Yesterday was the Golden Ears 10km and ½ Marathon.
This year I opted to run the 10km. My rational was simple, as I had been splitting my time by working with both a ½ marathon and an Intermediate group on Saturday mornings my training wasn’t quite where I would have liked it to be. And by running the 10km race (which started at 9:00am) I would be able to see the ½ marathoners start out at 8:30am and until the countdown would be there for my Intermediate group, would see most of my Intermediate group finish the race as well as be being at the finish line when the ½ marathoners came through.
I often joke that I am a like the energizer bunny, I feel like I can run forever but only have one speed. For the last year or so I have tried to add a speed training session to my weekly workout schedule, but the last little while (ok, since the Seattle ½ Marathon in November) it has fallen by the wayside. I am a proud and slightly competitive girl, so in the days leading up to the race I did start to stress a little on how I was going to pace myself out for this. And then I started to do some math (which is always dangerous), so of course I had a time goal and a mark in my mind.
Saturday morning was a beautiful day to rest my legs, feed my body and for a trip to Lululemon. With spring just around the corner I was very tempted by a pair of neon green shorts, they however looked better on the hanger. But as it is still officially winter I was also drawn to the long sleeves. I couldn’t make up my mind, so I went with my old friend the Power Y Tank in classic stripe white pink shell/pink shell and a pair of Women’s Ultimate Padded Run Socks in bleached coral and also in a size smaller than I would usually wear so that they wouldn’t move around in my shoes (the lengths that I have to go to for my princess feet).
A race held on the first day of daylight savings time is sure to mess with your body clock a little. I may have driven my family crazy by starting DST on Saturday afternoon, but it sure made life a bit easier getting up on Sunday morning and even I managed to get out of the door on schedule.
I arrived at the start line with just enough time to say a quick “hi” and to take a few pics before they headed out.
And then it was my turn to head to the start line. My daughter had prepared a special play list for my run; my only requests were for two certain songs to appear on it and for the play list to only last for 57 minutes. So the few minutes before the race started I was able to distract myself with frustrations of not being able to un-pause my Nano (it’s times like this when I really do feel old).
The 10km race started exactly 30 minutes after the ½ marathon, and away I went. My first few minutes didn’t go well, my pace seemed to be off, my left achilles started to tweak (that was new) and my first spit was an epic fail. Fortunately I found my groove (what achilles?) and cleaned my shirt before I started to approach the Golden Ears Bridge and saw D and then my family drive by on their way to the finish line.
I settled into the climb accompanied by Bruno Mars and really started to feel good. I love running over the bridge; something about it feels so empowering. I also love the climb so was able to pass a few runners who had been ahead of me since we started out. I gave up on the km markers and figuring out my pace because I knew that they were set for the ½ marathon, and focused on seeing the ½ marathoners who were already on the other side of the bridge. As we neared the wind down from the bridge I spotted a second 5km sign (which had to be for the 10k’ers in my mind) and glanced down at my watch…25 minutes and change…woo-hoo! I didn’t think that I would possibly be able hold my current pace for another 5km, but I was determined to stay with it until I started to run out of gas.
I love the wind down from the bridge, and it was also an opportunity to look up to see who was behind me as well as have a few swigs of water. What winds down must also wind up after we crossed under the bridge. My daughter’s play list was working out fantastic, how she made the transition work from Flo Rida to Poison was beyond me, but Brett talking dirty to me in my ear was all I needed to get me back up on the bridge deck.
The stream of runners had started to thin out a bit and my next mark was the fellow who had been several steps ahead of me since the start. I managed to pass him just as we approached the crest of the bridge and he gave me a “good job” as I passed him. That alone fueled my ‘he will not get me on the downhill’.
I held my own as I exited the bridge and with only 2km’ish to go, I still felt like I had some gas in the tank. I really was trying not to look at my watch, but my goal was as much as I love JT, (his was the last song on my play list) I didn’t want to hear his smooth voice.
My legs started to get heavy in the last km, and I also started to get that pukey feeling…yes, we all been there. But as I rounded the corner towards the finish line I could see more than a few familiar faces cheering me in, clearly this was not a time to puke.
I crossed the finish line in 50:17, according to my watch, 50:25 according to the race (damn you gun time) and was more than happy with my efforts and my medal. I always love a race with a finishers medal.
Our cheering squad had a great spot at the finish line and we were able to see both the 10km runners as well as the ½ marathoners enter the finish chute.
Both of these runs were pretty special to me, for some it was their first 10km race and others it was their first half. What made my heart swell even more was that I had watched some of the runners go from running for 3 minutes and walking 3 minutes to now running a ½ marathon! Plain old proud.
Huge congratulations to everyone who ran the Golden Ears 10km and ½ Marathon. There were so many great times and personal bests. Big thanks to everyone who came out to cheer and to the volunteers who kept us safe and on course. And thank you to Peninsula Runners for putting on a great event again.
What did you get up to this weekend?
This past weekend, myself, my fam, D, Barry, Smurfraiya, Brian and Verle made a trek across the line for a little post Black Friday shopping, some great food and to run the Amica Insurance Seattle ½ Marathon.
Hoping to beat the weekend border line-ups our adventure commenced at dawn on Saturday. The wait to cross wasn’t too bad (although, had we chosen the other lane it would have been half the time) and after a quick bite which included a sampling of pancake puppies (no they aren’t dogs) we were on our way to Alderwood Mall. I am not sure how six sets of eyes could possibly miss the sign for the mall exit…so now we’re on our way to North Gate Mall.
We timed our shopping really well. The Black Friday crowds had dissipated but the sales were still happening, and there really were some great deals (40% off the entire American Eagle store, boots half price, buy one get one for $9.99 at Perfumearoma, even Victoria Secret had a few sales). Excited to continue our shopping success roll, we headed for hotel and race package pick-up.
Race package pick-up was extremely organized but VERY noisy as Amica was giving away cowbells for spectators to cheer on their loved ones on race day (Oh, we took one as well, however it’s purpose was not to be used at the race, this one was purely payback to my brother for all of the loud toys that he has given my daughter over the years, he now has a child himself, mua-ha-ha-ha.). The race bag had the usual brochures and magazines, it also contained a few other noteables like a small medical kit, Corn Thins (I know that it isn’t a good advertisement, but I thought that they smelled like urine), shave secret, Udderly Smooth body cream, and Zeasorb antifungal treatment. You will probably never hear this again from me, but I actually liked the race shirt!
The best part of a running road trip is always the pre-race meal (tied with the post-race meal) and ours took place at Purple. D had been to this restaurant before and thought that we would all enjoy it. The first thing that I saw when I walked through the door was a floor to ceiling (two floors) wine tower, with a circular staircase that wrapped around it, yes, I was going to love this place. The ambiance was fantastic, our table was great as was our waiter. While we were looking at the menu, we met C.T.. C.T. introduced himself to us as our Wine Captain (he had me there). I cannot say enough about him, he was mesmerizing, he knew EVERYTHING about wine. I think that C.T. should be an app for your phone, yes the food was very good, but C.T. was the highlight of the night.
My 6:00am wake-up call came a little too quickly. I got through my pre-race checklist and headed to the lobby to meet the gang at 6:45am and we made our way to the start line .8miles away. Sunday morning was cold and foggy, and most of my walk was spent regretting not bringing a long sleeved shirt to run in, but was just thankful that I had remembered my hand warmers.
This race sort of snook up on me. I registered in October, but I had been busy with school and then came down with something, tweaked my shoulder and only managed to put in a couple of long runs. This run was to be what it was, and I did not have high expectations at all. My game plan was to stay as close to the 2:00 pace bunny as possible, for as long as possible and walk the water stations. I had also just switched from my feels like home Salomons and joined the Glycerin 10 club (not my choice, my shoe boss Conny gave me no other option), so I was feeling a little apprehensive about the whole event.
The race started at 7:30am on the nose. I assumed that the route would be flat and was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite, I love hills (the course description is “rolling”). And it got rolling right away. Also new for me this race was my playlist, I went for easy and steady beats with just a smattering of bad boy but in all the right places. I spent the first 15-20 minutes trying to weave in and out of the crowd to catch the pace bunny (really, I do these things to myself, it would have been a whole lot easier to have made my way through the crowd while waiting for the race to start and then just started beside her), but once I did, I settled myself into my music and paced myself slightly ahead of her and hoped not to see her again.
We moved from the city to the I-90 south express lanes (something about running on the freeway that makes you feel important, it’s like yes, they closed the freeway for us) where I caught one final glimpse of the pace bunny before leaving her in my dust in the Mt. Baker tunnel. This is also where I saw my favourite sign, it said “Go monster calves”. Everything was feeling good, no aches, no pains!
We came out of the tunnel and made our way along Lake Washington. The fog had still not lifted, so there wasn’t much of a view which was unfortunate. But what I did enjoy was looking at all of the beautiful homes on McGilvra Blvd, wow!
I hit the halfway mark at 57:58 and was determined to hold my pace and that’s when we hit the big hill. There were people powering past me, and as they say, slow and steady wins the race, well not really the race but certainly the hill and still gives you enough for what is on the other side of the hill (what goes up doesn’t always necessarily come down right away). It was along this section where one of the spectators was handing out quarter sections of Crispy Crème doughnuts! They looked delicious, but I had my fill with the pancake puppies the day before.
The route continued to roll, it meandered though a wooded section which was very peaceful and then back into suburbia. As much as I went into the race as it is what it is, I was now keeping track of my mile markers and doing the math and knew that I was several minutes ahead of the 2:00 pace bunny.
The final 3km of a ½ marathon are always a struggle for me and usually where my pace falls apart, so with 3miles/5km to go in the race I started to visualize the 5km route that I run in my neighbourhood that I know like the back of my hand to get me through the last 30 minutes.
By this time, the fog had lifted enough so that I could see more than just a few hundred metres ahead of me and for the first time in the entire race I knew where I was! I could see the I5, and I could see the exit that we took to get to our hotel, I could also see what I thought would be the final hill of the race. Boy was I wrong.
In the last two miles of the race there were three serious “rolls”, I couldn’t help but think what a cruel marathon route this would be to run. As we came up the last hill we made an immediate left and there it was, the mile 13 marker!
Sometimes that final .1 in a ½ marathon is the longest section to run, but as we approached the finish line we entered into Memorial Stadium and the finish line was right in the middle of the football field! Talk about getting a final boost of energy, I immediately ran taller, faster, I was Tom Cruise! What a rush! Chip time 1:56:15 and couldn’t have been happier.
The medals were being handed out by soldiers, and in true Keri fashion, I found a tall, strapping young man (sorry lady soldiers) and received my finisher medal.
All in all, I think that this was one of my favourite races. The route was great, there were enough water stations (one every 10-15 minutes) that you didn’t need to carry your own water, in addition to the post run snacks, soup was also served and did I mention that the finish line rocked?
Big thanks to the event co-ordinators, the many volunteers and the city of Seattle for hosting such a great event. A big woo-hoo to my running mates on a great race (D placed 9th in her age category)!
Our post race meal took place at none other than P.F. Changs. Unfortunately we did not have C.T. there to walk us through the wine menu, but we did do him proud.
This morning was all about the BMO bling and the stories that went along with the bling. Huge congratulations to Brain on running his first marathon (which from what I hear, wasn’t all that bad), to Coach Soraiya and Carissa for being the cutest duo out there, to Colin for qualifying for the BOSTON MARATHON (woo-hoo) and to Julia for completing the 1/2 marathon with a sub 2!
Guest post: Theuglyfinish.com
When we chose the running training plan we used for our half marathon training we looked at a number of different options. Most of them were similar, but a few fit our schedule and goals better than others. For example, we felt more comfortable actually running 13.1 miles prior to race day. So, the plan we chose scheduled that distance toward the end of the program.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a plan that is right for you. But, the most important decision you make is the decision to stick to the plan you choose. Learn from our experts how to choose the right running training plan for you and then execute it.
Where Preparation Meets Progress
Using a running training plan for your routine and your race preparation will not only make your workouts more organized, it will help keep your life a little less chaotic. It is also a simple way to track your weekly mileage and progression and to spot any training mistakes.
With so many training plans available it is easy to become overwhelmed with what to look for. Choose a program geared toward your level of running (beginner, intermediate or advanced), and that is specific to your training goal or race distance. Week 1 of the training program should be at a training level at which you are comfortable running. A well balanced training plan will include cross-training activities as well as strength and core training. Don’t forget that rest days are part of your training plan.
Keri Cawthorne, Owner Iron Mountain Movement
On Sunday I ran the 2nd annual Golden Ears ½ Marathon. My training for this race was a little unusual, a theme for me lately. Since the beginning of the year I have been working with both my ½ Marathon Training Clinic and my Intermediate Running group at the same time on Saturday mornings. And although I was able to get the majority of my long runs in there was a lot of stop/starting while doing so. That being said I have also made some changes to my diet, combined with my Sunday evening Boston training session with D, I am 5lbs lighter than usual. So Sunday’s run was going to be a bit of a crap shoot, I was either going to bonk at 65 minutes or have the race of my life.
When race day rolled around I was prepared for anything; rain, wind, thunder and lightning?
Conny must have rubbed off on me after all of these years because by the time I had finished loading my car I had five clothing options. I am never that indecisive, even when I am going downtown for the night, I take one outfit, there is no option (but always take a light and a dark bra, too much info boys? You never know what you will find on your travels and you definitely don’t want to have to go emergency bra shopping). So in addition to my base outfit of a tank and crops, I also had sleeves, a long sleeved shirt, a running jacket and a garbage bag.
As it turned out I wasn’t the only one dealing with the what to wear dilemma. But after a quick discussion with the girls we decided on wearing our running jackets, rationale: it wasn’t raining but it would be windy on top of the bridge and if it didn’t start raining by the time we hit the 10km finish we would leave our jackets with the cheering section there. And if that wasn’t to be the plan, it was too late because the race was just about to start.
We made our way to the start line and away we went. I always have my music ready to go so all I have to do is hit the play button, but nothing so far was easy on this Sunday morning, I hit the play button and had a major music catastrophe I was listening to Tom Jones, OMG. I knew that I had put “Sex Bomb” on my Valentine’s spin play list for E, but would not have dared to put it on my running play list. Was my nano too much technology for me? I couldn’t worry about it then, I would just have to listen through, it would be over soon enough, but then it got worse, my music stopped altogether and I hadn’t even hit the 1km marker! Draaaa-ma. I couldn’t listen to the sound of cars and my breathing for the next two hours so I pulled out of the pack, took off my gloves and regrouped.
With my music now intact I but my tank out of place I decided to ignore the lesser of two evils and just get running. By the time that I hit the Golden Ears Bridge I was in a comfortable stride. I did a fair amount of passing as I climbed the bridge, which is always good for the ego at the beginning of the race, but there is a fine line between going out too hard and running at your race pace, and as tempted as I was I wasn’t silly enough to try to draft in behind Jim as he crested the bridge.
At this point of the race I could see the front runners who had already crossed the bridge and were coming back over the otherside. I gave a big woo-hoo to Colin through the traffic as I listened to Chad profess his undying love to me. Feeling pretty warm now (a combination of Chad and the grade of the bridge) my gloves were off and my jacket was unzipped, I could not get to the 10km finish fast enough.
I wound down the bridge crossed to the other side and then back up again. My plan was to walk this section but I had fallen into the beat of my husband (and every husband’s ) theme song “Sexy and I Know It” and continued back over the bridge. It was my turn to wave to the the racers on the other side.
I knew that once I was off the bridge the rest of the race would be mostly flat so I enjoyed the last little bit of undulation and picked it up a little, and then picked it up a little more when I saw Gisele and Laurie cheering us on from the bottom of the bridge. It’s amazing what a boost seeing a couple of smiling faces can give you, thanks ladies.
With less than 2km to go to the half way split I was overheating and kicking myself for not leaving my extra clothes with Gisele and Laurie. As we circled the round-about there was a big cheering section with awesome signs “your feet hurt from kicking so much ass”…um yeah and my fav “you’re kind of a big deal”, they brought a smile to my face and served as a great distraction to bring me into the half way point (10.09km) at 54:53 minutes.
Conny and Jody were a sight for sore eyes, I could not wait to gear down to bare shoulders. Because I was wearing my camelback my disrobing and redressing was a bit of a process, but it did give me a few seconds to get some reassuring words and then to be passed by Soraiya who already had her jacket off and in her hands. I don’t even think that she broke stride when she dropped it. That is when our game of leapfrog began.
I tucked in behind her through the trails and out onto the road and that’s when I saw my fam, what a surprise. I had left the race map on my kitchen counter, it didn’t even occur to me that they would come out on course, they are more of a start line-go for coffee-finish line kind of crew. I took a break from my music as they drove along side me for a few minutes.
My fam is a pretty sporty group. I joke a lot about how I live at the rink for half of the year and the ball park for the other and I can’t even skate and throw like a girl, but there is no other place that I would rather be. So when it is my turn, and they are on my turf cheering me on I’m pretty proud, and it means a lot.
I waved goodbye to them as I turned onto Ford Road. I was not looking forward to this section because it seems to go on forever, so much so that I could still see D far ahead in the distance. If I was going to bonk or something was going to twang, this would be where it would happen. I was still on pace for a sub 2 but I could feel that I was starting to fatigue.
Instead of focusing on an entire 21.1km, several years ago I started breaking the race down into two sets of 8km and one 5km, a little mind game but it works. So once I hit the 16km mark I took myself to my 5km out and back route that I run weekly, and I knew that I would be done in less than 30 minutes at the most.
I completed the dreaded section of Ford Road and made my way up to the dykes. I could see the bridge that I had crossed earlier and it looked soooooo far away. I started to let my mind wander and watched Soraiya’s easy gait. By this time I felt like I was running through molasses and dragging 50lbs of ass behind me, but I was determined to finish strong, especially after all of my injuries and anticlimactic finishes last year.
I’m not sure if I was on autopilot and missed the 18km sign or there was just no 18km marker, but before I knew it I was at 19km. I checked my watch and was still doing well time wise, and could even possibly make a PB, but for the life of me I could not remember what my PB time was. I mean really, I remember those things, I know the PB’s of other people, and it’s not like I don’t see the shadow box with a picture of me crossing the finish line of that very race complete with medal, bib and finish time displayed on my office wall EVERY DAY…
I tried to keep my breathing calm as I took the short road detour and then back into the trail towards the finish line. At the last water station I took a cup of water and splashed it on my face, I know I am vain, but nobody really needs to see the salt marks covering my face when I cross the finish line. As I came out of the trails, I wiped the sweat from my face one last time (this running is hard work you know) and started my kick or what was left of it.
There is something about crossing a finish line that just makes you feel like a rock star (I think it may not be running that I am addicted to, I think it may be the finish line) it also helps that my running family have really loud voices. Official finish time 1:56:13 (16 seconds shy of my PB, but I will take it).
Big thanks to Peninsula Runners for organizing a great race and to the volunteers for keeping us safe and on track. Thank you also to our cheering squad; Conny, Jody, Gisele, Laurie, Gerri, Sheila, Rae and Dave. Big congratulations to Jim and Brian on their PB’s, to Colin on his 12th place overall finishing as well as 2nd place finishing in his age category, to D finishing 1st in her age category, to Spring, Shelley, Rob and the Michelle’s on your first ½ marathons, to Amanda and Brandi on your first 10km race and to Susa on your first 10km race in Canada. And last but certainly not least, thank you to Conny and Colin for the hot tub and red wine that followed the race.
So what’s next? Time to get off the road and hit the trails!
Guest post: uglyfinish.com
We have all heard the saying, “mind over matter”. This rings true when preparing for a long distance race… as long as you arrive prepared. We can run with confidence when we take the appropriate steps to get there, one run at a time.
Long distance training is as much about mental preparation as it is about physical preparation. Learn how to train for a half marathon, both physically and mentally so that you feel both confident and prepared on race day.
Mentally Training for a Half Marathon
Being both physically and mentally prepared for a long distance race will set you up for success. Check out this list of training tips to see if you’re on the right track toward the finish line.
- Have a training plan and stick to it.
- Add time increases of no more than 10% to your weekly long run.
- A sample training week should consist of 2 to 3 30-minute short runs, of varying intensity and surfaces, plus 1 long run. Try to spread your runs out over the course of the week.
- Train how you plan to run. You never want to try something new on race day, so take time to experiment with electrolyte replacement and different fuel sources over the course of your training. Keep track of how each run felt in a running journal.
- Resting is a part of training. Schedule rest days into your training plan, especially the day following your weekly long run.
- Pain is a warning sign from the body that should not be ignored. Deal with aches, pains and injuries promptly and don’t get discouraged. Freeze a Styrofoam cup of water; ice any areas that feel tender after each run. As the ice melts, peel back the cup, by the end of your training it will look like a medal from your war wounds.
- Run or drive the race route before race day. Knowing what and when to expect it will increase your confidence and your race day experience.
- The night before your race, lay all of your running gear out as well packing a bag with a change of clothes for after the race. Attach your race bib and timing chip, so all you have to do in the morning is get dressed, eat and run.
- Don’t let your nerves get the best of you. It is easy to get caught up in the crowd and head out to quickly at the start of the race.
Stick to your plan and running pace, breathe and enjoy the day.
When it comes to a race souvenir, I will take a medal over a shirt any day. To be honest I never wear the shirts, they are usually ill fitting and an ugly colour, did you see this year’s big bird yellow First Half shirt? But a medal, ahh a medal is forever (even better when it is a placement medal)!
Last year I completed two races in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, Seattle and Las Vegas. Now when you complete two or more of these races in a calendar year you qualify for the Heavy Medals, ooooo. According to their website no application is required and within 8 to 10 weeks of your qualifying event you will receive your Heavy Medal in the mail. And yes, you can qualify for multiple medals.
Look what I received in the mail today 9 1/2 weeks after completing my qualifying event…
Yesterday I headed downtown and joined Bev, Cheryl and Elizabeth to cheer in some of our run family as they finished the 2012 Vancouver First Half 1/2 Marathon.
Big congratulations to everyone who ran and a huge shout out to Connie H and Jim W on their PB’s (my apologies to Jim, you came in so fast I didn’t have my camera ready)!
Here are a couple of pics from the sidelines…
It was decided that we would be running this year’s Las Vegas Rock and Roll event before we left the race last year. And when it was announced that it would be a night run, it was just a matter of booking the flights, but with one minor change, this year for the pure enjoyment factor, I would run the ½ marathon instead of the full. The countdown seemed to last months, which included many “this time next month, we will…” , “this time next week, we will…”, and before we knew it was Vegas time baby!
We checked into the MGM Grande and dropped our gear and headed down for the infamous BLT at Wolfgang Puck. As Chris and Soraiya were missing from this year’s trip we decided to have a little fun, of course at their expense. We are so funny.
Retracing our steps from last year seemed to be a theme on Friday afternoon as we headed to race package pick-up, we said hello to Toby Keith and got lost trying to find the convention centre. Once we were there, pick-up and last minute corral changes went smoothly, and again had some fun with Chris and Soraiya.
There were no celebrity sightings this year, but a definite highlight was the Barefoot Winery sampling booth. Why do they not have one of these at every race event?
Friday evening was supposed to be a quiet evening singing along with songs we knew at the Paris Piano bar…Friday evening as with the wee hours of Saturday morning will remain in Vegas.
Although we were up and at ‘em relatively early, Saturday morning was a hat and sunglasses type of morning. The girls shopped, the boys looked at old cars. On our way to the outlet mall, we saw the sea of Santas leaving the Great Santa Run, even for Vegas, it was a weird sight. Our group reconvened over lunch at Cabo Wabo, tested the waters (they were calm) and ate what may have been the greatest bowl of chips and guac EVER.
Saturday night was not only carb loading night, it was Vegas dress night! Dinner was at Lombardi Romagna Mia, other than a slight food mix up which lead to a near force feeding and a stare down with risotto girl, we had a really great time and had plenty to talk about. That was until we got to the cab line up. Ahead of us was a very intoxicated fellow (Vegas, go figure) who was waiting for a limo, because due to his lack of kids and wife that evening, he was doing him (his words not mine) until he saw D’s pink athletic tape running up the outside of her calf, which ensued him to ask in a very loud voice “what is thaaat in your stockin’?” Which then became the line of the night.
You should never do anything new on race day, I would also like to extend this rule to the evening before race day. Note to self: as hot as they may look, as well as they go with the dress; new heels are never a good idea the evening before a big race. I also learned that sequins irritate your skin.
Race day came very quickly and without the solution to the dilemma, when and what do you eat for a 5:30pm race? I opted for a late morning breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs, hashbrowns and fresh salsa (don’t knock it ‘til you try it), my meal did come with sausage but I thought that the salsa might be pushing the envelope a bit so settled at just a little nibble of one. With still a few items that I wanted to pick up, I did a little leisurely shopping and was back at the room and even had time for a 7 minute power nap before my transformation began.
With this whole turning 40 thing and just wanting to do something a little different (me doing me) I decided that I was going to run this race dressed as Wonder Woman. As my Mum is a master seamstress she was able to transform my red Lulu Power Y tank and my blue Speed Shorts into something Diana Prince worthy.
Our group met in the hotel lobby at 3:00pm and began our trek to Mandalay Bay. This year Colin was the only one running the full marathon and we certainly weren’t going to let him start his race alone. Although the sold out ½ marathon didn’t start until 5:30pm, the streets were extremely crowded, and a bit pushy at times. The start of the marathon was very exciting, the sun was setting and the energy was intense! We wished Colin well and away he went….run like hell Colin!
With 90 minutes before our race started, we went in search of gear check. It was inside, no it was outside, no it was inside, and finding it was nearly impossible. So many people you could hardly move and when you did it was at a snails pace. If you had any kind of anxiety about close quarters or claustrophobia this was not a place you would have enjoyed being. My highlight was meeting San Diego Wonder Woman while in line for the washroom!
Eventually we found gear check and started to make our way back to the start line amongst the crowds of people. As we were nearing race time people were starting to get a bit panicky so I was glad when we got outside.
By now it was dark, the wind had picked up and it was chilly…not shorts and tank top weather. Fortunately for us, we had the best support crew/sweatshirt holders we could ask for. They stood with us until moments before the race started and kindly took our belongings.
The race started at 5:30 and corral 7 made its way across the start line 8 minutes later (I found out later). Only a few moments into the race I heard what sounded like a massive water balloon hitting the pavement…it wasn’t a water balloon…poor guy.
I knew that the first few miles were going to be congested, until the crowds thinned out, but that never seemed to happen. I was really disappointed by the runner etiquette displayed by some, walkers 3 and 4 abreast chatting, unwilling to move or let others through. I am a big believer, on the trails or on the road SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT, I do it myself. Not to mention that the corral seating for where I was placed was 1:55, why am I passing walkers?
The marathoners had their own separate lane, and why shouldn’t they? By the time they hit this part of the course they would have already run over 13 miles and this race was also a Boston Marathon qualifier race. There were so many ½ marathoners using their lane, I witnessed one lady who was asked and then told by several marathoners to move over, I don’t know if she was oblivious or just rude, because she never did.
I chose to run this race without music because I wanted to hear and feel the energy and as well as the bands. I was a little disappointed in the bands or what may have been my poor timing, it seemed that whenever I approached a band they were just finishing a song, with exception of the band playing Adele’s “Someone Like You”, not the most driving beat or motivating song. I do highly recommend running in costume though, you are not being cheered “go random runner” I felt and heard plenty of Wonder Woman love while on the course, which made up for the lack of rock and roll and of course running along the Strip was absolutely fantastic!
I also chose to carry only a small bottle of water with me and use the water stations. Just after the ½ way point I found them to be too hectic and not manned as well as they should have been, so decided to use my own water. I am thinking I made the right choice especially after the numerous reports of “tainted” water.
One choice that I did not make was for my Garmin screen to go blank, yet again. And without knowing exactly what time we crossed the start line, I had no idea of what my time was. Although I never felt like I could completely stride out due to the congestion and constant weaving in and out of other runners, I felt really strong (it may have had a lot to do with the costume). I was so sure that I my pace was good that I did not stop for the free beer being handed out in front of one of the pubs.
As we rounded back around from Freemont Street to Las Vegas Blvd and the Stratosphere, I knew that it would only be a matter of minutes before I would be able to see the lights of the Mandalay Bay in the distance. The funny thing about Vegas is that things look so close because they are so big, but in reality the Stratosphere is 4 miles away from the finish line!
Over the course of the last few miles the crowds of runners did start to thin out, and the crowds of spectators now nearly lined the sides of the street. Passing the Venetion Hotel was a big deal, because I knew that I had walked to my hotel from there only two days before, and the MGM was only a mile from the finish line. It’s funny how we rationalize the distance during a run.
It was during this stretch that the 3:30 marathon pace bunny ran by me as if I was standing still! But it didn’t matter, because the Wonder Woman fan club seemed to be out in full force. As a runner you always appreciate spectator support along a course, but as you come into the final stretch of a race, especially one of this magnitude it becomes electric! I love reading the signs people bring. Worst sign I saw was something about running into hell care of a religious group, which is something that I am sure that the marathoners could relate to (although it may have not been meant to be taken that way). Best sign along the course and it made me think of my Thursday morning Studio class, “Don’t stop…that’s what she said!”
With the finish line in sight and still feeling really strong, I wiped the sweat off my face, made sure that my crown was still in tact, chin up, chest out and shirt down I started my kick. As I got closer I realized I may not be able cross the finish line as the ½ marathon finish line was completely jammed with people.
What a complete disappointment, there were no arms in the air/horns up crossing of the mat, instead I put one foot on the mat and came to a complete standstill. I have never experienced anything like this before. The line-up to receive the finishing medal was insane, there were volunteers screaming at us to keep moving as there were other spots to receive medals. I stayed to the middle and managed to have mine tossed to me (I heard reports later that they ran out of ½ marathon finisher medals), the same was done with a bottle of water and my space blanket. By this time I had cooled enough and was absolutely freezing (the temp was only several degrees) so decided against waiting in another ridiculous line-up to have my post race picture taken (you know I must be cold if I forfeit a photo op) and slowly made my way out of the secure zone in search of section S (for SMF), where we had all agreed to meet once we were done, and the location of my hoodie.
Within a few minutes I was reunited with a very tired support crew (but they did manage to have a drink and share a tuna sandwich while we were running…poor things) and not long after that D and Conny. It wasn’t long after that when I received a congratulatory call from my baby and she filled us in on all of our times as well as the predicted finishing times for Colin and Barry (you have got to love a tech savy teen). We were all a little surprised at our times, and not pleasantly either, all of us felt like we had much quicker runs. Hell, I didn’t stop for the free beer because I didn’t want to mess with my pace, kinda wish I had now.
Even with a hoodie I was still freezing so the ladies and I decided to head back into the bedlam of the Mandalay Bay and get the rest of our gear. The crowds didn’t even bother me this time, because it was warm. Finding gear check wasn’t nearly as difficult this time and the line-ups for the bathroom at that moment were almost non-existent, we even managed to find a central spot on the hotel floor (it was so much better than being outside) to call our own as we waited for the rest of the group to join us.
As Barry’s predicted finishing time approached, we headed back into the cold, and now rainy night to give him a bit of love. All I can say is thank goodness for our cell phones as we may have never found him because he had been directed into the hotel after he came out of the secure zone.
Once we were together, it was a mad dash or as quick as you could possibly move after a run like that back to the hotel so that we could shower and make our 11:00pm, yes 11:00pm, dinner reservations at PF Changs.
And what a meal…two orders of lettuce wraps, nine other dishes, plus a bowl of white rice and a bowl of brown rice. We started out so polite and then it just became an all out feeding frenzy, there may have only been a morsel or two left over! In true PF Changs fashion, we were totally taken care of, really, where else would we go to eat after an event like that?
We moved fairly slowly back to the hotel, but I still had enough in me for a wind sprint across the casino. I know that I totally had an unfair advantage (like running 13.1 miles less than Colin), but I was wearing heels.
So would I run this event again? No. The ½ marathon route was fantastic and I was fortunate enough to start early enough so didn’t encounter many of the issues (no water, no food, no space blankets, no medals, etc) that thousands of others did, but there were just too many people. And after hearing that the race organizers have plans to up registration to 60,000 participants next year before rectifying this year’s problems, I may not run another Rock N’ Roll event, but given my late night annihilation of Colin across the casino floor, a stiletto dash may be in my future.
Will I return to Vegas? Abso-freaking-lutely, but on a different weekend.
Thanks to my fam, my running fam, Las Vegas, coke finger, Fat Burger, the guy from Langley, Miss M’s sparkly spectator cup, D’s gang signs, 867530ni-ee-ine, gingerbeard, cut-out Soraiya and Chris, maraschino cherry stems and even risotto girl for a 90th birthday weekend (that I think we actually forgot to celebrate) that I won’t soon forget.
When the snow started falling on Thursday night it didn’t make me happy. When I awoke on Friday morning to several inches of it I got a little cranky, it was just too early for winter and all of its debauchery. But after I made my way out of my driveway I found that the snow was exactly where it was supposed to be for once; on the grass, in the schoolyards, on the mountains and not on the roads, which made for a fantastic running weekend.
On Saturday, the ½ Marathon Training Clinic got to pull out their winter woolies and headed out on a beautiful run through Pitt Meadows and across the Golden Ears Bridge. Joining us for our adventure was Kathie from Peninsula Runners who is also the Race Director for the Golden Ears ½ Marathon and 10km, coincidently the race that we are training for. Not only is this a local race (and everyone receives a medal), it supports local programs, giving 100% of net proceeds to the School Meal Program in the Langley School District and Friends in Need Food Bank in Pitt Meadows – I love that!
I think that this run went down in the books as one of those memorable runs (and stretches) that will make us think back and say “ahhhhh”.
Sunday was equally chilly and surprisingly sausage free. The Speed Clinic hit the track for 60 minutes of caterpillar, 400 metre repeats and cadence turnover drills. Not quite “ahhhhh” but still very effective.
How did you spend your weekend?