Monday, January 31, 2011

3M Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, January 30
Austin, TX
State #21/50
Half Marathon #22
Weather - 64 degrees and HUMID

I used to live in Austin, TX. In fact, over a decade ago I met my future (now ex) husband there. Even though I thought I would never go back to Texas, I obviously had to pick a race there to finish my goal. I still have family there, so I picked the 3M half marathon. The race gets rave reviews for its cool swag, and it wouldn't cost as much money for me since I'd have a place to stay and wouldn't need to rent a car. My ex husband still lives in the area, so that meant that A also got to go along.

Our flight was delayed, but only about 30 minutes. The flight out was pretty quick, and our ride was waiting for us. It was about a 40 minute drive from the airport to my Lisa's (ex sister-in-law) house north of the city. We stopped at Subway on the way home to pick up some dinner.

After dinner and some time with the nieces and nephew (and ex-husband), I found out that Lisa had arranged for a babysitter so the adults could go to a movie. SCORE! We got back to the house late and A had fallen asleep on the couch.

Saturday the only thing on my agenda was to pick up me and L's packet for the race. We slept late after having been up so late the night before. A let me stay in bed until 9:00! I got ready for the day, and then we lounged around the house. We opted on a little Greek restaurant for lunch. I love love LOVE Greek salads. I think it is the feta cheese!

Delicious lasagna!
We made a quick stop at the half price bookstore, and then drove to north Austin to the 3M building to pick up our race packets.

There was no expo of any kind. Literally you walked in the door, gave your name, got your stuff, and walked out again. Relieved I wasn't given any hassle for picking up L's stuff. The swag WAS neat. Got a free pair of sunglasses, ankle brace, scotch tape, scrubbing sponges, (compare to) Sham Wow rags, nice Tech shirt, random other items. We got back to the house and spent more time doing nothing. Except the kids decided that raking was TONS of fun.

L's flight was due to land at 6:00, so we had another trip to make to the airport. Less than ten minutes after leaving the house, I get a text that she had already landed. 20 minutes early. Ooops. After picking L up we headed BACK up Lisa's where her husband was grilling chicken for fajitas! Carb loading for this race through tortillas instead of pasta. Yum.

Since the race was scheduled to start at 6:45, I headed up to bed just before 11:00. A was NOT tired.

Man, I haven't had a night like that in ages. I was uncomfortable and I was starting to feel like I was getting A's cold (that I had managed to bypass all week). The first time I dozed off wasn't until almost 1:00. But I didn't stay asleep. The slightest noise and I was up again. I figure that I got about an hour of sleep all night. I was up before my alarm went off at 5:05.

Chris, my ex brother-in-law, offered to drive us to the race start. He's a police officer with the city and thought with all the road closures it would be easier for us to not drive. Fine with us!

We were out the door only 5 minutes later than we planned, at 5:50. The drive down to the race start went fast, no one is out at that time of day on a Sunday! The exit we needed to take was backed up so Chris navigated some back roads and dropped us off only a block or so from the race start. The lines for the bathrooms were INSANE. As much as we have raced, we have come to the conclusion that it is completely worth it to miss the start of the race if we have to. NOT worth it to be uncomfortable. Right when we got out, the gun went off. No big deal, the start was narrow and people were still feeding through as we started.

Start Line
All I really knew about this course was it was a point to point and there was negative elevation. It was HUMID at the start of the race, and I was glad that the race started before the sun came up. The first mile was spent navigating around the slower runners and finding my pace (like always). Only this race was a bit different.

I found a decent groove but immediately I felt VERY tired and VERY hot. I had been fighting off getting sick, but I had been feeling pretty congested and tired over the last few days and I'm pretty sure it caught up with me. And the humidity was insane. I was sweating like crazy before we were even a few miles into the race.

I had somehow missed the first mile marker (which I don't think has ever happened), and I wasn't feeling YET like I was going to fast, but I was concerned about how crappy I already felt. the first aid station wasn't until we were over 2 miles in, and I walked a bit more than I normally do. I was just NOT feeling it.

I hit the 3 mile marker and I could tell I was going too fast for how I felt and the weather conditions. I was already exhausted and trying hard to not walk. I really really wanted to. Shortly after mile 3, I saw L. She passed me at the water station at mile 3.5. I didn't see her again the rest of the course.

Mile 5 hit and I am feeling worse than ever. Still tired. Still drained. Mile 5 is running through a residential neighborhood. Aid station at mile 5.5 and I walk. Drink a water. Drink a gatorade. Take a GU... start going again. Get passed by the 2:00 pace group somewhere just before mile 6. I don't even care. I'm just trying to not walk. Walking will only make the race last longer. It is "raining" a bit. And by raining I mean it's more "misting" but it feels GOOD. I finally feel like I am cooling off a bit. A slight breeze and the weather is almost bearable for a bit.

I keep going. And going. And going. Pass the relay hand off and I'm wondering... WHERE IS THE NEXT AID STATION??? It was not until almost mile 8. Not sure exactly where it was because I managed to miss that mile marker too. Are you kidding me??? So tired. So thirsty. So blah.

Keep going. Don't know how I am doing it. A lot of the course is running down Burnet road. Not too much to look at. I feel so terrible I don't even care that I'm not taking pictures. Somehow keep going. Another aid station somewhere around mile 11. People are passing me. They don't look as tired as me. Lots of crowd support but I can't even appreciate it because I feel so awful.

I swear I'm never gonna make it. I wonder why I run these races. I'm so tired. The miles are DRAGGING by. I hope there is another aid station. I desperately need the walk break. There is one (HURRAH) around mile 12. I can see the skyline for Austin and see UT's stadium. I get EXCITED thinking we are almost done. Look down and I still have 3/4 of a mile to go. Curse it!!! So tired... and then there is a decently long gradual uphill. My legs feel like lead but I will not allow myself to walk. Keep going. Don't know how, but I do. Come around the corner and I can see the finish. I still cannot force myself to move any faster. Ironically, I hear my Eminem song "'Till I Collapse" during that final stretch. Man. I really did just want to give up.

Was beyond happy to cross that damn finish line. The after race stuff was AWESOME.  With the exception of water availability (I would MUCH rather prefer a bottle of water, or more water stations would have been better), it was everything you could want! Live music and TONS of food. There was breakfast burritos from Rudys, Subway, Austin pizza, cookies, protein bars, bananas and oranges. I had to get a small  box to carry all my stuff! Finally did some pictures:

Holding up 2 & 1 for state #21

Post Race 
Gun Time - 2:09:35
Chip Time - 2:06:53
Overall Place - 2203/4515
Gender Place - 993/2600
Division Place - 191/455
10K official Split - 57:20 (hehe, would have been a PR)
Official Pace - 9:41
Garmin Distance - 13.10 (never had an exact race before!)
Garmin Time - 2:06:53
Mile 1 & 2 - 8:43
Mile 3 - 8:55
Mile 4 - 9:27
Mile 5 - 9:09
Mile 6 - 10:19
Mile 7 - 9:59
Mile 8 - 10:15
Mile 9 - 9:57
Mile 10 - 10:15
Mile 11 - 9:54
Mile 12 - 9:53
Mile 13 - 10:19
Mile 13.1 - 9:00

We met up with our friend from Colorado that also ran. He also struggled a bit and didn't put up a time like he had hoped. Chris picked us up by the finish line and we headed back to their house for more lounging.

A "playing" the piano while we watched a marathon of "Pawn Stars" on the History channel. That show is FASCINATING!

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:30, and on the way to the airport we stopped and got some Whataburger. Look. She's reading the safety manual. Again.

R picked us up at the airport, and even though she was VERY adamant about NOT being tired, she crashed a few minutes into the drive.

I enjoyed my visit in Texas, but the race was pretty miserable. Under better conditions, I think the race would have been a ton better. It was very organized and there was lots of stuff that made it good. The weather and how I was feeling just made it suck. Bad.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Five Fact Friday - My Half Marathon Playlist

1. My playlist is down to 39 songs and is 2.4 hours long.

2. There are songs on my race mix that are not on my gym mix - I don't want to get tired of my favorite running songs!

3. The only artists that have more than one song on my race mix are Adam Lambert, Flo Rida, Glee Cast, Ke$ha, Miley Cyrus, New Kids on the Block (who have three songs), Poison, and Taio Cruz.

4. Recently deleted from my playlist after years... "MmmBop" by Hanson.

5. Screenshot of my playlist (try not to judge me, haha):


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. The Calf is feeling better. I'm really glad I own The Stick.

2. I managed two 8+ mile treadmill runs this week, even though I had ZERO motivation.

3. 3M Half Marathon in Austin, Texas is on Sunday! A is coming with me since my ex there. She is pretty psyched! Too bad there is no Kid's run. This will be my 4th half marathon of the 2011!

Can't believe January is almost over. Where did this month go??

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sometimes... I'm a Whiner.

This week? Has been one of "those" weeks. I haven't mentioned it lately, but I'm still not working. And my unemployment is still "pending investigation." It sucks not working. It sucks not having money. It sucks having to ask people for help. It sucks to NEED my tax return. It sucks that I'm getting lectured by others about what I should be doing. It sucks to get a phone call from the preschool offering free tuition. I've never had to take handouts before.

But you know what? Lots of people have it worse. And sometimes I forget that.

Other than needing/wanting to vent, I'd like to link a blog.

Marcia @ Running Off at the Mouth stumbled across my good friend Giraffy's blog and has set up an AWESOME donation link to help Giraffy's family with their rising costs in caring for their youngest daughter's recently diagnosed leukemia. If you can, please donate for Gabby, she's one of my favorite ankle biters. Anything helps.

Gabby - May 2010

Monday, January 24, 2011

Polar Bear Run 5K (Race Recap)

Sunday, January 23
Denver, CO
Weather - Chilly, Slight Breeze, Sunny

I had been eyeballing the Polar Bear Run 5K for a few weeks. I didn't sign up early, because weather here in Colorado is very unpredictable. I won't run if it's in the single digits, if it's really windy, if it has snowed a lot, etc etc. I'm picky like that. The race has a nice 10:00 start time, so I woke set my alarm for 8:15 am and figured I'd decide in the morning if I was going to race. The weather looked good, so I called my Dad to see if he would be willing to watch A while I raced. We agreed he would come pick me up around 9:00 and we would drive down to the start at Washington Park.

A and H
Me and A before the race
I hadn't remembered, but where we parked is the same place where I watched L run her awesome marathon back in October. We could see the tents from where we parked and I found the race day registration with no problems. There WAS a slight problem. Apparently the port-o-potty order was messed up and they weren't delivered until literally about ten minutes before the race started. Once I have it in my head that I have to go, I have to go... so I got in line anyway. My dad took A (and my niece H) to the playground while the race was starting. There were maybe 20 people in line, and luckily I was able to get in and out and literally walk up to the start line as they were counting down for the gun to go off.

The first five minutes of the race? Pure chaos. Another race where there is no timing mat at the start so EVERYONE wants to be as close as possible to the front, whether they are running or walking. I find that REALLY annoying. I obviously am not a contender for a prize, but I'd like to be able to run at a comfortable pace without having to slow down dramatically or frogger around people. The start was also the most narrow part of the course, so I had a hard time getting my groove.

I've never run at Washington Park, and by the looks of it I'm the only person with a hundred miles that doesn't. There were TONS of people running, walking (with dogs, strollers), cycling, even a dude using the ski poles. The course was "sorta" closed. Meaning they had orange cones out. But a lot of people seemed to ignore that, so there was some dodging of pedestrians, including a man in a wheelchair who was coming towards all the runners walking two dogs (one of which tried to jump on people as they ran by).

I'll admit. I hadn't really planned for this race. With the bathroom scenario I didn't really stretch or mentally prepare or anything. By a mile in I was pretty tired. By a mile and half in I was cursing to myself and reminding myself that the 5K is the most terrible distance to race ever. There was a water station on the course just before the 2 mile marker, and yes, I walked through it. The break was just what I needed and for the last mile I was able to settle into a more reasonable pace. I was PSYCHED when I saw the finish line ahead. I saw my Dad and A on the sidelines, and I loved that! I hardly ever race locally, so there isn't usually anyone cheering for me. I sprinted (well, sorta) to the finish, with an official time of 27:23 (since I started farther back, my watch said 27:10, which is only about 18 seconds off a PR).

My Dad got this shot of my heading toward the finish line
Official Time - 27:23
Official Pace - 8:50
Overall Place - 102/410
Division Place - 15/92
Gender Place - 38/247
Garmin Distance - 3.16 miles
Garmin Time - 27:10
Garmin Pace - 8:36
Mile 1 - 8:08 (way too fast for me)
Mile 2 - 8:47
Mile 3 - 8:54
Mile 3.1 - 8:38

There was REALLY good stuff at the finish line! I've been at races where you're lucky to get a half a banana and a cup of water. This was NOT the case here. I bet I can't even remember everything that was there, but I know I got granola bars, bags of chips, Sport Beans, Cereal sample boxes, Girls Scout cookies, coffee, chocolate fondue and fruit from the Melting Pot, bagels, bottled water and Powerade, etc. Also in the goodie bag was a GU packet, a sample of deodorant, some of those recovery ointments, and more that I can't even think of.

We had about 40 minutes until the start of the Kid's Fun Run. Most of that time was spent trying to gather all our freebies and having free coffee and hot chocolate. I had a few women approach me and tell me how awesome my skirt was. No kidding :D I should get commission for the number of folks I refer to the runningskirts! With about 5 minutes until the start both kids decided they had to use the bathroom, so we had a short run to the port-o-potties.

Ready to run!!
If you haven't ever watched a Kid's run, you really should. The kids that do this are the happiest and most energetic kids you have ever seen. The kids were lined up at the start line, they were walked through a short set of stretching exercises.

A is in between tall boy in red shirt and hat and girl in pink jacket

They were instructed where to run, and then they just sprint. It's the most adorable thing in the world. A and H were some of the smaller kids running. At the turn-around, A stopped and waited for H and then they ran back to the finish where they got a certificate, a ribbon, and silly bandz.

Kid's Run - A is in there somewhere...

A good race! Too bad I loathe the 5K distance too much. This race is part of a series though, and the next one is Super Bowl Sunday... maybe I'll wear my yellow/green and head out. Go Packers!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Off Weekends

I really don't know what to do with myself when I'm at home. Not just with the time, but with my running. When I race? It's easy. No long run to plan. No worries about hydration or course or time. It's all done for me. I know I'm going to get 13.1 in whether I like it or not, and I know I'm not going to be a sissy. It's gonna get done, and it's gonna get done with maximum effort.

I'm off this weekend. Initially I planned on doing a "longish" run of about 10 miles on Friday morning running the Lake Arbor Loop after I took A to school. However? Epic.Fail. I thought I was dressed accordingly. Later, I'd discover that I was looking at AUSTIN's forecast, not ARVADA's forecast. Stupid weather app...

Most of the ice was melted!

I was dressed awesome! 
I did NOT take into account the damn wind. Every time I ran west or north, I was running against the wind. I was freezing. And then when I was running east or south, I was running with the wind and facing the sun and it was HOT. I honestly thought about quitting after only a lap or two, but then I figured I made ALL that effort to get out there and run. Pretty shocked I actually got five miles in. After leaving, I immediately was pissed at myself for not sucking it up and running another five. Blah.

How to spend the rest of the day? Making a healthy lunch for A:

A wanted more time on the treadmill. She is up to 17 minutes on the big one now! And like me, she can't pace nearly as well on the treadmill as she can outside. She runs like a drunken frat boy and I have to stand behind her to make sure she doesn't face plant or fly off the back of the treadmill.

What happens on a race-free weekend? Silliness.

A also has a gymnastics class on Saturday afternoons. She was pretty tired by the time she was done and actually took a two hour nap. I spend some time on the treadmill in the basement running (still nowhere near my ten mile plan) while watching "Hoarders." Anyone else watch that show? I find it FASCINATING.

After dinner (pizza buffet of course) we had some good ol' fashioned Mario Kart time on the Wii. I'll be honest. I was AWESOME at Mario Kart back in the day. You know, when the 64 was the coolest system out. I was impossible to beat. Then out comes this new fangled Wii with the steering wheel controller, and all of a sudden I not only suck, but I lose to A. Yep. A five year old can beat me. And do it easily and while talking quite a bit of smack.

Face of a Champion
Nothing planned for Sunday. However... there is a 5K race in Washington Park, which is only about 15 minutes away. It doesn't start until 10 am, so if A wakes up early, we might head over there. I'm already feeling race withdrawals.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. Originally we were doing a back-to-back race weekend for Disney Princess. The other race got bumped to a week later, but I had already booked our travel. What that means is that we arrive late late LATE Thursday night (like around midnight) and don't leave until Sunday late afternoon. I got to thinking... and did some research... long story short, the hotel offers a child care service, so I'm bringing A along! She will have a sitter during the half marathon, but I've signed us up to do the 5K on Saturday. My mom is working on making her a costume, we are thinking Minnie Mouse. I've never signed up for a race knowing I'm not really racing, but I am so so so so excited for this :D

2. I've officially booked all the travel for Phoenix. What's happening in Phoenix? The Lost Dutchman Marathon... in a month. Um. Yeah. Well, I haven't done any running longer than half marathon except for that 15ish mile run on Christmas. Guess this weekend since I'm at home I should try to squeeze one in? L was possibly going to join me for the marathon, but her leg is still really bothering her, so I'm doing this one solo again. Yikes.

3. Race schedule is coming along nicely. I'm booked through about... September. If anyone has any interesting races in August, let me know. I've got about ten states I won't have run in yet, but I don't see anything "good" for that month, currently it is WIDE open.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bermuda Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, January 16
Weather - Low 60s, Sunny, Warm

The last race of the Bermuda Triangle challenge was either the marathon or half marathon. I never had any intention of running the full, and since we are half fanatics, we of course were signed up to do the half, this being our 21st! After having slept so well the night before and my long nap, I did not get ANY real sleep. We had gone to bed at 10:00, and I tossed and turned most of the night and woke up pretty exhausted.

The race was to start at the same location as the invitational mile, which was only about a ten minute walk away. We decided to head over to the start line with about 40 minutes to go.

Sunrise over Hamilton Bay
Walking down Front Street
In the Bird Cage
Front Street
There were no port-o-potties at the start line, and we had been in line at one of the dock bathrooms for almost ten minutes before we realized that they were locked and we were optimistically waiting for someone to come open the doors. We headed over to the start line and were told that there were some bathrooms in one of the pier terminals. There were... two stalls. Are you kidding me??? So we wait. And wait. And wait. And then the race officials start coming in. Announcing that the race starts in ten minutes, eight, five, etc. Finally, with less than 5 minutes to go, I jump in line for the men's room. I'm happy to report that this was the cleanest men's room I've ever had to use. No poop anywhere on the toilet or floor! Hurrah! We are jogging to the start, and the gun goes off before we get there. L and I are literally the last two people across the line, and that's why there is no pre-race pictures. Suck less with the organization and bathrooms, Bermuda...

I honestly don't get nervous for half marathons anymore. I know what to expect, I know how to pace. But... I felt a bit different for this race. I knew this course was hilly, but if I was actually reading the elevation profile correctly, it wouldn't be as bad as the 10K. Good thing... my legs were still pissed at me. I was tired, and I was NOT looking forward to the warm temperatures and only FIVE aid stations along the course. I'm used to a lot more than that! However, Bermuda is a BEAUTIFUL country, so that pretty much canceled out all the crap that I wasn't looking forward to.

The main objective was to start out slow, and hope that I could get through it without it being as terrible as the day before. The first mile or so was a struggle. Mainly because we started in the very back of the pack, so I was dodging around people and trying to find a good pace. Did I mention it was hot? By about mile 2, I was already sweating quite a bit and feeling tired. The first aid station wasn't until just before mile 3, and it seemed like it took FOREVER to get there. I probably thought at least a dozen times during the first half of the course that I felt really terrible for the insane people that were going to run the full (half marathon course twice). There were some hills in the 3-4 mile range, and I was TIRED. My legs were tired, my body was tired. I was tired of running. The scenery was beautiful, it reminded me a lot of Hawaii, and I tried to be better about getting some pictures. If I'm not really enjoying the run, might as well enjoy the view?

Around mile 4
One of the most frustrating aspects of this race is that the roads are NOT closed to traffic. There was about a half mile section where I was being "tailgated" by a trash truck. Where do you want me to go buddy? There is no shoulder. So I didn't really enjoy the miles where I was breathing in exhaust. Again, just had to remind myself that I was in BERMUDA.

Around mile 5
Luckily for me,  the course seemed to get "easier" after I got past miles 4 and 5. What a relief! I was hot, and I was tired, but with the hills not being as bad, it wasn't AS bad. I found a few people to pace with, and my speed increased a bit.

About mile 6
A mile or two of the course overlapped the mid section of the 10K course (luckily not the insane hilly part) on the back side of town. There was a surprisingly large number of folks that were out watching the race. That was really nice! And most of them took the time to read our names on our bibs. Also nice!

Miles 7-12? I really don't remember that much of them. The ocean was in my sights for most of the race, and I think I just zoned out a lot. Came around the bend around mile 12 and could see the hotel we were staying at. I honestly can't remember the last time I was so happy to see the end of a course! There was a weird out and back that was obviously added for distance, and I tried to sprint with my pacing buddy (his name was Barry), but he beat me to the line. I was actually pretty surprised that I finished as well as I did.

Official Time - 2:03:36 (Gun time, which counts for challenge 2:04:42)
Garmin Time - 2:03:35
Garmin Distance - 13.17 miles
Garmin Pace - 9:23
Mile 1 - 9:10
Mile 2 - 9:16
Mile 3 - 8:57
Mile 4 - 10:17 (biggest hill on course)
Mile 5 - 9:31
Mile 6 - 9:31
Mile 7 - 9:59
Mile 8 - 9:24
Mile 9 - 9:28
Mile 10 - 9:07
Mile 11 - 9:30
Mile 12 - 9:00
Mile 13 - 9:00
Mile 13.1 - 7:49

And as for the overall challenge? Out of all the half challengers I finished 58th with a time of 3:10:16 :D

I was a bit worried about L. She said her leg was getting much worse, and was aiming to finish in 2:30. I grabbed a diet Pepsi and bottle of water at the finish line and then headed down Front Street to watch for her. I was shocked when she came around the bend just a few minutes later. I didn't really have my camera ready, but I actually got this shot of her heading to the finish line.

With half marathon & Triangle Challenge medals
L with her medals
So you see this guy in the yellow top and black shorts? That is the marathon winner. He finished in just under 2:25... so only about 20 minutes after I finished. And he didn't even look sweaty. Madness.

We headed back to the hotel, and took quick showers and packed. Then we walked over to Buzz to pick up lunch. I got an awesome panini:

We checked out at noon, and had a shuttle scheduled to pick us up at 12:15 to take us to the airport for our 3:00 flight. The shuttle was a few minutes late. The race was of course on the main road and there were some delays. The airport in Bermuda is teeny tiny and we got there in plenty of time.

Flight to Philadelphia was uneventful. Our layover in Philly was just under two hours long, so we had dinner there. I got a pepperoni Stromboli and Greek salad. Yum.

The flight from Philly to Denver? Longest. Ever. Seriously. I don't know HOW we managed to land 20 minutes early and it still felt like we were on the plane forever.

All in all? A successful trip.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bermuda 10K (Race Recap)

The 10K started at 10:00 am, and we set our alarm for 8:05 am. We had gone to bed at 10:00, and I swear I fell asleep right away. That means I got TEN hours of sleep. Much needed sleep, I might add. I felt rested and ready to go.

Usual routine of bagel with peanut butter, and then we started our walk to the start. The only race of the three that did NOT start on Front Street. We didn't have access to Yellow Pages or a local map, and the map we were given at the expo did not really help, so I had asked, and the lady told us it would be about ten minutes longer of a walk than the other race starts and we would only have to make one turn. L thought we were leaving too early, but I figured I'd rather not rush and get there early and not be stressed out. 

We saw some other people wearing race gear, and we headed in the same general direction.

Hamilton Bay
Cool church, one of the only "plain" colored buildings
Mini Dealership
We had been walking a while, and had lost sight of the people we were following. There weren't any other people on the streets. I was starting to get a bit concerned that we were lost. It seems like we had gone from being in the nicer downtown area to maybe not so quite as nice an area, and it seemed residential. My watch said 9:30, and we were lost. We couldn't use our phones because no international plan was set up for such a short weekend. We didn't see anyone to ask, and none of the businesses were open to ask for directions. I was REALLY panicking, when out of the blue, a man stops and says "Are you heading to the race? If so, you are in the WRONG part of town. Jump in, I'll give you a ride."

Now normally I would NOT get in the car with a stranger, but everyone we had met was so nice, and I figured I had L with me, so we got in the car. After 6-7 minutes of driving (so yeah, we were not even CLOSE), he drops us off a few blocks from the start. Thanks random citizen for swooping in and saving us from missing our race!

The race started at their "sports complex" and so NO port-o-potties! Of course the lines were long, and there weren't many stalls. With about 20 minutes until the start, they let us use the stalls by where the elites were hanging out.

There was no official bag drop, just a tent where you could leave your stuff. I risked leaving my sweatshirt, and we started the walk to the start line.

Me & L at the start
Start Line
The race was chip timed, and my only goal was to beat my over TWO year previous time of 1:01:47... As soon as I crossed the start line I was annoyed to find that there was no timing mat, so I would already be working against a 20-30 second delay. L was concerned about the race and planned on taking it easy, but I was going for a PR, so I headed out with the mentality that I could do my half marathon race pace and easily kill my old time.

There were only going to be two water stations on the course, and we were aware that there were going to be a couple pretty tough hills on the course. The start of the course was a nice downhill, and I found a pretty decent stride. The sun had come out (just in time for the start), and it was HOT.

I was really happy to get to the first water station, just under 3 miles into the race. As I looked down at my watch at the 5K marker, I was only 20 seconds under my PR for a 5K... meaning, on a course like this, with a RIDICULOUS hill at the end, I was probably pacing too fast. I tried to hold back just a bit, and I remembered that I've been sucking about taking pictures during races, so I got a few shots between the 3 and 4 mile markers.

I was coasting along and feeling pretty great... until mile 5. This hill was pretty much unlike anything I have encountered during a race. It was insane. It just went on and on and on and on... almost everyone was walking. And the people that WEREN'T walking might as well have been. I made it about halfway up the hill, and then I thought... my heart rate is OFF THE CHARTS. Why am I killing myself?? I can still get a PR, it won't be as fast as I'd like, but man, I was dying. So I took a couple of walk breaks on the hill. Just long enough to catch my breath. Around mile 5.5 the course did level out a bit, but by then my legs felt like lead. I was seriously concerned that my legs might actually give out and I might not be able to finish.

I was out of breath, hot, and STRUGGLING, but I saw the 6 mile marker and the turn into the stadium and I gave it everything I had. Which by then? Wasn't much at all. I saw Bart Yasso (man, I wish I would've spent the money for the pasta dinner so I could hear him speak again) and he was cheering everyone on. What a great guy!

I was pretty psyched to see that I would come in under 58 minutes. The time according to my Garmin

Official Time - 57:47
Garmin Time - 57:20
Garmin Pace - 9:11
Mile 1 - 8:42
Mile 2 - 8:39
Mile 3 - 8:59
Mile 4 - 8:49
Mile 5 - 9:46
Mile 6 - 10:11
Mile 6.2 - 9:28

My heart rate peaked at 188 bpm... which is just insane. I normally peak in the upper 170s, and average upper 160s, low 170s over an entire race. Shows you how tough this course was and how hard I was working, especially towards the end!

I grabbed a diet pepsi and water at the finish line, and then headed back over to the finish line to wait for L. She came in sooner than she had planned, but she mentioned that her leg seemed to be worse than ever. We grabbed some gatorade and waters, and then started our walk back. Which, incidentally, looked NOTHING like our walk TO the race.

American Embassy
Cabinet Building
We stopped at some stores on the way back. Mostly because everything closed SO early that we wanted to be sure that we got all our souvenirs. We didn't get back to the room until after 12:00, and we took quick showers. On our walk back, we had seen a place advertising $5.50 cheeseburgers. Too good to be true! We had yet to have had a meal under $18 a person. We walked the mile or so back to where we had seen the cafe. We walked in and it was dark and deserted. Woman outside tells us to go up the stairs. Again. In a past life, I would never have done that. But... we get upstairs, there is another couple eating. They have a few big screen tvs, and we order. The nicest guy in the world takes our order, and I have one of the best burgers I've had in a while. Delicious.

After lunch we headed back towards the hotel. We were still pretty tired, and had plans to just relax and watch tv, hang out in our room until dinner time. We had just settled in when...

What I learned from this fire alarm? I would SUCK in an emergency. Neither of us even moved for a good couple of minutes... Then, when I opened the door and could actually HEAR the alarm (honestly, I'm not sure if I would have been sleeping I would have heard it, wasn't that loud inside the room), we just sort of wandered out in the hallway. We walked through the fire doors without a second thought, didn't really look to see where the stairs were, and just sorta sat in the chairs by the elevator until the housekeeper told us we could go back to our rooms.

Then, somehow, while watching a movie on tv, we both fell asleep, and didn't wake up until after 6:00. Oops. We headed back to the Italian restaurant we had seen the night before. Ordered some lasagna, and it was DELICIOUS.

After dinner we decided to walk Front Street one more time.

Made out of little rocks/tiles
Should be the title of my blog or something :D
We stopped at the grocery store, and got a beer, and some other drinks to tide us over, then started the walk back. Think I have enough to drink?

Dessert - Carrot Cake & Cheesecake
We watched a bit more tv in the room, and headed to bed at 10:00 again.

Week in Review (July 9 - July 15)

Tuesday  (11,560 steps) - Peloton before going to work in the office. Cross training at lunch.  Wednesday  (17,583 steps) - Headed up to Lou...