Des Moines Marathon 2014 Race Recap

If you’ve been reading my blog (you haven’t, no one does), you may have noticed a theme in my race recaps. I love pretty much every race I do, even when I suck. I loved the beauty of Big Sur and Duluth, I loved how the North Face Endurance Challenge (a fairly crummy race all things considered) had such a unique course considering how many times I’ve run downtown Kansas City and even Rock N Roll Las Vegas (the course that makes you run through the dark desert with nothing to see for 14 miles) has redeeming qualities (like being in Vegas)… but I’m sad to say that I really wasn’t all that thrilled with the Des Moines Marathon.

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Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything WRONG with the race. It was well run, offered plenty of parking, had a place to stay warm before the race, had plenty of well-stocked aid stations, offered a decent medal, gave away a pretty baller long sleeve pullover as the race tee and is in my absolutely favorite state. However, everything just stacked up to be mediocre and now with it 3 weeks in hindsight, I really just don’t love it. But, let me recap!

The race is sadly on a Sunday (man, I hate Sunday races… nothing like running a ton and then having to just go home so you can go to work the next day). The expo was tiny, but decent for the actual size of this race. The race merchandise was weak. I didn’t buy anything, but they did give you a solid race pullover for your race tee and I’ve worn in probably 5 times so far.

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We stayed at the Holiday Inn on Merle Hay Road which is our typical haunt for Des Moines races (Dam to Dam, HyVee Tri..). It is the cheapest in the area and there is PLENTY of downtown parking, so getting a close hotel isn’t a priority here.

Free parking was a win and we headed towards the start. The day was actually a lot colder than expected. Apparently we are rookies and so didn’t even bother checking the weather until we arrived in Iowa. This meant a stop to buy long sleeved gear on Saturday. Whoops. And yes, we bought $100 in gear despite having received those long-sleeved pullovers because we believe that strongly in not wearing the race tee on the day of the race, haha.

The start was immediately adjacent to a YMCA. We cooped up in there to stay warm and use the restrooms. A nice touch, but the lines were insane. Not the race’s fault, there were dozens of port-o-potties out there in the cold.

The race started without much fanfare. Half and Full marathoners raced together for the first few miles until the split off. The race was tiny. Only 1586 marathoners (compared to 4900 half marathoners) so the split was welcome. Unfortunately those first few miles were really the most interesting of the whole race. Running through the downtown and seeing the buildings and the Capital were nice and then we spent the next 23 miles looking at people’s houses.

I’ve taken the liberty of annotating my own map to be more descriptive of the course:

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Did you see the elevation chart? The half marathon is smooth and flat because you are running the last half of the course. The first half of the marathon is seriously hilly. Nothing crazy, but steep enough hills that if you aren’t careful, you are going to burn yourself out quickly. It also gives you the chance to check out some of the ritzier houses in the neighborhood.

You wind up and down and up and down and look at more and more houses.

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Mile 12 brings you to Drake University. You get a thrilling 400 meters around the bright blue track that has a few straggling spectators in the stands. It gives you a slight change of pace. Especially exciting for me was that I did see Jeff Galloway here. I made it my goal to try and beat him (spoiler: I didn’t).

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After the track, you get to go and look at more houses for another 5 miles. Perhaps this race is designed by the local real estate agency?

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Coming up around 16/17, you head onto some nice trails and get to run through the woods. It is a nice peaceful trail and since the crowd was so thin, I got some nice time to myself. Some nice time to question why I didn’t bring my iPod.

The on-course entertainment is also the most unusual. They really had to dig deep to come up with these acts. There were some people early on playing drums on trash cans. Interesting and Stomp-like. So modern! Then on the trail there was a violinist. Classical music is the elixir for PRs, I hear. Towards the end there was a guy parked by the river (not a joke) with his van playing a small keyboard and seeing God Bless America. I can’t lie and say that the entertainment didn’t entertain me. In fact, it gave me more to think about in terms of the strange culture that is Des Moines. There were some actual bands thrown in the mix, so it wasn’t all atypical, but definitely a far cry from the entertainment of bigger races.

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Finally I get into Waterworks Park. This gets a little interesting because there is about a mile stretch where you are running parallel to the runners who have just completed the lake loop. I saw Paul and our friend, Nick here. We also saw some of friends cheering us on! This was a good pick-me-up. We ran through the park and while you can definitely say there were a lot of spectators here, they were all just sitting in their lawn chairs staring at you while they waited for their own runner. Great. Not awkward at all.

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Finally I start approaching mile 21/22. I was excited for this part of the course around Gray’s Lake because it follows a lot of the same course as the HyVee Tri. I try to pump myself up, only a few miles left! There is an announcer near Grey’s Lake and some loud music and this was probably the highlight of the on-course entertainment. And considering the highlight is the announcer insulting my Cyclones jacket is the highlight, I think that sums up the race nicely (I’m kidding: The Cyclone/Hawkeye rivalry is thickest here!)

I trudge on through a trail that takes me closer to the city. I assumed once I got downtown the area would pick up and the spectators would bring me in strong. Eh. With all the roads blocked, there aren’t many spectators and with the cold weather, I think that scared a lot of people inside. The spectators didn’t pick up enough to be motivational until the final .2. I got a high-five and kiss from Paul and then I sprinted like a coked out orangutan in hopes that everyone couldn’t tell that I just walk/jogged the last 26 miles.

I was the last one of my group to finish. My goal was to simply beat my Berlin time from 3 weeks prior and I managed to do that by 10 minutes. I grabbed a water and then surveyed the demolished food tents and just left. My friend who ran the 5k said the beer was long gone and most of the food was as well, so we just headed out. The start and finish are right next to each other so the car was very close (a nice perk of the smaller race). Downtown Des Moines has tons of nearby restaurants and bars, so we made our own after-party. And then, since it was Sunday, got in the car to drive home 3 hours and get ready for work on Monday. Le sigh.

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So, like I said. I’m not thrilled with Des Moines. It is a nice little race that doesn’t have anything wrong, but just doesn’t have oomph to it. I’m not saying it needs to be gaudy and give you a dinner plate sized medal or throw colored powder at you, but I think the course is the problem. I can run through my own neighborhood any day of the week.. the thrill of racing is partially the chance to get to see things and run places you can’t just do on your own.

Course – D

Medal – B

Race Tee- A

Communication/Logistics/Management- A

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Everything is AWESOME (Weekly Workouts)

After becoming nearly diabetic with the amount of Halloween candy that I ate last Friday, this last week has been, well, AWESOME.

I’m pretty psyched to be back on track and even though everyone else is winding down for the off-season, I’m excited to FINALLY have some mojo back and I plan on building what will hopefully be a STELLAR winter base.

2015 Races:

January: Star Wars Rebel Challenge (Half Marathon and 10k)

March: Dirty Kanza Training Camp (4 fun-filled days of biking, biking and more biking)

April: Paris Marathon (I really really want a PR, but A race for the Spring is definitely….)

May:Dirty Kanza 200 (I’m in way over my head on this one, but I can’t be more excited to try and not fail).

October: Ironman Louisville

So, being 6 months out from anything serious (Run Disney races are purely for entertainment and minimal sweat), I’m slowly working on building up a strong base while I try and figure out how the heck to train for 200 miles of riding on gravel.

Last Week’s Workouts:

Sat (11/1): 8 mile run. I almost got out of this one since we test drove some cars in the AM and got back later than intended, but Paul made sure I got out the door.

Sun (11/2): 16.3 mile ride. My first ride on my brand new Salsa Vaya. A super windy day, a bike with no aero bars, a new bike seat and barely any cycling fitness = one rough start.. but it was still a fun time.

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Mon (11/3): 1 hr trainer ride: Used a Spinervals DVD to do an FTP test, but did all the work with none of the data. Goofed up my Trainer Road so I didn’t actually capture a new FTP. Fail, but a successful sweat.

Tues (11/4): 6 mile run outside. Me. Outside. Before 6 am. There is no way your brain can comprehend the miracle that this is.

Wed (11/5): 6 mile run outside. AGAIN. A little slower than Tuesday’s run, but still 6 miles in 1:04 on a decently hilly route. I’m a saint.

Thur (11/6): 1 hr trainer ride. Another early morning date with Coach Troy.

Fri (11/7): 40 minute trainer ride. This was technically going to be my rest day, but I am absolutely terrified by the fact that I woke up early 5 days in a row. I have to keep the momentum going or risk losing it forever.

Sat (11/8): 10 mile run. This one hurt. I tried something other than my beloved GU gels and I regretted it. My splits were awful compared to my typical runs, but there was some suffering.. but I got it done and even saw a horse.

Sun (11/9): 2 hours on the bike trainer. What started as a bizarre day (drove to the airport to ride outside, but ended up calling the cops on some sports car who was speeding back and forth and then bailed because I was intimidated and paranoid, so I rode at home on my trainer), ended up with a good workout, but a reminder that I need to slowly build up my mileage because my butt is NOT used to sitting on the bike for hours upon hours like it used to be. Only 7 months to build it up to 12/13/14/15/16 hours on that seat!

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This week’s goals: Keep the momentum going and not hate the new swim class I signed up for!

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Berlin Marathon 2014 Race Recap

It’s been a crazy fall and I have a lot to catch you up on!  The Hy-Vee Tri that I was fairly gung-ho about in my last post, ended up being fairly disappointing. Flooding reduced it to a sprint instead of an Olympic distance, but that was probably a blessing in disguise. I only would have been disappointed in the fitness I had lost since last year. However, Hy-Vee is always a great race: awesome swag, big crowds and a fun post-race celebration with friends :-D My goal is to do the Hy-Vee Tri every year.

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A few weeks later, we were off to Berlin! I’ll keep this recap short and sweet with mostly pictures. To sum up my run: I struggled, but I had fun with friends and a blast exploring Berlin on foot. I ran with Paul, and my friend, Ferg (it was his first full marathon!) and I am so glad that we mostly stuck together for the whole race :-D We had two other friends that ran with us too, but they ran at their own pace.

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Fernsehturm Berlin

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Berliner Dom

This was my first time in Europe and I absolutely loved it. Bikes everywhere! We did a ton of sightseeing in the 4 days prior to the race and while the time on our feet wasn’t conducive to a great race, Berlin was purely about survival and fun. No PRs and certainly no A games.

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The expo was hands down the largest expo I have ever seen (including Chicago and Boston!). Room after room of vendors, but we lucked out and barely had any waiting to do since we went first thing on Friday. One very neat thing was that they actually printed out your bib while you waited.  It was much quicker than searching through a pile. I also didn’t realize that they do not provide a t-shirt, even at the finish line. I’ve never done a race that doesn’t give you a shirt!.. but there was plenty of options to buy one at the expo.

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A Runner Brandenburger Tor at the Expo

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At the Expo

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A necessary souvenir

We stayed in Mitte at a cheaper hotel (EasyHotel) for the first few days we were in Berlin and then switched to the Grand Hyatt for Saturday and Sunday.  The Grand Hyatt was less than a mile to the starting area and a nice place, but pricey if you book without points.

The race didn’t start until 8:45 am, so it was strange to not wake up until 7am on a race day! Breakfast was provided by our hotel and this was my favorite part: I actually ate a pretzel before the race. I wasn’t intending on it, but when it came between a bagel and pretzel: the pretzel wins!

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The breakfast spread. I got the pretzel!

We made the walk over to the starting area and it was very easy to figure out where to go. Almost everything is in English in Germany, so we were easily able to grasp where to go and how to use the subways/trains while sightseeing.

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Walking to the race start!

 

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Waiting for the race to start. They handed these out :)

The starting line crowd was ENORMOUS. They even had some cheerleaders get up and lead the crowd through a jazzercise like warm-up. I didn’t really participate other than bob around to the music, but it was fun to watch the old guys and most of the crowd waving their arms and swaying and bouncing.

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Not a great picture, but shows the cheerleaders leading the crowd and the mascot, Fritz!

 

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Check out the running shoes on this guy! They have heels!

The first few miles were fairly crowded, but it thinned out. I would say the crowds of the race were comparable to Chicago.. packed at first, but you can get around when you need to. Even once it thinned out, there was constantly a ton of people, but with enough space to pass and breathe.

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You can just barely see the starting line up ahead. SO many people!

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Crossing the start!

It was an interesting experience running a race measured in kilometers. It makes you feel like you are FLYING at first, but by the time you get to 35km, it is a struggle trying to do the mental math to figure out how long to go! :-D

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21km = halfway!

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A shot from the course!

The best surprise: Hot tea served at aid stations is AWESOME and a magical elixir. The worst surprise: plastic cups are hard to run through! It is a miracle that I didn’t trip on these!

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Paul running through the hoards of plastic cups. It was starting to get warm out!

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We passed a lot of the sites that we had seen earlier in the week…. but hands down my favorite part was moments before the finish line when you run under the Brandenburg Gate. Incredible!

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Superman Ferg right after running under the Brandenburg Gate

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After running under the gate, the finish line feels rather small, but it felt so so good to finish! The medals are simple, but gorgeous. I’ll admit I’m getting a tad tired of the bigger is better attitude of medals we have in the states.

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After the marathon, the REAL fun started! We spent one more night in Berlin, took a fantastic train ride to Munich (YAY to no open container laws on trains!) and then spent one glorious week in carb heaven: Oktoberfest!

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Post race at the Brandenburg Gate

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Trains with bars are the best

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View of part of Oktoberfest from the top of the Ferris Wheel

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Inside on of the beer tents!

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Ferg holding 5 beers at one time

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Inside another beer tent! These can hold around 5,000-8,000 people in just one! And there were a dozen of these!

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Outside of another beer tent

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THE BEST FOOD. Cream cheese and chive stuffed pretzel. OMG. We ate these 3 times.

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Day Trip to Bavaria to see Neuschwanstein Castle. Gorgeous.

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Psycho Wyco 50k (AKA 23 miles) and Kansas 5150

July is my birthday month! I love having my birthday in the summer and it always reminds of the pool parties or trips to Six Flags that we would do for my birthday! This year, Paul had a bachelor party to attend during my birthday, so we celebrated early with sushi and seeing Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Starlight, the outdoor theatre.

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Since he was gone on my birthday, I decided to do something exciting solo. Of course, that translates to a race. I signed up for Psycho Wyco on purpose, but I meant to only sign up for the 10 mile race.. because, you know, I was supposed to have completed 50 miles the weekend before. Well, I goofed and signed up for the 50k by accident. I decided to roll with it anyway. I mean, what’s 21 more miles?

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The race started fairly late at 8am and I live pretty close to the trail, so I even got to sleep in a little bit. The 50k and 20 mile racers started at 8am and it was already pretty toasty. The course was another looped course with 3 10.3 mile loops.

I really don’t trails run very often. I love it and I wish I did, but I always get nervous about getting lost. I wear my old pair of Brooks Cascadias which I bought when we hiked the Inca Trail in 2012. I have no issues switching between these and my Brooks Adrenaline. I also wore my Orange Mud backpack which I am in love with. I was able to stash my phone in there since I was running alone, as well as Gu.

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The first loop was a blast. I had an awesome time navigating the rocks and branches. It amazes me how some people can just barrel down a hill at top speed, while I often stop to climb over things. I definitely need practice!

I finished the first loop (10 miles) about 30 minutes faster (1:30) than when I ran the loop back in December! I stopped at my gear bag and ate some jerky, refilled the water bottle in my Orange Mud backpack and then started loop 2. This loop was a lot slower, but I was still feeling good. Thankfully the trail is mostly shaded. I stopped at each aid station to fill up my bottle and I had the GREATEST bacon grilled cheese at one stop. Towards mile 17, I started to get really hot. The temp was in the mid 90s and while we were in the shade, there wasn’t any wind on the trail either.

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At the end of loop 2, I ate a lot more jerky, chips and more Gu. I started loop 3, but I was struggling and very hot. I walked almost an entire mile before trying to get my pace back up. By 1.5 miles into loop 3, I was ready to call uncle. I alternated run/walking until I got to the first aid station around mile 3. The volunteers were SO nice. They encouraged me to sit, drink, eat and take the time to cool off, but I wasn’t really interested in it. This certainly was NOT an A race, I was ready to just call it a day. One of the volunteers gave me a ride in her car back to the Start. I was feeling rather guilty for taking the ride, but she said she had driven almost 10 other people back already too. It was a HOT day.

My soaked bib

My soaked bib

I turned in my bib and they still gave me the 20 mile medal. All told I went about 23.5 miles. I know I could have toughed it out and walked the rest of the loop, but hell, it was my birthday. I wanted to get home, shower and order some pizza :-D

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The next weekend (July 20th, hey, I’m only a month behind!), we had Kansas 5150. I had originally wanted this to be an A race so that I could qualify for the 5150 championship at HyVee in August. However, after major IM burnout, I really haven’t swam or biked much this spring. Paul was in the same boat, so we just decided to go out there and get some good exercise in :-D

The swim was wetsuit legal, but boy, it was warm. I was worried almost immediately that I made a huge mistake wearing it, but it ended up not overheating me too bad. My swim was slooooow, but I felt good and steady the entire time. I never needed to flip over and backstroke or stop or anything.  My time was 44:26. Woof.

I was hoping to blow my bike time out of the water from last year just because I was now on my tri bike and I think I have grown a lot as a cyclist in general. I ended up only averaging .2 in speed more (14.2 overall), but at least I didn’t feel so deflated after my bike like I did last year. After last year, I was convinced I could never pull off an Ironman. I also felt confident knowing the course and after getting past the halfway point, I made an effort to try and kick it up a notch. I really need to get back on my trainer and riding outside, because I think I have the potential to make some real strides on the bike.

The run was HOT, but I pushed hard to get under 1:00. I ended up hitting 1:01:18, so close, but not quite. The run is still my favorite part.

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Overall, I came in last in my division (out of only 7). Ouch. However, that means I still qualified for the HyVee championship race by default…(same as last year). If you can tell by my random ultramarathons, under-trained Grandma’s Marathon, and this race, my training or lackthereof is just all over the place. If I want to get GOOD at anything, I need to pick a plan and stick to it, but right now I’m honestly having fun just experiencing everything.

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On the radar I have the HyVee Triathlon over Labor Day weekend and then the Berlin Marathon at the end of September. I’m making no promises for HyVee, but I’d love to get focused on running a bit more and race Berlin at around 4:30.

Oh, and a teeny little thing happened: Paul and I signed up for Ironman Louisville in October 2015. Sorry for partying :-D

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Tatur’s Midnight Madness: The 50-miler That Wasn’t

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4th of July feels like forever ago! There are definitely NOT enough 3-day weekends on the calendar! This year Paul and I drove down to Tulsa after work on Thursday and met up with our friend Ferg and his new girlfriend! I’ve been to Tulsa multiple times now to see Ferg and for work, and I’m surprised how much I absolutely love this city. What sounds like a boring place actually has a really funky downtown area with tons of unique bars and fun restaurants.

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Paul and I in the “Center of the Universe” in Tulsa!

Thursday night we met up at The Max which is a retro pub and arcade that is all 80s themed. They have skee-ball (WHICH I LOVE) and play 80s music and have tons of arcade games. Afterwards we went to the Dust Bowl and while we didn’t bowl, we played Buck Hunter and sat outside on the patio.

Friday, the 4th, was dedicated to RESTING for the 50 miler. I’m not sure WHAT we were thinking by not sleeping all day. We ate breakfast, and then went out for some AWESOME pizza at Andolini’s.

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Then we spent the rest of the day watching House of Cards on Netflix (which is awesome by the way). Our race started at midnight, so we had the right idea, but in reality we really should have gotten some sleep… simply being off our feet wasn’t enough.

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Lazy Day in bed

At 10pm, we left the hotel to head over to the race start. The fireworks had just ended, so the traffic was awful with everyone trying to get home. TONS of roads were closed and it took us forever to find a parking spot, but we made it.

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The race itself was 50 miles: 5 10.3 mile loops on the River Parks Trail System. The “trail” was actually a paved sidewalk the entire way, which was perfect and much easier than a real trail, so this is a great first 50 miler for newbies. It ran along the Arkansas River and crossed over it twice in the loop. The bathrooms were also actual public restrooms. They weren’t THAT much nicer than port-o-potties, but still a nice perk!

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We were allowed 2 gear bags: 1 at the Start/Finish and 1 at Turkey Mountain (which was about 6 miles in on the odd loops and 4 miles in on the even loops since you alternate direction with each loop).

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The aid station at the start/finish

In my first gear bag: 2nd pair of shoes, pair of socks, visor for when the sun came out, my shrug to prevent sunburn, bug spray, sunscreen, 10 Gus of a bunch different flavors, toilet paper, Jolly Ranchers, a Gatorade, wet wipes, and my phone. The 2nd gear bag at Turkey Mountain also had a pair of socks, Jolly Ranchers, and a couple more Gus.

The race had about 100 people and it started right at midnight. It was weird at first running in the dark, but the trail was mostly lit. I did carry a flashlight and clipped a flashing red light on my Orange Mud HydraQuiver. The HydraQuiver carried a single water bottle, but had a great pocket with extra batteries for my flashlight, my iPod (which I never used), and my Gu for each loop (I take 1 Gu each 5 miles).

My first loop went great! Running on the paved trail was fun and everyone quickly spread out. It was hard to really see any scenery since it was dark and I definitely got freaked out a couple times running by myself when something would rustle in the bushes. The aid station at mile 6 was a welcomed relief to see other people and I just wanted to linger and eat all the great food they had all day!

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I reached the end of loop 1 and used the bathroom, filled up my water bottle, and drank some soda. I was feeling tired, but overall felt really good. As soon as I started loop 2, someone not in the race started running with me and chatting. At first I was kind of nervous since I thought this was some drunk 4th of July partier (it was like 2:30 am after all), but he quickly turned the topic to Jesus and how I need to channel him for the courage on this journey. Sigh. I have to give him credit though: He ran with me for almost 2 miles in Birkenstocks and cargo shorts. I was annoyed with him in the beginning, but of course, I felt too bad to tell him to leave me alone.. and it was kind of nice to have some company. He finally left me and I kept going until Turkey Mountain at about mile marker 14.

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I hadn’t been walking at all at this point which I was really happy with. I was going pretty slow since I was pacing to keep running for 8 more hours, but when I got to Turkey Mountain I started feeling tired. I ate some jerky (MY NEW FAVORITE MARATHON FOOD) and a rice ball. I still hadn’t brought out the iPod either, which I was saving for a low point.

Paul was running the race as well, but not with me since he is faster, so I was expecting to see him pretty soon. I ended up seeing him around his own mile 33 and he was looking pretty rough. His feet had blistered on the back of his heels (pre-existing condition which he patched up with duct tape), but they were rubbing badly.

At the end of loop 2 I really needed to use the restroom. Here I was SUPER thankful for the nicer public restrooms. I drank more soda (man, I LOVE soda) and topped off my water bottle again. I was 20 miles done and back on my way.

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Bear statues along the trail

Now the sun was starting to come up, so it was much lighter. I was starting to struggle though. I ran the first 5 miles of loop 3 and the whole time I was just so tired. I found myself closing my eyes while I was running to get a rest. ALL I wanted to do was sit down on one of the many benches and just nap for 10 minutes. HOW GLORIOUS that would have felt… but I didn’t because I figured someone would run by and I think I was dead (and even worse, wake me from my nap!). I kept going, but I was starting to walk now. I tried my hardest to stick to a 4 minutes on and 1 minute off running pattern, but it quickly dropped to 2:30 on and 0:30 off.  I saw Paul around my mile 36. We were both struggling and walking a lot. We were exhausted and Paul’s feet were KILLING him. I’ll admit that I was pretty disappointed to see him. I was really hoping he had dropped at mile 30, so that I could drop too :-D

At Turkey Mountain, I fueled up. I ate a bunch of jerky and some more substantial food like PB&J and more rice balls. I also drank a lot more soda and drank some extra water. I walked almost a mile straight after this aid station. I started to perk up from the food and soda, but I was still dying. When I crossed over the bridge to the other side of the Arkansas River, I ran into Natalie. She was just a random Tulsan who was out for a run. She coaxed me into running and even though I really just wanted to stab her or myself, I let her talk at me while I  ran at about a 12 min/mile pace. She was super nice and surprisingly a hardcore runner herself. She finished the 50 state challenge and I asked her about her favorite races. She was a lifesaver. She ran with me about 3.5 miles until the end of loop 3 (mile 30.9) and then she continued on.

At the end of loop 3 as I left Natalie, I found our friend Ferg waiting for us! He even brought with a large sausage pizza and a 6-pack of O’Fallon’s Wheach beer! He had gotten there at 6am to see us, but now it was closer to almost 7:30. This was the greatest. I crossed the timing mat to start loop 4, but stayed at the aid station. I was EXHAUSTED. ALL I wanted to do was sleep. My legs were sore, but felt good for having gone almost 31 miles. It was all mentally that I was defeated and so tired. I ate the pizza, drank a beer, and sat in Ferg’s lawn chair for a while. Paul finally stumbled up having finished his 4th lap (41.2 miles). He took of his shoes and compression socks and his poor feet were a mess. I had thought the pizza might revive me, but no way. I was done. I could have pressed on, but I knew it might not be safe. I needed sleep and I was already thinking crazy things and getting all the math wrong about how many loops/miles I had left. Paul was also determined to finish and was thinking about putting on flip flop and walking the last 10 miles. HA. We decided that we were being crazy. We were done.. and it was okay for us to ‘fail’ together.

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We turned in our bibs so they knew that we were kaput and packed up the car. We headed back to the hotel and at first Paul was sure that we wouldn’t be able to get any sleep from adrenaline. It was only about 8:30 am at this point. FALSE. We crashed and we crashed HARD. The next thing I remember is Ferg texting us wondering if we wanted lunch. It was almost 2pm. Food. YES. NOW.

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Shrimp Tacos at El Guapo

We met up with him at El Guapo, a great Mexican restaurant with GIANT margaritas. We went back to his apartment afterwards for drinking games for a bit and then spent the rest of the night exploring Tulsa. We discovered an awesome new lounge/bar called Valkryie that serves all unique, handcrafted cocktails and house-brewed beers. I also ate the GREATEST macaroni and cheese EVER at Joe Momma’s. We ended up going to bed early around 10, but we definitely needed the sleep.

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Mac and Cheese at Joe Mommas

Did I mention how much I love sleep?

So, we failed at our first 50 mile attempt. I would typically be pretty disappointed, but I’m actually really happy about the race. I played it smart and didn’t push myself into a dangerous situation and I know better next year to get some sleep before the race (well, and run more)!! I also still ran freakin’ 31 miles and had a blast doing it. I am definitely signing up next year and seeking revenge!

My Results (Still 3/4 in my age group! haha):

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And despite the bet I had with Paul that said we could go see the Blue Whale only IF I finished the race, we still stopped on the way home in Catoosa, OK. The Blue Whale is a pretty neat Route 66 stop that we skipped on our road trip to Ironman Arizona last November.

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BACooN Ride: Ride for the Cured Recap!

I’ve mentioned before that I can be a nervous wreck when it comes to riding my bike. You have to depend so much on the unpredictable (cars, road conditions, other riders) and I tend to get nervous about what I can’t control. I debated back and forth about whether to sign up or not for this ride (3000 people on bikes on 1 trail is A LOT), but ultimately I figured this was the best opportunity to get better at riding in groups… plus, BACON.

Well, it turned out to be a blast!!

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The ride was 71 miles (actually more like 74 according to my Garmin) and every 10 miles or so, a town would host a bacon stop. You show your PassPORK and they stamp it and give you a bacon snack! My favorite was the bacon sundae, but they also had things like bacon donuts, bacon samples, BLT, Bacon cheeseburger and bacon tacos.

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And even though there was 3,000 riders, it didn’t seem like it. The starting line wasn’t a mass start, so you could choose when you wanted to begin the ride anytime between 7am and 10am. We started almost right at 7am (which was a good choice thanks to the rain that hit us towards the end).

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Great photo of me with bacon burrito in my mouth, lol

Each town really went all out for the ride. There were other fundraisers, food, drinks, music and a party at each stop. Paul and I definitely took advantage of the local beers some towns had on tap.. and we had THE BEST ice cream sandwich with bacon ice-cream and molasses cookie (though it was crazy melted).

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Redfield, IA where we got Cajun bacon samples

 

 

 

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Panora, IA bacon stop

The ride itself was a great time. It took place on the Raccoon River Valley Trail which is this AWESOME trail system nearby Des Moines, IA. The entire trail (with the exception of some of the gravel road crossings) was paved and had gorgeous scenery (if you love blue skies and green corn fields as much as I do :-D). I really wish we had this trail system by us. 70 miles on a SINGLE trail. Awesome. This would have been much nicer than the airport road I used for Ironman training (a 4 mile loops = 25 laps for 100 miles, lol).

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Selfie in Adel, IA

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The directors of this ride are the ones that also coordinate RAGBRAI, a week-long race that stretches all the way across Iowa, which I’ve always wanted to do. After this ride, I am 100 times more excited about RAGBRAI. People, bikes, beer and food… pretty much all my favorite things :-D I just need to figure out a way to finagle an extra week of vacation at work.

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The weather was supposed to rain all day, but it managed to hold off until about 2:30. We had just finished the last stop (SO thankful that I got my bacon sundae in time :-P) and it started to downpour! We thought we were only 1 mile from the parking lot, but it ended up being closed to 3 miles and it was raining SO hard. We were soaked to the bone by the time we got to the car, but thankful that we managed to finish! Also happy that Paul’s Honda Element is all plastic so we could just toss everything muddy into the back of his car and clean it out later :-D :-D

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The pouring rain once we made it back to the car

I am definitely in for this race next year again. And hopefully the full RAGBRAI sometime soon! I’ve been trying to find another group ride that sounds fun (and there are plenty), but I think this ride spoiled me with the paved trail.. a lot of rides (especially in Kansas) are on more rural roads that I don’t trust as much… but I’m getting more confident on my bike.  The Raccoon River Valley Trail was super flat, but this weekend is Kansas 5150 Triathlon, so we will see how the hills treat me :-D

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Grandma’s Marathon!: Race Recap

So, remember my high hopes for a shiny new marathon PR? Well, that probably would require running longer 16 miles… 7 weeks before the race :-\ I trained horribly for this marathon and I really really really don’t recommend doing it that way!.. but I ran it anyway and frankly had an incredible time experience!

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We flew into Minneapolis on Friday night and then drove about 2.5 hours north to Moose Lake, MN. The drive was gorgeous! Surrounded my forests and blue skies, Northern Minnesota is just so pretty! We arrived at like 9pm and checked into our sold-out hotel. Yep, we were still an hour away from Duluth and the hotel was still sold out!

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Grandma’s (realizing what a B it is to get a hotel in Duluth) is really nice and offers to mail your race packet. So we received our packets on Monday, but then had to miss the expo and any race goodies.

We stayed at the AmericInn Lodge in Moose Lake and surprisingly had the most comfortable sleep. This place was in the middle of nowhere and decorated like a camping lodge, but it was cute and comfortable.

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The next morning we woke up at 3:30 am and hit the road at 4:15 am. The buses for the half started at 4:45 am and buses for the full start at 5:20 am. We are SO thankful we left early. As we approached Duluth, we got in line to basically sit on the highway and inch our way to the exit to get off to the convention center. This set-up was such a cluster and so poorly organized. There was no one directing traffic, so as each car got off the exit, it had to stop at a stop sign to make a left to get to the parking lot (buses and people of course walking in front of the cars the whole time). Then once you got to the parking lot, there was ONE person collecting $5 from every car. What a nightmare. I can’t believe that they couldn’t shell out for someone to direct traffic and couldn’t just throw some money at the DECC to provide free parking to runners. It took us almost an hour to get parked and we had left early enough to arrive at 5:15 for buses that were supposed to run until 6.

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Downtown Duluth from our parking spot

Anyway, once that nightmare was over, the race of the day was awesome! We opted to skip the buses and boarded the train! Yep! A real train to take us the 26(.2) miles to the starting line. The train was packed, but we got seats and it still had bathrooms. The ride took almost an hour as the train was pretty slow, but we arrived with plenty of time to use the bathroom and stand around in the mist.

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The starting line was fairly well organized. Lines were long for potties, but moved quickly. It was super foggy and slightly misty, however, so I’m glad we brought trash bags with to wear. It’s just nice having to start the race already soaked.

The start of the race was entirely uneventful, but the weather was absolutely perfect the entire race. Towards the end, the sun started to come out, but the majority of the miles were cool breeze, cloudy skies, but still gorgeous scenery: dense green forests, blue skies and awesome views of Lake Superior nearly the entire way! There were also basically NO hills. For being completely undertrained, I still knocked out a marathon faster than my first!

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The aid stations were well-staffed and everything was labeled. They had plenty of them as well with port-o-potties at each one. The mile markers were giant yellow balloons that you could spot from a good distance.

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I kept good pace for the first 10 miles and then started to slow up. I ran the first half in 2:20-ish, but I knew it would only get slower from here. The best part of the race is that Paul decided to run with me. We rarely run together and never have for a full, so I was really glad to have him to keep my going. I would have definitely walked a TON if it wasn’t for him… but I managed to only walk the aid stations (or when it was a 5 mile marker, so I could take a Gu).

Speaking of fuel, I did take a Gu at the start and then every 5 miles (except 25). I tried the new Salted Watermelon and it was AMAZING. I also tried the new Chocolate Peanut Butter, but wasn’t as impressed. I like it better than the Chocolate Outrage, but not as much as just plain ol’ Peanut Butter. I think the Salted Caramel, followed by Salted Watermelon are my current favorites.

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Anyway, Paul definitely pushed me to keep going, but I was definitely HURTING towards the end. We ran past the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Paul grabbed a beer, but I knew I couldn’t stomach one myself!  Towards the end we also ran past the downtown area of Duluth where I got SUPER jealous that we weren’t staying in town. I think we ran past no less than 10 different bars, Irish pubs, and other cute restaurants that I really wanted to try. Totally wish we had been able to stay in town.

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The finish line was right in the downtown next to the Lake. The finish wasn’t especially memorable, but Paul and I did hold hands. I had been BOOKING it to try and just under 5 hours, which we did! 4:58:37! Woof.

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I really liked the medal. Simple and not overly gaudy like some recently. They were out of shirt sizes for Paul, but I got one and the shirt was really cute and actually wearable. I also got a flower for finishing :-D

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The finish line area was packed! There really wasn’t any food for free for finishers (or it was all picked over by the half marathoners and faster athletes) and we didn’t have any cash on us, so we just went back to the car. They did have a merchandise tent at the finish line, but we didn’t stop and we gave our beer tickets away.

I really would have liked to stay in Duluth, but I’m glad I didn’t get the opportunity to give them any of my money. My beef is with the City of Duluth. Rumor has it that this race used to sell out year after year (and the half still does), but the City of Duluth has shot itself in the foot. The problem is lodging. We came up with the idea to run Grandma’s back in April… so fairly last minute, but not really. We almost scrapped the idea because we couldn’t find anywhere to stay! The problem isn’t that places were booked. There were plenty of places with openings, but even the Super 8 was charging close to $200. The Holiday Inn was closer to $300.. and not only are they charging up the wazoo, they are slapping 3 or 4 night minimums! Sorry, not sorry, but I’m not staying in Duluth for 4 days. I want to come, run, drink beer and then peace out 8am Sunday morning.

I asked on Facebook and someone suggested the local colleges that open up their dorms for the weekend. We looked in that… $120 WITH A TWO NIGHT MINIMUM! Seriously??? For a dorm room with no A/C, no TV and shared public bathrooms? LOL, no. I don’t mean to sound like a total snob, but we aren’t doing the marathon for punishment. I want to take a nice hot shower after the race and then get a good night’s sleep after going out celebrating.. not gonna happen in a dorm. Now, you can argue supply and demand, but the hotels aren’t even sold out. And the race isn’t sold out. So, Moose Lake is was and then after the race we drove the 3 hours back to Minneapolis (stopping at White Castle [holla] on the way) and spent the night at a hotel and met us with some friends there.

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Minneapolis was actually a ton of fun as well. We bar-crawled our way though a few spots getting drinks and food with another couple and then we ran into a bachelorette party of people we knew from college. Small world :-D If Minnesota didn’t get so DANG cold in the winter, I would love Minneapolis a whole lot more!

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Food and Drinks at Brits Pub while watching the World Cup

 

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Drinks at The Local

 

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Sriracha Wings and The Locals Wontons at The Local

So, overall, it was a great weekend! I would definitely run Grandma’s again (but book my hotel stupid early, or stay in Moose Lake again). This is a fantastic course for a PR especially this year as the weather was PERFECT. I might return if I am gunning for a BQ, so I hope Duluth can figure out a way to be less of a greedy ho before then.
Course: A+
Medal: A. Simple and not gaudy like a lot of races are getting
T-Shirt: C (Out of Men’s sizes at the finish), but women’s are cute
Race Management: C (F for logistics, A+ for communication and mailing race packets so we can avoid packet pick-up)

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One Crazy June!

So, I realize that it is almost July and I haven’t even finished recapping my May races. Oye. We’ve been out of town every weekend since so let’s do a quick recap.

May 24 and 25:

Memorial Day!! Paul and I went home to see our family in Chicago! The trip was fun and I ran the Western Springs Tower Trot Double: 10k at 8am followed by the 5k at 9am. I ran the 10k with old friends and then walked the 5k with my dad. It was nice to catch up and the Tower Trot always brings back memories from when I used to volunteer for it when I was younger. I was always so amazed that people could run 6 miles!

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May 31 and June 1:

The best weekend I’ve had in a long time! I finally crossed the Dam to Dam Half Marathon off of my bucket list. It is typically a 20k, but this year they upped it to a half marathon and it was a BLAST. I ran it with some college friends and we took a selfie every mile :-D Afterwards there was an AWESOME finish line party with free beer even for non-runners! I want to run this race every year!!

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June 5- 8:

Paul’s brother got married in Beverly Hills. We flew out early and spent a GORGEOUS day in Santa Barbara. Tons of wine tasting happened and we had the BEST crab ever at Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. We took the train to SB from Burbank and it was one of the best days I’ve ever had!

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The rest of the weekend was wedding-filled! Paul was the best man and it was such a stunning wedding! Excellent food and I even got to see the Hollywood sign!

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June 14 and 15:

On a layover, we got the chance to stay one night in New York. We had 6 short hours to explore the city and I had never been before! We saw the Empire State Building, Times Square and ate pizzzzzzza!

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June 21 and 22:

Grandma’s Marathon! I’ll be back with a post about this. Not my best time, but such a great race!!

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This weekend we are headed to Iowa for a 70 mile Bacon Bike Ride! It is supposed to rain, which is a bummer, but it should still be a fun time!

 

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Bring on the Challenge!

Woo hoo!

This morning we registered for the now sold-out RunDisney Star Wars Rebel Challenge!

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Next January we will be running a 10k on Saturday morning, followed by a half marathon on Sunday!

Can’t wait! I know I said I probably would not return to Disneyland for a race (I just think DisneyWorld is logistically better organized), but aw, heck I love all Disney!

Any bets on who will be on the medals? I’m thinking Yoda definitely, but possibly on the kids medal…

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A Tale of 3 Races : Kansas City Triathlon

I’ve been busy since my last check-in!

May 18th – Kansas City Triathlon

May 24th – Tower Trot Double (10k + 5k) in Western Springs, IL

May 31st – Dam to Dam Half Marathon in Des Moines, IA

First up, the KC Tri. This was my first real triathlon back in 2012 and this year it was the same course. Paul was out of town at a bachelor party, so this was also my first time flying solo at a triathlon. Luckily, I was surprised at how many people I ended up knowing through my old triathlon coach, Masters swim and work, so I still had a great time. The start was FREEZING. They even skipped body marking since they figured everyone would be in long sleeves the entire race. I arrived super extra early and managed to snag a parking spot right next to the port-o-potties and a short walk to transition.

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Best parking spot ever!

I really wasn’t very nervous for the start. I had been seriously slacking on riding my bike (I had only taken my bike outside two times this year and both were the week before the race), so I knew I wasn’t going to be doing any placing. I was content to just do my best and take it easy.  I got my transition set up quickly and then put my wetsuit on for warmth.

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Trying on my wetsuit for the first time since IMAZ. Phew. It still fits!

The water was about 63 degrees which is about what it was at Ironman Arizona, so while it was a bit cold to start, it was honestly about the perfect water temp. The best part about this race was that my age group was 2nd! Usually the women seem to be lumped at the end and then with a 30/45 minute disadvantage it feels like I’m coming in last place.

The swim went well. I haven’t been to Masters Swim in a while, but I felt steady and never completely drained.  My time was 39:18, so definitely worse than in years past, but with far far less training as well.

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My bike all ready to go!

The bike is usually my weakest. I get nervous around other bikers and since this race targets beginners, I was worried that there would be a lot of slow people in the way and not following proper etiquette. Turns out I had nothing to worry about! I took a while to warm up and get in my groove, but I ended up posting a 1:36 and a speed of 15.5 which is great for me, especially considering the hills.

The run was a blast. I knew I had to lay it all out here in order to make up some time in my age group. The course is 2 3.1 mile laps and I ran it in 59:25. I should also mention that by this point the weather had done a complete 180. It was hot, sunny and I got myself a fantastic sunburn whereas that morning I was wearing a wetsuit and it was in the 40s.

It ended up being a great race and I’m definitely happy that I didn’t just skip it like I was tempted to do. They also had great swag!

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Tech tee, cotton tee, towel, drawstring backpack, pint glass, chapstick, sunscreen, headphones, rolled up picnic blanket and a water bottle. Score!

I can’t say I would recommend travelling too far for this race, but if you are in the KC area, this is definitely a race worth checking out. One of KC’s best triathlons!

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Really liked this medal!

The next night, Paul and I headed out to Kauffman Stadium to catch a Royal’s game for date night! Our first time there in a couple years!

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Such a gorgeous stadium!

I’ll be back soon with a recap of the next two races!

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