No rest for the crazy – Ultramarathons and Training Recap

Well… so I spent all summer long training and finally completed my first (and probably only) half iron man. Although, I wasn’t too thrilled with how I performed on this race, I couldn’t sit and dwell for too long because I still had plenty to look forward to in the fall.

That’s right, once tri-season ended for me, I’m full swinging into ultraseason!

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The season will conclude with Stonecat 50 Miler. A 12.5 mile looped course that I’ll be prancing around 4 times. Before that, I’ve scheduled a few fun events.

10/4/14 Somerville Homeless Coalition 5K (Maybe PR maybe not?)
10/5/14 Cambridge oktoberfest 5K (Fun run in costume for this gal)
10/11/14 Hartford Marathon (Hoping for sub 4)
10/12/14 Newport Marathon (Hoping for a sub 1:38 for the first half since I’m competing in the triple crown and then just a finish for the second half)
10/26/14 Ghost Train 30 hour race (I want to hit 50 miles)

Granted, I don’t have as much time as I would to train for the 50 miler, but I think I have some good runs scheduled in. I’m doing my first ever back to back marathon weekend! And the beauty of Ghost Train is that it’s a timed event and my whole goal is to get to 50 miles even if I take a nap in between and crawl through the finish line.

So how did my first two weeks post half ironman go?

Week 1

Monday – 5 Miles 8 minute miles on my home treadmill because I wanted to run on tired legs

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – 10.1 Miles 7 Miles during lunch at 7:36 pace that felt difficult on incline 2, and 3.1 miles at 7:44 pace with Nike Running club

Thursday – 6.2 Miles 7:35 Pace

Friday – 6 Miles 8:15 Pace – Slowed it down a lot

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 20.2 Miles 13.1 Miles at 7:28 Pace for Boston/Revere half marathon and 7.1 extra miles in the evening at 7:53 pace

Total Miles – 47.5 MPW Still working on recovering a bit, but ramping up the miles felt good!

Week 2

Monday – 10 Miles I wanted to start with a double long run

Tuesday – Rest is the hardest day of the week for me

Wednesday – 10 Miles; 8 minute pace;  Runmute from work to home with a bit extra

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Boy does it get dark early these days!

Thursday – 13.1 Miles 8:14 Pace; Runmute from work to home and hit a few more stop lights than I would like!

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Friday – 3.15 Miles 7:06 pace If I can’t run long than I’ll run fast

Saturday – 15.1 Miles 7:58 pace Wanted to go longer but was short on time

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Sunday 11.2 Miles – Two part of misery. Ran 8.1 miles to Boston because I was volunteering at the Jimmy Fund walk. Was actually trying to fit in 9-10 miles but it was 82 degrees, humid and I felt terrible. 8:58 pace when all was said and walked. Did 3.1 Miles extra in the evening at another slower but tough 8:58 pace. When I got home, I was covered in dead bugs because it was just so muggy outside.

Total miles – 62.55 MPW I’m surprised that even with the longer runs, my pace with the exception of Sunday is going pretty steady.

Pumpkinman Half Ironman Triathlon Race Report

Let’s start with a recap of how my past few months have been:

My training consisted of me spending more time complaining about how I much I dreaded swimming than actual swimming.

My biking consisted of some pathetic rides on the trainer while watching canceled scifi shoes like Terra Nova and Firefly.

My running was awesome but that’s because running is awesome.

My pre-day race routine was probably not ideal but in the grand scheme of things would not have made much of a difference.

Despite all the steps I took to fail, I did it! Yup, I’m a half iron (wo)man!

Finisah

How did it all begin? Well, almost a year ago, I decided to fork up $275 and many hours of my time to do this. I don’t know what I was expecting, I guess I had such a fun time doing a mini sprint tri that I thought I would love a longer distance.

More miles more smiles! Right? Right? right…

Plus all my cool friends were doing triathlons and I wanna be cool like my friends. All my cool friends are also running 100 milers, but that’s still a bit out of my league.

I had months, and months to prepare and yet raceday, September 7th, came in the blink of an eye. Well if that blink of an eye consisted of many months of swimming, a major bike crash that resulted in separated shoulder and a long winter of snow that refused to end.

Actually, lets get back to the race. The Pumpkinman Triathlon is a festival that consists of three events, A sprint tri on Saturday and Aqua-bike and Half Ironman Tri on Sunday.

So raceday, yea it completely sneaked up on me. My alarm was set for 5:30AM, early but tolerable. Waking up at 7AM to go to work is a nightmare, but waking up at 5:30 for a race is tolerable. I even woke up about 5 minutes before my alarm. My morning routine was short, I was already packed, so I just got dressed, fill up my water devices with water and told Tony we gotta go by 6AM.

It was about a 20 minute drive with parking. It probably took me about 10 minutes to figure out my timing chip and drag all my stuff to the transition area. Only athletes were allowed in the transition net so I my assistant 😉 waited for me outside.

I had about 15 minutes to set up my transition area and get into my wetsuit.

Start

But wait Liana, don’t you start at 7:21?

Yea, except the race has time cut-offs for everything. I had to pick up my timing chip by 6:30AM of race day, it was not included with our race number packets and transition area was closed by 6:45 for a mandatory national anthem and some messages that I couldn’t hear. So yea, I could have woken up even earlier but I picked sleep. So at 6:45, I was being gently told that I must depart from the transition area.

The end result?

My transition area looked like someone vomited up gear. I was so nervous that I kept rearranging all my stuff and trying to calm my breathing that I couldn’t focus and I haven’t even eaten anything yet.

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While the first 7 waves were starting, I decided to eat my white chocolate cliff bar because not having anything in my stomach would have been a huge mistake. I nibbled on my breakfast as I tried to spot the boeys and gauge just how far a .6 mile loop is.

Swimming Leg

The course is a 1.2 mile swim but it’s a double loop. So even though it’s a waved time start, your first look will always be packed.

Now I’m not going to lie, I was terrified of the swim, swimming in the Y is one thing. you can take a break every 25 yards, but with this, I wasn’t certain what I would be doing. In theory there’s kayaks and paddleboard people to the side. In theory you’re allowed to rest on those as I read in the rules. In reality, those kayak’s were close, but definitely not worth the extra 25 yard swim to rest.

I did have one new advantage. A wetsuit. My friend Lori let me borrow hers for the race (along with her trishorts). Now, I have to confess again, I actually have never, not even for a second took a practice swim in this wetsuit or any wetsuit. I was told it would be easier and I was desperately clinging onto the fact that this was true.

Start Wetsuit

My goal was to stay on the edge to avoid the more aggressive swimmers and getting kicked in the face. Because being a terrible swim and getting kicked in the face in the first mile of a 70.3 journey would probably have been terrible at best. However, I had trouble getting to the right side of the starting line and somehow ended up at the left, the inner loop.

Swimming start

I start swimming and the first thing I noticed was that my lower body just stayed up without me exerting a large amount of energy to stay buoyant. Yes, wet-suits are indeed awesome and if I ever do any distance swims, I will need to invest in one from now on. They’re awesome. Normally when I get into the warm, my lower body just sinks down so this gave me some reassurance that I just might be okay.

I did make one mistake. For the first 1/3rd of the loop, I was swimming with my head poking out because I was so nervous on the other swimmers and getting kicked. However, this completely ruined whatever form I normal have and I probably wasted a great deal of energy and time swimming like a drowning dog.

Swimming

Once, I realized that the world isn’t going to end if someone’s limb touches me, I went into a normal freestyle stroke and the rest of the 2/3rd of the first loop went great. I even continued onto the second loop without a stop. Because the second loop starts around shallow water you could in theory stretch your legs and stand up. I didn’t want to waste any time and just kept moving.

Swimming 2

There was about one instance when I wanted to take a little rest. My shoulder was starting to bother me and I was about halfway into my final loop. I was getting tired fast and at one point lost my stroke and swallowed some really nasty pond water. However, I looked at the distance between me and the kayaks and decided I’m better of swimming forward to the finish then resting. Before I knew it, I was in a shallow part where I could stand up.

Drowning Liana

I was ready to sprint through the water, until I felt like pokey on my feet. Yea, the shore of the pond is covered in mussels, so I delicately walked out of the pond and saved the sprinting for later.

Official time: 49:49 about 10 minutes faster than my training swims! (Overall 396/426) 

The hill climb sprint

So as I was getting out of the pond, I started immediately working on taking off the wetsuit

Sprint Hill

Before I could get into the transition area, I had a mini hill sprint. A volunteer was standing warning us to slow down because the area got so slippery and I guess a few people took some wicked falls. I just went on my climby way. I needed to slow down my heart rate anyways. Total time 1:46 (252/426 overall)

Sprint Hill 2

Transition 1

I don’t know exactly what took me so long, maybe it was pinning my number, changing shoes and removing the wetsuit but I spent almost 5 minutes in transition. 4:49 to be exact.

Transition 1

The one stupid thing that I would go back on from transition 1 would be taking my camelpak. In retrospect, it was a stupid idea and I didn’t get much use of it as I thought I would. I don’t get a ranking for transition time, but I’m sure I was on the longer end.

Bike Leg –

I don’t know how to describe the bike part. You know when You have a dramatic experience and you mind kind of blocks out most of the memory and it almost feels like a hazy deja vu. That would be my bike leg. I made it. I did it. But there was no savoring the moment. It was just surviving.

From the beginning, I struggled with slowing down my heart rate. My legs and my whole body was so shakey that I had trouble clipping into my pedals.

Bike Struggle

Bike Walk

Still Struggling

Nothing like a personal photographer to capture every embarrassing moment out there.

The bike leg of the race is 56 miles and just like everything else on this day, it too consists of a double loop.

I remember right from the start, it was a bumpy ride.

Literally.

Very bumpy.

Since I started towards the end of the swimming legs and I was pretty much almost the last person out of the water, I was probably a good 30 minutes behind most riders. Combine that with me being a very novice cyclists, I was in for a scary ride.

The roads were not closed, not even remotes. About 75% of the course was a bumpy granite road with potholes, large cracks and absolutely no shoulder to get you space between you and the cars.

Now my first loop was okay. Eventually, I saw other riders who were probably on their second loop as I was doing my first. It was still relatively early in the morning so there was less cars on the road. However, I don’t have a fancy bike. I have a fairly minimum not even a brand name road bike. So every crack in the concrete, yea I felt that.

After mile 18 or so, the road even got nice. It looked like a recently repaved road. There was two aids stations, one around mile 4 and one around mile 20 that I passed by. I probably had a nice 16.5 mile pace. I’m no doped up Lance Armstrong, but considering I just swam the longest and fastest distance of my, I was feeling content with my pace.

My second loop was a nightmare. I just remember being mostly alone with the except or one of two fellow cyclists. I remember constantly being absolutely terrified that I was going to get hit by a car on this narrow road. Car literally kept zooming around me because both them and I had nowhere else to go. I felted stressed and drained for about 75% of the second loop.

I also remember most of all that I’ve been wanted to pee pretty much since I started this race. I finally gave in and took a stop at mile 40. Since the one bathroom they had was occupied by someone who seemed to behaving an even worse race than I was, I took that time to calm myself down, eat two hammer gels and stretch. My quads were absolutely killing me. I’m not sure from what. The course was hilly but not that hilly and besides that my quads hurt from the moment I jumped onto the bike. Maybe I used them in swimming? Still have no clue.

Anyways, my second loop was getting slower and slower and I heard rumors that I was one of the last 20 people on the road. Yea, that was fun.

I knew I was getting close to getting timed out. Yea, that’s right, the bike leg, a leg that I thought I would have some catch up, was the leg that was slowly almost disqualifying me from the race.

Relentless forward progress, I repeated. That was all I could focus on because the least I could do was try and finish. I was going slow, but I was still moving.

Total Time: 3:49:41 Overall place 421/426 (I have never been so last place in my whole life before)

Transition 2

I went into T2 with a very bruised ego. I was falling apart. If I wasn’t so focused on finished. If I took the time and evaluated my race at that time, I would have cried. However, I tried to remained focused. My transition 2 was just as slow as transition 1. By the time I finished the bike leg of the race; I was baked. I really felt like I had no will to continue besides my own stubbornness. I changed my shoes. I opted for my Mizuno Waveriders vs. Skechers GoMebs because if the running course was anything like the biking course, major potholes and a terrible road shoulder, I wanted a little extra cushion. I even took a minute to stretch and move my Garmin from my bike mont to my arm. I took a few more Shotbloks and then when I finally felt ready, I went off for my run, knowing I was probably in almost last place.

Transition 2

Total Time – 5:03

Running Leg

So as I got to my final leg, all that was standing between me and the finish line was a small little 13.1 mile run. A half marathon as some might call it.

I started my run, just like I started my bike. With a mistake. I took my phone with me for music. Yes, technically we were not allowed to have any audio on us, but I was already in last place so I didn’t feel like I had much to lose at this point. I also was partly concerned that I was already disqualified for being too slow. However, within a minute of my run, I changed my mind and passed my cellphone to Tony as I saw him at the start of my run. And off I went.

running

My first mile somehow ended up being 7:30. Considering I was barely pulling 14MPH on the bike leg, this came as a complete shock. It also made me realize that since I was no longer in fear of my life and getting run off the road by a car, I actually have a lot more left in my tank than I thought. I decided to go with all I got. It wasn’t a lot, but I went with it all.

The running course was a 3 mile loop. It was a really boring shoulder of a road that we looped around twice. The terrible part was that it was repetitive and didn’t have much shade. The positive was that, I got to see some of my friends who were hours ahead of me.  The terrible part was that I was never sure if I was passing people or if those people were on their final loop and I was still many miles behind them.

The great part was that the volunteer were amazing on the running leg. They were organized and had everything I needed available. There was Hammer Gels, Salt Tabs, cold sponges, water and coke (coca cola silly, not cocaine). Although, I think I would have totally accepted cocaine at this point.

The aid stations were about every 1.5-2 miles and I made sure to make use of everyone one of them whether it was a drink, or ice or just water to dump over my head, they were there and I used them and add that to the fact that I was in full out, OMG I don’t want to finish last mode adrenaline, I kept doing the only thing I could do, run. Run fast, run smart, and just keep moving. Uphill I slowed the paced but still ran and on the downhill, I pushed up my pace.

I don’t know the exact breakdown but I probably took a water or a coke every 3 miles or so. I took a cold sponge every chance I could and stuffed one in the back of my sports bra to cool my back and one in the front to cool off my chest. I was in serious heat. It was probably around 78 degrees with not a cloud in the sky. Add to the fact that I already spent 4 exhausting hours trying not to die on my bike, I was more than mildly overheated. I didn’t grab any more gels, but I did drink more than a few cups of soda and a salt tab somewhere along mile 7.

I expected my run leg to be about 2 hours with each mile dragging on since I would probably be running 2 minutes slower than my normal pace. But I surprised myself. With each mile, I wasn’t slowing down. I kept expecting to hit a wall and having to walk like the other runners around me. Shockingly, the miles, even without any music or much entertainment were flying by. To be honest, I don’t remember what I was thinking about to pass the time, most likely not much. I was in full survival mode to run, run and be done with this race as soon as possible.

Before I knew it, I was in the final grass sprint area. I’m proud to say that as far as I’m aware not one person passed me on the run! Even if I did start almost last haha.

Finish sprint

Finish Sprint 2

Yes, I sprinted to that finish line.

Total Time – 1:47:47 Overall 89/426

Finish Line

The first thing I did after getting my medal was walk over to the massage area which I was told was already full. Made me a little cranky because when races advertise massages, they should be available to all participants not just to the top 20%. Us slowpokes pay the same race fee as the fast kids and I think we deserve the same service.

I pouted and walked to find Tony. And as you can see in my photo, I also decided that it’s too hot to continue wearing my shirt, belly fat and paleness be damned, I was overheating and needed to find shade. when we got to the eating area there wasn’t any place to sit, but there was still plenty of food left.

The race entry fee to the race gives you a turkey dinner, a la Thanksgiving style with stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, cold slaw and all the other things I don’t normally eat because I’m just not a fan thanksgiving food. They also had a dessert area where I picked either a pumpkin whoopie pie or a brownie. I asked if I could take both and was denied.

So no massage, turkey dinner that I don’t really eat, and a dessert denial…

But then I found the beer tent with shipyard pumpkin and all became better. Although, I stilled wanted to go and take a brownie because the Pumpkin whoopie pie was pretty tasty and I kind of survive of sugar and beer.

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I let Tony have my food since it was paid for in the race fee and throwing it out would have been a waste.

Total Results and Ranking

Total Time :

Overall Place: 342/426

Gender Place: 122/180

Division Place: 10/12

My final thoughts on Pumpkinman…

I haven’t done a lot of triathlons so I’m only comparing it to running events. But overall, I found it very poor value for what it costs. I’ve gotten pretty good where the majority of my marathons cost me under $75 with the exception of Boston which is $150 and it’s Boston so I suck it up. But personally, because I don’t enjoy triathlons and because of the experience I had due to my training and experience, I thought the  70.3 race was poor value for my money. I think my race fee with the something or other 1 day membership was $275 and the only thing it provided was lifeguards, kayakers and a few paddle boarders on the water. I’m not even sure if they were paid or volunteers. I know triathlons require more logistics and more insurance but I don’t know what else there is. Maybe, I’m missing something. The bike and running course was open to traffic. I saw one police detail the whole time. Everything else, from the turns to the aid table are volunteers, free labor. Yes, I know the Gatorade, the timing chip, the hammer gels cost money but I just don’t see how it adds up to the cost of the event. I’m sure if I loved swimming and biking as much as I love running, it would be totally worth it but I don’t so I’ll just have to stick to what I enjoy.

The one big thing that I would like to mention is that I thought all the volunteers were great and helpful and all the fellow race participators were great sports and very encouraging to one another.

I don’t regret participating in this race. While I can’t say I’m thrilled with my time, it was a worthy experience that I will treasure for a while. You should always tri 😉 everything once.

Will I ever do another one again? While I see plenty of sprint tris in my future, I don’t think I’ll do another half ironman or longer distance event again. While the actual event was sort of fun and I loved the challenge of it all, the training made me absolutely miserable. At the root of it all, I love running and having cut back on that for biking and swimming made me cranky. Also, I’m pretty sure that I’m allergic either to the Malden Y or chlorine because my skin would always burn in the pool. Regardless, I already canceled my Y membership and probably the only way I would ever sign up and train again would be if I had a training buddy for those long rides on the road that I never did or had a super flexible schedule so I could hit the pool when it was empty and get in bike rides when there was less cars out there.

ASICS GEL-Pursue Review and Giveaway

Did I tell you that I was originally an ASICS girl? Yup, ASICS GT 2000 were my shoe of choice and for a year into my running addiction I went through several pairs because once I commit, I commit. Back then I also only ran on treadmills for 30 minutes and that’s it. Then, I randomly discovered other shoes and realized a monogamous relationship with just one shoe is completely impossible with all the different New England seasons and terrain that I run in. I’m addicted to trying new running shoes like most girls are addicted to a near pair of heels.

So when I had an opportunity to try out the new Gel-Pursue, I was immediately excited.

Out of the box I was immediately surprised and slightly delighted that they have kept their colors simple. I know, I know, I love bright colors as much as the next runner gal, but I prefer to pick them with my clothes vs. my shoes and sometimes my running skirt of choice can clash with my shoes. So there’s a pro and a con to the simple color scheme. Although, it does come with a nice purple and neon accent that matches my running socks!

ASICS Gel Pursue 1

ASICS GEL-Pursue has been awarded “Best Debut Shoe” in the September 2014 Shoe Guide issue of Runner’s World due to its equal parts cushioning and stability in a package that rides slightly lower to the ground. However, I wanted to find out for myself how comfy this shoe is.

First thing I noticed with the GEL Pursue vs. the GT-2000 series was that they removed the medial post for stability turning this into a a neutral shoe. Part of the reason why I stopped running in the GT-2000 series was the realization that I was a neutral running and that the stability post was creating an unnatural gait for me. So I was happy to see it gone. I also read that compared to the Gel-Cumulus and Gel-Nimbus, it has a slightly firmer mid-sole and more responsive ride but I’ve never ran in either of those shoes so I’ll take their word for it.

ASICS Gel Pursue 2

So far I’ve been running in these shoes for about 2 weeks ranging in distance from a 3 miler to a 10 miler. However, I haven’t had a chance yet to try them on a “long run” such as a 20 miler because of my triathlon schedule. The extra support was a nice bonus when my calves were tired from a spin class and made the easy runs extra easy on my body. The one down side of having a more supportive shoe was that I found them to be a little bit heavier and warmer than some of my more minimalist shoes. However, I’m happy to report there wasn’t much of a pace difference in my runs.

ASICS Gel Pursue

To Summarize:

The ASICS GEL-Pursue is an overall great shoe for Neutral runners that retails for $110.  I think the extra comfort is great for newer runners and distance runners who like the extra support.

The CONs

There’s only a few cons that I found with these shoes

  • They are not ideal shoes for speedwork as the extra padding made me feel a little clunky
  • At 8.7 oz, I found them a little heavy
  • Lack of color options. From what I saw online these are your only colors for women

The PROs

However, I found that the pros out-weight the cons

  • Impact Guidance System (I.G.S®) ASICS® design philosophy that employs linked componentry to enhance the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe-off.
  • FluidRide™ provides the ultimate combination of bounce back and cushioning properties with reduced weight and exceptional durability. So although it’s a little heavier, it works in my favor on the longer runs when I need a little more bounce in my extra miles.
  • Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL® Cushioning Systems – Attenuates shock during impact and toe-off phases, and allows movement in multiple planes as the foot transitions through the gait cycle.
  • Guidance Trusstic System® -This Trusstic System® integrates Guidance Line® construction for enhanced gait efficiency while providing midfoot structural integrity.
  • Guidance Line® Vertical flex groove decouples the tooling along the line of progression for enhanced gait efficiency.
  • Heel Clutching System™ Exoskeletal heel counter provides improved support and creates improved heel fitting environment.
  • Discrete Eyelets – Independently placed eyelets disburse lace tension, creating a customized fitting environment and enhanced upper comfort.

And here’s the good news, anything I love, I usually try to make sure I can get a pair to one of my readers and the folks at ASICs were happy to give one Run To Munch reader a pair. Giveaway will be open until Friday September 19th at midnight and is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

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Disclaimer: I received a pair of ASICS GEL-Pursue shoes for the purpose of this review. I was also given a pair to give to one of my readers. All opinions and writing are 100% my own. 

Half IronMan Weekend, Portsmouth, NH; South Berwick, Maine; and What I packed

Besides the 70.3 triathlon, I had a great weekend! Just kidding, I had a great weekend even with the race. I’m still in the glow of the moment of having completed this 70.3 miles of sweat and tears. I’ll get to the race in another post. The whole race still seems a bit surreal.

On Friday, we took it easy for dinner and some drinks at Pier 6 in Charlestown that gives you a lovely view of Boston from Copley to Seaport to Financial district. Probably my favorite spot to view the skyline. The food was okay, but it was 90 degrees that night and being on the waterfront has never felt more pleasant since I am easily cold.

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On Saturday I woke up bright and early to get a haircut just to learn, the salon near my house opens an hour later than I thought.

After chopping off a few inches of hair, because every ounce counts, I went to pack. Yup last second packer for the win.

What did I pack for my half Ironman?

In a summary, way too freaking much.

The main outfit

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I’m such a triathlon pro, that I didn’t even own a pair of tri shorts, luckily, I borrowed from a friend.

Swimming

2 pairs of goggles – main one and a back up pair

Swimming Cap – just in case

Ear drops

Wetsuit borrowed from a friend

Wetsuit spray

Biking

My bike

Helmet

Sunglasses

Patch kit/tubes/air

Air pump

Bike shoes

socks

2 water bottles

Camelpak

Running

Socks

Running shoes – Mizunos waveriders and Skechers flats because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run in racing flats after biking

Fuel

Nuun

3 Cliff Bars

3 packs of shot blocks

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Misc.

Garmin

Two Towels

Back up outfit

Swimming suit

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Jack was there to supervise the whole process!

Anyways after loading up and packing up more crap for half a day than I took with me for 3 weeks in South East Asia, I was ready to go. Had I done a destination triathlon, I would need 2 suitcases of baggage. This is not an efficient sport.

On the drive up we stopped by Portsmouth, NH that I’ve been wanting to stop by.

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I didn’t know much about it, but the highway signs always made me want to stop. The town looked cute with lots of little restaurants and historical buildings.

Tony grabbed a meatball sub from a deli to eat as fast as possible and jetted over to the Portsmouth Brewery at 3pm. They give free brewery tours that comes with a card to get 6 samples!

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For a brewpub that only does direct sales, they had a nice selection.

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Between Tony and I we had 12 flights. Since I’ve been so stressed about packing, I realized that I haven’t eaten yet. So of course, I ordered the healthiest item I could think of.

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Now that I had some nice liquid courage and my mind wasn’t thinking about all the ways I can drown, I decided it would be a good time to roll up and get my numbers for Sunday’s race. When I got to the race site, I freaked out. Here’s the thing, runners come in all size and shapes, that chubby kid next you, might surprise you and pull a 3:15 marathon. However, everyone around me, all these triathletes, were super fit looking with pure lean muscle. I instantly started regretting my nutritional lunch of nachos and beer.

Unfortunately, the pond wasn’t set up yet so I couldn’t judge what the distance would look like. I guess its good because I rather just not know until I had to swim it. My race packet came with a bunch of numbers that I had to stick to everything. I’m actually surprised it didn’t come with a sticker for my butt because there seemed to be one for everything else. Good, I always wanted to be photographed drowning.

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I did love the fall theme. Fall is my favorite season and there’s nothing I love more than pumpkin and the color orange.

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After freaking out some more about how fit everyone else is and how I don’t belong there, we drove to Dover, NH to our Airbnb place. Our host’s friend who was also there, has done several triathlons and gave me some tips about taking my time in transition. After reorganizing all my gear for the 10th time that day, I decided that I should probably eat something for dinner. Technically the nachos at 4PM could have been dinner, and I wasn’t hungry. However, skipping dinner would have left me starving in the morning which would have been a terrible idea. I’m not very good at eating well morning of the races so Tony and I set out to find something to eat.

We found the perfect place back in South Berwick, Maine. So we drove the 10 minutes over the state line to Thistle Pig. It was the perfect prerace meal. Actually, it would have been a perfect dinner, and I’m hoping to return another time when I’m more hungry to try more things.

They had this amazing veterinarian squash risotto.

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Tony got the heirloom tomato salad

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and we shared a jar of homemade pickles that we regret not keeping the brine from.

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My photos don’t do this place justice, but if you’re ever driving through Dover, NH/ South Berwick, ME definitely check out this place!

We also tried a glass of their white Sangria to help me fall asleep earlier than my normal bed time.

And before I knew it, I had less than 8 hours before it was race time.

TARC Summer Classic 50K Race Report

The TARC Summer Classic holds a special place in my heart as this was my first official 50k finish! I never recap it because I got busy with work and it just went into the abyss so I will have to do the justice this year.

I believe this was the third year the race was held and it’s always held around mid to end August. This year it was on Saturday August 16.  Registration is only around $25 with all fees and while you don’t get a medal, or a useless Tshirt that will end up in Goodwill, you do get a rocking, running good time!

The TARC Summer Classic consists of two races, a 50 miler and a 50k. Each year, I originally sign up for the 50 miler but as always since my summer running had been minimal, so I dropped down to the 50k.  It was a distance I knew I could handle in 13 hours even if I had to walk the course. I couldn’t make the same assumption for the 50 miler, so a week before race day I did my annual please Race Director drop my distance plea.

So the night before the race, I was actually really nervous. My longest run in two months was a road 13 miler. Since my TARC 50 DNF, I have focused all my energy into my half ironman training or at least complaining. Tony and I were originally going to get Ethiopian food but switched to Italian last second because I wanted some pasta in my tummy. Close enough?

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I packed a lot of things for the day because I wasn’t sure if my body would remember that it can run for more than two hours. I packed my trail shoes, my cushy road shoes, camelpak, water bottle handheld, change of outfit and everything in between. Luckily, I only ended up using my handheld waterbottle for the whole race.

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The race starts at 7AM with a short trail briefing at 6:45. It consists of about 3 10 mile loops and a little extra small loop for the 50K runners to get to 31 milers. I have originally planned on getting to the race start around 6:30 to have enough time to get some food in my belly but we got pulled over around a stretch of a speed trap, you know the kind that drops down randomly to 30MPH on a rural road. They let us go with a warning, but the time it took the officer to look us up and everything ended up eating away any eating cushion I had.

Anyway, the race is technically 15 miles or so outside of Boston or at least its southern point. For me it ends up being almost hour drive. Its a 10 mile look with a variety of terrain, including some great trails along the Charles River and the surrounding wetlands and views from the top of Noon Hill. Covers several sections of the Bay Circuit Trail system

My first loop, went great. I couldn’t quite remember what the course was like so I just slowly kept taking in the easy mile to bank up on some time for the climbs and this one section with turny,  dead trees that I despise. So according to official splits, my first loop was 2:06 and I felt great. I knew since I didn’t eat anything for breakfast I had to stop after my first loop and get some real food in me.

I was happy to report to myself that the course is about 80% runnable with about 10% slightly annoying and 10% really annoying rocky climbs/descends.

My second loop around mile 12-13 I took an easy dive. Yup, same spot I felt last year. I dusted myself off and moved forward. Around then, the news spread that there’s an angry nest of wasps that’s been awoken on the trail. Suddenly, I realized that on my first loop, the buzzing I heard wasn’t a giant fly, and felt freaked out all over again because I wasn’t sure where on the trail they were, just that at some point, I would have to figure out how to get around them.

Well, even with a bees ahead warning, I still ended up not seeing them until, I was smack in the middle of hearing them on my second loop. I just ran as fast as I could, almost falling on my face, but still running until the buzzing stopped.

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I finished my second loop in about 2:20, so 15 minutes slower than my first loop. Unfortunately not the plan, but I stopped to eat a PBJ sandwich, plus my wipe out and the looking out for bees but me on a slower, steadier root that was more familiar to my pace last year.

The third loop turn around was faster, I only grabbed a small piece of PBJ and just ran/walked as I ate. I knew I had to keep moving, because if I stopped, there was not getting back up. I heard that the nest of angry wasps was finally eliminated letting my head rest easy. I’m not sure if I’m allergic but I don’t want to find out. My final loop clocked in at 2:29, more steady with the time of my second loop. Also, I’m 90% sure I got lost. My Garmin clocked in around 32.5 miles versus the 31 miles. TARC races use a lot of twists and turns, and two way roots to make up the mileage so it’s easy to get turned around a bit and bank up some more miles. That being said, the course is really well marked. Whenever, I run a nonTARC race, I’m always freaking out that I’m lost because there’s always less trail markings.

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My official time is 6:54:47, giving me a lovely 3-4 minute PR with a whole lot less training. I may not be a full time trail runner, but it’s nice to remind myself that I’m stronger than I think.  9/25 Gender place and 32/73 overall place. Out of the 73 that started, I saw there was 12 DNFs and who knows how many DNSs. Since the races are so reasonable priced many people just don’t always show up if they’re under-trained.  Would I have loved another 6 hour 50K, of course, but I’ll take what I got on that day, and I’ll accept it with pride and gratitude of what my body can do.