Category Archives: Race Recaps

Day 4 – Zero Punches Thrown

But I think it was close. Ok, not really. We actually have done pretty well working together so far. 10 people, no sleep, bad nutrition, close quarters… pretty much a recipe for a bench brawl. While everyone was getting pretty crispy by day 4, we still managed to get along. Charles assembled a pretty good team.

We’d already discussed moving the aid station to 5 mile increments rather than the 3 we had been doing. Connie felt like we were all up in her face nonstop, which we were. Everyone was so excited to help that they’d all get out of the cars to offer her stuff. So every 28 minutes she’s got 6-8 people shoving crap at her “just as she’d gotten into a rhythm”. So, day 4 we decided we’d leave her alone to do her thing. We filled up her tote with her things and we’d have ONE person take it out to her, and just let her look through it to see if she wanted anything. She even told us to leave it down so she could bend down to get it and stretch her legs, rather than just hold it out to her. I can’t even get my car key off my shoe after I run 12 miles. I’m 100% sure that if you cut her legs open, it would look like this:

Incidentally, do not ever include the word “dissect” when you do a Google search. Trust me.

We kept one person on the road with her, just had them stay WAY back. Her other complaint was that she was having trouble staying on her own pace due to the sounds of other people’s foot steps. With it being a busy road with lots of fast cars and us being up to 5 miles away from her, everyone felt more comfortable having someone else out there with eyes on her in case something happened.

ANYWAY (ADD much? 10 minutes went by since I finished that last sentence. No lie.), she got on the road just before 6 and was off and running. Shortly thereafter, it started to rain. Of course, no big deal for her, but now we were tasked with the decision of sticking with the 5 miles we agreed on, or stopping in at 3 to offer her rain gear. We split the difference at 4 and just kinda hoped she wouldn’t know. She did elect to change clothes and she was off again.

Not as much to report for the first part of the day, since we barely saw her. But when we did, she looked great. Here she is just as the rain was starting to let up. She had about a 50k left to go at this point, I believe.

Next stop, she’d have less than a marathon to go, which is a big moment for her. The equivalent of “the finish line is just around this corner” for the rest of us mortals. We knew once she found that out, she’d pick up the pace for the homestretch. You know, the homestretch of only a marathon to go. Nothing weird about that.

She was taking mostly only water and gels, which was quite different from what she’d done the other 3 days, but it seemed to be working for her. No real stomach issues other than almost puking from one of them. She said that it wasn’t funny, but I said “I’m still laughing”. No wonder she’s so successful. Supportive friends.

Once she got to the edge of downtown Cincinnati, she got her final police escort, all the way to the finish. Charles jumped in to run the last 10 with her, and she also had a couple local runners who’d popped in along that stretch. Charles said his favorite part of that last 10 mile run was the 1 mile uphill climb. If you believe that, you haven’t run a mile uphill with her.

I tried to yell out the window to the people on the streets of the city what she was doing/had done to get them to give her a shout out, but this was a colorful bunch to say the least. I got “the long way?” as a response, a guy who busted out laughing, a guy who pointed a leaf blower at her, a pimp, a dude that looked like he was running from our police escort… you get the idea. Ahhh Cincinnati was a fun place.

This police escort was not as on point as the one through Delaware, and the people of Cincinnati weren’t on the ball, so we kept getting stuck behind cars and all sorts of nonsense. But, of course, Connie Gardner doesn’t wait for cars or police. They wait for her. A few times, they passed us.

Notice that she’s smiling in every picture while you remember she’s run 240+ miles to get to this point.  Also, look at her legs.  Damn.

With 5k to go, her smile increased even more.  The vehicle I was in pulled ahead so the girls could set up a finish line for her to cross, which was SO CUTE.  She came around the corner and saw that, and picked it up even more.  In fact, the second she saw it, she made a beeline for it, to the point that she looks like she’s not running the same direction as Charles in the only picture I was able to get before they about plowed me over.

I was hoping there would be a few people / news / something at the finish to greet her other than us, but what can you do. We made it as grand for her as we could, and we had Gwen, which is all she really ever needs.

A couple group pics (too many cameras in the kitchen) with the Humvee and she was off to shower and then a big meal and then home.

In typical Connie fashion, she tucked herself into the back of the photo like she was just a face in the crowd, and not like the one who just ran 246+ miles across the state of Ohio in 4 days.

We can’t be sure what her actual running pace is, since she stopped at the aid stations for 1-10 minutes, had bathroom breaks, and so on and so forth. Given the data that we do have, I can say for sure it was sub-10 minute miles, and quite possibly closer to 9:30. Her last 10 miles I think were in the 8:40 average range, and her last mile was definitely sub-8.

So, she did it. Her test run for Run Across America is complete. She looked strong literally every step of the way, and there’s not much doubt in anyone’s mind that she won’t be able to set a World Record next June when she attempts to run from San Fransisco to NYC in less than 47 days.

And, she’s doing all of this for charity. To raise money so that wounded vets can get back on their feet and exercise again. If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation to Patriot Runners. If you donate just $.25 for every mile she ran, that $61 could put a pair of running shoes on someone who wasn’t sure they’d ever walk again, let alone run. If you can’t manage $61, donate $10. Or $5. Every dollar will help. Running across Ohio is a challenge, but it’s not nearly the challenge of going to fight for our country and then trying to put your life back together after losing a limb in doing so. We owe it to these brave men and women who sacrifice their lives every day so that we can enjoy ours.

On a personal side note: I could live 100 lifetimes, and never again meet another person like Connie. I say that not because of her accomplishments, which are staggering, but because of who she is. You will not find more humbled and caring person. If she saw a child, she stopped to say hello, or hug them, or shake their hand. She spent more time worrying about the crew than the crew did worrying about her. When someone asked her if she did this run for charity or as a personal challenge, she answered “for charity” without a single moment of hesitation, when you know this had to be a challenge – even for the mighty Connie Gardner. She took time out of every day to ask us how WE were doing and were we sleeping ok and eating ok and did we feel ok. She made running 65 miles a day seem like going out to check the mail. She was smiling, laughing, and telling stories every step of the way. Most of us can’t get through a few miles without complaint, and she did it for 246. The only thing I heard her complain about, besides us bugging the shit out of her, was that her knees hurt at night, and it made it tough to sleep. I’ve never been a part of anything even remotely close to this, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to do it. It was worth every bit of lost sleep, the near heart attack I had when I tried to run 3 miles with her, and the condition of my backside after 130+ miles on my cheapo bike just to be able to see her do what she did. She makes us all better people, and better runners, just by being her. Every single person in her life considers it an honor to be there, and I am no exception. I look forward to helping her set her world record, and sitting in the car or on a bike while she does it will be the accomplishment of MY lifetime.

Day 3 – Cars? What Cars?

Day 3 started mostly uneventful. The weather has steadily improved each day to the point that 40s seemed downright balmy. Connie was running as strong as ever and the miles were ticking away seemingly fast. Well, at least for me, but I wasn’t the one running them.

About 15-20 miles in (or it might have been 3 or 40, who knows, it all starts to run together eventually) we got to the mobile aid station and she asked Mark to do another section with her. It was just as she was departing, and we’ve quickly learned that if she’s ahead of you, don’t bother trying to catch up. If you stop to pee, you’ll be chasing her for a half hour before you catch up, and that’s if you survive a 30 minute sprint. So anyway, Mark took off running with her, and they packed up the cars and moved down to the next stop. Only to realize they’d left her car behind as Mark was driving it. And it was running. With the door open. That would be the 2nd time we left Connie’s car behind with the keys in it. The first time was my fault, just so it doesn’t seem like I’m shirking my responsibility. I’m just waiting for the moment that we leave a PERSON behind. Maybe tomorrow.

There isn’t a whole lot to look at in this part of Ohio. Farms, farms, and the occasional farm. Vacant houses scattered about. We saw this particularly haunting looking one.

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As we ran by, Connie said “Have you ever been in a house like that?” to which I replied “you could go in that one, it’s wide open”. She said “yes! Lets do it”, so we jogged back and checked it out. Nothing better to do while running 240+ miles across Ohio, right? Not like we have anywhere to be.

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She thought it would be funny to take a picture of her coming out as if she’d just had a nap. She’s too much. Who is in this good of a mood after 150+ miles?

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One of the big reasons she went north to south instead of the other way, was that Roy assured us that the wind would be at her back going south. Naturally, she’s had a headwind for 3 days. She’s barely complained about it, but in this small town, she turned back to me and said “Angie, look at that flag. See it? I want you to take a picture of that, and then show it to Roy.”

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At one point of our trek down 42 South, we realized there was a bike path running parallel to us, so we moved up there. Which of course made the aid station almost miss us going by. We were looking for them, though.

She loved the endless line of telephone poles (she’s odd).

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At the next intersection we saw a guy who told us to stay to the right because he had a prototype car of some type on the path that could get 1,000 miles to the gallon.
He assured me it was ok for us to not only look at it, but to take photos as well. So, here it is…

Connie looked at it and said “well of course it gets 1,000 miles to the gallon, it’s being pulled by a bike. You go back and tell that guy that I am more efficient than his stupid car”.

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I don’t know if I mentioned previously, but she swears that the secret to ultra running is a spoonful of peanut butter every few miles. She says it has to be Skippy. Just to drive home how much peanut butter, this is what her jar looked like at the end of day 3. That’s a lot of peanut butter!

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She told us late in the day that she finally felt like she was getting into her groove and that the aid station being every 3 miles was disruptive. Just getting into her grove about 150 miles across Ohio.

As we were nearing dark, she was nearing 200, so we were all pretty sure that was the goal she had in her head. However, she’d also mentioned wanting to try to get in 70 miles on day 3, which was still roughly 8 miles out. On day 2, we almost had to drag her off the road kicking and screaming because she felt good and wanted to go “another 15 minutes, another 15 minutes” and it was too dangerous. Small shoulder, fast traffic, just dangerous. So we just kept trying to sell her on the idea of hitting 200 and wrapping it up. We parked the beacon of hope exactly at the 200 mile mark and sent Gwen out to the road to tell her it was time to stop. Gwen is a great last line of defense because her mom won’t say no to her.

Surprisingly, she came off willingly. 200 miles done in 3 days with a smile on her face. When she got in the car she said “I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, so I’m glad that I was still able to run today.” and “I physically can’t run any slower than I did today”. For the record, she was moving at a sub-10 minute pace the entire day. She had a sub-11 minute average for the day, including breaks and bathroom issues and so on.

We loaded in the cars and headed over to Charles’ mother’s house for a delicious pasta meal and dessert and a foot rub for Connie. Incidentally, her feet look perfect, you can’t tell she’s run a single block.

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One sleep left. Roughly 45ish miles to go.

Day 1 – 65 miles – No Deaths

As much as I’d love to go into every detail of the 12 hours we spent on the road today, I’m cold tired and smelly. And hungry. So, here’s the long and short of it, without the long.

Our plan to leave at 5:00 sharp was of course derailed due to the number of people we were coordinating. The news guys covering the start didn’t seem super excited about this, but they waited for us, and we got moving around 5:20. A couple bathroom breaks later (aren’t you glad I’m sparing the details?) and it was smooth sailing.

It was fun to run through the towns we are familiar with and have a good idea of where we were the whole time. The sun came up around Parma (sounds like a song) and warmed us quite a bit. Connie had set it up so that her special ed swim class would run a mile with her from the high school to the square, and she was pretty anxious about getting there on time. She’d need a 5 hour 50k, which isn’t hard for her necessarily, but it did mean we couldn’t dilly dally much. She was moving along well ahead of schedule, but wouldn’t slow down because she felt fine and was on a mission.

We picked up a couple runners along the way, which was very Forrest Gumpesque and quite amusing from my perspective on the bike.

We got to Medina right on time, if not a bit early. Unbeknownst to us, Roy had arranged for the whole of Fenn Elementary to come out and cheer her on. This made me cry, because I am an idiot. Plus, one of my kids was in the crowd. He had no idea what I was doing today, so he was surprised to see me.

We picked up her students, which was another pretty emotional experience, and headed up to the rally at the square.

Connie meeted and greeted and interviewed with all who needed it, skipped home for a quick bit, mopped up the dog pee in her bathroom, and off we went. What? Doesn’t everyone mop up dog pee in the middle of a 65 mile run? I know I do.

Not a lot exciting going on along Route 42 south of town. Still, her spirits were good, she was fueling well, and running faster than we wanted her to.

As we were rolling along I happened to mention that I had to blog all this tonight, and just as I was about to say “nothing exciting has happened…” we heard scratch scratch scratch and a door slam. And here came 2 dogs. Of course they went straight for Connie. None of us were too sure what to do, so luckily once we stopped and they saw we weren’t a threat, they calmed down a bit and returned to their very frazzled and apologetic owner. That was exciting. Of course, historian that I am, the first thing I said was “damn it, I should have taken a picture”.

We carried on uneventfully for the remainder of the day. Even tacked on a few miles at the end to put us in a better spot to start tomorrow. Thanks to a wonderful support staff, she had someone running with her at all times, aside from me on the bike carrying the gear. Side note: next time get a donkey instead of a bike. Just as effective, less work.

So that’s a wrap. Day 1 complete, 3 to go. 65/247 miles done. See you tomorrow. If my knees still work. And OMG my buttocks.

Run Across Ohio – A Grand Adventure Begins Tomorrow

So I have this crazy ass friend. Sorry for the language, but when I tell you about her, I think you’ll agree the terminology was correct.

connie gardner

Her name is Connie Gardner and she runs. A.LOT. She wins races and sets records all over the place. And I don’t mean at your local 5k, either. I’m talking about ultra marathons. 50 miles, 100 miles, MORE. All told, she’s won 12 National Championships in ultra distances, and set an American Record in the 24 hour race. Yes, girlfriend runs for 24 hours straight.  Ok, she does stop for SOME things.

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She also really really likes beating records. Like, really.

I also have this other friend, Charles Elkins. He does crazy stuff like run a marathon through a desert sandstorm wearing some heavy ass weighted backpack.

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In his spare time between running a business, and carrying sand around, Charles started a charity. The Patriot Runners is an amazing organization with a fairly simple mission. They help combat-wounded veterans get back into sports. They raise money to help with therapy, prosthetics, training, and so on. This service is invaluable to our American heroes who are suffering from PTSD, brain injuries, and more. Please consider donating, it really is a phenomenal cause.

But something has happened. Someone let Connie and Charles be in the same room together. And the scheme they cooked up will have you shaking your head…

Connie is now the “Championed Runner” for The Patriot Runners. What does this mean, you ask?

Well, even if you didn’t ask…

Connie is going to do some amazing things to help raise awareness as well as money for The Patriot Runners.

Starting tomorrow, she will attempt to Run Across Ohio in just 4 days. We will leave Cleveland at 5am Thursday (from Browns Stadium) and arrive in Cincinnati (at Paul Brown Stadium) Sunday around 2pm. She will need to run around 60 miles a day to meet this goal. 60.Miles.A.Day, people. If I ran 60 miles in a WEEK, you’d have to come feed me and wipe my butt.

Oh and, I’m not just writing this for Informational Purposes. I’m going with her. Not on foot, though, I can’t keep up with her from here to the mailbox. But on my bike. I’ll be making sure she’s fed and watered and dry and whatever else she needs, and she’ll probably just be mean to me. She’s not super cuddly after 50-60 miles. But I can take it. She’s small.

I’m also the Official Blogger for Run Across Ohio (I totally just made that title up). Or at least I was. They might read this where I talk about my butt and change their minds quickly. I will be blogging each night about the day’s events. I’ll also be Live Tweeting when possible, ie: not while I’m on my bike. I can barely stay upright without having my phone in my hand. So follow me @Angie4b1g and Connie @UltraConnie for the shenanigans.

Oh, by the way… she’s doing this not only to raise money and awareness for the cause, but this is also serving as a “trial run” for the next big event. You sitting down?

Run Across America 2013

America. The whole thing. In World Record Time. 44 days. 70+ miles a day. In June. Sentence fragments optional.

Yep, that’s the goal. To run from San Fransisco to NYC in 44 days.

Any questions?

Baby’s First DNF

Aww. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Worked out that it was at this freebie / club / just for fun race – although that was probably one of the mitigating factors, because I can be pretty stubborn in a “real” race. Here’s how it all went down…

This was the 3rd Annual Medina County Road Runners 50k, this year with a 25k option. The first year, I volunteered and it was approximately 10-400° below zero with winds like you wouldn’t believe. No joke. Ok maybe not -400°, but once it’s below 0° it all feels the same – EFFING COLD. I nearly died. I cuddled with a complete stranger. Not exaggerating. No shame when I’m cold. The second year, it was raining. (again I only volunteered) So, I won’t complain too much about 20-30s with a slight wind, even though I WAS cold. It was by far the best weather this race has ever had.

My plan going in was to do the 25k and call it my long run for the week. Not race it, mind you, just do my long run pace (10:30ish) and call it a day. The race is done on a 5 mile loop through Buckeye Woods, which is part paved, part dirt, and part trails. It’s a nice variety of surfaces, and relatively flat, so not too hard as far as a 50k goes. Since 50k is 31 miles, they need another mile in there, so they do that first.

We took off as a group to run the 1 mile (which is a different course than the 5 mile loop), then off we went. Somewhere around mile 2, Phil said “uh… is this the pace you want to do?”. I looked down and was an average of 9:40. Oops, definitely not. So I sent him on his merry (younger and stronger) way and slowed down to a more appropriate pace for me. Of course, this caused everyone to start passing me. Mostly I don’t mind, I’m used to it, but eventually I was all alone with no one anywhere near me. (Except Verrelle who passed me going one way or the other about 29 times. Fast fucker.) I felt good for the first loop, came in and got my delicious Honey Stinger Waffle and my handheld water bottle of Gatorade and took off for the second loop. I left my watch running during the stop since the event was being Half Assed Timed*, but I don’t think I loitered there too long.

Just as I started my 2nd loop, Marsha and Charles passed me (again – they’d spent more time at the aid station than I did) and said that everyone that was behind them except me had gone the wrong way and cut a half mile off of the course. Grr. No wonder I was so alone out there! A couple miles into that loop, my legs started moving slower and slower. Cardiovascularly I felt ok, but my legs just would NOT move. Not only was I crawling along at about a 12 min per mile pace, but I was tripping over every rock, stick, root, twig, light breeze, invisible trip wire. I was also lonely and bored out of my mind. So, I decided I’d just cut it off at 2 loops.

In theory, knowing that I only had 3 miles left probably should have perked me up, but in reality, I think it only slowed me down more. Since at that point, I’d mentally checked out completely and just wanted to be done. I was kind of annoyed as my mood was fine, and my breathing was fine, my legs just wouldn’t cooperate.

Then again, this is why I usually run long on Saturdays. With soccer on Saturday nights… it doesn’t make for fresh legs on Sunday morning. I suppose this was my not-so-gentle reminder of that.

I came around the last loop of the 2nd lap, tried to look alive for the cameraman, and called it a day. My first ever DNF. Not sure if it counts in a Fat Ass 50k since the race is more like a “just come run what you want” type of situation, but I DID register for 25k, so in my mind it counts. I’m not that torn up about it, though. Because of the extra mile at the start, I ended up running 11 miles of the 15 on my schedule. My average pace was 11, so a little slower than I planned, but not as terrible as I felt. So, I am calling that good enough for today.

Not sure how I’ll get my long run in next weekend as I’ll be riding my bike from Cleveland to Cincinnati with Connie Gardner and The Patriot Runners. That should be interesting. Cross your fingers for good weather!

*Charles brought some bibs from old races and set up a timer on his iPad. Which is why me and Phil had the same number. I told them just put whatever his time was down for me.

5k Fall Classic aka BLAH

I knew I’d gotten fat and slow over the summer, today was the day I got to find out HOW fat and slow.

First lets spend some time talking about how well prepared and organized I am. Always.

Yesterday I had a 3 hour dead car battery fiasco (not my fault, just my problem) that I’ll spare you the details of, just know it happened as it is part of this whole story.

The plan was for us to meet at the race at 7:30 for an 8:30 start. I got up, ate my breakfast, drank my coffee, did the dishes… you know, my usual glamorous stuff. I head out the door right at 7, as planned.

As I’m 1.5 miles from my house, the car is acting funny, so immediately I’m like omg not the battery again. What if it doesn’t start after the race? Think I had the (brand new yesterday) jumper cables with me? Of course not, I left them in the garage. I debated going back for them, but ultimately decided that out of 1000 people, someone would have cables if I needed a jump, and if not, there was always roadside assistance if it came to it.

So, I carried on.

My plan for this race was to not look at my watch. I played soccer pretty hard this week, and my lymph nodes have been enlarged for a few days, signaling imminent death. Or a cold. Or whatever. When I do this, I usually end up running the same pace anyway, just with less emotional turmoil. “OMG TOO FAST WILL DIE BETTER SLOW DOWN” or “OMG TOO SLOW YOU SUCK FAT ASS”. You know, my little inner pep talks.

Then I realized I’d forgotten my watch, too. Oh well. I would have liked to have it just so I could look at the splits later, but not the end of the world. By now I’m about halfway there. Then it hit me.

I also forgot my iPod.

Aw hell naw.

A normal person could easily run a 5k without their iPod. I, my friends, am not a normal person. What happens when I don’t have mine? I get ONE LINE from the most annoying song you can imagine stuck in my head on repeat. I wouldn’t even mind if it was at least the entire annoying song. Nope, one line.

Now I have to go back. I figured I’d still be fine, since even if I turned back, I’d still be there at 8 for an 8:30 race. Phil could grab my bib and such so that I could just roll in and be ready to go. Of course… I also had no gas in the van.

See? Organized and well prepared.

I made it. Without needing to stop at a gas station. Music and watch engaged. I parked at the RTA lot and jogged down, figuring I had about 20 min til race start. I get almost there and I find Phil and he says “oh I just found out the race doesn’t start until 9:15″. OF COURSE. Oh well. At least it wasn’t 8:15. So we sat in his car doing nothing other than make fun of everyone who walked by us on their way to the start line. DUDE! What the heck is that girl wearing? Are those trail shoes? You know, that kind of mature stuff.

So then… we figure we’ll run a mile to warm up and then saunter on over to the start. So we take off running (in the opposite direction of the race, because who wants to run the course twice). We’re chatting along lalalala when suddenly he says “uh… we’ve gone a mile”. Oops. Now we’re a mile from the race. With about 12 min til go time. Not that we won’t make it, but that’s not exactly what I had in mind. We trot back and stroll up to the start just in time for the race announcements.

She sends us off and about 45 people go zooming by me. Hmm. This isn’t how I pictured this. But I pressed on. Felt like I was moving at a decent pace, although I didn’t feel super fantastic. I was already wondering how I’d hold on to this pace for 3 miles when I hit the 1 mile mark. As my watch vibrated, I let myself glance at it… 8:27. Well, shit. I’d hoped to run 8 min miles. So of course now the realization is, I already feel like total hell, there’s no way I’m going to be able to SPEED UP to make up for that lost 30 seconds. In typical Angie fashion, I was like ‘welp, screw it’.

I didn’t exactly give up, but I didn’t exactly go all out, either. Unlike at Spring Classic, there were a zillion women in front of me, so I knew I had no chance to win, so no motivation there. If I know I’m in 4th or 5th place overall, I’m far more motivated than when I just feel like I’m in the middle of the pack. I did, however, walk a couple times in the last mile. Just for 3-5 seconds. Long enough to catch my breath and realize that I was acting like a big baby asshole.

Not sure where I came in. 27:XX. My PR (from 6 months ago) is in the 25s, so needless to say, I wasn’t super excited about my time. But at least this happened:

2nd in Women 40-44. Hopefully there were at least 3 of us. But, either way, an age group award always takes some of the sting out of a bad race.

On the upside, I now have a better baseline to base my training on. I suck at marathons, so it’s hard to use my marathon time as a guide. I only ran one half this year, and that was with a concussion and stitches in my head, so that wasn’t the best sample race, either. Obviously this wasn’t as well as I could have performed had I not run like a 20 year old for an hour at soccer last night, but close enough. It’s a place to start for the next race.

Onward we go….

Columbus Marathon Recap

In 10,000 words or less. Maybe.

10/21/2012

I arrived in Columbus Saturday afternoon since it’s 2 hours away and ain’t no way I’m getting up that early. I got checked into my room (once I asked AGAIN for the marathon rate they told me on the phone did not exist… and it ended up being a $60 savings, woot!), chilled for a few, hit the expo, ate dinner, you know all the normal stuff. Fell asleep before 10 and slept like it was my job.

Run All the Marathons

The ORIGINAL plan back in the summer when Phil (Best training buddy ever. Love him.) and I came up with this brilliant idea to run a million races/marathons this year was to do Akron as a training run, and then go all out at Columbus. Then I went 2/3 out at Akron, and he went all in, and got his PR there. So then the plan was he’d run me in at Columbus. A few miles? Half? It was all up in the air. As recently as Tuesday, I’d decided I didn’t want to run the full and was just going to do the half. He agreed and my blood pressure went down 30 points. The next day he informed me that he bought a full bib, we were doing the full, and he was going to pace me to 4:25. Blood pressure up 50. Still wasn’t feeling 100% physically since Akron, and definitely wasn’t 100% emotionally. But I’m in it uptoherenow, so lets do it.

Our alarms went off at 6:00, same time, different chimes. V revolting. Ate my yogurt/granola/banana, and drank my “delicious” hotel coffee. Then we moseyed our way down to the starting line.

The race started at 7:30, but they were super diligent about starting the runners one corral at a time, so we didn’t actually cross the start line until 14:45 behind the gun. I’ve been behind the gun at every race, but not by 15 minutes. Crazy. I was rather disappointed to have to start running, as I was having a fine time just standing around chatting. Furthermore, it was warm when we were all packed in there. Once we started running and spread out, it was COLD.

At mile 2, we saw the lead runners looping back. They were at mile 7. I wasn’t even warmed up yet and they were over 1/4 done. Side note, what to the Kenyans think of the signs that say RUN LIKE A KENYAN? Are they honored? Insulted? Running too fast to even read them?

Things went along pretty well for the first half, despite the need to pee. I have a rule in races… I will stop to pee, but I won’t wait in line. So, I figured I’d hold it until after the half cut off, and then would be able to go without a line.

10:09
10:18
9:58
10:17
10:19
9:48
10:16
10:12
9:54
10:13
10:19
10:21
10:13

I looked at my watch when we crossed the halfway point, and told Phil “2:14″. He asked how I felt about that and I said “not encouraged”. My goals were: A) 4:25, B) 4:29 or C) 4:33:59 PR. I knew that 2:14×2 was 4:28, and that’s assuming I could hold that pace, which I was pretty sure was not going to happen as I was already getting weary. Already the goal had switched to “just PR”.

10:21
10:18

At this point I said “I don’t think I can do this for another 10 miles” (there were actually 11 left, but I was in denial). He didn’t say anything, just looked at me like “oh, shit”.

We pressed on along through my least favorite part of every marathon, miles 17-22. I was really getting more and more tired with each step. Nothing necessarily WRONG, just tired.

Running through the stadium (17ish) was kind of cool, but I’m not sure it was worth the straight down and straight up hill we had to run to get in and out. No one laughed when we went down and I said “now how the hell are we going to get OUT of here?”.

10:05
11:04 (finally got my bathroom break)
9:45
10:55
10:28
10:23
10:40

By now I think we were both concerned about whether or not I’d even hit the PR time. At this point, Phil ran the pace I was supposed to be running and tried to talk me into just keeping up. I told him I hated him, but I still did what he asked. Or at least I tried. It worked out pretty well. I, of course, did not want to have had him do all this for nothing, so that kept me from just giving up and walking (my usual M.O. once I know my goal is out the window). It seemed that every time I got to that point, was when he’d turn around to see where I was. Most of the time he’d be pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t that far behind, and then he’d smile. As corny as it sounds, seeing his smiling face would carry me for another 5 minutes until we repeated the process. I was just about as miserable as I could be and still be moving, but I pressed on. I was pretty sure I’d slowed to end-of-Akron pace, or about 12 minute miles. I was also trying to avoid looking at my watch, but at one point I did, and happened to notice that my overall average pace had gone down from 10:18 to 10:16, which surprised me.

At mile 22 or so, I yelled “WHERE is the turnoff for the half marathon?!?”. No one laughed. Tough crowd.

At mile 25.5 I saw a sign that said ACCORDING TO PAUL RYAN, YOU CAN STILL BREAK 3:00. Which made me giggle. I don’t often giggle at mile 25.5, so kudos to that lady.

10:11
9:55
10:31
10:52
9:47 last .57

We finally rounded the bend and I took off full sprint (probably 9:30 pace at that point haha) down the final hill. Phil waited for me and ran in next to me. Once again, medical rushed over. That’s 3 finishes in a row that my beauty overtook them.

I noticed just ahead of me a bunch of people holding signs that said WILL YOU MARRY ME SOME NAME? (he knew her name, I just don’t remember) I thought ‘oh how cute’ and then noticed the news cameras everywhere. At that point I was like ‘wait, this is like happening right now’ and I turned around to look for the girl just as she walked up and noticed it and burst into tears. Normally that would have had me sobbing, but I was exhausted and dehydrated and all it brought on was “aww Phil look how cute. Where’s my chocolate milk?”

Oh, by the way… 4:33:33, a PR by 27 seconds.

On a day when I felt like crap for at least 75% of the race, 3 weeks after having run another marathon. So, while I once again did not break 4:30 (I’m 0 for 6 on that goal), I now know for a fact I am capable of doing it. In fact, my slowest section of this one was from 13.1-20, which just proves to me that my stumbling block is emotional, not physical. My previous PR was last year’s Akron, where I’d done 3x 20 milers in training, and was weight lifting and cross training like a fool. This PR I barely feel like I trained for, and I’m 10lbs heavier, and not in as good shape. So, I know I’ve got it next time. Plus, I PR’d, so I’m thrilled. Phil made all the difference – I’d have given up for sure without him there, since I already knew at mile 15 that it wasn’t going to be a good day.

I tell my clients all the time that you don’t know what you are capable of until you have to push through feeling horrible. This was one of those times. I guess sometimes we need help from a friend to help us see what we can do. Guilt is a powerful motivator. And a good friend and training partner is absolutely invaluable.

I don’t have a picture of us together during the race (which is weird, I swear he was next to me the whole time!), so here’s one from the summer. Good enough.  Just picture us in different clothes, in a different town, in the road instead of on the grass, with trees in fall colors instead of summer, wearing marathon bibs, and running instead of sitting.  It’s not that much of a stretch.

Best running friend ever!

Akron Marathon Recap

Akron Marathon, September 29, 2012

I went into this marathon feeling woefully unprepared.  Under trained.  Out of shape.  You name it.

I lost a week of training after crashing my bike in August (thank you mild concussion and 5 stitches in my eyebrow).  Then I ran the River Run half marathon (still stitched up, for extra badass points) faster than I should have, which left me tired and sore and unable to do my 2nd 20 miler.

black eye

Worse than that, Akron was merely supposed to be my THIRD 20 miler, done as a training run, in preparation for Columbus 3 weeks later.  So the plan was… train hard up and through Akron, then taper.

The plan was not: crash bike, lounge about, skip 20 miler, taper early, run Akron.  Just to make that part clear.

To add to my anxiety about this, last year’s Akron was when I was in the best shape I’ve been in. I was running well, I was cross training like a boss.  And I was 10lbs lighter.  Last year, I felt like a champ going into Akron (and that’s where my PR is!).  This year, chump.

But, as I’ve learned over the past few years of racing, it’s gonna be whatever it is, so I might as well just get it over with.  Which is what you’ll wish I’d done with this post soon, because it’s gonna be long.

Up at 4:45 to catch the carpool.  My brilliant ideas start early.  I warned them they better not forget me at the race.  For, you see, I am poky the pudgy loser compared to most of the people I associate.  They probably all beat me by an hour.

I lined up randomly around the 4:30 people, with no intention of running with them, just as a general idea of a good place to start.  Gun went off.  Moseyed my way toward the start.  Why does everyone start running way back in the corral?  I don’t run until I cross that mat.  26.2 miles is quite far enough TYVFM, I don’t need to tack on 1/4 mile from way back here.

Anyway, the first few miles went splendidly, felt great, legs wanted to go, mood was good.

Except for this little detail at mile 2: Man Drops Dead at Akron – Lives to Tell. There’s nothing like seeing a man, grey, receiving CPR to scare/horrify/somber you. There aren’t words for how relieved (and surprised) I was to find out that he recovered. He looked bad when I went by. Well, he looked dead.

Miles 1-13:
10:41
10:07
9:55
9:55
10:00
10:08
10:31
10:24
10:06
10:04
9:56
9:48
9:59

So, as you can see, I was cruising along fairly well there. I’d told my friends to expect me around the 5:00 mark, but I thought I could probably coast in at 4:50 easily, and still be in pretty good shape for both the rest of the day, and for Columbus. I’m not sure what happened at mile 7-8, but I didn’t care. My average pace at that point was still a bit ahead of where I thought I’d be. The 9:48 mile was where the new steep scary downhill was.

By this point of the race, we were on the Towpath, which meant 2 things. One, I was losing distance because it’s hard to run the tangents when the path is so curvy, and two – this shit got boring. I did make a friend along that stretch, so it was nice to run with someone for a while. I laughed when he told me he hated this part and couldn’t wait until we got back onto the road. I laughed because I knew what was ahead of us on the road.

Towpath

10:10
10:06

Sand Run park. Normally one of my favorite places on earth to run, even during the marathon. Gradual uphill for 3 miles, but absolutely gorgeous. And I like hills. Usually.

10:32
10:23

Not bad. But this is where the course changed. Instead of continuing up the gradual incline, we made a left on Sand Run road. Which was pretty much straight up into hell. Or however that works. I had to walk part of it.

11:44

In theory, I was still fine. But emotionally, this is where I checked out. Miles 17-18 are always the start of my undoing in any marathon, so to have a demoralizing hill RIGHT THERE definitely didn’t do me any favors. Still, I pressed on. I knew we were almost to Stan Hywet Gardens, and I knew in my mind that once I got there, the worst of it was behind me.

10:28
10:19
11:34
12:22

Hmm. I’m at Stan Hywet now and… I still feel like roasted ass. I’ve apparently reached F it status now because I walked for a bit (obviously). Normal internal dialogue of “come on Angie, get this shit over with, you’re just making it take longer”. I’m my own worst bully. It definitely wasn’t getting any easier, but I chugged out the last miles as best I could.

11:48
10:49
11:51
11:54 last .49

What’s scary about those last 4 splits is I WAS running. I felt like I was running in waist deep quicksand during a hurricane, but I was running nonetheless. All I wanted to do was sit down and throw up. Not necessarily in that order.

I crossed the finish line in 4:40:02 – well ahead of where I thought I would. Well ahead of “do Akron as a training run” also, considering I’d done most of my long runs this cycle around 11 min pace. My Garmin pace for this one was 10:34. 6 minutes slower than last year, 10 minutes faster than my spring races (85° and sunny for both).

finally

I immediately cradled the garbage can thinking I’d throw up, then once I realized I either wasn’t going to, or didn’t care, I sat down. Right there. Which of course caused medical to rush to my side, making it 2 marathons in a row that I’ve had medical rush to me when I finished. I think it’s because I’m so beautiful.

I only needed to sit for a minute or 2 and then I was good to go get my food and CHOCOLATE MILK RIGHT DAMN NOW and sit on the turf and chill for a few. Of course, as I said earlier, my friends had been done for 3 hours or whatever, so they were pretty much ready to go by this time, just as I’d taken off my shoes. I wasn’t particularly excited about shoving my swollen sausages back into those suckers*, so I figured I’d just walk back to the car in my socks. Which worked fine until we got to the edge of the stadium field where I realized I’d have to walk through red clay. So, I put them back on. Helpful hint: Don’t do this. I bent down to put the right one on, and my calf completely cramped. “#&*#& )@*#@&#*(@ *$&#$”, I could be heard saying. Repeat for the left leg, when it did the same thing.

But, I made it. All the way to the car and everything. Another marathon done.

*I wore my Nike Lunarglide+ 4s for this race. I normally wear a 10, and most of my running shoes are 10.5. But my OLD Lunarglides were 10s, and served me well, so I got 10 in the new ones. They weren’t AS roomy as the old ones, but they served me well for 3 long runs, so I went with them. Things were great until my feet swelled up around mile 22. Now I have 3 lovely black toenails. After I gave a big speech about not wearing shoes that aren’t big enough and how that’s what causes black toenails. BUT SEE? I WAS RIGHT? Ugh. Hope they stay on until the next race…