Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kentucky Derby Festival mini-Marathon Race Recap

Despite ominous weather predictions prior to my first 1/2 of the season, the race went off without a hitch.  Well, maybe not completely without a hitch, but at least it wasn't a wash out!  We arrived in Louisville early Friday evening and headed over to the expo to pick up my packet.  It was pretty crowded and just a bit too chaotic to have 2 kids in tow.  We made it out alive though and decided to try to find someplace to eat dinner.  Some place kid-friendly, without a wait.  Hard Rock Cafe it was.  I haven't been to a Hard Rock Cafe since I was probably about 12 years old.  And now I know why.  Food was way over-priced for mediocrity.  Not to mention there was only one pasta dish on the menu.  After dinner we headed down to the riverfront area to try to find the post-race area.  I didn't want to take my phone with me during the race, so we wanted to find a good meet-up spot.  One mile walk later, we were all tired of walking and decided to take a horse-carriage ride home.  The kids really enjoyed that and it was a nice break for my legs!  We headed up to our hotel room and tried to get to bed early.  Sharing a bed with a wiggly 2 year old makes that impossible!  I knew it was going to be a long night...

I had to be at the shuttle pick-up by 6:00am to be at the starting line by 7:15am.  That meant a 5:00am alarm. I was up well before then.  I checked the weather outside....light rain and 55 degrees.  I had about 3 different outfit scenarios all laid out, not knowing what the day's weather would bring.  I had heard everything from torrential rains and tornadoes to no rain after 8:00am.  I decided on a tank top, skirt and a cheapie rain poncho.  Turned out to be the perfect outfit.  The poncho kept me warm and dry and I was able to pitch it.  I made my way to the shuttle pick up area only to find a huge line, wrapping all the way around the block.  The line moved quickly though and we were on the buses and at the starting line around 6:30am.  I had one hour to wait and try to stay dry.  Runners huddled under the overhangs at all the local businesses, under trees, wherever they could find shelter.  Time went quickly and at about 7:00am I decided to hit the port-o-potty.  Yeah....40 minutes later I had relieved myself of the need to pee, but had missed the start of the race.  That meant lining up behind the last corral of mostly walkers.  Made for an interesting first few miles, but at least I wouldn't have to stop the rest of the race!  Even missing the official start of the race, I still got teary-eyed as I neared the starting line.  That's why I run!

Miles 1-4 went through a really pretty, wooded, hilly, park.  Everyone kept talking about "the hills" in the first part of the race.  I had looked at the elevation profile quickly at the start of my training back in January and decided it didn't look too bad.  Luckily I was right, because I had run very few hills in preparation for this race.  You haven't run hills in the Ohio area until you've run the Flying Pig in Cincinnati!  I spent a lot of time weaving around people, trying to ease into a groove.  Running was easy and effortless at this point and the rain was tapering off.

Miles 4-7 were really boring.  We were on a long, flat road the entire time.  Crowd support was pretty decent throughout, thank goodness!  I was still feeling good!

Mile7-8 lead you into the Churchill Downs area and eventually into the actual stadium.  They had old horse races being broadcast over a loud speaker, adding to the excitement of running through such a cool venue.  As you ran along one side of the track, you could see the horses practicing.  Talk about effortless running!  Those horses are amazing!  Then you went down into the tunnels, beneath the famed race track.  The sound of pounding feet and hoots and hollars was exhilarating!

Miles 8-11 lead you out of the Churchill downs area, through the University of Louisville campus and to the mini-Marathon and "maxi-Marathon" (as the sign so cleaverly said) split.  There were over 11,000 runners in the race, but only 1,100 or so actually did the whole marathon.  I was starting to feel tired at this point and I was pretty glad today wasn't my day to run the full!  I'd be lying if I didn't think that I was a slacker though.  I was so ashamed I couldn't even look at the marathoners turning off.  Between miles 8-9 I decided to take my only GU.  I was hoping it would give me a much needed energy boost.  Instead, around mile 9, I developed a cramp in my lower, left abdomen.  I rarely get cramps when running, so this was pretty unusual.  I tried to do some deep breathing, all while keeping running.  My pace had significantly slowed down, but I was determined not to walk!  The cramp lessened enough that I could pick up the pace a tad.  I was feeling pretty good at the split off when a wave of nausea came over me and I knew I needed to walk.  I walked for about a minute, the nausea passed and I started running again.

Miles 12-13.1 were pretty much all downhill through the downtown and riverfront areas.  Runners who had already finished were walking back to their cars/hotels, so I knew the end was near!  Unfortunately around mile 12 the nausea returned and this time it wasn't just nausea.....I vomited 4 times on the side of the road/sidewalk/trashcan/etc.  I may never take another chocolate GU again! This was a first for me.  Luckily the runners had thinned out quite a bit and we weren't to the final straightway where there were a ton of spectators!  After my last episode I walked for another minute and then started running again.  I really did feel fine, I was just ready to be done!  The final straightway and finish line came into view and I knew I was going to make it.  I crossed the finish line at 2:18:51.  The recovery area lasted forever and was really picked over.  I felt bad for the marathoners who hadn't even got there yet!  I slurped down a bottle of water and found a plain bagel.  I got both of those down no problem and went on to find my family.

Walking back to the hotel proved to be another feat.  The kids were tired and worn out and we had a one mile uphill walk.  Guess who got to carry a tired 28 pound 2 year old?  I considered it my weight training for the day!  Finally back at the hotel, I took a quick shower, we packed up the room and hit the road.  The kids were asleep before we could get the Garmin programmed for home!

All in all, it was a great race.  The course was good, the crowd support was good, and it was well-organized.  Louisville is a delightful city and really had a lot to offer (if we had the time and/or energy to do it).  The expo wasn't all that great, and the shirt was a bummer, but that's not what's important.  The weather ended up being pretty good too.

As far as my running, I was a bit disappointed.  My Garmin is officially annoying and way off calibration (despite multiple attempts to calibrate it right). I really thought I could pull off a 2:15 or less.  And heck, maybe I could of, if I didn't puke 4 times!  I felt good and strong for most of the race.  It felt even better to have that confidence running by myself.  Weaving through all those people in the beginning would have been hard with a partner/group, although it would have been nice to have someone to chat with during that long, boring strip between miles 4-7.

So a post-race question:  Why do I lose toenails and get sore after races, but not during training?  This has happened after every race.  I ran well over 13 miles in training and only was sore after one of those runs.  It's not like I run that much harder during a race.  In fact, my motto during this race was "if I'm not having fun, I need to slow down!"  I'll never be fast, so why torture myself more than necessary? Yes, I'm a real!  I expect to have 2 less toenails in about 3 weeks.

My next race is in 2 weeks.  I'm pretty tight/sore today (including the spot in my abdomen where my cramp was??), so I took the day off from any exercise.  I'll get back on track tomorrow though!  This next race will be even slower.  I'm running with my friends on this one, and one of them is almost 24 weeks pregnant.  I'm sure there will be some planned walking involved, but it's going to be fun. And that's all that matters in my book!

Pictures from our weekend in Louisville:

Hubby and Caroline checking into the hotel
Braden testing out the luxury bedding at The Hilton

A rare moment of sibling love

Outside the Expo

Waiting (and waiting) for Mommy to finish

Post-Race (I swear I didn't pee myself...maybe rain, spilled water, sweat??)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ideal Conditions

As a runner, I wake up most mornings hoping for "ideal" conditions.  Now, that varies from month to month and season to season.  Now days, "ideal" would be mid-50's and sunny.  Those are the days that I feel like I could run forever.  This past winter I found myself hoping for mid-20's without snow showers.  It all depends on your point of view.  But what this past training cycle has taught me is that I can and will run through anything because you never know what race day will bring.  Sure, running into strong wind gusts on your way home from an out and back isn't ideal, but then you don't get to pick which way the race course goes and if you could, you couldn't guarantee that good ol' Mother Nature wouldn't interfere anyway!  The salesmen at Verizon looked at me like I was crazy when I told them I needed to get a new phone because mine had gotten too wet on my 6 mile run in the rain.  Oh well.  I'll be ready for those rain showers that they're predicting for my first half this coming weekend.  The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and Mini-Marathon is in 6 days!  I'm so excited to get this show on the road....quite literally.  3 cities, 3 races, in 4 weeks!  My family will never want to come watch me race again!  My new running skirt has been tried and tested (LOVE it).  I'm finishing up my playlist this week.  My race-day outfit is still TBD due to the weather.  Other than that...I'm ready!  And dare I say....I feel ideal going into this race?! Whether or not that means a big PR is another thing.  But at least I'm not sweating the details like I did for my first few races.  Running comes down to two simple things for me....having fun and staying injury-free.  Let the racing begin!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When it Rains, It Pours

This was the first week at my new job.  To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement.  I know the grass is always greener on the other side and that change is in fact a good thing....but right now all I want to do is head back to my old job.  The sad thing about that is that I did stay on in a "resource" position at the hospital and was asked to work this weekend.  It initially felt good to be in a place where people know me and more importantly, I know what I'm doing!  The sad part is that my old-coworkers have already moved on without me.  Not that I thought they would keep an eternal vigil or something, but my name has been taken off all the group email lists, my time sheet is gone, etc, etc.  Although painful to witness, this motivates me even more to make my new job work.  There's no turning back!  Despite an apparent lack of preparation on my new job's part (I mean really....who needs a computer or access to patient information) and about 6.5 hours of training, I think I will like my new job.  Maybe. Hopefully. 
And just when I think my week can't get any worse, I go for a run in the rain with my cell phone in my water-proof jacket pocket, and it gets soggy.  Yes, that would be cell phone #2 this year due to running-related injuries.  The good news is that I've upgraded to a Blackberry and finally feel like part of the grown-up world!  So, a question for you all.  How do you keep your phones from being exposed to moisture/sweat/rain? 

The next bummer of the week came from my "friend"/co-worker who had asked me to run the Cleveland 1/2 marathon with her on May 16th.  We made our Hotel arrangements and were trying to work out our running schedules so that we could do a couple of long runs together (she's a RN and works 12-hour shifts).  I went ahead and registered for the race last week, before the price increased.  Come to find out this week that the race is sold out now and my friend never registered.  So now, I'm running 2 out of my 3 races by myself.  This means the family will be coming with me and the expenses will quadruple!  Ugh.  I emailed the race director to see if perhaps I could "sell" my spot to someone....we'll see.

The one bright spot in my week came from a couple of packages arriving.  One was from Training Tag-Alongs and the other was from Skirtsports.  Although I had some issues with the nice folks at Training Tag-Alongs initially, their customer service recovery has been great!  I understand that they are a new company and are trying to work out some kinks.  Pictures to come soon of the kiddos in their cute shirts!  I've had such bad luck with online orders lately (in addition to that mess, I've now gone through 3 swim suits, trying to find one that fits) that I was sure my new running skirt wouldn't fit. But, miracle of all miracles, it fits!!  Unfortunately it was too chilly to try it out on my long run yesterday, but hopefully it will warm up this week, so I can give it a try.  My running has continued to go well.  No major aches and pains.  I'm excited for my upcoming races and hope my hard work and dedication will pay off.  You just never know what race day will throw at you.  In any case, I've been extremely thankful to have my running to keep me sane over the past few weeks.  Well, maybe not "sane" persay, but at least functioning!