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

tatur 1

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.

IMAG1440

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.

IMAG1425IMAG1423

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.

IMAG1421

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.

IMAG1432

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!

course map tatur

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).

IMAG1426

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!

trail night tatur

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.

tatur logo

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.

trail tatur

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.

IMAG1434

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.

IMAG1435

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.

IMAG1444

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):

results tatur

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.

IMAG1461

IMAG1455

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

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!!

IMAG1365

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.

IMAG1370

 

IMAG1369

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).

20140628_071800

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).

IMAG1367

Redfield, IA where we got Cajun bacon samples

 

 

 

20140628_103117

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).

20140628_081235

Selfie in Adel, IA

IMAG1376

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.

IMAG1375

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

IMAG1377

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

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

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!

IMAG1293

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!

IMAG1294

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.

IMAG1295

 

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.

IMAG1297

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.

grandmas 5

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!

grandmas 2

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.

grandmas 3

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.

IMAG1290[1]

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.

grandmas 4

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.

grandmas 1

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

gma medal

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.

IMAG1299

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!

IMAG1301

Food and Drinks at Brits Pub while watching the World Cup

 

IMAG1305

Drinks at The Local

 

IMAG1306

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)

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

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!

towertrot

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!!

dam

dam to dam start 2 2014

dam to dam 2014

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!

20140605_103702 20140605_151712

20140605_151652 IMAG1052

IMAG1038

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!

IMAG1083

IMAG1091

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!

20140615_091616

20140615_103200 20140615_112920

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!!

gma medal

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!

 

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

Bring on the Challenge!

Woo hoo!

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

star wars

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…

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

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.

IMAG0839[1]

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.

IMAG0832[1]

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.

IMAG0836[1]

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!

IMAG0834[1]

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!

IMAG0846[1]

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!

IMAG0847[1]

 

Such a gorgeous stadium!

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

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

Heartland 39.3 Done!

Last weekend was the final event of the Heartland 39.3 series!

heartland

The series is local to Kansas City and is a challenge to run 3 designated half marathons in 5 weeks. This was only the 3rd year for the series, but I’ve done it all 3 years so I got some pretty great swag!

893148_724965697525962_3498562960650559679_o

The finale race was Running with the Cows in Bucyrus, KS. This was actually my very first half marathon back in 2010, and now my 4th time running it. The first year there were only like 60 runners and this year they had 2600!

rwtc

Bucyrus is about an hour from our home and feels even farther because of the country roads and farms that surround it. It takes place at a catholic grade school so there isn’t a ton of parking, so we made sure to arrive really early! Thankfully it didn’t rain prior to the race because we parked in the middle of a huge grassy field.

 

It is nice that they allow you to wait for the race start inside of the school in the gymnasium. It was just a little bit cold, so it was nice to stay inside. The only thing they need to work on is the port-o-potty situation. Not nearly enough, but Paul and I were able to get in and out before the start since we arrived so early.

The race itself is an out and back course along some really pretty country roads. We saw a lot of cows and horses and apparently a donkey which I totally missed!

They didn't get my picture by the silo, but here is a great one of Paul!

They didn’t get my picture by the silo, but here is a great one of Paul!

The course is kinda flat, but with some rolling hills. Going into the race I was pretty sure that I might be able to PR. I even started out with the 1:55 pace group and felt really optimistic!

However after the first 3 or so miles, I could tell I wasn’t going to be able to hold with them. I got behind and tried to keep them in sites, but the 2:00 group caught up pretty quick. I managed to stick with them until about mile 8 when I started to fall behind again.

The weather was awesome! No rain and a bit of wind. The weather was fairly hot compared to what we have had to train in, so I wasn’t used to that, but I think the fitness to PR just wasn’t there like I thought it was.

In the last 2 miles, the 2:05 group crept up to me. I made it my goal to stick with them and I succeeded in that. I finished in 2:05:38, just about a minute faster than at Garmin two weeks ago.

RWTC Finish

The best part of this race is the finish line! I really love the medals and everyone gets a cowbell as well.

IMAG0809[1]

IMAG0806[1]

… but the real swag is the food buffet inside the gymnasium. Since the race is put on by a school, the finish line party seems to be put on by all the students’ families! They have every food you can imagine for the runners: homemade cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, chocolate milk, Fazoli’s breadsticks, Chick-fil-a, BBQ, fruits, PIZZA!, Hostess snacks like Twinkies and mini-muffins, and the list can go on and on. There is just SO much food!

Paul and I loaded up a couple plates before we headed out. We spent the rest of the weekend in Iowa celebrating a 1st birthday, so we wanted to hit the road, but I could have spent the entire day brunching and making my way through the food.

Running with the Cows is definitely an awesome race. If you are a Half Fanatic or 50-stater, I think this would be an awesome Kansas race! The not so flat, but not so hilly course through the country is Midwest awesome and this race is definitely a small local race, but at 2600 runners it certainly isn’t podunky! It also has great swag that keeps getting better and better each year!

2013 and 2014 medals side by side

2013 and 2014 medals side by side

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

Garmin Wickedly Fast Half Recap

I’m a bit behind, but LAST weekend (April 26th) was the Garmin Marathon. I was originally supposed to run the full, but I am SO glad that I dropped down to the half marathon instead!

IMAG0723[1]

My bib and the perfect headband to match! I got it from Sweat Me Pretty on etsy!

The race started off great! I didn’t have much of a goal in mind, but I knew that I wanted to beat my time from the Rock the Parkway Half two weeks ago. I started off sticking with the 2:05 pace group and to my surprise I wasn’t have any issues keeping pace with them! And they were booking it!

The course calls itself “Wickedly Fast”, but clearly there is no governing body over false claims like this ;) This course has rolling hills and they were no joke! I was sore for days after this race and all in my quads from these hills.

I was able to stick with the 2:05 pace group for the first about 8 or 9 miles. I already mentioned it, but they were really hauling it! Check out my 10k pace on the receipt below: 8:44.. that’s 1:54! I’m no expert at pacing (and the 2nd half of the course was far less hilly), but dang!

IMAG0725[1]

I was having a great race! I was worried I might burn out, but I was feeling very good the entire time. I even totally surprised myself at mile 7 when they were handing out Gu! Crap! I had totally spaced out and was supposed to take the one that I was carrying at mile 5! Whoops.

However, the day had other plans for me. Around mile 8 it started drizzling and by the time I got to 9 the heavens had opened and it was a downpour. I have never ran in rain this hard and it even hailed a tiny bit. I was drenched. My shoes were soaked and they felt like they weighed a billion pounds. The course also veered off of the roads and onto a paved trail that was just a tad slick with tight turns. Argh. It also wasn’t possible to really pass on the narrow trail either.. Especially tough when you are trying to stick with a pace group. I lost a lot of time here because I was trying to be careful of my steps on the muddy trail and I kept getting stuck behind people I wanted to pass.

I ended up getting really frustrated at this point. I was definitely on track to PR (my current PR is 1:59:58), but now I’m struggling to keep up with the pace group, I’m nervous about slipping, I’m drenched and I can’t get around people. Grr.

The aid stations were also understaffed. I completely lost the pace group around mile 10 once I stopped to wait in line for water at an aid station. There was no Gatorade either which would have felt really nice at this point… but I really wanted that PR. I soldiered on and I could even feel the insoles of my shoes sticking to my feet instead of the bottom of the shoes with each step.

We eventually got back off the trail and into a residential zone. They had coned off a path about the size of the trail for us to stay on, but the roads were flooding and unless we were going to run single-file, the section was way too small. At this point I was thanking my lucky stars that I dropped from the full. Man, I couldn’t imagine going another 22 miles at this point!!

Finally the finish line was in sight! They had a cute yellow brick road set up and even though the rain had tapered off, there wasn’t much of a crowd cheering in the finishers. Even the announcer wasn’t really saying much. I got a medal (still in the baggie) and a water and went to find Paul who had finished already.

IMAG0726[1]

The medal. It glows in the dark!

They did have the best beer tent I have seen at a race! And the beers were free! Finally, something that wasn’t understocked! :-D I was still soaking, so I got in a loooong line to get a mylar blanket, but they ended up turning everyone away. I was FREEZING, but they said they needed to save some for the marathoners. I may or may not have had a few choice words for the guy turning us away. I feel bad for it now, but that was kind of the final straw. I was so cold and we had another 45 minutes or so to wait for our last friend to finish. I know the race can’t do anything about the weather. I wasn’t mad about the rain, but I was mad about having to wait for water on the course, having no Gatorade and now having no blanket.

Afterwards I looked at the race’s Facebook page and I didn’t see any other complaints. I think I was just in the wrong place in the wrong time during the race. I didn’t hear anyone else complain afterwards about waiting in line for aid stations or being told they ran out of Gatorade. I think the 2 hour pack is often the busiest, so maybe I was just in the heat of it… As for the mylar blankets, it clearly wouldn’t have been an issue if it didn’t rain.. but I’m still a little miffed.

Anyway, I didn’t end up with a new PR, but I felt awesome knowing I had that faster pace in me. I think if the conditions had been right and the race better managed, I would have had my PR.

IMAG0729[1]

Celebrating post-race!

 

I actually have another half this weekend: Running with the Cows! This is the final event in Heartland 39.3 Half Marathon series so I’m hoping for no rain! This will be my 4th time running this race, so I know the hills and what to expect (no trails here!) I’m excited to see if I can go sub 2 :-D

heartland rwtc

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

2014 Boston Marathon and Trip Recap! (From a Spectator!)

What a trip!! Boston was such an incredible experience! I’ll admit there was a LOT of moments that made me super jealous that I wasn’t running, but it was a FUN vacation!

IMAG0634

View from the top of the Prudential Center. You can see Fenway!

 

IMAG0630

You can see the finish line for the Marathon in the lower center!

IMAG0607

Tons of awesome signs all over Boston!

We arrived late on Friday night and didn’t make it to our hotel room until about midnight. We had originally booked our hotel from Saturday – Tuesday, but after finding a fantastic deal on airfare, we were now flying in Friday instead of Saturday and wanted to book something cheaper for Friday night. We got a cheaper room alright, but our stay Friday night was a total dud.

After a poor night of sleep, we checked out of hotel early and dropped our bags off at the hotel where we were staying for the rest of the trip: The Boston Park Plaza.. which I highly recommend. It was pricey (EVERYTHING was pricey for this weekend in Boston), but very convenient to everything race related and historical sites that I wanted to see.

IMAG0538

At the finish line before the Expo!

Our first stop was the expo. It was awesome! Definitely the best expo I have ever been to. Tons and tons of vendors and booths, but it was PACKED. We were there almost first thing on Saturday and we definitely did not beat the rush! I think a lot of people also headed straight here from the 5k which didn’t help.. but it was still a great time. Getting Paul’s actual packet was easy to do, it was the shopping that was packed! We also got to meet Jeff Galloway and I picked up a Boston Strong shirt to wear on Monday.

IMAG0583

Necessary.IMAG0587

IMAG0588

Paul and I with Jeff Galloway!

Paul and I with Jeff Galloway!

After the expo, we headed to the North End of Boston. My ‘must-do’ for the trip was to eat at Neptune Oyster, so we arrived here around 12 and they only had an hour wait. We gave them our phone number and then got to go and peruse the rest of the area (LOVED that they would call us when our table was ready). We went straight to Mike’s Pastry where we loaded up FANTASTIC cannoli and my favorite, the lobster tail.

IMAG0554

 

IMAG0550

YUM

About 40 minutes later we got a call that our table was ready. Neptune Oyster was the best meal of the trip, hands down! We ordered the Lobster Roll (hot & buttered), along with some a la carte shrimp and crab claw, wine and the New England Clam Chowder. The chowder was incredible! I’m guilty of only having canned chowder up until this point, but here it was SO flavorful with HUGE chunks of clams despite having a fairly thin broth. The real winner of the lunch was the lobster roll though. I knew up front that it was going to be pricey, but the reviews of this place were so good. The roll lived up to its hype! Paul and I split it and I’ve never had such fresh tasting lobster and not to mention SO much of it. This sandwich was PACKED with lobster and it was so good. BEST meal of the trip.

IMAG0564

 

IMAG0559

The New England Clam Chowder

 

IMAG0562

The BEST Lobster Roll

We spent the rest of the day exploring the USS Constitution and walking the Freedom Trail. We ended up near Quincy Market where more seafood and brews were called for.

IMAG0573

USS Constitution

 

IMAG0598

Sam Adam’s 26.2 Brew. A marathon that has its own beer. My kinda place!

The next day was Easter and while we wanted to explore more, we definitely wanted to stay off of our feet as much as possible since Paul was racing the next day. Problem solved with a Duck Tour! Super hokey, I know, but it was a fun way to see the city! I totally loved it! We then headed to the top of the Prudential Center to see the views of the city! The photos I took are at the top of the post. It was really neat to see so far!

IMAG0627

Our duck for the tour!

 

IMAG0624

Afterwards we went for a quick 2 mile run through the Boston Common and public gardens to stretch our legs and by 2pm we were back in the hotel resting.

IMAG0647

The Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Boston Public Gardens

 

IMAG0642

They had their own bibs for the Marathon and Easter hats!

I slept like crap that night! I was so worried about Paul missing the bus to take him to the starting line :-D This is typical for me; I always worry about logistics! However, the morning went off without a hitch! Paul woke up around 6:15am and was out the door at 7am. It was weird ‘sleeping in’ for a marathon. Usually we wake up hours earlier!

IMAG0665

My Boston Marathoner!

I knew even the elite racers wouldn’t get to Boylston until 11 or so, but I still showered and headed out anyway. I first intended to go to the Boston Public Library at 9 to see the Dear Boston exhibit, but of course the library was closed.. whoops. So then I headed over to The Rattlesnake which was a bar someone recommended that I watch the race from. FAIL. It was on Boylston, but AFTER the finish line. Why would I watch from there!?

IMAG0667

Looking down Boylston Street towards the finish. The home stretch (at 8am)!

So I went through security and walked up and down Boylston a few times before seeing a large group of people head into Lir Irish Pub. Since it was one of the few places without cover and it was only about 8:30am, I decided to head in to kill some time. This ended up being an awesome find! It took me a few beers before I warmed up to talking to strangers, but by the time the race started the entire bar was absolutely packed and cheering!

IMAG0668

Watching the race from Lir

IMAG0671

The race was televised, so even though the runners were only maybe 20 feet from us, it was still easier to watch inside to see who was leading and the commentary. They would switch between the elite male and female race showing where everyone was located. When the pro-women came through, I ran outside to watch. I tried to snap some pictures, but I was pretty far back in the crowd. For the men, I just stayed inside. We were really close to the finish (like mile 25.75 or so) and I wanted to see Meb finish on the big screen!

IMAG0682

Trying to get some shots of the lead runners

IMAG0677

The crowd on the street during the elite runners!

The BAA had an app that was great for tracking participants. I got Paul’s results for the 5k, 10k and half in real time.. however, I’m guessing as more and more people started using it, it came to a halt. His 30k time alert came through way late and I couldn’t get it to load up after that for the life of me. Paul and I had already discussed that with the crowds and number of runners that it was unlikely we would get to see each other, so around 2pm I just decided to leave and slow walk towards the finish line and go back to the hotel to meet him since I had no idea where he was on the course. Sheer fate had it that barely 30 seconds after I walked out of the bar, I saw him! Despite the crowds, I was screaming and waving my arms and got through to the front to give him a kiss! Seriously! The luck that I would come out of that bar (after like 6 hours, hehe) and see him instantly! I then sped walked towards the finish line.

IMAG0696

The crowd right after I saw Paul. SO many people!

Paul finished in an incredible 3:37! I couldn’t be more proud of him! I’m still also shocked that I got to see him on the course! We met back up at the hotel and I let him lay down for all of about 37 seconds before I was pushing him out the door :-D I had been drinking all day, so I was ready to go and keep having fun! Plus I could tell he needed to get some food in him! We ended up at 21st Amendment which served some killer nachos and I got another lobster roll :-D Certainly not as good as the first, but still way better than anything I’ve had in KC!

We also took advantage of the opportunity to see Fenway Park which was open for runners and their families. Such a neat stadium!! We intended to go to the official after party at House of Blues, but the line was just so long it was laughable. Instead we got back on the subway and headed back to the Boston Commons area. By the end of the night we stopped at Beantown Pub for some more food. I got more chowder.. I’m addicted! The clams weren’t nearly as big, but I loved how creamy this chowder was. My phone had been dead for HOURS, so I don’t have a ton of photos, but it was a fun evening!

Our flight out from Boston was around 1pm on Tuesday. We spent the morning hunting down some breakfast at The Paramount and then strolling the Commonwealth Mall and FINALLY getting the chance to check out the Boston Public Library for their Dear Boston exhibit.

IMAG0705

The Boston Public Library

IMAG0706

Part of the Dear Boston exhibit

Boston was such a fun experience! No other city gets behind their marathon like Boston did. I also loved how walkable everything was from our hotel and how easy public transportation was. I NEED to BQ in my lifetime now. I never really thought of it as a serious goal, but after being here and experiencing it in person, I NEED to. I would also highly highly highly recommend travelling to just be a spectator for the marathon. In any other city, that would be insane to do, but here it was just on a whole different level. Everywhere you turned was someone who would want to talk about running with you! And man!, runners love to talk about running :-D

 

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email

Creature of Habit

I don’t often put a lot of thought into what I wear when I’m running. I just like to wear what is comfortable. It wasn’t until recently that I realize how much of a creature of habit I tend to be:

It all started in 2011 at my first marathon, the Chicago Marathon. My group made custom t-shirts to wear, but my Nike purple shorts made their debut!

Chicago

 

7 months later at the Big Sur Marathon, the same purple shorts and shoes are back! Those shoes are Brooks Adrenaline. My shirt: the ever sophisticated C9 brand from Target.

 

Big Sur

 

Rock N Roll Seattle: Same shirt, shorts and shoes. Those fabulous tube sock arm warmers were just one time use, however :-D

 

Seattle

 

In the 2012, KC Marathon, I lost the headband from the past 3 races when my bangs finally grew out, but I kept the same shorts, shoes and shirt. In this photo, I was ecstatic because of a new PR!

 

KC 2

 

A month later in November, The North Face Endurance 50k was a bit colder, but you can still see my black shirt underneath. After 5 marathons, I should probably replace those shoes!

NF 50k

 

Just kidding, the shoes live to see another race in Vegas December 2012!

 

Vegas

 

January 2013 at the Disney Marathon, I switched up my shorts for my Mickey costume, but the black shirt lives on! I spray painted some shoes even older than those purple ones.

 

 

 

Disney

 

Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati 2013! A looonngg day in the rain, but thankfully I had my trusty black shirt and purple shorts! And finally! Some new shoes!

 

Flying Pig

 

Those are the same green shoes that then brought me into the finish at Ironman Arizona this past November. I had packed my purple shorts in my T2 gear back, but opted to keep my tri shorts on.. however, you can see my trusty black shirt made it!

 

me an ironman 4

 

So, any guesses what I’ll be wearing this June for Grandma’s Marathon? :-D And despite literally being with me for every marathon I’ve ever run, I promise the shorts and shirt don’t reek!!! Paul… you would tell me, right?

Subscribe to Redefining Athlete by Email