Monday, September 27, 2010

You Go Girl Half Marathon

 Race Photos provided by Tony Seabolt

"Roberta" Martin aka Bullseye Bob Martin exiting the Limo in a fashionable pink skirt and long tresses.

Start of the half...I'm on the left, Bullseye Bob (1:35 pacer) and Karen Maples Leahy (Overall Masters Winner) representing the Half-Fanatics

Tried and failed at passing Lululemon girl in last 2 miles.  So close!

You Go Girl! Half Marathon Website

I signed up for this race as soon as registration opened.  Why?

  • First, any event directed by Tony Phillipi, Marathon Maniac #2 and Data Bar Events Head Boss Man (I'm not sure that's his EXACT title but it sounds a little Italian Mafia so I'll go with it) has been successful in the past.  He's a competitor and knows what we runners want in a race. 
  • Second, it's all women!  How cool is that?  I've never participated in a "ladies only" event (unless you call standing in a long line for the restroom an event). 
  • Third, this half marathon falls two weeks before the Portland Marathon and I was hoping to use it as a gauge to test my marathon fitness.  My goal was to get as close to 1:30 as possible.  A 1:30 finish is a good representation of a 3:10 marathon.  1:33 would get me closer to a 3:17-3:20.  These are the facts and don't ask me how I figured this out.
On Friday, September 24th, I arrived at the packet pickup and managed to get my goodie bag which included a duffel bag, hoodie, headband, plus my chip timing and bib number.

You Go Girl!  Goodie Bag

I missed seeing Tony Seabolt as he was hiding behind the curtain helping to put together the finisher's medals.

"Hey Tony P!  You want I should whack any course cutters or bandits?"  Tony Seabolt in action.

I ran 6 miles on Friday nice and easy.  Saturday, my daughter had soccer pictures and then a soccer game.  The pictures and game were 4.25 miles apart and I had one hour between the two so guess what I did...of course, I ran from the pictures to the game to keep my legs loose for Sunday. 

Saturday night I carefully planned my clothing options (okay, carefully may be a bit exaggerated) and was in bed by 10:30 pm.  We hoped to leave Sunday morning around 7:00.  I was fortunate to once again to have the start of the race less than an hour from home.

Race Morning and I am awake minutes before my alarm sounds at 6:00.  I choose to wear my Marathon Maniac tank even though it's a half-marathon.  Someday (maybe soon!) I'll get to sport the blue half-fanatic wear.  I'm not wearing my super-fast red hot racing shoes this time since my last race (Over the Narrows 10 Mile)  my shins were hurting for days.  Stepping outside, the air is mild but the rain is relentless.  Trees are calm so hopefully that is a good indicator that wind won't play a factor today.

Checklist:  Garmin, watch, second watch, bib number, chip on shoe, extra shoes, gloves, light running jacket, hat, aquafor, sweatshirt, sweatpants, towel, long sleeve running shirt, kitchen sink...done!  I am ready.

My husband, Jeff, has volunteered to be a course marshall and will meet Tony Seabolt at the start line by 8:00.  We arrive at 7:45 and I jog to the start about 3 blocks away.  I find an empty porta-potty - Score!   Women are everywhere and men are carrying purses.  I love it!

Jeff and Tony meet up, the bright orange vest hand-off is complete, and we head back to the SUV so I can drop off my coat and Jeff can drive to his volunteer spot near Wright Park around miles 3 and 4.

Arriving back at the starting area, I use the porta-potty one more time - this is the "better safe than sorry" bathroom stop.  I spy a covered area and retreat toward the back and out of the constant rain.  My back is achy today and I'm stretching in every imagineable way to relieve some of the stress. 

Pacers are introduced and Bullseye Bob has given quite a show in his blonde wig, pink skirt, pink trimmed shoes, and bright pink compression shorts with two bullseyes planted on his backside.  After the introductions, Bob quickly changes into his racing clothes as he feels "weird" in his outfit (much to the relief of his wife, Marci, who doesn't want a new chapter in their lives to begin with Bob ENJOYING cross-dressing).


10 minutes to the start and I find my way toward the 7:00 minute pace sign.  Most of the crowd is lingering around the 9:00 pace and further back.  The rain had been off and on during the hour since we arrived.  As the Star-Spangled Banner is sung, the heavens seem to open up.

One minute to the start, the crowd has pushed up to the line and we are drenched!   Temperature is mild today so I actually am enjoying the water running down my face.  Is that weird?

Here we go!  We head down Market Street and turn around after the one mile mark.   Turning back, I'm astounded at the mass of women running and cheering for other runners.  What an amazing group of women!  I'm trying to encourage others but mostly am just trying to breathe and keep my rhythm.

We approach Wright Park at mile 3 after an uphill and I'm greeted by my volunteer husband.  We enter the park and get to run on a gravel and dirt path and exit the same way we entered.  I high five my husband, Jeff and fly down the hill out of the park. 

I nearly miss a turn at mile 5 but do a little airplaine arm maneuver to recover.  Heading down to Dock Street and closing in on mile 6, I hear quick footsteps fast-approaching.  Karen Maples Leahy, who had been running with Bob Martin, made a decisive attempt to get past me.  I kept her even with me for a little while, but I knew my legs were rebelling.  I slowed down and she pulled ahead.  I would not be able to catch her until AFTER the race.   Miles 7 through 12 are flat and my mile splits don't reflect that fact.  My times should be in the low 7s but my leg turnover had slowed and I was running flat-footed.  Ugh.

At some point in the last couple of miles, I finally caught up to a girl who had the cutest outfit.  Should I REALLY be noticing these things when I'm racing?  I kept her even with me (I had to find out what brand clothing she was wearing...duh!  Lululemon, FYI) until that final ascent in the last half mile.  Bob had already caught up to me and passed me and was yelling at Karen and I to push harder and go for it!  As I crested the hill and began the gradual downhill to the finish, Bob slowed and allowed me to pass him in the final turn as we crossed the mat.  What a gentleman!   I saw Karen finish 10 seconds in front of me and the Lululemon outfit girl was about 4 seconds in front of me.

Bob's encouragement helped me to push a little harder at the end than was comfortable, but who says racing is comfortable?

I finished 8th overall out of 675.  The overall winner, Lori Buratto, is a master (40 years and over) and was taken out of the master's division.  Karen Maples Leahy was the first master and I followed her in to second place in the master's division. 

My splits:

1         6:57

2         6:50

3         7:35

4         7:50

5         6:40

6         6:50

7         7:09

8         7:17

9         7:18

10       7:25

11       7:29

12       7:42

13       7:23

.12        :40

I received a beautiful shell necklace for 2nd Master and was 11 seconds too slow to receive $100 in prize money.  Life is good.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Trail Run!

Port Gamble Trail - 4,000 acres with trails!  Four Thousand Acres!  Are you kidding me? 

I've discovered trails this past year as I trained for my first ultramarathon, the Mt. Si 50 mile back in April.  Ever since I bonked at mile 9 at the 2006 Boston Marathon due to complete lack of road mileage (17 miles total, with everything else on the treadmill-a story in itself), I've made it a habit to train most of the time on the surface I will race.

After the 10 mile race on Saturday, Tony, Main Maniac #3, asked if I was running the Roots Rock Run the next day.  It was a 50k and after a lot of thought (2 seconds), I told him I'd check out the website and might see him the next day if it wasn't too late to register.  I need a long run anyway.

I found the website and saw I could still register and/or show up day of race.  All of my race gear sat by the front door as I went to bed.  During the night, I woke up a number of times with an achy back and my shins hurt as I walked to the bathroom.  I realized that my super-awesome-lightweight-speedy-red-racing-shoes didn't provide any cushion and my shins were protesting. 

Sunday morning arrived and I made the long-thought-out decision (1 second) to stay in bed and call it a rest day.  It would have been "fun" - this term is relative to runners - to be on the trail for 31 miles and not on the road for my long run.  Despite the allure of mud, roots, rocks, and the promise of a barbeque after running hours through trails, I knew it would be prudent of me to take it easy today.  I hope being "prudent" doesn't disqualify me from my Maniac status.

Sunday and Monday rolled around with me running 4 and 6 miles consecutively.  Jeff had Tuesday off work and he, being the amazing husband that he is, agreed to ride his bike on the trails while I ran.  Our plan:  leave by 8:00 am and be back in our car by 12:30 pm.  My daughter had a physical therapy appointment at 2:00 and that would give me just enough time to get home and leave again.

What's that about the best laid plans???  My husband's car went into complete meltdown the night before the run and since he needs a sticker on his car to get into the military base where he works, we needed to stop at the security building to obtain one for my vehicle so he can take that to work.  

Passing the Hood Canal Bridge, Jeff and I realized that neither one of us had EVER been beyond that point.  We both have lived in this county our entire lives and have never had any reason to go to Port Gamble; not even for Logging Days!  Actually we were quite surprised at how beautiful the little town was as we drove through the main road, past immaculately maintained lawns, picture-perfect old charm homes, a water tower, picnic area, all nestled against the shores of Hood Canal.  Photo slideshow of Port Gamble

We find Gate 2, one of several entrances to the trails.  It's 9:30 and that gives me about 3 hours to run around in the forest.  My goal had been 20 miles but having run trails this past year, I chuck it and go for time, hoping I can get in 14 since I don't know the terrain.  With Jeff on his bike, loaded down with my camel pack (hooray!), we take off down the trail, map at the ready.  We're slowly cruising along a wide dirt/gravel road.  I've gotten out of breath and realize Jeff's tires are slipping on loose gravel.  We manage to get to the top of the trail and it feels like at least 3 miles but the odometer reads 1.5.  Oh my.

Continuing on this path, we stop when we have to make a decision on which way to turn.  There have been numerous single track paths but we're trying to stay on the wide road with the bike.  Map in hand, we choose to head towards a "lake".  I'm leading the way, head down a hill and start slipping in mud.  I've nearly mastered the art of "almost falling but not quite".  Jeff has maneuvered through the mud nearly skidding out but saves himself.

We stop at a point where we should be able to see a lake, but it's either dried up or is beyond the treeline.  We have encounted a really nice beanie hat with braids and water bottle holder, presumably from Saturday's race.  Inwardly I've been envisioning Orc's running wild through the forest, devouring innocent horses and their riders.  Now I wonder if they like the taste of runners, too.  Really, Orcs don't discriminate against fresh meat.

We head up towards the start of Sunday's race and get a little turned around.  Soon we've chosen a wet grassy trail that dead ends.  Turning around, we think we've found a connector but this is also a dead end.  Finally we arrive at the right trailhead and turn, stopping partway down so I can wring out my socks and put on some Aquaphor so I don't get blisters.  Putting back on my water-laden shoes, we head down a sweet downhill and the terrain is much nicer for Jeff's wheels.  We've been seeing arrows and flour markings throughout the trails, evidence of races past.

Down, down, down and we arrive at Gate1, not Gate 6, the start of Sunday's race.  Down, down, down means we have to go up, up, up!  Gathering up my courage, Jeff and I put our heads down and agree to meet at the next left, which is about 1.5 miles UP the trail.  It's a coin toss on who will arrive first.

Panting, I see Jeff stopped up ahead, ready to give me water.  I have to keep moving because I can't drink while trying to inhale oxygen.  Sweat is dripping off his nose and he's probably wondering why he's not home watching the Psych marathon with our daughters.

This next part of the trail goes down.  And down.  And down.  And then, up.  And up.  And level.  Anyway we FINALLY arrive back at the same trail we began our journey.  We have 30-34 minutes exactly to get the car and leave.  Heading back out the same way we started, we go through little patches of Mordor which I hadn't noticed before.  I've been hearing rustling throughout the run, and nearly jumped out of my skin when a black belt squirrel loudly warned me to get off his front porch.   I've seen piles of horse and bear droppings, and one especially large deposit that must have been from somebody's pet elephant.

We see a pile of bear poop with the most scary, pointy claw imprint and realize it's OVER Jeff's tire mark from our first time around.  Run fast.  Look left, look right.  Please don't eat us, Mr./Mrs. Bear.  We're really lean and not tender at all.  Why did I have to eat popcorn last night?  I look so much puffier today!

After 15-20 minutes going up, we agree to head back the same way instead of trying to make a loop since we didn't know how long it would take us to get around.  I'm pleased not to see a bear whenever we round another corner.  We pass "Derailer Trail" and wonder how it got its name.

All said and done, we were out there for 3 hours 10 minutes and covered 16 miles.  It's all good.  That time included many stops, uphills and general slogging without trying to run fast - except when we thought there were Orcs or bears chasing us.

I'd recommend this trail system to anyone in the area.  I would definitely print a map that you can find on the link above and run with a friend.

Seattle Times article about Port Gamble

Monday, September 6, 2010

Over The Narrows 10 Mile

Photos by Tony Seabolt

I love love love races close to home!  What's not to love about waking up later, knowing where all the public restrooms are "just in case" and knowing the course ahead of time.

Over The Narrows 10 mile start is 20 minutes from my home and I slept in until 6:00!  Many races involve me leaving my home before 6:00 so this was a privilege.  My husband had been working crazy hours the previous week and this was his first morning to sleep without an alarm clark set.  At 6:00 a.m., he had been sleeping for 9 hours, so I thought maybe he'd be joining me.  I stumble into the kitchen wishing I had set the coffee pot alarm so my java would be ready.  Instead I manage to spill grounds onto the counter and water from the pot - my pot leaks when I turn it upright after pouring. 

Peanut butter and a slice of whole wheat bread downed with Naproxin to keep my achy back in check.  I hope this isn't considered "doping".  As the coffee slowly drips, I rummage through my pile of carefully chosen race clothes, drop them, walk outside, and decide it looks like a shorts and tank top kind of day.  Yeah, it drizzly but feels mild.  I shove aside the long sleeves, vests, long pants and choose a black tank with splashes of red on the front, black compression shorts and my super-speedy-lightweight-awesome-red-racing shoes.  I bought these a few years ago and have worn them a handful of times.  I pick them up and check to make sure they are rock-less and am amazaed yet again at how incredibly light they are.

7:00 and still Jeff is not awake.  My back has been achy for a few months or more and finally the doctor sent me to physical therapy starting last week.  The CT scan showed "narrowing of the space between discs".  I haven't been told how much narrowing but was told to do physical therapy.  So I go through my stretching and pray for no pain during the race.  7:20 arrives and it looks like I'm going solo today.  I know many friends will be there today so I won't feel alone.

7:30 and I'm out the door.  Arriving at the Galaxy Theater parking lot, I slowly make my way through crowds of anxious runners and their families.  Porta-potty line is non-existent and I give an inward hallelujah!  Just as I'm about to go for a slow jog to remind my body what's going to happen, my friends Bev and Patti arrive.  We all have times we're aiming toward and wish each other luck.  I manage to get a 5 minutes saunter in around the theater and see a lot of familiar faces.

One last trip to the bathroom and I am ready to line up.  Andy is near the front so I figure that would be a good place to be since he usually finishes not far behind me or right at my pace .  Bullseye Bob is directly in front of me so I have to give him a nudge.  He's going to use this race as practice for the You Go Girl Half marathon on September 26th.  He needs to hit a 7:15 average for his 1:35 group.  Yeah, he IS A GUY, but is willing to don a tutu to support us girls.

3-2-1!!  Heading down Pt. Fosdick, we're treated with a nice gradual decline to wake up our legs.  I'm not thinking about the return trip at this point.  Some gradual up and downs greet us until we turn left onto Stone, which, in a car, isn't so steep.  Breathe, pump the arms, keep up the effort and don't slow at the top!  We arrive at the entrance to the bridge around mile 3, running down and around a corner onto the bridge walkway.  The first water stop is directly in front of me at the corner but I can't reach the water as I'm rounding the corner.  I would have liked to see that table a little further up on the straightaway.  Thankfully it's cool today and I'm not aching for water yet.  The breeze is blowing on my right side and I have to work to run in a straight line.  Up, up, up to the end of the overpass and we cross Jackson Street and into Memorial Park.  Thankfully we only run up halfway to the flagpole, grab some water at the aid station and turn around.  I really enjoy out and backs for a lot of reasons, but one is to encourage others and hear positive phrases from other runners like, "you look strong!" and many times I'm told what place I'm in.  My awesome friend, Jill, said "you're number six!" as we crossed paths across the bridge.  Six!  I've been guessing on my pace since my Garmin wristband broke.  My Garmin is so awesome because it tells me what pace I'm averaging constantly.  I've been doing runner's math every couple of miles.  At the halfway, I was around a 7:10 pace, and even though I would love to have been at a 7:00, I know it's still a great pace for me. 

Coming off the bridge, up and around a corner, we level out and soon, we are running down that steep hill after the tunnel.  Normally downhills are a welcome relief, but today, I am cringing because I managed to get a black toenail during last weekend's 22 mile long run.  We have about two miles to go and me and another girl, "Jeneane" keep trading places.  She gets ahead of me and I work hard to keep her the same distance in front of me.  I will reel her in as soon as I can.  I am not the best uphill runner, but when she's near me on the uphills, her breathing sounds labored so I will do the unthinkable and try to pass her during the last mile. 

My watch reads 1:04 and Bullseye Bob effortlessly runs by asking why I'm looking at my watch.  Where is my arrow when I need it?

 So if I want a 1:10, I'll have to run about a 6 minute mile...stop laughing!  I push myself up and have successfully passed Jeaneane and am now running side by side with a guy who matches every surge I make.  I don't know if he doesn't like being passed by a girl or is trying to help me work harder.  Either way, I manage to outrun him, barely, up the hill, round the corner into the finish line parking lot, and see I still have a quarter mile or less to go.  I feel like I'm sprinting and nearly catch Bob at the finish line.  1:11:36 watch time!  I'll take it!

The Rotary Club of Gig Harbor North put on a stellar event, co-directed by Route 16s Miguel Galeana.  Awards were given to the top three overall but no age group awards.  I was 5th overall woman, 2nd in my age group, and 34th person overall.  Winners were awarded beautiful bottles of wine.  My back didn't hurt during the race, but afterwards, I did notice it stiffen up while we waited for the awards.

As an epilogue, I am thrilled to say that my 2000th mile of running this year quietly arrived during the 10th mile of this race.  I'm right on track for 3,000 miles this year if I can average 58 miles a week through December.