2018 B.A.A 10K Race Report

Maybe 10Ks are not that terrible.

Yes, I wrote that. After swearing for years that a 10K is a miserable distance. It’s got all the painful parts of a 5K that just refuses to end. However, the B.A.A. 10K felt different this time. I don’t know, I guess lately I’ve been embracing each racing distance almost like a racing virgin. Guess a 3 years racing gap with a rejuvenated love for running again can make you love the things you used to hate.

After my fun run, but race in my mind, Donut 5K, I signed up last-minute for the BAA 10K cause all the cool kids (my friends) were doing it. I generally don’t do BAA races because well I am cheap ($10 per mile!!!!!!), they’re early, and crowded but I’ve been feeling like I needed something now that I haven’t ran a BQ in a few years. However with summer hitting up Boston (who else is dying after 6 straight days of 90 degree weather?), the racing options besides post work evening 5Ks have become slim and this race started at 8AM. Early, but doable with an easy access of starting in the Boston Commons.

I picked up my race bib and race shirt at Adidas’ B.A.A store, RunBase and won’t lie, I was pretty pissed off to learn the shirts were Unisex. Prime example of sexism in the running industry by race organizers and sponsors. First of all, no they’re not unisex, they’re men’s that you think I should settle for. Let’s have a race director use women shirts as unisex and see how the men react. The shirt is part of my race fee, I deserve to havee a damn shirt that fits just as much as any male does. Also, Adidas makes women shirts, this isn’t a local race director putting on their first race who doesn’t know how what a tech shirt is to begin with, this is a well-oiled B.A.A. machine that should know better. A store for runners (not just male runners) should respect and realize the value in giving shirts to women that are cut to fit them. Running in ill-fitting clothes is a great way to get hurt and hate running. RunBase & B.A.A, you should be ashamed of yourself. SHAME SHAME SHAME

shame

Plus the shirts had unicorns 😦

IMG_3185

 Anyway back to race night as I’ll rant about “unisex” shirts another day. Although I am up to 10 mile runs now, I still had the race night butterflies that seemed a little like joy and excitement crushed by extra flavorings of fear of oversleeping, or stomach problems  so after waking up like 10 times, I finally gave up at 6AM (hey, I usually wake up at 8am) and decided to eat and get dressed. It was also probably not a good time to realize on race morning that, that I probably should have done workout clothes laundry the night before because my options of running clothes were limited to blah, eh & meh. At least I found an old unused sports bra and blessed the workout gods that let me forget this one at the bottom of the drawer.

So walking out slightly like a toddler who dressed herself in the morning half blind in clothes that no longer fit quite right, I still had goals in mind. My public goal, 50 minutes (figured with a 23 min 5K, this seemed reasonable given double the distance and the confusing weather where I felt overdressed and underdressed all at the same time). My secret goal was 48 minutes wanting to stay slightly on pace with my 5K time.

IMG_3125

So walked over, tummy feeling relatively okay, pondering if I drank enough water (yea probably didn’t cause half a cup of tea doesn’t count as hydration); I started trying to figure out corrals. It was self-seeded (with 10,000 runners in a relatively narrow street, I was surprised they didn’t do required seeding. I saw a 5:59 pace sign (yea definitely not even in my prime), and then the signs just dropped off. I started walking back and forth trying to figure out where my paced peeps are all at and settled on basically finding other women who looked like me, short girls, slightly soft with muscular legs and decided, yea these are people who probably run like me.

  1.  IMG_3126

Despite the feel of confusion when I tried to seed myself, the race started really smoothly! I fangirled over the elites like Meb & Desi doing their strides or charge ups or whatever it is that real runners do before a race to warm up (isn’t that what the first mile is for?). And before I knew it, it was my turn to run around 8:05 or so.

I stopped running with a Garmin when I was constantly injured. Getting reminded of my pace on a regular basis would frustrate me because I kept wanting to run at my former speed and so I was still running device naked. I had runkeeper on in the background of my phone, but with no audio queues. Instead I just ran by feel of where I pushed myself just enough but not enough to heave on the side of the road (or worse). At the mile markers, I estimated I was running somewhere around 8 minute miles. Also surprisingly, my corral seeding strategy worked as the group I was running with was in pretty similar pace where I didn’t have to zigzag to pass people nor was anyone really zigzagging around me. baa10k_coursemap The course starts and ends at Boston Commons and is basically the JP Morgan corporate challenge course that doesn’t end because part two is the BU 5K.  It runs up Comm. Ave, a short bypass to Bay State road and back to Comm. Ave to continue past all the BU green line stops wrapping up into a turn around by West Campus just to see the other side of Comm. Ave as you make your return.

Overall, the course is “flat” with the exception of the rolling hills around the BU Bridge. I cursed and really wondered how 15 years from when I was a little BU Freshman, that this damn thing is still under construction. The cursing at the bridge distracted me for the next few miles (I hate that damn bridge) as I looped back into the 2nd half. Cursing at things is usually what leaves me face planting into concrete, but luckily I avoided that stage in this run as I realized I had less than 2 miles to go (33%!! Yea anyone else think of miles in race through percentages?). While I was happy that I was feeling pretty comfortable in my pace (look Ma, no walk breaks!), I was struggling trying to pick up the pace as glory of negative splits came to my brain know that going back should have a decline. I guess with no real speed work under my belt, it makes sense I had no surge abilities.

As I went past the 6 mile marker, I did try to kick a little (or kinda look like a duck trying to run out of water for bread crumbs) and damn is that .2 miles always taking forever. But just like that it was over and I was into the finishing area. Medal check! I was stuck in a daze between wanting to grab all the “free” food I can and the feeling of if I eating anything this moment, I may throw up. There were bagels, bars, chips, cranberry raisins, and probably more crap that can let you eat up to your heart’s desire. Being lazy, I settled for a few bags of chips and a bottle of water and went to find Tony who was waiting by the finish line (yet somehow missed my champion finish line crossing).

IMG_3139

My runkeeper app said I ran 6.33 miles but the satelite on my phone isn’t the most accurate so the pace may be a little offer, but overall I am pretty happy with the fairly steady pace versus my old style where I start fast, die mid way, and drag myself through the finish.

Official finish time was 46:37! Woohoo I hit my goal and it’s been a damn while since I hit goals (I estimated for the photo).

IMG_3136

 Another unicorn joins the collection

IMG_3141

2015 Wisconsin Marathon Race Recap

The Wisconsin Marathon took place on Saturday May 2nd, 2015  in Kenosha, Wisconsin – a town of 100,000 residents located about 45 minutes south of downtown Milwaukee and 1.5 hours north of Chicago.  Normally, I would go into a rant about my hatred of Saturday marathons (because who has time for Friday bib pick-ups) but since I was in Chicago on Friday, the drive to Kenosha afterwards worked out quite well. Being the eastcoast self centered gal that I am, I don’t know much about the midwest, or Wisconsin, besides the fact that they have cheese. Kenosha seemed like a relatively quaint town with not a lot going on, but they did have a few tasty joints to eat at, and a pretty waterfront around lake Michigan.

Although, the race was on a Saturday (with I think no number pick-up on race day), they made bib pick up super easy! I believe they had a day or 2 in both Chicago and Miwaukee if you’re in that area, or on Friday up until 7PM as the “expo.” The expo to be honest might have been the smallest I’ve seen yet in an expo attempt. It was in the of a Best Western, parking was easy since there was no one there. Number took about 30 seconds, picked up a shirt. They had local medal display sales person and a chiropractor there. They also had I believe Jesus people table next to the photobooth.

The issue with small races out in small towns is the lodging situations tend to be quite limited. Your options are, be local and drive, Best Western or a further hotel. Due to lack of options at all, we stayed at  Radisson Hotel, which cost way more than it was worth per night, and they didn’t allow me for late check out to 1PM, massive grossness. Plus, although Kenosha is not very large, they had some road constructions, so it took us always about 25 minutes to get to downtown area. But hey, at least it was near so outlets where you can buy expired Milano cookies and Ghirardelli chocolates. We did check Airbnb and most things were booked by then as well. late bird losses the better lodging options I guess.

The race started at 7AM and as much as I grumbled about the early start, it was going to be a beautiful sunny day so a 6AM start probably wouldn’t have hurt me too much either.

Unlike the wake up for Boston, it was a gorgeous day!

IMG_8627

So off I went to the start line, 10 minutes to 7AM. They had some roads closed, but the runner drop off area was super easy and about 2 minute walk from the start. They had a special cheese corral if you wore yellow or cheese type things. Temperature was climbing up the 50s and just waiting to burst out into the 70s.

IMG_8628

I thought about going straight to the front of the start line, but decided I’m no shape to play the ego game and put myself somewhere around the 4 hours marathon pace group, although if you do enough small races, the pace groups at the start are always together and just spread out naturally on their pace.

IMG_8631

I don’t know much about the area, but here is my concept of the course – first 10K is a circle to the right, next 10K is a circle to the left followed by a repeat to the right with an extend loop to some country roads for about 13 miles.

IMG_8632

IMG_8634

A portion of the race hit up the water front with a great view and some local beautiful homes.

IMG_8670

And while the course for the most part is flat, I did find the bumps of up and down some small bridges and bike paths to be mildly frustrating. Luckily, the second half of the marathon was much smoother and feature some dirt roads that felt a gazillion times better on my foot.

IMG_8641

And although I’m not sure if the roads were ever officially closed to traffic, I don’t think I really saw more than one car.

IMG_8638

The my emotions and energy level seemed to bounce around the same, first 10K feeling great, second 10K feeling like crap wondering how the heck am I doing 13 miles more, nice 2nd wind for the next 10 miles and dragging myself and whatever is left of me for the final 5K.

IMG_8637

This same view that I passed about 4 times seemed so friendly on my 24!

I know many runners who have been injured, or had though breaks, or even just age know this feeling, but running faster and less fit than you were before is never that fun. However, at the same time, you gotta realize you’re still doing more than lots of other people can be doing, so you just gotta enjoy it!

Either way, I already adjusted my goals from the start. My goal was to break four hours. I felt like with all going well, I could do that even if I failed it two weeks ago in Boston.

IMG_8642

The tech shirt that came with the race bib featured the same design with a full black background.

The finish area was super chill. I was a little nervous that since it was a half marathon and a full, they would run out of food, but they did have a food ticket so I was able to grab my light beer, my wurst and a cheese sample or three. I rolled around in the grass a bit, trying to stretch before I gathered the energy to walk to the car so Tony and I can continue our trip to Milwaukee! I thought I would be really sore, but after a shower and change of clothes, I found enough energy for some sightseeing.

IMG_8643

The Final Verdict on Wisconsin Marathon B+ (7/10)

Pros

  • Friendly volunteers and crowd with lots of funny little signs to make you smile on the route. They might not have the same level of spectators as a big city marathon, but the spirit of the whole race, volunteers, and locals made up for it

  • Empty roads, I don’t think the roads were officially closed for the whole races, but I found the few drivers I saw super supportive.

  • 3,000 runners, I think a few K runners is my favorite amount of runners for a race. I just really hate being packed in with other runners, but at the same time I don’t want to feel alone and lost. I found that these type of events with about 3 thousand runners always feels the best for me.

  • Well organized event – race started on time, number pick up was easy, parking was easy, food available at the end, enough water stops.

  • Flat – although bumping in the start, is a pretty flat course.

  • Close to Chicago and Milwaukee, two fun places to visit

  • Fairly affordable – Race day fee was $90, but if you signed up early it was $70. Not a bad per mile rate when you come to what you pay for a Competitor group event.

Cons

  • Limited lodging options. I heard there was VIP lodging at the host hotel, but it sold out by January for a May Event

  • Repetitive first half with a lot of turns. My garmin distance was a little bit off and while i don’t think the course was definitely long, the turns of back and forth in the first 13 miles were draining. I think we also repeated some areas multiple times in circles.

  • Small crowds

  • Rough roads at times – Wisconsin struggles with the same problem New England does. After a long winter, the roads get a bit, okay more than a bit roughed up.

  • More cheese – I kinda was hoping there would be some cheese at water stops haha

IMG_8645

2015 Great Stew 15K Race Report

Speaking of historical races, there’s also the Great Stew 15K in Lynn with it’s 41st year in action! Yes, that’s right before I was running very sick and weak (for me) half marathons, I had a great showing at a 15K.

The 2015 Great Stew 15K was originally scheduled in Mid-February as it usually is. Being New England, we always expect cold, wind and general crap weather. What we didn’t expect was 100 inches of snow that were beyond most humble cities’ ability to remove with many more inches in the near future. So the race director did what many others tried and rescheduled for data that would allow a city to recovery a bit, clear up it’s roads and recruit more volunteers!

And that is how we found ourselves on Sunday March 8th with a race at 10AM.

The race is only $15 and $20 on race day, so a great local option for those on a budget. There’s no medals, and there’s no race shirts, the roads are not closed, but there’s a dedicated race director, and an amazing group of volunteers making it a great event. There’s also Stew at the end, but I’ll get back to that.

Race morning I woke up and felt the usual lazy Sunday feeling I’ve grown accustomed to this winter. I wasn’t sure if the race was going to go on or not, so I ran a tempo 10 miler Friday and did a snowshoe walk Saturday.

As I was making my way through my Costco size jar of peanut butter for breakfast, my friend Dan stopped by to pick me and another friend to the race. And that was that for breakfast… I should really get back to a routine.

We got there an hour early to make sure there was parking. As promised, there was a warm place to hang out before the race start at the Knights of Columbus in Lynn and real bathrooms. Nothing is better than real bathrooms before a race with minimal lines. Not sure where the other people went.

IMG_8058

As Dan went to warm up for the race, Sonia and I stay back as I covered by the heater. Eventually it was 3 minutes to start of the race and I decided now would be a good idea to hobble over.

As the race started, I kept a moderately conservative pace. I heard the race was hilly and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

IMG_8066

The weather was in the 30s and although I expected to be way too warm in a long sleeve, I decided to run with it and in actually ended up never really warming up. The wind and overcast clouds did not make it feel any more like March!

The race starts on a side street and continues to on a relatively busy road. While there’s power in number of runners around you, I didn’t feel save enough to wear my headphones so I just carried them I guess for decoration. The hills many mentioned were nowhere as bad as Amherst and the only really lung killer for me was around the 4-5 mile mark.

DSC_0793-L

I really have no idea what I’m thinking here, maybe gee I’m thirsty but I’m too cold to drink water.  Or better yet, I was feeling the joy of the downhill portion.

Towards the last 3rd of the race (it’s only 9.3ish miles) I started to pick up my pace and feeling in a good running spot. I even got to pass a few dudes which always makes me happy!

However in the last mile I started to loss my pace as the mile wouldn’t end! My garmin had me a 9.55 distance versus the 9.3 official distance.  My kick was weaker than I would have liked but I was excited as I sprang through the finish line. For a short moment I regained the joy of running I seem to be struggling with this year!

DSC_0017-M

And nothing catches you heel handed as these photos demonstrating part of the what’s probably causing my PF!

After the race, I enjoyed some Great Stew as the race name indicates. Although I did put my foot in my mouth as I rambled about not really being a fan of stew and then loving the one they had at the race as I downed two bowls!

IMG_8057

They had a meat and vegetarian option as well as cookies, bananas and hot beverage. I think there was a cash bar too if one wanted to.

There was an awards ceremony afterwards that seemed to be geared more towards the older age groups. They got some small packs and hats I think. It went top 5 in gender as overall winners and then age group winners starting at 40+ going in 5 year increments. So basically the the 1-39 age group and overall winners was one group. I was about a few seconds off from 5th place. If only I didn’t give into the voice for walk breaks up that hill in the middle!

Finish Time 1:08:59

Official Pace 7:25

Division Place – 6/37

Overall Place – 38/173

Overall, for $15 it was a great small race and hope to participate next year!

Cambridge Oktoberfest 5K Race Recap

The Cambridge Oktoberfest 5k is part of a series of 5ks put on throughout the year ending with the Yulefest in December. I haven’t done any of them; however I’ve always wanted to. Sadly when you run as many races as I do and drag your boyfriend into half of them, you have to eventually get picky since these events aren’t getting cheaper. Luckily, Dani at a Weight Off My Shoulders holds tons of giveaways and discounts throughout the year. I entered for Octoberfest and kept my fingers crossed. And… I won!

And immediately went in search of a dirndl. Yes, I have never raced in a costume before, but this seemed like a good way to start. And no, I am not one of those cool kids that makes their own. I’m an accountant, creativity isn’t my strong point and I ain’t got time for it in between all the miles and Doctor Who episodes I’m watching. Soooo,.. Amazon to the rescue!

Race registration was around $40 but I wanted my favorite running partner with me! So yes, that’s how Tony got roped into back to back 5ks.

The bib pick up was offered earlier in the week at Jacob Wirth in Boston and made it super easy for me to grab our numbers on Friday night since they were available until 8pm!

The race swag came with a parking pass to Cambridgeside Galaria and a cotton shirt that although won’t be used for running was pretty soft and cute.

IMG_5945

On race day we woke up at 8AM and in theory had plenty of time to get to the race on time if Mr. snooze didn’t enter our world. Damn you snooze, so tempting like the devil. Before we knew it, we were scrambling out the door. It took us 35 minutes to drive 4 miles and find parking. Luckily parking wasn’t too difficult on a Sunday morning but road closures due to construction were frustrating.

oktoberfest 5k

It was chilly, around 48, so I played around with ideas of how to stay warm and still fit into my costume. These things run small! I only have one small regret, I should have ordered a small and not an extra small!

Anyways, the race started at 9:30 and we got there around 9:27. And at this point, I told Tony I’ll wait for him while he finds the bathroom and we’ll run together.

So I waited for him and we get to the starting line about 2 minutes late and I see tons and tons of runners. Seriously, I don’t know the numbers but I feel like 3,001 is a good guess. Suddenly I get the gleam of reaching the starting line and not trying to run at least 7 minute pace seemed unacceptable to me.

Oktoberfest 5k

I don’t exactly know how it happened but the crazy eyes took over and within 3 seconds I parted with Tony and started to weave in and out around people, sidewalk etc to get ahead. If you didn’t start in front of the pack this was a tight race and I started two minutes into the race.

However, I have to say, I work best when the adrenaline or trying pass people takes over. It’s how I ran a 3:24 on my first marathon because the DC metro broke down and I got to the race 20 minutes late.

They had clocks at mile 1 & 2 that I saw and for the most part, my Garmin seemed to be in sync with the distance. The course goes up one street with an uphill around mile 1.5 that rewards you with a mild decline for the remainder of the race. No matter how hard I tried to get ahead, it didn’t get any less packed and I was definitely starting to get tired. The 13 miles from the day before was definitely in my legs.

As my watch beeped 3 miles, I was excited for the pain to end in about a minute, but there was no finish line in sight. Eventually, it came and I kicked ahead because the last 10 seconds of a 5k is always my favorite part.

By the time I finished my Garmin said 3.25 which isn’t a bit deal. I’m no pro, so for me more miles, more smiles even if it’s an extra .1 mile.

IMG_5970

The one thing this 5k is known for is a killer after party put on by Swissbaker, Jacobwirth and Cambridge brewing company.

IMG_5973

After waiting and watching Tony finish, we went to grab out beer and feed. I got the pumpin ale which was light and refreshing for a 10am drink and then it was the food.

IMG_5972

I justified it since it was past noon in Germany so I was drinking with them, right?

Anyways the food… Swiss Bakers had their amazing pretzels

IMG_5974

 

and I actually have no idea what I ate from Jacob Wirth but it was delicious, there was pickled cabbage, a pulled meat, gravy and something that reminded me of gnocchi but German.

Cambridge Oktoberfest 5K

Yea, this doesn’t look that pretty, but I promise it was tasty.

Overall it was a fun event and I hope I get a chance to participate next year.

IMG_5978

Official Distance: 3.1

Official Time: 21:50

Overall Place: 107/2121

Gender Place: 14/(not sure total)

 

QOTD: Have you ever ran in a costume?

 

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.

photo 2 (2)

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.

photo 3 (1)

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.

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?

photo 1 (15)
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.

photo 2 (14)

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.

photo 3 (10)

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.

photo 4 (6)

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.

Vermont City Marathon Race Report

Hi! I know it’s been a while. I’ve been traveling a bit, and at home I’ve been having some spotty wifi. Thanks Verizon Fios! Glad I’m paying you all $$$ to get limited wifi. Anyways end rant

It’s been two marathons and two weeks since my last update. I know I’m still behind on many race recaps, but I’ll follow a LIFO (last in, first out) approach to races because I rather have one fresh great recap and two slightly hazy memories than three hazy race recaps.

I’ve had Vermont City marathon on my calender since Christmas because it was one of my gifts. I was planning on making it a peak race and a PR race, but then I got into a dangerous world of weekly marathons. And while I still believe high mileage is the key to PRs (for me), high racing events takes a wear mentally and physically on me. What also didn’t help was that after my 50K, I was having some runner knee issues and pretty much took two weeks off running. Problem with the two week break is that I went straight into a marathon, a hilly one in Olympia, just to take a few days off again before going into Vermont. Needless to say, don’t do that if you’re looking for a PR.

So in three weeks, I covered about 80 miles, with three of them being marathons, two of them being very ugly time wise for me. I’ll get more into the race later.

Race Expo

So the first thing that makes Vermont City marathon so awesome is how late their expo is open. On the day before the race, I had until 7:00PM to grab my bib and they also offered race day pick up. Since, I no longer make a full weekend out of races, and sometimes traffic is a complete bummer, the later expo time was a huge plus to me. I went into the expo Saturday around 5:50PM and saw the usual expo stands, some food samples and the usual running expo fun. I didn’t linger too long, because Tony and I had an evening boat ride, but I was able to grab all our numbers and shirts and quickly scan over the booths within 5 minutes.

The swag back consisted of a chap stick, chocolate, soap (but only in one bag?), natural apple sauce, a cap, and our shirts. When I went to grab Tony’s shirt, they did run out of men’s mediums, but since he wasn’t running due to injury, I just grabbed a second women’s small for myself.

vermont shirt

I usually donate my race shirts, but between the memories and how soft it is, I’m keeping two of them!

Race Day

So we had our first AirBnB fail. We had a lovely studio on church street that got canceled a week before. My theory was the dude was airbnbing his place and when the landlord found out, he got kicked out. Being memorial day weekend, with a huge marathon, our lodging options were pretty depressing. We decided to camp at North Beach campground since our alternative of paying $250 a night for the Days Inn was not going to cut it. North beach is what they call an “Urban campground” basically you’re on top of each other in a dirt parking lot. Whatever, the weather was nice and we have a great looking tent.

Vermont Camping

I actually slept better than usual with the exception of an annoying group of women in tent next to us slamming car doors at midnight! Come on! They continued to annoy me with an early wake up call of door slamming as well. If I was a monkey, I would have thrown my feces at them. Instead, I grumbled and tried to assemble myself together.

The good part  of camping vs. hotel room, is that once you’re awake, it’s not really that comfortable lingering in a tent, so you get dressed and get going. I usually eat toast and peanut butter but since we had dinner at 9PM, I still felt insanely full so I just opted for peanut butter in one of those single serving JIFF things in the 3 minutes it took us to drive from the camp site to the race start.

vermont marathon start

I lost track of what number marathon this is, but every race day always feels like my first =)

The Course

When I first studied the course map, I found it a bit confusing and intimidating. I think since more than 5,000 of the 8,000 runners were participating in a 2-3 person relay, the design was so for the most part everyone can start and finish in the same area.

vermont map

I ran as a relay of one, but it seem like a great way to make team work a dream work.

vermont marathon course fog

The gun went off and I knew right away this wasn’t going to turn into a fast one. My legs felt dead and sun was already breaking through the humidity and fog. I think it was around 60 degrees. However, I loved watching the fog, and it was going to be a beautiful day.

vermont marathon course

I reached the halfway point around 1:55. At this point my strategy was to hang easy and steady. Slow running was better than slow walking.

I held about 8:12 average pace for the first 10 miles and then went through some major struggles as my body wasn’t used to running distance any more. I slowed to an average pace of about 10 minute miles for the rest of the race.

Somewhere between mile 8 and 26.2 we started going on and off this beautiful bikepath. While normally I would get cranky since I find them narrow and crowded,  this beautiful view of lake Champlain was only really accessible with the bike path so I loved it.

vermont hill

While the course has mild inclines and declines, there is technically one “hill” that goes on for about a mile. The photo doesn’t do exact justice, but it’s definitely a killer after mile 15. What’s cool is that they line it with Taiko drums!

drums

Totally loving how some of the drummers are rocking their bibs because they just ran part of the relay!

So I would like to say I ran the whole hill like everyone around me, but I didn’t! Instead, I took my time, and when I got to the end of it, I was rewarded with a downhill that I got to run on instead!!! One day I want to eat hills for breakfast, but not today.

vermont elevation

If I look at the elevation, it looks like there’s two hills, but I really don’t remember the one around mile 7-9.

vermont Residentual

Somewhere around mile 18 or 19 we ran through this little residential neighborhood where the roads sucked but everyone was all out and about with little kids cheering and make shift aid tables of fig newtons and watermelon and beads. I by passed the food but accepted some beads from a little girl and glammed myself up a bit for the final 7 miles.

If,  I had to guess, I would say I was feeling my best in the final 10K. Yes it was hot, yes I was barely breaking under 10 minute pace, but at this point nothing was bothering me. I had the finish line in sight and I found a nice dirt path on the side of the bike path that seemed to be agreeing with my legs a little more and I had this in my mouth

vermont icee

Or maybe I was so heat stroke, that I was in a new state of unawareness. Either way, I’d like to think I finished with a kick!

Finish Area

I guess if I had one complaint, it would be the finish area. I know they’re limited to the park, but I found it hard to navigate to the family meeting area due to the barricades they set up for crowd control. Maybe it was worse without them, but I got trapped in between crowds and couldn’t exit for a little while. I didn’t see much food, but it was hard to get around so maybe I just missed it. I grabbed a banana, a water and gave up trying to find the family meeting area and instead found a parking lot to meet up at instead.

The Runners, Spectators, Volunteers

What makes this race such a blast are all the participants from the runners, to the spectators to the volunteers. I think well more than half the runners around me where in the relay. This kept the course energetic and exciting, but also crowded. Despite that, I was felt pushed, spitted on, or any of the other annoyance I find sometimes when different distances are mixed in. The volunteers were all excited to be there. Sometimes when talking to random folks outside the race around Burlington, everyone loved to share their day whether they ran, screamed, volunteered and anything in between.

It was truly an event that everyone was participating in. It wasn’t Boston, but the excitement I felt around me, it might as well been.

vemront medal

Final Thoughts

I can’t say I feel truly happy with my time, but I don’t have anything to complain of either. It was such a beautiful day and I was doing one of favorite things in the world, running.

Plus how neat is this little infographic

Vermont Results