Friday, July 17, 2015

Party of 4 - Mad Marathon 2015 Race Recap

The Mad Marathon in VT made a late appearance on my race calender for this year when I scored a free entry and free lodging in mid-May.  Turns out, in the five years that the race has been going on, no one from the fine state of Mississippi had ever signed up!  They needed a Mississippi runner to be able to claim "we've had runners from all 50 states run our race"!  I quickly remedied that situation for them and moved the Mad Marathon from my 2017 calender to my 2015 calender (yes, I have races planned that far in advance and even further).  It was a mere coincidence that my choice rate for VT ended up seeking me out!  I picked the Mad Marathon for my VT race because of its challenging and scenic course.  Obviously I picked this race when I was in much better shape. 

We drove nearly 3 hours round trip to get a picture with this sign!

This trip was interesting on several fronts.  After a very dark drive down a very windy mountain road (and having to call someone to help me navigate a detour), I arrived at my bed and breakfast in Waitsfield very late Friday night.  I had been in contact with the Innkeeper over the past several months and was informed that I would have an envelope waiting for me with keys and directions to my room.  Well, Krissy arrives and while there were several envelopes, not one had my name on it.  I wasn't really sure what to do since it was late and no staff were on site.  So, I did what any self-respecting squatter would do and I roamed around the Inn until I found the room that was listed on my reservation.  The door was open so I let myself in.  I didn't get a great night's sleep because I kept worrying that someone was going to come into the room.  Upon looking back at emails, I realized that I inadvertently told the Innkeeper a few days prior that I would be arriving Saturday night and not Friday night.  I was never sent a reservation change notice so I assumed I was still good to go for a Friday arrival!  Doh!

Once I woke up, I realized that my view was fantastic.

The next morning I met up with my Hawaii friend KW (we met at Jackson Hole Marathon and then ended up being travel companions for the Indy Monumental and Marshall races back in November) for a quick tour of Ben and Jerry's, lunch in downtown Burlington (where we saw two wrinkly homeless people making out hardcore on a park bench), and a stop at the Shelburne Museum to learn us some Vermont history. 

Enjoying some tasty mango sorbet.
Lake Champlain
In the slammer at the Shelburne Museum

Once back at my bed and breakfast, I realized that my neighbors were having a sort of "party of 4" that seemed to go on forever (if you're my Facebook friend you know what I'm talking about).  I laid out my race stuff and tried to get to bed early enough.  As is my life, race day was going to be HOT and SUNNY!  Oh, and did I mention that this race course is challenging (think mountains) and that I am totally out of shape?  I had 6.5 hours to finish, so I was pretty sure that could at least do that.   I drove to the start and got a pretty good parking spot very close to the start/finish.  I dropped my bag off at bag drop (I never do this but I did not want to carry the giant rental car keys the entire race) and then said a quick hello to Dori, the amazing RD of the race that I can thank for getting me to VT on such short notice.  The race started on time and the first mile was pleasant, meaning not up a hill.  We ran through two covered bridges throughout the race (each of them twice too) and the first one was in the first mile.  I stopped for a quick pic.

Hey, will you take a picture of me?

I planned to do my run/walks as much as I could, knowing that I'd have to adjust based on the hills.  The first mile was all good and then we started up our first of many many many hills.  Of course, I walked it.  No sense in even trying to run.  The course was lovely and there were many things to keep your mind occupied - mountains in the distance, cows, farms, and even other runners (many out and backs throughout the race).  

Pretty much the background the entire race.
Covered bridge #2
Hello friends!
That's a hill ahead.

Besides the second mile, the first 8ish miles were fairly "easy" (meaning either downhill or flat).  We also had plenty of shady bits.  Around mile 8, it seemed that we started the hill that would never end.  The hill right at 8 was rather steep.  It was even hard to walk up it with any sort of speed. And the hills (or mountains) never really stopped until it felt like after mile 20!  And the shade went away around mile 16.

One of the many barn sightings on the course
Needed to get a selfie with my new friends.
Breathtaking views
And breathtaking hills!

Somewhere around the halfway point we started on a rather long out and back.  It was nice to see other runners coming down the mountain while we were going up!  I couldn't wait until that was me.  The picture above is of what is known as "The Dip".  Down one steep hill and then right back up on the other side.  We would do that twice.  It seemed that we were NEVER going to come back down.  I'll say here that the aid stations were plentiful and the volunteers were amazing.  

Tell Vince I found his CD.
A field of new friends
Well that's unpleasant news.
Not sure what a cheese course is.........
Finally the last 10k!

At some point we did start to go down a bit more than up.  It seemed like that was after mile 20. It was hot so I was walking the ups, run/walking the flats, and running the downs.  I never really felt bad during the race, just a bit on the hot side.  There was a nice breeze, so that helped a lot.  At one point there was a man with large buckets of ice and large sponges!  This was the absolute best thing that ever happened to me during any race.  Squeezing that sponge over my head was pure heaven!

They were not passing out wine.  Rude!
The course ran past my bed and breakfast around mile 24 - The Inn at the Round Barn - and they had beer but I didn't partake.
More quaint Vermont countryside

We finally made our way back to downtown Waitsfield and to the finish.  I finished around 5:47.  Marathon #40 and state #30 were DONE!  I got my hug from Dori (she hugs everyone as they finish).  

Dori - the BEST RD ever!  Seriously! Go do her race!

Overall, this was a fantastic race!  It is definitely challenging though.  You have heat, sun, and mountains to contend with throughout the 26.2 miles.  The course is super scenic though and you'll have many cows cheering you on!  My entry to the race was comped, so I can't comment on price.  I stayed at the Inn at the Round Barn for three nights, which was also comped.  This was a fantastic bed and breakfast.  They had pre-race box breakfasts for all the runners on race morning.  They even asked about dietary restrictions so mine was specially made vegan just for me.  I flew into Burlington from New Orleans.  My flight was $316 but I had a $50 Delta credit, so it ended up being $266.  The drive from Burlington to Waitsfield was about an hour.  My rental car was about $107 for Fri-Mon and I spent about $30 on gas.  I cannot thank the kind people of Vermont (especially Dori the RD and Kim at the Inn) enough for the amazing time I had!  After the race, Hawaii KW and I went to taste some maple syrup and see the world's biggest zipper!

Quick!  Someone get me a stack of pancakes!
Yup.  This is the kind of stuff we drive almost 2 hours to see!

Next up for me is Oregon next month.  I'm doing the Crater Lake Marathon and I can only imagine how tough it will be.  If I'm going to be there, it will of course be HOT!  Combine that with mountains and altitude and a good time is sure to be had!  What could possibly go wrong?

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................