Thursday, December 29, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon - October 30, 2011

My two colleagues/friends (Cheryl and Linda) and I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon. One day at work last spring, I told them I was running and suggested they join me. I'm so glad they accepted, because this race was a time to remember!  We planned to stay a couple of nights to enjoy the experience!  We stayed at L'Enfant Plaza which was an easy Metro ride to the Expo, race start, and race finish - each in different locations!

Soon after checking in, we headed over to the Expo at the Armory via the Metro. Excitement, patriotism, and nervousness was in the air...along with snow! It came down like crazy the next day - in October! We only hoped it would stop in time for the race as the weathermen predicted!
Cheryl, Linda, and Me

 Saw this jacket at check-in and couldn't resist!

Our packets were somewhere in the hands of these two fine men!

Cheryl was excited for the adventure to begin!

 We saw our new mascot friend several times before the race.

A map of our trek . . . boy, that's long!

I saw the Running Skirts lady live and in person!  I visit that site so often, it was like sighting a celebrity!

Cheryl and Linda couldn't resist buying the MCM windbreakers...and either could I! However, I am a wimp when it comes to the cold - so I kept my winter coat on.  After all, it was SNOWING!

Linda and I ran for the Semper Fi Fund.  We raised money to support our nation's soldiers.  What a fitting contribution to a great race.  So, Cheryl joined us at the Pasta Party for the pre-race meal.  Then, it was time to head up to the room and try to get some shut-eye before the big day!

Although it seemed as if the day would never come, it came quickly.  We got ready and took some photos of our "game-day" running gear!  


 and Cheryl.  She ran for Diabetes!

We made our way down into the basement of L'Enfant Plaza to catch the Metro.  We arrived at our stop pretty early at the Pentagon.  Hundreds and hundreds of people huddled together inside the Metro stop as it was literally freezing outside.  We stayed in the station for as long as we could before braving the elements.  We made our way to gear check and gave up our winter coats - and we were left with our "throw-aways".

Me, Linda, and Cheryl - trying to stay warm.

These girls are much tougher than I, when it comes to the cold.  I was nearly crying, as I was so miserable waiting for the race to start.

It's almost time . . . and we're off!

Although the pics don't prove it, Cheryl and I stayed together for most of the race - up until mile 21 or so.  I hit what I think some would call "the wall" at mile 17.  Luckily, Cheryl's hubby showed up to cheer us on...and give us a banana!  For some reason, this banana was the best thing I had ever eaten and hit the spot.  It also gave me the extra boost I needed.  
Cheryl is next to me in the yellow.

This pic is proof that Cheryl and I even had fun while running this race!

At about mile 21, I went a little ahead of Cheryl.  I had to walk more than I ran the last mile or so.  During the last 1/4 mile, I started to cry and think about my dad A LOT!  I really felt he was there with me during this time.  I hadn't felt so close to him since he left us a few years ago to live in heaven.

At the end of the race, a Marine put a medal around my neck.  If this pic was a close-up, you would really notice the tears in my eyes!

Finishers must get their photos taken in front of Iwo Jima near the Finish Line!

Cheryl was shortly behind....glad I found her for a photo opportunity!

Our buddy Linda wasn't too far behind!  We celebrated our accomplishments at the Finish Line Festival for a little bit, and then hit the Metro again - back to our hotel.
That night, we all celebrate with big cheeseburgers and lots of Diet Coke!  What a day!  Can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Long Beach Island 18 Miler - October 8, 2011

I signed up for this race as a training run for my upcoming Marine Corps Marathon (my first full since my 2005 Disney Debacle) - to make sure I actually did at least 18 miles.  It was a scheduled 20 mile weekend, so my plan was to run 2 miles before or after the race in order to not cheat my training.  I took the Cape May-Lewes Ferry to New Jersey and drove to LBI for packet pick-up.

While there, I met my good friend, Denise, from college and spent the pre-race night at her house in Seaside.  Yes, I said Seaside - a hop, skip, and a jump from the Jersey Shore House.  You are darn tootin' that I wasn't going to pass up on this opportunity!

Snooki I am not - but I was "home".  

So, for race day we had some crazy hot weather!  I did a slow to (a mile out and a mile back) before the race start. It was in the 80's, and there was no shade, as we were at the beach.  The race was brutal, and around mile 14,  I seriously questioned my sanity.  I didn't think I was going to make it, and I didn't know how I would ever get through my upcoming marathon.  I am, embarrassingly, including race photos.  It was so freakin' hot, and I look like death!


Anyway, the after party was great, but I didn't have time to eat - I had a ferry to catch or I'd have to drive an additional 3 hours!  I was able to take a shower at the sponsoring community center (didn't realize this beforehand), and I was on my way.  Just wish I had more time to spend with my pal, Denise!

I don't think I will be coming back to this one...but I should never say never!  I can be talked in to just about any race - and it's a training run for the New York Marathon (fingers crossed.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon - September 18, 2011

Last year, my running craze started with the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half.  I had a good time at this race and wanted to return. For this race, I planned to meet up with my pal Shanonn from NJ.  I drove to her mother-in-law's house in a NJ town outside of Philly.  Her MIL drove us to the train station, and we took a train into Philly (as parking is a fortune in this city).  We stayed at the Marriott in Downtown.  

Shanonn and I spent quite a while at the Expo. Welcome!

The changing rooms...

Kara Goucher was at the Expo, signing autographs.  Although I didn't wait in line for her ink, I did snap a couple of photos.

 Then, we headed over to Reading Terminal to grab a bite to eat.  So many choices...

We chilled in our room for a while before heading out to dinner across the street at Maggiano's.  I've dined here several times, and since it was so close to our hotel - it was the perfect spot for a pre-race meal!
Maggiano's Location

I didn't get to sleep much at all the night before the race...I was hacking all night due to a sinus infection. I felt terrible for Shanonn, as I probably kept her up, too!  I loaded up on all kinds of cold meds and hoped for the best.  I ran this race the previous year, and it was hot!  For this race, we had a more brisk start for sure.  We made our way over to Eakin's Oval to get staged for the race.  We stopped at the fountains in front of the Franklin Institute for a quick photo opp!

Shortly after the gun went off, I realized I would have to run the Gallo-way. I was having some difficulty breathing due to the sinus infection. My Garmin was set incorrectly, and I had to stop several times to fiddle with it.  Shanonn and I decided to do our own things this day, so I was on my own. It took me a while to figure out what was going on with my watch - a PR was probably out of the picture. So, I just settled in and followed the intervals.

I was able to do the intervals - pretty much the whole way.  Not sure I should have run this with as much coughing as I had done the days before, but all was well.  As mentioned early, no PR's were in store for the day - but considering my health and the fiasco with my watch, I was okay with it.



I have run many races since the Zooma but have been remiss in posting.  I'm going to have to get busy getting up to date.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Zooma Women's Race Series - Annapolis

My friend, Sharon, and I decided to run the Zooma Annapolis Women's Half together.  I registered for it some time ago.  Since then, I feel like I have been a bit "burned out" on running.  My last long run was the last half marathon I did - Ocean City at the end of March.  I have been running shorter distances but feel as if I need walking breaks for distances as short as 3 miles.  My head was not in this race, and I didn't feel prepared - physically or mentally.  However, I committed to doing it and didn't want to let my friend down . . . or waste the expensive $95 entry fee.  

So, Sharon picked me up on Saturday morning of June 4 and we drove to Annapolis.  We visited packet pickup and the "Expo".  I am used to larger races and this Expo was a disappointment.  Luckily, there was a Cheesecake Factory and a mall across the street to make me feel better.  We had a good time exploring the Towne Centre area that night and even caught "Hangover 2".  Good times!

The next morning, we woke up at 5am to get ready.  We got dressed . . . 

and Sharon got her morning coffee (I don't touch the stuff).

I am wearing a "repeat" outfit.  I wore this at the Philly Rock n Roll.  This goes against every grain of my racing being, but I didn't like the way the shirt I intended to wear felt around the pits area.  Since I was already in a bad race mood, I decided to go with comfort and wore the alternative emergency shirt.  

 We arrived at Navy Stadium in no time!

And the race started on time at 7am.

Although it wasn't pretty (see course description below), we finished.  

To call this course "hilly" is a gross understatement.  I believe I read somewhere that it was mostly flat - that is just a gross lie.  Training in the, flat as a pancake, Delaware Beach area would never prepare us for what we experienced.  Just as you crested one hill and began the descent down the other side, you saw another hill you would have to tackle soon.  The course was challenging, to say the least.  

Zooma's course description sometimes makes light of the hills and sometimes doesn't mention them at all (such as in the descriptions of miles 5-8).  I highlighted some of their mention below.  And - the picture of this bridge does not do this hill justice.  The photographer did an aerial shot with some funky angle, because this was a HILL that we needed to apparently experience out AND back!

Although I did not set a PR (didn't think I would come close), I was happy with my time considering the hills, my preparation, and mental lack of fortitude.

I finished in 2:28:12  - not bad for a humid day.  
Oh, and did I mention the HILLS!?

The Severn River Bridge: a worthwhile (beautiful) challenge on the ZOOMA Course.
The final week is here. You’ve done the training, and you’ve coordinated your cute race day outfit (right?). There’s one more piece of the puzzle to get you across the finish line as quickly and happily as possible: the detailed course description of the Annapolis ZOOMA Half-marathon.
Mile 0-1: You’ll cross the starting line at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, where you’ll running around the backside of the stadium through a residential area. It’s shaded and mostly flat, but the best part is that the spectators usually move from the start to line the roads behind the stadium to cheer on the runners. The bonus? The starting-line excitement is carried a little further. The potential drawback? You might be tempted to go out too fast. Remember you still have a mere dozen miles to go.
The electrolytes in Ultima help keep your systems in balance.
Mile 1-2:
 Near mile 1.75, runners turn right onto Rowe Boulevard, then pass by the first water/Ultima Replenisher and port-a-potty station. Rowe, a main street, brings you into downtown historic Annapolis. The street will be lined with spectators, and you will past several historic buildings: the Maryland State House, legislative offices, churches. There’s a dip, then a climb near mile 2.5, but it’s mostly flat through this section.

Miles 2-4: As you head toward the Naval Academy, you’ll pass unique shops, great restaurants—although they may not seem super appetizing as you’re pushing your pace—and more encouraging cheerleaders. Heading toward mile 4 on King George Street, you run past the Naval Academy, St. John’s College, and historical homes. Just after mile 4, there’s another water/toilet station. This stretch of the race, which has a gradual incline, is quiet and fairly residential. As you head toward the base of the Severn River Bridge, there are a few hills—good preparation for the whopper coming up.
Mile 4-5: Time for the challenging Severn River Bridge (a.k.a. Naval Academy Bridge). Sorry to say, but it’s a fairly long climb. Keep your arms pumping and your head up. As you crest the bridge, you will see the turnaround point for the 10K runners, who start heading back just as the bridge meets the shore.
Miles 5-7: There isn’t loads of exciting landscape as you run along 450 but your fellow runners will provide plenty of inspiration—and people-watching entertainment. Until mile 11, the course is out and back, so you get to cheer on runners either heading out or back. Just after crossing over John Hanson Highway, near mile 6.5, there’s another water station. Toast to being halfway done!
Mile 7-8: The turnaround comes at Severn Avenue about 200 yards after mile 7.5. Nicely done: you’re heading home!
Miles 8-10: That said, you’ve still got some work to do. The course has a fair bit of uphill until just past mile 8, but remember that what goes up must come down. Enjoy the serious downhill that follows. (And grab some water or Ultima Replenisher at mile 8.5, where you can also take a pit stop if need be.)
Mile 10-11: Grab a drink just after mile 10, as you’re headed back over the bridge. Chug up a little climb, then as bridge then levels out it, you enjoy the descent toward mile 11, after which you get another water station.
Mile 11-12: At mile 12, you’ll hang a left onto Taylor Avenue; while your legs may be feeling it, your heart will be loving it. There are spectators everywhere now until you reach the finish line. Channel their energy. There’s one last out and back on King George Street. If you’ve got the energy, high-five your fellow runners.
Toast to your accomplishment, post-run.
Mile 12-13.1!: 
After you cross Rowe Boulevard, you are almost home. You’ll cut up a slight hill back to the stadium grounds and head toward the finish, where you will be greeted by all of your adoring fans.

Mile 13.2: Grab your special silver necklace, a light box of breakfast fare and a glass of Barefoot wine (yes, breakfast and wine can go together in special circumstances). Then enjoy some shopping just for the girls—or just hanging out with your girls.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ocean City Half (Island 2 Island)

The only time this race was referred to as the "Island to Island Half Marathon" was at registration.  During the rest of the race, it kept its old name - the "Ocean City Half Marathon".  The day before, the family piled into the truck and we made the hour long trek to packet pick-up in Ocean City at a local hotel.  There really wasn't much at all in the goody bag, but we got a decent shirt and a drawstring bag.  

The "Swag"

This is the first half marathon I didn't spend the race eve at a hotel.  I got ready in the comfort of home and prepared for the race the night before.

I had to wake up bright and early (a 4:45 wake-up call) to be sure I could make it to the start in time.  For this race, I wore hot-pinkish and black.  You can't really tell in this photo.  Once again, no one was awake, so I took my own race morning photo for prosperity.

 I drove to the race start alone, in the pitch black.  It started to get a little lighter as I approached Ocean City.  This is a pic of the first bridge we would have to run over.

While waiting for the race to start, I took a pic of the view to the north . . . 

. . . and the south.

It was a chilly morning.  The race started at approximately 7:00, and we all huddled together to stay warm.  We started near the boardwalk, made our way through parking lot, and back up on the boardwalk.

We ran past some typical boardwalk sights . . . 

and headed through some streets and on to the first bridge (pic above.) The rest of the race route took us along some country backroads and highways as we made our way to Assateague Island - home of the wild horses.  It was perfect running weather - crisp, cool, and overcast.

 At times, the race was crowded since the busier roads were not completely closed off.  You had to battle cones, people, and ditches if you wanted to make a move to pass another runner.  

Since I wasn't really prepared for this race, I decided to use the Galloway method.  I used a 4:1 run/walk interval.  To my surprise, I was able to run about a 9:35 pace for much of the running part of the race.  The walk breaks really helped me mentally, and it was actually kind of fun to implement.  I kept passing certain people on and off as I took my walking breaks.  Eventually, I passed them and never saw them again - even as they continually ran.  This method really worked for me during this race!  It truly broke up the monotony of continuous running and made the race - dare I say - fun!  (Even though I was NOT sufficiently trained!)

I wound up finishing this race with a PR . . . unbelievable!  I never would have imagined this would be the case considering my training - and using Galloway.  I finished with a time of 

I learned not to be ashamed of running the Gallo-Way.  I finished long before some of those who were bragging at the end that they didn't stop to walk.  I didn't walk away with knee pain and kept a better pace than expected.  I will certainly use this again for another long distance race.  I really think it made the race a better experience for me!