Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Funnies

I know I'm a bit behind on blog posts.  I'm hoping to get caught up this weekend with the rest of the Baltimore/Chicago adventure, a Detroit recap, and some big news!

In the meantime, thought I'd share this - corny, I know, but it made me chuckle.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles…and Races (Part I)

In a previous blog post, I eluded to the fact that I had an epic race weekend coming up.  Well, the weekend has come and gone and it was even more epic than I thought it could be.  Here’s the weekend’s recap.

The Chicago Marathon was one of the hardest marathons to get into this year.  Tens of thousands of runners tried to register as soon as it opened, causing the third party registration system to crash.  Approximately 30,000 runners were able to get in within the first couple hours before the total system meltdown, but the remaining 15,000 spots had to be selected based on the results of a lottery that the race had to put in place after the system crash.

Fortunately for me, I was one of the first 30,000.  I had run Chicago in 2012 and loved it.  Since Chicago is within driving distance for me, I consider it a “local” race and hope to run it as many times as they’ll let me (rumor is that they’re going to go to a lottery system for the entire race next year).  I set a PR at the 2012 race and was anxious to come back and try to do it again.  The bonus with Chicago this year was that several of my friends were also some of the lucky 30,000 to get in, so there would be several of us running 

The downside is that the Chicago Marathon was the same weekend as the Baltimore Marathon and I also had several friends running that race and urging me to come out for it.  Most of them were running the half marathon distance and told me that the 5k was starting 90 minutes before the half, so you could do both the 5k and half if you wanted….and new this year, the 5k was awarding finisher medals.

Have you noticed that the “BLING” in “RamBLINGs” in the blog title is capitalized?  There’s a reason.  I love my medals! 

Suddenly the idea of a quick trip to Baltimore became more intriguing.  Would it affect my Chicago race?  Yes.  Would it knock another state off my list?  Yes - I’d never run in Maryland before.  I debated for quite some time and finally decided to go for it.

So, on Friday morning, I boarded a train to Chicago, then a shuttle bus to the Chicago Marathon Expo which was held at McCormick Place, a large convention center in the city.  Chicago is one of the 6 world majors, along with London, Berlin, New York, Boston, and Tokyo.  Admittedly, I have never run any of the other majors, so I don’t know if the Chicago Expo is indicative of them or not, but what I can say is that there is no better expo that I’ve been to than the Chicago Expo.

The Chicago Marathon is one of the 6 World Marathon Majors

First of all, you’re snail mailed a participant booklet that includes a barcode.  As you enter the expo, you hand that booklet to an expo volunteer who scans it while they check your license and verify your information.  They then direct you to the appropriate counter to obtain your bib.  By the time you get to the counter, another volunteer has already pulled your bib and has it there waiting for you.  A quick scan of your bib records that you’ve picked it up and then it’s off to get your t-shirt where you bib is scanned one more time to record that you’ve picked up your shirt and then you’re done.  Both times that I’ve gone to the Chicago Marathon expo, it has been a fast, seamless, and stress free experience.

Welcoming runners to the Chicago Marathon Expo

I would have liked to walk around the expo and check out some of the venders, but I didn’t have time because my next stop was O’Hare airport to fly to Baltimore.  Stay tuned for to find out about my adventures in Baltimore in my next post…

Friday, October 11, 2013

Less than 3 months until I'm officially Dopey!

See that counter to the right of the blog?  It's counting down the days until the Inaugural "Official" Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World and we're now under 90 days!  If you're registered, are you ready to run nearly 50 miles thru Walt Disney World in January?

For those of you that don't know what I'm talking about, for years, many people have done what has become known as the "Unofficial" Dopey Challenge during Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World.  This involved running the 5k Family Fun Run on Friday followed by the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge (Half Marathon on Saturday and Full Marathon on Sunday).

However, after this year's unprecedented nearly instantaneous sell out of the Disneyland 10k and Dumbo Double Dare (10k on Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday), Disney decided to capitalize on the 10k craze and add a 10k to their January WDW Marathon Weekend for 2014.  With the added race, a new challenge was also born....the "Official" Dopey Challenge:

  • 5k on Thursday
  • 10k on Friday
  • Half Marathon on Saturday
  • Full Marathon on Sunday

The Inaugural Dopey Challenge:  4 Races, 4 Days, 48.6 Miles, 6 Medals

Do you have dreams of going Dopey?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Throwback Thursday - What Did I Do On My Summer Vacation?

I'm noticing that the current trend on Facebook among many of my friends is to do "Throwback Thursday" where they post something from their past.  I thought I'd do the same on the blog this week, but I'm not going quite that far back.  I'm going to do a mini throwback and briefly recap the epic running vacation I took this summer.

It all started a year ago when I ran the 2012 San Francisco Marathon.  I missed a turn on the course and ended up having to back track to make up the mileage I accidentally skipped.  I vowed that I would come back in 2013 so that I could run the correct course with no mistakes.  A bonus was that my friend Tony was going to be completing his 100th marathon at San Francisco, so I'd be there for that as well.

Another race that had been on my radar for a couple years was the Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon.  The Seattle Marathon (different than Rock 'n' Roll Seattle) was my first ever marathon, so the city has some sentimental value to me.  Seattle is also home to some very dear college friends that I had been hoping to visit in the not so distance future.  When I found out that my running friends Jenny and Carrie were making plans to run Rock 'n' Roll Seattle this year, I knew that 2013 was the year to finally run it.

One problem though...traditionally, the San Francisco Marathon is in July.  However due to conflicts with the America's Cup, it was moved to June for 2013 week before Rock 'n' Roll Seattle.  This created a bit of a dilemma because being a Midwesterner, trips to the west coast are not easy and making two on two consecutive weekends would be prohibitive...unless I made it one big running trip!

...and that's exactly what I did.

Once it was decided to spend an entire week on the west coast, other races soon got added to the schedule...3 additional races to be exact.  The first being Brazen Racing's Trailquake trail race on Saturday.  If you ever have an opportunity to do a Brazen Race, I highly recommend it.  This is the second Brazen race I'd done and both times, they were great experiences.  They're a top notch race company, providing medals for all distances and an all-you-can-eat buffet at the finish.  Trailquake had 5k, 10k, and half marathon options and I'm thankful that Tony, our friend Jennifer, and I decided to register for "just" the 5k.  This 5k was no joke, it was a mile and a half up the San Andreas Trail, gaining approximately 775 feet in elevation before turning around and going back down the trail to the finish.  It was definitely a workout, more of a hike than a run, but a good warm up for the San Francisco Marathon the next day.

Jennifer, myself, and Tony before Brazen's Trailquake 5k (photo courtesy of Allen Lucas)
On Sunday, we had the San Francisco Marathon where I got redemption for my course snafu the year before and Tony completed his 100th marathon followed by a post race celebration in honor of his milestone race.  However, the party ended early because several of us in attendance had another race the next day.  Yes, you read that right, that meant 3 straight days of races.

Tony with his bobblehead commemorating his 100th marathon 
On Monday morning was Tracy's Fat Ass.  "Fat Ass" is a term used in running to describe small, low key races.  The small, family atmosphere was a nice change after the large race the day before.  My intention was to do the marathon distance that morning.  This would be my second double (2 marathons in 2 days), so I was optimistic that it shouldn't be too bad.  Tracy's course consisted of 4 large loops around Lake Merced in San Francisco followed by 2 smaller loops to equal 26.2 miles.  Tony had decided to just do one loop around the lake and then volunteer for the rest of the day counting loops as runners came through.  When I had finished my third loop and was heading out on my fourth, Tony joked that he had switched me from the marathon to the 50k division.  At first I scoffed at the idea, but by the time I had finished the fourth loop, I had decided that I was indeed going to go for 50k.

Following Tracy's Fat Ass...and 60.8 miles in 3 days
Why would I decide to tack on another ~5 miles on my 3rd day of running?  There were three reasons that I used to convince myself during that fourth loop:
  1. I had a 50 mile race on the schedule later in the summer and the additional mileage would be good training
  2. With the current plan for this vacation, I was going to be doing 94.8 miles.  Upping to the 50k would bring me that much closer to a 100 mile vacation.
  3. I was currently on target for a 7+ hour marathon, but I never wanted to see another 7 hour marathon.  A 9 hour 50k, on the other hand, was more acceptable to me at that point.
Yes, I realize that the only truly valid reason was #1, but at that point, #3 was the most important in my mind.  So, when I finished my 4th loop and Tony told me I had two more to go, I surprised him by saying "I've done the math.  I actually have 3 to go.  I'm going for 50k!"  I ended up finishing just over 50k with 31.5 miles, and a new 50k PR!

After three days of running, it was nice that Tuesday was a rest day.  We spent a quiet day doing some errands around San Francisco that needed to be done before we left on Wednesday to drive to Seattle.  There were three of us on this epic road trip....Tony, our friend Christine, and myself.  The drive was mostly uneventful, but when we stopped at the Oregon's Visitors Center for a bio break, we stumbled upon a unexpected find.  A mini shrine to Prefontaine, the former Olympic runner from Oregon.  After some pictures, we were back on our way to Seattle.

The Epic Road Trip begins!  Tony, Christine, and I heading to Seattle

We were pleasantly surprised to see a Prefontaine display at the Oregon Visitors Center

Once in Seattle, we had a couple days to do touristy stuff and meet up with both running and non-running friends.  It was great spending time with my old college friend Tom and his wife, Cherie, and their daughter, Katie.  Friday afternoon, the four of us decided to take a walk near the staging area for Saturday's race.  I snapped a quick picture of Katie running, but it wasn't until after I had taken it that I noticed the backdrop that she was running past at the time.  I think it would make a great publicity shot for the Rock 'n' Roll series, if I do say so myself:

Competitor (owners of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series) should really pay me for this photo! :)

Before I knew it, it was Saturday morning....race day.  Christine, Jennifer, Jennifer's husband Mitchell, Jenny, and Carrie all ran the half while Tony and I ran the full.  It was a warm day and my body was getting tired, so it wasn't my best race ever, but I got it done and met some great folks along the way.

Fellow Double Agent (Half Fanatic & Marathon Maniac) Tyler, myself, and Tony after our Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon finish 

It would have been great to hang out in Seattle for another night with our friends, but we weren't done running yet.  As soon as the race was over, Christine, Tony, and I were on the road again.  We headed to Eugene, Oregon for our last race of this epic road trip, the Grapes of Half half marathon.  This was a new race that started and ended at wineries outside of Eugene.  It was a fun race with only about 100 runners.  The first half of the race went very well and, surprisingly, I was keeping a good pace, even thinking that a PR may be possible.  However, those hopes went away during the second half which was considerably more hilly and by then, the 90+ miles on feet and legs were definitely starting to catch up with me.  My pace slowed down considerably.  Following the race, I was able to get a post race massage and we enjoyed some complimentary wine from the finish line winery before starting to return to Seattle.

The bling from 5 races over 9 days.

When it was all said and done, in 9 days, I completed 100.1 miles in 5 races:
  • Brazen Trailquake 5k 1:14:52
  • San Francisco Marathon 6:53:56
  • Tracy's Racing Tracy's Fat Ass 50k (31.5 miles) 9:11:05
  • Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon 6:55:21
  • Pink Buffalo Racing's Grapes of Half - 3:34:03
I wasn't sure how my body would react to so many miles in such a short amount of time, but I'm happy to say I felt great when it was over.  There was only one casualty from the trip.  After Tony dropped me off at the airport, he was driving to return the rental car when one of the tires blew out.  Thank goodness, it didn't happen while we were on the highway!

The only casualty of  the epic road trip - blown tire a few blocks from the rental return

Have you ever taken a running vacation?  You know what they say "A vacation without a race is just poor planning!"

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Government Shutdown will Keep Runners from Their Appointed Route

Today was the Sleeping Bear Marathon and Half Marathon in Empire, Michigan.  Endurance Evolution did a great job putting on this race.  The course was a simple out and back along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  It ran thru the quaint little towns of Empire and Glen Arbor, over rivers that were teeming with huge salmon, and thru northern Michigan's beautiful Fall colors.  The temperature was in the mid-50's, so the course and the temps had all the makings for a near perfect race.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had something else in mind.

As I have learned over the last several years, northern lower Michigan races in October can be very beautiful, but can also be very damp.  The hourly weather forecast predicted 70% chance of rain for most of the race before diminishing for the afternoon.  As I got to the race, the rain had stopped and I hoped that that meant it had ended earlier than the forecast predicted.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  By Mile 5, it was pouring again and it rained on and off for the first 3/4 of the race.  (On the bright side, there was no sleet - apparently they had that for last year's race).

I started out with 30:30 intervals, but in the first few miles, my legs felt pretty heavy.  Since the first 3-4 miles were hilly, I decided to walk with the intention of resuming my intervals once the initial hills were behind me and my legs had warmed up.  Once I resumed intervals, they were short lived because it was not long before the rain (and the subsequent unavoidable puddles) came back.  That resulted quickly in blisters and chafing which forced me to slow to a power walk instead of the intervals.  I was still maintaining a good pace walking (~14:30/mile) until Mile 18 when my Garmin completely died.  When I don't know my pace, I tend to slow down - I really need to learn not to rely on that for my pace as much as I do.

I ended up coming in just over 7 hours, almost an hour longer than I had planned.  The good thing is that my legs felt great when I finished, it was just the blisters that I should be ready for my epic race weekend next week.  Stay tuned for info on that!

The medal for the Sleeping Bear Marathon at Sleeping Bear Dunes

With the government shutdown, all entrances to the Sleeping Bear Dunes and associated areas were closed.  Fortunately the race was always scheduled to stay on state highways and local roads, so the shutdown didn't affect the course at all.  We could see the dunes from the course and when we passed them, I knew I needed to get a picture of the medal with the landmark the marathon was named for, so after the race, I ignored the barricades blocking the driveway and went in to take a picture.  I felt like such a rebel!  (You'll notice that by this point, the sky had cleared and it stopped raining as well!)

Sleeping Bear Marathon is one of the races that are part of the Great Lakes Marathon series.  This series is comprised of 25 marathons that have views of the Great Lakes at some point during their course (Sleeping Bear is along Lake Michigan).  As a resident of the Great Lakes state, I'm hoping to eventually complete this series, but it will be a long term goal.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The 100-50 Plan: If I announce it on my blog, I have to do it, right?

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to race......a lot.  When I did my first race ever, the 2006 Detroit Free Press Half Marathon, I never dreamed how many races and miles were in my future.  After that one race in 2006 and its sequel in 2007, the race bug bit and wouldn't let go.

Team Rumphshaker after the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon in 2006

In March 2012, I ran the North Carolina Half Marathon.  It was my 50th half marathon and although it was a great race and I had run it with a small group of friends, it was not a race that I had planned to be my 50th.  It just sort of happened.  For my 100th half, I wanted it to be a designated race - a race that I planned on doing to commemorate the milestone and a race that I could celebrate with lots of friends.

Running the 2012 North Carolina Half Marathon with Dana - my 50th half.

As I debated what would be my milestone race so that I could plan accordingly, I started thinking about the races that were the most fun for me.  Although there are numerous races that I would love to do as my 100th, I knew that doing it at a Disney race would insure that I'd have more of my racing buddies around than I would at a non-Disney race.  I then realized that at my current pace, I would be hitting my 100th half marathon fairly close to my 50th full marathon.  Anyone who is familiar with Disney races can probably predict where my mind went next (especially if you paid attention to the title of this post :) ).

So, here's my official 100th half marathon will be at the 2015 Walt Disney World Half Marathon (est. January 10, 2015) followed the next day by my 50th full marathon at the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon (est. January 11, 2015).  I plan to be competing in the Dopey Challenge (5k Thursday, 10k Friday, Half Saturday, Full Sunday), culminating in achieving my 2 major race milestones.

In order to achieve this, I will have to taper in 2014, which is a good thing.  I want to focus more on my triathlons and speed in 2014 and tapering will allow me to do this.  This also leaves me wiggle room if I am unable to complete some of my currently scheduled 2014 races.

So where am I currently in the 100-50 plan?  As of today, October 3, I have completed 80 half marathons and 32 marathons, leaving me 19 halfs and 17 fulls to complete before January 2014.

Do you have plans for Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in 2015?  Come join me!