Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ironman Ivins Fitness Festival 10k and Volunteering for the Ironman

This was a race that many more experienced runners probably could have a I told you so moment. I had waited to sign up for this race to see how I felt after my half marathon the weekend before and found out they had actually closed registration on the Thursday before. Still determined to get in and not wanting to give up I emailed the race director and begged to get in and was allowed a late entry. So I signed up Tuesday morning and went for my normal five mile run afterwords and came up a little sore in my left knee afterwords. Tried to run on Wednesday and was only able to get two and half miles in before realizing I had a case of ITBS in my left knee. I went to the running store on Thursday and bought a foam roller and took the day off. I then just went for a walk on Friday with some mild running and each time I tried to run my knee hurt a little. I decided to do the race anyways because I had begged to get in and was hoping with the extra rest I would be ok. I figured I could drop out and DNF if it got too bad and then take the next week off from running. The short of the story is that I did pr by over a minute despite my knee and the single worst course known to man (I got to stop running courses designed by sadomasochists), final time 58:46 good for 2nd overall men as it was a small event of a 100 runners.

I felt great Saturday morning, zero pain, zero discomfort so I decided to go ahead with the 10k. I decided to see if it was my new shoes that was causing the pain as it is one of the few things I have changed in the last couple of weeks. So I switched back to my old shoes that had 760 miles on them and had done me so well. Once again I woke up 10 minutes before my alarm went off despite it being a 5am alarm, typical race morning anxiety. I had trouble using the restroom and it sucks to have to go the bathroom mid-race so I waited around tell I could actually go which had me running late. I rushed out of the house knowing packet pickup was at 5:45 and not really sure where I was going. I got there around 5:55 and didn't really need to worry about being late as it was a small event and was easy to get my packet.

It was about this time that I realized in my rush to get out of the house I forgot my ipod. I was like oh well this a great race to not have my ipod so I can listen to my body and my knee plus it might be fun to try and run without one for once and feel like an elite. I heard a funny conversation waiting for the race start as a lady was telling one of the volunteers she was running the Saint George marathon this year. I mentioned I was running it too and was a little flabbergasted by how lightly she was taking it when we got to talking about training. I told her it was not a good idea to run a marathon so soon into your running life and her answer was "oh I have been running since January and am doing a race a month until then." I didn't want to get more into it with her because obviously she is set on doing it and good for her I hope she doesn't crash and burn she did mention she is going a Galloway plan.

It was also pre-race when I had my first groan as the announcer mentioned mile 4 for the 10kers was on a dirt road. Funny thing is I was bib #1 (not sure if it is because I begged to get in but I got a lot of hey #1's during and after the race). We start off and I am feeling great, I had no pain the first two miles or so. For the first half mile I am running behind Sam and Adam from the Biggest Loser but I think they went out too fast for themselves as they seemed to blow up and slow down around half a mile in and I passed them and never saw them again in the race. I actually thought they ended up doing the 5k as the 5kers ran with us for a mile and a half before turning off for their finish. But then I saw Sam come in after me at the finish line as he was the 3rd overall male and Adam came in several minutes after that.

This course was beyond horrible, I think there was a quarter mile downhill and maybe a half mile straight stretch near the finish and after that the rest of the course was completely uphill. The first two miles were on a steady uphill that never seemed to end. At mile 3 we hit a really large uphill and this is where my knee first started to hurt. It was also where I got passed the only time in the race, I actually did catch the lady a little further on and we talked for like a half mile about knees as hers was hurting too but then she passed me at mile 4 on the next horrible hill. I had thought about DNFing if I hurt but since it was such a small race there actually was nowhere to drop out so I just kept plugging along.

Mile 4 we hit the dirt road and that road was the thing of nightmares and what ended up making my knee hurt more than anything else in the world. It was also at mile 4 that we had the worst uphill in the entire race, not as bad as last weeks half hill but pretty darn close (it was just shorter is all same elevation change but only a half mile instead of full mile last week), I had to walk potions of that hill and the lady once again passed me. Around mile 5 we got back on paved roads and I have never been happier in my life to see a paved road. By this time my knee was in agony but I knew I was close to the finish line and I didn't want to get passed again.

The funny thing is without an ipod I could hear everyone behind me and it helped me from getting passed and kept me motivated to keep running. The people I heard at mile 5 were actually rabbits for the race and funny thing is I held them off not knowing they were rabbits tell the finish line. Around mile 5 we actually caught back up with the 5kers the hour long ones at least. I swear I saw 3-4 camelbaks on those 5kers and just had to chuckle. I tried to encourage them to run to the finish line but none did. I did congratulate them as I ran past them though. My knee was hurting but I finished strong and it wasn't tell afterwords when I realized how much it actually was hurting when I was limping severely afterwords. Finish time was 58:46.

I cheered some of the runners in and that is when I realized wow Sam and Adam were a couple minutes behind me the entire way. I kidded with Adam that they didn't train the Biggest Loser people well enough that if a gimpy person like me outran them, and I was truly gimpy by this point.

Limped over to the awards ceremony where I was surprised that I took 2nd overall for men and since the first place winner actually donated the prizes he deferred and I got the first place prize pack. I got a biggest loser cookbook, a BL workout video, a workout bag, a camelbak waterbottle, a bl t-shirt, a bandanna, a biggest loser resort shirt, bodyglide, chap stix, those nice fancy socks everyone talks about and I even got the race shirt as they included it in my packet even though they said I wouldn't get one since I signed up so late. Sam took 3rd overall for the men which would have been my prize if the winner hadn't differed and its funny as I think I saw a shirt and a workout video from the biggest loser resort and he works for the resort.

I ended up talking with the same lady who has been running since January for the marathon. And she mentions the expected time you have to write on your application form of when you expect to finish and she said 5 and half hours, I think she was like an hour 30-45 minute finisher at the 10k today, that makes a time time goal for me of three hours seem optimistic (this is a joke goal me and someone had on facebook as it is my BQ time). I also talked to Adam who ran the Boston marathon for a charity last month in six hours, I love hearing Boston stories. Got to see Sionne again but he didn't run as he said he surgery last week (he didn't say what kind of surgery), and Sarah and Sam's fiance was there too.

I honestly don't regret running it because my knee felt fine tell mile 3 so there was no way I could have known the terror those hills and that stupid dirt road would do to me. I could have likely done the 5k pain free as that didn't seem anywhere as nearly hilly as our course. Plus how often am I going to get to finish 2nd overall and outrun Biggest Loser contestants for a second race (I smoked them all in the 5k last month too) and win a huge pack of prizes for $10. Plan is now to take a week off and just walk, foam roll the heck out of my IT band and try and get back healthy before marathon training begins at the end of the month. I will reassess next week to see if I need another week off.

Watched the ironman for a bit too those bikers are super speedy holy crap. Worst part is I drove out before they closed the roads to race this morning and on the way back it was a nightmare trying to get home because I ended up behind enemy lines and had to get past all the closed roads.

I also volunteered for the 11pm-midnight shift for the Ironman so I could see the last people coming in and cheer them on. I picked the last shift because I wanted to cheer the people coming in trying to make it in before the cutoff and I thought they needed it the most. As we were cleaning up they told us volunteers to take whatever extra supplies we wanted. This I did not expect at all I just wanted to volunteer and cheer those ironman on. I ended up with two boxes of gels (48 total thats like $50 at the running store), two boxes of powerbars, half a dozen Ironman performance drinks (wish I had grabbed more I wasn't sure what they were), a bag of chips, a dozen oranges, half a dozen bananas and a huge box of pretzels. I totally didn't expect that and I ended up making off like a bandit with like $70-80 worth of training stuff or more. If I ever get healthy I am totally set for marathon training.

It was a blast to watch them come in and I learned some things I didn't know. Like most of the ironman at the end preferred soda instead of gatorade as they were coming in (I am guessing for the calories and sugar and carbs) I had never seen soda at an aid station before. I just wish I knew if that guy who came through at 11:41pm booking to make the cutoff (he had 19 minutes and just less than 2 miles to go and he seemed to be running a 9-10mm) made it. Most of them were walking but it was fun to see them booking it too. Had one guy I offered water to tell me no eyes on the prize made me crack up. I tried to stay way from the cliche "almost there" and instead would say two miles to go. I felt really bad for the three people who got swept at the end. At 11:55 they told us there was four people on the course still about three miles from the finish and they were debating on whether to let them finish or not. They let one guy finish because he was running and he came through at 12:05 after the cutoff so he won't get an official finish but they swept the other three of the course who were walking. I can't imagine how heart breaking that would be 17 hours in and three miles from the finish after finishing 137.6 of the 140.6 miles and getting swept off the course and not being allowed to finish.

All in all in was an amazing weekend and I came away with like $150 worth of stuff for a $10 entry fee and volunteering, WOW.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hurricane Half Marathon

This weekend I ran my third half marathon, I am loving half marathon's more than any other distance I have run and can't wait to my next. I picked the Hurricane half marathon as my third and have been looking forward to it for several weeks now not knowing what was in store for me. Follow my logic here someone was drunk one night and was like man let's invent the craziest half marathon ever. Lets put a mountain (I am not calling that darn thing a hill) around mile 5 oooooh and lets do it out at Hurricane (I get the name now geebezus above and below who the freak turned the wind on) and make sure it's a headwind or crosswind the entire way and crank it up to like 20-30 MPH. Ok maybe they couldn't have planned that last part but dear lord I never want to run in the wind again as long as I live.

Oh and I kicked the trash out of that course, I set a 7:05 second pr despite the wind, despite that freaking mountain (not gonna call it a hill), and despite I think a road called pothole central that or you might as well be running on a trail this road sucks. Final time 2:13:15 and I cannot imagine running a better race on a worst course than today.

Now the down and dirty and long winded details. I have become a hypochondriac the last week or so freaking out about this race. I like desterilized my desk when I found out the other IT guy was sick and was freaking out about a little tightness in my calf and thigh this morning. If you sneezed around me I probably rushed to the bathroom to wash my hands the moment after. I don't think i would have worried so much had I known how horrible this course was or how bad the conditions were going to be this morning.

I tried to get into bed at 9pm the night before with my alarm set for 4am. I know I wasn't asleep tell well past 10 though, I even watched a little tv at 9:30 hoping it would put me to sleep. I never sleep good before a race and despite a 4am alarm I still woke up at 3:55 and just waited for my alarm to go off like permission to get out of bed or something. I got a new morning ritual for long runs or races and I knew we were being shuttled to the start line so I just made breakfast and planned on eating it at the packet pick up or on the shuttle. I made it out of the house by 4:35 all ready to go and packed up and go to the shuttle area (also the finish line) just a little after 5am. I really like their race shirt its the first race shirt I have ever seen with zero advertisements on it and its a nice black tech tee.

I had time to kill before the shuttle so I ate my breakfast there (my new routine a PB&J sandwich, a banana, packet of peanuts and a gatorade). It was nice to stay inside as it was bloody cold outside. Around 5:30 we loaded the buses to get taken to the start line. After getting off the bus I was like dear lord I should have stayed on the bus it's too fraking cold and windy for anyone in their right mind to want to stand out here in this but the buses left to shuttle the 5kers so it was like crap I guess we stand out in the wind. I was standing around and I realized everyone was lined up for the porta-potties and I was like sweet I stood between two lines and let the lines half shelter to me from the freezing wind. It was a 20-30 MPH freezing cold wind and the sun wasn't up yet.

Best thing happened right around 6:30 we were told we could finally run and hopefully warm up although there was no escaping that wind. The first half mile was a cruel joke it was the only time in the entire race we were running in a tailwind after that it was nothing but headwinds and crosswinds. I had decided to take the first few miles pretty easy like suggested by some more veteran runners knowing I had what at this point I was thinking was a hill at mile 5. It was cold and the wind was blowing hard so I think for the first 3 miles I looked at nothing but my feet trying to stay out of the wind. It's pretty bad when you see people wearing trash bags in a race. I think around 25 minutes in I looked over and was like hey we are running next to a lake didn't even see that (Sand Hollow reservoir) where did that lake come from.

I didn't see any mile markers tell mile 3 and looked down at my watch and was like good 28:30 we are right where we want to be. At mile 4 I made the mistake of looking up and was like wait where the heck did that mountain come from. The first 4 miles were on a pretty steady incline and I was thinking the hill would be similar, nope that thing was gargantuan.

I walked through the aid station and grabbed a gatorade at mile 4, I skipped the aid station at mile 2 as it was too early and was crowded. I made sure I got a gatorade at every aid station during the race after that too. I decided when I hit the bottom of the mountain it was a good time for my GU so I took a small walk break there too. I tried to run that mountain but it was short bursts of running then walking and I don't even feel bad, I would look around when I was running and I was the only person running that monster everyone else was walking and was like screw this thing.

I hit mile 6 around 1:02xx and knew that any shot of a sub 2 or even a 2:10 might be impossible in the conditions but I decided I still wanted to pr and run the best race possible. The first downhill we got to enjoy just after mile 6 was ruined by the nastiest crosswind of the entire race like the gods were laughing at us stupid runners.

I think around mile 9 I was like dear lord I don't even want a downhill or a flat stretch just for the love of all that's good and right can we just run away from the wind instead of into it. That's all I want stupid freaking wind go away, I even cursed during some of the worst gusts like come on leave me the frak alone. Miles 8-10 were on pothole central, that road was horrible it was like some backwoods bumpkins joke of a road, hey its paved but haha its paved like a drunk person.

Mile 10 was all nice and newly paved and awesome but the wind still mocked us. At this point some runners I know would have come up to me and gave me a hug and a kiss because I realized despite wanting to take walk breaks there was no way I was going to pr in the wind if I took any so I said screw the walk breaks and just kept on running. I was finding it hard to maintain a 10 minute pace at this time as the wind had me thoroughly exhausted. Mile 7 was 1:12, mile 8 1:22, mile 9 1:33, mile 10 1:44 and mile 11 1:55. So I was bleeding a little time even without walking.

At mile 11 I went to the pain cave and was like screw it I am finishing strong wind be darned. I ran the last 2.1 miles in 18 minutes by best miles since miles 1-4. I don't think I have ever been as exhausted as I was at mile 12 as I was here but despite being so tired I could just lay down I never got a single muscle spasm and cramp. So for those who say it was an exhaustion thing and not an electrolyte imbalance can kiss the whitest part of my arse. I took gatorade at every station, had one pre-race and despite being exhausted ran my best half ever without a single cramp. It was strange as I have suffered some severe cramps and spasms in my two previous halves and to be at mile 12 completely exhausted and hammered and to not be cramping was surreal.

I could not believe the finish clock when I rounded the corner as it was showing 2:13, I hadn't even looked at my watch since like mile 11 as I was deep in the pain cave at this point. I took off at a sprint for the finish line and came across in 2:13:15. That is a 7:05 pr in 3 months on the toughest course I have ever ran in my life. I think I need to pick an easy course so I can run a sub 2, if I was doing the Snow Canyon half today and running that course again (minus the wind of course) with today's effort and race I would have easily done a sub 2.

I have decided that I am going to do the Parowan half as my next half in August. For one after making my subsequent halves noticeably harder each time it might be nice to do a much easier half for once. Secondly because it will be a nice precursor and warmup for the Saint George marathon (my first marathon) in October as the course drops 2300 feet. This should be a nice half to get used to the second half of the marathon that drops a similar distance in a similar amount of miles. Thirdly because it should be a lot cooler than Saint George which will be in the middle of full blow summer by then and most races dry up come summer time here in the desert. And lastly because I really want a sub 2 half this year and I will get it here or at Snow Canyon in November come hell or high water.

So wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee a new shiney pr on a mean and brutal course.