Sunday, October 14. 2012
Running Chick in Race Report
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Hey, how goes it? Did you know I moved? I live in Jpigjtpm, MI now. It used to be Houghton, MI, but somebody at the Ashland Chamber of Commerce decided to shift their fingers one key to the right when typing my city so now I will forever be known as being from the strange and mystical, far away land of Jpigjtpm.
So, race recap. It was ... I dunno. I have yet to come up with a word that describes it accurately. I supposed “fine” will suffice for now, in lieu of “sucky” and “rotten”. The weather was pretty crappy – cold & rainy for most of the way. Not completely unexpected for this time of year, but there were times when I was questioning the sanity of running 13.1 miles in cold & wet weather when I would have been home in my warm bed. Sanity checks told me that this was the last race of the season and every step I took was one more step closer to RUNNING VACATION. Don’t laugh, it got me to the end.
We arrived in Ashland in the early afternoon on Friday. Puttered around the town a little bit, checked out the race area, finish line, bus & packet pickup areas, all that stuff. We spent some time poking around in the downtown shops. This race is a big event for Ashland, so we heard “Where are you from? Are you here for the race?” frequently. We had a very disappointing (not to mention expensive) lunch at the Deep Water Grille, but their beer was really good (they ended up comping it, which was nice). Packet pickup was a bit of a disorganized frenzy, but we made it out alive.
The race starts out in the little town of Moquah and follows the road for a mile a half or so before and then we get on the Tri Corridor Trail back into Ashland.
We checked the trail out on Friday and the surface was hard packed. Unfortunately, we discovered that by the time we got on it, and 50% of the people in the race had already gone through, it had turned soft & loose. My quads started complaining around mile 4 and didn’t stop for the rest of the way. Getting out of bed this morning was painful.
Since this was the final race of the year, I decided to run with Josh. The first mile was mostly downhill, so we started out a little fast (10:09). Once we got on the trail, our pace evened out to around 10:30, which we held onto until around mile 10. Then, the soft surface started to take it’s toll and our pace started dropping as our legs got more sore and our blisters got worse. For some weird reason, I started to clip the inside of my right ankle with my left shoe so I had painful, bloody and muddy ankle. My quads were complaining loudly as were the blisters on my left foot thanks to the rocks in my shoes. Josh wasn’t faring much better. In fact, in the last two miles or so, everybody around us looked like the walking wounded. There were lots of people either walking slowly, limping, stretching something out. We saw one guy being hauled off in a stretcher. It was pretty crazy.
Finally, FINALLY, after 11.5 miles, the trail turned to pavement and I think I can honestly say that I was never so happy to see pavement in all my life, except for maybe this time.
Josh was hoping to make 2:20, but he ran out of gas in the end and my legs were too trashed to keep up any sort of wild 2 mile sprint to the finish, so we settled for 2:21. It was still 3 minutes better than he did in Appleton, so that was really great.
Race swag was a cool duffle bag.
And a non-specific medal.
The aid stations had plenty of water & Gatorade and the volunteers were very well prepared. Also, for the course basically being out in the boonies, there were a surprising number of spectators along the way. Less than Appleton, but way more than Eagle River. The finish line was also set up very efficiently and there was plenty of food (donuts!). We did have to shuffle around a while before we figured out where the drop & duffle bag pickup was, but we eventually found it. The cost of this race was $84 (we registered after the price break periods). Was it worth it? Eh, probably not. Appleton had better swag and a better course. Would I do this race again? Probably not. Regardless of the weather, the trail just didn’t agree with my legs and the whole straight line in one direction for endless miles ended up crushing my soul after a while (sanity check, see above).
Up next is....nothing. I’m taking a vacation from running for one, maybe two weeks. I can usually go one week without a problem, but two makes me twitchy so we’ll see. I have no more races on the schedule for 2012. Unless something really interesting comes up, I’ll just derp around until January and then dive back into a schedule for Journeys in May 2013.
Until next time, I will leave you with this last bit of whining. This is how my legs feel, y’all. Running is fun!
Tuesday, September 25. 2012
When I ended up finishing in 2:17:45 in Eagle River, which was a 2-ish minute PR, I set a secret goal of finishing in 2:15 for the Fox Cities HM. I figured that four months of training, adding in speed work and bumping up my running days from three to four per week would allow me to pull it off. But then we got hit with a heat wave that lasted all summer long and wreaked havoc on my body. I struggled through my speed sessions, suffered leg cramping during my peak mileage weeks and overall, my pace wasn’t showing any improvement. The closer the race got, the more I felt like my 2:15 goal was slipping away.
I had been mulling over joining the 2:15 pace group, but since I wasn’t feeling very confident about being able to keep up with them, I didn’t officially sign up. I figured I’d find them at the start, hang with them as long as I could, then finish by myself. Both the marathon and half marathon started at the same time, so the starting line was just a sea of people (around 5,000 participated) and it took me forever to find the 2:15 group. I finally joined them about 45 seconds before the start, just as the leader was giving out instructions which included not passing her, keeping her in sight at all times, and following her lead through aid stations. Next thing I knew, the gun went off and we were making our way to the start line. I think it took three minutes to cross the timing mat.
I spent the first three miles weaving around & dodging slower traffic in order to keep up with the pace leader. I could sort of tell by the chatter around me who was in the group, but for the most part I had no clue, so I kept a close eye on her. We skipped the first aid station, but hit the rest of them. The plan was to walk through, so the pace leader would tell us when to start walking and then tell us when to take off. I don’t think we walked for more than 10 seconds through any of them. It was really efficient. She also told us when to take our gels, but I was taking mine at different intervals.
My legs started feeling a little fatigued around miles seven & eight and I figured that this would be the point where the group would leave me behind and I’d be on my own, but I took my last gel and I felt fine. In fact, I felt way better than I imagined I would. We were averaging right around a 10:06 pace, which is fast for me for that duration, and I didn’t even feel like I was pushing it. Then we were at mile eleven and the pace leader told us that her job was done and we were on our own. I looked around and there was just three of us left in the group. I noticed that people started to fall back around mile six, but never really paid attention until that moment so I have no idea where they went. The three of us continued on to the end, picking up the pace in the last two miles and I crossed the finish in 2:12:16 for a new PR. Here are my splits:
I’m really pleased with my time, I didn’t really expect much because
Speaking of PRs, Josh earned a HUGE one. He finished Eagle River in 2:45:11 and finished this one in 2:24:55 for a 20 minute improvement! I’d better start putting in some serious training, or he’s going to end up leaving me in the dust before too long.
Overall, this is a great race. The course is mostly flat with three
Up next is the Whistlestop HM on October 13th, which is 18 days away.
Sunday, September 23. 2012
Posting from my tablet is really painful so this will be short and sweet. New PR of 2:12:16, thanks to the Pacesetters pacing group. That's about 5:30 faster than Eagle River. I'm really pleased. Congrats to Josh on his finish, which was 20 minutes faster.
Doggie update: Venus the run-away dog made it home. Her owners were out looking for her so she wasn't at the shelter for long.