Final Thoughts on San Francisco

I absolutely wouldn't exchange this experience for anything.

Pacing was awesome, San Fran was awesome, The marathon was awesome, the expo was original.

I was excited to meet some bloggers. Hopefully I will meet them again at a race in the future and have more free time to spend with them.

My only disappointments were the following:

The club run corral. From a pacer point of view this was just plain stupid. I probably lost a lot of runners because of this set up. Hopefully next year they will do something a little different. Perhaps have multiple club run areas in each corral so that runners are still lined up according to appropriate pace.

No official pacer Tee. I was more than ecstatic to accept all the fun Nike Schwag that was given to the pacers. But if I was in charge I would have included an official pacer technical tee with the marathon logo on it and something signifying that we were pacers on the back. And I would have made the shirt match the shorts they gave us to run in! I consider it a major faux pas to wear a mismatched outfit on race day! So glad I had my own Nike tank that matched the shorts.

No pace bands to give to runners. We had a ton of runners ask for pace bands and had to reply by suggesting they print them online. Not exactly what someone wants to hear when they are staying at a hotel and have no printer access.

Other than that I would highly recommend this race. Not as a BQ or PR attempt but as a wonderful course with spectacular views. Also I took pride in pacing for a race that was completely created to fund raise for a cause. Props to Nike for creating a race especially for TNT.

Running with Scissors and Halloween Photos

I'm sure you are all tired of reading after that pacer report so here's some eye candy to tide you over until I get up a Running With Scissors FA report.

Running with Scissors at Mohican

On the blue soon to be purple loop

From the top of the Firetower

Doing our best Catra Pose post run at the Covered Bridge

Mike has a bunch of great photos and an awesome post on his blog. Make sure to check it out!

Halloween at Solars Place

Tink and Miss Muffet

With the Mad Hatter

Just Graduated

A few Pacer Photos

Waiting for my manicure

I'm on the wall in the middle

Welcome to China Town

Pacer Jim made me climb up this hill!

To get this view

From this tower

Pier along Fisherman's Wharf at Night

More to come soon!

Pacing the Nike Womens Marathon

I was a bit nervous at the start especially faced with a rather large group lined up right behind me. I answered questions. It would have been impossible to remember all the names but I did my best to try to remember faces. I had a lot of half marathoners at the start and I made sure to go over how we would be running targeting their exact overall pace at their turn off. I talked about my plan of running even effort miles. On a hilly course it would be impossible to hit even mile splits. The group seemed to like that plan and after some quick sizing up where I was asked my PR we lined up and listened to the Star Spangled Banner. Then it was only a few minutes before the start. I made sure to let me group know there was a corral between the elites and us which would have runners of various paces, not our own. They had a Club Run corral which was made up of runners who had trained together for the marathon. It was a nice idea but it made for a very rough start. I warned my runners not to waste energy weaving back and forth and to make sure not to trip.

I had studied the course adjusted pace band and was planning to wear both that and an even pace band to keep track. But at the expo a runner came by wanting a pace band and she was 3:50 so I gave her my pre printed course adjusted band. I remembered most of it and it was somewhat irrelevant as the whole second half of the race would be off as we had to hit the half right on even pace. From memory I knew the first mile was supposed to be fast. Tell that to the crowds! We started and it was apparent immediately that we would have to do some wading to get back up to pace. I put on my best authoritative voice and ran pretty much up the middle. "Pace group on your left. Coming up right behind you. 3:50 pace group coming through." I noted that I should use this trick in my own races :) People mostly moved for us but I am guessing I lost a lot of half marathoners in this first mile shuffle.

Once we got to the wharf things spread out a little bit and we could move. The view opened up and we pretty much watched the sun rise over the Golden Gate Bridge. Seriously breathtaking. The next two miles were a little quick but our 5k pace was right on target. (After reviewing mile splits and the course and a few other pacers splits I think the 5k paces are a better reflection of performance, the individual miles with the ups and downs made it hard to hit every mile right on). The section through here had trolley tracks so I made sure everyone was careful of their footing. We reached the first water stop and I slowed to grab water. It was still crowded so I didn't walk. I announced there were bathrooms on the right and let my runners know that if they needed to use one they should catch up slowly over the next mile. Made sure to promote hydration as it would get hot later! *edited to add:* I completely forgot that right after this one of our runners shoes came completely off. I had to yell for her not to sprint to catch up, just like if she had made a bathroom stop. I was shocked. This has happened to me in a muddy cross race, but never on the roads! I felt so bad for her. I wonder how she did after this, it was still so crowded so I really don't know if she ever caught back up to us. *end of addition*

We made our way up our first steep but short incline and into a little park with a winding path. I started going over the marathons I had done (per request). It was hard to remember them all on the fly and I actually forgot about Cleveland (maybe I subconsciously meant to leave that one out) and laughed about it in a later mile. The next three miles were quick. The scenery was great, lots of lovely trees. This 5k was fast for all the pacers I looked at. Must have been mostly downhill. But it was good as we were about to make a significant climb.

Mile 6 started a long winding climb. I told my group to watch their breathing. If it is labored you are pushing too hard. We want to feel like we are running flat. Taught them my little trick about looking about two feet in front of your feet so that it looks like you are running flat. The hill actually wasn't bad. Similar to my regular Sunday hill but a bit steeper. On the way up we passed a free oxygen bar. No time to stop though! We made it up the hill a little faster than I expected but not too fast. On the way up my friend TS from TNT spotted me and cheered. It was nice to see a familiar face out there!

Once we got to the top it was time to come down. This mile was fun! The trees here were amazing and you looked out to your right over the ocean and beautiful hills beyond. Best view ever! I took it easy down the hill. Saving my marathoners quads for later. It was funny as we would go up I would lose one of the half marathoners and on each downhill she would go blazing past us. The next few miles had some steep climbs. I knew they were going to be there but I underestimated them, I thought they would be rollers, but they were short steep climbs through some residential areas. I thought the architecture was neat here and was pleasantly surprised by an orange stop here. I had thought there would only be luna products and bananas out on the course.

We picked up a male runner around mile 9 who is training for his first 50 in two weeks. So that gave me the chance to talk ultras. We discussed 100 miles, Burning River, the spartathlon, pretty much all running extremes :) This talk got us through to the half marathon split before 12. I hollered for my half girls and was disappointed to find I only had one! But she looked great and we were right on target for her. I am confident she finished in style and on time.

At this point the full marathoners headed on an out and back. This allowed viewing of the leaders. We cheered for the other pace groups as we headed to our own turn around before mile 14. We hit the half right on target 1:55:15. Miles 11-15 were all uphill but my group was doing great. Our hard work was rewarded with a beautiful tall waterfall on the right before mile 15. About the hundredth time I wished for a camera that morning. Around 15.5 we re-merged with the half marathoners before heading into the Nike+ tunnel which was kind of neat. You ran through and they displayed sample run graphs and they were playing Just Lose It by Eminem as we ran through and heard Lance Armstrong congratulate us on our workout. I joked that now that our workout was done it was time to get to work. It was work to get through this section. We went from having a lot more room and just seeing the occasional group of marathon walkers on the right to merging with what felt like thousands of half marathoners about to finish their race.

Once we were clear of the half marathoners we headed out onto the great highway. We had an amazing view of the ocean and a very cool old windmill. I love the landscape here. It looked like miniature versions of the badlands set right on the ocean with enormous hills in the background. The waves looked huge and it was fun to watch them come in to shore.

This was when I knew the race would start to get tough for my group. We were out in the open now, the sun was shining, and spectators were sparse. Around mile 18 is where I started to lose a few runners. This was right before we started to head around Lake Merced. We picked up a few newcomers and I was elated to have such a large group still. The miles around Lake Merced seemed to drag a bit despite having shade. I encouraged my runners to enjoy the shade while we had it! The lake was beautiful and I picked up a few local runners who said we were having some of the best weather they had had in quite awhile. Apparently the rains earlier in the week had cleared up the air for us.

Around mile 20 we picked up an Ironman who had done Coeur dAlene and a TNT marathoner who was struggling a little bit. We were doing really well on overall pace and I encouraged them to stick with us. When we hit mile splits I would announce how close we were to pace and I would let runners know that my watch was about 1 minute behind the clocks and if they had started behind me they were actually ahead of 3:50 pace. Runners started asking about the next water stop here and I told them I was pretty sure the next one was around 21. It was getting hot and we were all thirsty including myself. We made it to the aid station at 21 and I let everyone know we were walking the station and to get sufficient nutrition and fluids.

I talked a lot in here about relaxing and shaking out your arms and shoulders. Runners were struggling a bit but I was glad to see some of them reviving. Mile 24 marked the last hill and our re-entrance to the Great Highway. This was great as it meant we only had 2 more miles to go! I lost the majority of my group on the climb to 24 despite easing the pace a bit. I was down to two women who were right with me. We encouraged all those we passed and cheered for those on the other side of the highway. I saw a hula girl whose outfit matched one of my group who had fallen behind. I yelled to her that if she saw her friend she needed to encourage her a lot and let her know how great she was doing. I think my direct quote was "If you see Erin you holler really loud for her!" She assured me she would.

We picked up a male runner in the last few miles who stuck with us to the finish. One of the ladies was having spasms in her thigh. I told her that it is common and that if it was me I'd just run with it. Keep the pace even and hopefully it wouldn't seize. I told her the pain would be worth it when she finished under 3:50. The wind really kicked up here and I was having trouble with my sign. One of the ladies actually "drafted" off of me because of the wind. Not sure how much wind I can block but I held my sign to try and make myself wider :) I kept knocking my legs with the pole as it was hard to hold the sign up in the wind.

About a half mile from the finish the lady with spasms asked how much further and I was elated to respond to her knowingly that we had less than 5 minutes! I really did like the fact that as a pacer I totally knew exactly how long it would be before we finished. Gives you a sort of piece of mind. I watched for the 26 mile marker to gauge pace but alas there was no sign! As we neared the finish line I encouraged the lady with spasms to finish strong and I came into the finish alone. I held my sign up and smiled for photographers. The announcers were kind "Here comes 3:50 right on target," but I felt foolish as no one was right with me! One lady had pulled ahead and the guy and gal that were with me came in just a little behind. I was glad to see the TNT girl who had struggled blow by me at the finish line. 3:49:49. Had I realized there was a "closest to the pin" award I might have eased off a bit at the finish and tried to urge a few more people in that were close to me but I was under the impression that I needed to be within 30 seconds under the goal and looking at my watch as I neared the finish line I knew that was where I was at.

As I crossed I walked and thanked the nice gentleman in a tux offering me a blue box wrapped in white ribbon. I found the lady who had spasmed and gave her the 3:50 sign as a souvenir. We chatted a bit and I wandered around talking to any of my group that I saw. I pulled one lady to a BQ and that made me really happy. She had been to Boston before but hadn't raced a marathon in 6 years and needed to make it so she could go with a friend who already qualified this year.

My feet and legs were incredibly sore. I took a banana and two smoothies to try and ease the threatening cramps. My energy levels were great but 26 miles of pavement is 26 miles of pavement regardless of pace. Several of my runners who didn't make the goal found me and I expressed that they did such an awesome job out there. It really was a tough course. One that I would do for fun but probably not as a PR attempt or even a BQ attempt. I was really pleased with my performance on the hills but I could easily see how racing those would do quite a number on you. Most of the runners I saw assured me they would email Pacer Jim to let him know they loved having a pacer, even those who didn't make it in with me, which made me feel really good. I'd love to go back if they'd have me. Despite not getting more people in it was worth it to help just one person get a PR or a BQ and to help others push hard for as long as they could.

After wandering around and trying to find my roomie I headed to the buses to get my gear. It took them awhile but I finally got my goods. I treated myself to a short dip in the ocean pools just off shore. It was cold!!! But it felt great on my incredibly sore feet and lower back and thighs. We got in line for the buses which we thought would take forever but actually zipped along pretty quickly. I looked pretty silly wandering around barefoot but I couldn't find a shower for my sandy feet. I rode back with two other pacers and both said it was a rough day out there. The course was just really hard to pace on. After a quick but extremely satisfying shower I headed down to mingle with the other pacers before hitting the town. Every pacer I talked too said it was rough out there which made me feel good. I was happy with my overall performance but nervous pacer Jim would be upset that all my miles weren't right on. Turns out I was one of the closest to my goals (without going over) so for my first time not too shabby!

After getting ready we headed out to Macy's and Nike town for our free smoothie and some shopping. I decided to finally take the plunge and bought a running skirt since we had a $10 off coupon to Macy's. I went for the black and white one as the maroon ones with pockets were extremely short! Too short for this runners large thighs! Picked up a poster at Nike town then is was off to the sushi bar. We pigged out on sushi and wine which was delicious. I was so happy others wanted sushi as I was craving it and it hit the spot!

After sushi it was time to see the sights. I didn't have to be to the airport until 10 PM and I was going to make the most of my day! We walked through China Town, up to Coit Tower, and down along Fisherman's Wharf. I didn't get to see the sea lions but we did hear them! It was quite a hike with plenty of stairs and hills. Not too shabby on marathon legs! We got back in time to watch the Indians lose to the Sox on our way to the airport. (grr) Hopped on the red eye home and arrived in Cleveland bright eyed and bushy tailed for work at 6:30 AM!

What an amazing experience. If I get the chance again I'd definitely take a few days off next time :) Pictures and some reflections on the race to come.

San Fran Photos

These two ladies stuck with me the entire race. Pretty impressive.

Even Pacers sweat. This was one of my group. She had a hard time towards the end and didn't quite get the BQ. I wanted to cry for her. Next time she'll make it!

I've got a few like this :) Gabbing on the run.

More Photos of Pacer E

Nike Womens San Francisco Marathon Expo and Pacer Duties

This weekend was quite an adventure! I managed to make it to the airport on time Friday night despite taking a nasty spill up my stairs at home. (side note: I just now figured out where the bruise on my shin came from writing that sentence, blogging is a great way for me to remember such minute details!) Thank goodness I am used to my clumsy ways and just came away with a bruise. Breaking your shin two days before pacing would be considered bad.

I arrived to the airport got through security and to my gate to see that our plane was delayed two hours. Bummer! I found a phone booth with a plug for my cell and called Su to chat. We seem to always talk when one or the other is traveling. I wanted to wish her luck with her Kona Challenge. She did great there so go tell her great job!

Finally was able to board the plane. I managed to sleep a few hours and didn't freak out when I arrived in San Fran at 1 AM (4 AM Ohio time) instead of 11 and had to get myself to my airport sans BART. I shared a door to door van for a reasonable rate and got to the hotel a little before 2 AM and got to bed after chatting with my roommate who thankfully had not been asleep when I arrived.

Woke up bright and early to have breakfast with the pacer crowd before heading to the expo to work my first shift. Got to the expo and received our Nike bag of goodies. Everything I got fit except for the gloves and socks which thankfully I didn't need this weekend. This was to be an all Nike outfitted weekend for us pacers. I was missing the pink booth Tee but was able to get one in my size for my second shift. I proceeded to chat with every woman who came by our table for the next 3 hours. It was a lot of talking even for this chatter bug.

My standard was "Are you running the half or full tomorrow? What's your goal time?" Then I filled out a bib for them and gave them directions to the appropriate pacer and starting corral in the morning. Most women were happy to sign up for a pace group, but a few gave me the eye roll and hurried along. There was a lot of confusion about the pace bands. They didn't have pace bands with mile splits available at the expo, but there was a course adjusted pace band creator on the website. We had colored bands that corresponded to the morning corrals. We quickly ran out of all the faster paced bands and I told people to just go to their appropriate corral in the morning and explain they were out of their band color and to be patient with any volunteers as there might be confusion.

I got a few requesting a 3:30 pacer which we didn't have but I recommended they fill out a pace bib with 3:30 on it and try to find other 3:30ers in the morning to create an unofficial pace group. I've done that before when I wanted to run a time that did not have an official pacer. Worst case scenario you miss your goal, best case you find a buddy to bring it home with you.

By the end of 3 hours I was pretty beat. I went and got my chip and bib number then decided to wait in line for the free manicure. My nerves were pretty strung as my hands were shaky during the manicure. It was pretty overwhelming seeing all these women runners and knowing that the next morning I would be pacing many of them.

After the manicure I went back to the hotel to drop my stuff off and grabbed what I thought would be a quick lunch with my new pacer friends. Lunch took a little longer than expected and I was running late for my blogger meet up. But I finally arrived to chat with Michelle, Dori, and Irene. It's funny how you can feel so at ease with a group of people you have never officially met. Unfortunately I had to rush back to the expo for my second shift. I hope to meet up with these girls again in the future. I would definitely have loved to do some sightseeing or shopping and chat away all day with them but duty called.

The expo was packed pretty much to the end of the day. Our booth finally slowed down around 5:30. I knew pacer Jim wanted us to sit down as much as possible but with all my adrenaline I worked outside the table walking about to people and giving them my pacer spiel. I could tell my throat was getting sore and I tried to make sure to drink as much water as possible.

After the expo it was straight off to dinner and carbo loading. We had a fantastic pace group dinner at Puccini and Pinetti. I probably ate too much but for once I was actually craving pasta the night before a marathon! And it was delicious!

After dinner it was back to the hotel and time for final instructions. We received our speakers to use with our Nike+ Ipods and some Luna treats. (If anyone local likes Luna gummy things let me know! I'll probably bring them to "Scissors" this Sunday to hand out!) My roomie and I tried on our outfits and got everything set for the next morning then we hit the hay.

Restless sleep followed despite being dog tired. I awoke the next morning feeling not quite right and managed to spill water all over the floor twice in my attempts to make tea, but I was ready to go with all my gear and my sign as we met up in the lobby, took a group pic, and headed to the start.

More to come when I get a moment! Pics will be added soon too!

Paivi and Amenti

We decided. We went with Paivi for our little orange girl and Amenti for our little Tortoise girl.

Paivi was a friend of David's in Finland. It is regularly spelled with an umlaut but this is how we will spell it for our girl. Amenti was the Egyptian mistress of Amun sometimes know as the hidden goddess. As we already had a scare this morning with her hide and seek games I think it is very appropriate.

I let Monte in to meet and greet with them tucked safely in the carrier. At first he didn't even notice their presence (they are quiet!). On closer inspection there was hissing shared between Monte and Paivi but hopefully with time they will become close friends.

Two new sweeties

Since Milford passed away Monte has been very vocal. It seems when we are in a different room he gets lonely and cries for us. We decided after a lot of thought that he probably could use some company of the feminine feline persuasion. Our vet had two little girls that were caught together. They have been spayed, vaccinated, and de-clawed (laser technology which made me feel a world better about it), all of which was payed for by a nice gentleman who likes to help out with adoptions. One of the ladies at the vet is in charge of any strays they get in and she felt these girls were a good match for us and for Monte. So yesterday we went and visited them and played with them for an hour or so and decided to bring them home.

We haven't picked names yet and they are still very shy. They will be living in the office until they are comfortable with us. Monte is curious about what is going on but he is just happy mommy is home from San Fran. We will be very careful to spend equal time with him and make sure all three kitties feel very loved. I have always had cats and I am so happy that we are able to provide a good loving home to these ones.

We are leaning towards a Finnish name for our little orange kitty. I am still searching for a name for the tortoise shell. She looks so Egyptian to me and very much like a serval or ocelot in the face. The picture isn't great as she is hiding, one side of her whiskers are black and the other white. Her nose fur is split down the middle half black have orange. She has a very neat striped pattern on half her tail. They are both dolls and once they get used to open spaces I think they will love it here.

I'll be very busy the next few weeks getting acquainted.

Pacer Elizabeth and Other Not so Fun Stuff

Goofing around while trying on race day gear for the next day. Thankfully I already owned a Nike tank because a t-shirt definitely would have been too warm for this runner. And it even matched! The blue strap is my i-pod with Nike sensor, the red is our speakers. I never heard the speaker the whole race but the Nike+ did a pretty good job. 26.04 was it's final tally on miles, not too bad.

I'll just post a brief recap here of the night and morning before the race.

We had a nice pasta dinner and after working the expo all day my roommate and I were ready to crash. We got our outfits all set and headed to bed. Around 1 AM I woke up with cold and hot flashes, my insides swirling. I felt like I was going to vomit, and I was having crazy bad dreams about nothing race related. NOT GOOD! I camped out in the bathroom for an hour or so and debated a hot bath but finally felt okay enough to go back to sleep. Woke up around 2:30 to another batch of sickness. And finally in the morning at 4:45 I dealt with the last of it. I popped an Imodium and prayed everything would be okay.

Men you've been warned the rest of this post is about a ladies "moon" phase so please move along if you are easily grossed out.

I have pretty much managed to schedule every one of my road marathons during my moon phase. This was no exception. I think the combination of jet lag and starting that and eating too much just wreaked havoc on my system causing my Saturday night illness. I had pretty bad cramps all Saturday and Sunday I just focused on everything around me and was able to ignore the stomach and lower back cramps.

During the race I used a "cork" but realized very quickly that it wasn't doing it's job. As the 3:50 pacer I did not feel comfortable pulling over to take care of things. Thank goodness those shorts were maroon is all I have to say. I am really proud that I was able to run through that and not let on to anyone what was going on. I'm just glad the blood stayed on the shorts and wasn't on my legs. For all those ladies out there that this may happen too here is my normal race trick. I tape a cork to the back of my bib in case of emergency. I talked with the other pacers after the race and some of them recommended two corks side by side. I have never done that but I definitely wish I would have done something. I just hope I can salvage the shorts. I was never so happy to take a shower as I was when I got back to the hotel. For those that I missed cheering in after I finished this is the explanation for my quick rush back to the hotel.

Ahh the life of a woman marathoner.

More to come soon!

Whirlwind Weekend

The short of it is I completed my first marathon as a pacer this weekend 11 seconds ahead of pace, finishing in 1:49:49, not too shabby. It was a rough marathon to pace because it was a lot of rollers mixed in with a couple long winding hills. On top of that we were pacing half and full marathoners and needed to deliver the halfers to just before mile 12 on pace so they could run even the rest of their way. I think this was probably a bit hard on the marathoners as it would have been nice to make up time from the two major hills in the early miles slowly over the next ten miles rather than having to hit miles 11 and 12 right on pace. Knowing that, I scrapped the course adjusted pace band and wore an even split pace band with the knowledge that we would have some fast and some slower miles with the hills and that I would have to get to 12 right on target with that pace band. I had a large group at the start and up through about 23 miles and then it seemed wheels started falling off. I managed to get 4 runners in under 3:51, at least one of which qualified for Boston. I was disappointed for those that didn't make their goal, but was encouraged by them thanking me after they did finish for my hard work. I just wish I could have pulled them through with me. Thank you to all the runners that stuck with me through any of the miles yesterday. You are all awesome and you did a great job on a tough but beautiful course.

Ready to go

I'm packed and ready to head out to San Fran. It will be a whirlwind weekend. The time change will most likely not be kind to me, especially in combination with my crazy flights. I leave Cleveland at 9 PM tonight and will be back in Cleveland Monday morning at 6:30 AM. During that time I will work 6.5 hours at the expotique greeting runners and signing them up to run with pace leaders, I will meet some fun bloggers between shifts, I will hopefully snag a free massage and manicure as well as other expotique schwag, I will dine out with my new pace leader friends, I will run a perfectly executed 3:50 marathon with a ton of new girlfriends, I will stay to cheer on the rest of the women running the marathon, I will shower and head out to tour the city on foot until I have to be on my plane Sunday evening. I will most likely be exhausted when I get back but it will so be worth it!

I hope to have an exciting and triumphant report when I return.

Good luck to everyone running in Columbus, Detroit, and San Fran this weekend. I hope the weather is perfect and that PRs are had by all!


Monday I aged another year. This year we didn't do anything terribly special. 26 doesn't feel like an age that warrants a huge party or any really special frivolities. I woke up for my 5th straight early morning (the gym is paying off!) and went for my first "fitness meeting" at the gym. I thought I would be getting the rounds on how to use machines but turns out we were just doing a little survey and measuring my donut and other fatty areas. (Seriously they had to choose my two fattest areas to measure, thankfully they threw thighs into the mix or I am sure my score would have been much worse)

Nothing like finding out your body fat percentage on the day you get one year older. But being 26 put me in a new bracket so I assume that means my body fat for a 26 year old is better than if I had the same body fat the day before at 25 :)

Despite all the running I fell in the fitness bracket. Would have been nice to be on the high end of athlete, but now I have a goal! Drop two body fat percentage points! IronWil is doing some nifty training regimen where everyone tracks their fat loss and weight loss, I am not committed enough for that but now that I have my body fat percentage in hand I was able to calculate my basic caloric needs just to breathe and what I need to maintain weight while doing all of this running. I always wondered what the magic number was between losing fat and losing important muscles, now I know!

Since the fitness test didn't take very long I treated myself to an 800 meter swim and a quick dip in the hot tub. My right arm has been tight and the hot tub was just what I needed to loosen it up!

Birthdays regardless of age deserve a good run and I got out for a lunch run with Daisy and Salty on a gorgeous fall day. We even did our bridge loop for some added "hill" fun. I think I am definitely ready for San Fran's hills.

Monday night I just relaxed with my hubby. He bought me the 4th season of scrubs so we watched a few episodes of that before tuning into the Indians game. Only one more win! Go tribe! Apparently being a day older did affect my sleepiness as I struggled to stay up through the 9th inning, that also could be the wine though. Last night was even worse with me falling asleep after watching the tribe score 7 runs in the 5th.

I'll leave you with a pic from the baby shower a week ago. I never really feel "old" but that little doll is my second cousin Andrews new baby. I used to carry Andrew around when I was less than 10. Yikes! All my cousins kids are getting to be grown and he's the first to have a baby of his own. It's wild how time flies.

Fall Running

It's like someone turned on a switch this weekend. Fall is here in full force and the running is fine. October is my favorite time of the year, especially for running. I guess I've always associated it with prime cross country weather. I feel like I've been wearing lead weights on my legs all summer and as soon as the temperature drops and the leaves turn it's like someone has loosed the weights.

For the first time in a long time I got in a run every day this week. I managed to get in two 50 mile weeks in a row. I love that despite running every day and doing the hard bodies class my legs felt fresh on the run today. We were able to clip out 10+ miles averaging under 8 minute miles. Life is good.

I'm going to take it easy this week. Keep the pace easy and cut out a few runs. I'm getting excited for San Fran. I've tried to get in as many hills as I can lately and hopefully I'll be ready for what San Fran has to throw at me. All I know is if it is a cool day like this weekend has been all will be well. It's amazing what a difference a week makes!

New Gym

I broke down and decided to get a new gym membership. I hadn't been to the Y in months and cancelled that membership, but my buddy Daisy has started working downtown and lunch runs with her, Salty, and LP have become more frequent. I don't mind the occasional "sink shower" but 3 or 4 lunch runs a week and it gets old. I added another weekly morning run downtown with one of my TNT peeps so I decided it was time to find a gym and a shower close to the office.

I splurged and went with the more expensive gym. Membership is month to month and there are a lot of great classes as well as nice new treadmills with fancy personal TV screens, nice locker room, and a 25 meter pool to boot. On top of that they have free coffee/tea and fruits in the morning as well as a hot tub and sauna and at least one freebie night a week where you can grab a pasta dinner or beverages etc. If my raise hadn't come at just the right time I probably would have gone the frugal route but hey a girl has to treat herself sometimes.

I went yesterday to try out a hard bodies class with Daisy before committing to a membership. It was a long day for me with an easy 35 minute run in the morning and a medium effort 50 minute run in the evening. I'm getting used to the double runs but was interested to see how I would handle throwing a fitness class into the mix. The class was great working all the muscle groups. My best description is a good rotation of regular free weights but done aerobic style with music with some yoga ball exercises, and stepping stairs to work your quads. I'm a sissy and grabbed the lightest weights I could find ranging from 3-8 lbs. The instructor and Daisy had some much heavier weights but as I am primarily a runner I'm not too worried about building big arm muscles. I'd just like to keep the ones I have lean and try to create some sort of under arm muscle to take away my dreaded under arm flab. I think I'll stick with the low end weights until this becomes a routine thing.

Well I survived the class but today I have deemed the class sore bodies instead of hard bodies. Holy cow am I a wreck! Muscles I didn't even know I had are sore, as a runner you think your legs are hard core, but I guess this girls legs can learn some new tricks. I'll definitely be passing on the class next Thursday as I'd be afraid of being sore still for the marathon. The hardest exercises for me seemed to be the sustained squats and these crunches where your legs scissored the yoga ball (one on top one on bottom ball resting on your shin) and you lifted your legs and torso, Ouch! I am glad they offer a class like this as I should be doing more lunges and squats and core strengthening to avoid injuries. This will be a great way for me to tap into those without it feeling like a chore.

Evening run I got out with Rootsrunner to talk pacing. I'm feeling more confident about the race and have some ideas to make my group fun. I am just so excited about the whole affair. It will be so interesting to be in such a large race consisting primarily of women.

This morning I did a light treadmill run with Daisy and then a brief swim. It was nice to get back in the water even if my upper body was a wreck. This weekend I am hoping for two 10 milers to round out another week at 50 miles even. Still haven't gotten up to 60 like I wanted but I have been above 40 pretty consistently and I am already 200+ miles over last years total so I am sure I will be ready for JFK regardless. Next week I'll do a mini taper to be rested and ready for San Francisco.

A hot weekend at home

I was in my hometown the past weekend for a family baby shower on Sunday but needed to get in a last long run before San Fransisco. I conned my parents into going out with me on their hybrids to my old cross country stomping grounds. Since my youth the park system has been making a bunch of improvements. They finally created an all purpose path that connects the three local metro parks providing about 15 miles of trail one way. They also decided the park pool was not nice enough and they are putting in a fancy new pool with a bigger slide. My how things change. Unfortunately since it is October neither pool was open, which is sad because it was 88 degrees and 90% humidity. Yikes!

The first 8 or so miles of the run were very nice. Many of the sections that I used to think had huge hills were surprisingly lacking in elevation. I guess my hill skills have come along quite a ways since high school, I used to dread those "hills". I just had to laugh because I don't think I could even call most of them hills now.

My dad used his bike computer to try and keep me on pace. I wanted to practice 8:47 miles since that is what I need to run in San Francisco. Unfortunately my ingrained pace is 8:30 and I just couldn't seem to ease it off most of the day. I'm not too worried though because San Francisco does have some sizable hills and between those and walking the water stops I am sure I will be right on target. I've made myself paranoid after looking at the other pacer bios and realizing that of all the pacers from 3:40 through 4:30 I have the slowest PR, most of them having run sub 3 and being in their 40s and 50s. Holy Cow! I know that 3:50 is not an issue for me having run all but one (Cleveland) road marathon under that pace , but there is still that little voice that creates doubt.

About 8 miles in we noticed there were a lot of cars at the park and I realized there was a cross country invitational going on. We had to cross over the race course twice and were able to stop and cheer on my old high school team. After that there is absolutely no shade on the path. It was starting to get pretty hot and my handheld was dry. We went to about 10.5 miles and then headed back. On the way back we stopped to cheer again and refill my handheld. I also spied my old coach and chatted with him a bit. It was nice to see him and hear about the team. Cross country really was a big part of my high school life even though my junior and senior years with him as coach I wasn't as good. (Damn puberty!)

We made our way back through the parks stopping for water a couple of times. The heat was getting to me a bit and although my pace remained the same I wasn't as talkative and all I could think about was water. The only calories I took in were about half a 90 calorie pack of these chocolate covered crisps we got in our goody bag at Akron. They didn't sit so well so I stuck to water after that. I've come a long way from my carbo pro, gels, and Gatorade days. I didn't even think about salt intake during this run, I suppose I should have but I didn't seem to have any problems.

I tried to ease off the pace the whole time but I think subconsciously I probably just wanted to get out of the heat. My mom would keep saying "I think you are going to fast" but I just couldn't slow it down. The few miles where I walked and drank I hit right around 8:47 so at least I knew that I could modify the pace with water stops.

Towards the end of the run I was just ready to be done and of course this was the only area where there was no water for a several mile stretch. Finally got to a water fountain about 2 miles from the car. I just stuck my head under the faucet and let it cool me down. I was drenched in sweat, so gross! At the start of the run I had intended to do a final hill before finishing out the run but when we got to the car I was ready to call it a day. For the first time ever my feet were killing me. Now I know how Daisy feels! My feet felt like I had been beating them with sticks, not doing my usual long run routine. I really do like the new Nike+ Air Pegasus, but I guess I just run too hard in them for the longer runs. They have been great on all my 5 milers downtown.

I rounded out the day with about 21.5 miles with the detours at the cross country invitational and the water stops. Overall pace was a bit too fast (not including stops) around 8:40, with stops it was probably a bit slow so come race day I just have to be right in the middle.

We stopped at the gas station on the way back for a chocolate milk and a bag of ice. I stretched than took a dreaded ice bath. Those things work miracles because afterwards I felt like I hadn't even run. We headed to lunch at the local Mexican restaurant and I pigged out. It was perfect. I just realized I never did eat my left overs and that makes me sad! That food was good!

After lunch we ran some errands and then it was off to Brighton to meet my sister and go to a corn maze as my early Birthday Celebration. It was fun and constructed much better than the maze we went to last year. We must have taken every wrong turn in the maze. Not sure my family really liked it but it was nice of them to indulge me. Then we went out for some diner food and cards. Got to see my sisters apartment and her terror kitty, that cat was absolutely adorable, but apparently she is a fright normally.

Sunday I went for a shorter run with my dad on his bike. We did just shy of 6 miles and the legs felt good. It was just too damn hot to be pleasant. I was drenched within a mile. Pace that day ended up being right on target although not even splits. I started out slow and the last few miles were fast. It was a good recovery run and had it been cooler I probably would have added a few miles but it was just gross out. I was very glad Chicago had shut out before I could register as I couldn't imagine racing 26 in that heat and humidity. Turns out with that debacle I was even gladder than I thought. Congrats to all my gals who made it to the finish before the diversion! And my heart goes out to all of those that weren't able to finish what they started that day.

The baby shower was nice and it was good to see family that I hadn't seen in a long time. Got to ride in the mustang with the top down and just enjoy the beautiful fall colors and the gorgeous sunshine.

It was nice to go home even if just for a few days. I am so lucky to have such great parents. I don't know too many of my friends whose parents would hop on their bikes and ride at a snails pace for 3+ hours in 80+ degrees.

I left my camera at T's after the Akron marathon so I will have to rely on my parents to send me pics from the weekend. I'll edit the post with them when I get them.

NCTM Report

This is way overdue and by now my memory will not be as good so it will probably be brief(ish) ;)

Last year I traveled to Northern Michigan for my first trail racing experience. I met up with Mouse and we had an absolute blast dragging our butts through this very scenic, quite hilly, but very runnable course. The shwag was awesome, the company was awesome, and the beer keg at the end was the crowning glory. I had to go back!

So this year I had Solar use the FIRST training program and she, her beaux and I headed up to Michigan for Solar and T's first attempt at a marathon. I was beat from Punxsutawney and worried about being able to run but when we arrived Friday night we did a short walk and my legs felt okay.

Race morning dawned and it was pretty chilly and raining. I didn't mind the cold but was afraid the combination with the rain might be unpleasant. Fortunately the rain stopped shortly after we started running and only made its presence known again in the last few miles of the race. Per my usual freak out in cold races I donned a long sleeve shirt and gloves which were stripped off before we even hit the first aid station.

I did my best to take Solar out easy and T stayed with us for 20 or so minutes before he took off. We ran a lot more of the early hills this year and despite my quads being sore I was able to keep up with Solar as we clipped along through the woods. We picked up a friend who was training to run 10 marathons this year. He stayed with us through the half but similarly to last year we dallied at this aid station and were on our own for awhile after this.

At the same aid station that I had seen a very dizzy 50 miler regain her composure last year we were joined by a guy that had done the 50k at Dances with Dirt the previous weekend. He was struggling to open his gel and I offered to open it for him and when I took it from him his hands were frozen. Cold as ice. Had he not gone back and forth with us during the rest of the race I would have been seriously worried about him.

I felt a ton better this year at this point than I had last year and was glad that my quad pain was not getting any worse. Somewhere shortly after we had left frozen hand guy behind I noted that Solar was struggling a bit. A few 50 milers were passing us and I got excited and picked up the pace to chat to them and then realized that Solar was not picking up the pace. She seemed all right but once we hit the next aid station I could tell she was in pain. Her legs had that all too familiar marathon shuffler look about them.

Well when Solar is in pain she lets you know about it. I'm guessing all those years she spent as a marine who couldn't complain made her decide she would vent any time she damn well pleases now :) My legs had been sore since mile one but I make it a point not to complain too much since in general there is nothing I'd rather be doing than running on the trails (what you thought I ran for the weight loss?), but I know not everyone is as crazy as me. Once Solar started to complain of being sore I switched to Solar survival mode and did my best to encourage her to keep running even though I knew she wasn't happy. Eventually it was so bad she wasn't even complaining.

The runner with cold hands behind us actually yelled at me to slow down at one point, that I was getting too far ahead of her and it was my responsibility to help her finish. I was trying my best not to laugh at him. I was walking so slow at this point. I knew Solar was just at her lowest point and needed to come out of it. Finally I told her we weren't walking anymore because getting started up again was going to hurt worse than if we just kept running in the first place. This worked for awhile and we picked up our pace. I told her if we could just keep a 12 minute mile we could come in under 4:30. I told her all kinds of crazy things just to keep her moving. I was actually worried she was really sick when at one point she told me her stomach was upset but I figured there wasn't much we could do about it in the middle of the woods. I tried to get her to eat at the next to last station but she just took Gatorade. As we neared the final station I told her we had less than 2.5 miles to go and that seemed to spur her on. Solar always has a strong finish and this race would not be an exception.

I was glad to be close to the finish as it had started to drizzle again and I was actually cold. Not as cold as the runner who had yelled at me though. As we ran the last few miles people we would pass or be passed by would shout "Way to go Solar!" and the like as they had heard me encouraging her on for the past ten miles. I guess voices carry in the pines ;) By now I have accepted my fate of being the loud mouth on the course.

We hammered in the last few miles and finally made it to the finish line in 4:24. My legs were pretty sore at that point and I was thinking maybe it isn't so bright to do a fast 50k the week before a trail marathon but after some beer, soup, chili, and putting my legs up I felt like I hadn't run at all. It's amazing what a little pampering will do.

We fueled up and watched the 50 mile winner finish and rejoiced in getting some age group awards. Then we headed back to the hotel and to the pool. After that we celebrated at the local Casino by eating a buffet dinner and visiting with my grandparents who were up with my aunt and uncle that weekend to gamble. I lost $12.50 but was content to have a few hours of fun. I think Solar and T came away at least $10 richer. Those nickel slots really pay off ;)

I'd highly recommend this race to anyone who loves trails and doesn't mind a few hills. The forest in Manistee is just gorgeous and the volunteers and race staff do an awesome job with the event. The three of us will definitely be back next year. Maybe next year I'll even do the 50!

Five Fast Femme-Fatale Freaks

Last year started the tradition for me of running the Akron Marathon relay. Despite a poor showing on my part my team last year snagged 1st mixed and we were hooked. This year we decided to round up a ladies team. We had 4 but we needed a fifth and by Wednesday we were getting desperate. Luckily we snagged a local superstar last minute to finish out as our fifth and she was up for higher mileage so she took the long leg! Always nice when your speedster wants to go long!

Once again I was sick for the race this year, but the weather was much better and my sickness was contained to a slight cough making running much more feasible. We rallied at T's place again and this year JP and I watched the start and the 5k to cheer before heading to the buses. I had tons of friends to cheer and I had fun watching the beginning of their day. T and MT actually got to start the race with Bill Rodgers! That must have been exciting.

My leg went much better this year. I was waiting in my assigned corral when Solar came blazing in and I managed to actually pass some female marathoners and not get passed by any ladies doing the relay or full this time. It's the small victories right? I felt pretty good the whole way but the hills were just too tough to do anything spectacular out there. I settled for sub 7 pace and after scoping out the results and seeing not too many men ran that leg faster than me I feel better about it. (I should clarify, despite knowing that leg was damn tough I still kept my hopes up I could come close to sub 20 because I have been running hills pretty well lately, you'll never know if you don't go for it, so once I ran the 7:08 I knew that wasn't going to happen and I wanted my overall pace to be sub 7, I really wanted to be sub 21 but that last stretch of Sand Run really brought my pace down)

Wacko splits for those that enjoy them:
25k to mile 16: 3:06 (6:39/mile pace)
16 to 17: 6:37
17 to 18: 7:08
18 to 30k: 4:28 (6:58/mile pace)
Handoffs: 3 seconds
Official Time: 21:23

After finishing I wandered backwards through the course cheering on my friends. Decided to get in a cool down and spotted AP. I had considered running the last 7.6 of the marathon with the 3:50 group as practice for San Fran but decided to return his NERC 5K pacing favor and ran with him until the end. He had some rough patches and I had my first experience watching someone lose their juice, literally. But we had fun (well I had fun) finishing out the race together.

Once I made my way through the crowd I quickly grabbed a food bag and my three beers, then it was party time. Found my girls and we managed to snag second in the female relay. We got some sweet trophies which I turned into my beer cozy. Unfortunately the race ran out of brews before I had my fill of fun and before many of the marathoners were finished. Hopefully they will plan accordingly next year. After that T, Solar, and I hit up the Indian buffet and it was off to get cleaned up and head to a wedding shower then off to pick up the rents from the airport. It was a long day!

All the girls look cleaned up and I was still stuck in my sweaty running clothes, gross!

I took a few days off to fix this cold and now I am back up and running. Last long run before San Fransisco is this Saturday. I'm looking forward to an easy 20 with my parents keeping me company on their bikes on my old home turf. North Country Trail recap is still on its way!