Friday, May 22, 2009

The Best Race Swag Ever!

I just got the best race swag ever in the mail. Of course they had the obligatory t-shirt and finishers medal at the race, but they also had several people taking pictures and put them all together on a DVD and mailed it to all the participants. There were hundreds and hundreds to scroll though and it was like reliving my birthday party. Here are just a few:

The starting line....if you look up the hill and to the right you can see some brown buildings. I am in one of those using the flush toilets.

Me on the course, thank you Mr Photographer for getting the much envied both feet in the air at the same time picture!

One of the awesome aid stations on the course. Don't ask me what the monkey is holding.

The well-stocked start/finish line aid station.

Me coming up to the finish line flashing my patented "five-oh" hand signal.

Race director Carl Hunt giving me my finisher's medal.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Ultras in Three Weeks Aftermath

You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim
--Jim Croce

In writing this, I feel like I might be doing all four of the above. I'm feeling surprisingly good after running my very first ultra three weeks ago, and then running my second one this last weekend and I don't want to jinx myself by telling you guys this. I took Sunday off as a rest day, then ran 4 miles yesterday and just finished 8 miles today at my marathon pace. I only had one small blister after my eight hours on Sunday, but I did have chafing in an area I never experienced it before...between my butt cheeks! What an annoying place to chafe. Oh well, another place for the Body Glide. Except I think I'll use Vaseline there.

I signed up to run Grandma's Marathon in Duluth next month. My brother and sister-in-law are going to be running it and it will also be a chance to visit with my parents for a couple of days. My brother has been training extremely hard in an attempt to run a sub-three hour marathon. Looking at his training, he should have a good shot at it if the weather cooperates.

I have no idea what kind of time to shoot for. Right now I'm thinking of running with the 5:00 pace group, but all I'm really hoping for is to finish ahead of the mop-up wagons and before they run out of beer.

My training plan for the next couple of weeks is to do 30-40 miles/week with a long run of 15 miles or three hours (whichever comes first) this week and a long run of 20 miles or four hours next week.

Oh, and I just discovered that if I do complete Grandma's, I'll meet the criteria to be a Marathon Maniac. Who knew?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Darkside 8 Hour Race Report

Any idiot can run a marathon. It takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultramarathon.
--Alan Cabelly

Which of course begs the question, What kind of idiot does it take to run an ultramarathon around a 1/4 mile track?

The answer is, a me kind of idiot!

The morning was kind of foggy and about 25-30 runners showed up. This is about double the turnout of the last couple of years. There was a wide range of runners; several running an ultra for the very first time, several who had run the Umstead 100 last month, Dave from my home state of Minnesota who was running this as a training run for a 24 hour run in a couple of weeks, a 78 year old dude who was a very fast walker, and a guy who completed his 198th marathon or greater distance race today (he's running 2 marathons in the next two weeks to make it a round 200).

Not much to say about the race itself, once you run around a 1/4 mile track, all the rest of the laps are kind of the same. The weather held out until about the 4:30 point at which time it started raining. Initially it wasn't too bad, but the intensity kept increasing until about the 5:00 point at which time it was a full-fledged thunderstorm with lightning. Scott, the race director, pulled us all off the course and we hung out under the pavilion eating cookies and swapping running stories. About an hour later, the storm moved off and it was safe to continue. The clock was stopped while we were all off the course, and then restarted with all of us at the start line again. The one hour break was both good and bad. My muscles had really stiffened up and it took a good lap of walking before I could get back to slow running. However, my heart rate, which had crept up to near 160 was back in the 145-150 range.

I had planned on running this as a two-three hour training run and evaluating my condition each hour and if I felt good I would run another hour. I ended up doing the full 8 hours and covered 37 miles. You can probably put an asterisk next to the mileage because of the one hour break, but I'm still counting it.

After every one finished we had celebration pizza and cokes, and then the award ceremony. I was completely surprised to find out that I was 2nd place female. There were several runners faster than me, but they stopped running after 25-30+ miles, either because they were training for a future ultra or recovering from a recent ultra. The prize was $20 off the entry fee to the November 50K race. Looks like there's no escaping the darkside once you cross over! The top gal, Margaret, ran 44+ miles and the top guy, Garth, ran 55+ miles.

Overall it was a great experience, I got to meet some super runners, and was very pleased with what I did.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One of the Best Things About My Job....

is that I get to eat and run at all kinds of different places. Unfortunately most of the time, time of day, weather, or neighborhood will send me to the hotel fitness center to get in my run on the treadmill. However, this trip I had a perfect storm of overnights. The first night was in Portland, ME and I ran along the bay and over the Casco Bay bridge. The second night was in Key West, FL and I ran along the shore. The temperature was in the mid 80s and the humidity was about 120% (only a slight exaggeration) so even though I had planned on running 90 minutes, I only managed 60. This morning I was in Rock Island, IL and ran along the mighty Mississippi. Weather conditions were perfect and I was able to get in my 90 minutes. I kicked it the last mile and ran it in 9:06. That's about as fast as I've run a mile in 20 years! Here are some pictures I took during my runs.

View from the Casco Bay bridge in Portland

Old downtown Portland on the way to the bay

Beautiful Key West

One of the many bridges between Illinois and Iowa

Training for the last two weeks has been a kind of combination recovery/taper. I ran the 50k two weeks ago, and now I'm planning on doing at least part of an 8 hour run. I've run an average of 32 miles/week and although I will show up at the 8 hour run, I'm going to play it by ear. Looking at past results, about half a dozen runners use it as a catered training run, running 10, 15, 20, or 26.2 miles. The other half dozen go for the full 8 hours. Right now I'm planning on a two hour training run, but I'll be using the run/walk pace I used on my first ultra. If I still feel good, I'll add another hour, then another hour, etc. If I reach 6 hours and still feel good, then I'll make myself do the 8. The race director is Scott Ludwig. I googled him and he has quite a list of accomplishments. He's run Western States, finished 6th at Badwater in 2003, and has an unbroken running streak of over 30 years. I'm looking forward to chatting with him and with other local ultra runners and getting some training advice.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I Think I Destroyed Some Brain Cells

During my internet browsing last night I saw that there is an 8 hour endurance run in two weeks about 10 miles from my house. I am actually thinking about doing it. It is extremely low key (two years ago they had 13 runners and one of them was Taco the Wonder Dog) and low cost. Entry fee is $10 and that gets you all the water and Gatorade you can drink. All runners have to bring snacks to share in addition to the entry fee. The flyer says that you can go for the full 8 hours, or use it as a catered training run. Its not very scenic (its 1/4 mile laps around the school track), but hey, I'm a person who has run 20 miles on a treadmill. I have two weeks to come to my senses, wish me luck or sanity.