Thursday, April 3, 2014

Georgia Marathon 2014 - "Race" Review

Well, my streak of injuries and sickness has been with me since September of last year. I just can't break it. A few weeks before the marathon, I felt something in the front of my leg, a bit above my ankle. I ran a few times and the pain worsened. I decided to take 11 days off before the marathon so hopefully I would be able to at least line up and then get to the finish.

*Wow, all of my recent posts sound the same. Get injured/sick, run a marathon. Clearly I am not doing something right.*

Spoiler alert, it was a stress fracture. I am speculating it was due to ramping up my mileage from 10 to 13 to 20 in 3 weeks after my comeback from my achilles injury (which is perfect now btw).

Flight down went smooth. I tried to make an origami bird. It didn't go well. There may be reasons for that.

My buddy, Jim, from Minnesota picked me up and we went to his house (he recently moved back but still has a house in ATL). I got a nice rest and we woke up and went straight to the expo.

Turner Field

so excited. Rocking some sweet facial hair.

Joe Fejes... professional ultra runner

We also checked out Sweetwater brewery for a few samples.

 And a few pics of the city on the way home.

Wake up tired as all can be and we head to the starting area. Had to get rid of that ridiculous facial hair first.

serious. yes, I planned for my shorts to match the ferris wheel

Well, we got to the corral with 5 minutes to spare. Must be a new record for me. Gun went off and the hills started. And they NEVER stopped. The entire course was hills. Holy crap. Look at this elevation chart.

My gosh. Who would want to ever do something like this? I suppose there is a reason they draw less than 2000 marathoners.

Well, the first 20 miles of hills went well. I was definitely getting tired, but feeling good. It wasn't until mile 20 when I first felt the pain and I knew I was done. I was happy to have gotten 20 miles in, but very disappointed that I knew I had a serious injury. And so the 6.2 mile journey begins. Here are a few photos of me enjoying my walk as much as possible.

Haha! What a good time! Having a few brews and walking 6 miles couldn't possibly be more exciting, right?

Found Jim right away and he crushed it! We were together until mile 19 which was really fun!
Got there
Food bag

Sweet bling... worth it?

Post race beverage. Or post beverage beverage?

One more
And off to Florida we go! Spring break 2014!

 I could write about spring break, but no one wants to hear about me sitting on the beach in the sun for 3 days.


Sweet bling
Fans - scarce but very encouraging when they were there
Fans - providing me with beer and mimosas
Aid stations - so many food stations! Awesome! I like food!
Scenic course
Course marshals were great

Hilly course. So. Many. Hills. Seriously. Why?
Non-finisher shirt. Shirt wasn't even race specific. Boooo-urns!
Getting injured. That really sucked.
More hills.
No massages at finish :(

Overall, I am glad to check Georgia of my 50 state checklist. Feel accomplished making it to the finish line.

As for right now, I am taking time off to heal my injury. I am cycling now, which should help me keep my cardio and fitness level where it's at or close. I'll update later on that. Pics of my bike are sure to come!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hypothermic Half Marathon 2014 - Eden Prairie, MN - Race Recap

I know this is long overdue, but I have been busy as always. Also, there is a lack of pictures here because it was near 0 degrees with a windchill around -10 degrees and my phone would have shut down immediately if I tried to use it.

So I had about 2 weeks to get ready for this event since I took over a month off due to my Achilles injury. I did 10 miles the week before this and I had just planned on using this as a long run. Well, that never really happens when I line up for a race. Before I get to that, a little about the course setup.

We had gotten a huge blast of snow a few days before the race. Luckily, most of the course was cleared from plows, but they had to adjust the course a little bit. Oh, and they decided to include a huge hill that we got to run twice! Yay! The course was completely covered in snow. Not any visible tar at all. This made it much more difficult. The race was ran in Eden Prairie around Staring Lake.

The race was a double loop. See the area where the course goes off the trail on the Southwest corner of Staring Lake? This was the hill due to the trail not being plowed and a detour was necessary. Also, the area on the East side of Staring was like snow-shoeing through the great north. This section was brutal. Not plowed and just running through other peoples tracks. Other than that, the course was awesome. It was very scenic with the fresh snow. Just beautiful all around.

Back to the race. So the start was in a parking lot and I lined up about 3-5 minutes before the start. It was cold and I wanted to sit in my car as long as possible. There was about 100 runners and I didn't know how I would do given I hadn't ran much lately. After a bunch of long winded announcements, they finally let us start running and I took off way to fast of course. Within the first mile, it was one very fast guy, another runner that was running at my pace, and me. I knew the 2nd runner was going to beat me the entire time as I didn't have it in me to race this thing, but I was hoping I could hold on for a 3rd place finish. I stuck with him the entire race, maybe about 10-15 seconds behind him and held onto a third. There was no one near us, so I don't know what happened. I ran a 1:35 and change which I was happy with given my training and the conditions of the course.

After the race, we got a ticket for a free brunch at the Green Mill... talk about the best post race food ever! The Green Mill had everything! Pizza, sausage, eggs, waffles, pancakes, bacon, fruit, veggies, and way too much dessert! Really awesome idea!

A few reasons why I recommend this race:

1. Cost... $45
2. Gear... Gloves and a hat compared to another shirt that you already have tons of
3. Course... awesome, scenic course
4. Post-race brunch... so much food!
5. Organization... well ran event by the crew at Running Room

The only thing I was bummed about is not getting some kind of award for placing in the top 3. Every other race I have been in has given out something for each age group, let alone top 3 finishers. Kind of disappointing when one of the race directors say they will contact you soon about it and never do. Oh well.
Gear for the race!

Finisher's Medal

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Houston Marathon 2014 - Recap

I was ready for this one. I really was. I trained hard. I put in my miles and I did my speed-work. It wasn't easy in MN this winter, but I wanted to do well in Houston. Houston is one of my favorite courses and I have done well there in the past. I wanted a BQ more than ever and I knew this was my best chance this year. Then shit happened.

2 weeks before the marathon, I injured my achilles and had to take a lot of days off. I didn't run much the last two weeks of my training. Great. 

1 week before the marathon, I got the flu. Awesome.

2 days before the marathon, I got a sore throat and a massive amount of congestion. Seems about right.

This is definitely what I want before a marathon

This just wasn't meant to be my race, I guess. My body was using all of it's energy fighting off sicknesses and I knew the marathon would be a struggle if I even lined up.

My goal: Go for it, but know that I could damn well crash early. I knew my body could run out of energy and then I'd just have to try and take it easy.

The Race:

My sister and I arrived at the convention center about an hour before the race started. She was running her 2nd half marathon! We checked our bag and all that jazz and walked out to the corrals. As I was walking towards corral A, people were saying they closed the gate already. I wasn't havin' that. I jumped an 8 foot fence and was in corral A. I wiggled my way to the start with a few minutes to spare. I really need to get better at getting to my corral earlier.

The gun went off and I was ready for what could be a very long day. I had high hopes, but knew anything could happen. I ran the first 9 or so miles and they felt great. I was feeling confident and I was on pace. I thought today might be the day. The weather was perfect and I was holding myself back when I saw my pace drop to 6:40. My legs wanted to fly but I was holding out until the half point. I wanted to take it easy and then pick it up.
Mile 4ish 

At mile 10 something changed, I was having a hard time keeping my pace. All of a sudden I had to work very hard to even run 7:15/7:30. I knew I was done. I had 16 miles to go and I knew it would be a journey. It was nice out at least.

Here were my splits

Avg Pace

After mile 10, I started walking every once in a while. I wasn't going to push it since there was no chance of PRing. I tried to enjoy myself the most I could and keep a smile on my face. I could have just dropped out, but I really wanted my shirt, medal, and mug. Oh, the incentives.

Notable highlights:

Mile 15... getting to be 'paced' by my brother-in-law.
Mile 21: Michelob Ultra Party Zone... yes I stopped for beer
Mile 23: Karbach Brewing Tent... I may or may not have had an IPA
Mile 26.2: Finishing 16 of the longest miles of my life
Everywhere: All the fans and volunteers commenting on my shorts. Literally got 100+ comments on them. It was awesome.

My sister got a new PR!
Finisher Shirt
Participant Shirt
Houston Marathon 2014 Finishers Medal

Houston Marathon 2014 Finishers Mug
So there you have it. I got sick and injured, crashed and burned, and finished a marathon. It was my slowest marathon ever. Am I proud of my time? Not necessarily. Am I proud I didn't give up? More than ever. I am glad that Meb Keflezighi spoke at the expo on Friday. He was very inspiring and I thought of his 2012 Olympic experience that he shared with us when I was thinking of dropping out. If it wasn't for hearing his story, there is a good chance I wouldn't have finished.

Meb Keflezighi speaking at the expo
Meeting Meb!

Bib signed by Meb
I really enjoy the Houston Marathon. They put on such a good event and I will probably end up running it again in the near future. The expo is one of the only expos I actually enjoy going to. The course is great. The spectators are great. The post race food is great. It was all around a great event.

A few pictures and things I did while in Houston:

yeah, this was tasty
Pre-race icing
One of the best signs I have seen at a marathon
I earned this thing

So, what's on the agenda now? I am gonna try and heal my body and achilles. I am still sick so I am trying to get a lot of rest. It is extremely cold in MN, so I am not itching to get outside anyway. I think I am going to hold off on the BQ dream until Chicago this fall. I need to focus on getting healthy and getting back into a solid training schedule. I am going to pace a few races coming up and I am running the Georgia Marathon, but that will  be strictly for fun and used as a training run. I am still debating on Grandmas yet. I want to run it and if I do, I will have fun with that one as well. Grandmas is just too much fun to miss out on.