Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shamrock Marathon 2015 - Marathon #8

or how I PR'd when I didn't train to!

I signed up for Virginia Beach's Shamrock Marathon last fall as soon as I realized that it FINALLY fell on a weekend that I don't work.  I even talked my best running friend to sign up too. I had a plan to train to PR. Then I got a stress fracture in my right foot after Wineglass and after much discussion with Coach Heather, decided to train to make it to the start line healthy. As a result, I trained very conservatively. I mean, when I started my training cycle my longest run in 2 months was 4 miles.This has been a bucket list race for me.  I have a history of repeating the same race over and over again.  Seriously.  I had 7 marathons in the bank from 3 races.  I was ready for something new and just plain fun.

March 22, 2015...beautiful!
Fun is what I got! We left early Friday morning in a snowstorm and a 7 hour trip turned into 12...which sucked in so many ways. But we finally made to to snowless Virginia Beach.  I get the hotel booking award for finding a hotel that could not have been more perfect.  I left my room at 8:12am for an 8:30am start with time to spare.  Never ever has marathon morning been easier.

Virginia Beach is every bit as kitsy as you'd imagine but I didn't care.  It was a lovely snow-free paradise.  We hit the hotel bar for drinks and a snack and were in bed early.  We woke up to the sounds of the 8K going past our hotel window on the boardwalk.  I got up to see what was going on and saw all the frontrunners go by! They were smokin' fast! I decided to go harness some race mojo and we got changed to run a shakeout.  I ran an easy 2 mile shakeout along the boardwalk in the opposite direction of the 8k race. We then changed and hit the expo where Trail Buddy renewed her friendship with Bart Yasso and I got some race course advice from him! What a great guy!

Race morning I was up early but headed downstairs to the hotel breakfast for a leisurely meal and chat with fellow runners.  I still had no idea how the day would pan out.  Coach Heather had given me 2 race plan options but both were based on simply trying to break 4:30.  I had only had one 16 mile run that went well and I wasn't really sure what I could pull off.  At the last second I decided to go with the negative split to see if I could do it but overall I just wanted to have fun in the race and enjoy it.  I started out in Corral 3, said goodbye to Trail Buddy and put on my game face.  When I crossed the start line I just went with the flow and what felt easy.  Just keeping it easy as much as possible....there were a lot of miles in front of me. The energy was fierce! So many spectators and volunteers cheering us on! It was great! The first out and back brought us out over a bridge, past a residential area and the aquarium and then through Camp Pendleton where so many soldiers were out to man water stations and cheer us on! It was fantastic!

10K 1:02:47

By the time we got back to the main strip
we were at mile 12 and we got to channel a ton of the energy of the half marathoners crossing the finish line! So awesome! I reached the half feeling stronger than I anticipated.  I decided to just keep plodding along and see what happened.

13.1: 2:10:49 (Much faster than I had planned!) Feeling good.

We headed south now...opposite the last of the half marathoners who were walking it in for the most part.  I tried to cheer them on as best I could.  Suddenly I see the winner coming at me and wouldn't you know, it was Brian Morseman from my hometown! Woohoo for the hometown boy!If that doesn't bring a spring to your step I don't know what will!

Just letting the hammer down now and going for it as long as my body will allow. Bart (yeah we're on a first name basis ;)) told me that wind was coming around 19 so I just figured I would continue to give it as much as I could and see what happened. The stretch out to Fort Story is very slightly up along a long lonely road. It would have been easy to back off....especially when I could feel the first twinges of my knee and then my quad (wtf?!?) starting to burn like crazy. But then I turned into Fort Story and the wind wasn't that bad.

19.3: 3:13:57

In the pain cave knowing a PR is close!
Just before I passed the lighthouse I saw Team Hoyt. What an inspiration! How could I back off? I was really starting to hurt and I did log a couple slower miles but I just tried to push through as much as I could.  As we entered town again the crowds picked up again. I got a lot of support along the last hard 3 miles. People would count down the blocks til we turned to the boardwalk. At this point I knew it would be close but a PR was possible. Then my music died. Almost stopped to figure it out. Told myself I'd be mad if I missed a PR because of it. Off with the earbuds and kept burning the legs as best as I could. I turned the corner to the boardwalk and wouldn't you know it, there was Trail Buddy waiting for me! I gasped that a PR was close and she told me to just GO! And go I did down the longest finish sprint I've ever done. It looked so close. It wasn't. I crossed the line doing an 8 something pace and seriously considered just collapsing into the arms of a medical volunteer.

Finish: 4:23:42
(My Garmin logged my @ 26.41 miles which is a 9:59 pace! My first sub-10 marathon!!!!)

At first I thought I had an 11 second PR. I  looked it up. It was 2 seconds. Seriously. 2 seconds. If anyone ever tells you seconds don't count in a marathon I'm here to say they're wrong. Most fun, most unexpected PR. So very satisfying.

Trail buddy came in behind me and we collected our medals and then the awesome finisher hats and beach towels! Great SWAG!!!! Then it was photos and the best beach party and beer I've ever had. I wasn't sure that 4 free beer was the recovery drink of choice but let me tell you that 3 slid down mighty easily. 

#8 is in the bank. I am seriously considering going back next year to complete the Whale Challenge. So. Much. Fun.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I will DNS Sunday...

I may....not for sure...but may have a metatarsal stress fx in my right foot. I am afraid to get it checked for sure.  The top of my right foot has been hurting since Wineglass...thought I tied my shoes too tight and had a bruise. Now I'm not so sure. Have been resting and biking and did a short easy run yesterday that was better but I am afraid to do too much before heading into a serious training cycle in 6 weeks. Therefore, as much as it pains me, I will be on the sidelines on Sunday cheering at the Red Baron Half runners.

I think I need a cushioning shoe...anyone use Hokas???? I'm thinking of trying a pair? I am desperate.  I have big plans for next year!

Ugg :(

P.S....I hate biking on a trainer. It makes me want to poke out an eye. 

P.P.S .... (Flashback 1986) I haven't been over doing it! This seems so very very wrong!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wineglass Marathon 2014...Marathon #7 done!

Wineglass Marathon
Corning, NY
4:38:07 (officially...wait for the story!)

Yesterday I ran my 7th Marathon and my 4th Wineglass Marathon.  I was under-trained but knew I could finish.  I wasn't planning on running for time and mostly wanted to go out there, support my waterstation volunteers, and just plain enjoy the run. That I did, but it was an adventure to say the least!
I've definately got the finish line pose down!

Since this is the hometown marathon for our small little community, I have been getting more and more involved as a volunteer the past few years.  This year I was asked to take on the task of organizing the waterstation volunteers.  875 volunteers later, it was a done deal.  With 3 course monitors in place for race day, though, I was free to run. 

As usual, the race SWAG is top notch:
Also a bright yellow race bag to put it all in at the expo

For the first time, I believe the weather was pretty close to perfect.  Started in the 30's and ended in the high 50's.  Sunny, light breeze. For me, that is perfect.  There were plenty that thought it was too cold or I heard a couple people complain about the 'headwind'....that was not my take on things.

As it is a point to point course, and SD was riding in the lead car with the Sheriff as Race Marshal, we took the bus out to Bath together.  It was chilly but I didn't have to check my bag until the last minute so I was fine.  

So much awesome in this picture!
I started slow and steady and really, really tried not to go out too fast.  I just ran comfortable and easy.  The first 4 miles are through the town of Bath and the community was out in full force to cheer on the runners.  I saw Jamie & Mike from Couch to Ironwoman at the 3 mile point! It was pretty cool that they drove down from Rochester to spectate! I ended up seeing them 2 more times along the course! Loved it!

I could give you a blow by blow of the race, but suffice it to say, I really just enjoyed the people, day and run for most of  the morning.  The backdrop of fall colours sillouetting the runners was spectacular! 

I even stopped at mile 10 to grab a selfie with the Elmira College Eagle...'cause normal people running a marathon do this, right?????

Even though I was stopping at each waterstation to thank the volunteers and snap a quick pic of their stations, I was moving at a respectable clip.  I was somewhere between the 4:30 and 4:40 pacers.  I hit the half at 2:14 and was feeling pretty good.  By the time I got to 17, I realized that I really WAS feeling good (remarkable since my longest pre-race run was 15 miles) and I could see the 4:30 pacer right in front of me! Even if I slowed a bit, I'd hit a course PR and could come in in the low 4:30's.  So now it was ON.  I had a great mile 16-20.  I hopped into the soft shoulder and clipped along the inside edge of the road and just put one foot in front of the other trail style! Saw a couple familiar faces in mile 21 and as I was entering the park, SD caught up to me on his regular run (when you volunteer to drive in front of the lead runner, you are finished early!) and ran/chat with me for a few minutes.  He split off and headed back home so he could be back at the finish line for me.  

Now this is where it gets weird.  Just before the mile 22 mark, a runner comes racing back along the course in panic and tackles me! She was having trouble breathing and was panicking.  It was weird because of all the people on the course, I was the one that had the RD on speeddial! The runner was fine once she sat down but I called for medical nonetheless because she needed someone to look her over and retrieve her.  Once I had her settled, I continued on.  It wasn't a huge amount of time, but a few minutes anyway.  Unfortunately, it was just long enough for my legs to start tightening up.  I was slowing down and stiffening up.  I was able to suck it up and get through 24 because Thing 2 had run ahead of his waterstation (his XC team runs the mile 24 waterstation) to see if he could find me.  He ran back to the waterstation with me and I definately felt boosted by all the kids cheering me on! They were incredible!

But around 24.5, my right knee was in a world of hurt and started giving out on me every once in a while.  I had to walk a bit.  Miles 25 and 26 were almost 12 minute miles for me.....shouldn't have been that way but this was already an unusual race so I had to just take what the day gave me and do my best....because I was definatly crossing that finish line! I walked twice in the last 2 miles....something I have never done.  I didn't like it one bit.  Once I turned onto bridge street I resolved to just finish this running despite what I was feeling.  I had a first time marathoner beside me who was feeling the same way so we started running the best we could.  

I was able to make it to the finish and my friend Laura snapped the awesome finish picture of me that is above.  It's important to smile at the finish even if you don't feel like that! LOL! 

The post race chute was extremely well organized to keep runners moving and not clog up the finish line.  I got my medal, water, food (best post race food I've ever had....Wegmans chicken noodle soup is the only thing I want after a race and we have it here at Wineglass!).

Yesterday I was a little pissed because I thought my time was 4:40...turns out that that was gun time.  Chip time was 4:38, which I can live with because despite the weirdness that happened over the last 4 miles, I still managed a course PR.  If I hadn't stopped and I'd kept on at close to the pace I was on, I would have been pretty close to 4:30 I think.  

I went home, showered and headed back out to the mile 24 water station to collect the leftovers for the team.  When I was packing up a car came by and told me there were 5 runners left on the course and the RD's were deciding whether to pick them up or let them finish.  They decided to let them finish.  I'm glad they did.  Wineglass is classy like that.  So the least I could do was keep my waterstation open for them.  I waited around 25 minutes for them to come through and give them a drink and cheer them on.  In the end, this is the heart of a marathon....these ladies knew they were slow but they were determined to finish this hardest thing they've ever done.  It was a priviledge to be a part of it.  Suddenly my little problems seem inconsequential....

Kuddo's to you Ladies! You are marathoners!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Back on the grid....

I've been away a while. Kind of a post-half-Ironman funk. After Musselman I just ran & biked for fun...mostly just doing whatever I felt like for as long as wanted barely acknowledging that I had a fall marathon. 

So what have I been up to since then? Did a sprint Tri in August in Rochester. SD & Thing 1 came away with AG awards! I PR'd my sprint distance time. It was fun to have that weekend with our big boy because....

After that we sent him off to college (heart happy & breaking at the same time) 

I've been volunteering with The Wineglass Marathon this year. Basically, if your waterstations are messed up its on me.....but I think we are in good shape! This was interesting.  I had no idea how much work went into organizing water stations! I have 875 volunteers on the course Sunday! 

So as a result, I have decided to just run the Wineglass for fun only. I'll visit with my volunteers along the way and just have a good time. Sunday might end up being my slowest marathon ever but this year I am happy to simply be blessed with the ability to take on 26.2 miles with minimal training. I am thankful for so many things & these running legs continue to amaze me. 

Marathon #7....let's do this...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mussleman 70.3...I AM A HALF IRONMAN!!!!

Musselman 70.3
Sunday July 13, 2014
Geneva, NY

Half-Ironwoman!!!!! 70.3 Conquered!

This is going to be a long one.....

Welcome from my favourite bike store: Geneva Bike Center

In what were the worst swim and bike conditions in the history of the race, I DID IT! When I finally clicked 'register' for this race I seriously worried about being able to make the bike cutoff.  It never even occurred to me to worry about the swim.  It has always been my strength. This is how it all went down....

A beautiful morning for the mini-mussel swim start!

It's important to wear your 'swag' glasses when competing ;-D
We had planned a long time ago to make Musselman weekend a family affair.  It is such a family friendly event that it was a natural choice for all of us to get involved. We drove up Friday and stayed in the Athlete Village at Hobart & William Smith College...a super-great deal btw! Thing 1 & 2 were signed up for the mini-mussel (the sprint race). Thing 1 has done a couple before but it was Thing 2's first tri.  He didn't really want to do it but stated that it was better than 'waiting around for all of you all weekend'.  SD was also signed up for the Double Mussel (the Sprint race on Saturday and the Aquabike on Sunday...he had no interest in the half marathon at the end so chose the aquabike option). Still a badass weekend for him in my opinion!
My boys <3

They all did well! The best part of it for me was seeing Thing 2 clearly just doing each leg of the race at his own speed.  I saw him in one of the transitions and he was just taking his time, getting his stuff, having a drink.  Being himself. Weather for the sprint was lovely on Saturday.  Sun was out & the lake was calm.  It was a little windy on the bike so that was a little slow, but all in all, a great day! I have to say, though, it is TOUGH to try to spectate 3 different people! I was so proud of all of them!

After the race, we went back to our rooms, showered and went to the mandatory meeting for Sundays Half-Ironman & signed our names on the Wall of Mussel!

A great feature of this race is being able to rack your bike securely the night before...it makes race morning so much easier. One of the unique things that Jeff Henderson (race director) does is ask everyone a question during registration and then uses the answers for little messages that are left at your rack spot.  This years question was "What is one word that people would use to describe you?"  I answered CRAZY and this is what I got:

And btw, all 3 of my guys guessed correctly what it would say ;-D

Going into this my main goal was to finish under the 8 hour time limit.  Unfortunately, because I was in the 2nd last wave starting at 7:20, my time limit was cut to 7:40.  I felt that I could realistically finish in 7:30.  10 minutes cushion is a scary place to be!

Waiting on the beach to start I commented to SD that it seemed like it was getting windier.  The water didn't look too bad actually, a little chop but I didn't really think about it...and though it was overcast, we worried only about the bike.    The weather forecast that morning said the rain would hold off until almost 11am.  How wrong we were.....

SWIM 1.2 miles: 48:07:

As I stood on the beach I had the same thought I have before every tri: Geez those buoys look so very far away. But I reassured myself that I would be fine. I have always been fine on the swim. It is by far my strongest leg. Waves went off every 5 minutes and finally it was time for wave 5. I waded into the water and we were off. The water was shallow so most people started to run/walk forward. I did this briefly and my legs started to feel like it was going to be more work than necessary so I started swimming. It was not too bad for the short swim out to the first buoy...a little wavy but not too bad. As I made the left turn into the very long longest section of the swim it was instantly clear that Seneca Lake was very very angry this morning. The water was crazy choppy with huge swells that were tossing me way off course. Usually I have no problem sighting but several times a kayak yelled at me to change course. I was swimming as hard as I could and making very slow progress. It was the closest I have ever come to plain quitting a race. All I could think was 'just get to the canal and it will be ok'. The last aproximately 550 meters are in a narrow canal with a current in your favour. I have no idea how everyone survived except that the kayakers were totally on their game and kept an eagle eye on everyone. I was making slow progress and actually passing some people from all the earlier waves but for every 2 strokes I took I was pushed back and off course by the waves! When I finally got into the canal I expected it to be smooth sailing but no. Overwhelming nausea overcame me. Not kidding. I had saliva overload and that taste in my mouth. It took every ounce of mind-over-matter to not hurl into the water. I KNEW that was something I wouldn't be able to carry on after. Queen of the high seas I am not. I finally...FINALLY...reached the boat ramp exit and almost cried when a volunteer grabbed my arm to help me stand up. When I looked at my watch it said 47 minutes. I was stunned! This was 12 minutes slower than what I am capable of and it never ever occurred to me that I would be BEHIND after the swim. By my Garmin I had swum 1.35 miles! That is a LOT of extra from being thrown off course!

T1: 4:23:

I was so tired I walked into transition and slowly dried off and got my bike shoes on. I was well over 4 minutes in T1. I also didn't see my boys which was disappointing but I also knew I was so much later than they were expecting. Turns out they were there but didn't see me and waited until every last swimmer was hauled out of the water before going to see if my bike was still there. They were relieved to see it gone. That day 28 swimmers were hauled out of the water and their race was over. Many of those stayed and volunteered....what a testament to the wonderfulness of the organizers and community surrounding this race! I spoke to a guy after the race who told me he chose to not wear a wetsuit at the last minute and thought he was going to die. I am so thankful to race organizers for having so many kayakers etc out on the water keeping an eye on us.

Bike 3:42:08: 15.1 mph

Starting out on the bike I am almost 15 minutes in the hole. The bike is my weakest leg and my whole training cycle has been geared towards making the bike cutoff of 12:30pm. I now have only 4:15 to make cutoff...15 minutes less than I bargained on and 30 minutes less than my ideal situation. I had wanted to have 3 hours clear for the run just in case my legs felt like crap. The pressure was on.

Starting the BIG climb. That is NOT me all happy & jolly.  I am the one dying behind and to her left!
The first hour was horrible. Not only did I hear 'on your left' constantly but the wind was fierce! After an hour I had gone only 12.7 miles. I was scared. If things didn't change I wouldn't make cutoff. Around this time the rain started and I saw lightening several times. It was a little nerve wracking to say the least. By 15 miles I had picked up my speed to the 14 mph range but I was still desperate. Something had to change and quickly! Somewhere around that time the rain got worse but we also turned a corner and the wind, my personal kryptonite, changed. I flew! I gave it everything I had. I knew I was probably trashing my quads but if I didn't give it everything I had my race was over anyway. I knew I'd be mad at myself if I didn't put it all on the line. I clocked 18 & 20 mph splits (my Garmin clocks splits in 5 mile segments). Then came the one HUGE climb and some rolling hills and I dropped one 5 mile split below 12. But except for that I was cranking hard and shockingly, making up some time. My goal for the bike (under amazingly ideal conditions) was 3:45. I biked this course on a training ride and only did it in 3:48 (14.7mph speed). When I got to around 40 I knew that if I could just keep up the pace I would not only make cutoff but maybe even make up some of the swim deficit. I kept repeating "don't get a flat, don't get a flat"! Thankfully I didn't.  I rolled intoT2 in 3:42:08! My best long bike ride ever despite horrible rain, wind & hail! AND it was only 12:05pm! I had beat cutoff by 25 minutes and given myself almost 3 hours for the half marathon! 

I. Was. Thrilled! 

Plus I heard a volunteer yell at me "hey that's a great cheering squad you brought!"  I looked up and there was Thing 2 beside me making sure I saw him! Thing 1 and SD were there too & grinning (and looking slightly relieved!). Just what I needed! 

T2: 4:09

When I arrived In transition I thanked God again for giving me the forethought to have put my shoes in a ziplock bag. I was beyond soaked...I was dripping and so was all of my stuff in transition except for my shoes. And just by chance I happened to have an extra pair of socks in my bag and they were blessedly dry! Changing into dry shoes and socks felt like heaven! I grabbed 3 more powergels for the run and set off.

Happy happy coming on to the run course!

Run: 2:19:15:  10:28 pace

I ran out of transition to lots of cheers from my crew, the volunteers and all the other spectators. It was fabulous. As I was heading out I saw several fasties finishing. It boggles the mind how fast they are! But very cool too. 

While the bike leg is through the rural roads of the Finger Lakes, the run is through downtown Geneva and the residential/college area. Even in crappy rainy conditions the whole town was out to support us. Very cool! As I started all I could think was that if Mother Nature truly hated us the sun would now come out.

In a stroke of luck, the run was my perfect running conditions: light rain and overcast. It was glorious! It was still humid, which clearly bothered some runners, but with the light rain I was in heaven! The first 2 miles are along the lakeshore, which is beautiful.  I was surprised that my legs actually felt pretty good. I was prepared for this to be a sufferfest.  It was not.  I really felt strong and my cadence was high...but something was wrong.  My shirt was HEAVY and banging into me. WTH???? Then I realized that my back pockets were full of empty gel packs from the bike...lol! Mindful of the no-littering rule in triathlon (why can't runners heed this?) I stopped at the first aid station a little over a mile in and emptied 7 gel packs from my pockets! Now I felt better! What great volunteers! One came over to HELP me do this sticky yucky task! Now I was better & was cranking out a good pace.  Miles 1 & 2: 9:51 & 10:32

In the 3rd mile you head up into the town and have to make a steep climb up through a residents garden! Remembering my ultra training, I just walked the hills.  The course was cool though....lots of strategically placed entertainment.  There was always a band cranking out a good rhythm at the top of every big climb to help get you there.  I saw several people dance their way up hills! Mile 3 came in at 11:06.  We then ran down the main street of the town and down through the college into a lovely residential area with rolling hills.

Miles 4&5: 10:11 & 11:15: I just ran steady and walked through the water stations.  I took a powergel once along this section but then couldn't stomach any more.  Half a banana seemed a much more solid choice at this point.

Miles 6, 7, 8 headed out of town and through a vineyard and included the largest climb of the day aprox 240 ft elevation gain over about a half mile.  Again, I ran the beginning and then when it got really steep I just put my head down, followed the beat of the drums ahead and power walked to the top.  9:47, 11:10, 11:44

At this point I knew we were turning back toward town and it was only 5 miles to go! I hit a gentle downhill and settled in.  I passed quite a few walkers at this point.  We ran back through the college and back towards the lakeshore.  Miles 9, 10, 11: 10:14, 10:40, 10:02

Believe it or not, I could still do the math at this point and switched my Garmin back to total time to see where I was and figured that if I could just run under 11 minute miles I could actually BEAT my 7 hour time goal! Crazy! So I left it on the overall time and gave it all I had left.

The last 2 miles are the longest.  I felt pretty good up to this point but at mile 11 you can actually see the finish but there is still over 2 miles to go.  It felt long and there is a very slight incline along the path.  I was tired.  Mile 12: 10:59

The last 1.1 was the longest! I could see the finish line but it still seemed so far away.  With around a half mile to go I looked up and saw a kid up ahead that I recognized...it was Thing 2! He had run back along to course to see if he could find me! He gave me a thumbs up and told me he was going to sprint back to tell the others I was coming.  It was just what I needed! Mile 13: 10:53

The last tenth of a mile I hammered down at 8:28 pace and with a big grin on my face passed my guys and sailed across the finish line @ 6:58:02!!!!!!

I was SO happy! I could not believe that I had overcome such horrendous conditions to finish UNDER my A goal! WooHoo!!!!!

Awesome medal! Re-Purposed bike gears!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It Is Time...

Well, it has been a long few months...flipped directly out of marathon training into 70.3 training. It has been a challenge to say the least. But the training is done, the bike is racked & the alarm is set. My journey starts @ 7:20am

Musselman here I come! See you on the flip side!!!!

"Be CRAZY today, Tracy"
...Yeah...both teens & husband guessed correctly what this would say! Lol! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

2 days to go!!!

Packing up & heading out! All this stuff for one race! I know the water temp will be wetsuit legal, but can I also bring a Sherpa into transition?????
Musselman, here I come!