Sunday, August 24, 2014

Race Report: Crim 10 miler!

Yesterday was the Crim!  The Crim is one of my favorite races.  This was my 3rd time doing the 10-mile race, which is held in Flint, MI.  You know it must be a great event, when an end-of-August race is one of my favorites! (Heat and humidity are not my friends!)  This year was a little different because I registered as part of the A2Runners team on the "team challenge".

Flint is about an hour away from Ann Arbor, but because it is such a large event it is worth it to me to drive out the day before the race to get my packet.  This time, I picked up my own and 10 other packets for some other team members and friends so they wouldn't have to drive out there.  I wanted to take Justin to the expo anyway, because it was his first "big" race and I wanted him to experience the expo.  The expo was nice, except for the lighting was SUPER dim, which was really annoying.  Justin bought a 10-mile oval bumper sticker (to put on his kayak, lol) and a pair of sunglasses.  I got sunglasses, shorts, and a tank top.  We also picked up a few free things, like a collapsible water bottle, a first aid kit, and some snacks.  Justin tried to hustle a volunteer for a free teddy bear trot t-shirt, but was unsuccessful.  (He's always hustling somebody for something.  He got a free volunteer t-shirt at his first race by sweet talking some girl).

Expo shot.  It wasn't nearly as bright as it looks in the photo.  
My very own personal bag carrier, perusing the booths. :P 
Justin showing off his race shirt.  I do really like the shirts! 
 My team had 3 vehicles going to the race, including mine.  I just had me, Justin, and Lina in my car.  We left from the northside of Ann Arbor at 5:30 am and got into Flint at like 6:15-6:20 for the 8am race race start.  I wanted to get there early because I wanted to try to get a good parking spot.  Past years when I've done the race I parked at one of the designated lots about 1 mile away from the start.  This year they offered shuttle service for the first time from a lot a little further away (2.2 miles).   I hate dealing with shuttle lines, and the lack of control in terms of timing for getting through the lines and to the start gives me anxiety.  So I decided to try to park downtown on the street this year, and I was successful!  I ended up parking about 2 short blocks from the start line, a stone's throw away from the porta potty lines.  It was really nice to be able to hop over to my car as many times as I wanted before and after the race!

Here are some early morning pre-race photos, before the crowds showed up (and the sun, for that matter...)
For the record, I bought this boy legit running shorts for his birthday, but he forgot them at home in his dryer.  
Lina and JD 
Finish chute, check out all the medals on the left! 
Because we were in the team challenge, we had access to a "private" pre- and post-race area, right by the finish line, where there was a gear drop, indoor bathrooms, and seating.  The team challenge costs $110 for the team of up to 10 people, but you get 2 wristbands per person (a guest for each person), so you actually get access for 20 people into the team headquarters.  Next year, I'll put together a "team" of 20 people to share the cost more broadly, and basically charge everybody $5 for their bracelet, instead of $10.  

Justin and Lina hanging out in the team headquarters before the race. 
I didn't really have a goal or plan for this race.  My paces have gotten so fast (for me) recently that I really have no idea what to expect anymore.  I definitely would have been unhappy with anything over 9 min/mile, but other than that I didn't really care.  My plan was to run by feel without a watch, put in a solid effort, and see what happened.  Lina decided to run with me at whatever pace I ran.  We ended up lining up near the 9:00 pacer and started in the 3rd wave.

Start line selfie!  Justin, Iko, me, and Lina. 
I warned Lina not to tell me what pace we were running and I took off at what felt like a comfortable jog to start.  It was really congested at the start and took several miles to open up, which was a little annoying, but expected at a race of this size.  It's the price you pay for getting the amazing crowd support, and having people running near you in the later miles.  

Somewhere in the first half of the race we passed the 8:30 pacer, so I knew we were going faster than that (especially since he started quite a bit ahead of us), but I felt fine so I kept on going.  The Crim course is known for being pretty hilly, but I actually love it.  There aren't any huge hills, and the ones that are there are nice rollers with some good downhills to follow.  It's a nice variety of terrain on your legs, but not enough to really slow you down. 

The other great thing about the Crim is the crowd support!  There are spectators throughout the whole course, and bands and other local entertainment.  (There was a dance/cheer crew, a high school band, a church group singing, a DJ, some traditional bands, etc).  There were also multiple groups handing out "unofficial" race refreshments, such as beer, champagne, snacks, and water.  Usually I see krispy kremes being handed out somewhere, but I didn't see them this year.  There are sprinklers set up at several points on the course, as well as some friendly residents with hoses.  The temperature was actually really pleasant/cool this year, but normally it is excessively hot so all those spray downs are really necessary!  There were water stops about every mile, and each one was well-staffed and stocked.  I felt like a lot of that went to waste this year because of the cooler temps, but again, it is better that they are prepared, because usually we're all roasting to death in the sun and dying of thirst! 

Sometime around mile 6 or 7 or so I realized there wasn't much race left and I still felt great so I picked up the pace a bit.  I lost Lina sometime after that, sorry!  Lina was thinking I'd go a lot slower than I did.  (Her plan was a slow/easy training run at 9:00-9:20 min/mile), which I messed up for her by going way faster than that. (But, I did warn her that I was "racing"....just didn't know what my pace would be.)  You guys HAVE to read Lina's review of the race, including her mile by mile thoughts.  SOOO FUNNY.  

I still felt great coming into the last mile and the finish, and really went in hard/fast at the end.  I wish I would have had my Garmin on for the post-race analysis and to see my splits, but oh well.  I do have the splits from the timing mats on the course:

Unfortunately I don't know what mile marker "Hill 1" and "Hill 2" are at, but you can see that I ran pretty much a consistent 8:20 pace over the first 3 splits, and then must've sped up over the last split in order to drop the average over the whole 10 miles down to 8:10.

Needless to say, I'm very happy with my results at this race!  It wasn't very long ago when I would have been happy with an 8:10 pace for a 5K.  Best of all, I didn't even feel spent at the end, or particularly sore today (the day after).  There's more improvement to be had here, ya'll!  :)  The only thing that could have made it a little better would have been beating Justin, but he's 2 for 2 at beating me at races so far, despite having only been running since I got him started on it like 3 months ago.  (Sub 8 min/mile pace on his first double digit run ever.  He's a natural!)

In the finish chute, there were ice cold towels, bananas, yogurt, granola bars, water, and popsicles.  The ice cold towels and popsicles are usually heavenly after the heat of this race, but again, it wasn't that bad this year!  They also have some sprinklers set up in the finish chute for the runners to enjoy.

10 second video of the finish area. 

On your bib, there is a coupon for a free slice of pizza and a beer post-race, but I didn't use mine.  We didn't go over to the "main" finish line party. Instead, after the race we returned to the team challenge headquarters, which was awesome.  They had an amazing buffet spread of food, as well as draft Coors light, cans of Mike's black cherry hard lemonade, and Redd's apple ale (plus non-alcoholic beverages like iced tea and lemonade).  I would definitely recommend registering on a team.  I definitely will continue to do so in future years.  (Team headquarters was the Flint Journal/MLive office.  MLive was the sponsor, thank you!)

Awesome food spread at the MLive office.  There were picnic tables outside in the back, along with all the adult beverages.

We hung out with the team and celebrated for a while after the race.  Lots of photos of those shenanigans: 

These two fools felt it necessary to show off their food babies.  Can't take them anywhere! 

Justin and Lina again. :)  I love my people.  And gif's courtesy of Google Auto-Awesome.  :P

Some of the boys with their celebratory beers.  (Justin, Chris, Mack and Rick, left to right).

Me and Lina hanging out in the street.  

 Goofing off continues....

A "serious" photo.  :) 

And a couple of A2Runners team shots to wrap up the day. 
So, all in all another great race put on by the Crim folks.  Best time (and finish time!) I've had there yet.  Can't wait for next year.  If you live in Michigan and haven't done the Crim yet....what are you waiting for??  Definitely a must-do local event! 

PS: Somebody give me a pat on the back for getting this report out in a timely fashion!  (Nevermind that I have 3+ old reports left to do.... ssssshhhhh.) 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Universe Does Not Want Me to Swim Today


I had plans to meet Lina to swim and do a core workout today.
Pics from my 8 mile run with Lina this past Saturday. 
Normally, I would go to the Master's swim club at Fuller pool, but it's at 5:45 am and I'm working 3p-11p this week, so it's a little too early.  (Doubly so because I stayed late last night for an emergency surgery that came in at 10:30pm so I didn't leave work until 12:30am and didn't get home until 1am-ish)

Anyway, our plan was to meet at my gym at 8:30am, since I have a few guest passes.  We get there and the parking lot is completely empty and suddenly I remember that they are having their annual closure for updates and remodeling this week.  D'oh.

I was pretty fixed on swimming today because I ran and lifted hard yesterday, and my knees (both!  My left IT band started acting up after a backpacking trip last weekend!) haven't been behaving super well.  I pretty much have a rule that I don't run back to back days anymore.  Plus, swimming always seems to really help my legs recover when they're sore, and alleviates knee pain too.

I figured we'd just go somewhere else.  Fuller pool: no lap swimming at that time.  Veteran's pool: no lap swimming at that time.  YMCA: pool is being drained, and their pool is member's only anyway.  Mack pool: closed.  NCRB: closed.  CCRB: closed.
I was so freaking frustrated!!! There was literally no place to swim in Ann Arbor this morning!  I was almost ready to drive to Brighton and swim in the lake, but ultimately went home.   Fuller has lap swim at 12:15pm today so I'll go to that, but now I have to go by myself, which is a little sad.  I may have thrown a small temper tantrum in the parking lot.

I feel better now.

(PS: I posted a race report today too, so go ahead and read the post before this one if you missed it!)

Race Report : The Legend Trail Half Marathon

August 2nd was the Running Fit Legend trail race.  I had been planning on camping there Friday night and running the 5 mile race in the morning to complete the "serious series".  However, my stupid boyfriend who was supposed to be my camping buddy forgot that he had to work on race day, and bailed on me a few days before the race.  So, despite already paying $20 or so to camp, I decided to just stay home Friday night and make the 1.5ish hour drive in the morning.

When I got there, the weather was cool and beautiful.  I had been doing lots of fast running recently (again, thanks to the damn bf pushing my pace.  Boys ruin everything :P ), and the thought of going balls out for a 5 mile trail race after all the fast running I had already done that week just didn't sound appealing.  So I transferred my registration to the half marathon after I arrived on race morning.

I ended up wasting lots of money on this race, what with the transfer fee and the wasted camping money.  It ended up costing me $100 total, even though registration for just the half would have only been like $45 or something if I had actually planned properly.  Oh well.

I had never run a trail race over 5 or 6 miles, so this was something new!  I had heard before hand that the trail wasn't particularly technical, nor was it terribly hilly, so I figured it would be a good first trail half.  The only downside was that the course apparently gets wet/muddy when it rains, but it had been dry in Ann Arbor for quite some time leading up to the race, so I thought I'd gotten lucky on that front as well (spoiler alert: just because it didn't rain in Ann Arbor, doesn't mean that it didn't rain in Laingsburg).

I didn't have a goal at all for this race.  I just wanted to run and have fun.  Wasn't really planning on "racing", but of course that sometimes just happens in the heat of the moment :)

The 5 mile race started first, followed by the 10 mile and 13.1 milers.  I got a video of the 5-mile start.

They lined us up (or attempted to) by pace behind the start line.  I lined up at around 9:00-9:30 min/mile.  I took off at a comfortable jog at the start.  I didn't want to make the same mistake I made at Flirt with Dirt where I went out way to fast and was way too aggressive with passing people.  At this race I only passed people when it was blatantly obvious that I was having to slow down to stay behind them.  If it was borderline I didn't make a move.

I ended up running in front of a couple from Fenton and we chatted for a good bit of the first part of the course.  It made the beginning go really fast.  We're facebook friends now :) Runners are the best.

As for the was mostly flat and not very tricky footing-wise, as had been was SOOOO muddy!  Apparently it had rained all day Friday in Laingsburg.  There were puddles and sinking soft mud pits and places where there was no traction at all.  It was fun though!

One of the worst mud crossings of the day.  Picture by Michelle Monroe
I didn't carry my phone, and don't have my own pictures of the course, but DetroitRunner took some, as did Michelle (@MichelleKMonroe on Twitter).  Michelle was kind enough to allow me to share her photos, which you can access here:  As you can see, the course was actually quite lovely when you weren't crawling through pits of mud!

I was a muddy mess by the end of the race!  (During the race, I actually scratched my leg on some brush while passing a dude, and had blood running down my leg in addition to all the mud, which seemed super bad ass, but my sweat washed all the blood off before I could get a pic.  Bummer).

Ended up getting 2nd place in my age group and just a schoche over 2 hours on my first trail half!  (2:00:17).  
At the start of the day, the shoes were blue and the legs were white!  ;)  Schwag, clockwise from left: age group award glass, half marathon finisher medal, serious series finisher glass, serious series finisher medal. 
Thanks to Detroit Runner (Jeff) for taking the photos of me! 
After the race I realized I should have brought a change of clothes.  And a swimsuit so I could get in the lake.  I at first thought I was out of luck, but then remembered the "emergency gym bag" I keep in my car.  Unfortunately I had failed to restock it after I last used it, so I didn't have clothes, but I did have swimming stuff and a clean pair of shoes in there!  I hopped in the lake to rinse off, which felt amazing because it had gotten quite warm by this time.  Then I headed home.  In my bathing suit.  And stopped at a gas station wearing a swimsuit and sneakers.  Because I'm super classy.

So...I had fun at this race! I probably won't do it again, just because it's a little far away for my taste, and for what it is, but I could be convinced if I had people coming with me.  In terms of the Serious Series, the Trail Marathon (I did the 5 mile) in April was definitely my favorite, followed by this one, and last was Flirt with Dirt in Novi.  I really did NOT like Flirt with Dirt.  Enough that it will keep me from doing the Serious Series again.  I will definitely do the Trail Marathon in the future though.  Next year I think I'll do the half there instead of the 5 miler.

Still, I got lots of schwag at this race since it was the final one in the Serious Series.  The shirt I don't love (white; yuck), but it fits well so I will wear it, at least around the house or to bed.

Modeling the shirt and PJ shorts and tired eyes :P 
Close up of the Serious Series finisher medal. 
Close up of the Legend Half Marathon finisher medal. 
And with that, I complete this blog post.  Somebody give me a pat on the back or a cookie or something for writing a post! Please stay tuned, as I'm dogsitting at my ex-husband's this week and may be cranking out all the blog posts I haven't written over the past month or two.  They may come two-a-day.  Or more. 

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