooooohhhh-- living on a prayer!! Yep-- finally my true half-way there marathon. My 25th state!
2. 25 before 25! I'll be turning 24+1 in two weeks and this is my last marathon before the dreaded bday! Getting in 25 states before I turn 25-- way cool! Also-- For all intensive purposes, I'm jumping an age group, so this will be my last 'under 25' marathon :(
3. SUN! It's supposed to be 65 in Little Rock this weekend! Wooah, what a change that will be!
4. This is the first of 3 marathons this month. And the next one is a DOOZY (has "death march" in the title) so I'm going to enjoy my last easier marathon before hitting the desert.
5. 50-State Marathon Club Reunion

AR Race RUNdown...
Little Rock Marathon ~ Saturday Mar 7, 2010 (#25)
Little Rock, AR
Registration Fees: $90 early ($100 late)-- $10 Discount for 50-Staters. Expo registration ONLY available now. 464 Spot available for the full!!!! Sign Yo'self up fool!
Year Running: 8
2010 Expected Field: 1,850 Max reg for the marathons (464 spots remaining!)
2009 Field: 1,456 Finishers
... Females: 563 ... Age Group: 25
2009 Avg. Finish Time: 4:41:42
Certified Course/BQ Certified?: Yes/Yes
With a low of 46 and a high of 65 in the forecast, I'm getting pretty pumped! They're calling for partly cloudy weather and I'm starting to wonder if it will actually be too hot. It doesn't matter-- I will love the warmth!

MarathonGuide Rating:

The website describes this course as a walking/running tour of Little Rock, AR! (Sounds good to me... as long as I don't black it out as per usual). They also joke about their hills-- There are a number of "bumps" -as they call them- throughout the race, but there is also a very large hill mid race, which declines rapidly-- the downhill part looks good. The good news is that it looks like there are a lot of downhills immediately after uphills to help makeup time AND it's not a pancake flat course-- hate those!!! Funny thing-- looking through the many comment on the race, you never hear the words "fast" or "PR" or "BQ" -- Hmmm wonder why, miles 13-15?

Race 411:
~Slow Course? Only 1 female in my A/G made a BQ in last years race and 2008 race.
~Corrals: They've incorporate corrals to keep the flow of the race moving. To be selected for Corral A or B, you needed to submit proof of times. Corral A and B have been sold out and guess who nabbed herself a golden ticket to corral B (sub 3:45:59)? This girl!!!
~Green! This is another "go green" marathon!
~ Swag! This marathon is known for having mega marathon medals that are between 1 and 2 lbs! Crazy and definitely incorporate the "go green" theme to the race. This is what a news release said about the medals...
"Each year our medal has gotten bigger and bigger. Our 2009 medal was 7 1/4” tall and weighed about a 1 ½ pounds"
~ Spectators: Looks like they're trying to keep our minds off of the "bumps" in the course.. "We will have about 20 to 30 groups stationed along the course to cheer you on and take your mind off the road ahead"

Race Plan:
I'm hoping to try out some negative splits for the fist time in a full marathon. I think it will be difficult to stay slow coming out of a fast corral, but I'll have to focus on going slower in the beginning and catching people at the end! As always I'll see how I feel around miles 6-10 and if I'm feeling good I'll speed it up.

I've also DL's a few audio-books that I'm going to try to listen to while racing. If that seems to be boring me to death, I'll switch back to music.