Friday, January 28, 2011

PF Chang's Rock N Roll Arizona Marathon

Two years ago I ran this as my very first marathon. This year I came back to run it for a third time. My parents live in Minnesota, but spend their winters in Arizona, and the marathon is usually within a couple of days of my Mom's birthday. So it is an excellent opportunity to see family, celebrate my Mom's birthday, and run a marathon, all in the same weekend.

I met my brother and sister-in-law, John and Mary, at the airport because our flights got in at the same time. John's running buddy, Ryan, also came down this year to run the marathon and escape the winter cold. The days before the marathon were spent visiting, playing cards, watching Dad play shuffleboard (we even did the "wave" and earned steely eyed looks from the other competitors), carbo-loading, visiting my aunt in Tuscon, and climbing Camelback Mountain. I didn't make it to the top because I was slower and didn't want to get caught climbing down in the dark, but the views I did see were wonderful.

Dad contemplating his next shot

View from Camelback Mountain

At the expo I got to see one of my Javelina Jundred pacers and found out that I was a bad enough influence that she is going to run it herself this year! They had some good speakers at the expo this year, I got to hear Josh Cox, Frank Shorter, and Meb Keflezighi who were all very inspirational. I also stopped by the Brooks area and won a pair of earbuds that are the best earbuds ever.

My awesome Javelina Jundred pacer

I ran the marathon as a training run for Rocky Raccoon, taking walk breaks and enjoying the bands, cheering sections, and talking briefly with other runners. I knew Mom and Dad would be at their usual spot near the 22 mile marker, so as I got closer I recruited the half dozen or so runners near me to sing "Happy Birthday" to my Mom. She got a kick out of that and then ran a half block with me. The runners who sang with me also got a kick out of the Police guy who started yelling at my mom to get off the course. In fact they gave him a little grief which was appreciated. Mom turned 85 that day, what was he going to do, take away her birthday? (I totally stole that from this blog) Thank you anonymous runners for making my mom's day even better!

The finishers showing off our medals and free beers

Once again a great weekend, I'll be back for #4 next year.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Atlanta FatAss 50K Report

I have found another favorite place to run thanks to GUTS. Yesterday they had their annual FatAss 50K at Sweetwater State Park just west of Atlanta. I had always been wary of running there because I had seen pictures of the SweetH2O that GUTS puts on with its famous creek crossing and had the mistaken impression that you couldn't run in the park without crossing the creek. So, it was with great trepidation I signed up for this event, and boy am I glad I did.

The day started out very cold (temperature was below 20 at the start) and didn't warm up much past freezing. I layered three layers planning to undress as the day warmed up, but ended up running the entire 50K with all three layers. The only thing I ended up removing was my gloves. After meeting several running friends, Kena kicked us out of the warm building and sent us on our way.

The course consisted of six 5.4 mile loops (yes, if you multiply 6 x 5.4 you get more than 31 miles). Most was on runnable single track and there were some rooty sections that were good training for Rocky Raccoon next month. There were no water crossings, a little bit of boulder climbing, some stairs that we went down, and one long 300' climb. It was fun seeing and talking to the other hardy runners out there. GUTS also provided a fully stocked aid station and there was chili, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and cake. Probably the best run FatAss race out there and free to GUTS members for a measly $15 annual membership fee.

I ran this as a training run for Rocky Raccoon in four weeks so my goals were to get some time on feet, not get injured, and have fun. I accomplished all of my goals and ended up finishing DFL, but in my defense there were a lot of Half Ass runners out there. As I came into the aid station after my fifth lap, the RD informed me that she was sending the sweeps out after I left for my final lap. I introduced myself to the sweeps and I was out of there. I think my last lap was the second fastest of the day and I got a taste of how front runners must feel. Although I never saw or heard them, I was always looking back, making sure I was maintaining my lead. I finished in a respectable for me 8:40. As I crossed the finish line, Sarah was there to take my picture, unfortunately she missed it and made me run back 20 yards and finish again!

All in all a fun day in the park, I'll be back again next year.

The creek crossing we did NOT do

Trail along Sweetwater Creek

Some of the Rocky Raccoon practice roots

Sarah's third try of taking my finish line photo

Friday, January 7, 2011

Catching Up

Wow, I've been away from my blog for a long time. No worries, I'm still running, just not writing about my running. Here's what you've missed.

Javelina Jundred

This was a lot of fun. Susan and Rob (both accomplished and prolific ultrarunners) from Tennessee were there. Rather than write a belated race report, I'm taking the easy way out and providing you a link to Susan's race report. There are even a few pictures of me. Towards the end you can see a picture of me with the "leans". I couldn't tell that I was leaning until someone told me. I've added some intermittent core exercises to maybe prevent this from happening in the future. I also enjoyed meeting my pacers, Lauren and Jessica, who both did a fantastic job of keeping me awake and moving through the night. Tammie was fun to run with the last couple of miles, she kept trying to get me to run and I tried telling her that her Jedi mind tricks wouldn't work on me, then I ended up running anyways.

Pacing At Pinhoti

Just two weeks after Javelina I found myself in the Alabama woods waiting for my runner. I paced co-worker Ronnie the final 30 miles to his first hundred mile finish. The terrain at this race was much more difficult than my hundred milers and the temperatures dipped into the mid 20's during the night. I think I was more nervous about my first pacing job than I was about running my first hundred. Ronnie did great, finishing in 28:25.

Las Vegas Rock N Roll Marathon

I was planning on going to Vegas around this time anyways, so I though what the heck, I'll run a marathon while I'm there. This is a fantastic half marathon. As a marathon, not so much. The first half is run up and down the Strip and there are enthusiastic crowds and great energy. The second half is run through an industrial area with no scenery, endless turns, abandoned bandstands and nearly abandoned aid stations. There was a 5 1/2 hour cutoff and even with that, the headliner concert was finished by the time I crossed the finish line in 5:05. The biggest disappointment was that the beer garden was already shut down even with about 1000 marathoners finishing after me. If you want to run a marathon in Nevada, pick another one.

What's Next

This Sunday I'm running the GUTS FatAss 50K at Sweetwater State Park. The forecast is for sleet and snow, so it should be a fun time.

If I still have any readers, sorry for the long hiatus, and thanks for sticking around.