Thursday, April 10, 2014

ORRRC Half Marathon – Race Recap

April 6, 2014

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I signed up for this race back on December 31st and mailed in my entry form (to avoid those annoying surcharges!) and it was only $25.  I wasn’t really sure where the heck Xenia, OH was but MapQuest said that it was only a 2 1/2 hours away…and that was close enough.

After completing the Hoosier Half Marathon (read about that HERE), I came home, showered and rested for a little bit but then needed to get things ready for my drive to Ohio.

Originally I was going to drive over race morning but since I paid so little for the entry, I went ahead and “splurged” on a hotel room.  I got lucky and was able to get a room at the Xenia Ramada which was less than a mile away from the race start line.

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I must say that it felt like a LONG drive and I’m glad I was getting there the night before instead of that morning.

The hotel was a little rundown but I had a room on the end and no room across from me so that was a bonus.  It had a refrigerator, microwave and a coffee maker and with tax, I only paid $112 (and some change).  It served its purpose.

I did the typical “slept on and off” throughout the night and got up at 5:45AM.  I was happy to have hot water for my shower because when I went to wash my face before going to bed, it never even got warm. 

Although the start / finish line was within walking distance, I drove over because I wasn’t sure:

  1. how long this half marathon would take me since it was part 2 of my first ever back-to-back,
  2. how long I would stay AFTER the race since they were going to be providing food for us
  3. how I would feel.

The weather was going to start out chilly but warm up.  I went ahead and put on my ear-warmer headband and gloves.  I did have to scrape a thin layer of frost off my windshield. There were times during the race I felt over-dressed but mostly I think I had the right “mix” on.

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There seemed to be plenty of parking and I got a spot directly across from the YMCA. 

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Getting my bib and shirt was a breeze and once I had them I went back to my car to change into the event shirt (BRIGHT ORANGE!) and put the timing chip on my shoe.  Then it was the never ending question of “should I get in line to pee before the race or just hold it?”  I decided to go back in and use the restroom.  The line was forever long and it was already 7:55ish but there were tons of people still getting there packets.  I thought to myself, “Well this race won’t be starting on time.”  I later discovered that when I read that packet pickup was from 7:00AM until 8:00AM race morning, that did NOT mean that the race started at 8:00AM.  It was scheduled to start at 8:30AM.  Chatted with some “local” ladies that had done this race before but they were doing the marathon.  Two of them had even done Boston.

They eventually made the announcement for all runners to go to the starting line.  A group (kind of sounded like kids) sang the National Anthem and then they shot off the starting gun…and we didn’t move.  After about a minute, finally everyone proceeded forward.  I’m still not sure what the issue was.   The course starts out going through some neighborhoods, back through “town” and then gets on a paved trail / bike path that I think used to be an old railroad route.  It reminded me of running up in Muncie, IN.  When standing in line at the restrooms, the girls said it was the most boring course ever but I didn’t really think it was that bad.

Course Map

I was surprised to catch - out of the corner of my eye - a drone flying above us when we were running through the neighborhood!  It caught me off guard.

The Marathon and Half Marathon split around the 7.5 mile marker.  The half would then do less than a mile and a half out, turn around and then pick the main trail back up.  At some point though, the marathoners would take this loop as well but would “turn around” before the half marathon turn around marker.  I’d never seen such a thing. 

Although I wouldn’t say the course was boring, there weren't many things to take pictures of.  But I did see this guy (I think I’ve read about him on some other blogs before):

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The leader of the half marathon passed me at when I was at the 5.5 mile marker and he was flying!  There wasn’t another runner behind him for about 1/4 of a mile.  I think that would have put him between the 10 & 11 mile markers.

I was surprised that at the start of the race my legs felt pretty good, especially after having done a hilly half marathon the day before.  I did have some random right ankle pain at the very beginning but it went away quickly.  However, I really started feeling fatigued around mile 10 and then the ankle pain returned as well.  It was the same pain that I experienced during the Santa Hustle so I don’t know if my gait was off or what.  I certainly wasn’t as bundled up as I was in THAT race which is what I thought caused it then.  And at one point, I looked at my watch and thought I had less than a mile to go but I was only in the 11th mile not the 12th.  What the heck?  I’ve never spaced it like that before.

Coming back into town, I saw the group that was doing the The One Run for Boston Relay Across America.  From the ORRRC website:

One Run for Boston:
The One Run for Boston Relay Across America is scheduled to pass by during the ORRRC marathon.  Leg 243 of the relay, run by Aneta Zappettella, will go from Beavercreek to Xenia that morning.  Leg 244, run by Josh Mitzen, is due to run along the marathon/half marathon course from Xenia to Cederville, staring at 11am.  Marathon and half marathon runners that are on the course at 11am may see Josh and are encouraged to cheer him on.  The relay is raising money for the OneFund for the bombing vicitms.  You can find out more at www.onerunforboston.org.

The finish line was pretty basic but there were lots of people cheering runners on.  I got my medal and then looked around for an appropriate place to take my “finishers photo” and the YMCA sign was the best I could find.

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You can’t tell from this picture but I had to climb up on that brick wall.  Not as easy to do after 13.1 miles and 13.1 the day before.  I noticed that my medal ribbon had some “dirt” on it so I took it back and exchanged it for another.

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I went to my car to drop some of my stuff off and then went in to check out the food.  They offered 3 types of soup: chili, chicken and noodle and cheese & broccoli.  Those were all homemade and the chicken & noodle was delicious.  Then there were some fruit options and THEN…an assortment of homemade cookies.  I think I heard angels sing! Angel  Needless to say, I took my fair share and then some!

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Back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the drive home.  I asked for an extended checkout and could stay until 1:00PM.  Normal checkout was noon and I really only needed an extra 30 minutes but it was nice not to be rushed.

I doubt that I will ever do this race again but I certainly would recommend it to everyone.  For $25 you get quite a bit.  Showers are available at the Y for runners to use but you needed to bring your own towel.

Thanks Xenia, OH.  It was pretty good.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hoosier Half Marathon - Race Recap

April 5, 2014

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This race takes place in Bloomington, IN on the campus of Indiana University which is a little over an hour south from where I live. I looked at doing this race last year but was frightened off by this quote from their website: a challenging race where participants will find 13.1 miles of relentless rolling hills

Well, it was time to Suck It Up, Buttercup and get the job done.

FRIDAY, APRIL 4th: Packet pickup was being offered the Friday before the race from 4:00PM – 8:00PM at the IU Alumni Center and also race morning from 6:30AM – 7:30AM.  Again, it was somewhat frivolous of me to drive down the night before but I wanted to get a feel for where I was going and I was pretty sure the shirt was going to be one that I would wear on race day.  Only one little hiccup in getting down there was that an exit OnStar wanted me to take was closed (the bridge was out) but as it turned out I think the very next exit was probably a better alternative anyway.  There were plenty of places to park.  The Alumni Center is across the street from the football stadium and the basketball area.  This is where runners would park on race morning as well.

Not many other “features” at packet pickup.  Instead of handing GU out on the course, they had packets of it available to grab as you picked up your bib.  It wasn’t very crowded when I got there which was just shortly after it opened.

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I was a little disappointed when I got my shirt to see that it was gender specific.  Normally this would be my preference but when signing up, the choices where either Adult or Youth so I chose a small.  I would have gotten a medium had I know it would be a woman’s cut.  I was sure that it would probably fit but I just don’t like for them to be tight.  Basically I was in and out of here and then drove home.

SATURDAY, APRIL 5th: Heading down to Bloomington this morning I would be going a different way then when I went for packet pickup.  I’m so thankful to have OnStar since I would not have known where to turn on these miscellaneous back roads at all on my own.  And I certainly kept my eyes peeled to the sides watching for any random deer that could potentially jump out in front of the car. 

I was in the parking lot around 7:40AM and sat in the car for a moment trying to decide if I should get out and go pee.  I decided that it might be best so I headed toward the Alumni Center.  Much to my surprise, they were NOT letting people use the restroom inside! Sad smile  So I hurried over and got in the porta-potty line.  They had lots of options but the lines were long.  It took about 10 minutes for my turn to come up.  I was glad that I had decided to wear gloves and my ear-warmer band but wished I’d had on a throw away.  After using the bathroom, I went back to my car to finish getting situated (put my head phones on, eat my Gatorade chews) and to stay warm as long as possible.

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I got to the start finish line with about 5 minutes to go.  I don’t remember hearing the National Anthem and although they did a countdown from 10, I think the gun must have malfunctioned because it never went off. 

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I’ve only been to this campus a few times so most of the scenery was “new” to me.

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2014, 04-05 (5)                   Theses red clocks were everywhere              2014, 04-05 (6)     This shirt made me chuckle2014, 04-05 (7)      Back in the day if you didn’t make grades did you end up here? 2014, 04-05 (9)  The Musical Arts Center2014, 04-05 (10) I “think” this is McKinney Fountain.

The plan for this half marathon was to take it easy – not that I’m out there hauling butt every time – because I was doing another half the following day (Sunday).  My first ever back-to-backs.  Plus this course was hilly.  And when it stated relentless hills…they were not kidding.  It seemed like at every turn we needed to go up another hill.

Elevation

The sun started to come out as I was getting close to the end…which of course was uphill.  And I could also see some girl puking just prior to the finish line as well.  I made sure that I moved toward the other side.  Got my medal and then on the other side of the Alumni Building is where the refreshment were.  There was also a place to have a Finishers Photo taken but by the time I got through the food line, the photographer was gone.  Which was fine.  I wanted it taken with my phone anyway.  But it seemed like a “hidden” area so I wondered how many people even noticed it.

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It was nice to see blue skies as I was getting back in my car to head for home.

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Good medal and overall I guess I was pleased with my effort.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Setting new goals

April 4, 2014

One of the original goals for 2014  was to reach the level of Mars within the Half Fanatics club and I figured I could do this by completing the minimum 26 Half Marathons within 365 days.  But I kept eye-balling Earth level.  I would need to only add 5 more half marathons to reach it.  I could totally do that, right?  Well after searching and scouring the Internet for days on end to find local (or at least fairly drivable) races I think I’ve got it figured out.

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But to accomplish this I am going to have to downgrade from the Full Monumental Marathon in November to the Half.  So my goal to do a full marathon in 2014 is off the list.  Okay…I’ll admit that I’m not really that bummed about it.  I was trying to figure out how to get marathon training in while still doing all my half marathons and it just sounded like a lot of work.

And bonus, I discovered that I will actually reach Mars after this coming weekend.  Since I did the Southern Illinois Spring Classic last weekend in (DUH!) Illinois and I’ll be doing a race in Indiana THIS Saturday, April 5th and then one in Ohio on Sunday April 5th that combination puts me on Mars as well!   3 half marathons in 3 separate states within 10 days – but I’ll get it done in 7 days.  YAY me!!!

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And until I retire or hit the winning lottery numbers (and I don’t play very often so chances are slim), Earth is the highest level I’ll reach.  And looking ahead to 2015, I can concentrate on crossing more states off the list and not do as many half marathons.  But I wonder if doing fewer half marathons is easier said than done.  I do enjoy them!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

March Review

April 3, 2014

My March running total was a little more than my February but maybe that was because I had more races on the calendar.  Back in January I set a goal to run 1,000 miles in 2014.  I guess for some reason I think that means I have to run 100 miles each month.  Obviously quick math tells you that would get me to 1200 miles which would be great but I also need to be smart and not get myself injured. 

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My husband and I did the GHS Half Marathon in Greenville, South Carolina on March 8th (you can read about it HERE) and I got a SIX MINUTE PR!  The crazy thing is that the week leading up to this race, I didn’t do ANY running.  But the weather was practically perfect and it was a net loss in elevation so that helped too.  I wish this race wasn’t so far away because I’d like to go back and do it again to see if it was just a fluke.

We stayed in South Carolina a few extra days so that my husband could do some genealogy searching (you can read about that HERE) It was nice to get away, have some fun and explore the area.  It might be a potential retirement community for us some day.

My next half marathon was the following weekend up in Chicago, the Get Luck Half Marathon (you can read about it HERE)  It was Part 2 in a series of 4 races that I’ve signed up for through Team Ortho.  I also did this race last year and even though it was colder last year, I think last year’s event was better.  Or maybe I just have RUN-nesia from it. The course was different and I’m just not impressed with Team Ortho as an event management organization.  However, I met a nice girl on the shuttle to the race and then made a new running friend on the bus ride home to Indy so all was not lost.

THEN…the following Sunday, I did the B1G Hoops Day 5K, which you can read about HERE.  HOLY COW, it was windy!!!  I was pleased that my legs weren’t too sore from the half the day before but we also took this event super easy.  I was running with a friend and then also started the race with an acquaintance who was doing her very first 5K.  CONRATS SB!

I also squeezed in a Virtual 5K (check that out HERE) that should have been done back in February but I was waiting until the medal arrived so that it would be “complete” when I was done.

…and for awhile that is all there was. 

But I kept looking at my race schedule.  I keep wondering how I can get to “Earth” level within Half Fanatics THIS year and then try to concentrate on conquering more states next year and not so many races.  That’s when I happened upon a race in Illinois called the Southern Illinois Spring Classic (read all about it HERE) and as soon as I got notification that it was added to the Half Fanatics calendar, I signed up.  Which was on the Tuesday BEFORE the race!  I don’t think I’ve ever signed up so late for a half amrathon.

Now I’m rethinking a few of the goals I set back in January and tweaking them.  Plus April is about to get all sorts of running crazy – for me at least. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Southern Illinois Spring Classic – Race Recap

March 29, 2014

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Initially this race wasn’t even on my radar.  I didn’t even know that it existed!  But I’ve been re-evaluating my 2014 goals (and looking ahead at 2015) and I’d really like to make it to Earth level with Half Fanatics and to get that done I need to complete 31 Half Marathons within a 365 day period.  As my “tentative” race scheduled currently stands, I am only 4 half marathons away from being able to get that accomplished so I began scouring the Internet looking for races.  I found about this one on the website Running In The USA (I highly recommend it), it fit a weekend that I didn’t have anything scheduled, it would only be a two hour drive and was only $60.  So I sent the request to Half Fanatics to have it added.  Once I got confirmation that it was on the calendar, I signed up. 

Friday, MARCH 28th:  My Mom lives in Terre Haute so I decided to spend the night with her so then my drive race morning would only be an hour.  Plus she would like it that I was spending the night.  I got to her house on Friday around 5:30PM, dropped off my stuff and then drove to Lawrenceville, IL to pick up my packet.  This was a completely frivolous thing to do because I could get my packet race morning but…I like having my all stuff ready the night before (especially if the event shirt would turn out to be something that I wanted to wear during the race) and I knew that I would feel better also knowing WHERE I was going and HOW to get there ahead of time.  And I’ll admit, it also meant that I didn’t have to just sit in my Mom’s house with her for two additional hours.  We don’t have a close Mother/Daughter relationship and I know that she would have driven me crazy while I was there so it was best to be there for as short of a period of time as possible.  There…I said it.  Moving on.

So I called up OnStar, gave them the address and I was on my way.  It was a little over an hour drive to get there.  Packet pickup was inside the gymnasium of the Parkside Elementary School from 6:00PM – 8:00PM. 

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The other note to point out is that Illinois is on Central Time so an hour behind Indiana.  I thought I would have to wait a bit but they must have opened early because I got there at about 5:50PM (local time) and people were coming out with their packets.  The entire process was easy peasy.  Since they would be doing packet pickup race morning as well that meant we had access to indoor bathrooms.  YAY!!  (SIDE NOTE: although this was an elementary school everything in the bathroom seemed “average” size but they did have a few stepstools under the sinks for girls to stand on if they were tall enough.  CUTE!)

Race stuff in hand, I got back in the car and headed back to my Mom’s house.  I saw the sign for this bridge coming over so I stopped on the way out to take a picture.  My husband recently found out that he IS related to Red Skelton.  Red is from Vincennes, IN which is about 11 miles from Lawrenceville just across the Wabash River thus the bridge in his honor.

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By the time I got back to my Mom’s I was so hungry.  So I heated up the pasta that I had brought and ate that while she got my sleeping area together.  I knew this would be something that she would “fuss” over but I bit my tongue and just let her do her thing.  I know that she was just trying to take care of me and – even though I might not sound like it - I do appreciate that.  We watched TV until 10:00PM and then she went to her bedroom and I finished getting my stuff ready.  Since I only had an hour drive and I would gain an hour from the time difference, I didn’t have to set my alarm too early but I set it for 5:45AM just to be on the safe side and to allow for any hiccups in the morning.  And thank goodness for the white app noise on my phone!  I am a very light sleeper and the room that I was in had a clock that ticked AND there were wind chimes outside the window that chimed nonstop all night since it was windy.  AYE YI YI.

Saturday, MARCH 29th:  I actually didn’t sleep too bad and got right up with the alarm.  After a quick shower, my breakfast (banana and peanut butter) and my tea and I was ready to go.  It was raining in Terre Haute and this is what the radar map and hourly forecast looked like for Lawrenceville.  This could make for an interesting day and just hoped that maybe the front would have moved mostly past by the time the race started.

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I got to Parkside around 7:40AM (local time) and went inside to use the bathroom, get my headphones situated and just make sure everything was ready overall .  I decided that there probably wasn’t going to be anything to photograph out on the race course so after finding someone to take a pre-race photo of me, I went back out and put my phone in my car.

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Then it was just hanging out in the gym until it was time to actually start the race.  You could smell the pancakes and syrup coming from the cafeteria.  They were serving breakfast from 7:30AM-12:00PM and it was free to all runners.  I don’t know how anyone could eat something that heavy prior to running but I was looking forward to having some afterward.

Everyone headed outside at 7:55AM and after a few brief instructions and the singing of the National Anthem, the gun went off and we were running.  It was cold and drizzling at the start.  The 5K participants and half marathoners all started at the same time and ran through downtown Lawrenceville.  As we headed back toward the school, the 5Kers would go to the track to finish while everyone doing the half marathon would continue out on to the country roads.  We were warned prior to starting that we would not find the roads in this area in good condition and they were correct about that.  The winter had taken its toll and there were lots of potholes, tons of loose gravel and from the rain that morning, well it was just not good.  The rain eased up after the first 3-4 miles but the wind was still whipping.  At one point I looked down at my gloves and they appeared to have frost on them.  I was very glad that I decided to pack my gloves and headband “just in case” because it would have sucked without them.

I definitely made the right decision leaving my phone behind.  There was NOTHING visually stimulating to look at out there on the course.  A few oil wells were pumping here and there in some of the fields but that was about it.  They were true to their word and there was an aid station at every two miles and there were randomly placed porta-potties too.  The water and Gatorade at the first few stations were not cold but with the help of Mother Nature, they were cold at the later stops.  The roads were not technically closed and while I always try to stay to one side or the other, the constant dodging of potholes made that a little more difficult.  I had a few drivers come up from behind and I was a little surprised that none of them gave a small “warning” beep with their horns.  The best road condition was when we were on 800E and would reach the 8 mile marker.  It was smoooooth.  However, this stretch also had us running on a road WITH traffic and it didn’t have a shoulder but I never encountered a car behind me during this time.  The crappiest section was just after the 11 mile marker.  It looked as though we were being routed on a dirt farm road but again with all the rain it was a sloppy muddy gravely rutted mess.

The finish is on the line was located on the high school track – which was technically behind the elementary school.  As you approached to enter and thought you would just run straight and be done…no, they make you run almost a full lap around the track.  KILL ME NOW!

This wasn’t my day for sure.  I had a lot of hip pain mostly on the left side but from time to time on both sides and also the outside of my left knee.  I don’t know if some of it was from the cold conditions or not but it felt tough and I was VERY glad when I was done.

I went in to the cafeteria to get my pancakes.  They were offering sausage links and biscuits & gravy too.  Plus coffee, milks (2% and chocolate) and apple juice.  I saw some runners getting ALL THE FOOD.  I just can’t do it.  It took everything I had to eat most of the 3 pancakes that I took. I should have just asked for 2. 

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After I was done eating I went out to my car to get dry clothes to change in to.  BEST DECISION EVER to bring extra clothes.  Although I wasn’t that wet from the rain, I was sweaty and it felt wonderful to put on something dry.  Plus, I probably was less stinky!  I was hanging around because at 10:30AM they were going to be handing out the age group awards and then everyone that ran was entered into a drawing for $500.  I knew I wasn’t going to win an age group award and sadly I didn’t win the $500 either. Sad smile

Even though this wasn’t a very good race for me personally, the race itself had many positive features.  Every turn was well marked with a sign AND there was a volunteer there as well to make sure you didn’t miss it.  Aid stations were (in my opinion) properly placed and friendly volunteers at each.  Hammer Gels were handed out just before the 4 mile marker and you passed this area again just before the 12 mile marker, although that late in the the race it wouldn’t help to take one.  They had a back drop that I initially noticed as we were heading out to start the race and was surprised that it wasn’t moved elsewhere (like in the gym or cafeteria) so that people could have a “finishers photo” taken in front of it.  And if the weather had been better having it near the finish line would have been even better.

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I doubt that I will ever do this race again but I’m super thankful that I happened upon it.  It gets me one step closer to my Half Fanatic goal and now the Geist Half Marathon on May 17th will officially be #50!