My comeback to distance running in my hometown

Inaugural Rock n Roll Raleigh Half Marathon Recap

Backstory

Let me start by saying that it has been a while since I posted anything on here. There are a few reasons, but, honestly, I needed to return to running in private. I was afraid posting about how little I was running or how slow, or how hard it was, and how much it hurt, would only make it hurt more. About a year ago, I ran through an abdominal strain. In general, I didn’t think it was too bad. Eventually, it got to the point where I was in pain (or “high” on muscle relaxers) the majority of last summer. But, I have talked about that enough…

I first signed up for the RnR Raleigh as the full marathon about a year ago, when it was first announced RnR was coming to Raleigh. There was a lot of controversy about it. All of which I find stupid. Some people argued that we had too many races as it is (in my opinion, these people are the lazy people who do not understand or appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning/training or running a race). Others just felt that this particular “big” race would pull away from the smaller races in the area. From my experience, the RnR attracts a lot of beginners, and beginners usually catch the bug, and sign up for other races- even 5K or 10Ks. Also, it challenges race organizers to be inventive to get people out. Raleigh has 8 half marathons I believe- City of Oaks (the biggest), Raleigh Rocks (which has now been changed to the “Rockin Rebellion” to accommodate the #RnRhaters, and is in April AND October), a Turkey Gobbler (in Wake Forest), Midtown (which was so popular, they have one in June AND September), American Tobacco Trail, Inside Out Sports Classic. Also, 3 mid-size full marathons (City of Oaks, ATT, and Umstead) Anyway, the controversy makes me laugh. I just had to note it- because I think the out of towners had no idea their desire to come to Raleigh upset so many haters.

When I signed up I was also signed up for Richmond full last November. I ended up not even showing up for that. In November, I struggled to get through 5 miles. As of January, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to complete the half marathon in April. All of this isn’t to organize a pity party for me, but to point out how far I have come.

In training for RnR Ral, I gave myself a goal to get to 10 miles. Once I got to 10 miles, Dan and I went to Mandolin for dinner (sooooo freakin’ yummy!). That was February 9, 2014. I hadn’t ran that far since April, 2013, as part of a relay race.

I ran with a friend Sheryl, who was training for the full marathon. One day, I had agreed to 12 miles, but she was going 18-20 miles. I ended up clocking 14.5 miles that day (March 8, 2014).  I managed to max out at 20 miles per week two weeks in a row. So, Sheryl and I would meet up, and run a slow and steady 10-14 miles at a time. I almost always picked routes with hills, knowing that Raleigh has hills. There were weekends when our schedules didn’t match up, and we ran apart.

 

Pre-Race

I was so nervous the week before the race, that I just kept taking muscle relaxers to sleep, to make sure that my ab pain didn’t creep back in the slightest. I didn’t run at all last week, except for the race. People asked what my goal was, and it was mixed. Of course, every runner loves to PR. I would say, “I just want to finish”, and genuinely mean it, but I had an idea of 2:10-2:15 in my head. The more runs I did, the more confident I felt. My fastest half marathon on record is about 2:08, though I’d been running much faster when I got injured last year.

I went to the expo Friday afternoon (after work). It was your typical RnR expo- large with lots of sponsors and goodies. I didn’t really want to go through each exhibit- just get my packet, grab a Trophy pizza, and head home. But, it was nice. Brooks had RnR Raleigh shirts in my favorite style. I was tempted to get one, but didn’t even want to look at the price tag, as I figured the typical $25 shirt was closer to $50. To have a NC state outline, and “RnR” or something in it. Still, I wasn’t hatin on people who were wearing them… I was kind of jealous. haha.

I had a few friends running the full marathon. So, all last week, when I got nervous or scared, I made a sign for them. I ended up with 10 signs… 🙂 The full marathon happened to go just past my house, so Saturday night, Dan and I drove around, putting up signs for them by our neighborhood (miles 11-19 for them). I went to sleep around 10pm, setting my alarm for 4:45am.

Race Day

I tried to plan with Dan to account for traffic, and the road closures. We had planned to leave at 5:50am. I got up as soon as my alarm went off, went out to get some coffee (“out” into our kitchen), and started getting my clothes on, and a little SPF 35 CC cream for my face. The weather for the morning- 60 at 7am, 70 by 9am, and about 80 by 12pm. And sunny. I actually think I overdressed (In the second mile, I was tearing my sleeves off).

Flat Chandi RnRRal

I ate a slice of toast with peanut butter. I had stopped drinking the night before, because I had a feeling I was overly hydrated. So, no water Sunday morning. I waited for my coffee to do its thing. I woke Dan up around 540. He was ready to go by 550, as planned. I went to the bathroom one last time (success!), and we left our building by 555.

Some of the road closures took effect at 6am, but most of the “outer” sections were supposed to close at 630am. We met our first closure about 5 minutes into our drive, that was supposed to be closed at 630am. SHIT! Dan and I both panicked- trying to find an alternate route. He kept saying “I’ll take X road”, and I’d shut him down, “nope, that’s closed off”. The ONLY way in and out was from South Saunders. We finally got to S Saunders, and it was clear it was the “only” way, because EVERYONE (10,000 runners and spectators) were on it. It looked worse than a typical weekday rush hour… Hmmm… We looked at each other, and Dan was like, “nope”, made a couple turns (through a random gravel parking lot… mind you South Raleigh can be rough in parts), and got me about 3 blocks from the start. Not sure how that all worked out, but I was to the starting area (Salisbury St) by 625, and headed straight to the port-a-potty, as we all do the morning of a long race. I waited for 20 mins, and by the time I made my way to the corrals, it was 655, and the only corral open to runners was corral 12. I was supposed to be in corral 11, so this was fine. However, you could tell it was the only one open, because I saw people from as low as corral 4 to as high as corral 24. hmmmm… maybe this will be a clusterf*** the first few miles. As the race started, and we starting moseying ahead, I spotted a familiar teal mohawk, and scooted over to start with Darryl and a couple of his running buddies (Teryn and Rachel). They were all running the full, but shooting for a 4:30 time, so I figured it’d be perfect, and my 2:15 would be good, as I’d be with them for 8.5 miles of my 13.

A race photographer found me looking for a corral, and got this shot (I promise, I plan to buy a few, because they are actually pretty good, but wanted to get this post up before I forget)–

RnR beforeWe started off nice and slow and steady, allowing our legs to warm-up, careful not to pass people too quickly. Our first mile was 10:28, and that sounded perfect to me. We all cheered for how “on target” we were. I put my headphones in, and kept my motivation up. Teryn and Rachel slowly started to speed up, but it was downhill, so we went along with it. “9:17” Darryl and I both looked at each other, laughed, and suggested to the newbies that we slow down. Which we did. The next mile was “9:27”, and our first 5K was over, in about 30 minutes (but I missed hitting the pad for an official time). Then, I lost Darryl in the fourth mile. Rachel and Teryn pulled too far ahead, and I lost them too by the fifth mile. I was now on my own, and on target for a 2:10 with some big hills to come. I planned to run the race hans style (solo), so I didn’t mind. I just kept pluggin’ away, as I started to hit some of the first set of uphills.

Going through Oakwood and Mordecai reminded me of times in high school (I grew up in Raleigh), and it was great to see so many people out to support the runners. Raleigh was out in true form. I even saw a few people I hadn’t seen in years (clearly out to support someone else, but it still felt like home). The brightly-colored wave of runners made its way to Peace St, past the Krispy Kreme, and past Peace University, and down our last downhill. My garmin buzzed another mile, and I was still sub-10:00 pace by the 10K.

The fluorescent, sweaty herd struggled to get all the way up Peace/Clark. One man was sitting by the Black Lotus, who said we were done with this hill (at the first plateau, just before Glenwood Ave). I have ran this route before, so I laughed, and shook my head at him. I knew this hill would slowly roll for another mile or so. The wave of people slowed down, some people started to toss aside their goals, and decided to walk. I heard some people discussing their struggles with the hill. I knew I’d soon see Dan, and Sarah, and Will, and was amazed that there was not a foot of the sidewalk where my fellow Raleigh-ites were not out in full swing. Even those who were passively watching because they couldn’t leave their houses… Thank you!

I made it up the hill, with a 9:53, which left me astounded and proud. I came upon Cameron Village, and wanted so badly to see the Flying Biscuit (where Dan said he’d set up camp, before anyone else, as soon as he left me in South Raleigh). We spend a good amount of time in Cameron Village, and I thought of the Bloody Mary’s at Cameron Grill, and chugged on, until I saw Sarah. Dan was hiding behind a tree, Will sitting next to him in a camp chair. Sarah was cheering for everyone passing, and I yelled her name, as they all yelled and cheered me on. They all looked shocked (even though I was perfectly on time- at a 10:00-min pace, as I had estimated, and had even texted Dan when the corral before me left the start). It was a little boost to see them, and I half-pictured them hopping into the van (relay buddies), to meet me a mile or two down the road…

Oh well, onway and upward. The hill wasn’t completely over, though it had flattened a little. I wondered if the spectators knew how long of a hill we’d been going up, as they encouraged walkers to pick it up. I knew the turn-off was up ahead. It had to be, we were almost to 8 miles. I was tired. I was thirsty. Bad sign. You never want to be thirsty during a race. But, really I was exhausted. The thought occured to me that I hadn’t seen the GU station that was supposed to be around mile 5. I glanced down, and I had been running for about 90 minutes. Generally, I use something every 60 minutes. Ruh-roh!

[Also, just a note- they had Gatorade, but gatorade is too syrupy and makes me nauseous. I prefer Honey Stinger chews (or Sports Beans “bean me up”) and Nuun. But, when I am thrifty or running a lot, I will do every other with GU- they also take up less space.]

Finally, we turned on Hillsborough, and we started our return to downtown. Actually, it was kind of nice, because the majority of the time, you could see downtown in the background. And there was the glorious GU station. Gatorade first. Yuck. Water- yay! GU… yay! …Bleck! Gross! and more water… Just to wash it down, splash the rest on your face. That will totally hydrate you. Well, hell, at this rate, I’ll pour it on my head. It’s hot up in her’!

I appreciated the downhill slope of Hillsborough. I’ve ran this before at the end of a race- it’s a great ending- just enough slope to make you feel speedy effortlessly, but not so much that you feel like you are spinning out of control. We rounded the round-about, and turned on Pullen, and my garmin chimed for another mile “10:28”, and I felt great. I just let go on the downhill, through NC State’s campus, past Pullen Park, then turned onto Western.

And I started to feel it. I wondered when the next water stop was. I was feeling so tired. More than I should be, and I just hoped I had enough to get through another 4 miles. Okay, now is the time to ramp it up, right? So I tried to ramp it up, and felt queasy. You can do this I told myself, and then I vommed in my mouth. Gross. You can slow down now. It’s okay. Let the GU fully settle. And “10:03” chimed in, to agree that it’s okay. Okay, new plan- 2:12? I was at about that pace, and there was no shelter from the shade. I turned onto Dorothy Dix’s campus, and was waiting for the beauty to hit me. I love this campus. Instead, I felt numb to it all. Spectators? Didn’t matter. I just wanted to get to Mile 10.5. My dad said he’d be at mile 10.5. I passed by a thankful water station, which helped me feel better. I started to worry that I had missed him. I got over it, and just continued to chug along, running at a somewhat steady 10:30 pace. I had slowed down, but I still had my eye on 2:15, and was convinced I’d feel peppier when I got the downtown area.

Finally, I saw him! Right after the 11 mile, I waved at him on a small downhill from Dorothy Dix campus to Lake Wheeler, and turned into downtown. I feel a little pep, and tried to push it again, as I knew the Boylan hill was ahead of me, and a cushion of time would help. I tried to push it up Lenoir, but “push” was a 10:30 pace, and felt hard. I continued up Boylan, where they forced us onto the sidewalk, which I thought was asinine. This was at mile 11.5-12, and people were walking. And this sidewalk is only one person wide, broken, and has a steep hill on either side, lined with trees. But, every time we runners (sorry, there were a lot of walkers at this point) tried to jump down to the street to run, some volunteer would berate us like a bad dog peeing on the carpet. So I crushed a few people- sorry! Truly! And that was at a 12:00 pace…

Finally we got to the top of Boylan, and I knew we were past the 12 Mile point, whether the course said it or not (I hadn’t seen it, but I did see the Fleet Feet Raleigh love on Boylan Bridge). I felt inspired to run a little faster for the last mile. And vommed in my mouth again. Alright. I get it body. I can go slow, or I can vomit and go kinda faster. I chose to go slow. People were passing me left and right. Fans were cheering to pick it up into the home stretch. And, as I passed Nash Square, dodging to the right, in case I actually did puke, the 2:15 pacer triumphantly flew past me. And I didn’t even care. That’s how I know I was hurting. I am competitive, and anyone passing me in the last mile is bad news. I just didn’t want to walk down the final stretch on Fayetteville, so I kept plugging around, at my slowing pace. I managed to smile as much as I could for cameras. But, one guy got my true shot- as I stopped my watch, I really thought I was going to hurl. I didn’t see medical tent or staffers. I didn’t see a bucket or trash can. So I proceeded to get my medal, a dry towel, and searched for an ice bucket, grabbed some water (shove a Nuun tab in that. Yes, I hid a Nuun in my back pocket), got a banana and protein bar, and by the time I found a spot to sit, I no longer needed to puke. I texted Dan to let him know I was done, and final time of 2:17-something, and told him where I was.

He was there in minutes, and I told him how I had been doing so good, up until the last two or three miles….

The last few miles were a blur to me. I felt awful. I am not sure if it was dehydration, or overhydration, or lack of electrolytes, or if the GU just didn’t settle right on my stomach. I have never felt like that after a run. If I’m overheated, I usually get dizzy/light-headed, sometimes losing some vision (high blood pressure in my eyes), or see spots, once or twice swaying after finishing. But, never feeling 100% sure I would barf.

I have no regrets. I am proud of my 2:17. And once I felt fully hydrated again, I went back to Nash Square to cheer on my fellow runners. Dan grabbed us some coffee and more water, and I kept yelling for them, hoping I’d start seeing my full-ers soon.

Finally, I saw Beth, and yelled my butt off (4:10, oh yeah, and 8th in her age group- WHAT?! That girl is a beast). Then, Rachel, who I met just before the race with Darryl. Then, Teryn, Darryl’s other buddy. I anticipated Sheryl soon, so I walked along the course to the Boylan Bridge to meet her, and spotted Andrea. She was hurting, feeling just like I had. So, I ran her in, and we ran and walked a little, until I patted her on the back into the finisher shoot. And then, I finally got a text from Sheryl- she was on Lenoir. I texted back- I’m on the Boylan Bridge- see you soon! And I ran her in the last mile.

Here’s a few shots her friend got of us (I thought it was so cute, even though it’s pixely)

RnR with Sheryl 1

RnR with Sheryl 3

So, all in all, I ran about 15 miles on Sunday. Someone managed to snap a picture of Sheryl and me, and it makes me happy- a picture of me and my training buddy. Did I mention Sheryl sub-2’ed this spring? Yup! And that’s my next goal- for the fall. I was fast enough for that last year (was training for a sub-4:00 full marathon). Anyway, that’s next- in like 6 months.

That means, this summer will include a lot of sweat, sore muscles, blisters, probably less toenails, chafing, and probably lots of post-run beer 🙂

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being a spectator

(And I will never do an Olympic triathlon)

Yesterday, Dan had his first tri ever. He has a half ironman in 6 weeks. And it’s about time he actually complete one triathlon before then. I mean, he’s not even training (kidding! He’s training plenty! Just not crazy, and over-training like I would be)

So, as a dutiful girlfriend and fellow athlete, I decided to go for moral support, and to help pace him on the run part.

We got there bright and early at 8am, and wandered through the body markings area and I started SoccerMom’ing it up- making friends with all the other ‘supporters’.

The swim was first (1500m or almost a mile), and the first guy came charging out of the water in like 18:30 or something… Insane! And he had a few minute lead on the others. We all cheered violently when we saw the first white cap come out of the water (40+ male), and even harder when the first pink cap came running out (female).

Still no Dan.
But it was like 30-minutes, so these people were smoking it! Finally a group emerged with Dan at 37:30. I hit ‘lap time’ on my iPhone’s timer, and ran to the transition area sidelines, as Dan got ready for the bike. He seemed to take his time changing out of his wetsuit and preparing for the ride, and told me he got kicked several times and got a little freaked during the swim (so it was a tad slower than he had hoped).

Yep, he sat down to change. I would have too!

Yep, he eventually sat down. I would have too!

And he took off, biking around the lake for 26.5 miles. I made mental notes that I could run that far…

mouth full of shot blocks

mouth full of shot blocks

We had no idea how long this ride would take. He had been going 16-18 mph with a local bike group . But, I couldn’t do the simplest math, so I just waited until I saw him come to the transition area.

Finally, an hour and a half after he left for the bike, he came rolling in. The clock read 2:12, but the winner had already finished (2:04! That’s crazy!). I cheered as loudly as I could to get Dan’s attention, but he was tired and the music was loud. So I jogged/walked to the run start to help him get started.

Dan is fast. BTW. Like 20-minute 5K, and could probably pull a 41 or 42 minute 10K time. I’m not that fast, so I thought I’d pace him a little, and if he was really hurting, I’d stay with him longer.

I saw him and started smiling (like a dope, waiting for him to see me). He finally saw me, and I set off with him. He told me a little about the tri, and told me he felt like he couldn’t get his feet back under him after cycling for that long. So we started at nice easy 8’s. And I stayed with him for .34 miles before I had to drop off.

Look him taking out that old man. Who cares if the 75-year old started 4 minutes later?

Look him taking out that old man. Who cares if the 75-year old started 4 minutes later?

The course was an out-and-back 5K twice. Which made it easy for me to pace in pieces. I walked ahead and cheered for other runners, as they finished up their tri. I kept walking until I saw a turn, and stopped there, waiting for Dan. He wanted to finish in less than 3:00, which meant he had to finish the 10K in less than 48:00, which is very do-able for him. But would be hard, and I could tell he was getting tired.

Have I mentioned Dan doesn’t really do distance? Like 8-9 miles (in an hour and change) is the longest he trains. 🙂

I finally saw him, and I felt a surge of energy, so I wanted to stay with him for close to a mile (back to the 5K completion). We were pushing 7:40s. And I felt strong, but could tell Dan was struggling to keep that pace. So I stayed with him a little longer, and we pushed down to 7:20s before I needed to drop off again (after 0.7 miles). And he was almost to the 5K marker/ turn-around. I hit my iPhone timer for another lap (25min or so), but that was including his transition time.

I looked for him. I ran with him again for another 0.5 miles. He was struggling. Barely keeping up my 7:45 pace, so we dropped down to a 8:00 pace, to let him adjust before the home stretch. I made jokes that I was taking it easy on him now, because I wouldn’t on the last mile.  I wanted to make sure he came in under 3:00, and the run is his easiest part.

I dropped off again before the same turn (just by the final turn-around). I glanced at his overall time- 2:50. 2:51… Okay, Dan, you need to get here by 2:52 to safely bring it in before 3:00. 2:53 may work… C’mon, c’mon!

Finally, I saw him again (clock read 2:52:30), and we took off. One mile left babe. You’re at 2:52 on the clock, you can do it but you’re gonna have to work for it! I forgot that meant I’d have to run that fast too… And pushed quickly down to a 6:30 pace. I told him to just stay steady with my legs, Just stay with this pace. You’re doing great. We’re down in the 6:30s. Keep it up. Keep it steady, etc. We got to the finish so quickly. And I felt really strong (I know, it’s not about me, but I can’t usually run that fast). I gave him a final pat on the ass, and yelled ‘Bring it on it!’ And just cheered as he hit the final 0.2 miles. As I peeled off and ran through the cycle finish, I stopped my timer- 2:59:02, but I had no idea when he finished…

He had finished in 2:58:40! Wooo!

"It hurts to smile. This is the best you're getting out of me"

“It hurts to smile. This is the best you’re getting out of me”

I was so proud. And proud to have been a part of it, and able to help. Turns out we ran the last mile (according to my garmin) in sub-6:00 pace. Not sure if that’s accurate. But we were flying. And eventually going too fast for me to glance down, so it’s possible. And he brought it in in under 7-minutes FTW (from 5 mile mark to the finish, or 1.2 miles).

We went to shower (ugh! Boys smell so gross after endurance events), and then to Raleigh Times for a celebratory beer (Mother Earth Second Wind. Mother Earth makes good stuff and the name attracted me to it. It was a good solid American Pale Ale).

And in case you were curious, Dan finished the 10K portion in 46:21, faster than I can run a 10K, and all in all, a good solid time. Proudest girlfriend ever. And glad I got to be a part of it all.

Ironman will be interesting. I might have to run the whole half marathon with him. To help him keep a slower, steady pace (which is still fast for me). We will see. We joked that I might have to pace Tom, his brother, as well. And I was like, Ummm. I ain’t running a marathon to support you two 🙂 with a kiss. Also we estimated he will finish the Ironman in 6.5 hours. Better bring my sunblock (I’ll be in the sun 930am-230pm then). And I’ll give you all the highlights for that as well.

Palmetto200 relay recap (long)

After the race (includes race nicknames)

This weekend was amazing. That really is the only way to describe it.

Our Van 1 consisted of some of my new best friends. My abs hurt as much as my quads from laughing so hard. I could go on and on about the non-running parts, but I digress…

(So straight to the recap)

It was a rocky start. We were all planning to meet at my apartment at 430pm. Bruce picked Dan up in downtown, and they headed to get the 12-passenger van (aka our new vacation home- kitchen, bedroom, party room, etc). Dan texted at 421pm “we’re still in line. haven’t gotten the van. will be late.”

Soon after, Will showed up. Will is the runner with the most mileage (all long/hard legs), and is accustomed to running ultras at a decent pace. But, I don’t really know Will too well. And it was definitely awkward, him being the first to show. “Welcome to my home. Thank you for being on time. You will not be rewarded because everyone else will be late” 😉

Will also told me he brought a duffel bag full of food, a gas ‘hot plate’ for oatmeal or mac & cheese, and a ruck sack full of various items (including 4 headlamps, in case someone forgot one. Note- he is the Pack Rat). He also said he had a bigger stick than mine, so we agreed to bring his. We were all happy that he brought all his stuff; especially given the amount of food Bruce managed to put away.

I got a call from Sarah, asking where we were.

Sarah: “I don’t see you”
me: “Oh, I’ll come outside”
Sarah: “Oh, I meant the van. Where’s the van?”
me: “On its way”
Sarah: “Oh… ?”

As Sarah and I conversed in the parking lot, my cat decided Will was his new owner and acted like a whore and Dan and Bruce showed up with the van. Chris was still not there.

We started packing our vacation home down, and decided there was no need to organize or prioritize because we had so much space. We headed over to Target when I realized I didn’t have my phone. We headed back, I ran upstairs for my phone. And couldn’t find it. But I left my brush and water bottle, so grabbed those. Then, asked that someone call my phone. We called a couple times… It was under all the bags. Thanks boys. Note to Sarah and myself- We will have to be in charge of packing and organizing from now on 🙂

We got on the road, and the van felt like a boat, swaying side to side in the wind.

We arrived at the hotel in Columbia around 10-1030pm.

Front Desk Person: “How many people are staying with you?”
me: “just one more”
F.D.P.: “Phew. Good, we only have a room with one bed for you.”
(no questioning of if I wanted to share a bed with said person)
me: “Okay, our other room is going to need more than one bed” (Thinking that’s where all the boys are staying)
F.D.P.: “Oh, okay. Well, when they get here, I’ll see what I can do. We’ve had issues with several of the rooms”
me: (gesturing to Dan, who was standing next to me the whole time) “They’re here.”
Then, going outside to break the news to Sarah that we will soon be snuggle-mates.

********Flash to relay race********

Relay terms to be familiar with:

Kills: You end up passing quite a few people, as the start is staggered. Every person you pass is a “kill”… This can be especially motivating for a longer night leg.
Legs: The 200-mile course is split into 36 separate courses, or legs, that range from 1.7 miles to 10 miles long. Usually, a full team means you run 3 legs, and about 13-20 miles.
Exchanges: This is where you hand-off the baton (a slap bracelet) to the next team member. Major Exchange is the Army Major in charge of all the Van Captains, and he hangs out at exchanges… what? is that not accurate? Okay, fine. It’s where all the vans meet up, and usually there is food.

We had a 7:00am start time, meaning we were supposed to be at the start line by 615am. Dan was our first runner, and was particularly grumpy (he tends to be that way in the morning; though he’s usually better after a run or after coffee). The race started on a tiny race track (maybe 0.25 mile around) in Columbia, then headed out about 5 miles. Since it was 7:00am, he didn’t have to wear the night gear (reflective vest, headlamp, and blinking light on front and back); but he was supposed to wear NEON colors. He was wearing a grey shirt and black shorts. So Sarah and I made Dan wear a vest- I mean, the race director (enforcer of rules) would be kicking off the race)

We watched the Way Far Runners (running frenemies) head out at 6:30am; then we started getting ready for the race to begin. We listened to the race director go through all the rules, while Dan bitched and moaned and declared “I’m never doing this sh** again!” (We laughed and said “ok.” He was our vet, having 5 other relays under his belt)

At 7:03am, they finally began the countdown, and we sent Dan off. He maintained the lead around the track- which was pretty impressive against some of the other runners, who we learned how fast they were by driving by them 🙂

First lap around the race track, and Dan is the orangey blur in lead… WoOoooO!

We hopped in the van, and headed to the next exchange. A boat landing, which was very pretty that early in the morning. It was hot, and crazy humid already- at 7am. I started getting nervous about my 8-hilly-miles at mid-day.

Dan crushed that leg with a 7:03 pace (and came in shirtless with the reflective vest), and we sent Sarah off down the road for her 6.5 mile (hardest of her legs). She estimated she’d finish in 9:30 splits.

Flawless.

We had some time, so we looked up the closest Starbucks- about 20 mins away (and it would take her about an hour to finish). We headed to the Starbucks, which turned out to be a distribution factory. The next closest starbucks was in Charleston (195 miles away)- no, I am not kidding. Apparently, people in South Carolina are strictly against coffee. We rushed to the next exchange- a gas station, and Will got ready for his long/hard leg (9.26 miles with some decent hills). It was getting hotter and more and more humid, so Will opted for Dan’s tactic- reflective vest with a bare chest, and short shorts. Except Will’s vest cut in to reveal his nipples (sexy). Does this make my boobs look big? Will and I saw a group of people coming in strong, and I said “no, Sarah is probably not in that group- we’ve got like 3 to 5 minutes til she comes in” And we heard “Ca Caw!” and I sent Will out for a flawless exchange of the baton.

We grabbed coffee at the gas station, and told Will we would meet him “halfway” or close to it with water/Nuun. And since there was nothing else to do in that neck of the woods, we stopped a few times. Part of his 9 miles was on a dirt road that was difficult to drive through, and every runner said was hard to push through.

Will passed off to Bruce. Sarah and I snuck in PB sandwiches. Bruce headed out for his teeny 2.4 miler; then soon after Chris. And I was up next. We pulled over at the top of Chris’ major hill, and I thought mine is a little bigger, this will suck. Then headed on to our next exchange, where I prepared for a hard 8-miles.

Leg 6: 7.99 miles (Hardest Leg)

11:09am.

Chris handing off, as I get started on my hardest leg

Honestly, it wasn’t too bad; compared to other courses that are actually hilly (like the Blue Ridge relay, or say Big Sur Marathon, which include 1000+ gain of elevation). By comparison, this hill was teeny. But still, it loomed. And made me wonder if I took the wrong turn into the mountains…

I took off a little too strong, but knew I could maintain 8:30s for a regular 8-mile run, in race mode. And I remembered the first couple miles were rolling, slightly downhill, so faster was okay. About a mile in, someone from the Mustache team ran past “Sorry, but I mustache you” (must dash you). I thought it was cute. And his grey mustache told me that big hill would hurt him more than it would hurt me. So, I’d catch up; just keep him in your sights, Chandi.

I ran my little heart out. And was feeling exhausted. And hot. I could feel the heat of the pavement within a mile or two. It was 79 degrees out, with little shade. Though it was cloudy at times, with a warm breeze for the first couple miles. The humidity was about 75%. And pollen-filled. At about 4 miles, I felt a good downhill bit, and braced myself for the coming hill. Honestly, the hill reminded me of my college running days (in the mountains). It loomed in front of me. And I think it actually cast a shadow. A lot of vans were stationed at the bottom. I envisioned one of my vanmates gearing up to run it with me. I just thought don’t drop below a 10:00 pace. You can do this.

Elevation change. And my splits (the last two-minutes are post-run)

Elevation change. And my splits (the last two-minutes are post-run)

My mantra for that hill was Dig in, Breathe deep, Dig in, Breathe deep. And it helped. I knew I couldn’t surge the hill, because I had another 3+ miles to go after it. And then two more legs. I kept running though. That is key. Dan was stationed at the top, with Nuun, and water to refill my fuel pack. I just took my water bottles out and said “here babe” between breaths. He said he was surprised I kept running. Apparently all the runners before me had stopped to walk over to their van for support and water. Not this chick. I saw the Mustache man slow down too much on that hill. And after 4 miles behind him, I was hungry for a kill.

I got through the hill, and struggled to find my footing again. And Dan filled my Nuun too much, so it was fizzing all over my skin. Which, I didn’t mind too much; it was hot. And there were no longer clouds- just sun. My watch chimed for the 4th mile, and I was afraid to look- 9:40

Not bad, considering that hill, I dropped to as slow as a 12:00 pace. Okay, Chandi, get your breathing back, and catch that guy. And then the wind picked up. It was like running up that hill all over again. The wind was blowing so hard, my vest was tearing off my body. My next mile was equally slow- 9:39. Crap! I’ve got to make up some time… I looked up ahead to see that Mustache man was a few hundred meters ahead of me. So, I dug in (mentally) and tried to catch him on a curve. And was successful, but also gave myself a splitting side cramp. I saw there were two people just ahead of him, a hundred meters or so away. I tasted my kill, stalked my prey for a mile or two, then felt my second wind. I was able to catch them and pass them. Three kills total. Not bad this early in the race. I made my final turn, holding onto the 8:40s again. And I saw my final hill. Are you f***ing kidding me? Another one?! It was tiny (+100 ft over 0.5 miles), but like a smack in the face, at the end of a hot, hilly 8-mile route.

I dug in, and mustered all the courage I could to surge the last hill. I managed to catch a guy who was all tattooed up. He was struggling. Walking a little up the last hill. We had our final surge together. Running into the exchange, I was looking for Andrea, and couldn’t see her. I held up the snap bracelet waving it as I ran in. Turns out she was standing behind my running buddy’s teammate (who was like 6’5). I screamed “watch out! My teammate is behind you!” as I almost tackled him to get to Andrea. 🙂

And Van 2 was off. We had time to get lunch and head to the next major exchange for a nap. While we were in Subway, it started POURING outside.

There was a road closure on the way to the next major exchange, and my navigation skills got us there earlier than most of the teams, so bathrooms were clean, and there was room to spread out a towel under a covered picnic table. We napped a little. We walked down to the lakeside dock. Then set up by a playground. As soon as Dan and I sat down, fire ants started attacking us. Damnit! We walked away with only a few bites each, thankfully. But all on our feet.

We started waking up, and hit the bathrooms- disgusting- after just a couple hours of runners. We got a little excited upon seeing the first team come in around 4:30pm, and started perking up for our own runner (Andrea again) at 5:10pm. We heard yells for Olga before 5pm, and hoped Andrea was killing the leg a little faster than we had projected. 5:10, and no Andrea, or anyone from Van 2. Around 5:15pm, we started to get nervous. Finally, Van 2 arrived, reporting she was just down the road, would be here any minute. All the while, I prep Dan, suggesting he needs to finish his 4.2 miles in 30 minutes or less (or a 7-minute pace). Even for him, that’s fast; but I thought it was a good goal. Finally, we saw Andrea. She looked exhausted, and didn’t even have it for an extra kick, but kept steady and strong to bring it in for Dan. Who took off his shirt upon noticing Andrea’s sweat and exhaustion. Then, took off like a bat out of hell. We quickly followed. And waited nervously at the next exchange, down the dirt road; tagging other vans with our “foot” (tarheel shaped). I am no artist, and we all joked that it looked like I was tagging vans with a penis, until I drew the toes on top. [Sorry, we had a van full of boys, and me and Sarah, and lacked sleep] But no one interrupted us, except R.U.I, who tagged us back at the next exchange.

and off she went; soon into the night

and off she went!

Dan came in at about 29:30, for a 6:53 pace. Which motivated us to keep it up. Sarah started off a little too fast- 8:25, 8:30, 8:25; then had to slow dramatically when the heat and humidity suddenly hit her for the last two miles, but still came in on predicted pace. Will took off for his sunset leg, with no night-time gear. We stopped the van to give him a vest and blinkies. While we were stopped, the biggest spider I’ve ever seen came flying across the road. I’m pretty sure cars swerved to avoid hitting it- it was that big! I jumped on the van, and refused to go into the grass again (it went into the grass by us). When we decided to hit the road again, I went through the driver’s side, and tripped, hitting my knee square on the first row of seats. OUCH! (I have a bruise a couple days later, and it’s still tender)

Will handed off to Chris, for his night leg. Chris, aka the Swamp Thing, who is a tall guy; beasted it. Keeping a good pace, and even picking up some runners in the last mile (which was a straight shot, so we could see him coming down the road, his headlamp about a foot above the other runners). It looked like he was a swamp beast, eating the smaller runners for dinner.

Leg #12: 9.67 miles (Hard)

And I got all excited. Let’s go! Let’s go! Chris just picked those people up; I couldn’t let their runners catch me. I ran out at 8:30s for the first couple miles, then felt like I was all alone, so slowed down, as I was afraid I missed a sign. I saw no street lights, no race signs, no vans (usually you see vans driving past at this point in the relay), no blinking lights ahead for me to “kill”… I do not want to make 9.67 miles any longer than necessary… Finally, a 12-passenger van drove past, and cheered for me. I said “I thought I went the wrong way”. It was the race director. He decided to stay near me until other vans came up, he was within 0.5 miles of me the rest of the way (Thanks guys!)

Still, no runners until about 4-miles. I started calculated how many minutes I was knocking off our pace.
Okay, my predicted pace is 9:15/mile, so 8:35 is +:40, 8:43 is +:15 +:17, which is +:32, added to the :40; wait, where am I? No, I see a sign. So, where was I? +:40 +:32. Woo! I am already over a minute ahead of pace. Ah! What was that noise?! Oh gosh, did I swallow that bug? Ugh…. (spit) etc.
Finally, I heard footsteps behind me. She seemed like she was coming up fast, but I felt like I could go faster; especially to stay with someone. I wanted to make her work for it, so dropped to hold a steady 8:30 until she met my speed. After a couple miles, I decided to drop back, but keep her in my sights. I stalked my prey, never letting her get around a curve without me; staying 5-10 paces behind her. After seeing my van, I was rejuvenated, and picked up the pace to 8:30 again. I lost count of my sandbagged minutes, but was at about 3-minutes before picking up the pace. We had 3 miles left, and I was determined to finish strong; preferably ahead of her, but with her would be fine. The last two miles, we kept dropping the pace. I kept glancing down- last mile, I’ll kick, I thought. Finally, 8.7 miles. I told her, Last mile, and we kicked. She glanced at me, and said Are you sure? I don’t see the exchange? I knew it in my body, and trusted in my little garmin. No, we’re almost there. It’s just a curvy road; last 0.5 miles… C’mon girl! Get it! (we mercy killed a few walkers)… This might be a murder/suicide between you and me. Finally we could hear our teams, and saw the steeples. I almost cried. I was not going to let her beat me on the last 0.33 miles. I gave it all I had. We finished the last 0.67 miles at a 7:45 pace. The last bit, when I looked at the pace, it said 7:05.

I Ca-Cawed for Clara (in the dark it makes it easy to find your person). Except my entire team was there (or 7 of them) Hootie Hoo’ing back at me. No, WHO? …. Where? between gasps for air. I handed off, and we sent Van 2 on their way. 8:56 average pace. My 10K pace is about a 8:50, so I basically maintained 10K pace for 10 miles. Sh**********t!

They had sandwiches there, and all of my van (except Dan) was in there killing some sandwiches. I think we took out about 10 sandwiches, our van alone. I was uninterested in sandwiches though.

I snuck back to the van, where Dan was sleeping (on our suggestion, before his 3am 9miler), and finished off the remaining donuts, and got rid of the box evidence 🙂

We all slept, overnight. A few hours. Until my alarm went off. I checked my phone- no updates. Great. The other van could be here, or they could be 20 minutes behind. I told Dan the update, so he could prepare for his 3am 9-miler. (Ugh)

We got him outside to warm up, and saw Andrea and Sheryl scuffling around looking for our van. Jarod’s leg before that was short (2.5 miles), so it would be close. Dan got out the street just as Jarod brought it in, right on cue. 3:01am. I woke everyone else up (Sarah was the only one awake, as everyone else just slept on the sidewalk), and we hit the road to cheer him on a few times, and hand him some Nuun, water, and support.

Dan handed off to Sarah, who was aiming for a speedy 9-minute pace for her last 3.75 miles. Will picked it up at 4:50am for his last leg- 7.47 miles. Bruce got up, and got prepared for his last run. Meaning he ate everything in sight, and downed some crackheads (chocolate-covered espresso beans). Chris, Sarah, and I refused to leave the van, so Dan went outside to be moral support while he got ready, grabbing his things. Bruce, then let a long loud fart. And Backseat Sarah woke up, laughing hysterically at the 15-to-20-second long fart. Bruce had not realized she was still in the van. It was really priceless. And Dan almost went back into the van to say You’re on your own, bro.

Bruce had a nice leg. 7.47 miles at sunrise over the marshy wetlands of South Carolina. He was just coming over a bridge when the sun starting getting into the sky. We were all a little jealous. It was just me and Chris left, so we strategized how we were going to kill our respective 4.72 and 4.11 miles- I’m gonna try to just kill some sub-8s, but not go any slower than 8:30s (Chris). We went into the nice gas station to make a deposit because the bank was open, and ready for business. The bathrooms were still nice, but we planned to change that.

I stood by the road with Chris, pumping him up while the others got coffee, water, etc. Finally, Bruce came in, and Dan and I gave him a love tunnel, which made him smile, and sent Chris off into the morning light.

The sun was fully in the sky (and was about 70-degrees with a cool sea breeze), so I decided to wear my blue booty shorts, my Nike There’s no I in Team, but there is in Ice Cream tank, and neon green Brooks arm sleeves, with PROCompression baby blue socks. I looked fast.Will prepped me- as the last runner, this was our last chance to get a lead on the WFAR group. I said I wanted to finish in 35:00, thinking that was a little lofty, but do-able (4 miles at just above 5-K speed).Will- Well, any minutes you can pick up. I mean why pick up just 2 minutes? We need 3 minutes. No pressure. Thanks, Will. I’ll see what I can do. If I get a sub-8, I’ll be happy, but that’s over 1:00 faster than my real pace, so let’s just see. I’ll try to get 3. No promises.

I almost put on a game face (aka eyeliner, etc.), but decided I’d rather pee. I had about 3-5 minutes until Godzilla aka the Beast aka the Swamp Monster was coming. So I sprinted to the bathroom, and back. As I was running back, Dan yelled “He’s coming” As Godzilla took out some small children and a car to get to the exchange point. He was running fast (probably 7:00-7:30 pace), and he handed all the energy for me.

Leg #30: 4.11 miles (Easy)

I’d even say very easy (there were sidewalks part of the way that made me feel at home, running through a shopping center at 7:00am). I took off WAY too fast, matching Chris’ 7:00-7:30 pace. I told myself to breathe and slow down. I kept getting honks from random people on the highway, due to the blue booty shorts. Thanks, SC 🙂 I saw someone about 0.5 miles ahead. I will catch her. I need at least one more kill. As I got closer, I realized she was going much slower- 9:00, and catching her didn’t mean too much for my pace. But, I caught her around 1.5 miles in, and kept sprinting, breathing easily. Crushing my pace. 8:30, 8:19. And feeling the burn in my dead legs. Then I hit the shopping center and got a second wind, opening my pace up to 8-8:15, I got a little hung up trying to figure out how to cross a busy traffic circle without sidewalks, but maintained a strong pace, as my vanmates cheered me on as they drove by (I also noticed they were coming from the wrong way, aka, they got lost. haha).

There was no shoulder on the road, and it seemed like rush hour traffic. So I was going slowly to make sure people saw me, and squishing my stride up a bit. 8:30. Finally, the traffic broke, and I made one of the final turns. I let myself open up again, and pushed my speed. I saw another guy ahead of me… Maybe I can catch him, and glanced down. Oh, I have less than a mile left (and he is cruising at 8:30s). Okay, pretend like you can catch him… Last little bit. It’s supposed to hurt. That means you’re doing it right. Don’t leave anything left. They’re counting on you. I Ca Cawed, and searched the crowd of cheering people for Clara. I didn’t see her yet. I felt my watch buzz, and saw something in the 8s (8:19, in case you were wondering), and pushed it for a true sprint of a 0.11 miles, in 39 seconds. And the wheels came off. Just as I slapped the band on Clara. My muscles couldn’t stop moving, and I ran through the crowd without any quads/brakes to stop me. Everyone was cheering, and total strangers told me how awesome that was.

The WFAR group couldn’t believe it. I had narrowed their lead to a few minutes within my 4 mile run. Apparently when the first person on my team said “Hey, I think I hear her. That’s Chandi”, their team members said “no, couldn’t be” and similar. I felt victorious when I crossed into that exchange. I ran so strong, and was so happy. And proud. I felt like I showed Van 2 how to keep it up. How to push hard for the “win.”

And then I got Chick Fil A biscuits and coffee, and made conversation with Allie (on WFAR group), while our two vans congregated. My van said they saw the fear in their eyes as I came in. I was too high on life to notice any of that. And they might have been seeing what they wanted to see, but we knew it’d be a close call who would finish the course faster (It was clear we would not finish before them, as they had a 33-minute head start, and we were a strong 10 minutes behind with our slower paced van now running). But, WFAR had been running strong as well, so we decided at that point to just enjoy it. We wanted to finish and have fun together as a team. We headed on to one of Van 2’s checkpoints to hand off park tickets for the last stop, and cheered on Sheryl for her last leg. She had a beautiful view over the bridge, down to the water, which she took a picture of, and still killed it at a 9:01 average, with her fastest mile ever on that run. Woo! Woo!

Finally! We were in Charleston! And we decided to set up camp at the finish line/ post-race. Just as they cracked open the first keg. First team to the beer, #33 to cross the finish. Seems fitting for my team 🙂

We got word that Jarod was beginning the Cooper River portion- this was the leg that could hurt our time. It’s the last hard leg (If you’ve ever ran the 10K, it’s basically that, plus 0.25 at the end). Then, Jesus. They were making decent time. And soon Van #2 joined us in the post-race beer-drinking festivities, after our third or fourth beer. We watched as several teams came in. The clock kept ticking. I told them Jesus should be here 12:40-12:45 if he stays on pace. 12:10 came, WFAR made an obvious effort to announce Olga should be there any minute… 12:15 passed, no Olga. We were nervous. Anything that could slow Olga could slow Jesus as well. At least Jesus had Clara to pace him, and support him on her bike. 12:20, still no Olga. I wasn’t paying too much attention.

I was enjoying my beers in the shade, and realized around 12:30, we should head to the sunny, grassy area, and start looking for Jesus. I started seeing who else would want to go with me. And I just honestly thought I had missed Olga’s arrival. Oh well. I guess we won’t know when she came in, I thought, as our team made our way to the grass. Then, finally, Olga rounded the corner. And we cheered so loudly for them. Their outfits looked great, and they represented as a team, running Olga in.

Our team started getting ansy then. We got nervous at 12:40 came and went. Anyone who sneezed, every bird that flew by Is that them?! And finally! 12:42, Jesus and Clara entered the park, and we threw off the flip flops and ran over to greet them, and Jesus made a final kick, which none of us could keep up with. And we all ran it in, just under 29:45 for 198.4 miles (or 8:58 average). The Way Far Runners maintained a 9:02 pace, so yes, those extra minutes counted. And yes, those extra kicks at the end of our runs counted. We all got beers. Olga looked wiped. I really felt bad. She looked as exhausted as Andrea did after her first leg.

so bad ass, we didn't wear our team shirts...

so bad ass, we didn’t wear our team shirts…

We hung out for a while; Dan decided he no longer wanted to be hanging out with a bunch of tipsy runners, as he was our driver. And we headed back to the hotel. Some of us to the pool, some of us to nap. Everyone to shower.

We later went to Noisy Oyster, and tried basically everything on the menu, including a “bite-and-pass” of all desserts available (8?). Van 2 couldn’t finish their plates, so Van 1 cleaned up again 😉 (Totally kidding there!) Dan and I headed out, and we were told the party just got better and better. We hadn’t napped, so by 10pm, we were OUT. And we woke the next day to sore muscles and empty stomachs.

Stumbling through the hotel lobby to find coffee, I see someone making zombie gestures out of the corner of my eye. There was Jesus. So funny and good-spirited. We, apparently, looked like zombies due to muscle fatigue and lack of coffee in hand 🙂

We looked for the closest restaurant- Hominy Grill? I say to Dan. Bruce’s fat middle-aged woman’s ears perk up Omigod! It’s settled! That’s where we’re going. (starts gesturing to people eating various continental breakfast options) Throw that shit out. We’re eating real food now! And, oh, my, god. It was amazing. The grilled vegetable omelette with goat cheese was the best omelette I’ve ever had. Easily. It was all delicious. We ate like we hadn’t seen food in days, despite destroying Noisy Oyster the night before. And Bruce piped up again, Dessert? And convinced the table to order a round of desserts (4 between the 6 of us- pecan pie, beer float (espresso porter with caramel ice cream), strawberry rhubarb, german chocolate cake). We then rolled our fat asses back to Raleigh.

So, total for me: 7.99 miles in 1:12:01 (9:03 pace), 9.67 miles in 1:26:28 (8:56 pace), 4.11 miles in 34:20 (8:21 pace) [or 21.77 miles in 3:12:49, or a 8:52 pace]

what is wrong with me?

Wait, don’t answer that.

Well, not yet.

Last week, I did something incredibly stupid- signed up for my third (full) marathon. I think if there was a race every month of the year in Raleigh, I’d sign up for more races, coasting on the “convenience” factor (and probably skimping on the training more often).

So, here I am.

Signed up for my second marathon (Richmond) in November, and the Rock and Roll Raleigh in April (2014).

On a slightly related note, there has been a lot of controversy about the Rock and Roll coming to Raleigh. Here are my scrambled thoughts.
First, I have done two Rock and Roll half marathons (my first- Vegas), and Nashville last year. I have also done a tiny (300 person) half marathon. I would prefer the middle ground- 1,000-5,000 person race. The 20,000+ person races are intimidating and crowded (regardless of how well they corral people). I will agree with that point. However, they put on a good show (including a good course, tons of food and energy gels/drinks and crowd support); this helps give me energy to last longer.
The main thing people keep saying is “race local”… We have two local full marathons in the Raleigh area (and several half marathons). I did one of these local races (a half), and hated it- I had to bring my own energy gels (which I was not told in advance, I realized at mile 8, when I hadn’t seen anything yet), there were maybe 4 water stations (I drink a lot over the course of 13 miles in MAY in Raleigh), there was next to no crowd support, and by the time I finished, there was no food. Like, no food. Or juice. Just water. Also, i finished in 2:29, not so ridiculously slow that i should miss out on those post-race goodies. Anyway, my point is- sometimes Walmart/Target has more options than the local country store, making it worth it to shop ‘non local’. It also makes me laugh that some of the people who are strongly anti-RnR are the same people who go to starbucks every day. Your coffee choice impacts your local economy much more than which race runners do. A little math lesson– $4/day for a week is $20/week, which is $80/month, or $1000/year. That affects the local economy on a much more significant scale than a few runners paying $60-120 once per year. Just sayin’! If you are going to make that argument, stand behind it with all your spending habits 🙂

The honest truth is I trained for City of Oaks in 2011, and got injured. Last year, I decided to train for Richmond, which is the following weekend. I then signed up for Richmond again this year. Maybe in 2014, I’ll run City of Oaks (which, by the way, is a great local race of about 5,000 runners in the full, I think, with great crowd support most if the way, including me at mile 25). I have wanted to pay tribute to my hometown (and current city) as well, with a good course, and RnR tends to do a good scenic course. And it was only $65, which for a marathon, is super cheap. So, I signed up.

And now I am left thinking When did I become a marathoner? Sure, one marathon is one thing, but THREE? And immediately following that (and a “calm the f*** down” beer), I decided this will be my last marathon… famous last words, right?

So, here goes nothing. Here’s to hoping next winter will be friendlier than this winter. My 15 miler in the snow was horrible, and I can’t imagine a 20-miler in those conditions (Andrea rocked a 27-miler that day, due to bad GPS signaling… go get ’em girl!).

Basically, here’s to early mornings from July to April; drinking water as if I’m storing it like a camel; here’s to foam rolling and yoga (both necessary); here’s to felling tired and hungry all the time. But mainly, to the feeling of accomplishment, to the joyful years at the finish line, the sense of comrade in training and in race day! To all of it! I raise my coffee mug (It’s 8am, I’m not drinking a beer before work silly!)
Raise your glasses (or mugs, or just Nuun pint glasses) with me for whatever goals you have coming. And in advance, for all the hard work you’re going to put in!

best kinds of relays

When we first signed up for the Palmetto200, I felt the anticipation of competition. It wasn’t until today that I felt it again, upon hearing that our frenemies (best way to describe them based on the driving competition) on another team would be starting 30 minutes ahead of us, and were wondering when we would finish.

So the best kinds of relays (I’ve decided) are when you know another team. Bonus points is there is some underlying beef between you. For instance, apparently Jarod (on my Tuna team) and Casey (on the Big Katunas) do not like each other, on principle, and were smack-talking on the sidelines.

They stole Dave.

‘Nuf said.

They are going down. Oh, sweetie, the smack talk has just begun!
(There is a sassy black woman inside of me. High five, bro. Cards Against Humanity flashback)

Okay, no really, it will be fun. And we will play back and forth. And I think there is enough varied speed in our runners that we will probably ping pong a good bit.

But, it does feel satisfying to know their start time is before ours (because they’re a little slower than us).

Again, I repeat: They stole Dave

[Dave is Dan’s best friend, who got confused and ended up on the wrong team… We found great replacements, and I am truly happy with our van’s end result, but they stole Dave! hahaha]

Let the games… BEGIN!

Captaining a relay team

I think relay races are tons of fun. They are like a combined destination wedding of best friends and a race weekend. In that, you get to hang out with some people who are truly awesome, run several mini-races, and travel to somewhere you maybe never thought you’d ever want to go (usually on the way to somewhere you do want to be).

For this relay team, I was chosen as captain. Or was defaulted to captain. Which became slightly awkward when I started dating one of my teammates. Trust me, he’s getting no preferential treatment; he has one of the worst leg set-ups, in my opinion.

So things to know-
1. Speed does not matter as much as personalities. Personalities have to mesh well, as there will be times when, for instance, you ask for a banana at 5am, and demand someone search for a freaking banana because I know I grabbed two bunches, and unless you turned into a freaking monkey back there, there are more bananas. Most people wouldn’t mesh well with me.
2. People like leadership. People like to get some direction. So you should email them daily with tasks. Oh, and these emails need to be extraordinarily long, and not get to the point until the last couple lines. Bonus points if you forget to attach a document you reference.
3. Organization is key. You must enjoy (or just be good at) organizing to keep track of everything. You want to have a list of who has paid you (& how much/ what for- hotel, van, registration). Personally, I used google docs, and had an excel sheet. This came in really handy when I would randomly run into a team member, and they would hand me $100 cash at a bar. I could simply open my google drive on my iPhone and add $100 to the “paid” column for that particular person. On another note- having either disposable savings account or a high credit card limit helps too (At one point, everyone on the team owed me about $1500 for the registration [$1100], plus van rental [$350? I have it saved somewhere how much that was…]). Either way, without an organization system, I would have gone crazy. It was stressful at times as it was.
4. Remember these are adults. Although you can make suggestions about what or how they should pack, they are grown-ups, and if they forget necessities like underwear, they can deal with consequences (commando). You will want to email 1000 times between signing up and race day, and probably kick your best friends when they do not respond with a simple “4pm sounds good” or when one person of the six people in your van respond “430 works better” and the other four are mute.
5. Create a packing list the week-of. This will help you visualize what is left. You clearly don’t need to buy a box of trash bags. Likely, everyone has a trash can at home, and have a few bags lying around. If everyone brings two bags, you should be covered. As captain, you get veto power as the van begins to fill up.
6. You will need access to a printer. Handbook, course map, race worksheet, etc. Although you could lug around a lap top; it’s much easier to just print it all off.
7. There will likely be the following types of people-
The vet. He has done 5 relays, but refuses to say much when you ask him for a breakdown of what to expect in front of the group. He will likely be one of the “non-responders” to emails. The good thing is you can give him whatever leg, and he will run it 🙂
The newbie. This person may be new to running, in general. This person is most likely to get injured while training, so it’s best to calm their nerves. They are anxious to be a part of the team, so they will tell you their injury is nothing; until after their first leg, then struggle through the second leg; and finally someone will have to pick up their final leg. (You always hope to be wrong thinking you will have to pick up their leg, but you may).
The disappearing act. This person is the last person to pay for everything (even though he may have been the first person signed up), he will not respond to emails, texts, or facebook notifications. You will wonder if he is still planning on showing up when you told him to. But, he will likely show up, and kick butt on some of the longer/harder legs. And he is usually someone you want on your team again.
The pack-rat. This person plans everything. They are one of the first people to sign up, and ask you thousands of questions about when/where/etc. They will likely bring enough food to feed an army, and enough toilet paper and wet wipes for an oversized newborn. You will likely have to reign this person in some with their packing strategy. If someone mentions a bringing a tent, hammock, or yoga mat, this is your pack-rat. You will tell them you are all bringing X, Y, and Z; but they will bring their own box of food, two rolls of toilet paper, a large duffle bag, enough wet wipes for the octo-mom, several foam rollers/ massage sticks, an extra first aid kit, an extra relay handbook, several car chargers, and possibly their best friend. Basically, bear with this person- they are just excited to relay. And you can usually talk them out of bringing one of these options, but likely not all, without major drama.
All of these people are essential to a relay team. You will need the vet to pick up an extra leg when the n00b develops a stress fracture. The disappearing act will generally be doing something for the van, or just occupying less space in the vehicle. Likely, the pack rat will pack something that you need- like a 12-pack of beer in her third pair of shoes.

But, most importantly, remember to enjoy the race; even though you are captaining the vessel. Also, people should get the free drinks for the captain at the end- they deserve it. And hey, they’re free! 🙂

And the winner is….

Note: This was a fun horrible race experience. It was 35-38 degrees outside and pouring down rain the entire race. All 24+ minutes of it sucked. Just sucked.

You can see that all over my face. I don’t think I really need to say anything else-

SecondEmpire5K

Is there a place where I can enter my race photos for “worst ever?”

SecondEmpire3

I feel like some people would be interested. I am not, in fact, this ugly in person.

SecondEmpirecloseup

Dan’s weren’t good either. And everyone just looks sad and defeated in their pictures… No matter their speed.

Happy Wednesday… Just think- you could be running in this… I will definitely be bookmarking these for a day when I feel like I need a good laugh 🙂

Thanks, Carolina Snapshot. You made it fun(ny).

the results (& soreness) are in!

The results from my 5K were officially posted today- 24:24 (7:52 average pace).

Not too bad, #4 in my age/gender. The “winner” of my age group was 21 or something. That will not be happening any time soon (if ever).

So how do I feel today? Honestly better than Monday. I was so sore yesterday and just couldn’t wait to get home and make sweet romance with my foam roller 😉

Mentally, I was exhausted Monday. I think that’s more March Madness hangover.

I completed my goal of a sub-25 5K, but based on other runs, I didn’t feel like it was the best, and I want faster. I mean, who doesn’t want faster right? But I feel capable of a faster race given better weather. I think the cold rain affected everyone. I think I am capable of shaving 30 seconds off that time for a sub-24, not that I’m not proud of my 24:24! I’m so proud of it, but I’m also capable if a little faster so I want to try that 🙂

Cheers! And happy running!

my 5K PR during a tournament of underdogs

aka ‘I hope San Diego State beats you too

So today’s 5K sucked. It was really hard. Dan and I joked about not even going.

We started off the day a little later than usual, and headed to Cirque de Vol’s Align and Shine yoga. Which was an amazing start to the day. But it just kept getting colder and colder, and the rain started falling around 1pm (and kept falling harder). We started with a ~mile jog to the start. Then desperately tried to stay warm and dry not soaking wet until the start of the race at 2pm. I was looking Dan under the tiny packet pick-up tent (which had about 100 people under it). Suddenly, the wind picked up and dumped a gallon of water on my right shoulder. I quickly huddled under the tent next to some guys who were rocking Florida Gulf Coast University shirts (This made me happy- as FGCU was a strong underdog and took out Georgetown, officially killing my slightly red NCAA bracket). I made conversation with them until I saw Dan. He found an empty awning by the start, and we made our way there.

A woman came up to me and said “We look like purple condoms. Big, purple condoms.” I replied “You can stand under here with us” 🙂

Finally, at 1:55pm, people started heading toward the start line. I had satellites on my watch (which excited me). I left Dan with a pat on the butt (he was trying to break 20-minutes, which put him much closer to the start than I cared to be). I made my way to the middle of the pack. The weather was 38 degrees, and pouring down rain. We were all soaked to the core, just by standing out there for about 5 minutes.

At 1:59pm, Paul (Dan’s friend), and other various legit runners stripped off their sweats and jumped to the start line. And we were off at 2pm!

The anxiety and nerves rushed me. I felt strong for the first couple minutes, weaving through some of the people. Then, started to question my pace. [Given the weather conditions, it was impossible to check my garmin constantly). The thought occurred to me that I was going at an all-out pace, so I dropped back a little. Then, started focusing on a person-by-person target (in lieu of a “pace”). I kept picking people up, slowly. I overheard a guy saying we were going a 7:42. Since we were only about a 1/2 mile in, that made me slow back a bit…

We hit the “1 mile” mark, and the time-keeper yelled “8:42″… I was so disappointed. (btw, he was not at the one mile- see splits below). I sped up as much as I could hold. Then the cramping started. Damnit! I thought. I wasn’t even running that fast. I decided to just try and hold that pace. And we got past the “halfway” sign, and I pushed a little extra. I was struggling to breathe. And it felt like my legs were frozen.

Two miles. Finally! And my watch dinged “7:59” for that mile. Okay, mile-by-mile doesn’t matter anymore… I switched my view to overall time (as opposed to pace time) and distance. Time to kick it in. I tried to pick up the motivation, but it was just so freaking cold. And wet. I kept pushing.

I saw this older guy (probably 60?). I just had to pass him. I kept telling myself I could do it. We volleyed back and forth as to who was leading. Then, I saw my “nemesis” (this girl who was likely in my age group, and looked too pretty for an ugly day 5K)… I wanted to beat her, just for the principle of it. And I could see she was slowing down.

Finally, getting up the last little hill, and a downhill stretch for less than 0.5 miles to bring it in. I had to get in front of the old man! Finally, with about 0.25 miles left, I conceded. “You’re…. doing… awe-some!” I said to him in between breathes, and decided we’d finish together. Final stretch and I could see 24xx. I heard Dan yelled my name, and “24:15!” Looked up, saw 24:19, and flew past the finish. I’m still not sure what my final time was (not yet posted), but my garmin said 24:27, but I ran an extra bit to get out of the finish shoot before stopping my watch.

SPLITS:

Second Empire 5K Splits

After running through the final shoot, I hunched over, and glanced around, giving the old guy a high five “Nice job!” He agreed, then I saw the FGCU guys come through the shoot. Immediately my mind went to tonight’s game (which I am currently watching)

I hope San Diego State beats you too.

There is a sassy black woman inside of me. They were actually pretty nice about it, and wished San Diego luck as well.

(I went there for grad school, and, personally, they’re underdogs too. Hopefully my cockiness doesn’t push them out of the Sweet 16 advancement…)

Prep week for a sub-25 5K

Like a Boss.

In preparing for this weekend’s 5K, I can’t help but think back to my first 5K, my very first race. It was in November (’08), in San Diego, so it was warm and sunny. My ex-boyfriend (we broke up a few weeks before the race) signed up with me to encourage me to finish the race.

I didn’t know anything about running. I went to the Road Runner Sports in San Diego because a friend completed a training program with them and it came highly recommended. I don’t remember a lot, but if you’ve been to that store, you can understand- its huge and overwhelming. I do remember the sales associate asked how many miles per week I ran, and I laughed out loud. ‘Ummmm 5? Maybe. If its a good week

So there I am, at my first race. I didn’t have any race day rituals. Basically just parked and walked over to start. I even wore all cotton (gasp!)

I just wanted to finish in a better than 10-minute pace. I stopped to walk at the turn around. I finished in 30:30, and was so upset because I was slower than a 10-minute pace (it was actually slightly faster than a 10:00). That actually makes me laugh, your time on your first race doesn’t matter. I didn’t realize there was an extra 0.1 mile (I probably walked it, thinking I had passed the finish line when I saw the 3-mile marker). But at the time, I thought 30+ minutes was horrible (maybe the ex being an easy sub-18-minute 5Ker had something to do with it…).

So how do you train for a sub-25 5K?

The way I’ve been “training” (let’s admit I’m using that term loosely) is as follows-

I run about 20-35 miles/week (across 3-5 runs). One long/slow run (usually Sat AM), 1-2 fast pace (track workout/ tempo/ hilly/ intervals/ whatever; “fast” pace is a 8:30 or better for me), 1-2 super easy shorter run.

Rather than training for a certain distance, I have been keeping a steady base, and I noticed I was getting stronger again, and faster. Holding a 8:15 seems hard, but do-able (a year ago, that would have been an all-out mile for me). But something made me think- I need a legitimate 5-K speed (and 10-K for that matter… maybe in May). And I thought about it- and I feel holding 8’s would be hard, but do-able. And in all honesty, I could probably run faster than a 25-minute pace… but I’ll get back to you about that on Monday (after my 5K).

So my game plan for Sunday is to: Warm-up by jogging to the start line from Dan’s (about a mile). By the way, this will be my first time ever warming up before a race. I generally just scrap the first mile or so of the race as a warm-up. Other new things-

I plan to line up near the front.

Say what?!

I know. I know. Crazy! But I don’t want to spend the first mile elbowing past the first-timers (me, circa 2008). I glanced at the finishing times for last year, and 24:45 was the #25 female, of about 600 racers, #120 overall. So, don’t get me wrong… I don’t plan to be front row, ready to trip Paul (Dan’s friend who freaking wins 5K’s all the time- with 15-16 minute times), but I do plan to be near the front, so it is easier for me. Dan is planning to run even faster. He might be second-row.

And it looks like weather is going to be gross- 40 degrees and raining. Wish me luck! I will definitely need it! Sunday at 2pm.

now, shameless NCAA tournament plug- Go NC State!… And San Diego State! (my grad school-alma mater)

[Yes, I will be carb-loading with cupcakes today and tomorrow… What? Who says it has to be a long race to stuff your face 😉 ]