Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Heroes on Hines Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday was the Heroes on Hines Half marathon.  Justin picked out this race, because it's in his hometown and he does most of his training on Hines Drive, so it had kind of a special appeal to him.  Me, I didn't really want to do it.  Seemed small and boring, and I was debating whether do it as a training run as part of a 16 or 18 mile long run, or rearranging my training schedule and going all out to see what I had.  Justin decided he was going to give it his all, and really wanted an age group award.  In the 3 races we have done together prior to this one, Justin has beaten me every time (every time has been really close though!  Anyway, I decided I wanted to race too.  Mainly to beat Justin. So, our goals going in to this were as follows: 

Justin: "Get an age group award".  I told him that was a silly goal because he had no control over who showed up to the race, and that he should have a time goal.  So he said he was aiming for a sub-1:50 time.  

Ty:  My main goal was to PR.  My current PR is 1:53:something from the OC half marathon in May.  That's around an 8:45 min/mile pace.  I had a feeling I could do that no problem, so I set my "A" goal as an 8:15 min/mile, which sounded doable, but challenging, based on my recent training paces.  And of course, the only thing that really mattered was that I beat Justin.  :) 

We picked up packets Friday night.  The shirts are huge!!  They were unisex sizing and I got the small and it is ridiculous.  Justing had a medium, traded it for a small, and said he felt that it fit like a regular to large size Medium! I HATE HATE HATE the "A4" shirts.  I don't like the material and the sizing is incredibly inconsistent.  Also red is my least favorite color, so there's that.  So yeah, if anybody wants this shirt let me know.  
It was soooo cold and raining when we woke up for the race!  Luckily, the rain stopped just in time for the race, so we were left with 40s and cloudy, which is PERFECT running weather for me.  

We parked in a neighborhood near the start line, instead of the designated parking lot.  I would recommend to the race organizers to have portapotties at the parking lot as well as at the race start.  Most of us want to wait in our cars until closer to race time on a cold day, and for those in the parking lot, that made using the bathroom an issue if you had to go all the way to the start line.  As it stood, the bathroom line was pretty long when we made our way to the start.  Justin just about missed the start of the race because he was late getting in line.  He ended up starting at the back of the pack, about 2 minutes after the gun.  

That kind of messed up my strategy, because I wanted to start behind him so I knew that if (WHEN!) I caught/passed him I would be ahead of him on chip time.  Instead I started 1-2 minutes ahead of him, so he had the power position.  If he ended up catching me, I wouldn't know how much space I would have to but back between us in order to "win".  Or, worst case, we would gut it out side by side at the finish, only to have him beat me by 1-2 minutes chip time regardless of whether or not I crossed the line first.  Oh, by the way, before the start of the race, we put brunch on the line.  Loser buys.  He was pretty sure he was getting a free brunch.  

I opted to not wear my watch.  I always race better that way.  I tried to take it easy at the start, just running by feel.  There were no pacers or clocks on the course so I really had no idea how I was doing pace wise at all.  

The course was a weird double out & back in opposite directions.  We headed one way for about a mile, turned around and came back, did a little detour around the start/finish area, and then headed the opposite direction for a longer out & back.  A lot of people would hate that course but I like that kind.  I LOVE running into opposing runner traffic.  It helps motivate me to see/cheer for other runners.  I like looking for people I know too.  And counting how many women who might be in my age group are in front of me.  :) 

After the first turn-around, I saw Justin, but he was reaaaallllly far back.  That was to be expected with a 2 minute late start on his part though, plus he was trying to start out slow.  (I think he overdid it in that respect, but, better safe than sorry!)
As I approached the 2nd turn around at mile 8 or so I realized I must be doing all right, because I didn't count that many women in front of me.  I think I counted 5, but missed a couple of the leaders.   I had a nice group that I was running with and leap frogging with a bit, helping me keep my pace.  I love it when that happens.  

After the turn around, I saw Justin way too close for comfort!  He made a hand signal to me indicating the small space and I knew I had more work to do if I wanted my free lunch, so I picked it up as much as I could while still feeling sustainable for the remaining 5 miles.   At this point, I had one older gentleman with me who I basically ran with side by side and stride for stride until mile 11 or so when I started putting in my final kick and left him behind.  It is great to have a race buddy!  We didn't talk at all except at one point I said "Thanks for the company" and I high-fived him when he came through the finish line.  

Oh I forgot to mention, I maintained my race strategy of walking through the water stops.  I hit every one except the first and last one, and walked through each of them.  Again, I always have better finish times when I take walk breaks at the water stops, so I'm sticking with what works!  Plus I actually get to drink something instead of choking or spilling water.   :)  I also had a shot blok at like mile 3 and mile 7.  And some Gatorade at mile 9 or 10.  

On the last mile and coming into the finish I really flew.  I wouldn't be surprised if my last mile was sub 7:00 min pace.  I felt great.  As the clock came into sight, I busted into a huge smile when I saw 1:44:xx, which was better than I could have ever expected!  It was a huge surprise because I had no pace information at all as I came into the finish.  Final chip time: 1:44:54 for a HUGE personal record and an 8 flat average pace per mile.  

What the hell?? It was not very long ago that that was my 5K race pace!!! 
I grabbed a water, high fived my running buddy when he came through, and then walked back to look for Justin.  Basically as soon as I picked a spot to stand, I saw him coming.  He came in hard/fast! 
His clock time was slower than me but I knew he a start delay and I didn't wait long for him so I still had no idea who "won".  I thought it would be really cool if we ended up with the exact same finish time despite not running a single step together!  
We went over to the stage to find out our official finish times (after running to the car to get some warm clothes!  Brrrr!) and discovered that I beat him by 17 seconds!  And that we both got our age group awards.  4th for him and 2nd for me.  We were 43rd and 44th overall out of the 367 total participants.  Really cool that we finished so close!


Justin claiming his age group award. :) 
Me getting mine. 
The age group awards were lunch boxes.  I am one of the few people who actually keep/display my awards, so I would have rather had a glass or plaque or something, but I appreciate the creativity and uniqueness of a lunch box, and the idea of giving out something people can actually use.  It looks a little silly on my display shelf though :P  I would use it, but it is waaaay to small for me.  My lunch box is like 3 times that size.  Girl gotta eat to support all this running/biking/swimming/lifting!! 



 The medals were the best part of the schwag collected (between the shirt, lunchbox and medal).  I love the medals that have a custom lanyard, vs a plain ribbon.  They really look nice.  It is also a good solid/heavy medal.  Very nice!


After we collected our awards we headed to Denny's where I collected my prize for beating Justin:  


The record is now 3:1 in favor of Justin.  Next up: Harrisburg Marathon.  I'm pretty confident that I'm gonna take him at that one.  The longer the distance, the better my chances.  :) Apparently some friendly competition is doing wonders for my paces!  ;)  (Also, let me just say, that I think it should count double when I beat him.  It's a 30 y/o female vs a 25 y/o male.  I should get a handicap!) 


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Obstacle Race Recap (Quick & Dirty Series, #3)

I have never been interested in doing an obstacle race.  It just seemed kind of silly to me.  But, in the spirit of "don't knock it until you try it" I did kind of want to do one, just to see.  "Lucky" for me, my BFF Michelle's boyfriend is the owner/organizer of an obstacle race in Michigan, so she asked me to volunteer and compete in the race with her as moral support.  Or something.  So I did.

I'm leaving the name of the race out of this recap, since I don't have much positive to say, and I'm "friends" with the race director.  (Technically swampfoot was the first time I ever met him, but BFF's BF is an F by default I think!) 

I actually bailed out the week leading up to the race, because my bike crash was on Sunday and the race was Saturday of the same week.  The thought of tearing my hands open on ropes/monkey bars and filling the wounds with mud and gunk just didn't seem all that appealing.  Or intelligent.  Especially since I'm a nurse and need to use my hands (and wash my hands) frequently, hand wounds are a major hindrance to my daily life.  (Yay, Tegaderm).  Well, needless to say my willpower failed me and I ended up doing the stupid race.  It helped that I found a pair of fingerless weight lifting gloves out on the course while I was volunteering, so I was like, yay! hand protection! 

THE GOOD
  • Some of the obstacles were challenging.  If you're into obstacle stuff I guess maybe this one wasn't bad?  I guess I don't really know. 
  • Organized by local guys; it's not a national chain or anything like that.  
  • I got a medal, a drawstring/cinch bag, and two shirts (one for volunteering and one for participating). (I don't have pictures of them, but they're nice enough.  Except my shirts are both too big, but that's not the race's fault). 

THE BAD
  • My heat had very few people, so the course was kind of empty while I was running
  • Unsafe/isolated obstacles with no volunteers and no other participants nearby.  
    • Since I was largely by myself, I definitely felt like each major obstacle should have been staffed with a volunteer.  For example, climbing over one of the tire wall things, it was really slippy from the mud, and I could have easily slipped and fallen off the wall.  There was nobody around.  If I had gotten injured I'm not sure how long it would have taken for somebody to find me. 
  • Minimal photography
    • I feel like if you're going to be sloshing through mud and doing badass shit, there should be somebody taking some damn pictures.  I saw maybe one photographer on the course, and in my hunt for pictures I didn't find any of me.  There isn't a way to search by bib number, so it's possible that I missed them.  The photos are scattered in at least 2 different websites.  One of them is by heat (there were start times every 20 minutes throughout the day), and one is just a mass photo dump.  
  • No post race food or drinks other than water bottles. 
    • Seriously???  I mean c'mon.  I feel like a bagel and a banana is standard fare.   There was a booth way down where you could buy food if you were so inclined.  
  • As of today, didn't see any results posted on the website.  I know the race was electronically timed and the results were shown at the finish line, but I would expect a link to be uploaded to the website by now.  (Update: found the link on their facebook page, didn't see them on the website though). 
  • The race was advertised as having over 40 obstacles.  On a four mile course.  Sounds pretty crazy right?  Well, yeah, I guess you can rack up obstacles if you count every single log lying in the path as it's own obstacle.  Probably 30 of the "obstacles" were logs.  
  • Volunteer organization was kind of lacking
    • As I said above, I felt that they didn't have enough volunteers to cover all of the obstacles.  
    • There wasn't a lot of pre-meditation in where volunteers were assigned.  When I checked in as a volunteer they just kinda willy nilly put me somewhere.  I felt that more structured assignments would have helped ensure adequate coverage. 
    • We were always running out of water and cups and having to radio for more, with unpredictable response times. 
    • The volunteer I was with was just dipping the cup into the water jug, so her hands were all in the water.  I felt like that was a little unsanitary.  Plus there was dirt in the water, but I guess it's basically everywhere all over all the participants anyway, so it probably didn't hurt anything. 
RESULTS: I actually lost my timing chip before I even started the race so I don't have my results.  Don't really care either.

PICS: I didn't take a ton of pics,  but the few I have are below. 







MISC COMMENTS:
  • Ultimately, I find sliding into mud pits and jumping over stuff just for the sake of it to be kinda....silly.  I was more on board with the physically challenging ones, like the monkey bars or climbing walls, but the random runs through man-made muddy water pits or literally going down a slide into a pit mostly just pissed me off.  I don't mind natural obstacles at a trail run (like muddy areas, or a downed trees), but all the man made "obstacles" just weren't for me.  
  • I told the organizer that I didn't have fun and I wouldn't be doing it again.  I might volunteer for him again next year if Michelle is still with him though.  They definitely need the volunteer manpower! 
  • The gloves and tegaderms didn't really protect my hands.  Just held the mud in place under the dressings, haha.  I didn't end up with a wound infection though, thank you peroxide and bacitracin ointment. :) 
  • Sorry for being a negative nancy.  It happens sometimes. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Lifewalk 10K Race Report (Quick & Dirty Series #2)

This race was....I don't remember when.  Late July perhaps?

It wasn't really a "planned" event.  Justin and I decided he needed to get a race under his belt before the Crim and this one fit the bill timing and location-wise.  It was on Belle Isle.  There was a 5K and a 10K.  We did the 10.

The Good:

  • It was for a good cause.  (Gift of Life, organ donation)
  • Lots of fun activities, things to see, dancing.   It would be a GREAT event to take your kids too.  
  • Medal and T-shirt included. 
  • Flat/fast course. 
  • Great post-race food (pizza, fruit, granola bars, water, lemonade, etc)
The Room-for-Improvements: 
  • There were no awards for runners who placed!  Justin got first place in his age group at his first ever race, and we saw a bunch of awards up on the stage so we waited FOREVER so he could get one, but they were all for non-running things, like fundraising and stuff like that. 
  • The course was short.  I majorly PR'ed whether I look at my pace on my watch or at the "official" time, but the official pace/time are inaccurate because the course was quite short.  D'oh.  The same thing is true for my 5K PR right now.  Here's hoping I can beat them both eventually.  Otherwise I'll be stuck with LIES for PRs at the 5K and 10K distance for the rest of my life!  Still, I got 2nd in my age group with a 46:11.  Justin beat me by like a minute, at 45:something.  Punk. 




Justin looking quite dead post-race.  He went out too fast and was hurting pretty bad at the end, but hung in there.  Lesson learned! 

Race Tee.  Sorry it's wrinkled. 
Finisher's medals. 
Justin hustled a 4X volunteer shirt from the volunteer manning the volunteer booth.  Hahahaha.  



I uploaded some videos of the festivities below.  

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