Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Medals of 2010... Marathon Edition!

Best Marathon Medals of 2010...
This year there was some serious bling in the marathon world that by far outshines my 2009 medals! I've taken all of my ratings from my 2010 Marathons (of the 27 marathons/ultras, only 23 gave out medals) and ranked them best to worst, with the top 5 taking the prizes*. I'll do a new "Best of" each day for the next few weeks, ending with "Best overall marathon." If you're looking for the best of medals 2009, please go here.
*Actual prizes can be redeemed in "cool points"

5b. Fargo Marathon's "Trippy" Medal (2-way tie for 5th place) 4.5/5.0
Date: May 22, 2010
Fargo, ND
Overall rating: 4.1/5.0

Info: This psychedelic medal was definitely unique and artistic. They put the same picture on the shirts as well. I especially loved the colorful lanyard.. 

5a Go! St. Louis Marathon's Arch Medal 4.5/5.0
Date: April 11, 2010
St. Louis, MO
Overall rating: 4.6/5.0

Info: This fun design and great colors make this medal very distinctive. The arch is predominant on the face and I like how it kind of looks like a beer bottle opener... am I the only one that thinks this?

4b. Philadelphia Marathon's "American Pride" Medal (2-way tie for 4th place) 4.6/5.0
Date: November 21, 2010
Philadelphia, PA
Overall rating: NA/5.0

Info: This is a fantastic eye-catching design on both the medal face and the lanyard. Being such a historic city, I like that they included landmarks on the medal. The design and red/white/blue colors really pop.
4a. Detroit Free Press Marathon's "2-Country Flag" Medal 4.6/5.0
Date: October 17, 2010
Detroit, MI
Overall rating: 4.4/5.0

Info: This is a great tribute to both the US and Canada. Both flags are represented on the lanyard. The bridge connecting the city is on the medal face as well as the pride of Detroit- the auto industry represented and the city scape. 

3. Mississippi Blues Marathon's "Guitar" Medal 4.7/5.0
Date: January 9, 2019
Atlanta, GA
Overall rating: 4.1/5.0

Info: It's a guitar and a medal... does it get any better? Love the colors, especially on the lanyard and the guitar is a great representation of what that weekend was all about... the blues baby! 

2. Marshall University Marathon's Medal 4.8/5.0 (pictured below...)
Date: November 7, 2010
Huntington, WV (Marshall University)
Overall rating: 4.2/5.0

Info: Although I feel like they copied my city's medal (flying pig) with the back/front animal concept, it's still really cool! Plain lanyard, but great design

And the Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge #1 rated medal for 20010 is.... *Drum roll*...
1. Little Rock Marathon's "Super Sized" Medal 4.9/5.0
Date: March 7, 2010
Little Rock, AR
Overall rating: 4.9/5.0

Info: You can't really go wrong with a medal the size of your head! A true tribute to the marathon distance, this medal is about the size of my head and thick as well. The downfall?... wearing it around for extended periods of time may hurt your neck! 
3 Worst Medals of 2010
I like to call this years worst the...
"Nice try, but let's work a little harder next year" Awards!

3. Delaware Marathon's "gumball machine" medal 2.9/5.0
Date: May 16, 2010
Wilmington, DE
Overall rating: 4.8/5.0

Info: For SUCH a great marathon, I'm really surprised at the medals. It's very plain and boring, and watch out if a breeze comes along... it may blow away. 

2. Omaha Marathon's "what IS it??" Medal 2.8/5.0
Date: September 26, 2010
Omaha, NE
Overall rating: 4.4/5.0

Info: Another great marathon with not so great bling. I don't know what is driving directors to go with these glass medals but 1) I'm willing to be it gets broken and 2) you can't actually see what the medal is supposed to say with the swirls of colors. Each medal was different (different swirls) but almost all were unreadable. 

And the Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge WORST medal of 2010 is... *drum roll*...

1. First Light Marathons "Stickers???" Medal 2.7/5.0
Date: January 10, 2010
Mobile, AL
Overall Rating: 3.1/5.0

Info: It doesn't hold a candle to the monstrosity from last year's worst medals, but it still isn't pretty. Stickers on a wooden block, does NOT a marathon medal make. 

Remaining Medals of 2010...
The "Betweener" Medals (from worst to best)

#20 Ocean Drive Marathon
Cape May, NJ 3.0/5.0
Info: Kind of a blah medal... 

#19 Dallas White Rock Marathon
Dallas, TX 3.6/5.0
Info: White Rock is not Athens

#18 Spinx Run Fest Marathon
Greenville, SC 3.6/5.0
Info: The rocky face was kind of different and the female runner was cool!

#17 University of Okoboji Marathon
Okoboji, IA 3.6/5.0
Info: The coined medal is the same as the award medals!

#16 Chicago Marathon
Chicago, IL 3.7/5.0
Info: This looked more like a bank logo than a marathon medal. I was expecting a lot more for 10.10.10

#15 Wyoming Marathon
Cheyenne, WY 3.8/5.0
Info: This pin (in lieu of a medal) had the state seal on the front. It was also the best feature of a terrible race. 

#14 Mizuno KS Free State Trail Marathon
Lawrence, KS 3.8/5.0
Info: I'm just happy a trail marathon actually gave out a medal. 

#13 Oklahoma Memorial Marathon
Oklahoma City, OK 3.9/5.0
Info: Great representation of the memorial

#12 Mesa Falls Marathon
Ashton, ID 4.0/5.0
Info: I loved the wooden medal-- it really went with the feel of the marathon

#11 Foot Traffic Flatt Marathon
Portland, OR 4.0/5.0
Info: I know some people didn't like the bike chain/recycled paper thing, but I thought it was really different. 

#10 Seattle Rock'n'Roll Marathon
Seattle, WA 4.1/5.0
Info: I loved the representation of the city on this medal... not the mention the sparkles!

#9 Bataan Memorial Death March
White Sands, NM 4.2/5.0
Info: This isn't technically a medal, but I think it was a great addition to the race and went perfectly with the event.

#8 Big Wild Humpy's Marathon
Anchorage, AK 4.3/5.0
Info: A nice sized medal but a little boring for most people going all the way to AK to run.

And the non-medaled marathons?...
HMRRC Winter Marathon ~ Albany, NY
HURL 50K ~ Helena, MT (gave out a certificate)
Bimblers Bluff 50K ~Madison, WI (gave out a hat and water bottle)
Dawg Gone Long 50 Miler ~ Caesar Creek, OH

Hope you enjoyed the best and worst of 2010 Medals!!!!

Happy Medal Collecting Racing,
"Run to Win" -Meb

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Goals Recap and Evaluation!

Back in January I set up a list of goals for myself that I wanted to accomplish... you know, on top of pursuing 50 marathons in 50 states. Checking the states off wasn't enough-- I wanted to improve my running, train hard, stay healthy, and reach for new distances and times I wasn't overly sure I could hit. I like to publish these goals so you all can keep me accountable. So how did I do? Let's check it out....

1) Goal: Get and stay healthy; Goal Type: Health and Wellness
Notes: At the beginning of the year I hurt my ankle doing a double marathon weekend. While recovering I switched over to minimalist shoes (vibrams and Nike Frees). This made a HUGE difference in my training and keeping my ankles and feet strong. I also kept up weight training which I can honestly say is the #1 key to staying injury free! I completed 27 marathons and ultras over the year and managed to get through over 2000 miles without injury (*serious knock on wood*)
Grade: A!

2) Goal: 24 Marathons in 2010; Goal Type: Marathons/Races
Notes: Finished 27 Marathons and Ultras, including my first 50-miler
Grade: A!

3) Goal: < 120 lbs; Goal Type: Weight
Notes: I've been staying between 115 and 119!
Grade A!

4) Goal: Complete and Alaskan Marathon!; Goal Type: Race State
Notes: Completed the Big Wild Humpy's Classic Marathon on August 14, 2010!
Grade: A!

5) Goal: 2010 Miles in 2010; Goal Type: Mileage
Notes: Christmas Day I ran my 2010th mile!
Grade: A!

6) Goal: Learn to run on the treadmill; Goal Type: Training
Notes: Successfully completed a number of mid-distance treadmill runs in the winter. Also, did many of my speedwork sessions on the treadmill. I'm not 100% comfortable doing LONG distances yet. 
Grade: B

7) Goal: Meet Bloggy Friends; Goal Type: Bloggy Fun!
Notes: I've met a very good number of bloggy friends all over the US this year. The biggest meet-up was in Seattle when the very popular Mel organized a great dinner. In addition, I've met dozens of maniacs and 50-staters.
Grade: A!

8) Goal: Boston Qualifying Time; Goal Type: Time
Notes: Even though this was my stretch goal, I still made it! I first made BQ in March at the HMRRC Winter marathon, then I repeated 7 more times throughout the year with a PR of 3:24 at the Omaha Marathon.
Grade: A!

9) Followers: 150 Followers; Goal Type: Bloggy Fun!
Notes: As of today (December 28th- Midnight) I have 198 official followers as well as a number of followers on facebook. I had such great opportunities to meet so many other bloggers/followers this year... it really made these marathons so much more fun.
Grade: A!

In 2010 I met nearly ALL of my goals (coming up short on mill'o'Death training). I would call that a very accomplished year! Thanks so much to everybody for all your support along the way and keeping me motivated. I'll be posting an all NEW set of goals for 2011 coming up this week! 

Happy Running

"Run to Win" - Meb
Worried about getting injured? Need a boost in speed to hit a PR? Ask yourself... "Have I done my strength training today?!?"

Dallas White Rock Marathon ~ Race Ratings (#45)

Tag line: 
"Our hills will make you laugh... the cold will make you cry"

Dallas White Rock Marathon ~ December 5, 2010
Dallas, TX~ Fair Park
Type: 100% Road
Year Running: 41st
Registration Fee: $100-$125 Early ($150 late)
Charity Race? Yes! Texas Scottish Rite Hospital (primary)
Runners:  4,593 Finishers ... 1,777 Females
Available Races: Marathon, Half-Marathon, Full Relay, 5K Fun Run
Average Finish Time: 4:31:28!
BQ %: 10.4%

Overall Race Ratings: 4.0/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 3.9/5.0
~ This is a great middle-sized race with fantastic support along the way. It has a very difficult start area with traffic issues, but other than that the organization is pretty good. If you're looking for rowdy spectators to pump you up, this is a great race for you! 

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~ The race needs to be downsized or the start moved. The start in fair park caused traffic issues, start/corral issues, and overall agitated runners from the beginning. I would either down-size the half marathon or bus the runners out to another location for the start... finishing in Fair Park is great for warmth in the stadium and a great backdrop for a finish. The second issue is the food at the end. They did a great job during the race,but granola, oranges, and beer is not exactly post-race food. Also-- the T-shirts. The shirts should be put aside for those that pre-ordered. 

Event Organization: 3.8/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll 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: 15 miles
Rental Car Required: Yes!
Cowboys Stadium... watching the game on the jumbo tron
~ The biggest issue this year was the location change. As much as they warned the runners, it was impossible not to get caught in traffic trying to get INTO Fair Park. We were only a mile away from the start line and it took over an hour to make it there. The start/finish has been altered from the prior course, but I had to admit it was nice to end and go straight into the Cotton Bowl and OUT of the cold! The organizers sent out a lot of information leading up to the race, including email updates. They scattered bands throughout the course for a little extra entertainment. I was impressed that they came out even in the cold weather! Upon completion of the race marathoners and half marathoners are corralled into 2 different areas to get our post-race food and finisher T-shirts. I thought this was a great solution to 5:00+ hour marathoners missing out. 

Dallas IS a great area for a marathon. There is a ton to do from shopping and dining to visiting the Cowboys Stadium and Fair Park (including the holiday festival). Definitely schedule a day for sightseeing and travel.

Race Organization: 4.8/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Lemon-Lime/Gatorade Endurance Formula
Gel Type/Flavors/Availability:  No Gel-- Cliff Shot Block packs provided at mile 20. 
~Post Race Food: .The post race food was fairly non existent- just granola bars and oranges :( They did, however, give us 2 free beers! Aid stations were often and filled with gatorade and oranges. Toward the teen-miles they had many stops with extras like fresh fruit, cookies, candy, donuts, etc. There are port-a-johns available every mile (maybe more). The course is pretty well marked every mile for the marathon (almost exactly to the mile) however, the half-marathon was not exactly well marked... the 13 mile mark somehow came before the 26 mile mark yet ended at the same point. Weird, huh?

Course: 4.5/5.0
MarathonGuide Rating (NA- New Course)
Garmin Distance: 26.20
Type: 100% Pavement/Sidewalks
~ Elevation Gain/Loss: NA
~ The course now starts in Fair Park. This is good and bad. Good because it allows for the runners to experience Fair Park as well as end in the stadium to stay warm. This is bad because it's nearly impossible to get THAT many runners to Fair Park at once. The course is very flat and even their dreaded "hills" are nothing but short elevation changes. The scenery is great with gorgeous houses along the route. The White Rock Lake is also extremely pretty itself and is also lined with very nice houses. The whole area is decorated for Christmas including the mansions that are professionally decorated. 

Spectators: 4.8/5.0
~ Now I should note this is a positive statement... I've never seen SO many drunk people that early in the morning! There were spectators lining nearly the entire course and I'm pretty sure they were all hammered by 10am. On top of that they had DOZENS of beer/drink stops. They cheered for us. They gave out food and water. They played music. They must have been having some sort of neighborhood competition because there were a few areas with fun themes and people dressed up cheering like crazy. That or Dallas has a bunch of very spirited residents. Overall I really like the spectators here!

 Pace Group: 2.0/5.0
~ The pace groups were all over the place. Some of the slower groups were in front of the faster teams at the start. The 3:30 pace group was a whole corral behind where the 3:30 runners were lined up. I started with this group and they took off at around a 9 min/mile pace for at least the first mile. They must have had a lot of time to make up over the race. I heard other people mention the pace teams being pretty far off pace as well. They DID have a strong availability of teams and each pace group seemed to have a LOT of people with them from start to finish. 

Runner/Corrals: 3.8/5.0
~ They had a corral system set up for this race. I thought it worked out very well, letting each group go with about a minute in between.They did NOT do a very good job securing the corrals (anybody could jump in any of the corrals if they wanted) so there were still some slower runners up toward the front. The runners were all very friendly along the way. I probably talked to more people in this race than I usually do.

Expo: 3.7/5.0
~ The expo was pretty big with all the basics available. The space was not big enough and was very cramped. I think a lot of the unusual spots were over at the Las Vegas Marathon expo. The good part? The expo was held at the same time as the holiday festival at Fair Park. It wasn't anything crazy, but I guess it's a "must do" in winter time. 

Swag: 4.1/5.0
~T-Shirts: The shirt is still a little debatable. It's a nice white long sleeved shirt with a cute logo on it. Pretty basic. The problem? They sold out of our pre-ordered sizes very quickly leaving us with XL options or to put an order on one. I put in for my XS and I've still yet to see it. :( The PLUS side is that they DID give all finishers their own finisher shirt that is a VERY nice, thin, technical shirt that is super comfy, cute, and of course has "finisher" on the front. As we finished they corralled us by race into the stadium so only marathoners got marathon finisher shirts and halfies got halfie finisher shirt. I liked that. They also provided male and female cut options for the finisher shirts. 4.4

~Medals: The medals again were very basic with the classic "Athenian marathon naked runner" design. 3.6

~ Goodie Bag: The goodie bag had some Gatorade endurance samples. I really like the pre-race drink they gave out. +0.1

Results: Stephanie
Chip Time: 3:37:52
Place: Overall- 627/4593, Gender- 96/1777, A/G (F25-29)- 17/284

Happy Racing,
"Run to Win" - Meb

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Miles and WS Training Week 3

Merry Christmas to all and Happy Boxing Day to my Canadian followers! I hope you all got everything on your running wish lists. It was an especially very Merry Christmas for me as I made my yearly mileage goal of 2010 miles in 2010 on Christmas day! (Merry Christmas to me! ... now go run more!) Of those 2010 miles, about 750 were marathon/ultra races with the remaining being relentless training runs anywhere from 3 to 20 miles. I know this isn't a lot compared to you ultra runners, but it's definitely the most I've done.

This was my LAST goal remaining for this year so I've checked all my New Years goals... of course there will be new ones for 2011 posted this week.

WS 100 Training ~ Week 3 *Drop Down Week*
This is my 3rd week of Western States100 Training and it's my first "drop down week"-- meaning, this will be the least amount of miles I'm scheduled to put in until race week! My full schedule is listed in an older post (found here.) Since my 3rd week required a few less miles on my "long run" days, I was able to get a little higher intensity during the week, including longer weight training. Here is what week 3 looked like...
H-Hills   WT-Weight Train   SP- SpeedWork   E-Endurance   HR- Hill Repeats
Notes/Thoughts: This was a much more low-key week, but coming off a 14 and 10 miler Saturday and Sunday last week, the continued workouts with high intensity and little rest, lead to some great endurance building. Of course each workout is run with a goal in mind... speed, endurance, hill maintenance, etc all to help with my upcoming races and to get me ready for WS100!  

Coming Up...
This is my last weekend withOUT a race for a long while! I have marathons/ultras planned starting next weekend and going for at LEAST 6 weeks! I'll be working in the marathon with my endurance long runs on my WS100 schedule. Some weekend may be longer than scheduled, but hey, more miles will just make Western States that much easier... right? ummm right! 

Bloggy Fun! I have a number of FUN posts coming up this week, including...
-2010 Goals Recap!
-BEST Medals of 2010-- Marathon Edition
-BEST Courses of 2010-- Marathon Edition
-Best Shirts of 2010
-And finally.... Best OVERALL Marathon of 2010!
-2011 New Year, New Goals!
-Dallas White Rock and Philadelphia Marathon race Reports (sorry, sorry... I know how late these are!)

So look forward to some great posts coming up this week!

Inspiration Corner
If you haven't already read this months Runners World edition, get your hands on it ASAP! Got a long indoor,  BORING run or workout? Bring the mag along with you and read the article "The Turning Point." This article is written very well and the story is exciting, but what drew my attention most was the attitude of the highlighted runners. Each comes to a point where they have to find motivation to push themselves harder when their bodies are screaming at them. As Coach Nathan would say about running... "Nobody said it was gonna tickle"-- amen!

Just for Fun....
For WS100 I'm going to need a headlamp to run into the night... you know, unless I'm able to finish it in world record time and finish before the sun goes down (don't get your hopes up people... It ain't happening!). So for Xmas I asked for a headlamp. My Aunt Terri (also featured in my Alaskan Marathon posts) gave me the headlamp against her better judgement as she is now sure I will NEVER get married wearing things like this. Hey, married, or not, at least I won't get eaten by a bear because I'm lost in the woods! 
Me and my new toy!

Happy Running!
"Run to Win" - Meb

Worried about getting injured? Need a boost in speed to hit a PR? Ask yourself... "Have I done my strength training today?!?"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WS100 Training ~ Weeks 1 & 2 *Doubles Begin*

Last week I posted my Western States 100 training schedule (post here) but as we know, I'm still not done with a few other goals... 
~ Finish 50 Marathons in 50 States (aka. stay injury free)
~ First indoor marathon and GE Corporate marathon competition (run fast on flat)
~ Sub 3:20 marathon in 2011 (get fast!)

Due to the number of goals, my training is a little crazy right now. I'm plan to keep up the 100 mile schedule I posted, but a few of the runs are going to have special workouts with them to keep me injury free, fast, and ready for those huge WS hills. Every workout has a focus on one or more of the following...
~ Endurance! Double long run weekends and increased overall mileage 
~ Strength! 2-3 strength training workouts after runs
~ Hill Training! 2nd long run day completed on tough trails or on large hill repeats (HR). Cross Training completed on a stair stepper!
~ Speed! Short mileage day will be done with speed workouts. 

Week 1 & 2: 
Overall: My mileage hasn't increased drastically, but the intensity of the workouts has, especially adding some very tough strength workouts in there. The first things I've noticed is that I'm STARVING! I can't start a run hungry or I will get dizzy and not be able to finish. This morning was my 2nd week of double long runs and it took 2 hours of inhaling any food I could find before I felt semi-comfortable enough to start... and even then, I needed to bring a Gatorade to keep my calories up. 


Notes/Thoughts: Started indoor track workouts so I can be prepared for the Zoom Yah! Yah! Indoor marathon and to do speed and tempo runs. Besides the tougher strength training I started for my legs, overall it didn't feel too much harder than my normal workouts. 

HR- Hill Repeats. I found a 2 mile loop of long uphill and long downhill on a pretty good grade. I repeated these for 10 miles as my 2nd long run of the weekend. 
This week I definitely started feeling the intensity and length of my workouts. I added a day of yoga to help increase flexibility. The reason I really want to work on this is for my quads... at the end of ultras the downhills tend to pull on the quads and trash them. Making them a little more flexible should help to save my legs and knees. 

Not a bad start to WS100 Training. Next week is a drop down week for the long runs... which is good cause it's Christmas!!! The week after I'll bump up to 16 and 10 for my long runs... then we have a stream of marathons/ultras coming up... yes, again! More to come!!!

Happy Running!
"Run to Win" - Meb