Friday, July 19, 2013

Missoula Half Marathon 7.14.2013

Picture this: It's 3:00 AM on race morning in Missoula, Montana. You are still half asleep and crack the blinds to peek out your motel window. You see a car in the parking lot that looks suspiciously familiar. You put your face up to the window, squinting to try to see the details of car below your second story walkway. BAM! Freddie Kruger jumps up at you and smacks your hotel window! You scream bloody murder and about have a heart attack. Before you have a chance to run, you see Freddie Kruger standing in the window laughing his ass off wearing a pink tutu.

Oh my God! It's not Freddie Kruger, but my cousin Cathy who drove 150 miles then slept in her car just to surprise me and cheer me on at my race! Best surprise ever! This certainly explains why my husband slipped my camera into my gear bag.

I left this note in the motel door when I thought something was up.

My friend Michele who came as my race support was in on the whole thing. Nice work ladies!

Pre-race photos with my cheer squad.

One of the best things about the Missoula Half-Marathon is the 6 AM early start time. You're done before the heat of the day, get back to the hotel while they are still serving continental breakfast, and you don't have to worry about asking for a late check-out time.

Although, it is quite alarming to be sitting in the race starting area and turn on your Garmin to see the time read 3:45 AM. Wait, what!? Oh yeah, my watch doesn't know it is an hour later in Montana, but after only three hours of sleep that doesn't make me feel any better. 4:45 AM is too early to be waiting in the freezing dark with 3499 other people who had the same bright idea.

Our lineup starts with a moment of silence for the victims of Boston then the National Anthem.  A cannon booms and fireworks explode in the air marking the start of the race. I begin my 13th half-marathon as the sun rises hoping it will be my lucky baker's dozen...

Smooth first mile less a stop to tie my shoelace and starting to feel the need to pee. Really? Maybe I can outrun the need to stop; I've done it before. Miles 2-4 feel great, but I still need to pee. Running along side a beautiful flowing river isn't helping.

Somewhere in mile 4, I have my first Michele and Cathy sighting. Who can miss Cathy's outfit and cowbell?

Excited for a Michele and Cathy sighting!
By mile 6 I'm ahead of my goal time, but now my teeth are floating and I'm afraid I'm going to pee myself with every step I take. I give up and stop to get in the porta-potty line. Then I wait, and wait, and do a potty dance, and wait some more; It feels like an eternity!

Doing a potty-dance while the guy behind
me looks like he's about to blow chunks.
Leaving the longest potty break of my life.

Photo opp with Michele after my potty break.

Somewhere between 7-10 minutes later I get back on the road. Now I'm behind my goal time so I pick up the pace to see if I can make up some of the difference. I'm encouraged by more Michele and Cathy drive-bye screams, cowbell ringing, photos, and waves.

Staying positive and pushing through.

By mile 10 fatigue is setting in and I give up on making my race goal. No PR race for me, I just can't make up all the time I lost at the potty stop. Disappointing.

Always have energy to be goofy.

Mile 11 seals my no PR fate with a calf cramp. I stop to stretch it out, then take it easy on my last two miles.  I turn the final corner and sprint the quarter mile to the finish line. 

Heading to the finish line!

Official time: 2:35:32 with another "lucky horse shoe" medal to take home to my son!

All done wearing my bling!

This is a great race and one I highly recommend. Next year we'll see Michele out there and I'll be snapping pictures of her!

Like the end of a movie, I have a few out-take/honorable mention moments from this trip:

Best begging sign:  "Will wrestle mother-in-law for 5 bucks." -Bum on Higgins Street
Most clueless guy:  Motel neighbor hanging out in his room with nothing but briefs on.  (Buddy, the sheer shades don't work when it is dark outside and you have your room lights on.)
Worst smell:  Burning rubber from three cop cars screaming past us.
Biggest shock:  Guy with his pants down in the middle of downtown.
Amazing sight:  A buck and four does swimming across the river.
Amazing sight runner up:  Cow elk eating grass in a pasture.
Quick thinking:  Using your running gear bag as your barf bag. (Wasn't me, I swear!)
Best luck:  Leaving your purse in the car with window down and having it still be there when you returned.
Best moment:  Realizing that Freddie Kruger was not there to kill me, but to cheer me on.

With that race behind me, it is now time to slow down and enjoy the rest of the summer with my family. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon 6.22.13

Anemia sucks.  My mood and energy level feels like I should be in my last trimester of pregnancy, less the excuse of being pregnant.  Increased demand on my body from training has wiped me out.  Back to iron supplements…goody, goody.
Despite my sucky attitude and exhaustion, surprisingly my body keeps performing well for me.  My training appears to be paying off despite myself.

I’ve upgraded from the Snail to the Turtle Division in racing; ran sub 10-minute miles on my recent 5K race (smokin' fast for me), improved my marathon time by over an hour, and beat my last Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll half-marathon time by almost ten minutes!
Speaking of the Seattle RNR half, I need to start with a confession.  I’m burned out.  I’ve been trying for two and a half years to get back into shape and I’m tired and frustrated.  Due to life and illness, my training has been spotty; I haven’t been able to complete a whole training plan.  I’m trying to stay positive and look forward to something…usually that is my upcoming race but not in this case.  Honestly, I didn’t want to run the Seattle RNR (although when I signed up in January I thought I did).  Seeing friends and family was fantastic and getting a medal at the end of a workout was great.  But truth be told, I’m not a fan of running hills, freeway, or tunnels especially when they are all in one race including half a mile uphill to the finish. 

Holy hills, Batman!  Seattle race elevation map. 

The Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon is a great race, but my attitude sucked.  Plus, the start/finish line had a ton of police officers and bomb-squad officers/dogs/trucks which created an eerie feeling.  I felt like a sitting duck and it made me sad for Boston; so much for pre-race excitement.
Based on many things, I knew this wouldn’t be a PR race for me so I made a commitment to instead find inspiration in this race.  Despite the hot day with people getting medical treatment about every other mile (one guy had fallen and was a total bloody mess) here is the inspiration and kindness I experienced:
Kerrie (Mom vs. Marathon) (a fellow mother, runner, blogger, and Facebook friend) picked me up and gave me a ride to the starting line.  Thank you Kerrie, you have NO idea how grateful I am for that!  Click the link above to check out her blog or find her on Facebook Click HERE.

Photo with Kerrie!
Mile 7-8ish honors fallen soldiers.  I have no words to give this experience justice.  I still had tears despite trying to prepare myself knowing it was coming.

Thank you for your ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

I watched a military veteran running with two lower-leg prosthetics cross the finish line.  The crowd’s cheers of support were LOUD and amazing!  
Plane with a "Run Happy" banner.
My friends, Amy and Jon, let me crash at their house plus went out of their way to pick me up after the race.  They took me to see one of my best friends from college then back to my car.  I cannot thank you two enough!

A woman working at the Renton Community Center (where my car was parked) allowed me to use their locker room to clean up and change so I didn’t have to sit in my sweaty ripeness for my 4.5 hour drive home.

Congrats to first-time half-marathoner in our group!

My bling!
I’m determined to flush this negativity out and go into my Missoula race this weekend excited, optimistic, and ready.  I had my personal record run there last year and I'd LOVE for a repeat event.  We'll see....