Monday, June 9, 2014

Ragnar Chicago 2014 - Off Kilter

I have wanted to do a Ragnar for a few years now and it just has never worked out, so when a friend posted on facebook they were in need of 2 runners two weeks before I jumped at the chance. I am glad I did, I really enjoyed myself and I ended up on a team with some fun people. Great outfits and team name! We ended up getting a ton of compliments!!! And the usual question......what ya got under there?
Team Off Kilter ready to go. Kill or be Kilt!
There was quite a bit of shuffling since they found another runner last minute. I ended up being runner #3 with a total of 13.7 miles overall. Our team started at 9am and it was hot already, I was pretty excited that my first leg was only 2.7 miles. I wanted to bust out the best time I could since it was so short and I didn't want to disappoint right away.

I got to pass some major road kill right away that reeked and almost made me hurl, but I kept it under control and was surprised at the rolling hills, the elevation map is apparently zoomed out so it looked pretty flat. I could barely see someone in front of me and that was it, I could never catch her and I got passed once a little bit before the exchange by a strong runner. Leg 1 completed with a kilt! 2.7 miles "Easy" (9:32 average)

We went to get some lunch when our van was done at Subway and then hang out at the park for the next van exchange. Everyone in my van took a nap in the shade but I just could not, I did not really feel tired and could not sleep being warm and out in the open. I really need to work on being able to sleep outside my own bed!

Our Van started up again around 7:30pm, so we donned our night vests and started out. I took a look at the elevation map for my second leg and I knew I was in for some major hills. This elevation chart showed some pretty sizable ups and downs including one really long incline. I warned my team I may have to walk some of the hills, but I was happy it finally cooled down. I took off directly up hill and then reached the top only to be stopped for 3 minutes by a stoplight...GRRRR.

Once I got going again I felt good and I tried to keep a nice even pace to keep me going through the leg. I was excited to see that I had tons of people ahead of me and not feel alone out there in the dark. I think I like hills better in the dark since I wasn't able to gauge how they were until I was running them. The combination of the dark, being around people and having some fresh meat had me conquering these hills like they were nothing. I came flying into the exchange with a smile on my face, I loved every minute of that leg! I ran this with my kilt as well and flashed a few fellow runners my shorts! Leg 2: 5.4 miles "Moderate" (9:25 average)

We all flew through our night legs and we had to make sure to give our other van a decent heads up as our final runner was trying to nail his 3.1 mile leg in 21 minutes. We didn't want them to oversleep his speediness, and they still were scrambling a little when we showed up and our runner came in a few minutes after. We ate a little pasta and meatballs and headed to the next exchange point at the YMCA, we managed to spot a kids play area with some squishy flooring. I couldn't find the showers so I just used the bathroom and gave myself a quick towel bath and changed into clean clothes. I tried to sleep but being in what felt like a 100 degree room and again, I sleep like crap away from home. We had about 2 hours to sleep and I think I maybe managed an hour. We got the call the final runner was out and we had to get ready. We were all zombies and not at all ready to go again.

We were off again shortly before 4am, I was hoping my stomach cramps would go away before I had to run because I needed to try and get something in my stomach. It slowly went away and I began to get ready for my last leg. The sun was just starting to come up along the beach as I was waiting for my runner to come in.

I felt completely silly wearing sunglasses, a headlamp, taillight and a safety vest. I would be taking off just before the night hours would be over so I was stuck looking like that! I was happy to know the first few miles of my leg from the WI half marathon and I took off wanting to not let the two teams my runner just passed get me. I looked back shortly thereafter and I was happy to see I left them in my dust! Again though I was out by myself, finally about 2.25 miles I spotted someone ahead of me. I slowly reeled them in and finally passed them around mile 4. The last straightaway towards the exchange felt like it would never come, I realized why this leg was rated the way it was, a long slow uphill away from the lakeshore. I got passed right at the end by two ridiculously fast dudes, just not enough of a lead there! Leg 3 5.6 miles "Hard" (9:38 average)

Van 1 completed!!

Our van was finished and we headed out for breakfast at IHop, and headed into Chicago to get the shuttle to the finish line. That felt like forever that we had to wait around for our team, finally we got the word our final runner was out, they dropped another runner off 2 miles before the finish to help escort them into the finish. We finished a little over 29 hours, got our picture with the DJ and the CARA group got our pic, they loved us too!
196.1 miles completed!!

We polished off our free beer, hung out for a bit and parted ways since everyone was exhausted. We cleaned out our vans and switched up based on where everyone needed to go and headed out. Our van stopped for some dinner and then I drove us the rest of the way home. I figured when I got home I would shower and crash, but I managed to have enough energy to unpack before finally passing out.

I loved the atmosphere of the race and the creativity of the teams out there. I would totally do another one of these again if I had the opportunity. I think it's a great way to see some sights and even get to know areas better that you thought you knew.

I really enjoy relays and I am going to find a way to fit more of them in my schedule. I seem to pull out times that I only wish I could during my own races!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Three Things Thursday

I have been totally irregular at posting lately. Someday I will get the hang of balancing everything.....yeah.... right! So here is what has been going on lately.

1. Today was actually a good hair day, that rarely happens with my frizzy, curly hair!

After bootcamp the craziness came out though, but I scored a free shirt for nailing a plank. I held it for 2:38 and I could have kept going!

2. I am doing Ragnar Chicago this weekend, which was totally unexpected until last week around this time. A friend was looking for some runners and I figured why not. It would be a fun break and I have always wanted to do one. I got the day off work and I was all set! I am Runner #5 and happy to be in the 1st van. Should be fun meeting new runner peeps.

3. I am back to getting into shape! I need to drop the weight I worked so hard last winter to lose and I want to be fast again. I miss all the PR's I got last spring from the hard work I put in. I am shooting for a sub 2 half in late summer and I get to run with my cousin and help her get one too. How exciting is that!! We are signed up for 2 about a month apart, the second shortly before her wedding weekend. I signed up for our local Fleet Feet track workouts Tuesday night and it begins on the 17th.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cellcom Green Bay Marathon

Morning finally was here, after tossing and turning for 5 hours in bed. I was at peace with what the day would bring, I wanted to enjoy the race after the journey I took to get there. Was it ideal? No. Is it ever? No. I wanted to do the best I could with what I had, which is what we all try to do in life. Now that I got all that philosophical stuff out of the way, here is how it all went down.

My goal was to start with the 4:45 pace group and hang with them as long as I possibly could, hopefully to the end if possible. My prior times were 4:50 and 4:42 so I felt it was appropriate. I seem to go out too fast and this was going to reign me in and keep me from blowing up. I love my running peeps!!
Kathy, Kim, Rachel, Me, Matt, Sarah
Miles 1-6 (10:22, 10:25, 10:29, 10:31, 10:20, 10:18)
The early miles felt easy and they were flying by, I was chatting it up with people around me and just enjoying the overcast weather and a light breeze. The group was pretty large at this point so I tried not to weave and just settled in amongst the crowd. We hit what was mile 12 in past years about 1.5 miles in and I was really thankful this year that I didn't have to watch all the half marathoners turn and the field dwindle down. It was also nice to not have the extra people to weave through. The only downfall to the change of course this year was not having the wall of spectators along the first part of the course, but then again it was nice to not feel all of sudden deserted!

Miles 7-12 (10:37, 10:22, 10:16, 10:12, 10:42, 10:50)
Still feeling good yet, just enjoying the moments and scenery. I was getting to know the people running with the group and I loved hearing why they were doing it. Some were doing it because they were 40 and why not do it now. Others were on a quest to do all 50, some were there that had done it before and others just trying to better their times. I really wanted to know what brought them to the race and many grew up in the area and had moved away. I think this is my favorite part about races and running, to hear other's stories and find what moves them.

Miles 13-18 (10:46, 10:39, 10:46, 10:41, 10:33, 10:47)
This was where it started to falter, my stomach didn't feel right after taking a GU (I took a HoneyStinger Gel earlier). I battled to get my energy level back up and tell myself I had run through worse. And then we hit what we thought was an aid station, but it was just a popsicle aid station. I had a gut reaction to take one as I thought it may help me somehow being that it was cold, and it was starting to get warm. I thought back to times I struggled and I really wanted to finish with my new friends. I had really bonded with them and I wanted it so bad. I kept pushing through and just tried to save my energy from talking and listen to them.

Miles 19 - 24 (12:33, 11:30, 12:17, 11:59, 12:05, 13:36)
And then it hit, I just couldn't hold my pace with my energy level dropping. I started to get nauseous from the heat, which my body does not cope well with and added to the stomach issues I knew I would have to walk more often. The walk breaks started adding up and they were 2 per mile at this point instead of just during the aid stations. One during the water stop and one about halfway between them. Most of these miles felt like a gradual uphill and was into a very steady headwind, as if battling the exhaustion and heat was not enough. Mentally I kept talking myself into it, and then I said that thought out loud to a struggling runner. It just happened to be the guy I had helped get through the last few miles at Fox Cities, we leap frogged each other and eventually I was disappointed he never passed me again.

Miles 25-26.2 (12:44, 11:32, 5:23) 
I can finally see Lambeau again, those last few miles really dragged on and it felt like I would never get there. Seeing that I was almost there was the energy that I needed. I was able to run a good portion of this and it felt good to finally not be battling the wind too. I really tried to relish being in Lambeau and coming through the player's tunnel. If we could just run around in there the whole time I don't think I would ever stop! The final push out of the tunnel was back uphill and into the wind again but I knew at this point it was almost over. 

I finished in 4:53 and I was good with that. In my head when I started I was hoping to make it in under 5 hours. I did end up having a good day where my body was concerned, I was not battling any injuries it was just simply fatigue. I wish I would have been able to push farther but I didn't want to land my journey in a medical tent so I went the smart route.

One thing I wish marathons would offer or someone needs to invent.... a spray sunscreen both part way through, us pale people with sun sensitivities would really appreciate it! Just making my runner's lines better each day now.

I am taking a break from marathons now, I want to get faster again and focus on getting in shape again. Although my legs didn't feel too stiff later on in the day and I mowed my entire lawn!!

Next up is The Longest Day for Alzheimer's and I am looking to log as many miles in 16 hours as I can. I am hoping to beat last year's number of 32 miles! I have put a challenge out there that every $5 I receive as donations I will run 1 lap around the track, meaning $20 gets you one mile. I will run it in honor of anyone you know that has suffered from this disease. Just go to our team's fundraising page "Running to Remember" or my personal fundraising page to help out. To any of you that have donated already, thank you!!!