Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rock'n'Roll Arizona Marathon ~ Race Ratings (#47)

Tag line: 
"Flat, Fast, and Fun!!!"
Rock'n'Roll Arizona Marathon ~ January 16, 2011
Phoenix to Tempe, AZ ~ Downtown Phoenix to Sun Devils Stadium
Type: 100% Road
Year Running: 8th
Registration Fee: $105-$130 Early $145 at Expo
Charity Race? Yes! list of charities found here.
Runners:  5062... Females: 2188
Available Races: Marathon, Half-Marathon, 2 Person Relay, Kids Run
Average Finish Time: 4:29:53
BQ %: 13.9%

Overall Race Ratings: 4.1/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 4.2/5.0
~ A typical Rock'n'Roll race with lots of people, bands, etc with nice medals. It could use a little help to be more "Arizona" from the local running community. If you're looking more for a flat, fast course, this is it! 

Race Director: Let's play race director...
The race was pretty well put together, but these large rock'n'roll marathons tend to lack a certain feel other marathons have. All of the rock'n'rolls tend to blend together and are pretty lifeless. I think a lot of this is driven by the organizers lack of involvement in the area since they're not technically from there. 

They could use a little help from local running groups/stores/etc getting the community more involved. This could also be helpful for getting spectator involvement. They also need a little help with gels/shot blocks. 1 stop is not enough at all. 

Event Organization: 4.0/5.0 (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: Start (~6 miles from the airport) finish (~15 miles from the airport)
Rental Car Required: Yes. 
~ Leading up to the event (as with all RnR events) there was plenty of communication, news letters, emails etc with directions. No matter where you stayed, you were close to either the start or finish, which was nice. Nothing was ever too far away. The difficult part with RnR marathons is usually the shuttle/parking situations. For Arizona, they have everybody park at the finish and shuttle to the start. We got to the start in the estimated 40 minutes and had no issues parking.

Post race... I was a little peeved that there were no massage tables. The only ones available were in this "PF Changs section" that you needed to pre-sign up for. Even though it cost you nothing, they wouldn't allow people to walk up and come in. The one new thing I saw was this area with buckets to people to ice their legs/feet. It was a pretty funny sight... 
The really unusual aspect of this race was how the marathon and half were handled. Usually running with halfies can get annoying at the end as they clog up the last few miles. In this race however, they had separate start and finish areas completely that ended on each side of the post-race party. I really liked that that they were treated as 2 different races. 

Race Organization:3.9/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Lemon-lime/Cytomax & water available nearly every mile.
Gel Type/Flavors/Availability:  GU/Various/1 stop
~Post Race Food: .They had the typical bagels, cytomax, etc. But they also had frozen yogurt, potato chips, and dried fruit packs. 
There were plenty of aid stations and "rest stops" available on the course. It definitely would have been nice to have more than ONE GU stop... and by miles 18/19, is there really a point anymore? It also would have been great to have a little more substantial food at the end. 

I was pretty surprised at the bands on the course. RnR's advertise bands at every mile, but this was the first time I noticed how many... and they were pretty good! There were also cheering squads along the course, however... they seemed a little -- off. Their outfits weren't exactly cheer outfits, but more ripped stockings, leather jackets, etc. The course was very well marked at each mile with clocks. 

Course: 4.5/5.0
MarathonGuide Rating (NA- New Course)
Garmin Distance: 26.2
Type: 100% Road
~ Elevation Gain/Loss: 150 ft gain/ 90 ft loss
~ This flat point to point course traveled from Phoenix to Tempe and included a steady graded climb up to about 18 then a mild drop at the end. It included a lot of long straight aways, but the road would veer directions here and there so you weren't seeing miles in front of you. The direction faced west, so when the sun came up it was on our backs. This was nice, especially when it started to get really hot. The sites were essentially city and mild desert. It was cool to finish at the ASU Sun Devil Stadium. If you're looking for a flat fast, warm, course this is the one for you! 

Spectators: 3.7/5.0
~ There is a good amount of spectators at this race, but nothing crazy. Some of them did bring out food, water, alchi, etc., which was nice. 

 Pace Group: 4.9/5.0
~ The only pace group I saw was the 3:20 group. I wasn't too far behind them and their leader ran a very consistent race. They also had quite a large group around them even toward the end. 

Runner/Corrals: 4.8/5.0
~ There were corrals per usual at the rock'n'rolls. Fortunately I was able to be in the "preferred start" area right behind the elites because I was running in the corporate track and field championships. From my view the corrals worked great. The runners were very friendly along the way and at the end people were more excited than I've seen in a long time.

Expo: 4.4/5.0
The RnR races always put on a HUGE expo. All the usual characters were there: Bondi band, 1 more mile, power balance bands, etc. But they've been having a little circus-type area put on by Brooks which had running fortune telling machines, a 3 ring leader giving out running prizes, etc. One big issue I had with this marathon was the lack of parking/expensive parking in the garages in Phoenix. 

Swag: 3.9/5.0
~T-Shirts: The shirt is a loose, blue, brooks Tech-T with a cute Arizona design on the front with sunny colors. 3.7

~Medals: Similar to the RnR Seattle marathon, the medal pays homage to the host city with a cactus as well as the guitar to represent rock'n'roll. Also similar to the Seattle medal there are sparkles!!! I DO love my sparkles. 4.1
~ Goodie Bag: The goodie bag was pretty typical for RnR marathons-- lots of pamphlets, a few cliff shot block samples, as well as some body gel samples. 

Results: Stephanie
Chip Time: 3:21:05**
Place: Overall- 387/5110, Gender- 53/2209, A/G (F25-29)- 10/415
**New PR Time

Happy Racing,
"Run to Win" - Meb

Maui Oceanfront Marathon and WS Training ~ Week 7!

This past weekend was the Maui Oceanfront Marathon in Maui, HI! I didn't get a chance to write a RUNdown because well... I was in Hawaii!!! This was my 48th state, which I completed leaving only TWO remaining! I can't believe we're so close to the finish, kids. Please note, however that the finish is still quite a bit away. I was worried that planning a state too close to Boston, would leave me in a dangerous position in case anything happened. ie. Airport/Plane delays/cancellations, marathon cancellations, illness/injury, etc. 

Left up I have Louisiana, which I will be completing the Mardi Gras Rock'n'Roll Marathon. Fortunately there is another LA marathon after this one, in case anything were to happen. And lastly we have.... BOSTON!!!! woohooo. Yep, that's a 2 MONTH break between LA and MA. Whatever will I do? Ummm run more marathons.... obvi. 

Coming Up...
Melbourne Beaches & Music 2/6/11
Rock'n'Roll Mardi Gras Marathon 2/13/11
Maple Leaf Indoor Marathon 2/26/11
Land Between the Lakes Trail 3/12/11
National Marathon ~Double ~ Bataan Death March 3/26-3/27
Martian Marathon 4/2/11
The Boston marathon 4/18/11

Maui Oceanfront Marathon
Maui gave us beautiful weather all weekend.... for a hot vacation that is. Not so much for a marathon. It got up to 90-degrees in our race and my already sunburned body got extra crispy at the race. But, to be in the SUNshine, run in just a sports bra, and get a tan-- SO worth it!!!
Actual Picture of the serenity pool at our resort... we watched whales from  the poolside!
The few days before the race, MB and I spent at the pool at an amazing (yet expensive) resort that the marathon recommends. It's a great spot, but don't mind the honeymooners! The night before the race we had a pretty good sized Marathon Maniac meet-up. Remember Greg that pulled out of Zoom Yah Yah with a medical issue? Well he was unable to make it to this race and Patrick (bottom left) made a life sized snapshot of Greg... and carried it the WHOLE marathon! What a great friend. 
MM's with "Greg"
Both Donna and I completed our 48th state in Maui!
The race was point to point with a mostly upward slope (oh joy) to the finish. We started well before the sun came up, but when it came out it got real hot real quick. Luckily it didn't come out over the volcano/mountains until I was around mile 17. After my hard race last week and 5 straight weeks of WS training withOUT a drop down week (I skipped last weeks drop down and plowed forward) my legs were FEELING it! I was definitely sore and my legs felt like led. Eventually I stopped trying to get a good time and watched the dolphins and whales we passed and could see from one of the ledges we had to climb on the course. How cool, right??? 

During the race I had a great opportunity to meet and run with (at least for a little while) a former marathon Olympian, Regina Joyce of Ireland (now Seattle). NO, I'm not that fast (she actually won my Humpy's Big Wild Marathon in AK this past summer with a 3:09 time) but Regina was running at my pace so I had a chance to chat a little bit and we got a picture after...
1 Olympian, 1 crazy marathoner... you decide which is which
I had a personal goal of making the top 10 women so I could get an award, but outside of that I knew this wasn't a race I wanted to push too much in. As I approached the finish line, I saw my time was a 3:40-something and thought "ah! If I hurry, I can make another BQ time!" I ended up with a 3:40:56. Considering how sore I was and all the training miles I've been getting in, I would say that's not too shabby! The finish line was at the beach, making a great backdrop for the podium. I got 6th place overall women.
Getting my 6th place award!
Post-Race, MB and I went back to layout in the sun some more... because clearly the lobster needed more cooking. It also took a long time to get back to the start by public transport, so 4 HOURS after I finished, I was finally able to eat something-- ok more than just something, I at all this. Yes, by myself...
50-Staters and Maniacs at the finish!
Post-Race Meal... I couldn't move after
WS100 Training ~ Week 7!
So remember when I stressed the importance of taking a drop down week? I mentioned it in last weeks training log because I was feeling the extra mileage/extra hard workouts. Well I certainly can't be expected to follow my own advice, that would just make too much sense. I decided that since I was running a marathon anyways, I may as well skip the dropdown week and save it for later... plowing through to the next up week. Smart, huh? NOT! I was definitely feeling it at the race. But that's ok, Maui is for relaxing, not kicking assphalt. 
H-Hills  WT-Weight Train  SP- SpeedWork  E-Endurance  HR-Hill Repeats
Notes/Thoughts: I will be taking a drop down week this week (essentially, just switching weeks) cause I NEED it! I thought ahead to the next week and my legs hurt just thinking about the mileage. I don't want to put in a bunch of soft, non quality miles, so I'm taking my drop down week for week 8 and SO looking forward to it. I'm also looking forward to checking out hot yoga for the first time this Saturday... I'll let you'll know how that goes! 

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, January 23, 2011

Coach's Corner Posts!

Check here from all the tips, tricks, and advice from Coach Bob, the speed coach at  Mojo Running in West Chester, OH. During the weeks leading up to the 2011 Boston Marathon Coach Bob will be posting on various topics surrounding the Boston Marathon. 

Week 1: 5 Tips for a Speed(ier) Boston (Click)
Week 2: Overcoming Boston (Why it's unique) (click)
Week 3: How to Run Boston (click

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Year New Goals.... 2011 Edition!!!

A while back I wrote a post urging marathon runners, especially the "Mega Marathoners" to reach for new goals each year, each week, each race... and not be content with just finishing a bunch of marathons in a year. There is a lot to be said about somebody completing 10... 20... 30+ marathons a year, but it takes a lot more to finish those while trying to improve your running in some way or another. 

Sticking with my own advice, I like to create a list of goals around different areas of my running (speed, endurance, consistency, strength, states, etc) to help push myself in training while keeping up my "crazy" (as some of you say) mega marathoning. Last year I made quite the list and did pretty well hitting all of them. You can find the recap here. And now... 

Steph's 2011 Running Goals!!!
1) Complete my 50 Marathons in 50 States Challenge!!!! At the end of 2010 I had completed 50 marathons in 45 states. At the time of this post, I have completed 2 new states for a total of 52 marathons in 47 states.

2) NYC Qualifying Time! - NYC qualifying time for me is 17 minutes faster than Boston. My goal last year was to make Boston at 3:40, this year I wanted to make NYC with a required 3:23 (females 18-39). Note: This was one of my definite goals for 2011, and I actually hit it this past weekend before I was able to finish this post. My PR prior to 2010 was 3:24:01. My new time is 3:21:05.

3) WS100 Training! Western States is giving me QUITE the training plan (found here). Most Ultra Runners face injury, fatigue, illness, etc that keeps them from completing their entire training plan. I have a few goals for WS Training.... 
     a. Hit 85% of my total mileage 
     b. At least one 90+ mile week

4) 100-Miler. I'm training for Western States, but the smart runner in me knows a lot of people do NOT finish their first 100-miler. Further, this is one of the toughest 100's out there. So, to be realistic I'm going to make my goal to complete A 100-miler. 
     b. Stretch goal?... Western States!!!!

5) 2500 Miles! In 2010 my goal was to completed 2010 miles. I ended up with over 2050. Since my training is picking up a lot, I'm giving myself a pretty good bump in goal mileage. 

6) Stay Healthy and Injury Free! This increased training is going to be the toughest challenge I've put on my body. I need to keep up my weight lifting, stretching, etc. I hope to include yoga a few times a week in my training. Most importantly, keep pushing through my long runs, but listen to my body at the same time. 

7) 10-Star Marathon Maniac!!! To become a 10-star maniac, I must complete 30 marathons in 30 states in 1-year. I'm hoping to hit that early this year (Feb '10 to Feb '11 or Mar '10 to Mar '11). 

8) Get Faster!!! After WS100, I'm hoping to concentrate on speed, tempo and strength. I will also drop down my marathon craziness to only 1 marathon a month, in hopes to get a new PR, and hopefully a 3:18. Stretch goal? Sub 3:15! And (as suggested by MM Diva Alison) I'm buying a new running outfit for every sub 3:20 as an incentive :) 

9) Try to Tri! My long-term goal for 2012 is to do a longer triathlon. I'm going to try and build a base in swimming as well as start road cycling instead of just spinning classes. I'm not planning on this training until the 2nd half of the year so I can focus on miles, endurance, and hill training for WS100. 

10) Triple! Run a triple marathon weekend. So far I've done doubles and I've don a 50-miler, but I've yet to attempt 3 days of marathons! 

and just for fun: (as suggested by Don K.) Hug a Race director at the end of a Marathon!!! 

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?!?"

Monday, January 17, 2011

New PR and WS100 Training Week 6

Rock'n'Roll Arizona Marathon
Yesterday was the Rock'n'Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix, AZ and my 47th marathon state! It is also the home of my new PR time of 3:21:05!!! I'm happy to report that despite the sore legs from WS training, I had my most consistent race ever, running 7:40 - miles through the whole race from start to finish. 
Race Day
When we got to the start it was definitely chilly but we knew how hot it could get in AZ and how hot it got Saturday during the day. Prior to the race we found as many marathon maniacs as possible to get together for a picture with a sign for Greg to let him know that we were thinking about him and missed him. It was a lot of fun meeting up with so many marathon maniacs and half fanatics! As with most rocknroll marathons there is a LOT of excitement around the MANY corrals. In this one, however, the half and full started at separate times about a block away. They also finished at about a block from our finish, so we never really saw them. 

When I run, I have various mental check points where I check my pace, take a mental checklist my legs, lungs, and general fatigue, then I change my plan depending on the results. Most people remember things around them at marathons (people, sites, turns, etc), I remember paces and mental inventories. This is what was going on at the various points....

Mile 1! (yes, mile 1 is a check point)
By the time we toed the start line it was warming up already. I was very concerned about the sun and dry heat and planned on getting as many solid miles in as possible before the heat got too much and I hit the wall! Having started with the front runners I focused on NOT getting caught up in their pace and finding my own, not allowing myself to drop below a 7:30 pace in the first mile. I hit the first around a 7:35 and felt good about it, but focused on slowing down to a  7:40. 

Mile 6!
Knowing I have 20 to go feels so much better than 26 so I always check here. At 6 I felt like the miles were flying by. I had my pace staying right between 7:39 and 7:41. Good! It was really starting to warm up, but luckily the sun was coming up at our backs. I got warm, but wasn't TOO warm quite yet. I felt good and knew I could go faster, but I didn't want to push it too soon then hit a wall in the last 6. Only 4 miles to go until 10!

Mile 10!
I start feeling very comfortable in marathons once I hit this point. 16 miles is nothing compared to 26 and absolutely doable. I was still doing my 7:40's and we actually hit a tinnnny downhills, which compared to the graded uphill, felt like a relief to the legs. I started picking it up out of sheer thrill of changing up muscles, but I pulled myself back yet again. I wanted to stay steady for at least another 3 and if I needed to slow down I could do it at the half. 

Mile 13!
I felt great at this point. This is the first marathon where I didn't say "ok I have to do THAT all over again" (with "that" being the first 13 miles). I felt good and could go faster, but I had a hunch I should just maintain my 7:40's and wait for the wall to hit as it inevitably would. I only had another 5 until the the graded uphill was finished so I looked forward to that. 

Miles 18/19
This is around the point that the slightly graded uphill starts leveling out and it's also when we hit the single digits remaining. People around me were slowing down like crazy and I found myself pumping harder, but only to maintain pace. I was getting a little tired but the thrill of passing so many people and running such a consistent race helped me to keep the pace up.

At this point I had solidified my mantra to be ... "Relaxed, controlled, at tempo"

Mile 22
With 4 to go, I had a young buck trying to race me. It was kind of cute but he had no shot. The college kid was huffing and puffing with 4 miles to go. Just for fun I would slow down and speed up to see just how tightly he was holding on. We hit a small hill somewhere soon after this and I raced up it to try and keep my pace at 7:40. That's when I lost him. I waited at the finish to find him, but after about 5 minutes I gave up. Poor kiddo.

Mile 24
I love having only 2 more miles to go and I was especially thrilled because I had kept a 7:40 through the whole race and knew I had a very good shot at making NYC qualifying time if I could run 2- miles at an 8 min/mile pace. In the last mile I passed 2 GE-runners that were on my team as well as a woman I was chasing down at Foot Hills Flat marathon back over the summer... posted here. At that race, I was in no mood to run, and followed after her just to have a goal. She was well beyond my pace, but I thought it would be fun. She killed me then, now... I was beating her! 

I came around the corner and hadn't realized just HOW close I was to the finish. I had been focused on passing and keeping up my pace. When the finish line came in sight, I picked it up and sprinted in to try and get in as fast as possible. If I was getting a PR, I was going to milk it for every second possible. I turned to find the woman from foothills and asked her if it was really her. She said yes and goes "well you smoked me today." I found one of my GE teammates but not the other before they made us keep moving. 

WS100 Training ~ Week 6!
I've finally started to get into mileage I'm not used to for WS Training. I now see the point of the 3 weeks up, then 1 drop down week. The first week feels good at first then you start to tire. By the end of the 2nd week you're sore, the 3rd week is a PUSH to get through the mileage (and that's where you start building) then you have a drop down week to recover. Since we're on the end of the 2nd week, I was feeling a little tired by marathon eve, as I wrote about in the last post. This is where it's going to become tough to keep up training, and trying to have fast marathons. I know as I get further along I'm going to have t slow myself down because I'll be tired on the weekend, and because I'll have another long run the next day. 

As you can see, the schedule shows Tues-Mon instead of Mon-Sun. Since I have a series of Sunday marathons I'm went ahead and pushed my training out 1 day and I'll do my 2nd long runs on Mondays until I pull the schedule back in for Saturday races. For this week, my total long runs was supposed to be about 30 miles. I ran the full marathon yesterday and only had a 4 mile run this morning.
H-Hills  WT-Weight Train  SP- SpeedWork  E-Endurance  HR-Hill Repeats
Notes/Thoughts: It felt good to get a PR on a week that I kept my training up. I haven't quite gotten to the point where I have to trade up speed for mileage, so this is the best time to do it. Excited/nervous to see what this upcoming week is going to feel like, having pushed it on my long run. 

I hope everybody had great races/long runs this weekend!!!!

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?!?"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

RnR Arizona Race RUNdown (AZ-#47)

Inspiration Points...
Marathon #52!, State #47!
1. Under 5! A new state! 
2. The SUN!!!! ... After weeks of bitter cold, I'm SO excited to feel the warm sun! 
3. GE Team! I will be running for my company (GE) in this years US Corporate Track and Field marathon championship.
4. For Greg! I'm happy to report my buddy is doing MUCH better after last weekends emergency. 

AZ Race RUNdown...
Rock'n'Roll Arizona ~ Sunday January 16, 2011. (#46) 7:40am Marathon Start
Phoenix to Tempe, AZ ~ Downtown Phoenix to Sun Devils Stadium
Registration Fees: $105-$130 Early $145 at Expo
Year Running: 8th
Races Available: Marathon, Half-Marathon, 2-person relay... Currently available at the expo: Marathon and half marathon registration only!!!
2011 Expected Field: Unknown (no cap met)
2010 Field:  5,741... Females: 2535  ... Age Group: 508 (F25-29)
2009 Avg. Finish Time: 4:28:24
Certified Course/BQ Certified?: Yes/Yes
Cutoff Time and Early Start Option: No early start. There is a 7hour 15min a cutoff time. 
Weather Update: It's been dry and hot and that will continue! I spent the day out at the pool tanning so that tells you what the temp is like. We're starting at 7:40 and is calling for 50-degrees at that time. We're expecting the temps to get up to the high 60's by the time we're finishing. 


MarathonGuide Rating: 
The course is point-to-point, starting in downtown Phoenix, AZ and ending in Tempe, AZ at the ASU Sun Devil Stadium. This isn't an indoor track like last week, but it's nearly as flat! You can see from the elevation chart, this race is a slow 18-mile climb of 120 feet (that's right, I said 120 FEET.... not 1200.... not 120 meters..... 120 ft!) then a 90ft decline to the finish.
Judging from what I've seen we will be greeted with a dry, dessert scenery to admire over our 26 mile jaunt. Judging by other RnR marathons, it should be pretty scenic between city, mountains, local sites/highlights, etc.  

Race 411:
~ GU- There is only 1 GU stop for the full marathon (around mile 18-19) so bring your own if you need more!
~ Lots of H20! As per usual in RnR marathons there will be plenty of water AND potty stops. This year they will have Cytomax (I can't remember how I feel about Cytomax... I'll report back soon!)
~ Bands!!! Tons of entertainment along the course. I'm excited to have good weather that should ensure ALL the acts come out. (Nashville was too hot for them and some others I've been in have been too cold). 
~ $ Runner Track??? On a BAD note (yeah, already) they are now CHARGING for runner tracking. I think it's only like $2, but still, come ON!!!

Race Plan:
I'm actually running for a team in this race, which makes me extremely nervous. I hate unnecessary pressure and I don't perform well under it. I have to settle down and run easy (7:40-8 min/mile) for the first 10 and not go below in an effort to race. Then make a move if I need. 

I'm not feeling great as of right now. My WS100 training is just now starting to tole on me. My muscles are sore and stiff. No doubt I'll get used to it in a couple of weeks, but this is pretty bad timing for my RnR race that I'm supposed to be running fast. Definitely concerned about the heat with little shade on the course. I guess we'll know in a few short hours! 

Throw Back! Bring it back now ya'll...
Reverse the Countdown!
This is my 47th marathon-state, meaning I have 4 to go including this race. What was going on around state #4!?!? Well I was kicking OFF this crazy little adventure. I was gearing up to run the Walt Disney World Marathon which would start the past 2 years of marathon craziness... since then I've run 46 marathons in 2 years!!!! This is also when I started my blog and you all stepped into my world. :)

This time in 2010...
This time last year I was taking a few weeks off after my Mississippi Blues/First Light double and before my (expected) Myrtle Beach Marathon... as most of you know, this race would be cancelled the night before leaving my frustrated and without a SC marathon. No fear though... I completed my SC marathon in November at the Spinx Run Fest, and what a fun race that was! 

Meet up Info: 
-Pre-Race Marathon Maniac picture!!!! 6:45am at Arizona Peace Officer Memorial Statue in Memorial Park.
-Post-Race meet at the family reunion area "M" for Maniac!!!!

Happy Racing!
"Run to Win"-Meb

Monday, January 10, 2011

Zoom Yah! Yah! Post-Race Thoughts (#46) and WS Training Week 5!

Zoom! Yah! Yah!
Yesterday was the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon held in Northfield, MN and my 46th marathon state. The race itself was absolutely fantastic. Coach Dick and his whole family and crew were amazing, organizing such a fantastic race! 

Marathon Eve
The race is held at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Outside of the weather being completely intolerable to live in (I thought my toes fell off as soon as I got outside the airport) this campus is amazing. The architecture is gorgeous... I felt like I was in some sort of ice palace with old stone buildings surrounded by snow. The field house that held the track had a FULL climbing wall available for students and an overall pretty up to date gym facility. I was pretty impressed. 

Northfield, itself, it pretty amazing too. The "downtown" is a couple of blocks of shops that have a very old saloon feel. It's such a cute little town with very friendly people. We stayed at the Archer Inn that has a tavern attached with live music at night. 

The day before the race the organizers made the "course" (track) available for marathoners to test out for free for a few hours. It was great to get a chance to check out how the distance feels and get a feel for how it's all run. After the race we all met up for the packet pick-up then a FULL dinner at the St. Olaf College dining hall which is by FAR the MOST amazing college food I've ever tasted. It was hard not to dive into the bad pre-race foods even though they looked so good. 

The limited time for packet pick-up and dinner was fantastic because it gave the 40+ marathoners and family/friends a chance to meet and greet which gave such a family feel to the whole race. That's not surprising since the race itself is run by a family. Coach Dick runs the race and his wife, Chris, is the coach of the XC team at St. Olaf who assist as the lap counters for the race. Their Daughter, Megan, was one of the runners and another daughter was spectating and cheering with her husband brand new baby. Dick had all of us stand up and did a little introduction and gave us directions then it was off to bed. 

Marathon Day
Shortly before the race we were introduced to our XC/Track member who would be counting our laps for us during the race then we were off. All of the counters had signs made with our names and they also gave us little name tags to pin to our backs so we could cheer each other on through the whole race. It also allowed for the spectators to cheer us on through the morning. 

The race itself was exceptionally organized and the "change directions every 30 minutes went off really well.We couldn't have headphones so we could listen for oncoming runners, but they pipped in music that played through the whole field house. 

The lap counters, race organizers, spectators, and even other runners made for the BEST spectators I've ever seen at a race. People are yelling your name throughout the ENTIRE race. And as you finish, the lap counters cheer your name for the entire last lap. 

The Race
The race was going pretty well for me... felt pretty good and was going faster than I wanted to be (whats new, right?) and then we had a little emergency. A friend and fellow marathon maniac passed out and began to vomit and have what seemed like a seizure. All of the other maniacs stopped to try and help (not that we could do much) but fortunately there was actually a Dr running the race who stopped and helped SO much... thank you Dr. Bob! I stayed with them as long as I could then 2 other wonderful maniacs who were traveling with him went to the hospital and kept us updated. 

By the time I began running again I had been passed by a few girls and honestly my heart just wasn't in it. I was very worried and just wanted to get the race over... and had 50 more laps to go! People have asked me if running in circles is bad... not until this point! With a goal in sight it's fantastic, but if your head isn't it in the laps go from passing by quick to feeling like each lap was a mile long. Unfortunately this is THE last MN marathon until Boston, so I had to finish or give up my goal of 50 in 50 by Boston... that was not going to happen! 

With about a 10-15 min break, I managed to get in around a 3:51 so I have my sub-4 and I also got 3rd place woman. The best news was hearing that my friend was stable after being air lifted to a hospital in Minneapolis and was improving! I'm not saying anymore for privacy reasons for his family but I know he is a fighter and WILL be ok! Greg is one fantastic person, runner, and friend. He also has a running blog found here. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. 

Indoor Marathons~ Lessons Learned
Since this is an arena most of us are very unfamiliar with, I thought I'd do a little section on how an indoor marathon is different from a normal marathon.... 
1) Distance! To measure the marathon distance, they use the shortest (inside) lane of the track but if you're passing people, you spend most of your time in the outer 2 lanes instead. So the race can be a lot longer than you expect. For example, this race was 150 laps total and 5.7 laps per mile on the inside lane, which is 26.32 miles (yes already well over 26.2) however... the middle lane is 5.5 laps per miles, which is 27.27 miles! If you're toward the faster half of the group, you would be running in the middle/outside lane most of the time and would be at the higher end of the 26.32 to 27.27 range! 

2) Heat and Track Hack!! No matter what they do, there are 40 bodies running and more than that spectating... it's going to get hot! On top of that, you're susceptible to track hack. If you ever ran indoor track you know what I'm talking about... that cold/dry cough you get from running indoors during the cold winter. Going hot to cold or breathing in cold A/C while getting your body temp up will do this. 

3) Drink More! You don't feel just how dry it is, like you do outside but it's actually harsher on the body than the heat, so drink more than you think you'll need! Fortunately, since you're indoors there are tables on every loop and available for drink/gu drops. 

4) Cramping! There is a little more muscle cramping on this type of course because your legs are stiff from running in the same direction (30 minutes at a time) and not changing elevation. Hills allow for some of your muscles to get rest as the other make it up on up or downhills... with a flat course, you're keeping the same muscles in the same position for 26 miles. Also, with the increased heat and dryness you're more susceptible to cramping. 

5) Music? Since there is a lot of passing, runners are unable to use headphones, but usually they pipe music in. If you're not used to hearing your own breathing, I suggest getting used to it by turning your headphones down during training runs. 

6) Eyeing the competition! In most marathons, you don't know exactly where you stand against the front runners. You may know how many people are in front of you, but no idea if you're gaining on them. In these races you know EXACTLY where you stand and it's a whole new ball game. 

7) Bathrooms! Port-a-john stops along a road are bad enough on time, but at a field house, you need to run all the way to the rest room so depending on how close the nearest resti is, you could seriously hurt your time with potty stops! 

8) Control Freak! Most indoors marathons, assign lap counters, but if you're a control freak like me then you're constantly worrying that they missed one. Like this, you are less likely to zone out... and trust me, you do NOT want to think "only 130 more laps to go!" 

WS 100 Training ~ Week 5!
*Marathons Begin!*

This was the 5th week of WS training and the first week with a full marathon. I had to alter the "long runs" this weekend as I'll have to do to manage all my marathons. My long runs were supposed to be 18 miles and 10 miles, so a total of 28. Instead, I ran 4 on Saturday and 26.2 (possibly more.... see notes above) for a total of 30.2+. I thought, since it truly wasn't 2 long runs, I should add a few extra to make up for that. 

Right now, my WS training is very important, 2nd only to FINISHING my last 5 states. So I'm trying to make a point to keep all my miles up, even if that means running the marathons a little slower, so I'm able to do more miles the day before and the day after. The was just the beginning... in a few months, I'll be expected to add miles after a marathon, then follow up the next day with another marathon!

H-Hills  WT-Weight Train  SP- SpeedWork  E-Endurance  HR-Hill Repeats
Notes/Thoughts: I'm happy that I got in a run the day before the marathon and it didn't slow me down. This is where I start to push myself as I'm expected to get right back to full blow training (speed work, hills work, weight training) the day after these marathons. I've always gotten right back to running 1 or 2 days after races, but usually they were more of maintenance runs and not training. 

Ok that's enough for tonight. I was coming down with a cold and the cold weather, traveling, and running did not help the old immune system. Gotta rest up to kick this cold so I'll be set for THIS weekends marathons... Rock'n'Roll Arizona!!!!

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?!?"

Friday, January 7, 2011

Zoom Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon ~ Race RUNdown!

Inspiration Points...
Marathon #50!, State #45!
1. 5 To Go! With only 5 to go, this will be checking off my MN marathon state!
2. Marathon 'o' Marathons ... After a FOUR week break, I'm back to marathon craziness... 6 over the next 6 weeks scheduled so far!
3. My First Indoor! I haven't ran an indoor race since 9th grade indoor track. I've been practicing twice a week on an indoor track and I hope it helps to ease the boredom.
4. Kicking off 2011! This will be my first marathon of the new year!
5. WS Training... Payoff?! I've been working hard at my WS training and I'm now sure how that's going to affect my marathoning-- I've had to slow down my pace a little, but I'm putting in more meaningful miles. We'll see...

MN Race RUNdown...
Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon ~ Sunday January 9, 2011. (#45) 8:00am Marathon Start
Northfield, MN ~ St. Olaf College Tostrud Field House
Registration Fees: $65 Lottery Based registration for only 40 participants
Year Running: 6th
Races Available: Marathon only
2011 Expected Field: ~ 43 Runners; 12 Females; 5 in A/G 20-29
2010 Field:  42... Females: 5  ... Age Group: 0 (F25-29)
2009 Avg. Finish Time: 4:10:30
Certified Course/BQ Certified?: Yes/No (no indoor marathons are BQ certified)
Cutoff Time and Early Start Option: No early start. There is a 6 hour qualifying standard, but not a cutoff time. 
Weather Update: My psychic abilities are telling me that there will be 0 snow, rain, and wind! They keep the field house around 60 degrees-- I'm sure that will heat up with 40 runners, but shouldn't be too bad. 

MarathonGuide Rating: 
The course is 150 loops on a 282 meter track. I was actually asked last night if the track is wood or that chopped up tire like normal outdoor tracks. I'm actually not sure, but since it's suspended I would assume that it's just a wooden track and not the tire kind. 

Every 30 minutes, everybody will finish up their loop, then change direction so our inside legs don't go numb halfway through. 

Race 411:
~ My Own Student- Every runner gets 1 student (runner) of their own! Ok, not to take home but they are there to count all your laps for you.
~ Custom Finisher Shirts! We don't get shirts right away... but that's because they send the shirts away to put our names, times, place, city/state on custom! 
~ BYOG Since there are 2 tables set up on either side of the track, there is plenty of chance to drop GU, drinks, food, etc, so it's BYOG... that also makes up 600 aid stations
~ Runner Meals! The amazing race director has set up a free pasta feed the day before, and they've also set up a post-race lunch/dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Race Plan:
I have NO idea what I'm capable of right now. I've been doing speed work and putting in a lot more quality miles, but I've also had to slow myself down in training to get my long runs in. I also get myself so nervous after I've taken a few weeks off so we'll see! I SHOULD be taking it easy since I have to race RnR Arizona next week on GE's corporate team. So if I can somehow find a way to keep it at an easy pace, but fast enough to place I'll be happy. 

Throw Back! Bring it back now ya'll...
Reverse the Countdown!
This is my 46th marathon-state, meaning I have 5 to go including this race. What was going on around state #5!?!? I was running the 2009 ING Georgia Marathon! And how did that go?... Hills, Hills, Hills! But lots of fun! I was still at the point where my legs hurt post-marathon and that was especially the case in this race as my calves cramped up like crazy! 

This time in 2010...
This time last year I was doing my  2nd double marathon weekend... the Mississippi Blues Marathon and Mobile First Light Marathon. It was very unseasonably cold at these races and I was SO cold! 

Meet up Info: 
Since there are only 43 runners, we are ALL kind of meeting up all day Sat and Sun. Greg is the only maniac I know going to this race, but I hope to meet the other 3 MM's this weekend. Also, I will be debuting my MM Diva shirt!!! 

Happy Racing!
"Run to Win"-Meb