Saturday, March 29, 2014

Everything is AWESOME!!!

Just a few more notes about last weekend's Modesto Half Marathon:

On a whim, I added a few songs to my iPod Shuffle right before the race.  I really like having a new song pop up, sometimes it can bring a lot of energy to a run.  Of course, sometimes it can suck, too, but that's what the skip button is for.  My new totally favorite running song is now, "Everything is AWESOME!!!" from The LEGO Movie.  This song is hilarious!  What struck me as particularly apropos during the race was when they are listing awesome things and one of them is allergies.  Ha!  Well, that's a very positive way of looking at things, I suppose.


 One of the better perks of running the Modesto Half Marathon is the free race photos.  I love it when RDs do that!  Especially when I look this "AWESOME!!!"  You would never know that I could barely breathe during this race from the huge smile on my face.

This was pretty early on.  I think everybody was still smiling for these.


Those gloves are full of snot.

And that guy behind me with whom I am unintentionally color-coordinated is my imaginary friend.  We passed each other SO many times!  I wish I'd had the lung power to talk with him.


Anybody looking for a chicken wing?  I got a coupla them right here!

PW?  What PW??


This week's running has been going exceptionally well, in spite of still being all full of mucous.  I'm just going slow and enjoying the miles because the AR50 is one week from today!  *gulp!*

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Modesto Half Marathon - Race Report!

I hereby declare 2014 the Year of Learning to Look at Things From a New Perspective!  Case in point, today's seemingly dismal half marathon:  Time-wise, it was a big time Personal Worst at a road half, by something like 20 minutes.  So you might think I'd be all disappointed or pissed, but the reality is that I had a really terrific day and honestly felt like I accomplished something I wasn't sure I could.  Yay me!
Let me rewind a little to the last few days, where I have been sicker than sick with terrible allergies.  We're talking about a head full of snot and wheezy, hacky lungs.  Not pretty, and definitely not conducive to good running.  I pulled the plug on a planned 6-miler before I even crossed the street yesterday morning, it was that bad.  So, I readjusted my already lowered standards and just hoped I'd be able to walk the half at a decent hustle.
I got a pretty good night's sleep and was up at the crack of night to drink coffee, eat oatmeal, make my post-race shake and attend my all-important "morning meeting."  I got dressed in an outfit just a tiny bit too warm for the weather if I was running, but that I hoped wouldn't be too cold if I was walking.  It was hard to judge, really.
We were on the road by 5:15 (race start was 7 am, and Modesto is about an hour away) and cruised right into some easy parking and no porto-potty lines.  Score!
You can see on my face that I'm a little apprehensive about the day.

I kissed UltraIronHubs and wished him a great race (more about that in a minute), got my mom settled in a spot where she may or may not see us start, then lined up at the way back.  The way, waaaaaaaaaay back.  It was already warmer than I had anticipated, but I was in a pretty good mood.  It's nice to not have any expectations for a race.  In fact, that's arguably my favorite thing about trail racing - you really never know what the day is going to bring you, so you might as well settle in and enjoy the scenery.

Off like a herd of turtles!  That's me right of center in the socks and skirt.

I had already determined that I would start the race by walking, then pick it up if I felt like I could.  I had truly planned on being okay with walking the entire 13.1 if necessary.  But when the race started and the crowd surged forward, I felt like I couldn't really walk across the starting line, ya know?  So I put on some hustle pants just to see how it would feel.  It wasn't bad.  It wasn't exactly good, either, but I found that I could move at a trot without too much trouble in my lungs.  I stuck with the trot and decided that I would just play the whole day by ear.  Maybe I could do a half-trot, half-walk sort of day.
Within the first block or two, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  It was a friend of mine from high school!  How exciting to see a friendly face!  I had run into her a few years ago at the CIM expo and we are friends on Facebook, too.  Recently, she had posted that she was all done with marathons, so I was surprised to see her here.  As it turned out, she was doing the half also.  I briefly imagined glomming on to her and her friend for some company, but it was painfully, coughingly obvious that they were going too fast for me.  I watched her disappear into the crowd in front of me and I tried not to hack up a lung.
As it turned out, I could sort of cough and trot at the same time.  I found a really nice pace that I could sustain that gave me the least amount of trouble with my lungs.  No wheezing, just occasional coughing fits and a nice, steady heartrate.  I resolutely refused to look at my Garmin, because I just really didn't want to see how slow my trot was.  It felt good, so I was sticking with it.
There are a few twists and turns the first few miles which wind through a nice neighborhood where the people come out with their kids to cheer in their sweatpants and pajamas.  It's so pleasant, and I really wish more of the course was "in town" like the start.  I wanted to be a friendlier race participant, but when I tried to smile or say thanks to the spectators, I started coughing like a demon.  So.  Headphones in, game face on, keep trotting forward.  I wasn't here to make friends.  Except that I'm always here to make friends!!  Chatting with other people is what makes race day so much fun!  It was hard to stay quiet.
The first several miles passed very pleasantly.  I was trotting along and enjoying my music and only needed to walk when the course went over the overpass.
Happy to say that I survived this summit not once but TWICE on this course!
Roundabouts Mile 6, I was thinking about taking a little walking break to text my mom, still feeling pretty okay, when I got a text from UIH:  "Not my day. :("  Ugh!  I felt SO bad for him.  I knew he was dealing with some allergy issues, too, but I was hoping he could push through.  Not so much.  I walked for a bit, texting with him and updating my mom, then picked it back up to my trot and carried on with it.
At Mile four, I had expected to start seeing runners coming back at me.  By Mile 5, I started to suspect that the course was not really an out-and-back at all, like I had remembered from the inaugural year.  I missed a lot of Mile 6 because of the texting and whatnot, but at Mile 7, I started to feel a gnawing worry that I had somehow missed a crucial turnoff for the half marathoners.  We were still running out.  That was bad, right?  I looked around at the runners near me and there were plenty of half marathon bibs, so I wasn't too concerned.  I mean, if I was accidentally running a full marathon, at least I was in the company of plenty of other fools.
Just before Mile 8, the course splits off, sending the full marathoners on their out-and-back, and the rest of us back into town.  Aha!  So I wasn't actually lost.  I guess there's a first time for everything.
By Mile 8, I was taking somewhat regular walking breaks.  They weren't timed or anything, but about every half mile or so, I would walk for as long as it took to slow my breathing and then get back to the trotting.  It was sort of strange to me that my coughing was actually worse while I was walking than while running.  I was a phlegmy mess.  My nose and throat felt so full that I finally decided to try something I've never, ever done before:  blow a snot rocket.  You might think, being a girl who is no stranger to peeing in the bushes on trail runs and talking about my bowels on the internet, that I would have some experience with snot rockets, but no.  I do not.  Or rather, I did not until today, when I popped my snot rocket cherry.  If there's a skill to these things, I apparently do not possess it.  Or I just really, really had a lot of snot, because holy crap it was a fucking mess.  The blowing part was easy, I mean, hello.  Blow out the snot.  It was the release that was tricky.  The snot just sort of...hung there.  I ended up slicing the connection with my hand and sort of shaking it off, then wiping the remnants onto my gloves, then carrying the gloves sticky sides together.  There's got to be a better way, but maybe next time I'll remember to just bring a Kleenex.
Mile 9 was a pleasant surprise, because that's when I did the math and realized how close I was to the finish.  Only four more miles?  I can do that!  I trotted, I walked.  Most of the people around me were doing the same.  I really, really wanted to chat with some of them, particularly this one guy who was walking every time I was running and running every time I was walking.  We seriously passed each other dozens of times, but he was wearing headphones, too, and I knew if I said something I would just start coughing.  So on I went.
I updated my mom with excited texts:  I'm coming up on 10 miles!  I'm at the overpass! 12.5!  I didn't think I would feel this good to be finishing my slowest race ever, but I got completely choked up at the last aid station.  The volunteers were going crazy, ringing their cowbells and cheering so loudly - it was awesome!!  I felt like a rock star!  I pulled out my headphones the last half mile because I could hear the finish and it sounded like all those people were cheering for me.  I made that final, exhilarating turn into the finishing chute, waved to my mom, heard them announce my name and bounded across that happy Finish Line!  I did it!  I (sort of) ran a half marathon today!
I earned this.  Official finishing time was 2:42:05, 893rd out of about 1400 participants.
No sooner did I cross the line and receive my nice, hefty medal than I ran into another friend from high school!  I swear Modesto is a bigger city than you might expect from this race report.  It was so great to see Lancer.  We're friends on Facebook, but haven't seen each other in probably 20+ years.  And just moments after that?  Yes, another friend from high school said hi and gave me a hug.  Best.  Day.  Ever!
UIH had been sending me updates, but he was still a few miles away.  I felt so bad for him.  I've totally been there, watching my PR dreams slip away while feeling more miserable and exhausted.  It was much hotter than the weatherman had predicted and that long, long stretch on 9th street feels like Hell when you're having a bad day.  I couldn't let him finish this thing alone.  So I started speed walking/trotting back up the course until I found him, a little past Mile 25.  He was in better spirits than I had feared, but we didn't talk too much.  I've been on the other side of this equation enough times to know that even though you're totally grateful for the company, you don't have much to say.  So we walked and ran from cone marker to cone marker and just like that - bam! - he finished his 15th marathon!

We worked extra hard for these medals today!

Another medal for the rack o' bling!

Read it carefully.  I guess there's no spell-check on the engraving machine - oops!!

I hope your racing weekend was as awesome (though hopefully faster) as mine!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

MoMary Race Goals

Just when I think I'm not going to run this thing anymore, here I am signed up yet again for the Modesto Marathon.  This year, thank goodness, I'm only doing the half!  This is the fifth year of the MoMary, and here's how those five years have shaken down for yours truly:
2010 - the inaugural year.  I had huge, BQ-sized goals and dreams which went down in dehydrated, puking flames by Mile 18.  I was sunburnt and exhausted at the finish line.
2011 - UltraIronHubs was trained and ready for his first sub-3, but the drenching rain and 25 mph winds had other plans.  He still BQ'd, of course, because that's what he does, but his 3:14 was sort of a bitter pill.  You can read my spectator report by clicking here.
2012 - UIH and I ran together, but one of us (*cough* ME *cough*) was wildly undertrained and barely capable of going the distance.  You can read about it by clicking here.
2013 - UIH was in the throes of plantar fasciitis recovery and I was training for an ultra, so neither one of us ran.  Sad face.
And now here we are in 2014, ready to rumble once again!
Modesto is my hometown, I love this place!  Gotta give UIH props for catching this great photo out of a moving car as we left the expo.  He's got skills!
This year is all about UIH.  I really only signed up for the half because I'm two weeks out from the AR50 and I didn't want to miss a day of training to spectate his race.  Isn't that supportive of me?!?
UltraIronHubs has been following the Hansons Marathon Method training plan and is completely primed and ready for a huge day tomorrow.  The weather is going to be spot on perfect (mid to high 40s at the start, very little wind, clear skies, and less than 60 degrees when he finishes), and he is planning on bringing home a marathon PR that starts with the number 2.  I am so excited for him!!
Obligatory "at the expo holding our bibs" shot.
The expo moved to a new location this year and I was sort of underwhelmed.  Well, that's not entirely fair - I almost never like expos.  But since this one included walking up three flights of very steep stairs to pick up my bib in a tiny, stuffy room made it low on my list for sure.  The volunteers were awesome, though!  Super friendly and available every time you turned around to tell you where to go next.  I appreciated that.  We were in and out in under 20 minutes.
Race schwag was good but not great.  On the plus side, I'm VERY happy with the women's specific tech tee!!  Love the color, love the cut, don't love that it's a little thin, but that's not a deal-breaker.  Past years' shirts have been truly awful and unwearable.  I will definitely be wearing this one!  The drawstring bag is always nice, my kids use them as track/cross country bags, so we go through them like water.  The jacket was touted as this huge thing this year, but it's pretty thin.  I'm a little meh about the jacket.  I am looking forward to the medal, though!
My goals for the race have been drastically revised over the past three days because I am having one of the worst bouts of allergies I have ever had.  Ever!  Our weird not-really-a-winter, combined with a very early and very warm spring means that the allergens are off the charts around here.  I know those of you who are still experiencing snow days have a TON of sympathy for me, so I'll just leave my complaining at the door and get on with the goals:

  • Start and finish the race.  I think this is pretty doable, and possibly the only goal I am going to meet, which is why I wrote it down.
  • Try to run a little, maybe run a lot, but maybe walk the whole thing.  I had to walk a good portion of a three-miler on Thursday and couldn't even make it across the street this morning without wheezing, so I'm trying to keep my goals in line with reality here.
  • If I'm walking the whole thing, keep up a good pace.  My legs are willing, but it's a bit of a question if my lungs will cooperate.
  • Don't pee on myself during a huge coughing fit.  Who am I kidding?  I always pee when I'm coughing!  This has nothing to do with the race!
  • Try desperately hard to beat UIH to the finish line because he is running twice as far as I am.  This one is going to depend on how everything else lines up - can I actually breathe enough to run?  Am I able to walk at a brisk pace?  How many port-o-potty stops will I need to make?  Just in case, I plan on carrying a cowbell so I can scream and cheer for him as he blows by me.
Oh, yeah!  Also?

  • Don't drown.  I think that one's a lock.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Runday (in Photos)

I am not a fan of Daylight Saving Time.  It's not losing the hour of sleep so much, since I'm always losing sleep, but I hate losing an hour of running!  I like to run early.  Sometimes really early, but any kind of early will do.  So not getting started until 8 am this morning had me a little disgruntled, but thankfully the trails had just the cure for my crappy mood:

I'm no ornithologist, so the best you're going to get here is that this was some sort of giant bird of prey.  A hawk, perhaps?  No clue, but oh my goodness, this tree was full of them!  I saw several flying low and circling the tree.  Their wingspans are HUGE!!

One of several bridges I ran over today.  This one crosses the American River into the back yard of my dream house.

Close-up of the sign on the bridge.  This cracks me up every time!

Wavy trees + pretty trail = happy runner.

Such a gorgeous view.  Just off camera, however, is Folsom Prison with its giant barbed wire fences - ha!

Most of the trails were nice and dry, but there were a few super muddy spots that I had to do a little acrobatics to get past.  I call this the splits walk.

Double tree tunnels.  I also ran through a regular ol' concrete tunnel that wasn't as picturesque.

The river was like glass this morning.

Speaking of things that crack me up every time I see them.  I always look forward to the Narwhal!

Another wooden bridge!  All told, I think I crossed at least six today.  Some of them were very tiny, just a few boards.  Do you get super paranoid like I do when you run over them and think that today will be the day your foot goes through that one rotten board??

Almost done!

BAM!  Finished up my highest training mileage week ever.  EVER.

How was your run today??