Race reviews

Modesto Marathon

I had many good reasons to run the Modesto Marathon this year. My winter training went well, I had some good friends running in it, and the package that came with the race was great! Tech shirt, medal, arm sleeves, a bottle of wine, and some other niceties, plus with the start being a 40 minute drive from my house, it was very inexpensive. Most of all though, I wanted to finish my 10th career marathon. It just seemed like a nice even number to hit, and it had been a couple years since I had run one.

A week or so before the race, I knew the big day would have its own special challenge this year: the heat. I have never run in a marathon where the temperature would be over 80 degrees at the end, so I was a bit uncertain if I would beat my time from two years ago, a goal that I had in mind during training. I do most of my running early in the morning out of necessity, so I had an unknown to face.

The day started off well. I carpooled with my good friend Randy, who always keeps me relaxed. We got to the start nice and early, and had ample time to get a good parking spot, stretch out, and take in the energetic atmosphere. We met some other friends from Mountain House and took a few group pictures and chatted about the race. By the time of the start at 7am, I felt as good as I ever had before a run.

modestomarathonThe first 13 miles went according to plan. The temperature was nice at the start and still bearable at the half way point, and I was on pace to hit my time goal. The volunteers were great, very encouraging, and there was plenty of water and GU energy gel handed out along the way. A long part of the course is an out and back, so it was inspiring to see the mens and womens division winners fly by, as well as Randy, who was keeping his usual fast pace.

The turn to head back in comes a little after the 14 mile mark, and it was then that I decided to pick up my pace a little and see if I could run the negative split I was training for.

By mile 15 I was starting to feel warm, and I dumped a cup of water on my head. Didn’t help much.

Mile 16, yes, definitely getting hot. Better slow down, take what you can get Eugene. There is very little shade to be found.

Mile 17, how long till the next water stop? The neuroma in my left foot feels like a hot knife stabbing me up from out of the pavement. Time to just be happy with something sub-5 hours.

Mile 18-19. I don’t remember much from these two miles other than walking more and more, and a lady in a tutu passing me.

Mile 20. Time goal is shot to hell at this point. Just finish. Don’t look at the sun, it hates me. Medical volunteers start asking me if I am ok, I lie profusely. Left foot thankfully has gone numb now.

Mile 20.5 (approx). I have seen these folks in their front yard in previous years, the nice people with 8 ice cold kegs of beer, offering samples up free of charge. I do not hesitate to take 6 oz of lager. Coldest, most perfect lager I have ever had. I pass the tutu lady, small victories can be precious.

Mile 23, I make the turn into town. I am out of the orchards now and running along a busy road and railroad track. I’m alternating walking and a slow shuffle, the walking coming whenever I feel a dizzy spell coming. Why is the roof of my mouth tingling so much? Have I developed spidey-sense? I am the worst hot weather runner ever I think, till I see the ambulances going past me to some poor souls even further back. That is not going to happen to me though, I will walk the rest of the way if I have to, but I am going to get it done.

Mile 24, I run past the high school kids playing live drums to a recording of Gangnam Style. I get a momentary surge of energy. Momentary as in 15 seconds.

Mile 25 was back there somewhere. I think my tongue is sunburned. The road is all wavy looking.

Mile 26, I can see the turn for the homestretch. I AM GOING TO MAKE IT! I start to run faster, and when I make the turn there is nobody in front of me or close behind. I have a couple hundred people all cheering for me. The adrenaline rush overcomes all fatigue and I start sprinting for the finish, waving my arms like the crazed orangutan The Oatmeal has written about. It is a miracle I don’t cramp up and collapse in an embarrassing heap. I cross the line with my arms raised in victory, high fiving anyone within reach. I didn’t care about my slow clocking at all, to me it was a victory to have finished what I started.

The recovery area was top notch, plenty of food and drink to refuel with, an excellent band was playing, and the volunteers again were very thoughtful in helping out all the people that struggled in the heat. I can’t think of a race I have ever done where the level of community support for the event was so high.

Although it was my tenth time finishing a marathon, the feeling of accomplishment and invincibility that came at the end was just as powerful as all of the other finishes. A full marathon is obviously twice as far in distance as a half marathon, but it is more than twice as difficult, I guarantee that from extensive personal experience. It takes a great deal of effort, planning, and time to get in good enough shape to just finish, and the risk of injury or illness along the way is significant. Race day can bring any kind of weather condition, and in this years race I had to take what I could get, instead of what I wanted.

Even with that though, I am still, two days later, floating on a little cloud, and plotting out my next racing conquest in my head.

Tough Mudder Lake Tahoe 2013

My Team

Team Skid Marx was full of incredible people that I hope I get to spend more time with. I could fill a whole blog post just talking about how strong, determined, and fun these folks are. We stayed at a cabin before and after the race, and made a weekend of it – was way more fun than a one-day drive-and-race. David, Cerena, Vince, Carolina, John, Bernadette, Rick, Matt, and Paul (who wasn’t available for the team picture)

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The Race

Cage Crawl The race at Tahoe started a few thousand feet over sea level at Northstar, and climbed a couple thousand feet more during the course. It was an uphill hike and a climb over a 6′ barrier just to get to the start line. It was steep uphill from there and would continue up for 5 miles. We scaled Glory Blades (obstacle #1/18) with little issue, and then hit Cage Crawl. The water was freezing and we were trapped upside-down in that submersed channel under cyclone fencing as we pulled ourselves through. I had thrown away 1 Walk the Plank shirt, realizing I was just carrying more water with more layers. Next, walk the plank wasn’t high – maybe 20′ ? but it was descent into dark icy water, where it’s hard to fight back to the surface first when the cold makes your body try to gasp for air. It was somber for us when our teammate dislocated his shoulder in the struggle.  He was a former TM finisher, but with a previously injured joint that re-separated in the strain of the obstacle. Medical returned him to the start and we regrouped and headed for obstacle #4, adjusting our memorized headcount we’d been using to ensure we are all together.   We sloshed through the Mud Mile without much comment, but I threw out my gloves to help my cold hands dry off, and then reached Funky Monkey. I used a “wedding march” swing on the bars, getting my hands together on one bar before swinging one hand to the next. It was conservative and slow but I made it and stayed dry. We had 3 teammates get close, but slip into the cold water, with dire consequences later.

 

We crawled through Boa Constrictor, though we had no ropes (some other competitors did) so wiggling up out of the tunnels was real rough. Boa constrictorThen Kiss of Mud tore us up – the barbed wire you crawl under is so low that we had to scrape and tear our skin on the rocks to stay under it, or get cut if we raised too high. I was getting cold with my still-wet cotton shorts, and threw them out. Modesty was out, I’d have to finish in my speedo. Berlin Wall was maybe 16′ feet high? Some young mudders were trying to time a run, then leap, then kick off of a board to grasp the top and clear it without teammates. It was hard because the walls leaned away from us on an incline, so when you leap, gravity pulled you away from the wall. Forward momentum before the double jump could make it work though. tm-berlin-wallA few of us cleared it, and started using teamwork and hoisted each other over the walls. That’s when we finally reached our first electrocution obstacle. Electric Eel makes you crawl through water and high voltage lines, getting zapped on the way. This was it for one team member – all the cold water, cold air, cold wind finally turned to hypothermia, and we called in the ski patrol to get her off the mountain to warmth, her husband sacrificing his finisher’s headband to take her back to the village. It was demoralizing to lose 2 more members. We scoured for metal manhole covers to sit on to pick up some heat before we continued. I threw out my nutrition belt, continuing to learn how much I valued lightness.

 

At Lumberjacked we saw lots of mudders getting leg cramps, and our own teammate cramped while flinging himself over the log. Something about this obstacle, at this time in the race, was cramping people up pretty bad. We did a simple mystery obstacle, then simple LogJammin, and then our ranks were struck again – shredded foot soles from thin and pebble-filled shoes caused us to lose 2 more members, who were otherwise strong and energetic enough to continue, but just couldn’t walk on torn up feet. WoodCarryThey ended up finishing later without us, but at that point we pressed on with only 3 mudders left. It was a LONG hike after that to the next obstacle, one of many long hikes that day, and one of our three started to check-out mentally. We were beat, cold, the sun was going down, our team was shattered, and it was hard to stay motivated. I kept calling out our obstacles finished/obstacles left (“14 of 18! woo”) and Carolina started a military marching song about our team to raise morale. Our next event, Hold your Wood, was one of my day’s higlights. We put a log on our shoulders and started climbing the hill, but made it a race, trying to pick off (pass) other teams one by one. on the way down we ran out of nearby teams to catch, I said “If we run we can get that couple” and my teammate said “I’m too tired to run, sorry”. …but when we caught them by speedwalking, they said “hey! they’re passing us” and sped up. we sped up, then they jogged, we jogged, then they ran – and then my too-tired-to-run partner found the will to start sprinting. We won our impromptu race, shook hands with the other mudders, and faced the challenge I was most afraid of next.

 

Arctic EnemaArctic Enema is a dumpster full of ice-dense icewater, with a barrier in the middle you have to swim under. I trained for cold-water triathlons in the past, and learned it was impossible for me to control my breathing when the water was cold – without a wetsuit, at least. After a long freezing day on Northstar, with the sun behind the horizon, I didn’t think I could bear going in, and certainly not *under*, that water. It was worse thinking that, even if I succeeded, I’d be frozen for the next 3 miles. A teammate helped – “if you take your dry shirts off and get it done, your skin will dry when we run and then you can put your dry shirts back on.” I dove in, ducked under, and came out pumping my fists. A teammate followed, and the dry clothes trick worked. There were 4 obstacles left, despite my miscounted assurances that we had only 3 to go. We wiggled through Kiss of Mud again, having already learned the drill on this duplicate obstacle. We descended some steep difficult terrain, slipping a bit and getting nervous we’d lose another member to an unfortunate stumble or twisted ankle. At Warrior Carry, two of us hoisted the third, since our numbers didn’t make sense for 1-to-1 partners. TM Matt FinishJust everest and Electroshock remained, but they were both a blur, because they surrounded the finish line, where the second highlight of my day awaited. All the able team members that we’d been seperated from who’d had another path down the mountain were on the green and cheering for us. The announcer even called out on the loudspeaker about how Team Skid Marx had started with many but was down to these few at the finish. I was so pumped when we charged through Electroshock Therapy, I barely noticed the high voltage and couldn’t lower my fists from the air. We got our TM headbands, our shirts, our beers, and were reunited and ready to get to serious business – what were we going to eat after all those hours of competition? This was one of the most unique and memorable races I’ve done – and the only one that included teamwork and obstacles.

Tips – apparel

Minimalist shoes are not great. I ran in 5-fingers and they didn’t keep the mud & pebbles out, and didn’t protect my soles from the rocks and roots. Next time I’ll try trail shoes, athletic socks, and maybe tape around the top to my ankle to keep mud out. Gloves are great if they don’t hold any water. I liked my climber’s tape better. Tape around every finger joint at least, maybe the palm too. Not too tight, though – you need circulation. Wear as few clothes as possible. A triathlon suit may be perfect – you don’t want lots of baggy wet clothes keeping you cold and weighing you down. …but keep in mind that exposed skin will scratch and tear in Kiss the Mud, so long runner’s tights might protect those legs better than shorts. Carry a water belt with nutrition and water if you need it – TM has some aid stations and bananas, but not much. I ditched my water belt halfway through because I didn’t like the weight or having it catch on things.

Tips – fitness

I’d suggest a finisher should be able to do all of these in a workout before the race:

pushups – 15 reps x 5 sets |  pullups – 5 reps x 5 sets | plank – 60 seconds | trail running – 10 miles in hills | Interval sprints – develop quickness for at least 20 yards | farmer walks – carry your own body weight ~30 yards | jump in a very cold lake/pool and swim out | get your BMI under 24 | Understand how TM electrocution works

Why you need the fitness tips above

I really felt the need for pushups & planks on Kiss the Mud, Electric Eel, Boa Constructor – it was hard to get up out of the Kiss the Mud because I hadn’t done strong enough pushup work. Pullups helped climb walls, swim out, swing from ledges/bars – Glory Blades, Cage Crawl, Walk the Plank, Funky Monkey, Berlin Walls, Just the Tip, Everest.

Trail Running just gets you through the course. Quickness gets you up Everest – the only obstacle that required leg speed. Farmer Walks are for hauling things – Hold your Wood, Warrior Carry.

Cold water prep was big for Cage Crawl, Walk the Plank, Mud Mile, Electric Eel, and *especially* the dreaded Arctic Enema.  being low BMI/low weight will help your partner on Warrior Carry, and help you on climb over and suspension obstacles.

You don’t have to prepare for the electricity – all you have to do is understand how it works. The electrical wires are not always hot – there is a rolling charge through all of them that lights for an instant. …so you don’t try to dodge wires exactly, you just keep them off your most sensitive spots, keep moving forward, and pray you have lucky timing.

Thanks for reading!  This is our team getting omelettes the morning after the race.

TM team breakfast

Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon 2013

Contributed by Samantha Torres

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At the end of last year, I had to take time off from running for a few months.

I really like the Rock ‘n Roll races and especially their heavy medal program. So I decided to be proactive and sign up for Competitor’s  2013 Tour Pass, knowing that if I paid in advance I would definitely do it. I signed up for six races; but was disappointed I missed the first year one offered this year in San Francisco because I was on a beach in Puerto Vallarta — so wasn’t too sad.

I’ve never actually run a half marathon that Tara hasn’t been at. This was going to be my first. I booked my airfare, my hotel, was really excited to run my first out-of-state race. Luckily though, Tara decided to come with and we did our first out-of-state race together. Things like that provide cool memories for the future.

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Our adventure started out with me getting up at a ridiculous time to get Tara and head out for the airport. To fly to Portland, we had to fly on a smaller plane. It was weird. It was the first time I actually saw wheels go into a plane I was on. Also smaller planes fly closer to the ground, who knew?

We started the morning flight with complimentary drinks. I had pyramid beer as a toast to Tara’s hubby who is usually our planner/driver for races, but wasn’t going with us.

drinks

When we landed – my ears would not pop I could not hear. it was the most annoying this ever, it was like being under water.

We exited the airport and decided to take a cab to the expo. Wasn’t the best idea, it cost $40. I think the cabbie took us the super long route cause it was supposed to be only eight miles away. Then we arrived at the expo center.

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The expo center has multiple halls and we went up to the first one to figure out where to go. It was a gun and knife show, the look on my face was priceless. I was so excited until I realized if I bought anything I couldn’t take it home. I have wanted to go to one foreverrrrrr, but I always seem to miss them. The very nice security guard pointed out where we were really supposed to be and off we went.

As soon as we walked through the door we got handed a raffle ticket for their door prizes. After a second we realized, you didn’t have to carry the ticket all day. Just had to enter your ticket number and personal info into a iPad. Neither of us got the call that we won anything. But it was cool, no of the other ones had this. They all have music going the whole time.

After that, was the normal get your bib, get your bag, get your shirt. Then nothing was the same. We walked around the corner and there was a ticket booths, where you filled out info and took to a prize booth, where everybody won a prize. I won a T-shirt.

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We had entered the Brooks Run Happy Cavalcade of Curiosities. I can not believe they don’t bring it to California or to Vegas. They have the Human Jesus Lizard …. yes, I said the Human Jesus Lizard. He’s awesome. He runs on DNA (per Tara: cornstarch, water and food coloring ). Better yet was the kid that volunteered to run on it. The smile and the way his face lit up was pure joy. The only better than seeing a kid light up like that, is seeing your kid light up like that. I got my fortune told by a runners’ fortune telling machine. They even had skeeball. I got my gait analyzed. We spent more time in the brooks area at this expo, than we have at any other expo ever. I had so much fun I almost bought Brooks shoes, only reason I didn’t is that I just got mine last month. I did buy one of their race tanks though.

After that we went to the regular area. Which had a fair amount of good booths. I bought my water bottle belt at the last race. I got a belt for my phone this race and a foot pod for my Garmin. They didn’t give you a wrist band for beer which surprised me. Tara even got a photo with and autograph from Kara Goucher, the fastest woman’s half-marathoner in the US.

portland21KARA

Then we were done. Our bags were heavy, time to go check-in at the hotel.

Took the MTA and found out the street Couch is pronounced “kooch.” We had great fun with that. Got checked in by a rude front desk clerk.

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What’s strange is that almost everyone is Oregon seems to be nice. Which made him stand out as an ass. Then we went hunting for VooDoo doughnuts. Our timing was bad, it started to rain and the line is apparently always an hour long. After 20 minutes, and with hunger taking over we gave up and went got dinner. After dinner, we stopped at a cupcake shop (Tara’s vice) and got helped by strange Emo folk. They all looked alike, we passed by every time we went anywhere, I kept looking …. different people same look, usually you have variety.

I had taken allergy medicine to try and help my ears so we crashed out early.

Woke the next morning for race day. It was nice we were close we didn’t even leave until it was close to start time.

We stopped by a liquor store and I bought water. We didn’t realize until later I accidentally got us sparkling water — will not do that again.

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And then we lined up and were off.

It was a nice course good people.

From Tara: The first part of the course took us through downtown. Then after crossing the first bridge, we went into an industrial, not-too-scenic area. There were neighborhoods during miles 8-11, big houses, before going back across the Willamette River and into the downtown waterfront finish area.

I just concentrated on keeping moving. It was a fairly good urban course until mile seven.

Mile seven is straight uphill, for what seems like forever. The rest of the hills not as bad. They put carpet on the bridge to cover the grates. It was a weird feeling and I saw someone trip where the carpet got bunched.

My goal for this race was under three hours. I had thought my last race was a horrid 3:30. But Tara checked later and it 3:13. My best was 2:32. This race was 2:52. That’s only twenty away from my best and 21 less than the one three months ago. I have another in two weeks I’m hoping I won’t be too sore.

At mile seven, I had the best race moment I ever had.

While I was walking someone came from behind me and said “you’re doing great I’ve been trying to keep up with you” I knew exactly what she meant. I’m not sure if fast people do this. I know my friend Jennie picks people to pass. I’m slow and I get tired. I always pick someone about the same speed in front of me and tell myself, I’m going to keep up with them. To me being that person for someone else was absolutely amazing.

At mile eight, for some reason I realized I’m a runner.

I don’t think I’ve ever truly believed that. I’m hella slow, I’m not where I was last year, but I had the dedication and the determination to fly out of state to go to a race.

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I was going to do it all by myself (glad Tara decide to go, made it more fun ) The fact that it is hard for me, tells me how dedicated to it I really am. Its not about being the fastest or the best, its about challenging myself and knowing no matter what I can do it.

After the race we got cleaned up, checked out and went to VooDoo Doughnuts. Where I got a bunch Voodoo Dolls. They didn’t travel as well as I would’ve liked, but it’s the thought that counts.

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Note: Tara also swears she saw a naked chick carrying doughnuts in the back part of the store.

It was amazing, it was a great experience and hopefully this will be another of our annual races. Pasadena is our first one. We were there for the inaugural, the second run and hope to be at all the ones to come.

Also excited that my sister and I will be doing our first race together in San Diego. I’m so proud of her.

San Jose Giant Race 2012

Contributed by Randy Cheng

Well, other than Matt and Drew, we (Greg, Tyler, and me) decided late in the game to run this 5k race. This was an inaugural race and because of that, a nice tech shirt and finisher’s medal were being bandied about to entice us. Also, some ugly orange and black socks were used as a special incentive for completing this race and the SF Giants race in the fall.

Thanks to Drew for driving all of us! The day-of-race check-in was pretty seamless as bib numbers and tags were assigned to you as you checked in (vs. being preassigned). The 5k course was to be mainly along San Jose streets with a short part through a park and finishing somewhere on the the San Jose Giants’ baseball field. While we were waiting around, we were trying to figure out our goals for the race. PRs of under 20-23 min were being thrown around by Greg, Drew, and me, while Matt revised his goal of a sub-35 min goal to a sub-25 min goal. BTW- We all planned to do a pre-race warmup jog, but nature called and someone had to use the potty… twice! :)
We all gathered as close to the start line as possible to test out a theory Matt had that we’d all run faster with everyone chasing us. At the start, it felt like we all sprinted out of the gate. After about 1/3 of a mile, I looked at my watch and saw we were all running a 5:30/mile pace! Whoa… that wasn’t going to continue for long… or would it? The crowd thinned and pretty soon I saw Greg separate himself from the rest of us. From that point on, I just remember seeing Greg’s green shirt fading ahead of me, while Drew and I were neck and neck, and Matt just behind us. Part of the course took us through a zoo parking lot and then through a park area with some hills. At that point, I passed Drew and headed for the last mile or so of this race. As I neared the baseball stadium, you could hear the PA announcer start to list off the leaders. Low and behold, Greg’s name was read off as one of the first finishers! Matt later said he let out a yell when he heard Greg’s name. As I neared the end, it was hard to gauge how far the finish line actually was because you couldn’t see it from the street. You had to run down the street next to the stadium and then you had to make a left turn into the stadium and finish somewhere on the field. In the last 100 yds or so, Drew made his move and zipped right past me and into the middle of the baseball diamond to the finish line! Darn you Drew! Matt wasn’t too far behind and had a strong finish. Unfortunately, he almost had his foot ripped off when an overzealous volunteer demanded that he return his timing tag. Tyler had a very respectable time as well. Additionally, this was her first race she actually volunteered to run!
All in all, this was a great race for the MH Runners Club as Greg, Drew, and I PR’d and Matt beat his goal!
Greg’s time was 19:53 and he finished 11th overall and 3rd in his age group
Drew’s time was 20:52 and finished 19th overall and 4th in his age group
My time was 20:53 and I finished 20th overall and 2nd in my age group
Matt’s time was 22:51 and he finished 31st overall and 7th in his age group
Tyler’s time was 40:22 and she finished 567 overall and 17th in her age group
Here are the official results: http://raceresults.eternaltiming.com/index.cfm/20120616_Giant_Race_San_Jose.htm?Fuseaction=Results&Class=Run+5km+Individual~All
If we counted the MH adults only, MH Runners finished in the Top 31 out of 938 runners! Not too shabby if I do say so myself!
Was it worth a 2-hr round trip commute to run this race? Absolutely!!

Wounded Warrior 5K 2012

Contributed by Matt Mullen

When trolling www.active.com for a race to run this weekend, I found the Manteca Wounded Warrior 5k was serving free post-race omeletes.  Sold!

The memorial day theme was strong from the start – flags everywhere, uniformed vets, a blue single-prop plane was making low-flying

yarn bomb flag

smoke trails over the start line, and someone decided to yarn-bomb a bike rack in truly patriotic fashion.

I walked the site a bit and found a lot of post-race festivities.  The right of the finish line held a classic car show, and the left an impressive display of  crucifixes.

They were putting up a pretty big kid’s zone, too, full of inflatable jumpy houses. I wish I’d brought my kids along, they’d have been pretty wow’d by the site:

jumpy houses

I warmed up until 8:00 (gun time!) came, and then was pretty confused: The race didn’t start.

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In fact, I couldn’t find a start line.

There were mobs of confused runners all around, not sure where to go and asking around for the race director  The volunteers I talked to had no ideas, and the only people with a clear purpose was the U-JAMS dance crew, who led bored runners in sort of live DDR contest.  Looked fun, but where is the race?!

The race director eventually showed, explained we were starting from a spot with two tiny flags in the ground, and then the longest pre-race ceremony I’ve ever seen began.  Veterans were introduced, tears were shed, orders shouted, rifles fired, flags were flown at full, then half-mast, and a young woman belted out a national anthem.

Finally someone said “let’s run”, reminding me I was actually there for a race, and then we started.

I was getting a lot a attention from runners – I kept hearing “You’re running in flip-flops?!”.  Not exactly.  I’d been told that the course wasn’t barefoot-friendly, so I wore my Vibram Luna Sandals to weather the rough terrain I’d been warned about.  Then I saw the course.  It was the opposite – smooth paved streets with little debris.  Too bad.

I focused on cadence during the run – I’ve read that keeping good cadence is important, and I ran mile 1 in 7:50.  I realized that’d put my final time over 24 minutes, which seemed too slow to me, so I asserted that I’d speed up.  Well, my mind decided to, but my body didn’t comply – I finished mile 2 in 7:48 – not much more speed.

Passing a runner in mile 3 felt good, though, so I kept working until I’d passed 5 more.  The last group of 3 I passed was just then I’d noted from my runkeeper data that I was right on pace for 24:00, so I hollered “on pace for 24 guys!” on the way.  Moments later, the youngest in the group was sprinting by me.  I applauded him, but wondered if it was early – we had ~ 200 yards left.  Then I could see the finish line so went to full sprint – about 5 minutes/mile, re-passed the teen and finished the race, kneeling and dry-heaving.

My 23:55 finish made me the 5th place male age 30-35 finisher, and 36th of 219 total runners.  [ results ]

Free omelet time!  I found the kitchen where a dozen volunteers managed twice as many griddles.  Filled a cup with my favorite sides, and a volunteer fried it up.  win

Western Pacific Marathon 2012

Contributed by Greg Holtz

Drew and I were consistently running Brazen half marathons and having a good time with it. One afternoon Corey emails us a link to the Western Pacific Marathon. A Brazen marathon? Sign me up!

We had approximately 10 weeks to train, which was doable since I was already in half marathon shape. I knew it was going to be tough to properly fit the training in, but I figured this was my best shot at doing a marathon. Training went well for the most part. We incorporated a lot of bike riding into the training which I think helped a lot. We peaked at an 18 mile run at an 8:55 pace. I tried to do a 20 miler the next weekend but felt my knees hurting so I stopped at 12. I had to play it safe.

Drew and I carbed up the evening before the race at Mongolian BBQ. I took my time and I ate 3 bowls of noodles and veggies.

Race day

Race started at 7:30am. We arrived ready to go. For the most part, the first 10 miles were uneventful. We walked at every aid station, kept hydrated and maintained about an 8:40 pace.

At mile 1, there was a bathroom break. Corey and Matt were manning the aid station and cheered us on.

At mile 6 there was a wall of people running with the 3:55 pace runner. I noticed everyone was too scared to pass him up. So we passed him up and laughed about it (he would later have the last laugh). There was this older fellow with a camelback who was run/walking and staying behind us the whole time.

Drew noted how quickly the mile markers were coming. It was weird. We would pass a mile marker, have what was seemingly a short conversation and then the next mile marker would come up.

We took an extended aid station break at mile 13. They had cold watermelon, oranges and GU, quite refreshing. I felt great, we maintained about an 8:40 pace even with the walks and the breaks.

About mile 15, the older run/walker passed us up and we never saw him again until the race was over. (Drew talked to him after the race and he was doing a Jeff Galloway program, smart guy).

Mile 16.5 – Drew and I parted ways. It was at this point I could start to feel my legs hurting. They mainly hurt when I walked. As I was running, there was very little pain. I kept on running.

Mile 17, 18, 19 and 20 felt great. I was weaving through the half marathon walkers at this point. I could hear people cheering me on. My legs started getting a bit heavy but it really wasn’t that bad. I had only a 10k left! I had expected to hit “the wall” at mile 20 but I was still going strong. I was in a good place mentally.

Mile 22 – PAIN. That’s the only way I can describe it. It was overwhelming. Every part of my lower body hurt. I had to stop running. My body was rejecting the run. Mile markers couldn’t come soon enough.

Mile 23 – aid station. The main thing I remember about this aid station was a small hill I had to run up in order to get to it. I literally threw my hands up in the air I was so pissed about this. The camera guy caught my frustration. I didn’t care.

Mile 23.5 – the 3:55 pace runner passed me up. He was running alone. He offered some words of encouragement but I couldn’t hear him through the pain.
Mile 24 – Drew and I crossed paths. He was heading towards the mile 23 aid station and cheered me on but I don’t remember what he said. He later told me I looked like a zombie. I don’t remember if I was running or walking at this point.
Mile 24.5 – I passed a fellow laying on the ground. He was on his back with his hands on his face. He had a marathon bib on so I asked him if he was ok. He said “yea”. In hindsight, if he had said “no” I couldn’t have helped him anyway. It sounds messed up, but that actually perked me up a bit. At least I wasn’t that guy.
Mile 25 – the last aid station. Matt and Corey were cheering me on and telling me I was on pace for a sub 4 hour marathon. At this point, I didn’t care what my time was. I just wanted it to be over. There was a hill right after the aid station. I walked the whole thing.
When I hit mile 26, I knew I had made it. But the last .2 miles were uphill. I gave it everything I had and finished strong. Finish time was 4:01:36.
I won’t go too much into detail about how I almost cried from the pain afterwards or how much pain I’m in today (2 days later). I can safely say this was by far the hardest thing I have ever done physically. It had been a goal of mine since I was 12. I couldn’t have done it without my friends (MHRC) and family supporting me. Thanks guys!

Diva Half Marathon 2012

Contributed by Janice Hom

Women’s Diva’s 1/2 Marathon in Burlingame~ May 6th 2012

I started running last year around this time. I never enjoyed running, instead I just did it for weight loss, until I ran my first race…MH Run with the Kites 10K. After that I was hooked but not necessarily on running but on the feeling of being a part of a race! The people, the excitement, the challenge, the cheers from the crowd and the reward at the end of pure achievement!! So I signed up for a Trail run a few months later and decided I was going to sign up for a half next. Then one night after running 6 miles around the neighborhood, I felt pain in my hip flexor and that was it…  I was out of commission! But it was fall and with a cold winter around the corner, I decided to hang up my running shoes and put on some cycling shoes instead which would later become my newest addiction (along with a new way to lose weight!) That kept me busy till spring of this year came around and a friend asked me to do the Brazen Badger Cove 5K. I thought why not! I ended up placing 3rd in my age group and didn’t even know till I read the results online. Placing and giving me a second medal on its way, gave me the push and reminder of why I liked doing races! So I thought to myself ok now it’s time to do that half marathon. After looking at the medal I would be receiving it was a no brainer to make the Diva’s 1/2 my choice!Â

Training
I normally only run about 3 miles once or twice a week. Sometimes I’ll do 5 or 6 instead. Nothing big. About 2 months prior to my half I ran 10 and felt good. That was my longest run till the race day. I had recently bought a road bike so I spent a lot of time and miles on that which I’m sure helped but running is much harder! I ran 8 miles a few weeks prior to the race and 5 and 6 the week of. I didn’t follow anything special, I only gave myself one day rest but I did eat carbs the night before :) I signed up for this race solo and I was ok with that. On one hand, I didn’t have anyone to push me but on the other hand I didn’t have anyone to slow me down either. My plan was to walk 1/2 mile after every 3. I really didn’t want to incorporate walking but I didn’t think I could go 13 straight with such little training.Â

On your mark…get set…GO!!!

It took a few minutes to reach the start line with more than 5000 participants. It was fun to see everyone’s different outfits and so much pink! A lot of moms and daughters, sisters and friends. It was powerful to see that many women about to accomplish a huge goal. Everyone was really friendly and even sparking up conversations in the bathroom line. I made sure to go right before the sound of the gun so I thought I’d be good. Unfortunately the large coffee and 16 oz. water made me have to go again at only 2 miles in! I can’t believe this!! There was a line at least 8 deep and only 3 potties. Waiting was frustrating but luckily it was my only stop. I had to make up time, so I put it in high gear and looked for the girls in the bright tutus that were in front of me prior to my stop. I found them! Yay, I’m back in business. I didn’t carry water. I contemplated it but didn’t want to be weighed down. It was a hot day with very little wind but with so many water stations, I was fine with the exception of one that ran out of water.

Half way thru it started to get harder but bearable. So many people around me were walking and it looked tempting. I wanted to stop and join them but I said to myself “NO! Keep going” so that I did.
Along the different markers you would see girls taking pictures with the sign. It made me smile, knowing that was an accomplishment for them to get that far. Around mile 9 I noticed this one lady running by herself and keeping the same exact pace as me. She wasn’t wearing headphones so I started talking to her and it ended up being her first half too. I cheered her on and let her know I was using her as my pacer! When we got to the mile 10 marker people started clapping and again I smiled and the pain went away for a split second. My legs were tired and actually my butt muscles were hurting most. But I didn’t want to stop now; I have just over 3 miles to go. Mile 11 came and again the sounds of clapping to show our achievement. I really liked this and looked forward to doing it again at the next marker. I was out of water and started thinking maybe I should’ve worn my water belt? Mile 12. Ok only one more to go! This was the longest and hardest mile. I wanted to push and sprint to the finish but my body wouldn’t let me. I even fell back a few seconds, losing my pacer. I kept looking for the big, noticeable finish line but it was nowhere in sight. It had to be coming up; I should be able to see it by now…but nothing. I thought this is crazy, where is that damn finish line? This last mile didn’t want to end. Instead of feeling joy, I was hurting and really wanted it to be over. Then finally I heard the crowds of people cheering everyone on! “You did it, your almost there, way to go!” A big smile came on my face. I felt so special to have strangers encouraging and congratulating me along the last 200 feet. They were handing pink boas and tiaras to wear, making you look like a real diva. Finally I threw my hands up and crossed the finish line!! YES!!! I did it. I was so happy that I ran the whole 13.1 miles without stopping. Waiting for me was a topless firefighter who handed me my medal, a rose and a flute of champagne! Not too bad.Â

Finally, I thought to myself. That was hard but surely not impossible. I could do it again but 26, now that seems (almost) impossible! It was such a great feeling of success and I don’t think that special feeling could ever get old. I finished in 2:34 at 11:45 per mile.

Hope to see you all at the MH Run with the Kites!