Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sun, sun go away! - Bear Lake Utah Marathon 2015 Race Recap

When I last left you I had finished the Bear Lake Idaho Marathon and was contemplating the next day's Bear Lake Utah Marathon.  I was already signed up for the half, but since I missed the Utah Valley Marathon the weekend before it just made sense to do the marathon.  Well sense to someone certifiably insane and in denial about their current level of fitness.  My tummy was not feeling good after the Idaho race!  After a week of being on vacation and not eating my normal diet, there was all kinds of bad stuff happening in there.  

Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that's over!

After the Idaho race, KG and I got back to the KOA and went straight to the pool!  It felt amazing to move around in the cool water! After cooling off and stretching a bit I decided to just go ahead and do the marathon the next day.  What's the worst that could happen?  DNF?  If I felt that badly I had an easy out around mile 12 and could just head back to the start/finish and at least maybe get a half marathon finish.

Had been in UT all week so this was NBD

The day started off early again since I was definitely doing the 5AM early start.  I didn't know what the shade situation was going to be for this race and I needed all the extra time to beat the sun.  The race started with a 12 mile out and back along the east side of the lake.  My stomach was still very angry with me and I took an early bathroom break that seemed to help immensely.  After the bathroom break I started in on my run/walk intervals and kept them going for awhile.  We had a good amount of shade for the first 10ish miles which helped a lot.  Although we had the lake right next to us, this course was not nearly as scenic as the Idaho race.

Pretty much what we saw for the first 6ish miles out........
Pretty much what we saw on the 6ish miles back.......
So many large bones on the road.  Didn't like to think for too long about what may have feasted on them.

Somewhere around mile 10, the sun was too high in the sky for the mountains to provide us with any shade.  This is when my life started to suck.  So sunny!  Around mile mile 12, I made the right turn to continue on to the second half of the marathon instead of just heading back to the start/finish.  I was committed.  The next few miles were along a straight dirt road and they were a sucky bugfest!  I've never seen so many mosquitoes!  I kept my head down and soldiered on.  I stopped at another port-o-potty and was eaten alive by the little blood suckers!

These were fun to run over.
Mosquito Alley
Once out of the bugfest, we ran a few miles on the road along the southern part of the lake.  The lake was of course beautiful but the sun was slowly killing me!  My neck was on FIRE!!!!!

The southern edge of the lake

After a bit we turned onto another dirt road and this is really where I began to hate my life.  No much sun.  So little shade.  This was the start of the longest loop ever!  I was doing well at keeping my run/walk intervals but somewhere around mile 15 I just said eff it.  I'm walking to at least mile 20!

The loop that seemed to never end.

Somewhere around here I caught up to fellow Maniac Heidi.  She was also walking so I joined her for much of the rest of the race.  She and her hubby were my saviors!  Her hubby was driving the course and meeting her every couple miles with ice, fresh water, and WATERMELON!!!!!  OMG!  Nothing ever tasted so good!  I cannot thank them enough for sharing their ice and delicious fruit with me!

My watermelon savior!

The Utah race is supposed to the "main" race of the series, but I really think the Idaho race was much better.  The aid stations were not as good in Utah.  A few of the later aid stations were low on (or even out of) water or sports drink.  I also did not see any bananas at the aid stations.  There were however gels and other goodies.   The course was pretty, but I think the Idaho course was much better.

Completely exposed for miles and miles
We ran by some horses but not many other animals.
More of those pretty yellow flowers
More horses
Not even gonna try to run for the camera

At some point I decided that I should run so I could get out of the sun faster (with "faster" being loosely defined).   I never thought I'd see the finish!

OMG I thought I'd never see this sign.

I finally came to the final stretch and just decided to walk it in until I was about five feet from the finish line.  For the past few miles I was dreaming of jumping in the pool at the KOA with all my sweaty clothes on!

Fake running for the camera

I finished with my second worst marathon time, only topped by the Bataan Memorial Death March.  Totally didn't care though.  A finish is a finish and I finished my 39th marathon in my 29th state.  Utah was done!

Another double marathon weekend is in the books!

In conclusion, this was a suckfest of a race for me.   There was no shade the last 16ish miles and it was pretty warm.  If this had not been the case, this may have been a pleasant race for me.  It is rural and small (and somewhat scenic) so it's my type of race.  Just would have liked more shade.  And fitness.  I would have also liked more fitness.  That may have helped me.  I was definitely not even properly trained for one marathon so it was a miracle that I finished two in two days.   All in all I would recommend this race series to someone else.  It is an easy double logistically since you don't even have to change hotel rooms between races.  We stayed at a cabin at the KOA in Garden City and it was cheap ($190 total for three nights split between two of us).  The location is also top notch.  Bear Lake is absolutely spectacular.  The Salt Lake City airport is just a beautiful 2.5 hour drive away and I got a great rate on a car ($100 for Fri-Mon also split between two of us).  My flight was a bit pricey ($383), but what's new for me.  Next year I will likely not have to pay for any flights with all the points I'm getting this year from paid flights!  The races are also insanely cheap!  I paid $27 for the Idaho Marathon and about $37 each for the Utah and Wyoming half marathons.  The RD did not charge me to upgrade to the marathon in Utah.  I decided pretty quickly that the half in Wyoming the next day was out for me.  I felt fine physically.  I was just drained from all the sun exposure.  

So next for me is Vermont in a few weeks.  Another summer race.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dingle Safari - Bear Lake Idaho Marathon 2015 Race Recap

The Bear Lake Marathons have been on my schedule for over a year!  This race has traditionally been two marathons in two states (ID and UT) in two days.  This year they mixed it up a bit and added a third day in WY.  I signed up for the marathon in ID and the half marathons in UT and WY, since I was supposed to be done with marathons in both of those states before this race series.  Original plan was for me to do the Utah Valley Marathon the week before and then hubby and I were going to tour the National Parks in southern Utah for the week before heading up to Bear Lake for these races.  Did that make sense?  Well my precious old lady Dutchess ended up getting sick and had to stay in the hospital a few days so I ended up postponing my trip a few days and missing Utah Valley, so no UT marathon.  I was pretty sure that one marathon was all I could handle (I had my first DNF a few weeks ago in WA), but didn't totally give up on the idea of trying for the marathon in UT.  I'd decide after finishing ID!

First time in Idaho!

The Bear Lake Idaho Marathon was held on a Friday.  My friend and running buddy KG and I headed up to Bear Lake on Thursday and OMG!!  Just when I thought that Utah couldn't get any prettier!  Such an amazing state!  Our first look at Bear Lake was unreal!

The lake is for real that blue!

We checked into our cabin at the KOA and made our way to packet pickup in Montpelier (about 30 minutes away).  Packet pickup was uneventful and then we stuffed our faces at Cooper's.  More amazing views of the lake.

I opted to do the early marathon start because the forecast was calling for warm temps and sunny skies!  The sun is my enemy number 1!  The early start was at 5am!  Ouch!   I woke up at 3am so I could get ready and catch a ride with my friend GK to the start.  It was a bit chilly but I knew that wouldn't last long!

Some of the early starters

The race officially started when the RD told us to go!  We were off and walking!  These races have no time limit so there was no pressure to finish within a prescribed time.  The first bit of the race wound through some residential neighborhoods before finally dumping us out onto a more rural road.  

We were having a good time!  We saw a skunk pretty early on and that was just one of many animal sightings along the course!

So many horses!
And cows!  So many cows!
I about died when we saw these guys!  They came running up to us baaaahhhhing!!!!

Sometime after the first hour I decided that I should probably start to run a bit.  We entered the town of Dingle at some point and just couldn't stop laughing.  

Could not stop laughing!
Time for a nap!

The scenery for this race was amazing!  Tons of farms and animals.  Mountains all around you.  The course is a mixture of paved and gravel roads.  The gravel roads were not smooth and had tons of large rocks to contend with.  The aid stations were mostly self service.  No cups, so you have to carry your own hydration device.  All the aid stations had water, sports drink, gels, chompy type things, bars, and bananas.  You were never in need of anything.  

Beautiful fields of something yellow!
Of course I had to slide down it!
Another animal sighting!
I think this is the first stationary bike ever made!

At some point (maybe just before the halfway point) we left the town of Dingle and ran several miles right along the mountains.  This was a beautiful part of the course.  The sun was coming up but we had lots of shady parts along this stretch.  I was keeping up with my run/walk intervals as much as I could.  

Spectacular scenery

Around mile 17ish, we made a turn and started to run along the north end of the lake.  This is also where all the shade disappeared.  Ugh.

Starting our stretch along the lake
So so so blue!
Still so blue
This dog ran at least 10-12 miles with us!  Someone finally found his owner.  Poor thing.  He was limping at this point.  I gave him two bottle-fulls of water.
Another skunk

This stretch seemed like it would never end!  The views were spectacular but that sun was brutal!  Yikes!  We finally hit the last few miles of gravel road that would take us to the finish.  I think I walked until I could see the finish line.

I crossed the finish line around 5:54, which is one of my worst marathon times.  I didn't feel particularly bad for this race, I was just slow-going and enjoying the scenery.  A finish is a finish though and this marked my 38th marathon and 28th marathon state.

KG was second overall female!  I was close to last overall female.

After finishing I still wasn't totally sold on the idea of running another marathon the next day.  I was barely prepared for one marathon let alone two?  I decided to give it a few hours before deciding whether to stay with the half or just go ahead and do the marathon in Utah................

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mud everywhere - Garmin Marathon 2015 Race Recap

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the great state of Kansas and running the Garmin Marathon in Olathe.  I was particularly excited about this trip because I was going to get to spend the weekend with many friends.  If you don't know, I don't have many good friends in Mississippi so I always look forward to races where I get to see friends! I also have some good news!  My knee/leg has made a miraculous recovery!  Seriously!  On March 18 I went to run and the pain started within the first few minutes.  Then literally the very next day, on March 19, I tried again, taping my knee a bit differently, and I had no pain.  And I haven't really had any pain since!  I'm having to do run/walk intervals since I lost some of my fitness, but I can still move pretty quickly!

Obligatory selfie with the "Welcome to" sign.

I arrived to Kansas quite early and had a few hours to kill before I could head to my friends Kelly and Mike's house (they graciously offered to let me stay with them for the race).  I had a bit of hard time finding things to do/see in the area.  And then I found out about Truckhenge.  Since I saw Carhenge in Nebraska, I thought it was only fitting that I stop in for a visit to Truckhenge.  After getting my rental car, I called the Lessman's, asked if I could stop by for a tour (it's private property so you have to call first), and drove the hour west to Topeka.  This place was pretty awesome.  I had my own private tour around the property from Ron (the creator).  He has many stories and jokes which made the tour very interesting.

Chainsaw art
Truckhenge (yes, they know it's spelled wong)

Beer bottle city

Me and my Kansas peeps!

So there ya go.  If you are looking for something quirky to do in east Kansas, go to Truckhenge!  On the way back to Olathe, I stopped by a local winery for a tasting and to buy some wine.  There are actually a lot of wineries in the area, so that's another thing you can do if you ever come do the Garmin Marathon.

Bluejacket Crossing Winery in Eudora, KS
Left with a few bottles

I finally arrived at Kelly and Mike's house and soon we were on our way to dinner and meet up with another friend Sarah (who used to live in Mississippi).  I was so excited to see everyone!  After dinner, Kelly and Mike took us to their favorite mall - The Great Mall.  Kelly is a regular mall walker and wanted to show us her walking diggs.  I've honestly never seen such a sad "mall".  

Well except for this.  This wasn't sad at all.
Kelly and I doing our best mall walker impression.

Race morning was fairly easy.  Forecast had been calling for rain all week but surprisingly it was still dry.  We drove to the start where there was plenty of parking.  We found Sarah easily and before we knew it, we were off.  I did a really funky run/walk interval.  My strategy was to walk fast for 10 minutes and then do 2:1 run/walk intervals for 20 minutes.  Repeat until the race is done.  I was expecting around a 5:10-5:15 finish based on how my "training" had gone in the weeks before the race.  My walking is pretty fast.  Sarah stayed with me for the first 3ish miles (before the half marathon split from the marathon) and she had to jog next to me while I was walking.  Yup.  I've been practicing.

Running selfie
Bye Sarah!

The course is mostly through residential areas with several miles on a paved multipurpose trail.  The course is also not flat at all.  It is very much rolling almost the entire way.  My run/walk strategy had me passing and being passed by the same people over and over again, so I got to chat lots with a few different people.  Surprisingly, I was feeling great (I had doubts the day before because my back was hurting).  

The rain/thunder/lightning held off until I got to about mile 8.  We got some rain and a few rumbles of thunder for a couple miles and then it stopped for a few miles.  I hit the halfway point around 2:28, which was a bit faster than anticipated.  I was still feeling good.  Then it started to rain again, this time with both thunder and visible lightning.  No one was telling me that the race was cancelled which was a bit scary but I trusted that the race officials were tracking the storm and that we weren't in any danger.  

Sorry, pictures are bad because of the rain :(
The rain stayed pretty steady for the rest of the race.  Just before mile 16 we hit the multipurpose trail and started in on a pretty long out and back.  This is also where the course got very interesting!  There was mud and puddles everywhere!  I saw many people with mud on their butts (meaning they had slipped).  I was still making pretty good time, but at some point the 5 hour pacer passed me during one of my extended walks and I was just not having that!  At the 3 hour mark I decided to just do the 10 minute walk at the top of the hour and then do the 2:1 intervals until the 4 hour mark.  This worked well and I got a bit ahead of the pacer.  I kept the same strategy for the 4th hour (just do the 10 minute walk at the top of the hour and not the middle of the hour).  Legs were starting to fatigue but that was to be expected.  I was getting greedy and wanted that sub-5 finish.  I was able to stay either with or ahead of the pacer for the rest of the race and finished in 4:57:42.  Yup! And I WALKED 2 hours and 31 minutes of the race!!!!!  Boom!

Walking champion!
This is how muddy the trail was!  Too much for me!
Mike, Kelly, and me on the Yellow Brick Road

So this was my first pain-free marathon since the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November.  That's pretty exciting to me.  I don't plan to run fast or PR in any marathon in the foreseeable future and possibly even ever!  These run/walk intervals are pretty awesome!  

The Garmin Marathon is a nice race for Kansas.  Logistics are very easy with the Kansas City Airport very close.  Aid stations were plentiful and the volunteers were very nice.  The course is not super scenic but the miles on the trail (even though it was really muddy) were very nice.  The course is not flat so that, along with the unpredictable April weather in Kansas, keep things interesting.  After the race, Sarah and I went to Kansas City for the night and got to see a Royals game.


As for costs/travel deets, here ya go:
  • Registration - $61 (I had a $20 Maniac discount)
  • Flight - $36.20
  • Car - $50.89
  • Gas - $34 (flew in/out of New Orleans so that added to the gas cost)
  • Parking - $60 (had to park at New Orleans airport)
  • Hotel - $0 (stayed with friends)
  • Food - $62.73 
  • Total - $305
I have a marathon hiatus until June when I am scheduled to run marathons on three consecutive weekends in three different states - WA, UT, and ID.  Here's hoping I don't fall apart!