Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Race Recap: RnR Chicago

The short of it: No PR. No PW. On to the next race.

The long of it:

Let's be honest, my training has been questionable at best since April. I have no one to blame but myself. The sweltering heat that has been this summer hasn't helped things, but mainly I've been undisciplined and distracted and LAZY.

As of two weeks ago I was thinking of skipping Rock 'n Roll Chicago. I could stand the  thought of another slow and disappointing race, let alone a PW. Ugh. No thank you. I expressed this woah-is-me attitude to a few running friend and the general consensus was to get my ass to Chi-town and make the best of it. 

Ok. Fine. I'll go.

Fast forward to last week. 

I'll sum it up by saying it was a long, shitty week at work.  Days were long, work was frustrating, tears were shed. It was a crappy week. I was suppose to train through the week as though RnRCHI was merely my long run. Coachie's plan for the week was a little ambitious, race or no race, but working back to back 12hr days didn't leave much time or energy for running.  I got in what I mentally and physically could and tried not to get too down on everything I didn't. Plus, my quads and hams were sore from hauling my ass up and down a ski hill or two at DWD last weekend.

Saturday we finally got out the door around 11 and made our way to Chicago. The expo was pretty standard. The Trigger Point crew was nice enough to sell us a replacement roller for the one Willis chewed up. The expo actually still had a race shirts in the size I ordered (yeah!!). We were in and out pretty quick (that's what she said...).

Dinner, followed but cheesecake in bed, Friday Night Lights on Netflixs and lights out by 9.  4:30am was going to come eaaaarly.

I slept relatively well for being the night before the race. I only woke up once or twice, and that was more because I was cold than nervous. Regardless, that damn alarm went off way too early.  Did I mention I forgot my breakfast stuff at home and had to resort to what I could find at Walgreens? Clif bar and hard boiled egg (kept cold in the ice bucket). First time for everything.  We were dressed and out the door by 5:30 or so, making the mile and a half walk to the start. Not a bad warm up, I guess.    

We got there with enough time for the obligatory pre-race nervous picture.

W walked me to my corral and hung out until a few minutes before the start.  It was already mid-70's and a little humid, but there was cloud cover so I feeling okay about things. Except that this was the first half I was running solo. Silly, I know, but it was a mental hurdle I was going to have to tackle. Sure I've done plenty of double-digit training runs by myself, but something about racing solo had me a little shaken. Whatever, time to run and worry about it later.

The first few miles flew by. I wasn't moving particularly fast, but loosened up nicely after about a mile or so and felt good. The first aid station was somewhere around mile 2 but I opted to cruise through it as I had my own water and was feeling good. Shortly after that I saw W, my own personal super spectator, for the first time. Another mile or so went by, another W sighting, another aid station. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Somewhere after the 10k point I started having conversations with singers on my iPod:

Bieber would keep running!

Carley Rae?
No maybe about it, keep going!

Nicki Minaj?
She'd make it look fierce.

I'm beautiful. Drop-dead.

Yeah, being in my head was little strange at that point but it was still mostly upbeat. Every time I started to need something...water, gatorade, cooling station, ice...it was there within half a mile. They weren't messing around with course support. It was top-notch.

My attitude was good and I was keeping my slow and steady pace up until mile 9'ish.  Up until that point I only walked the aid stations, and while I was running slower than in a perfect world I'd like to, things were going well. But somewhere between mile 9 and 10 I feel apart.  Secretly I had hoped to beat my RnRNOLA time, and at that point I was on pace to do it. 2:30 didn't seem unreasonable. I had 40-some minutes to go and ~4m. If I dug deep I could do it. 

But I didn't. 

The sun came out, we left the shelter of the tall city buildings, and the fact that my longest training run in weeks was 8m all reared their ugly head at once.  And so began the walking. The trudging. The swearing. The general suck-fest. Womp, womp.

The sponges at mile 11 were AMAZING. The Brooks guy half a mile after that made me smile (and pause for a gratuitous self pic). The tunnel was fun. And then I ran out of motivation. We were running on Lake Shore Drive, in the full sun, cars blazing by...I was so close, but I just didn't care. I'd walk the rest of the damn thing if I had to. I just wanted to be done. And then around mile 12 Kelsey caught me.  Bad news, Kelsey caught me. Good news, KELSEY CAUGHT ME! That girl kept me moving for the last mile. She told me that with only a mile to go we were going to run. There was no walking at that point, no matter how shitty we felt. And so we ran, and complained, and commiserated our way to the finish.

This wasn't the hottest or hardest race I've run, but it just didn't work for me. I'm sure it was my lack of summer running coming back as a karmic bitch-slap, but I pushed through.

My feet were barely leaving the ground by mile 12....

Thank god for Kelsey!!!

Rock 'n Roll Chicago Final Results:

1207/1723 AG
6151/8998 Gender
11082/14881 Overall

#RnRCHI: Run and DONE!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Race Recap: Dances with Dirt 10k

Me, writing a race recap the day after the race? Unheard of!

Last week, after recovering from my first ever trail run, I decided to take the plunge and register for my first trail race. I mean, why not?  I was only registering for the 10k, how bad could it be?

Let it be known that the Dances with Dirt 10k is a bastard of a race.  A dirty, rotten, bastard that will make you want to cry and quit and possibly punch someone.  I should have listened to EVERYONE that told be to just run the half--twice the distance, more technical, but no black diamond ski hills to haul my ass up. Lesson learned.  Listen to your elders.

Obligatory pre-race nervous face

Since the 10k didn't start until 8am we opted to drive up race morning.  I couldn't have asked for better weather for a mid-July day--mid 70's and overcast. All of my friends were undertaking much more impressive distances at the race, so I found myself milling about alone in the sea of 10k runners. I seeded myself middle back knowing that I wouldn't be first, but that I wouldn't be last.  I had, after all, gotten out my nervous poops that morning so it was going to be a good day!

The race started with a mix of grass and blacktop path along the golf course, over to the base of the ski hill, along the bottom of the hill over to the undeveloped side of the hill where we made our way into the woods.  It was around this point that I fell into stride with a cool chick named Megan from the Chicago area and she became my running BFF for the race.  We talked and motivated one another along the way, and made the best of what was going to become a really obnoxious run. Once in the woods we ran some not too technical single track with rolling hills, and what not before making our way back to the base of the ski hill...where the masochistic race director had us run up the big ass black diamond at the center of Devil's Head, about 3/4 of the way up we cut across the hill and over to the adjacent black diamond and made our way to the top.  I told you it was going to become an obnoxious run.

At least the view was good...

From there we disappeared back into the woods to run some more single-track-esque trails.  With all of the time I've spent at Devil's Head, I can honestly say I had no idea where we were at times.  We looped and swooped around a bit in the woods, ran up another ski run, partway down what used to be my favorite blue run at the hill (favorite until I had to run down it), back into the woods and eventually all the way down the bunny hill.  From there we were half a mile from the finish line and I was ready to be done.  Sure, I found myself walking up the giant f'ing hills, but what was starting to ache and shake were my quads from trying to be so careful on the downhills.  Another little jaunt through the woods around the corner and down the finish chute.  I finished feeling, sweaty, a little tired, but good. 

Coachie wanted me to run another 2-4m after the race, but I just didn't want to.  And since apparently I think I know more than my running coach,  I decided not to run.  Instead we drove over to Devil's Lake to the "nice" showers so I could rinse off and change into something that didn't stink.  We then settled in to enjoy the breeze and fun of the finish line for the afternoon.

I mentioned earlier that everyone else I knew was running much more impressive distances, so we had a bit to relax before others started to finish.  Krista V rocked the half and I completely missed seeing here and meeting her in real life. Boo! Then came Shayla and Matt, both of who ran the marathon like it was walk in the park!  Shortly after that Jeff, Kritta's main squeeze, came strolling in from the 50k.  It wouldn't be long now until Kritta, Marty and Tracey would be finishing.  And finish they did, in style, like the absolutely adorable runners that they are.

Tracey, Marty and Kritta

From there we spent the afternoon, lounging in the shade, snacking on everything within reach, drinking beers and laughing like the exhausted, sunkissed, fools we were.  It was the absolute perfect end to a great day.

Tracey, Jeff, Matt, Krista, Marty and I
DWD 2012
As far as a first trail race could go, with only one trail run under my belt, I have to say I'm pleased with the outcome.  I finished, I felt good, I didn't get hurt, I wasn't furst...but I wasn't last.  All in all, I should be pleased. I am pleased. But I have my list of shoulda, woulda, coulda's.  I should have pushed myself on the flats and powered through the small hills. I would have been faster if I hadn't held back on the downhills.  I could have, and yes I really do think I could have, broke 1:30 if I just put my mind to it.  

Instead of obsessing over what could have been I am going to relish the accomplishment of my first trail race and a great afternoon spent with some of my running besties.


Final Results are posted!

16/18 AG*
179/214 Overall*

*The results do not include the DNFs which, to make myself feel better I must point out, were A LOT.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Running & Other Such Shenanigans

I may or may not be the worst blogger ever these days. But it happens. Life happens. We all move on.

Over the past few weeks I've been trying to figure out how to get my mojo back--it's been MIA since April. And the wicked hot and dry summer we're having this year is not helping matters. Wah.

The artistic stylings of Jay Roeder.
First thing first, I found a coach. I am now working with a longtime acquaintance, Chris, on planning out my training and racing schedule for the rest of 2012.  I gotta say, this guys got street cred-- TNT coach, multiple Ironman races under his belt, 70.3's, ultra marathons (including finishing the Rocky Racoon 100 in like 18hrs and change), just to name a few. Oh, and he's an all around cool guy.  So far I think his training plans are out to KILL me which is why I taking them more as suggestions than gospel.  I think we're in the early stages of our 'relationship' and that we'll sort things out. But in the meantime, it is so nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to tell me when I need to HTFU and get on with it.

One of the things he and I were both on the same wavelength about was adding some trail running to the mix. Something fun, different, and a little lower impact on my poor, beat up body.  Enter the amazing Marty.  I know Marty mainly through the Twitter and mutual friends, but I can tell you he is one of the nicest guys around. Not only does he love running and trails and staying active, but he loves sharing his passion with anyone, of any ability, any time. We had been trying to rendez-vous at Lapham Peak for some time to learn me to trail run. We finally made that happen last weekend.  I let Marty and a few other FitMKE peeps out there in the heat and sunshine for ~4m loop.  The first loop was the 'faster' group...which I TOTALLY sandbagged, but amazingly enough, no one seemed to mind!  We chatted, Marty gave an excellent tour and tips, and we had fun.  I should have called it a day there, but I let Marty talk me into ANOTHER loop with the 'slower' group.  And off we went. Again.  And while I was getting tired, I stuck it out and had a BLAST. I drove home, smelling NASTY, singing along with Carly Rae (on repeat) at the top of my lungs. All and all, a great little field trip.

Go ahead, click on it and laugh.
And since, you know, I've gong trail running all of ONE time, I let myself be talked into running Dance with Dirt this weekend. I blame Krista. Let's be honest though, I am only doing the 10k...but I've heard it's a doozy of  run.  Oh and and it's going to be toasty out there tomorrow. AND DID I MENTION THE 10k RUNS UP A SKI HILL? Because it does. Twice. But what goes up must come down, right? 

After I'm done hauling my ass up and down a ski hill, coachie wants me to tack on another couple miles for training purposes or something.  By the time I finish my 10 or so trail miles for the day, assuming I can still walk, the plan is to scoot over to Devil's Lake to cool off in the lake a bit and shower before heading back to cheer for my hardcore friends doing the 50k.  Fun in the sun my friends. Fun. In. The. Sun.

It would be arguably way MORE fun if I wasn't fighting off the plague and it wasn't 9000 degrees out, but those details are neither here nor there.

More Jay Roeder because I'm OBSESSED

What's totally cray-cray about the situation is that this is just a training weekend.  Just like next week, Rock 'n Roll Chicago, is just a training weekend.  Me and 10,000+ of my closest friends will be sweating it out on the streets of the Windy City, just training, having some fun. And even more off the reservation is that between the weekend and next coachie will jam pack my week with bricks, and crosstraining, and long runs and fartleks. 

Speaking of crosstraining, who here has tried Aqua Zumba? 'Cause I'm here to tell you, you haven't lived until you've gone to Aqua Zumba.  This discovery of mine was a happy accident, but since I'm in a sharing mood I thought I'd go ahead and pass on the awesome. You're welcome. So Aqua Zumba, yeah. I begrudgingly headed to the YMCA the other night to swim some laps, but was pleasantly surprised to find the laps removed and the blue-hairs taking over the pool. Let me tell you, these grannies meant business. Headbands on, water aerobics gloves on, game faces ON.  And then we Zumba'd. In the water. I have not smiled so big or laughed so hard in a REALLY long time. I was shaking my money makers and gyrating my hips, kicking my legs and clapping my hands, all in the safety of chest deep water because I am fairly certain I would have hurt myself on dry land. Oh, and the water hid the fact that I have ZERO coordination or rhythm.  I will be going back every chance I get.  

Did I mention that somehow I was talked in to running the Disney Marathon this January? Two of my Ragnar ladies from last year, Nesa and Kim, have decided to run Goofy this year. Seeing as it's the 20th anniversary of the WDW Marathon, and I love me some Disney, I was easily convinced to cross the Disney Marathon off my bucket list. That is assuming that I make it to marathon day and that it goes better than CMM. Details...  That's coachie's job, right?  

Assuming I survive tomorrow, I'm sure I'll have some epic stories to tell about my first ever trail race. Eek!!

One more Jay Roeder for the road!