Monday, March 23, 2009

VA Beach Shamrock ½ Marthon


VA Beach Shamrock ½ Marthon

Bib:11585 Time: 2:48:25 Pace: 12:50

I’m up early getting ready for my race while Josh continues to doze in bed, the full marathon start an hour after the half starts. I’m nervous and going threw my stuff again and again. I’m double checking my clothing, supplies and other prep. How much to wear? Its cool now, but it’s also sunny and will warm up a little and I’ll be running… I plan on carrying a small water bottle in one hand and camera in the other. I munch on some food the best I can, waiting to head to the start.

Josh gets up and we finally head down to the start together. As we leave the room we look out the windows and can see the crowd of runners outside lining up for the start. Another huge race, as expected. We walk over and find our way to the general coral area for my expected running speed. I’m very nervous and try my best to smile. As the start nears I give Josh my hat and gloves. I know I will be warm enough soon as I get moving. We share a kiss and hug and he gives me assurance and tells me I’ll do great.

The start single goes off and the mass of people starts to crawl forward. I feel a bit lost with out Josh here with me but know I’ll be fine. There is no running for now, just a slow walk towards the electric timer at the start. I snap a picture of the start banner and the mass of people ahead of me as I get close to it, with the disposable camera that I’m running with.(unfortunately almost all the pics came out a bit blurry at best). I get threw the start gate and begin trying to weave threw the crowd of runners and walkers to find some room to run.

I finally settle into a run. But I’m not happy at all. I’m not even two miles in and my leg is hurting. What I’m going to do? Can I run the whole race like this? I keep trying to adjust my stride and foot strike to find something that works. But nothing really seems to help as I push on.

The sun is coming up more and we are blasted with sun each time we pass a street block. I’m glad I brought my sunglass I will defiantly need them. I try to distract my self by looking at the crowds of spectators out watching us runners. There are people with signs, dressed in costumes, cheering, some just stand there quietly watching, some are even drinking beer this early in the morning.

The miles tick by very slowly. I come to the first big water station. But what’s this? A little side station is handing out beer to the runners. It’s so tempting, the thought of the beer numbing my bad leg. But I know beer wouldn’t be a good a choice in the end. How about a bathroom break instead? ‘Sweet Jesus!!” I think, “Look at the lines at the porta pottys!’, well scratch that idea. I don’t need water so onward I go.

I city starts to drop away and more of a woody country feel surrounds the road as I continue on. I’m finding that if I maintain a good even stride and keep focused on my runnin for the most part the discomfort in my leg is little more manageable. I’m feeling a bit better at getting threw this and I’m enjoying the race more. I eve’s drop on the convo’s around me to pass the time. I smile as I see people disappearing into the woods along the road to relieve themselves. I consider it but I’m not feeling that desperate yet. Some one has stuck little signs along the road in this section with interesting facts, jokes and quotes, making the time pass a little more quickly.

We runners come across a water station, fully stocked with cups and Gatorade coolers, but no water…? They had yet to get some one to bring water out to them. I was fine, that’s why I like running with my water bottle. I continued on down the road. Next I start to hear music. Then I can make out a little stage up ahead on the road. What a sweet relief and mood lifter. A live band playing classic rock tunes in the middle of race, love it!

The corner to the halfway point toward the fort looms ahead. My pace drops going around the banked corner. I wince. My teeth grind as I clench my jaw. My leg hurts bad, it’s crippling, I’m not sure what to do with it. I hopple to fast walk for a bit coming off the corner and down the road, this hurts more then running… Limping doesn’t help at all either. Running it is then. I force my legs to run again. I gather my stride take some deep breathes and manage to get things under control again. Just in time for the next water stop it seems. There are a few pit toilets here but also lines. I slow again to grab some water and body tenses up as my leg rebels. And then force my self to a run again…

I continue on, it’s the home stretch from here on out I tell myself. The land opens up more to fields and, best of all, the ocean comes into view on my left. Oh what a beautiful day. I see the light house ahead and nearby a porta potty for tourist with very short line. Sold! I take care of business and hit the road again. With that off my mind my mood improves. I take some salt tabs, advil, and munch on some shot blocks to keep me moving to the end. I finally come out the fort and back onto city streets.

I run past the beer station again and again I’m oh so tempted! But I know it would only come right back up at this point. I can see the city blocks again. The lead marathon runners start to run by us in the opposite direction starting the second half of their run. We cheer them on, but most of them seem too serious and focused on their run to notice us. I try to pick up the pace, the end is near. But I’m tired and loosing track of the miles per say, there are mile markers for both races and for some reason its throwing me off.

My leg is throbbing. I try to keep my stride, pace and foot fall steady and even. My knees are shot at this point and ache from the miles of pavement running. My feet are hot and tender from the miles. My leg muscles are numb, tired and sore. But the end is near and I push the pace down the Atlantic Ave, past the grand hotels. Any time now the course will turn left onto the board walk, it has to be soon… please…?

Finally the turn and onto the board walk! I run along the board walk by the ocean and I can see Neptune statue that is the finish. I come upon a group of girls and a guy. The spectators start to egg the guy on “Don’t let those girls beat you!” his response “They can have it!”

I feel myself kick it just a bit more and run strong across the finish line. I’m thrilled to be done and proud that was able to stick it out for the whole run. But almost fall a couple times as I come to a stop and my leg doesn’t want to move any more. I manage to coax it and tell it walking is a good thing and it agrees. I claim my ½ marathon metal and an awesome tec wick hat that I will wear proudly at any race I can. I snag some water and banana before breaking free of the crowd.

My finish time was great considering my handicap, pretty much right were I predicted it to be. I couldn’t be happier except for one thing. For Josh to finish his race and be here with me! So let the anticipation begin!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

VA Beach Shamrock 8K


VA Beach Shamrock 8K
Bib: 5749 Time:54:56 Pace:11.03

As Josh and I make our way down to the start I’m nervous. It’s a cool but bright sunny March morning and I hope I’m wearing the right amount of layers. We both have on our Team Robert shirts on for our 4 race of the year. There are people every where. It’s the biggest race I have every seen. We can see the start banner hanging a few blocks away but there was no point of moving forward towards it, as the crowd around us are all people lined up to start the race. As we looked around there are many different characters about us. Many people are in costumes and there are all different kinds of clothing. There are kids to seniors, and twigs to clydesdales. There sure won’t be any lack of stuff to look at while running.

The single to start goes off and we sprint off down the road…. at a slow walk. The crowd is way too big and there is a bottle neck to threw the electric timer at the start line. We cross the start line and finally manage to break into slow trot as we weave our way threw the crowds trying to find room to run down Atlantic Ave. It’s great to be passing people this early in a race!

Josh is eager to run and weaves off faster then me. I keep loosing him and can’t run fast enough to keep up. I have my big race tomorrow, the Shamrock ½ marathon. It will be my longest run since September when I first hurt my leg. Speaking of… is it in my head or is my leg really starting to act up? It kind of feels like it... It’s been fine for awhile leading up to March. But these last few days I swear I could feel dull ache in that area. But I blamed it on my nervousness of doing these races.

I’m frustrated that I have lost sight Josh. Is he going to leave me behind? I breathe. Just relax. I’m still passing a lot of people and I love that, even if a lot of the people I pass are just walkers. I go back to people watching. It’s so much fun and my mood lightens again. Josh is back now to! He mentions something about pace not being good, to slow, as we pass a mile maker clock. ‘Dude! A 11 to 12 minute mile is a great pace for me!” I think in my head.

As we round the corner onto the boardwalk and my heart jumps a little. I can see ocean now and that makes me even happier. But it has become clear that my leg is acting up, it isn’t just in my head. I tell Josh, I don’t want to whine but I want him to try to understand why I’m not trying my best. I try to focus and relax, don’t get frazzled. Breath in, breath out, left foot, right foot.

As we run up the boardwalk the crowd is starting to thin finally, if you can call it that. Josh is enjoying the people watching too. And is pointing out and reading out people’s t-shirts. One of my favorites is “I’m part of a drinking club with a running problem” It’s a good reminder that there is sweet delicious free beer at the end of the race! We run pass a few kids holding out their hands for high fives. We slap their hands as we run by making everyone smile even more. As we turn off the board walk back onto Atlantic Ave for a bit, some girls yell out “Go Loni!’ It is kind of exciting have someone cheer me on like they know me, who cares if they are just reading my number bib.

As we go up Atlantic Ave it feels like we going up a hill. I try to pick up the pace despite my leg, I know the end it near. We turn back onto the board walk and I can see the finish up a head. I try to kick it the best I can for this last stretch. Josh suggests finishing holding hands, I agree in a heart beat. We hold hands as we run towards the end. We have to let go at least once as we run around people. But we cross hand in hand. I’m thrilled and out of breath. We share a kiss and hug as we make our way down the finish shoot. We get our awesome metals and other race goodies. Another great race for Team Robert! Now what will tomorrow bring??

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wild Rover Race #3

Hynes 5 Mile Run 3/8/09
It’s an amazing day for a Wild Rover race. Its sunny and a little mild, compared to the wind and snow a week before. But there is a still a cool breeze blowing to remind us that is it is still an early spring day. Josh is sore and I’m proud that he is here. The day before he just completed a 52 mile snow run/ snowshoe marthon(see here for details). It is his best ever early run of the year and I’m awed by him and his fellows runners that finished the 52 miles. I think to myself this might be the race that I will get to encourage and pull him along like he has done for me so many times.

We do the normal race prep of retrieving our numbers, check our gear and attemp a few stretches while enjoying the sun. I’m tempted to leave my light pull over behind but the breeze is too chilly for me. We wander to the start and hear the announcer explaining the timing chips and gun times. The stupidity of it all is the winners will be based on gun time and not chip time… What!! Wtf is the point of wearing the chips then… ahg… Where shake our heads and wonder what conflicts will come about at the end of the race. We make our way to the mid back of pack and antsiely wait for the start of the race.

The gun sounds and we slowly make our way to the start of the race. We finally get threw the start gate and can start to jog and get around people. I mention to Josh that one of the biggest challenges of this race is it starts up a small hill and I know that end is also up hill. It’s a bit of mental battle to think about the up hill at the end. He laughs and says its great. Its clear from the start that Josh will still be leading me along in this race. He is endless in his endurance this weekend and seems to feed off the challenge of helping me along. I’m very gratefully for it and if I feel like shit at times during the race.

Very soon in the race it starts to get warm. Really warm. I shed my pull over first. As I continue on its is apparent that I’m still going to feel too hot. I sigh and begin to plan how to strip out of my under-armor that is under my t-shirt without flashing to much of the world. I have Josh hold my waterbottle and proceed to snake out of my clothes. Once done I feel much better and we continue on to the first water stop. We pass it up since we are both carrying water. I soon regret it as the warm spring day is making it a hot run. Then just ahead is a bonus water stop sponsored by Remax! I gladly grab a cup as we run by.

We are still going along ok and passing people. But it is hot to me and I’m struggling with it. We see the front runners on the opposite bridge and muse over the fast pace they are running compared to mine. We head up the hills at the half way point. I want to walk. Josh calls me on. No more hills he says. I say there is hills until the water tower. I take a deep breath and lighten my step and mood as much as I can. It’s a beautiful day and there is happy people all around. I make it to the top. I tell my self it’s all down and flat for a while now. I keep a good pace going and feel great and continue to pass by people.

The home stretch is here and car traffic is all sorts of backed up and stopped this year. Sucks to be them. Down a hill and up a hill we push on. Josh encouraging me to go faster! Damn the end isn’t as close as I thought. I hope I can maintain for just a bit longer. Up and down the end hills And a bit more. Finally the end is in sight. I have just enough to give a little kick at the end. We cross the finish, some one says congrats Team Robert. It makes me smile. Ugh I feel nauseous but great. We get out medals, it’s that biggest of the three. The two other medals can hook onto it. We wonder right from the finish to the long beer line. We grabbed our two allotted beer and find a seat on the ground. I’m thrilled that I did so well. And I really feel my hard training since the race a week before really helped. I’m amused that Josh showed no discomfort during the race and just coached me along the whole time. He was as supportive and inspirational as always. Knowing that I can always be pushed further than I think. After the beer we grabbed some soup and headed home.
Time: 52:22 (PR)

Wild Rover Race #2

Drinking the night before a race is never good. I wake up not feeling so well. I get up and get dress and wait for Josh to wake and get ready. As we get ready our friend Dustin makes us a great hang over breakfast. We quickly chow down and head out. There is dusting of snow on the ground and more falling as we drive to the race. We drive around a bit looking for a spot to park and Josh is a little frustrated with my inability to point out and decide on a spot to park. We finally park and hurry off to the Claddagh Pub to register. We skirt threw the crowds and grab our stuff and quickly head back to the car.

We get the last of our stuff together. It’s cold and still snowing as I fumble with my stuff to get ready. Josh is frustrated that I forgot my gloves and head band but lends me his since he had extra gloves and toque. We finally head off to start after much delay on my part. Josh mumble and banters about me not being trained… not prepared… imbecile… can’t figure out why I race.

We make our way to the back of the runners waiting to start. It’s still snowing and a little wind is blowing. I’m cold in general but my toes are the worst, always have been. I stretch and try to jump around it bit but doesn’t help much. Josh looks content, comfortable and smug just standing there waiting for the start. Most likely hot from the frustrations he feels toward me. Finally the gun sounds and the mass of runners begins to move forward slowly.

I jog along trying to get my body to warm up. My feet hurt and I’m in a mental low. Just trying to breathe in and breathe out and get moving. Josh is ahead a bit. He comes back a bit and calls back saying I’m going to slow only 15 maybe 14 minute miles. I’m frustrated it feels like I’m doing better then that and feel like I can’t go any faster. We pass the first mile marker in 11 minutes, I guess I wasn’t going that slow after all.

Josh is off ahead a bit just in sight. I plod along. I feel winded and cold for the most part and my feet are still cold and numb. We start heading up the hills and Josh hangs back for me. He asks how I’m doing. I say I’m doing ok. His reply is I’m not trying hard enough, I’m going to slow up the hills only 14 min miles. We get to the steep hill. It’s not very long but I can’t run it. I’m trying to power walk it the best I can. Josh is telling me faster longer strides… going to slow. We crest the top past the water station and over the last hump and start down the steep hill past the 2 mile mark. I’m still holding onto 11 minute miles despite Josh’s predictions.

I try my best to use the steep down hill to my advantage but I’m also nervous of slipping. We reach the more gradual down hills and I use them as best as I can. I’m finally feel better. I know I’m in the last long stretch. I can finally feel my feet again. I’m warm enough I can take off my gloves finally. Josh offers to take my gloves. He takes them and then moves ahead of me and calls me on to catch up. My knees are just starting to hurt a bit. I push on and we pass the 3 mile mark still holding 11 minute miles.

I move on as fast as I feel comfortable in the last mile. My knees are starting hurt more and my calf is starting to feel a little tight in my recovering leg. The front of me is feeling cold. Josh is trying to get me to pick up the pace running just ahead of me and calling me on. I have a mental block about pushing to hard to soon before the end since last stretch actually goes past the bar and finish and then around the block then to the finish. We are still catching people and passing but also being passed. I can deal with knee pain but the calf is getting me nervous but I push on. I just want to be done.

Finally we pass the front of the bar and I’m feeling better, the end is so close. Only three corners left and I know my legs can handle it. One corner down. We run around an ambulance parked in the road and make our way toward the second corner. Excitement and energy build up as we come around the second corner. My pace and stride increase as we near the third corner. No one else is able to catch us and I know some were trying. We round the third corner and I but in every thing I had left and cross the finish for a great time and another race PR! Again thanks to Josh dragging me along.

My knees are sore. We grab out medals and some water and skip the after race party to head back to the car. We get in the car and head for home my knees are already feeling better but I feel a little post race nausea….

Claddagh Pub Classic 4 Mile Run
Gun Time 44:11:00
Last year 47:59

Wild Rover Race #1

As Josh and I dress that morning we both don the Team Robert shirts for the first time together. I wear what I did last year: long sleeve Warm Gear Under Armor top, a short sleeve tech shirt over that and a ¼ zip light weight long sleeve tech shirt on top. The bottom consists of Under Armor warm gear tights and generic wind pants. For my feet Darn Tough socks and Brooks shoes. I also have my purple head band and Under Armor running gloves and hand held gel flask for water.

We make it to the race location in Haverhill, Mass. with plenty of time. We found a decent parking space right in front of the race start and finish. We pick up our Numbers form .P. McBride's Irish Pub and walk back to the car. We pin on our numbers and fiddle with the D chip disposable timing chips on our shoes. I munch on some cliff shot blocks black cherry and down some Excedrin to keep down any inflammation in my recovering leg. Both have a placebo effect on me more then anything but I need it. My nerves are getting to me. I’m worried how everything will go during the race. Josh laughs and reminds me I didn’t run 20 miles last night like he did. We decide to gather at the start with the growing mass of runners. We wanted to start with just our Team Robert shirts on but after a few minutes of standing in the dreary cold weather we decide we really do need a top layer. After putting on a top layer a few raindrops started to fall as we waited for the start.
We start at the sound of the gun and hang at the back of the mass of runners. I enjoy the slow gradual warm up as the mass of runners winds it way threw the city streets. I feel pretty good as we cross the bridge and hop up on the side walk to get around some runners. Josh smiles and says I’m doing awesome so far and to keep it up.

We get to the one hill of the course. It’s long one to me. In all my pre-race thoughts I had figured I would be walking the hill. But Josh has other ideas. ‘Coming on you can do it... You are doing great…. Quick small steps,… quick small steps…. That’s it, keep going….” All the way to the top of the hill. Once at the top Josh asks how I’m doing. I think I answer alright… at best. I can’t breathe any more. I feel nauseous. I haven’t done enough aerobic exercise in my training. Or training in general for the mater. My recovering leg has the smallest bit of discomfort and I don’t want to push any harder on it.

We start to head down the hills. Josh says to relax my body and use the hills. I do my best. My body is recovering form the uphill and is happy to be going down. Until my curse returns. The curse of getting side stitches when I’m running down hills. It doesn’t have a chance to get horrible this time around. But it is so annoying.
After getting off the hills I try my best to maintain a good steady pace. Josh is beside me encouraging me on, “you are doing great,… Chase more people down.”
As we are crossing the bridge in the last stretch we jump to side walk and manage to get around some more people.

The end is getting closer. I want to run harder and catch the people walking ahead. But I know it is still too soon for me to push it.
Josh is saying ‘pick off people one by one... chase’em down” I can tell he is eager to kick it to the end. But I know if I try now I will burn before the end.
Around the last corner and under the bridge we come at my fastest maintainable pace. I feel nauseous but I know the end is so close.
I finally start to kick it a little faster to get around the stupid car driving on the race side of the road in the final stretch. Then sprint a few steps around a person. The end is ahead I extend my strides as much as I can and start a faster pace for last few feet of the race. Threw the finish we run side by side. I’m thrilled, its way better time then what predicted and a race PR and my leg held up great! I couldn’t have done it with out Josh pulling me along.

We funnel down the finish shoot Josh is proud of me and gives me hug and a kiss. I’m in a daze. We get our medals. I just want open space. I want to be able to breath and nausea to go away. We find a less crowded space and I catch my breath and enjoy some chili and beef stew before we head for home.

2nd Frozen Shamrock 3 Mile Run
Time: 31:23:00 Gun Time
Last year 33:47