Saturday, December 6, 2014

I didn't hate it - Fit for Agriculture Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Ah yes, the Fit for Agriculture Half Marathon again.  I did this race last year (and a few years before that) so I expected it to be a torture-fest due to the mind-numbingly boring course.  While the course itself wasn't any different this year, I had someone to keep me company for 90% of the race, so the miles seemed to just fly by.  I arrived pretty early to the race and sat in my car listening to tunes until about 15 minutes before the start.  It was a pretty juicy morning.  Look at this weather!  I saw many people wearing long sleeves and beanies.  Pretty sure there was ZERO chance that your ears or head were going to get too cold.

It's so juicy!  Definitely ear muffs, gloves, and long sleeves weather.

We started about 3 minutes late.   Goal was to try to do better than last year (it was similar weather last year, so I felt this was a good goal).  Of course, this wouldn't be a half marathon without me going out way too fast!  The first three miles were somewhere around 9:00/mile.  EW caught up with me somewhere in these first few miles and we ended up running the rest of the race together.  After mile 3, we settled into a nice 9:30 pace and kept it there for pretty much the rest of the race.  Well, we won't talk about miles 10 and 11.  We crossed the finish just a bit past 2:05, a whole minute and a half faster than last year.  Haha.  Pretty sure that counts as just doing it in the same amount of time both years.  

Medals this year were actually bigger than a quarter.

So that's how the Fit for Ag Half Marathon went this year.  And so concludes my 2014 race year with a total of 28 races (2 ultra marathons, 16 marathons, 8 half marathons, 1 12k, and 1 8k).  Not too shabby.  I also picked up 12 new states in my goal to run a marathon in all the states.  In other blogging news (because you know, I'm a special snowflake and need to make blogging announcements, like anyone really cares) I think that for 2015 I'm going to make this a private blog (and the crowd shrieks in horror - at least that's what I like to imagine is happening).  For anyone that knows me in real life, I'm generally not a very nice person and I cuss like a sailor.  Well, I'd like to do all of that more on my blog, but I don't want it to be public.  So there you go.  If you like what I write and wouldn't mind reading a lot few more swear words, I may consider giving some people access to the blog via a password (or whatever you do when you make your blog private).  Of course this is all just a thought right now.  If a mass protest erupts, I may consider otherwise.

2015 will be an exciting year, but not sure if anything can top 2014!  It's been a crazy year for me in the running world.  Next year I'll be in Arizona, Kansas, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, New Hampshire, and either South Carolina or Nevada.  A possible Washington race may be thrown in there if I end up going to conference out there in June. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

So what's all this running around cost???

I thought it would be interesting (and possibly frightening) to keep track of all my race-related expenses for 2014.  Let's look at what I did in 2014:

**28 races** 

2 ultra marathons 
16 marathons 
8 half marathons 
1 12k 
1 8k

**12 new marathon states** 

AL, NM, CA, NC, IL, KY, WY, CO, NE, ME, IN, and FL

 **3 new half marathon states**

CA, TX, and WV

**9 "completed" states (both marathon and half marathon are done)** 

AL, CA, NC, KY, CO, TX, IN, WV, and FL

So I pretty much got some shit done this year!!!!!!  So what did all this cost...............

Gray shading = N/A (a local race or something like that); if it says "0", it was a cost, but MY cost was "0"!!

**I didn't include food because that's so variable (one person may do the dollar menu and another may want to do fine dining for every meal.**

Stop calling it Gatorade!! - Pensacola Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Florida was probably the last remaining marathon state that I had that was still within driving distance (depending on where in Florida).  The state of Florida doesn't excite me too much, probably because I've been there multiple times and it's not hard for me go back.  The Pensacola Marathon was not my first choice for Florida, but it was convenient and it fit my schedule.  So after recruiting my friend HWW4 to go with me, a road trip was born.

The obligatory selfie with the "Welcome to........." sign

This race started pretty early - 6:30AM - so we left our hotel fairly early to be sure we got good parking.  It was a cool morning but nothing like the weekend before in IN and WV (duh - we were in Florida).  It was cool, but still very humid.  HWW4 and I met up with fellow Mississippi Maniac EW.  

Mississippi Maniacs

The number one goal for this race was to get HWW4 his first sub-5 marathon, so we started out with the 5:00 pace group.  We quickly decided that this was a bit too slow for us and gradually caught up with the 4:45 pacer.  We stayed either with or slightly behind him for pretty much all of the rest of the race.    This race is not what I would call scenic at all.  There is a water view or two in the first few miles, but other than that you are in neighborhoods, running along an airport road, etc.

Water in the early miles.

So, in my expert opinion, this was a boring course.  It was also flat (save for a short hill around mile 17), which added to the boring-ness.  The aid stations were plentiful and well stocked with water and some had gels.  I'll have to go ahead and complain here that they kept offering "sports drink" and "Gatorade", but to my knowledge (according to their Facebook page), they were offering no such thing.  I'm fairly sure it was NUUN (again, according to their Facebook page) which is NOT a sports drink.  It's an electrolyte replacement drink with NO CALORIES.  I kept telling the volunteers to stop calling it Gatorade because that was very misleading!!  Ok, rant over!

My right lower back and into my hip had been hurting almost the entire race, but not enough for me to stop running.  Around mile 18, HWW4 and EW ran off ahead of me and I slowed my pace substantially.  Leg was really starting to hurt, especially into the adductors.  Every time I would stop for some water and then try to run again it would hurt like a son-of-a.  The pain would subside after a few minutes.  I hobbled on that way all the way to the finish, crossing the finish line in like 4:46 - not too terrible.  HWW4 ended up crushing his goal of sub-5 with a 4:42 - a 24 minute PR!!!!!  I was super excited for him!

Done with our Florida marathon!

The medals are actually really nice!!  I love the color combo!!  My hip/leg was hurting something fierce!  It was a struggle to get to the car.  I limped around almost the entire rest of the day and into the night.  Ouchie!  Seems to be all better now though.  

So here are the cost deets:
  • Race registration = $0 (this was a birthday gift from my hubby)
  • We stayed at the MainStay Suites in Pensacola (a few miles up the road from the start/finish) and that was $125.  There is plenty of parking at the start so any hotel in the area would be fine.  I ended up paying for the hotel and HWW4 drove and paid for gas.  That worked out nicely.
  • So a total bill of $125 (not including food).  Not bad.
This was my last marathon of the year.  I have a few local races planned to keep me busy until next year.  For 2015, I won't be running quite as many races as I did this year.  I plan to hit up AZ, KS, UT, ID, OR, NH, and NV as new states and then fill in my schedule with all the local marathons. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stationary bike redemption - Marshall University Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

I don't particularly like to do the same race for my half marathon and marathon in each state.  If I revisit a state, I like to see a new part of it!  But for West Virginia it just made sense to do the Marshall University Half Marathon even though I did the marathon back in 2012.  My friends that I went to Indy with were all doing the Marshall University Marathon, but I didn't want to repeat a marathon, so I signed up for the half.  The drive to Huntington from Indy was loooooong.  And I had somehow chaffed my butt all up during the IMM so sitting for almost 5 hours was a bit uncomfortable!  Since I'm an expert of this race, I directed everyone to the start area on race morning.  It was still cold, but not as windy as the day before.  The race started on time and we were running through the streets of Huntington.  

A much fancier start line this year.

If you are interested in this race, you should read my recap of the 2012 Marshall University Marathon.  I think I took more pics then.  This race pretty much starts at the football stadium and then the first 3 miles wind through some neighborhoods.  Around mile 3, the course passes by the stadium again and then runs through campus on a main street.

We then continued to run towards the waterfront and then along an uninteresting industrial part of town.  

Ohio River
A quick selfie!

The next few miles are through a park and are probably my favorite of the course.  I felt like the course was much prettier this time.  The leaves will still on the trees and not on the ground like in 2012.  

I don't remember it being quite so colorful a few years ago.

After the park, we made our way back to the riverfront and then onto the start/finish.  This is a double loop course, so half marathoners (ME!!!) were done while marathoners go on to do the loop again.  Sadly, the half marathoners don't get to run through campus at the end of their loop.  

Another pass along with the river front (marathoners will pass this same stretch of river 4 times).

This year I was on the lookout for that damn football to carry over the finish line (I somehow missed it back in 2012).  As for how my race went, this wasn't my finest performance.  I walked A LOT and just generally didn't care.  I barely came in under 2:30 and collected my quarter-sized medal (seriously small). 

GK cut off the medal, but don't worry, you're not missing much!

My favorite thing about slummin' it with the half marathoners is that I have time to get a shower after the race!!!!  GK took me back to the hotel to shower and then we came back to the stadium to pick up our overachieving marathon friends.  We then had to show GK the course and, in particular, my absolute favorite part - the stationary bike in the park!!!  One of the greatest regrets of my life (yes, I have a sad life, or maybe a great life since these are the types of things I regret) is not getting on that bike during the marathon in 2012.  I also didn't get on it during the half because there was no around that looked like they wanted to take my picture (they all looked like they were being serious about the race).  So I had to get on that bike no matter what!

Do people really use this???  The pedals had absolutely ZERO resistance!

We also took GK by the fountain on the MU campus and the fountain in the park.  

Group selfie!
Love all the people I have met through running!

Cost breakdown for the race (and the weekend):
  • Race registration was $87 - I registered pretty late for this so I suspect earlier registration is much cheaper.
  • We stayed at the Super 8 Huntington.  I had a room share so my part of the room was $40.  This is a fine hotel to stay at since there is plenty of parking at the start/finish of the race.  
  • I already discussed flight/car prices on my IMM recap post (flight = $0; car/gas = $50 for the entire weekend).
  • After the race, we made our way back to Indy (we were all flying out of Indy Monday morning).  So Sunday night we stayed at the Fairfield Inn Indianapolis South.  I also had a room share for this and my part was $33.  
  • So for the entire weekend (2 races, flight, car/gas, and 3 nights in hotels) I spent about $500 (would have been much less if I hadn't gotten my own hotel room Friday night before IMM).  
So with the MU Half Marathon done, that brings my half marathon total to 35 and I'm not sure how many states for halfs (maybe 21 or 22??? Too lazy to go and count).  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stop yelling at me! - Indianapolis Monumental Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (dubbed IMM from now on) was definitely NOT my race of choice for Indiana.  It's too big and I generally do not like city/urban marathons.  Even after running IMM, I still stand by these statements.  I was essentially bullied into doing IMM!  After all the fun that was the WY/CO double weekend over Labor Day, my marathon buddies KG and GK pretty much harassed me about doing this race (along with Marshall in the same weekend) until I caved!  I'm so weak!  I arrived in Indy very late (nearly midnight the night before the race) and then took a taxi to the wrong hotel!  After finding the correct hotel I finally fell asleep at almost 1 AM.  Not boding well for a good race the next day.  It was effin' cold in Indy!  Wind chills in the 20's!  I bundled up like an Eskimo and we made our way down to the hotel lobby where we stood until about 10 minutes before the race was set to start.

Me no like big races!

I went into this race with the intentions of giving it everything I had and hoped to finish around 4:20, not a PR, but a decent time for me right now.  IMM is FLAT and the weather is generally perfect for fast times.  Since I did run this a bit faster than usual, I was pretty slack on the picture taking, but honestly there wasn't much to take a picture of.  The first few miles wound through downtown Indy.  

Some monument.
More monument'y looking buildings

This is a very large race - about 5000 marathoners and 8000 half marathoners.  It was congested until the marathon split around mile 7.  The course winds through parks and residential neighborhoods and along some busy streets - a pretty typical urban marathon course.  Spectator support is good if that sort of thing motivates you.  I do not like it when people yell at me when I'm running.  I just want to yell back at them!  Aid stations were nicely done and seemed to be well stocked (water, sports drink, some had gels/other food).  My shirt was getting a lot of attention.  I heard "here comes a skeleton", "X-ray girl", and "I can see your bones" too many times to count.

Residential neighborhood

The cold temps were making my "fast" pace feel effortless.  I hit the half way point in 2:07:23, which was on pace for a very small PR (assuming I could keep that same pace for the second half). I figured that I'd probably be good at this pace until about mile 20As I said earlier this is a FLAT course.  There are a few "inclines" but nothing that I would call a hill.  Just as expected, around mile 20-21, my legs started to rebel from all the repetitive motion (flat for that long kills my legs) and I slowed down a bit in the last 10k.  I saw 4:20 slip away and adjusted my goal to under 4:25. 

For some reason I felt like I needed to stick my tongue out in every race photo.

Somewhere in the last mile, one of my travel buddies KW caught up with me and looked like she hadn't even been running for 25 miles!  I tried with all my might to keep up with her for that last mile but my legs wouldn't allow that for very long!

See the pain on my face.

I crossed the finish line in 4:23:14 which is a stellar finish time for me right now.  And with that, state #23 (IN) was done.  I grabbed my medal and caught up with KW.  We hauled our booties back to the hotel so that we could grab a shower before heading to Huntington, WV, for the following day's Marshall University Marathon (or half marathon for me).

I can see your bones!

This is your typical big city/urban marathon.  If that's your thing, then this is the race for you.  If you prefer small, quiet, scenic races, where no one yells at you, then you would not like this race very much.  I prefer the latter, but IMM served its purpose of allowing me check another state off the list.  

As for costs, here ya go:
  • I registered pretty late for this so I paid $108 for the race.
  • My flight was free!
  • I stayed at the Downtown Marriott which was $186 (I actually had a room share but was so mad by the time I got to the correct hotel that I just got my own room).
  • Car and gas for the weekend was $50.
And then we were on our way to West Virginia!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Are you my gym teacher? - Mount Desert Island Marathon 2014 Race Recap

The Mount Desert Island (MDI) Marathon has been my choice for a Maine Marathon for a few years.  I registered the day registration opened last October!  Gotta get the cheapest rate!  MDI takes place in Bar Harbor, ME, and always gets rave reviews for scenery.  I flew out of Memphis late Thursday and arrived in Portland, ME, pretty late!  I then drove the 3-4 hours to Bar Harbor Saturday morning.  You guys know if a marathon ain't an adventure to get to, it's probably not worth doing!  Or at least that's my way of thinking!  I enjoyed looking at all the fall colors during the drive (no fall colors here in Mississippi yet).  On the way there, I stopped at a convenience store to pick up some water and the clerk asked me if I used to be his gym teacher!  This would have been acceptable if the clerk was in high school, but this dude was older than me (for realz, I asked)!!!!!  I'm pretty sure I should have been offended, but instead I thought it was funny.  Upon arriving in Bar Harbor, I picked up my packet quick-like and made my way to Acadia National Park.  LOVE!!!!!!!

Cadillac Mountain
Jordan Lake
Lovin' the leaves.
Waves and rocks at Sand Beach
Thunder Hole (I'm in 3rd grade so I laugh every time I say that)

After all the excitement of Acadia National Park, I was HANGRY!!!!  I ended up at a delicious Thai place (The Bangkok Restaurant) just a short drive away in Ellsworth.  I sat at a table and ate all by myself and didn't care one bit.  The food was delicious!  They special made my Pad Thai without the fish sauce or eggs.  Yummy yummy in my tummy!  After dinner, I headed back to the hotel, where I chatted with the guy that works at the front desk about food and running!  It's a small world and he is a member of a Facebook group I belong to so a few weeks back we planned to meet.

Race morning was super easy.  My hotel (The Bar Harbor Villager) was pretty much at the start line for the marathon.

See start line, see my hotel (sign that says Villager).

It was COLD for this southern belle!  Just about 50 degrees with the temp staying about the same throughout the race.  Once we started, I warmed up a bit and my choice of clothing was perfect (shorts, thin long-sleeved shirt, 50-states singlet).  It wasn't too far into the race that the hills started.  If you are not a fan of hills, you should stay far far away from this race.  I remember very few "flats".  For the first several miles, the wind was at our backs, which helped with the whole hill thing.  The trees were absolutely gorgeous.

Pretty colors everywhere.

One of the water views we had.
More water.
And some more

We ran on the side of Hwy 3 for quite a while before turning onto a more secluded road (I'm having a hard time remembering specifics about the course - sorry).  I was making fairly decent time.  I had no lofty goals for this race other than to try to finish under 5 hours.  My last three marathon finishes have been less than stellar, so I at least wanted somewhat of a redemption.  Well 50 degrees, overcast, and practically sea level are magical conditions for marathon running.  I got to the halfway point in just over 2:16, which is lightning fast for me right now.  Somewhere around miles 17 or 18 (I think, I can't remember), we hit a stretch of coastal road and the wind was no longer at our backs.  It was straight at our fronts!  I have never felt wind that strong before!  Maintaining pace for these few miles was a struggle.

The infamous "tree"

I got to mile 20 and was stilling feeling good and making pretty good time (I was a few minutes ahead of my goal pace of 10:30).  Then I got to mile 21 and started to hate my life.  I never look at elevation profiles for races because I mostly don't care!  And I'm glad I didn't for this race!  Miles 21-25 are pretty much uphill!  These are the most unforgiving hills and I saw my pace drop to closer to 11:00.  Once we hit mile 25 though, it was downhill to the finish.  The last quarter of a mile was terrible - we were on a narrow, gritty, dirty road and had about 6 inches of running space as cars drove past us.  If I could give one recommendation, it would be to close that road to cars.  I crossed the finish line in 4:31:35, which is an awesome time for me right now especially on this hilly of a course.  And I never felt like I was working too hard (except those last few uphill miles).  

Done with marathon #31 and state #22 (ME)

I returned back to Cadillac Mountain after the race (as the day before was very foggy so you couldn't see much at the top).  I overheard a man telling his wife that he was surprised that he wasn't having any trouble breathing up there.  Cadillac Mountain is 1500 ft above sea level............

Hideous selfie on Cadillac Mountain.

Overall, I thought this was a great race.  I'm not sure that it compares to Big Sur in terms of scenery (I read that somewhere), but it is nice.  You will see 26.2 miles of road and trees with some water views thrown in for fun.  The course is hella hard!  Be prepared for constant ups and downs.  I like hills so this made the course far from boring in my opinion.  The shirt is fantastic (see picture above).  I have already worn it like a million times.  The medal is also fantastic!  Who doesn't need a lobster claw in their medal collection???

As far as costs/logistics/planning, here ya go:
  • The race registration was $81.  This was the cheapest rate as I registered on opening day of registration.
  • I flew out of Memphis, TN, into Portland, ME (Southwest).  The airfare was $330 which included early bird check in.
  • Upon arrival in Portland Friday night, I stayed at the Fireside Inn and Suites.  This was $83 for the night.
  • I drove to Bar Harbor Saturday morning and for Saturday night I stayed at the Bar Harbor Villager (in the Annex).  This was $97 for the night.  Instead of late check out, the hotel had shower rooms set up for after the race for hotel guests that had to check out before the race (the slow people).
  • I went back to Portland Sunday evening after the race.  I stayed at the Super 8 Portland/Westbrook and this was $77 for the night.  I stayed at all of these hotels by myself and felt perfectly safe.
  • I rented a car which cost $88 for Friday-Monday.  I spent $45 in gas.
  •  For dinner both Saturday and Sunday nights, I ate at The Bangkok Restaurant.  Super tasty.  Highly recommend.
  • This was a relatively expensive race for me, at a total of $801 (not including food), but the costs were spread out over almost a year.  Totally worth it though!
I'm off to Indiana and West Virginia this weekend for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and the Marshall University Half Marathon.  Good times are sure to be had.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ya know - Tyler Rose Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

This is gonna be short and sweet because there's not a lot to say about this race.  I originally signed up for the marathon, wanting to earn my 6th Marathon Maniac star, but then I ended up adding Wyoming to my fall race schedule and this race was no longer needed.  I'm not one to waste money on race registrations, so I downgraded to the half since I have never done a half marathon in Texas (I did the Dallas Marathon back in 2012 so no need to repeat the state).  

I picked up my bib and shirt the morning of the race (I arrived in Tyler the day before but packet pickup wasn't open very late).  I ended with a way too big shirt because (shockingly) they ran out of smalls.  Ya know what I hate??  When you sign up for a race and they're all like "T shirt size?" and you're all like "hell yeah I'm a small" and then you get to the actual race and they don't have your size.  Why even ask me what size I want if you are just going to give any ole' size to any ole' person?  If X amount of people sign up for your race and Y amount ask for a certain size, don't you order Y number of shirts in that size plus extras for late sign ups??  Apparently this is rocket science.  The race started at the Rose Center and there was plenty of parking.  No troubles there.  The marathoners started 30 minutes before the half marathoners, so I sat in my car until about 10 minutes to go.  The race started on time and we were shortly greeted by our first hill (FYI - this is a very hilly course).  And ya know what was at the very top of that very first hill??  Some train tracks.  And ya know what was on those train tracks??  A train.  The leaders were stopped in their tracks waiting for the train to pass.  Since I was towards the middle, I wasn't affected.  

We ran A LOT on cobblestone.

My plan for this race was to just take it easy.  But ya know what never happens in a half marathon??  Taking it easy.  My first few miles were in the 9's, far from easy for me especially on a hilly course.  After a few miles I found my way down to a steady 10:00 minute pace.  This was going all fine and good until I got to an intersection just past mile 5 and there was a police officer there stopping everyone in the race so he could let traffic through the intersection.  I stood there for a good minute while he kept letting car after car go through.  There would even be large spaces between the cars and he would wait for the next car.  After uttering a few curse words and laughing (because you have to admit that it's kinda funny), we were allowed to proceed through the intersection.  My next few miles were still hovering around 10:00, so at least I had that.

Y U NO let us go, officer?

As I said earlier, this course is really hilly.  I remember very few flat sections.  We ran mostly through neighborhoods and along some busier streets.  The course as a whole was pretty uninteresting and not scenic at all.  Our presence did not please a lot of the Sunday morning drivers.  We got a lot of dirty looks and one guy even turned around at an intersection and burned rubber in the other direction which I thought was both funny and really immature.  Why don't people just stay in bed on Sunday morning?  

This might be flat.

Around mile 7 or 8, I felt a very brief flash of pain in my Achilles region.  This didn't please me, but I kept trodding along.  Then in about a mile or so, I felt another very brief flash of pain.  I don't like any kind of pain when I run, so I did what any sensible runner would do and I slowed my roll and started to walk up some of the hills.  I felt the pain a few more times, but it never lingered.  Just a quick flash.  My last 3-4 miles were at an atrocious pace and I ended up finishing in like 2:20, probably my worst half marathon time in a very long time (not counting races that I've done with other people.  No offense, other people).  

Imma finish this mutha!

It was nice being done with a race before 10:30 AM.  I didn't stick around too long after the race cause this chick wanted to get home.  I drove my stank butt back to Mississippi.  And that, my friends, is how I ran a half marathon in Texas.

But first let's take a hideous selfie and post it on the blog.