Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dirty Girl!

  • Mismatched neon knee-highs-check!
  • Pig Tails - check!
  • Pink ribbon in pig tails - check!
  • Bikini bottoms under shorts, just in case...check!
  • Eyeline, lip gloss - double check!
  • "Dirty Girl" written on face - check!
Looks like I was ready to...rollerskate?  Try and pay children's admission into the movies??  No!  Ready to get dirty and race!

The Dirty Dash 10k  was set for July 9th in Kent, Washington.  I had a Groupon deal for the race and registered myself and my husband, Jeff.  I finally decided on what to wear Friday night after a hunt through Goodwill.  When I found myself singing all the words to a Wham! song while in the thrift shop, I caught myself and immediately exited the building.  I knew at that moment nothing good would come of this shopping trip.

Jeff was called in to work the weekend and after repeated attempts to give away his bib to another runner, I headed out Saturday morning at 7:00 am solo.  A quick stop at a Rest Area brought some quick glances my way.  Society has gotten pretty open-minded and nonchalant when they see people dressed...differently?  You can insert your own descriptive word here: ______________________

I worried that my directions were wrong as I headed down Highway 18 going past the Kent exit.  It seemed the exits were drawn out quite a bit and relief settled in as I saw the next exit that would take me to the Motorsports complex.   Parking was easy and I made my way to the packet pickup. 

I had plenty of time to return my bag to the car and found the Dirty Girls in the parking lot.  We headed back to the start area and Leah Thompsen wrote "Dirty Girl" on my face.  No, I wasn't part of their team today but they still accept me as one of their own.

I had time for a quick trip to the porta-potty, got back in time for a Jimmi Hendrix rendition of the National Anthem and with a 3, 2, 1 we were sent on our way after a quick description of the race course.   

I started toward the front of the pack and after running a short section on pavement, we headed up a dirt hill that ended with a water hosing.  Onward we scaled wooden walls and I used the trusses to help me get up and over.  Every obstacle has the option of going around it, otherwise known as being a chicken, scaredy cat, cowardly lion or some other timid animal.   There were a number of walls to climb and then we were faced with stacked tires.  I climbed them and hopped over while guys around me took superhero leaps to jump on the tires and flung their bodies to the other side.  2 mud pits with pipes to either go over or under gave us our first opportunity to get muddy.  The first pit was barely muddy but the second one was knee deep in muck!  Yay!  A big monster down hill along a rocky trail separated the runners even further. 

A steep incline forced me to a walk and we climbed through a wooden structure at the top.  A rocky trail invited us to turn our ankles but I declined the invitation.  I met another woman runner, Melanie, who was running with her friend but at their own paces.  She will be running the Warrier Dash next weekend in North Bend.  After we climbed another wooden ladder-type structure, 2 sets of balance beams were wating for us.  I didn't fall!  I kept thinking, "strong core, walk easily".  My legs had been feeling a little wobbly running on the trail so I surprised myself.

Next up, chugalug!  This is the "secret" obstacle revealed on race day.  Anyone 21 or older could get a wrist band and would drink a beer before continuing on the course.  You had the option of drinking root beer.  That was my choice.  Since I don't normally drink beer or any other alchol and I was driving myself and my ID was in my car, root beer was it!  I have to say at this point I'd seen runners going around obstacles but they were somehow able to swig a beer.  I popped the top and began chugging Root Beer. 

Urrp!  Excuse me!  I headed down the course, climbed over another wooden ladder and we ran past the parking lot and it was fun to see so many runners.  The race had a lot of waves throughout the day so they were seeing what was in store for them ahead of time.  I scrambled through a couple black "tunnels" and ran back toward the finish area. 

I saw the giant water slide ahead and without hesitation dove head first down into a muddy puddle!  So Fun!  The final mud pit was just ahead and I was disappointed to find it just muddy water and not really mud.  I had expected there to be ropes to crawl under but instead, I ran through it and found the finish line around the corner.  That's where having a friend with you would have been great because there is no way a good friend would let you get away with walking or running through the last pit without a little wrestle in the mud. 

I didn't see a finish line clock and really don't know my time yet (July 9th).   Felt slow and the course had to be short of 10k.  I'd like to do another race like this but next time, have a friend with me.  I hope the race director remeasures the course and let's us know what the "real" distance was.  Maybe it was a 10k and all the fun I had made it seem shorter.  Maybe.

No splits for this race since I didn't wear any jewelery or a watch.  I hope to do another 10k trail run in Port Gamble tomorrow.   There are only 13 days until Ragnar Relay!  Woop!

The pictures (thanks, Tony Seabolt!):



That was fun!

Ta-Da!  Such a dork!

Next time I'm having a friend to drag me through the mud!

True Dirty Girls

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Seattle Rock-n-Roll Marathon 6/25/11

26.1 miles!  Photo by Tony Seabolt

Somewhere along the monster hill- photo by Bob Satko
26.1 miles!  Photo by Takao Suzuki

It had been 20 days since my disappointing North Olympic Discovery Marathon finish of 3:46.  My quads felt trashed for a solid week after the race. 

Trashed: the feeling that your muscles have been repeatedly rolled over by a dump truck at the end of garbage pickup day. 

During the next 2 weeks before the Rock n Roll Marathon, something miraculous happened.  I was able to run faster than previous training runs.  The competetive monster that had lain dormant for a season was awakening.  I won't say that suddenly I could pop out 6 minute miles but I was feeling lighter on my feet and the strideouts weren't as hideous.

With a week to go before the marthon, I found myself alone during the days.  My daughters were at camp and Jeff was working.  As I reduced my mileage on the roads, I spent my energy cleaning house.  I missed my girls but it was nice to see the entire carpet minus clothing, books, papers, etc. 

Jeff and I drove over Friday morning to pick up our race packets and cruise the expo.  We saw some running friends, Pedro, Tony, Kristin, and got our picture taken at the Northwest Runner booth.  Picture from the Northwest Runner booth.  I found some new shorts and socks at Super Jock and Jill and Jeff got a steal on a running shirt.  We got hoardes of samples and entered contests.  These expos are free to the public so even if you don't run the race, you should attend one of these for the awesome deals and giveaways.  We decided to sign up for next year's race at a discount price and saved $80 combined.  Jeff and I will have done the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon (and half-marathon for Jeff) four years in a row. 

We hit up The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner and assembled our racing outfits that night.  The race started at 7:00 am which pushed the wake up time in the 4:00 hour.  Yuck.  Many, many people were up even earlier. 

From 4-6 am were shuttle buses leaving from Qwest Field as well as The Westin.  We escaped our room by 5:30, later than anticipated.  My body was not cooperating and that's all I want to say about that issue.  The lines for the buses were astronomically long.  As we approached McDonalds near the Westin, we had a choice between 2 lines, we thought.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  The other line seemed to always get the buses and other people who were just arriving seemed to have better luck than we were having.  Most of the bibs were blue, which indicated half marathoners.  One girl was wearing a banana suit (?) and others were in sparkly attire.  Most runners chose convention over originality. 

Across the street, an endless line of runners kept wrapping itself around a building and Jeff and I couldn't understand what line they were in.  At 6:15 am, we finally scored seats on a bus and as we drove by the other lines, we realized that they were in OUR line.  Wow, they would never get to the start line by 7:00 am. 

The bus ride was uneventful and we were in line for the portapotty by 6:30.  It looked as if Runner's World vomited up all it's contents in Tukwila.  Maniac Robert Lopez clad in his pink "Breast Cancers Sucks" outfit walked by and told me I missed the Marathon Maniac photo shoot.  Bathroom activities take precedence over pictures. 

Temperatures would be very mild and as Jeff dropped off my sweatshirt at the bag drop, I began to shiver uncontrollably.  This happens to me a lot so I tried to ignore the chattering teeth and made my way through the expanse of runners and walkers.  Asian Elvis sighting!

My bib allowed me to enter into the second corral and Jeff's was the sixth corral.  Last year I put 3:12 as an anticipated finish time but reality sometimes hits you square in the eyes.  I could hit 3:12 if I caught a cab for a few miles.  As I inhaled every bit of competetive pride in me, I stepped into Corral 4.  Lo and behold, Terry Sentinella was a corral BEHIND me pacing the 3:30 group.  High hopes and lack of sleep kept me from moving back and I decided that a couple minutes lead on that group would be motivation for me to keep up my pace.  Realistically I knew that finishing in 3:30 was a little beyond my current reach but I don't like to give in even before the gun fires. 

Music was blaring and the crowds were anxious to get the party started.  7:00 am and the elite runners were sent on their way.  Every one or two minutes the next corral was released.  My corral pushed up to the start and 3, 2, 1...go!  My wrist bore my watch rather than my Garmin since I knew there were tunnels that would cause it to lose the satellite signal.  Not having my Garmin was a little unnerving since I can set it to keep track of current and overall mile averages.  With a watch, I have to do on the run math and in the later miles, my brain doesn't calculate nearly as quickly or accurately as I would hope. 

Within a couple of miles, I knew I had to use the portapotty.  I prolonged it hoping I could get away with not stopping but I soon realized I couldn't continue for 24 miles this way.  I lost about a minute or two.    I saw a bootcamper cheering for me around mile 4 which surprised both of us! 

After a longish ascent that wasn't too bad, we headed down and down and down to Seward Park.  I noticed a lot of male runners were more focused on women runners than the race they were running.  Various comments about the women around me floated in my ears as I passed them.  I'm pretty sure I was called a jolly green giant as I passed a very petite yet beautiful woman.  I guess I do look "large" next to these cruel women.  Whatever.  I passed the guys and they couldn't keep up so eat my green beans, boys!

Turning left at Seward Park brought us to a long, flat portion run along Lake Washington.  American flags lined the course along with pictures of fallen soldiers.  Any joy I had was set aside as I looked at the faces of soldiers that gave their lives protecting our freedom.  It was hard to keep from crying and put the race into perspective. 

We made our way along Lake Washington, the sun shined down on us and we really couldn't have had much better weather.  I stayed just in front of the 1:45 half marathon group for much of this stretch.  At mile 9 after ascending up a steep yet short hill, marathoners veered right to cross the Mercer Island Bridge while half-marathoners entered a tunnel to the left.  Suddenly the course seemed fairly empty of runners as the majority of people were running the half marathon. 

After the turnaround at the end of the bridge, I saw all the runners behind me.  The 3:30 group was closing in and just past mile 11, I heard Terry's voice and a pack of runners overtake me.  I had told David Spooner my plan was to race until my legs blew up.  I had to give it another try despite how I felt at Sequim. 

As we entered the tunnel, a sauna-like atmosphere swelled around me, noises and heat overtaking my senses.  My shirt quickly elevated to my armpits as I worked my way down the tunnel.  Tunnels are terrible places to have bands.  Doesn't anyone know this?  Running the Rock N Roll marathon sounds like it would be a huge party but for me, I barely hear the music as we go by the stages fairly quickly.  The cheerleaders were motivating and I loved the spectators cheering. 

As we exited the tunnel, marathoners were approaching mile 14 and the half marathoners were at 11 miles.  We could see Safeco Field directly in front of us and then we headed into the streets of Seattle.  I love this portion of the course because there are so many spectators and distractions that the miles seem to go by faster.  The downside to this part is that the roads have more hazards and you may trip over something while waving to your adoring fans.  A half marathoner husband and wife were running alongside me and he told me I was making him look bad in front of his wife since I was really 3 miles in front of him.  Another couple were running as part of their honeymoon.  

Soon the marathoners were directed away from Qwest Field as the adrenaline rush of the half marathoners filled the air.  We ran along the Alaskan Way Viaduct, and as we approached a tunnel, someone yelled "Ginger!" and waved maniacally from the top of a building.  I still don't know who it was and I just waved but didn't have the extra lung capacity to yell, "Who ARE you?"

The next part of the course is uphill.  It is cruel.  It is evil.  It holds you in it's grips and throws you to the pavement.  If you've raced this course, you KNOW I'm not lying.  I know it's maybe one or two miles but it feels like it's the longest hill in the world.  I had already seen leaders returning on the other side of the tunnel which means they are at least 5 miles in front of me, probably more like 7 miles.  I'm positive I'm running 10 minute miles.  I emerged from the incline, crossed the bridge over Lake Union and it felt like Christmas at the turnaround.  Suddenly my legs felt the heaviness of the pavement lift and by the middle of the bridge, I began to smile.  Yeah, I'm the goofy runner who sometimes smiles and you wonder if they have a mental condition.  I had "runner's high" or whatever you'd like to call it.  For two miles, I couldn't stop smiling as we headed back down into Seattle.  I watched runners coming at me facing their own demons as they pushed themselves up the hill.  I told a runner next to me that we were on the happy side of the barrier. 

Okay, two miles later and I was back to the reality of 20 miles of running on pavement.  We headed back to the Alaskan Way Viaduct and numerous runners were stopping to grab their hamstrings, calves, glutes, etc. and I tried not to think how much they must be hurting.  Mile 23 finally arrived and Qwest Field sadistically is placed next to the course.  Marathoners run past the finish area - ugh - and head out to what feels like the Sahara Desert.  With one S because this is not sweet.

These last few miles are a test to see who is the least cranky.  I didn't win but I didn't come in last, either.  About mile 24.5, a woman runner said to me or anyone who would listen as we climbed a hill, "Are you freakin' kidding me?  This is crap!" I'm pretty sure she was referring to the hill we had to climb to get to mile 25.  I will admit that I had taken 10-30 second walk breaks at various hilly points in the marathon.  It's hard on my psyche to take a small walk break in the last mile of a marathon but I did it anyway.  I get to the mile 26 sign, the ground has leveled and with everything I have, I force my legs to sprint the rest of the way to the finish.  The downhill and the crowds pulled me faster and faster.  A photographer rolled out from the crowd and took my picture and then Tony Seabolt's face appeared behind the camera.   I rounded another corner and there was the finish line!  3:37!  I was 9 minutes faster than NODM! 

I got my medal, water, smiled for the camera, and found Jeff who finished the half in 1:51, a personal best for this course.  We went through the recovery area, music blaring with Everclear.  After relaxing for a little bit, we made our way out of the recovery area and began our walk back to the Holiday Inn, about 3 miles away.  Our plan was to walk unless we were injured.  Thankfully both of us felt good and had no problems walking that far after our races. 

I have felt suprisingly good since the race, a far cry from how badly my quads hurt after NODM.  My next marathon is on September 25th, just under 12 weeks from now.  I hope to be in better racing shape by then and will be doing shorter races in preparation for the big day.

Next up:  Dirty Dash 10k!

Here are my mile splits:
  1. 7:31
  2. 7:50
  3. 8:35 (portapotty stop)
  4. 7:45
  5. 8:24
  6. 7:26
  7. 8:06
  8. 8:16
  9. (and 10) 16:26 - got distracted at the 1/2 and full split
  11. 8:00
  12. 8:16
  13. 8:40
  14. 7:11
  15. 9:56 -these last 2 miles were off for sure
  16. 8:20
  17. 8:50
  18. 8:59
  19. 7:36
  20. 8:26
  21. 8:30
  22. 8:32
  23. 8:29
  24. 8:26
  25. 7:44
  26. 11:18 - including .2 to finish
3:37:43 finishing time
8:18 per mile average