Sunday, December 19, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

I hate making decisions. Especially ones where all things are equal. I never want to miss an opportunity and right now I have a horrible decision to make. At this time of year most adult athletes have wound down and are starting to plan what events they are going to do next season.
For the past several years I have done either the 4.4 Great Chesapeake Bay Swim or the 1 mile Bay Challenge. Last year we did the 4.4 and decided this year we would do the 1 mile. Last time I did the 1 mile I got third in my age group!! It was very exciting and the first time I had won anything in any of these events we do. The first place person was even one of my former Towson teammates which made things even better! That particular day my swim was a great time even considering that my wetsuit came open mid swim. Grrrrrrr I really don't like my wetsuit but haven't found a better one yet. I want a sleeveless, easy to get on and off, and LOW ON THE NECK SO I CAN STOP CHOKING! As you can see I have very few requests for a new wetsuit. So anywho before I age up I wanted to do that race one last time and try and podium again (not that you actually stand on a podium here.) So that is CHOICE #1
One of my other favorite events the past two years has been the Diamond Girl Delaware put on by Piranha Sports the first Sunday in June. This has been a really small race. My first year there were 120 women and last year 160 women. I loved how small the race was! There were only two heats and I was usually in heat one so when I got out of water I was 5th then 4th each year respectively. I got all the wow-you-are-good cheers and claps. That never happens to me and it felt great even though I knew I wouldn't finish that way. The swim was 400 or 500 meters I believe. I would be out on my bike early on but that of course is my weakest leg. It is only a 10 mile bike ride! Another plus for this particular event and it is flat. This was another inspiration for all of the indoor cycling work. I knew if I could just continue the lead I get on the swim by biking better I could put myself in contention for an award at this small race. I have had my fastest run splits in my entire life here! Last year I split 8.15 for the 2 mile run. Oh yea and its a 2 mile run! Well apparently the small field of women wasn't enough for them to continue putting on this event :( Honestly this was my favorite triathlon! This is my favorite course, I find it fun and it makes me feels successful when most other triathlons don't and this year I was really hoping to do well. Well not all is lost. They are keeping the course, moving the event one weekend, and making it co-ed. Whew! I can still do the race EXCEPT that it is the same day as the Bay Swim, my other favorite event! UGH! WHICH ONE DO I DO??????
Any thoughts, advice, etc would be greatly appreciated. I am horrible with decisions where all things are basically equal....
So blog fans, we'll see how many of you there actually are out there, which one should I do??

Winter Training

Welcome to Winter! Well I guess technically that welcome should come on Tuesday but close enough. It is cold out there! Winter has come early to the Baltimore - Washington corridor and well yuck. Its one thing if it just cold but we have the wind too! Usually the wind doesn't come into play until about February or March but this year it has made an early appearance. What does that mean to an outdoor athlete who likes to stay warm? It means indoor training. Well that isn't too much of an issue for swimming as the majority of my swimming has been inside anyway. For cycling and running that's a bit different. We will continue to go to spin class but nothing beats riding your own bike so today we set up the trainers.
After some previous races I decided I needed to practice my cycling more and get some aerobars. Most would think the aerobars are to go faster.
Mine...are for reading.
I did find at a previous race I needed my hands to open my gels and really wanted some bars then to free up my hands. Other than that I don't quite think I have the balace for this aero thing but we'll see.
So my bike when on our old magnetic trainer and Jeff's bike went on the fancy new fluid trainer we bought today. My hope is that since they are easily accessible to us we will ride often. By easily accessible I mean they are in our main tv watching, dinner eating, room. Without finishing our basement (and we hope to move in the next year or two) it's our only place to bike and watch tv.
Our first indoor ride was an hour long and it did feel long. It was a very different riding experience. With outdoor riding you can coast not indoors. The tension is very uneven which was unsettling at first and was a bit rough on the knee and shins but once they warmed up it was ok.
So how's your marathon training going you ask...yea about that....basically all the people we were going to run with have decided not to do the race. Since the primary reason to do the race was to support our friends to do their first marathon. Since that is no longer happening we didn't have much motivation to run long each weekend in the cold and wind. Additionally cycling is where we needed to focus our attention as that is weak for each of us. That is what brings us to today. So our indoor gym is set up, hopefully this proves to be the right decision for us. I don't like that I don't know how many miles I went since my bike computer is attached to the front tire and only the back tire turns on the trainer. Oh well!
Happy Holidays and Happy Training!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Marathon Recap

In January of 2010 the hubby and I ran our first marathon and in Disney World no less!
We have decided to start training for another marathon in March which means that the long run trainings start....this weekend...oy vey! Only a month off from races and we are back at it. There are going to be a lot of very cold runs. Hopefully we don't get hit with 6 ft of snow again, definitely makes it hard to get in long runs!
We committed to doing the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Our friends The Reeces are doing this for their first marathon and we told them we would support them. Hopefully we can run the race together, we'll see where we are all at. I don't want to slow anyone down. So my knee hurts and is stiff but I have some strength exercises that will hopefully work. I am super excited to do this race and cheer them on to their accomplishment (hopefully at the same time!)
So in the spirit of training for another marathon here is a reprint of the postings I had on Facebook after the marathon was over. I look forward to highlighting the events of our next marathon and I plan to post them here instead of annoying my Facebook friends! Sorry to those whose News Feed was bombarded. Looking back that was pretty obnoxious but I was really excited about our accomplishment and wished that my family and friends had been able to be there.

Highlights (good and bad)

Highlight 1: getting up at 2:50am to get on the monorail

Highlight 2: seeing people in shorts on the monorail and feeling even colder, btw monorail doesn't have heat!

highlight 3: impressed by the amount of porta-potties in the waiting area

highlight 4: huttling with random people to stay warm

highlight 5: mickey and friends in track outfits!

highlight 6: fireworks at the start!

highlight 7: a woman from Canada asking us our pace, saying she was gonna stay with us and gone within a mile!

highlight 8: after 5 miles wondering when we were going to enter a park

highlight 9: finally entering epcot and thinking how cool it looks at night! wasn't in epcot for too terribly long

highlight 10: watching the sun come up! (it got warmer!)

highlight 11: kept backtracking feeling like we were continually going towards epcot then realized the epcot ball we were seeing was a hot air balloon

highlight 12: kept waiting for magic kingdom to go to the bathroom but couldn't wait, found porta-potties with no wait!

highlight 13: feeling better but still running and wondering when we were gonna see magic kingdom

highlight 14: ice hazards! yes there was ice in Florida! mainly at the water stations from spilled water. also frozen layers in our drinking cups

highlight 15: finally getting to magic kingdom!

highlight 16: running down main street of magic kingdom to lots of cheering people and CHRISTMAS decorations!!

highlight 17: the trumpets as we ran through Cinderella's castle

highlight 18: long boring run to Animal Kingdom

highlight 19: live piano player-playing rocky song

highlight 20: dude standing in the middle holding a staff with a skull you could rub for good luck!

highlight 21: running through animal kingdom - only owls and goats as we entered highlight 22: long run time, needed to stop at porta-potties again, ugh line this time! highlight 23: running by the smelly waste water treatment plant! at first it smelled like chocolate

highlight 24: ditching my outer layer (from Walmart) which a guy earlier said my sweat on my upper back had frosted over!

highlight 25: after ditching my fleece felt my hair and realized the sweat on the ends were icicles!

highlight 26: now that my Baltimore half shirt was noticeable found a lot more people from Maryla...nd, one dude was running in a 52 Ray Lewis jersey! Go Ravens!

highlight 27: DJ yelling less than 6 miles to go!

highlight 28: entering Hollywood Studios BEHIND the best ride ever of the Tower of Terror and seeing the space between the faux front and the real building

highlight 29: candy stop! jeff had a krackel

highlight 30: running around Hollywood Studios in the real working sections!

highlight 31: lots of cheering in Hollywood Studios that continued even out of the park!

highlight 32: running down boardwalk and around the lake by the beach club and yacht club, still lots of cheering!

highlight 33: excitement building all the way to epcot

highlight 34: running around epcot! still cheering!

highlight 35: sharp pain in my left pinky toe, either was bleeding profusely or just broke it

highlight 36: still running around epcot (eying all the places we know they sell alcohol!)

highlight 37: hitting 26.2 according to the GPS a quarter mile PRIOR to the finish

highlight 38: passing by the cheering bandstands!

highlight 39: grabbing Jeff's hand

highlight 40: crossing the finishline hand in hand with my running and life partner!

highlight 41: hugging after finishing our first marathon!

highlight 42: going to the self medical tent for knee on the ice, the lady wrapping it so tight I could barely walk

highlight 43: taking a picture with our medals!

highlight 44: getting our bag and putting on sweatshirts!

highlight 45: checkign out the merchandise tent and seeing the jackets we want still only in XXL

highlight 46: getting on the bus to return to the hotel

highlight 47: coming back to our phones and seeing so many nice messages from our friends and family! you all rock!

highlight 48: celebratory CHAMPAGNE! we bought it yesterday

highlight 49: showers!

highlight 50: watching the Ravens score 24 points in the first quarter

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Year In Review

Well it has been quite a year! In January we completed our first marathon and it was the Disney marathon too! The training up to it had some pros and cons. The definite pro was the time we spent together on our long runs. It was uninterrupted, untechnologied time together. The definite con to training for the marathon was the constant amount of time involved and oh there was that knee problem. My IT band decided it wasn't a fan of training for a marathon and tried to make my knee give out on all downhills. So we were running the uphills and walking the downhills. I am now quite good at going uphill. Luckily Disney had one hill. It was a great experience to finish in Disney World holding hands for our first marathon. We then spent two days playing in the parks and they even still had some of their holiday decorations up. This one is definitely a must do! A separate post will be a repeat posting from Facebook of the highlights of our 26.2 mile journey. Oh by the way it was the coldest temps in Florida recorded history....there was ice at the water stops...we slid right through.
May was quite a busy month as usual. We did the Lake Anna Sprint Tri. I took off I believe 7 min from last year. My goal was to break the 2 hour mark and I would have done it if the chain on my bike hadn't popped off! Arrrrg! I was literally watching the seconds on my watch as I was running trying to play catch up with the time. That one is fun because always stay in a house with friends. Also in May is the Columbia Triathlon. This was my first year doing it solo. A few years ago we did this one as the relay team Will Play for Gumbo. The hubby did it for the first time last year and I volunteered (I got to bodymark Chrissie Wellington!!) This year right on cue with the other years it rained and well actually it stormed at 4am! Our stuff got soaked. It was still kind of spitting when the race started. I seriously considered not racing, there are really steep hills and the race is not worth getting hurt over. But I did it and afterwards we went out to Champs where I cashed in my free birthday dessert. It was huge! A team effort was made to eat it!
In June I did the Diamondgirl triathlon at Lums Pond Delaware. This is my all time favorite triathlon!!! It is really small, there were only about 160 entries. I was in the first heat and since swimming is my strength I think I was like the 4th or 5th out of the water. I got all the "wow you are fast" claps and cheers. Little did they know that their favorite athlete would go whizzing by me on the bike! This year I finished in the top 50% so that was good and this race always helps me post my fastest run splits ever! This year was 8.15 per mile. While for some this is their marathon pace time for me this is amazing. This is a small race that is not populated by pros and elites and its awesome!
June also saw us swimming across the Chesapeake Bay. This is a really cool event that raises money for the March of Dimes. This was not my first trek across the bay but it was for the hubby and the best buddy Mo. We trained up for it beginning two weeks after the marathon. I tried to stay with the hubby swimming since he ran with me for the marathon but unfortunately I looked up once at the helicopter circling and then he blended in with all the other swimmers! I felt horrible but there was no way I was going to find him so I had to swim my own race. This year was way better than two years ago when I did it. The seas were as calm as they were gonna get. I finished 30 min faster than two years ago! Both the hubby and Mo broke my time. The only downside was the suit burn I got. I really need a new wetsuit!
July and August were calm. I was signed up for Diamondgirl NY which as a Half-lite meaning it was longer than an Olympic Triathlon but less than a Half Ironman. Well only 22 of us signed up so they canceled it! Arrrrg so I used that entry fee to do Diamondman in September.
So we completed Diamondman Delaware 70.3. This was our longest distance event ever! We didn't exactly train for it like we had wanted and in true Six fashion it rained, make that down-poured for the swim and half of the bike leg. See previous post for all of the unpleasant details.
In October we finished out our season with the Baltimore Half Marathon and Army 10-miler. I didn't end of the high note I would have liked. I hadn't been running because life and feeling like crap got in the way but oh well...
What have I learned you ask, well I have learned that swimming only gets me so far. I can't rely so much on my swimming abilities and I really need to work on my biking and running. My winter plan is to put some Aerobars on my bike and set it up on the trainer. The bars are really so I can read a book while biking. My plan is to bike for several hours and build up my flat riding. I am good going up hills but the downhill recovery and flat riding really suck. I am kind of scared of my big gears so I need to get over that. I also need to really learn how to run so that it isn't so difficult. Running is really hard for me, I need to learn how it can get easier.
Right now I am already signed up for the Columbia Triathlon, Irongirl Triathlon, and get this a 70.3 Half Ironman in Orlando, Florida! Super excited for that one and really nervous. I don't deal well with heat so that may be a challenge but I definitely want to train up to it much more than I did for Diamondman. We are considering the Virginia Beach Shamrock marathon or half marathon. We have some friends doing their first marathon so we want to go down and support them but that would mean training begins in December and we have gone straight for the past 18 months because of Disney and the bay! So I part of me wants to stay on the break and winter training is not easy to schedule with weather issues and my knee is continuing to act up. So I have a lot of excuses/reasons to not but there are also reasons to do it. I still need to get better at running, we want to support our friends, it's a fun race (we did the half as our first), so I just don't know. Today I started some weight training at the gym with the idea that if I strengthen the muscles around my knee maybe it won't hurt so much. We'll see how that goes. We are also looking at ending next season really big! We are going to try and get into the New York City ING marathon, if we don't, as a lot of people don't make it in, our back up is to do the Goofy Challenge in Disney World in January of 2012. What's the Goofy Challenge you ask, well it is positively Goofy! You do the half marathon on Saturday then the full marathon on Sunday! Yikes I know! We would take the Saturday run quite easy with picture taking and walking mixed in. That would be a pretty cool accomplishment. The NYC marathon is a highly desired race as well so we will be happy with either. We won't know until March or April if we get into NYC and luckily I don't think the Goofy sells out too fast, hmmm can't imagine why.
So there it is our year in review, the highlights if you will of accomplishments and disappointments but year to be proud of nonetheless.
Happy Training!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Army 10-miler

Well last weekend, Baltimore half marathon, was a fiasco and I have felt craptastic all week long so this is already promising to be an awesome run....right....
Yesterday was the expo and since this is one of the largest races on the East Coast it is a big expo. I still think Baltimore has a better expo. We went mid-day and they had all kinds of Army stuff outside. There were Army horses, helicopter for kids to sit in, practice guns for kids to play with, yup grab them early, a real family affair. Military recruiting feelings aside it was cool stuff to look at. Since this event is organized by the Army it is well organized. The expo was nice, nothing standout outside of the Army stuff outside the building.
Despite feeling craptastic all week I was determined to try and have a good run. We met up with Mo and another friend. Mo was still in good shape from her marathon so she went in the faster waves. We decided to start with the 10min pace group. It seemed like a good spot as we could always speed up or fall back. The pacer, named Jeff, had a little sign so that helped me have something to focus on for speeding up or slowing down. This was my first try at staying with a pace group. The first four miles were good and we were right on our mark. Being that this race is ginormous, staying with the pacer guy was actually tricky. One second you are right behind, then you blink and he's 25yds ahead (yes 25yds like a pool, that is how I view distances). The first water stop was at mile 2. This time I brought water with me, attempting to learn from last week and have it at the ready, so I ran until they called out Gatorade. I drank and walked then it was time to play catch up with Jeff because he ran right through the water stop...grrrr.....We evenutally did catch back up and things were good until mile 4 water stop. Again I ran waiting for the Gatorade station but it wasn't there! Ack! I just lost my walk break! So I slowed to walk and drink some of my water but the pacer just kept on going, I had slowed to find the Gatorade and slowed to walk and well now I just wasn't going to catch Jeff. My hubby saw I was walking and I explained why. I asked that this time he please leave me so I could enjoy my last race of the season and not feel guilty about wanting to walk. Success! He left and now I could focus on just me and practice pushing those negative thoughts away and try to enjoy my last race of the season. I used my water to try and prevent my mouth from getting too dry and hope that would help maintain my energy with tiny sips so I wouldn't get cramp. It sort of worked I suppose. I still walked through the rest stops and drank my gatorade. The fabulous part about an Army planned event is there is plenty of water and gatorade to go around! The rest stops are long! I tried to enjoy the nice day. In the last couple of miles I saw several leg amputee soldiers running. That was awesome! They looked like they were working so hard and they were just awesome to watch. They each had a little gang of folks running with them, supporters I would imagine and friends making sure they didn't trip and people got out of their way I would guess. I really kind of wanted to join one of their groups, it would be at a slower pace but would have given more meaning to the run. I was afraid it would be viewed as too creepy so I trudged along. I like the finish to the race you go swirling down an exit ramp then straight on to the finish. At the end there were snacks and plenty of water and a finisher coin instead of the medal. Very well organized. Jeff met me at the end instead of our meet up point with the other two. We walked through the Hoorah tent area where the various Army forts from around the US each had a tent for their runners and really anyone that wanted to join! They were just handing out food. It was really nice! There were live Army bands and all. What a great finish environment of camaraderie. We met up with our friends. Mo had stayed with her fast pace group and our other friend was able to stay with Jeff the pacer.
Next we headed to Chop't. This is my absolute favorite salad place ever! Basically they have a bunch of vegetables and you tell them what you want in your salad then they use a mezzaluna and chop it into similarly sized pieces. They have their own homemade dressings that are delicious as well. They also have a menu of preselected toppings if you wanted that. Additionally their soda is made from sugar as opposed to HFCL so it is better for you and delicious too.
So my take on the pace group thing. I love the concept and I think had it not been so crowded it would have been easier to follow pacer Jeff. Many times the road narrowed and we ended up way behind him and had to play catch up. I would have liked if he had walked through the water. Some pacers walk through the water some run through. It was a bit stressful when he got ahead, I wasn't sure if I was gonna catch up after mile 2 but felt good when I did. I definitely want to use this in future races. I need to learn how to run at a consistent pace in general. Not quite sure how to go about doing that. Anyone have any ideas?
And so another race season closes. Next post will focus on the lessons learned from this year, celebrations, and previewing 2011.
Happy Running!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Baltimore Half Marathon

This year was the 10th year of the current Baltimore Marathon. I read that apparently there was a former one that only ran a few years. We signed up to do the Half Marathon again. Our first year we did the 5k, the next year the relay, last year the half and this year the half again. Our plan was if we happened to be in marathon shape we would upgrade. Well we weren't in marathon shape and I was barely in half marathon shape so no upgrade for us and for the first time ever all the races sold out.
I love the expo for the Baltimore Marathon. It is held at M&T Bank stadium on the Club Level. It is the only time I ever get to see the Club Level and it is nice looking. There are a ton of vendors there and is definitely part of the appeal of the event.
People come from around the country to race Baltimore but it is also a hugely local race. So many people go out and run it in one of the many forms listed above. It caters to a variety of runners.
We got there early just as the marathon was starting. Many of our friends were doing the marathon, in particular Mo (half of the O'Shanks) was doing her first marathon. After the start of the marathon we waited around about a half hour for the start of the 5k which the other half of the O'Shanks was participating in. He drank a beer about 5 minutes before the start to make sure he was properly hydrated!
The rest of us left were running the half marathon. For several it was their first half marathon. I was going for breaking the 2hr mark except I haven't been running too much. We made the deal with our friends there are no hard feelings for anyone that wanted to just go. After the first 2 miles the hubby said we were a bit behind pace to make my goal time (I think we were somewhere in the 10.30s). We decided to pick it up a bit and were successful for the next two miles as were in the 9.30s or so but I just couldn't hold on. It was deceptively warm where the temp was cool but in the sun you were warm and I didn't quite know what the water stop plans were. When I get there I am parched and hubby says I drink too much but as soon as we leave I am wanting more. I have to walk through water or else I get a cramp if I try the drink and run approach. Well needless to say things fell apart quickly. Hubby got frustrated that I wasn't going fast enough, I was tired, and there was nothing to distract me from the negative thoughts pounding in my head, really wanted my iPod. I tried to get hubby to leave so I wouldn't feel guilty about really wanting to walk but I couldn't make him go. The next 9 miles were long and painful and quiet. Mo passed by with her pace group, she was around the 20 mile mark and looking great. The Reeces and Laura had stayed together and passed by us. They looked like they were having great conversation and a good time. Everyone we knew doing the full or half passed by us. We finished in a not so good time but we finished which is always goal number one!
So the question becomes do you go after it and risk failing miserably or do you play it safe and stay where you know that you won't hit your mark but will have a much better time in the process? Well hindsight is always 20/20. I should have known that I wasn't going to make it and had we not pushed those two miles we could have stayed with the friends, had good conversation, and enjoyed the race. Instead we pushed it to make a goal which we missed by a lot and ended up miserable.
Luckily we couldn't stay miserable for long as our friends had tons of successes to celebrate. Many first marathons and half marathons with fabulous times. Experienced runners also posting great times, Boston qualifiers, top finishers, and much more. The team of friends there had awesome accomplishments and I am glad I could be there to congratulate them even if my own run wasn't good. Congrats to all who made a new landmark!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dashin like a Warrior

So maybe 6 months ago our friends the O'Shanks asked us if we wanted to participate in aWarrior Dash up in Harford County, actually at the same property that my school does their Outdoor Education. We looked into it, found you get really dirty, and said sure!
It is a two day event with heats of people starting a 3.5mile run every 30 minutes. The race consists of multiple obstacles with the final two being a mud crawl and jumping over fire! It was a lot of fun. This is one where you go to do the event not to do a best time. The hubby and I along with the O'Shanks all ran together. This way if anyone needed help there was assistance available and I had the camera to document the whole thing! Additionally beer and heavy drinking are encouraged once you finish!
Upon arriving we see a bus that is in some trouble. We wondered if this was the first obstacle or just bad parking.
Before every obstacle was a warning to get you ready!
First up were tunnels to crawl through, just kind of a warm-up I suppose of what was to come! After a quick crawl we jogged to the next task, climbing up and over 4 trucks. There were ropes available and it was easiest to use the window as a step. I would not have looked so ridiculous if I was just a little bit taller. I felt like a little kid trying to get out of the pool on the side because she was too cool for the ladder. My height and upper body need some work. Who wants to help with the height part?
Next were like giant ant hills and we were the ants having to get over them. Some you could kind of go on the side for and others were clearly up and over. Luckily stepping spots were carved out of most of them since so many people had gone through. Usually up was the easy part but the steep down was hard. Weren't quite sure to jump or if your footing would hold to run down or if you would just topple forward. Surprisingly I didn't topple forward.
Next was the hay pyramid. It was pretty self-explanatory. Just take the stairs up and over. Just be careful you don't put your foot between hay block because then your leg falls through, yup face full of hay!
Next up was a cargo net! I like these! Shanks was in the Marines way back when and gave us the advice that your hands should hold onto the vertical ropes and your feet go on the horizontal ones. The vertical rope is more taught while the horizontal is made to have some give to it because it is for the feet. It makes perfect sense and made the rope much easier. At the top was a platform where a guy was taking pictures. He was really weird and it felt like paparazzi in my face. Those should be interesting. Coming down was hard in that you had to turn around on the platform, lay down and go down backwards, not as easy as it sounds. But still fun!
After a brief water stop, which was actually pretty necessary, we headed to the webs. It looked like they just strung a bunch of chinese jumpropes between trees. They had a decent amount of give to them so they weren't too bad unless you let them go while your foot was still coming out. I didn't but I did see it. Shanks and the hubby took turns making holes for me and others to continue through. Shanks let several people through, so he could delay running again!Next where some planks of wood over a 1.5 to 2ft drop. Not to hard and there wasn't even water below. Not much of an obstacle but definitely didn't want to run.
So far things haven't really been to bad. It's just an obstacle course in the woods but you know more is coming and you keep waiting for something worse. But it wasn't next. The next challenge was a tented area where you had to walk on hands and feet, no knees and you butt sticks up in the air. Easy for me being small but I could see if you were tall you might ram your back side into the wooden posts holding it up. Again still not bad. It's coming I just know it!
And so it begins. First let me tell you many people were surprised I agreed to participate in this because well I don't really like being dirty. I love camping but hate the constant dirt. I like showers and running water. I don't like being dirty! But I was still ok with the next task, most people weren't. We had to go over logs in icy water! I don't know the temp of the water but it was cold. I actually found it refreshing because it had started to get hot in the fielded area of the earlier obstacles and well it was in water and I like water obstacles! For this you had to work with the people around you. The logs spun and for many they spun you backwards. For this to work you had to spin the log forward and basically go head first over it. After you got over them you had to get out in a muddy area. I was no longer clean...yuck...I wish this had been a task at the end so I could get clean but I knew it was only going to get worse...
Ok we are out of water and dirty, I am out of my element. My shoes are filled with rocks and questionable sediment from the water. Our area wasn't too bad but we definitely walked by some of the water that had a nice green moss film. Ewwwww! On to wall hurdles. These were totally manageable. Go up backwards, prop butt up, swing legs around and carefully hop down. The wall was a bit slick since everyone was now wet and the ground was now a bit muddy. Great... Now it starts to get dirty... BTW did you notice how we are yucky and I still have a camera?! I definitely have the best camera ever! It can go underwater and is just awesome. If you are looking for a durable camera this one is the Olympus Stylus 1030 SW. They have newer ones out now and you can get a floaty strap so that it can float too. I hooked the camera strap onto my bathing suit top and stored the camera in my top while running. It worked pretty well.
Ok so back to the course, the dirt is just beginning. Next up was steep slope to climb. It probably wasn't bad for the first few groups but after hundreds of wet folks going it got a bit muddy. Some folks slipped and face planted into the mud, that was highly entertaining especially when they were cocky to begin with. The trick was to go slow, find footing, and don't be afraid to grab a tree (or another person who is already on the ground) for help.
Last up is the big finish. Crawl through a mud pit with barb wire above your head then jump through fire. When you start into the mud put you can see the finish but mud and fire stand in your way. Ugh! There are people along the sides encouraging you to dive in head first....riiiight..I am already pretty close to my threshold on the dirty factor my head is not going into mud and the face umm no but a few of my friends had no problem going in head first and rolling around. It was pretty funny well until they had so much crap in their eyes they reqired the paramedics to clean out their eyes. One even required them to get his contacts out. I got junk in my eyes but a few swishes of water got it out. I am thinking goggles next time like they used to give on the show Double Dare
After the race you get a free beer and can sit on the field and enjoy the live music while clean people look at you. Some look with envy to get started some look a bit horrified as to what is to come in their future. There was food to buy which smelled pretty good but we had Cracker Barrel waiting for us in our future. Yummm! Once your mud has dried nicely you can stand in line to be hosed off by the firefighter while standing in you guessed it muddy water. Don't expect your feet to get clean. I did come out a bit cleaner but was still way grosser than I want to be again. The funny part was this part took place within the fence to a public pool (which was surprisingly still open in October). They had set up some sandbags and such to contain the muddy water but the dam was starting to break. It was the job of one employee to look at the failing dam and make sure a muddy person didn't jump in their clean pool. Another dude hosed at the water that leaked through the dam. Yup super effective there...It was pretty entertaining to watch.
They gave away pretty good stuff. We got medals at the finish. Before the race we got nice shirts and viking hats! Some people wore their hats on the race. Most hats didn't survive the race.
Would I recommend this race? Sure if you are into getting muddy and then drinking while still muddy or have had any inclination for reason to have a mud fight with barb wire by your eye sockets. Its also good if you need a reason to get rid of the ________(insert item of expensive clothing here) that your ________(explicative adjective) ex-_______(name of ex that gave you said item) and totally ruin it beyond recognition then this is your race. People wear crazy costumes so that Christmas sweater from Aunt Gretta will work here too. "Aunt Gretta I didn't realized mud wouldn't come out of the dry clean wool sweater. I am going to miss it terribly. no, no you don't have to get me a new one I would rather treasure the memories of the good times sweater and I had together." So would I do it again? Well it kinda brought back up a pre-existing injury to my knee. I wasn't a huge fan of having to go 2 hours for event. Had it been in the original location it would have been much closer. I would probably wear old running shoes instead of the boating-made-for-water shoes because apparently they dont' give much support. There are other races out there such as Muddy Buddy and Tough Mudder. The O'Shanks are doing Tough Mudder next year. They are blogging about their adventures and training leading up to the event next year. You can read about mudding adventures here. They are also raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project so if you can donate that would be great!
Update 10/13 so I got my email saying my pictures can be viewed but they only have one picture tagged of me, the rest I have to find in the lost and found except that everyone looks the same!! It doesn't matter if you are black, white, purple, or red every body ends up brown! You could have worn shorts or worn pants or worn nothing it's all brown and matted down. The angle of one of the photographers isn't even close enough to see faces not that it mattered because we all looked the same. In some ways it is thought provoking that I wouldn't want to live in a in a monochromatic world where we are all the same color but I want to see what I look like covered in mud damnit because that ain't happening again!
~End Communication~

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Relaying is the way to go!

Wow! What a day! Today was the inaugural Half-Full Triathlon to benefit the Ulman Young Adult Cancer Foundation. Half -Full was a 70 mile race. A Half-Ironman is a 70.3mile race. This one cut the swim short. I think this was partly because our lake doesn't have the room and also because they wanted to focus on the 70 because 70000 young adults are diagnosed each year with cancer. While I understand their desire to have the race be about 70 and not 70.3 for us it was a deterrent for this to not be our first race of that distance. For me if I am doing that much work I want it to be a true 70.3 but that is a personal preference although I think many Type-A triathletes could think along the same lines. That is probably my only huge criticism of the race (and the 1/4 mile run from the swim to transition that counted as part of the swim time.) But alas on to the positive aspects.
The event was held in Centennial Park where many of our other local triathlons take place. Most of our local triathlons are put on by CTA. CTA does an amazing job but did not put on this event. The Half-Full had a decidedly different feel from the usual races which was an interesting change. The transition area was in a different spot and used a completely different kind of bike rack, one that stays low to ground where only your tire goes in. I liked this and felt it provided a more uniformed amount of space. The swim was also quite different. The course was the reverse of our normal events and there was no usual mass start of groups. You went two by two a few seconds apart and your time started when you went over the timing mat. Interesting idea. The bike course was different but still involved the hilliness that is Howard County and the run from what my hubby said was the worst run course ever. Worst as in "damn that was hard."
Let's back up, so now that we have established this as a different event let's take a look at it. We went to the packet pick-up and expo on Saturday. There were no lines but it also didn't feel deserted, there were tons of people directing you where to go and a small expo. I liked it. They sent you an email with your "Virtual Race Bag" a few days before with the advertisements that you would normally get in your schwag bag and then promptly recycle. This bag had the was not stuff with all that paper fluff. We got a nice reuseable REI bag, a set of Lock Laces in Livestrong yellow, Rocktape, Competitor magazine, last minute instructions, and a water bottle. So really good stuff! It is pretty standard in races around here to get a waterbottle but this one was different, this one is worth like $15 or $20 and doesn't go on a normal bike cage. It comes with its own bike cage to mount to your bike which is much smaller than normal and there is a magnet on the bottle which is how it attaches. It is a really strong magnet and I feel like I would fall off my bike pulling out the bottle! Additionally, while a totally nice bottle you wouldn't want to just toss it which is common in races. I could see that proposing a problem with longer races that have waterbottle exchange points. Still a really nice bottle and a cool idea and great marketing. They have a new product, give it to 1000 competitors for free and let the word spread! Here are the relays getting ready. See if you can figure out which one is the Olympic swimmer!
We decided for this event to do a relay. It was the first year, we knew tons of people doing it so we wanted to be able to cheer, and well we already knew the course would be hard. The Columbia Tri is hard enough and now we are doubling it?! Ummm yea so relay. So naturally I was the swimmer, our friend Suz was the biker, and the hubby was the runner. Suz had originally signed on to do the whole thing but she is competing in the Ironman World Championships next weekend in Kona, Hawaii so doing the whole thing would not have been good for her. Suz is an awesome athlete! For the first time I felt relays got respect! The hubby and I plus one more, which always seems to rotate, enjoy the relays but always feel like less of a competitor. Relays don't get much coverage, except here! The announcer was totally tuned into relays! He really made us feel like worthy and deserving athletes too. I am sure it helped that an Olympic swimmer and pro triathletes were doing relays too but still it was nice to be recognized. We also got our own section to hang out in. I have never seen that before. We got to chat with other relay teams and ge to know people that I had only normally just seen around these events. It was really nice. Relays got finisher shirts and medals too. I have mixed feelings about this. The shirts are nice and I hate it when relays get nothing. I would have loved the exact same shirt as everyone else just add the word relay by the word finisher. That way you don't the awkwardness when you wear the shirt and someone else comes up and is like "yea I did that too...what did you think about...." and then you have to sink your head and say you did the relay or proudly say it and the other person doesn't like your excitement when they did the whole thing. You get the point. So just give us the word relay so we don't feel like a fake wearing it out. The medals were nice and as a relay I can take it or leave it. I don't like it when they only give one medal to the relay. Then who gets it? More awkwardness. So happy we got recognized and happy we got finisher gear just note that we were a relay please. We aren't afraid to show it. It's better to proudly wear the relay shirt than pretend you did the whole thing. The announcer in general did a great job. He did the Alcatraz tri and said it was awesome. It's on our list!
So if you have never done a triathlon or have any inclination about participating a relay is totally the way to go. You get to do your strength and learn the ropes. In our case we got to do our strength, be part of the action, and cheer on our friends doing the whole thing. This worked really well in documenting the day of the Reeces. These events go on for several hours and there are plenty of times you don't get to see your friends racing. Lucky for us there was a steady stream and the excitement of our own relay to keep us busy. By being on a relay you get the wristband access to everything with less stress. Totally the way to go if you are considering.
While waiting for my fellow relayers to do their parts I of course wanted to change out of my bathing suit and wet suit. The temp was in the 50s. So I go to the bathroom and some lady asks me about what I did and seemed so impressed. We chatted about how to train and she was thinking about getting involved so I suggested relaying and starting with a sprint. I also happened to mention an event that a friend is going to be putting on in Aug 2011. It's called Du the 2 and is geared towards folks who aren't big on the swimming aspect, how you could not love swimming and why you would want to put on event that didn't involve swimming is beyond me. :) So I gave her the website (its in case you needed it) and really felt like I sold it. Then another woman overheard and took notes too! Wow I actually sold something! So the first lady was quite funny and she said she felt like she was Oprah interviewing me. The way she was asking questions I felt like some high class athlete being interviewed, you'd thought I just won the whole race but really I was just chillin while others raced and sweated. After a long conversation we parted ways, wonder if she ended up signing up.
Again as a result of being on a relay I got to part-take in many activities while waiting for my friends to transition or finish. I also got to see many of them mid-race. One such friend nicknamed Hammer was particularly funny. He came back into transition after the bike ride and held his hands up looking around with a "where is everyone look." For Hammer cycling is definitely his strength. I went over and confirmed with him that he did indeed do two laps of the course and he said he did. He was definitely on of the first 25 or so into T2. I wish I had my camera ready for his facial expression coming in. He went on to come in first in his age group. Good Job!
In between parts of the race I decided to partake in the "Celebration Village." Some races just have some snacks at the end and some really do things up. This was a middle one but done up for just right for the size of the race. There was an athlete area with coffee and that area would be having Chipotle later on. There was a massage tent, again opening later on. There were tented areas for various groups such as Team Fight and Mid MD Tri Club. Vendors such as Rocktape, Rev 3, Oakley, Army, and more had area. It was nice to walk around with not too many people. Rev 3 was doing the timing for the event, they had some nice screens and you could go up and find out your split times or where people were on the course by where their chip had checked in. That was pretty nifty. Oakley had a raffel going on for sunglasses with the money going to the Ulman Fund. The Rocktape tent was staffed by Nic Ebright who was doing massages and taping up athletes as needed. I went over to see him as my back had been seized up since the previous day. He taped my back and it helped to temporarily relieve some of the pressure. It was great to have that service available to athletes. Thanks Nic!
The finishline area was really nice. There was the normal chute but there was a blue carpeting leading to the finish. It looked nice, I did hear some comments that it was deceiving as you think it will be flat but there is still grass underneath. That makes sense. There were pretty yellow potted flowers lining the chute. Since there was a very staggered finish due to the length of the event there were plenty of volunteers available. Each finisher got their own volunteer who assessed they were ok, gave them juice, water, a shining blanket, their medal, and sat them down. It was really great that everyone got some personal attention at the end.
The only downfall the flowery-chuted-finish were the bees. Actually there were bees everywhere! They were in transition, Celebration Village, when you walk along the path, everywhere. And they were agressive. They had no problem just coming up and landing on someone's shirt. They also must have know winter was coming and they were going to die because they were also stinging! I haven't been stung since I was like 10. I was standing by the finish chute with my arm on the fence, minding my own business when my arm began to hurt. Sure enough I had been stung! I didn't even know a bee was on my arm. I didn't do anything to provoke it, it just stung me! At least I know it is now going to die!!
I saw a bunch of really inspiring stuff at Half Full. For starters there was a guy who took, I believe his child, through the entire race. His child, who I believe was an adult, was clearly severely disabled. This father swum the child (I didn't actually see how this was done) then had a special bike where the kid sat at the front and then ran with him in an adult type of stroller. Seeing them cross the finish line was absolutely amazing. Talk about the power of love and devotion. Definitely made me a bit misty eyed. They were racing for the group ASA Athletes Serving Athletes. See the link and hopefully you can support their mission to allow everyone to feel the thrill of competition even if your body doesn't allow it. How awesome is that?!
The next cool part was that Cancer Survivors had a different color bib. Their bib was yellow and it made watching those finishes that much more special. They rightfully got some extra cheering and there was even an awards category for them. That was wonderful to watch. Here is the first female cancer survivor being interviewed.
Finally I want to spotlight two awesome people. The whole event had awesome people participating, volunteering, spectating but these two were some of the awesomest! The Reeces are a husband and wife with two adorable kids. Their kids are young so naturally their training time is limited. They went to the Duzy couple for help in training and scheduling. They trained together and they did the whole race together! That is not an easy feat at all. Its one thing to run a race with someone it's another to swim with them amongst hundreds of people and then bike together making sure to stay 3 bike lengths apart so there are no drafting penalties. While I was swimming I turned my head to breathe and heard someone yell out "J" and I see a pink cap amongst all the men and there was G making sure she was with her hubby even though he had swum the wrong way. I gave her a quick shout out and swam along. These two spent over 7 hours and 70 miles together and crossed the finishline with each other. They are both members of Team Fight. They were truly amazing to watch all day. They kept each other in check and never left without the other person. They are a testament that working parents can train and get the job done. The hubby and I will be looking to them as models for how we can do the same in the future. Well Done Reeces, Well Done!
This event had the perfect number of people. A big event stardom and fanfare without the big event crowds and lines. It had a comfortably intimate feel. I am sure they will increase the number of participants for next year but I really feel that it was just right this year.
Thanks for a great event, next year we are thinking the relay again or maybe the Aquavelo...we'll see what happens!
Click here for the Half Full website. To see what people have posted on their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc about their experience see here.