Saturday, July 12, 2014

Flirt With Dirt 10K Recap

This race took place a while ago: June 7, 2014 to be exact, so once again I am over a month behind.  Blogging just hasn't been a priority recently, so bear with me.  I actually was fairly convinced I was done with the blogging thing, but then today at a group run I met a lady who, when I said my name, she said "oh, do you write a blog?".  I've never been "recognized" from my blog before, so it kind of motivated me to write again.  (BTW: do you guys follow me on Instagram and Twitter? I post a little bit more regularly there.) The funny thing is, she doesn't even follow my blog, but she has clicked through or recognized me from OTHER bloggers links to me (Runs for Cookies, DetroitRunner, etc.) Anyway, here's this quick recap, and I owe you some from my triathlon and the Third Coast Relay here pretty soon too.  

This race (Flirt with Dirt, Novi) is the 2nd one in Running Fit's "Serious Series", that I am participating in.  Basically, it's just a marketing ploy in which you have to run all three of these races (Trail Marathon, Flirt with Dirt, The Legend) to get a medal.  Ya'll know I'm bling whore, so of course I signed up.  (Here's my recap of the Road Ends 5 miler at the Trail Marathon in April).

From the get-go, I was less impressed with the start scene than I was at Trail Marathon/Road Ends 5 mile race.  It was a much more "urban" park than the setting of the Pinckney race, and much less scenic in my opinion.  It was also a pretty hot day, so that never bodes well for me.

I brought my 10 oz handheld water bottle with me, which makes a HUGE difference in my performance at summer races.  Even with the water on the course, carrying that handheld really helps me out.  But, you know what they say about the best laid plans.... (Actually I have no idea what they say about the best laid plans.  I feel like people always just say "the best laid plans...." and then don't finish the sentence.  But you catch my drift.)  What happened was that it was pretty buggy (mosquitos) so I went over to the RF van and "borrowed" a few sprays of bug spray and apparently left my water bottle laying there when I went to start the race.  I realized it about a quarter mile in, but there was nothing to be done at that point.  D'oh!!

I liked that the start of the race kind of went through some open field and gave us all a chance to settle into an appropriate pace line before we got onto the single track trail.  They also did a 2-wave start to help ease congestion, which I appreciated.  I started at the back of the 1st wave (I think first wave was sub 9:00 pace).  I was really surprised/happy with my power on the hills and overall average pace at the Trail/Road Ends race, so I went out with perhaps a bit more confidence than was warranted.  I felt pretty good at the start and was cruising in the mid 8's pace-wise.  There was a brief time when I actually though I had a shot at 10K PR, which would be crazy to do on a hilly trail, when my current PR is on a flat road.

I did more than my fair share of passing on the trails during the first half of the race, and man did I regret it later!  That's the worst thing about trail races; that it's so hard to pass that when you do, people KNOW it.  You have to do it and do it quick and try not to shove anybody off the trail when you do.  By the last half, all the people I passed came back and passed me.  (#embarrassing  #rookiemistake).  My splits were so terrible it's hilarious.  

That would be an 8:24 first mile and an 11:15 worst mile.  Holy crap.  Runner advice: DO NOT GO OUT TOO FAST.  I know this.  Sometimes I guess you just have to relearn/remind yourself why you should start slow.  Ha.  Map and elevation chart below. 

I didn't win anything at this race.  Obviously.  I had no complaints about the race organization or course really, just not a fun day for me!  I got my ass handed to me.  The shirt was kinda cute-ish, except I don't like red, and it is a bit too big, but we all know sizing on race shirts is completely hit or miss. I wore it on the way in to work one day and a couple of coworkers made some "hey there flirt" comments, since the "with dirt" part is comparatively tiny, lol.  

I will conclude with a post-race selfie and some stolen race pics that actually came out decent for once.  :P 
Obligatory post-race selfie

Good shot of the course.  This is on a wide section of trail.  

Coming in to the finish zone. 
Oh god, is it over yet. 
Best news about these photos (and the ones I didn't post):  I'm not overstriding in a single one!  Yay for form improvements (that saved my IT band)!!!

(Runner on the right is overstriding, runner on the left is landing much closer to his center of gravity with his front leg and executing a good "pawback" motion with his rear leg)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Zoo-de-Mack Bike Ride Recap

Last weekend (UPDATE: I never finished this post, so this was now over a month ago.  Oops.) I attended the Zoo-de-Mack bike ride from Boyne Highlands to Mackinaw City.  I had heard amazing things about this event in the past, and was really looking forward to it.  It's not a race...more like a giant bike party.  :)  From the race website: 

"The Zoo-De-Mack is a weekend of huge parties with great bands, one of the most scenic bicycle rides in the country, a lot of sunshine, views of the mighty Mackinac Bridge, and one magical island. The Zoo-De-Mack is NOT A RACE but a gathering of approximately 4000 outdoor enthusiasts who want to enjoy a little physical exercise together in one of the most beautiful areas in the state of Michigan."

Sounds great right?  So I had really wanted to do it but the idea of finding hotels and figuring out the logistics all by myself and everything seemed like more work than I was willing to do, so I had almost decided NOT to do it, when I saw an event through the Michigan Adventure Club (MAC) on where they had already booked cabins and basically had everything planned.  Fun people to hang out with included!  Win!  I paid $60 for the "race" registration through the Zoo-de-Mack website, and $40 for lodging for two nights with the MAC.  Plus gas for the 4 hour drive there, and 4 hour drive back.  I convinced a friend from my running club to come along with me, and we were off!
This is pretty much what my floor looks like every Friday, because I seem to be always packing to go SOMEWHERE recently.  Hence the lack of writing! 

We stayed at cabins at Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground in Mackinaw City both nights.  They were really nice and cheap and I'd definitely recommend them.  Lodging up there for this event can be tricky, because it's a one way event.  There are a lot of options.  You can stay Friday night in Boyne Highlands (BH)and attend the kick off party, then do the bike ride Saturday and stay at the end in Mackinaw City (MC) or on the island.  They have shuttles and things to accommodate this but since we stayed both nights in MC I can't speak to their efficiency.  The drive from MC to the start at BH was a good 30-45 minutes I think.  We didn't attend the kickoff party, which was kind of a bummer, because it was supposed to be a really good time, from what I've heard.  We did hang out with the other club members around a campfire with some booze, but it was sooooo cold that it wasn't that fun.  I think it got into the 30s that night.

Apparently I didn't take any good photos of the outside of the cabins. 

Electric heat and running water and REAL beds.  This is what I like to call "princess camping".  :) 

I should've brought a hat and gloves like this girl did!  #dumb
We woke up Saturday morning and consolidated bikes and vehicles and headed out to Boyne Highlands to the start line.  One of the guys I was with was absolutely hilarious.  He had wine and cheetos for breakfast, and then strapped on a camelbak full of WINE for the 50 mile bike ride.  Craziness.

Loading up some bikes....

Wine guy. 

Start line.

Our group, getting ready to ride!  I'm 2nd from left.  
We started the ride at about 10:30am I think.  Our group separated pretty quickly because we were all different speeds, but we met up at a few key points along the way (scenic overlooks, lunch, etc.).  I stuck with my friend Alex that I had carpooled there with.

The ride wasn't super challenging.  There were definitely some hills, but I wasn't racing, just riding at a comfortable pace so it was fun.

Course map from my GPS watch. 
I was surprised by the fact that there weren't any real "water stops" along the route.  All the stops were purchase only.  Like, there would be a porta potty and a tent and you'd go up to get water but they were only selling stuff for a $1 or so each (water, soda, candy, hot cocoa, etc).  It appeared to be mostly fundraising for groups like boy scouts and such, but I just would have liked to know that in advance.

Another thing I learned the hard way was that there isn't much in the way of restaurants or gas stations on the way from Mackinaw City to the start at Boyne Highlands.  I had planned to get a coffee at McD's in the morning, but there was none to be found.  Luckily, there was this weird greenhouse/cafe/shop/wine tasting place on the course that was open and sold us a couple of coffees fairly early in the ride.  The day got a LOT better after that!  (We didn't sleep much the night before, mostly because it was pretty cold in that cabin in the back room.

There was a lunch stop where food and beverages were included in your registration fee.  The lunch was pretty good.  There was an option of turkey sandwich or PB&J.  I opted for the PB&J, which was definitely the right choice.  My sandwich was ginormous!

My PB&J and Alex's turkey sandwich.  PBJ FTW! 
Post lunch recovery

People chilling at the lunch stop
Across the street from the lunch venue

Also included in your registration fee was a ferry ticket to get to and from Mackinaw Island one time.  One nice thing was that if you didn't use it during/after the event, you could keep it and use it any time all season long.  The island is supposedly a huge party after the event Saturday evening.  Some people also go over to the island on Sunday to do more riding.  In our case, we did neither.   We ended up driving back late Saturday night, due to some unforeseen circumstances.  I was super bummed because the post-race festivities sounded really fun and were a big part of the draw of the event, but oh well.  I would definitely do the race again.  Maybe next year I'll take a few friends up and we'll have a blast :) Below are some more photos of the event, including super-safe-selfies-while-cycling!  ;)

Posing with Lake Michigan
Action shot! 
Everybody wants a shot with Lake Michigan 

Love this one.  Glad it wasn't mosquito season yet. 

Google Auto-awesome'd this photo series into a .gif.  Neat! 
(Sorry this post was mostly photos and minimal words.  The next few probably will be too, as I try to get caught up here...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The OC Half Marathon Race Recap

I can't believe this race was 17 days ago already!  Actually, I've been so busy and so much has happened between then and now that it kind of feels like longer, but I really can't believe I haven't written a single thing since NINETEEN days ago.  Yikes.

Anyway here goes nothing.
Airplane selfie! 
Michelle and I flew out to California on May 3rd for the OC half marathon on May 4th, then we left for a cruise on May 5th.  Needless to say, we had a blast.  I'm not sure how much of the rest of my vacation I'll recap, but if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@ty_runs on both), you've probably seen the highlights already anyway.

Here's the spoiler:
PR baby!!!  Yes, again!!  :D
Overall, I really enjoyed the race.  It was a point to point course with a net downhill.  It was pretty well organized despite being a really large race.  It really reminded me of a rock and roll series race in terms of the size and vibe and amenities offered.

We got into Costa Mesa on Saturday and took a cab to the expo, where we met Lina.  This was the first time Lina and Michelle had met each other, despite them both pacing me at the Ann Arbor Marathon in March!  (Lina ran with me from the start to mile 13, Michelle ran with me from 15 to the finish).  Lina was supposed to do the full marathon, but obviously didn't do it (see pictures below...!)
Crutches and a cast are not favorable for running marathons.  
Me, Lina, Michelle. 
 Some interesting points of the expo:

When I picked up my packet, I had to show ID.  I gave the lady my work ID because I had lost my wallet a couple weeks prior and hadn't gotten my replacement driver's license yet.  She looked at the photo and said, "This isn't you.  There's a picture of a man on this....".   I was like, ummm....WTF lady (in my head). I said "Look at my hair.  Look at my glasses.  It's clearly the same person in that picture that's standing in front of you."  She said "Oh.  Ok.  You look much better in real life."  Uhhh....thanks???

Another random highlight was seeing "Octomom".  Lina started freaking out and pointing.  I can't believe she recognized her.  I never would have.  I kind of forgot she even existed.  Nevertheless, I chased her down to try to get a picture.  I mostly failed, but you can see her sort of in the pic below, behind the young girl in the pink tank top.

Michelle and I convinced Lina's parents to take us back to our hotel, so we didn't have to pay for a cab back.  Also, we got this awesome back-seat-of-the-car 3-way selfie.  Win-win.  Also also: Lina has the coolest parents ever.
Lina, me, Michelle. 
My only complaint about this race was the shuttle set up and communication.  Apparently the city, in conjunction with area hotels, offered shuttles for race participants, but it wasn't well advertised, and you had to sign up in advance, and Michelle and I knew nothing about it.  Michelle ended up begging or sweet-talking or flirting her way into getting us shuttle bracelets from the hotel staff the night before the race.  Yay Michelle! After the race the shuttles back to the hotels were really confusing and disorganized too.  But, we made it there, and we made it back, and the rest of the race was awesome, so I'd still recommend it.

The race had a pretty early start (I think 6:30am?) so we were up and on the shuttle by around 5am.  Luckily, we were east coasters on west coast time, so it felt just fine.  The portajohn lines were of course really long, but they went pretty fast.

 The only problem was that they were all running out of toilet paper.  I haven't had this problem enough to learn to bring my own, but the people that had were certainly glad they did!  One guy found an unopened pack of kleenex on the ground and started handing them out to the ladies in line.  He was definitely the star of the morning!  Me, because I'm classy, I just pooped, wiped with my underwear, and then wore them for the race anyway.  True story.  It wasn't that gross, trust me.  Barely anything there.  If it would have been bad I'd have just thrown my underwear away and gone commando.  TMI?  Par for the course here, folks.

The full marathon started before the half, so we got to see them off.  I got a little video, if you're interested:
Go, marathoners, go! 
We took some more photos and lined up for the half marathon start.  The race was really big, but it was hard to tell because of the way the road curved so you couldn't see all the corrals.
Michelle is wearing the official race shirt in this photo.  I love how we got somebody else's photo op into our photo too, lol! 

Looking forward toward the start line. 

Looking behind us at the masses of people!  And palm trees :)  
Michelle had lined up with me and planned to take it easy and run with me, but at the last second the energy of the crowd and the race environment inspired her to move forward and give it a real effort, even though she wasn't trained for a PR performance by any means.  I didn't have any goals for this race so I didn't mind either way.  I had tentatively targeted /estimated an 8:45 pace, just based on what's been "comfortably hard" for me recently, but I wasn't super attached to it.

The race started and I just ran by feel.  I was wearing my Garmin but mostly only use it to keep an eye on my cadence these days.  I will glance at the mile splits when it auto-laps and alerts every mile, but I don't worry too much about it.  

My first mile was pretty good for a warm up mile at 9:05, and my second mile spooked me at 8:08, but when you look at the elevation profile those numbers make perfect sense! 

Mile 2: aka flying downhill!!! 
I definitely could tell that the course was net downhill.  It did have it's fair share of uphills too,  (Michelle called the course "rolling"), but I definitely felt that I ran down more than I ran up.  I would definitely recommend the course for a PR, barring hot weather.  My splits per my garmin are below.

Only the first mile was over a 9 min pace.  Pretty sweet!  
The race had some pretty scenic parts, but after about 7:15am I stopped noticing because it started to get really hot, by my standards.  Ya'll know I am a winter runner, and I don't take well to heat.  But, I felt like with the heat slowing me down and the downhill speeding me up, it was kind of a wash.  

Let me change this song so I can pass all you fools. ;)  
Around mile 10 I was feeling really miserably hot and my shirt was just sticking to me.  I passed a girl not that much skinnier than me running in just a sports bra and decided to do the same!  This is actually a really big deal for me.  In fact, "running in just a sports bra" was kind of one of my "weight loss goals" from years ago.  Turns out it's not so much a weight loss goal as it is a body confidence goal.  Anybody can run in a sports bra.  You just have to not care about flashing your jiggle at everybody you pass.  And at that point, I didn't care.  Kind of a bigger deal than the PR actually!  I guess it probably helped that I didn't know anybody there.  Can't say I'd do it at a team even with my friends necessarily, or even a local race where I know everybody, but, we'll see.  

 Photo evidence!!  

So yes, I ended up getting a huge PR too.  (1:53:40, which is about a 5 minute PR over my first sub 2:00 hr PR that I set in November).  It is also my first half marathon at a sub 9 min/mile average pace!  And my official average pace was 8:41, so basically spot on with the 8:45 I predicted.  Exciting!  Michelle ended up doing better than she expected (no PR), and was glad she "raced" it!

Post race photo, showing off my bling.  
Sunglasses girl, sunglasses!  (They gave us these neat paper jacket things that will be great as throwaways at future races!)  
 After the race, Michelle wanted to hit the free massages, which I had never done before at a race.  I was really glad we did.  My lady was awesome, and gave me possibly the best massage I've ever gotten, I've paid some good money for massages before.
Best. Massage. Ever.  
 After the massages we hung out at the finish line party for a bit. We were there for probably a good 10 minutes before we realized that there were marathon runners running between the stage and the crowd!  So cool!  We moved up to the front and did a lot of cheering and high five-ing the runners for quite a while.  It was really fun.  The band that was playing was called "Flash Back Heart Attack" I think.  They were doing 80's covers.  I actually thought they were pretty entertaining.

The shirts and medals are nice, but I probably won't wear the shirt much because it's a touch short and snug.  I shoulda gone for the men's small instead of the women's M on this one I think. So hard to know!

I would definitely recommend this race.  Fast course, super fun, and great atmosphere.  Just watch out for the heat, and make sure you know how you're getting around with those squirrelly shuttles! After the race we went to the hotel and then walked about 2.5 miles to the beach, got sunburned, and walked the 2.5 miles back.  :)  Kind of an exhausting day, but so fun!

Pale Michigan girls on the beach.  That's a jean skirt on my head.  :)
Just missing the Corona.....
Love this pic! 
Gettin' my burn on.....  (Yes, those are bathroom towels from the hotel.  You gotta do what ya gotta do....)

And subsequent CVS shenanigans....!

All in all, a pretty good Sunday.  There was also dinner in there somewhere.  I think it involved a Bloomin' Onion.  Oh yes.  It definitely did. 

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