Monday, October 19, 2009

Team Starry-Eyed Schlepping Smugglers and 26.2 Miles in Kansas City

I know I promised more pictures from Twin Cities...but that was BEFORE I remembered that I would still have a race report for the Kansas City Marathon to write....

This weekend I headed down to Kansas City to run the relay with my cousin, brother, and cousins' friends. The race was on Saturday at 7 AM...

We arrived at 6:45 AM in seperate cars. Actually, my brother and I were still in the car at 6:45 AM and had to jump out at an intersection to hunt down the rest of our team. To say that I was a nervous wreck was an understatement. I have NEVER arrived at a race this late. I was the first runner and our team captain ( my cousin) had all of the safety pins. She wasn't answering her phone. They were singing the National Anthem on the loud speaker and the start line was packed. The idea of running around holding my number during the race did not sound like fun to me. I called my mom frantically yelling that I couldn't find Stephanie and I had no safety pins and my little brother was going to have to find his transition point all by himself in a city that he didn't know. My mom was angry that Joe (little bro) had gotten out of the car with me. I hung up and continued to look for Stephanie. I had given up after I saw the start line moving forward. I went to get behind the pack and by some miracle--I ran into Stephanie and the rest of our team. The first thing out of my mouth was "Safety pins!!!"

They quickly threw a number on me as I said "the line is taking off without me--I gotta go". Little did I know--the line wasn't going anywhere. The race actually didn't start until what seemed like 15 minutes after the anthem was sung. Of course, I was literally at the back of the pack so I had no clue what was going on. I kept thinking about how I hadn't even wished my teammates good luck before I disappeared.

Finally, the race took off. Well, kind of. Since I was at the back of the pack, I had a lot of weaving to do. There were actually walkers in this section because not only do they start the marathoners here--but the 5k, half marathon and us relay people. I quickly made it through the walkers but it took some time to get pass the mass amounts of 15 and 16 min/mile runners. After a mile of weaving, I was finally able to catch up to the pacers. First it was a 3 hr 30 min half marathon pacer. Which seemed like a very slow half marathon time to me. But I continued on my way, weaving through people. Now I know what it is like to literally start in the back of the pack. It wasn't all that bad because I was passing everyone rather than them passing me. Eventually I think I made it up to the 4:15 marathon pacer. The end of my run was up to Liberty Memorial--a very very long hill. I probably could have kept running but had to hand off to my brother at this point.

My mom and aunts were there at the transition point. I was extremely grateful because the buses only took you to the finish line. The original plan was that I would wait at the finish for everyone else to come in. And that would have been a very long wait. Anyways, we all waved Joe good bye and hopped into the car to try to get to his next transition point and get some Immodium to my cousin who was having some stomach issues. She was at the 4th transition point and Joe would be at the 3rd. It took us an hour just to get to Joe. He had already finished by the time we got to him and we spotted him in the street aimlessly wandering around looking for buses. We scooped him up and drove on to try to make to Stephanie with the Immodium.

We made it to Steph before she left--passed the Immodium and then waiting for her friend Jim to come in to the transition. Jim had a solid finish-we said bye to Steph and then Joe, Jim, and I hopped on the bus. The buses were quite packed...and sweaty. It took awhile to get us back to the start/finish.

I think I forgot to mention one crucial part in this whole thing. It was freezing cold most of the race. I actually don't know what the temp was--but it appeared chillier than Twin Cities a few weeks ago. Joe and I went to get some hot chocolate and we all sat around and waited for our final two runners.

Stephanie ended up almost vomiting on her portion of the run. She had the longest leg with 6.8 miles and it was tough with her stomach issues. That and I'm not entirely sure Steph has run this distance all that often. It was around the 4 hour mark when I called my mom to see whether we would be finishing anytime soon. She said that Steph had just handed off to Carolyn (our last runner). Her leg was still over 6 miles so I knew it would at least be another hour.

Around the 5 hour time, we headed to the finish line so that we could run in together. At around 5 hrs 15 minutes clock time, Carlyn came into the finish chute and we all joined her to the finish. My mom shot this picture and these two strange people must have thought my mom was taking a picture of them (we have no clue who they are).

Our final stats were a 5 hr 9 min chip time. I finished with a 9:35 min/mile. The rest of the bunch finished in the 11-14 min/mile range. Soo proud of the team for sticking through it despite our late arrival time and puky issues!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Just May Be Crazy...

Well. I finished the Twin Cities Marathon. That nagging "what to do next" feeling was actually getting to me before I even crossed the finish line. And so it didn't suprise me when the very next day I found myself compulsively looking up races for next year. I will have no time to run a marathon as I will be getting ready to student teach for all of the fall marathons and I will have 3 classes during training for the spring marathons. Soooo...If you see me post something about thinking about a marathon--please discourage it. Because it may happen...

But the big news is...I've signed up for the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon for August 2010!! And the best news of all--I will be running with my cousin, Stephanie! Actually it will be her first long distance race...and she is going to join the NF Endurance Team with me. Soooo...if anyone else wants to join in the fun--it would rock to run with you!

My plan for next year is to run a few halfs and maybe the TCM 10 mile if I get in. I'd like to work on my speed a bit and this will be the perfect opportunity to do it. I usually make these plans near the end of the year but I was feeling antsy and so there ya go--I'm already registered for a 2010 race.

Another piece of rockin awesome news--I have a GARMIN! Andy was so sweet and got me the Forerunner 405 for my Birthday yesterday.

Oh and I promise you--next post will include more pics of the Twin Cities Marathon. I just haven't had time!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Twin Cities Marathon 2009

According to my cousin, that picture was taken around mile 21. Not sure how I managed to continue to smile that late in the race...but it happened. Oh yea...and I did carry those gloves the entire race because it seems that they weren't too cumbersome in my hands.

According to the media and many other racers, the weather was near "perfect". It actually felt pretty awesome at about 45 degrees, but I think the colder temps may have attributed to some later problems.

My relatives arrived Friday from Kansas City and joined me at the start line along with my parents, brother and beloved bf Andy. They all wore bright NF Tshirts so they were super easy to spot. They were also nice to be able to run into other NF Endurance team members and spectators. We actually met a few team members while standing around in the Metrodome before the race--what a great bunch of people!

The start of this race was a little different than most races I've been to. I lined up behind the 4:45 thinking that would be 5 minutes faster than last year's race and a good spot to start. I stood there chatting with my family when all of a sudden it appeared the crowd was moving but I had not heard a gun or horn or anything. I thought that the race surely had started but shortly after we started moving, I heard claps and cheers from people ahead of us to indicate the start of the race. I was off and feeling pretty good...

Or maybe too good? I started out pretty fast. I was running a 9:17 or so min/mile and I knew it seemed to be too fast. I thought I was still behind the 4:45 pacer so I trusted the pace I was at. It turns out that I had somehow passed the 4:45 pacer and was now approaching the 4:30. I caught up to the 4:30 pacer at about Mile 6 and this is when I realized I was truly going too fast. The wierd thing is--I didn't do anything to slow down because I had some wierd logic going on in my head. I thought if I could pass the 4:30 pacer, I'd have time to go to the bathroom and not be too far behind. I did pass the 4:30 pacer, got off the course at the porto-pottie and then saw that the line wasn't moving anywhere and hopped back on after I saw the 4:30 pacer re-pass me again.

I continued to try to catch up to the 4:30 pacer again but never saw her. I was dropping further and further back. We went through a few "crunches" in the course where it seemed like the streets could not hold all of the runners. People were spilling into the sidewalks and curbs. It was like traffic jam central and I just wanted to keep my pace.

Thinking I was still behind the 4:30 and in front of 4:45, I stopped at another restroom later on. There was a long line but I couldn't hold on any longer. This was mile 11 or 12. I probably waisted a good 10 minutes at this stop. I got back on course and hoped I was at least behind the 4:45. Somehow, I think that pacer had even passed me.

I continued on the course and my pace continued to slow down. The course was packed with spectators and I was loving it. I saw Andy and his family around mile 8 and was so happy to see all of them.

Around mile 12, it seemed that I was quickly losing energy. I was starting to get really frustrated. My stomach was telling me that I was starving hungry and I was trying to wait to take a gel because I had just taken one at the 7 mile mark when it was doing a similiar thing. Finally around the 12.5, I broke down and took the gel. Instantly I was feeling much better. Normally I don't feel such a drastic change so quickly but I was grateful. I kept on running and saw Andy and my cousin somewhere around there.

I continued on feeling pretty good and enjoying the scenery. I would later see my Aunt and parents around mile 18 and then Andy and my cousin a few more times. They were such troopers to travel around spectating!

I went through the "wall" just fine and seemed to be feeling quite well. It was at about mile 21 that I had something happen that has never happened to me while running. All of a sudden I felt a sharp pain around my right knee. I thought for sure I had pulled a muscle. I limped over to the sidelines and tried to stretch it out while the EMT's were just behind me. Not wanting them to pull me off the course, I tried to continue to walk. It seemed to subside some and then about five minutes later my other knee did the same thing. I quickly realized I was cramping and not pulling muscles because my entire leg seemed to seize up at times. I continued to stretch, run, walk, stretch, run, walk for the remaining 5 miles. It was during this cycle that I saw the 5 hr pacer pass me. This is when I knew that the rest of this race would be just trying to finish and enjoy the marathon.

The last 2 miles were pretty tough. I continued on, seemingly pulling my cramping legs through the course at times. The spectators were telling me that the last mile was easy. However, it was a downhill descent and my legs were not having it. My knees were in pain and I had to walk down the hill. I felt so silly as everyone else was running. Once I got closer to where I could see the Finish line, I began to run. The Finish line was amazing. The best Finish line I have ever crossed. You can see it for a good 1/4 of a mile before you cross it. It is lined with spetators and bleachers. I continued through the finishers shoot and was completely coherent when they placed the medal on my neck (as opposed to last year at KC when I was balling and forgot about the medal entirely). It felt amazing to continue to walk through the finish line out into the crowd. My family followed me on the other side of the gates (they were gated off from me). They made me stop for pictures along the way.

I met up with a few NF team members before emptying out into the family area. We gave each other congrats on the race, took some pictures and then were off to see our families. This is where things got to be a little strange. The finish area at this marathon was huge compared to that at Kansas City. There were people everywhere and I couldn't find my family anywhere. I spotted a series of flags with letters on them and stood by the "H" for my last name. I thought that if my family approached an official looking for me--they would probably point them in this direction. Just as I spotted my family really far away through a crowd, a classmate came up to congradulate me. I was happy to see the classmate, but quickly lost track of where the family went to again. I stayed in the same spot for another 5 minutes or so and then decided to walk back towards the vendors and "party tent" to see if I could find them. I found them waiting near the vendors and was so happy to see them except Andy was missing. They had sent Andy up to the "H" to find me after talking with a police officer who thought we were crazy for not having set up a meeting place.

All in all it was a good marathon. I will post more pictures when I get time. For now, you can see a video here: I am at the 36 second mark in yellow NF shirt, black hat, and blue skirt.