Sunday, April 26, 2009

Derby Festival miniMarathon Race Report

I finished the Derby Festival miniMarathon in 2:17:40. While this was slower than I had hoped, I am still happy with my time. I was hoping to finish somewhere between 2:00 and 2:15, but the 85 degree weather really slowed me down.

The race weekend started when we headed to Louisville on Friday afternoon. Our friend Amberly came with us to Louisville to provide race support and moral support - I was so glad she was able to come with us!

Our first stop in Louisville was at Bucca di Beppo. We had a great dinner of bruschetta, ceaser salad, gnocchi, and spaghetti with meatballs. I really put some food away. Next we went to the expo to pick up our race packets. The Derby festival expo is usually pretty small, but well organized. We got out packets, our t-shirts, and our posters. I also found some inexpensive cycling sunglasses at one of the vendor booths, which was a bonus.

Then we went to the hotel, where we got our timing tags (they didn't use chips this year, which was really nice at the finish area) and arranged our race day stuff. Baby Mama was on HBO, so we watched that for about an hour before calling it a night.

We were up and going at 5:00am, aiming to head to the shuttle area at 5:45am. We were all suprisingly chipper. excited about the day ahead. I took a shower, ate my breakfast, and was ready to go.

We made our way to the Kentucky International Convention Center to catch a shuttle out to the starting line, as it is a point to point course. We parted ways with Amberly, who was headed into Einstein Brothers bagel shop to pass the morning before assuming her post at mile 12.

The weather was perfect - it was warm and breezy and I was perfectly comfortable in just shorts and t-shirt. We made it out to the starting area, waited in the porta-potty line for 30 minutes and then headed to the starting line. The gun went off and the crowd of 12,000 began moving, but it took us about 10 minutes to cross the line.

I started off strong and powered through the hills of Iroquis Park. Miles 2-6 provide a very hilly climb through Iroquis Park, but this is always my favorite part of the race. The area that I train in is extremely hilly, which always proves helpful in this race. The other good part about being in the park is that we were shaded by a canopy of trees for four miles. When I came out of the park I felt good because I knew I was half-way to the finish, but it was also kind of daunting to know that I had 6.5 more miles to go, basking in the rays from the cloudless sky. I kept telling myself "at least I'll get a good tan from this."

I noticed that a lot of people were walking - the heat was really starting to take its toll on the field. My feet were bothering me, so I tried walking a little. It was just as uncomfortable to walk as it was to run, so I started running again. I think the problem with my feet was that my shoes were tied too tightly.

I continued on through the course, made my way up, down and all around Churchhill Downs and then back out onto the road towards downtown Louisville. I walked for 1 minute through the water stops at miles 8 and 10 so that I could take in as much of the water and Powerade as possible. This helped with my hydration, and also gave me something to look forward to. All in all, I saw four people collapse on the course. The EMS support was really great and it looked like everyone was getting the help that they needed. I even saw one guy do an Ironman finish-like wobble and collapse, which was kind of interesting.

At mile 12, I saw Amberly and got some water, so that was the last boost I needed to finish the final mile. I crossed the finish line in 2:17:40 and was pretty exhausted. My quadriceps were extremely sore, but I was just really happy to be finished. I got my finisher's medal and then grabbed two small bottles of Powerade, a small cup of water (this was new this year...they've always had bottles of water available), and a bagel. I took one bite of the bagel and spit it out - there was no way I was going to be able to eat that thing. I sat down on a curb and loosened up my shoe laces. My feet immediatley felt 100% better, so that was good.

I drank some of the Powerade and then doubled back to mile 12, where I met up with our friends Jason and Hannah and their two little girls, and Alan (Sarah's husband) and their little girl Lucy. Amberly was still holding down the fort at mile 12, on the lookout for Sarah. Hannah and I walked down to get some water and meet up with Amberly at mile 12, and we were just in time to see Sarah go running by. Sarah finished her first half-marathon in a great time - you can read her race report on her blog: here.

We all met up at the finish area and headed home. We stopped at McAlister's Deli for lunch, where I had a glorious reunion with two of my old friends: a turkey melt and a large sweet tea.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Bucca di Beppo provided lots of bruschetta, salad, and pasta.

Sarah and Amberly - excited about the weekend!

My usual pre-race breakfast: Clif Bar (Oatmeal Raisin) banana, water, DoubleShot. The hotel fridge was so cold that my DoubleShot was slushy - it was delicious!

Me and Sarah, ready to race! I decided to wear a homeade World Wide Festival of Races t-shirt.

Amberly snapped this picture at mile 12 - I was so happy to be almost done. Notice all of the sweat around my armpits...sick!

Sarah was booking it at mile 12!

Lucy (Alan and Sarah's precious little girl) at lunch after the race.

A very supportive bunch! From left to right: Jason, Hannah, Eloise (in baby carrier), Alan, Margot, Amberly, and Lucy

I want to say a special thank you to all who made the weekend so special: Sarah, Amberly, Jason, Hannah, Eloise, Margot, Alan, and Lucy.

And a big thank you to Chad - who wasn't able to come to Louisville, but was with me in spirit. He has always been so supportive of my running and my races and crazy training schedule and I really appreciate him for that. He also mentioned to me this weekend that he is thinking about doing a 5k in July and possibly getting into trail running...that would be awesome! Hopefully one day soon I will be posting links here to his race reports!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Half-Marathon Race Prep

In just three days I'll be running my 3rd Derby Festival MiniMarathon, and my OCD is in full swing. I've got my manila folder labeled and filled with maps, registration confirmations, packing lists, and driving directions. Do I need all of these things? Probably not. I've made lists, plans, Word documents, and an Excel sheet or two. I know this is not all necessary, but my mind is at ease knowing that I am prepared. Here's a small collection of my current lists:

I've got my Friday night dinner planned at Bucca di Beppo:
  • Potato gnocchi
  • Salad
  • Bread
  • Dessert: peanut M&M's

I've got my breakfast planned and packed:
  • Starbucks DoubleShot
  • 32oz Gatorade
  • Oatmeal Raisin Clif Bar
  • Banana
I've got my race day outfit picked out and packed:
  • Sporthill Pack Rat shorts
  • Gray t-shirt
  • Flying Pig hat
  • Mizuno WaveCreationsLink
And yes, bullet points and lists do seem to set my mind at ease and my heart aflutter.

But pushing all of my neuroses aside, I really am very excited about the race and getting to spend the weekend with friends. My dream goal is to finish in under 2 hours. The first time I did the Derby mini I did it in 2:22. Last year, my time was 2:02. I think that a sub 2:00 finish is definitely possible, but I will be happy to come in anywhere between 2:00 and 2:15.

I am really excited to spend the weekend with friends and to cheer Sarah on in her first half-marathon. I will put a post up on Sunday with my results and some pictures from the weekend. Good luck to all you other runners who are racing this weekend!

Monday, April 13, 2009

AVOL 8k Race Report

This past Saturday morning, my friend Sarah and I ran in the AVOL 8k. The day started off almost exactly like last Saturday:

It was like deja vu...

...except this Saturday I was able to get Emma up!

I fueled for the race with rice Chex cereal and a banana. I didn't have time to pick up a Doubleshot on Friday and I was pretty afraid that I had jinxed myself. So I made a french press of dark roast and threw in a Reese's egg for good measure.

I left the house at 7:25am and headed to Wilmore to pick up Sarah. The race was at 9:00am at the Kentucky Horse Park, and we hoped to arrive at about 8:20am. Let me say a few words about my friend Sarah here. Sarah got into running last spring - almost exactly a year ago (you can find her initial thoughts about running here). First of all, Sarah is a genius. I don't care what she says - she is the smartest person I know! We are the same age, but she is definitely wise beyond her years. When she told me that she was interested in running, I was so excited for her. Running has become such a wonderful component of my life and I am always excited to see others experience the joy that running can bring. She did her first 5k in June and ran through autumn, winter, and continues to run through the spring. She will be running her first half-marathon in just a few weeks, the Derby Festival Mini-Marathon and I am so happy and proud to be able to share that experience with her.

I thought that racing the 8k a few weeks before the half-marathon would be a good way for Sarah to experience "race day" type conditions before the big race. We met up on Saturday morning and headed north to the Horse Park, arriving at 8:25am.

We were able to park right in front of the registration area. Check-in was pretty seamless, but I did exchange some words with a volunteer who told me they were out of small t-shirts. I know that this is a petty, petty thing and I really feel very badly about even saying anything about it. So it all went down like this. The lady told me that they were out of small shirts, so she handed me a medium. I had pre-registered for the race, and the pre-registration forms said that if you pre-registered, your shirt size would be guaranteed. So I handed her back the medium shirt and said that since it wouldn't fit, someone else might as well have it. We got our race numbers and headed back to my car to pin our bib numbers on. Once we got back to the car, Sarah realized that her bib number didn't have any safety pins attached, so she went back to the table to get some. When she came back I asked her if they had some, and she said "Yeah, but they only had mediums." Touche, Sarah, touche! I thought that was pretty funny.

So we were standing at my car waiting for the race to start when the volunteer I had spoken with about the shirts and another volunteer walked up to me. They found one small shirt amongst the shirt boxes and then took the time to find me in the crowd so that they could give it to me - wow! I was really surprised - they definitely didn't have to do that! I really appreciate the volunteer taking the time to do that for me.

We took a few walking warm-up laps, and then headed to the starting area. Sarah's goal was to not get swept up in the frenzied adrenaline rush of the start, so she headed to the back of the pack. I was hoping to run the race in 45 minutes or less, so I wished Sarah luck and then settled into the middle of the pack.

My favorite quote of the day was when Sarah said "Well, I guess this is my last run as a protestant." Sarah and her husband Alan, as well as our friends Jason and Hannah, officially joined the Catholic Church on Saturday evening with their respective baptisms, confirmations and First Holy Communions. I know that Saturday was a very special, sacred and eagerly anticipated day for the Mostroms and Herons.

The starting gun went off and off we went. The Kentucky Horse Park is an absolutely beautiful place and it was pretty neat to be able to run through it. The course was a simple out and back course - run out 2.5 miles and then run back. There were a few rolling hills, and it was the same situation as the course last weekend - the uphills become downhills and downhills become uphills. I ran the first mile in 8:08 and was really surprised to find that I was going so fast. I dialed it back a little and settled into a nice pace.

I passed Sarah not long after the turn-around point. She said that she was doing good, but that she had almost been run over by a garbage truck! Yikes! Parts of the course were a little sketchy, as the horse park is undergoing a lot of construction due to being the host of the 2010 World Equestrian Games. The main thing that runners had to avoid was a huge crane and accompanying construction workers near the beginning and end of the course.

There were plenty of volunteers and water stops along the course, and before I knew it I was headed towards the finish line. My shoe came untied at mile 4.5, but I could not make myself stop and tie it. I knew it would throw my momentum way off, so I just keep running and hoped that I wouldn't trip. I didn't trip, and I made it across the finish line in 43:05 (8:40 average pace).

After finishing, I walked to my car to get some water and tie my shoe. Not long afterwards, Sarah came across the finish line in 62 minutes -- great job, Sarah!! She was disappointed upon first view of the finisher's clock, which read 1:02:00 - she thought this meant 102 minutes! But when she realized it was only 62 minutes she was pretty happy! Congrats on a great race, Sarah!

Sarah, the runner!

Me, a runner too!

After the race, we drove back home. I followed my normal late Saturday morning routine and took Emma to the dog park.

Scoping things out!

Trying to decide if she wants to join the pack of puppies in the distance!

Then on Saturday evening Chad and I headed to our church for our Easter program. Chad was a Jerusalem townsperson/choir member and I was a Jerusalem townsperson/choir member/Mary Magdalene. It was interesting, to say the least! Here is a picture of us, in full Jerusalem garb. Chad and I don't love doing things like this...but we know that our church needs volunteers so we are usually happy to help...just no more costumes, please!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lions Run for Sight 5k Race Report

I woke up Saturday morning at 6:30am, ready to take a shower, eat a good breakfast, take Emma for a walk, and be on the road to Masterson Station Park by 7:45am. My OCD was in full swing on Saturday, so I had to be sure to have all of my clothes/shoes/socks laid out.

I ate my breakfast of Kashi cinnamon Autumn Harvest cereal, water and my obligatory DoubleShot (this combo was definitely a "double shot" to my colon - heyo!) and felt well fueled for the race.
The only thing that did not go as planned on Saturday morning was my walk with Emma. Normally she is up and ready for the day around 6:00am, but on Saturday I could not pull her out of bed. We had 8 kids from Chad's youth group over for a cook out on Friday night, and I could really tell on Saturday morning that she was exhausted from Friday's late night ( in 10:00pm - late for me and Emma!) festivities.

So I decided to forgo the walk with her, leaving her to rest up for a trip later in the day to the dog park.

Saturday started out at a pretty brisk 40 degrees, but the morning quickly warmed as there wasn't a cloud in the sky, letting the sun come out in full force. I debated endlessly over what to wear during the race. I knew if I wore a light jacket I would be comfortable before and after the race, but likely get too hot during the race. But then I was afraid of being too cold in just a t-shirt. I ended up wearing the light jacket - I began to feel like a furnace at mile 2.5, but it wasn't too bad.

I arrived at the Lions complex area at Masterson Station Park at about 8:20am - leaving plenty of time to get checked in and hit the restrooms (which were nice, new and heated - definitely a bonus!) After picking up my race packet I headed back to my car to drop off the race t-shirt, get some water and do some stretching. I always feel a little weird and self-conscious when I go to races by myself. I don't want to be the one sad person standing there alone, so I usually try to keep on the move! I ran a few warm up laps, went to the bathroom 2 more times, went back to my car, did some stretching, etc. I did find a co-worker I knew who was running the race, so that really helped to know a familiar face in the crowd. I'm not sure how many people were in the race (I'm hoping they'll be posting official results soon at but I would venture to guess that there were about 75 runners and walkers.

Everyone began to line up at 8:55, preparing for the 9:00am start. I can't help but "people watch" in these type of situations. All kinds of people toe the line at local races, and I am happy for each and every one of them - it takes guts to get out there and do the race, no matter how fast or slow you may be. However, there are always seem to be a few people there who don't really know the rules of running etiquette. Or have any common sense in general. One such girl was right behind. She decided to put her iPod ear buds in about 3 minutes before the start and crank her music to full volume. She then proceeded to carry on a conversation with her friend while screaming at the top of her lungs. She kept pointing to her ears, saying "it's turned all the way up!" and "my music, (more pointing at her ears) I can't hear you, am I talking loud? I can't hear you!" It was very ridiculous and awkward - everyone was turning around and looking at me since I was standing right in front of her. I have no idea 1) why she had the volume so loud 2) why she had her mp3 player on at all before the start of the race 3) why she couldn't take the ear buds out and 4) why she felt the need to carry on a conversation at the top of her lungs. But I digress.

Right at 9:00am the bullhorn sounded and we were off. My only goal of the day was to finish the race in under 25:00 minutes. I tried extremely hard to not let my adrenaline get the best of me and go out too fast at the start. I settled into a comfortable clip and swallowed my pride as people passed me. The course was pretty simple - one lap around the Lions compound track, then out into the park for an out and back stretch, then back into the compound for a final lap around the track. I wasn't familiar with the course at all, but I had heard that was a little hilly. When I came to mile 1 I was shocked to see that I was doing a 7:35 pace. I felt good, but knew that I couldn't sustain that pace for 2 more miles so I backed off a little bit and settled into an 8:30 pace. There were hills on the course, but they were like long, slow inclines - nothing too steep, which was nice. With the nature of the out and back course, the down hills became up hills and the up hills became down hills, so looking back, I guess there were a lot of hills! At about mile 2.5 I could feel water bouncing around in my stomach and thought that I might throw up. I was really heating up at this point (and regretting my decision to keep the jacket on!) but I dug deep and picked up the pace a little, looking forward to finishing the race so that I could lose some layers and cool down.

As I was nearing the finish I could tell from my clock, and watch, that I had missed my 25:00 goal. But I was pretty close - I finished in 25:45. I was happy with this time - I accepted a bottle of water from a friendly volunteer and staggered to my car. I stripped my pullover off and wiped my face with a cool, wet towel. I leaned against my car, ate a strawberry ShotBlok and generally regained my senses. I called Chad to tell him my time and let him know that I was finished with the race. I told him that by some grace I may have placed in my age group, so I was going to stick around for the awards ceremony. After cooling off and regrouping, I walked back into the Lions complex to watch the remaining runners and walkers finish. I found a comfortable spot right on the edge of the track - it was a good spot to both encourage runners/walkers as they entered back into the complex for the final lap and to watch the finishers.

So there I was, just standing there, when I heard the sickening shuffle of the feet of someone who is about to go down hard. Sure enough, I turned around just in time to see a lady (probably in her early 50's) trip over her granddaughter and fall face first down onto the asphalt. Her arms stayed by her side the whole time, and it was not unlike watching a penguin slide off of the ice into the water. She fell so hard that her Walkman went flying - batteries popped out, her earbuds were ripped from her ears and flung outwards with astonishing force and a water bottle went flying. Anyone who knows me knows that I am definitely not the one to be around in a situation like this, as my coping mechanism/knee jerk reaction when witnessing terrible things happening to people is usually to laugh. So I gathered up her batteries, ear buds and water bottle, laid them at her side and slowly edged away from the scene. She had rolled over onto her back and was just laying there, all sprawled out.

By this point about 6 people had swarmed around her - each time she tried to get up they would demand that she stay laying down. She kept saying "I'm really ok - I'm not hurt, just embarrassed. I didn't collapse, just tripped over my granddaughter" and they would not let her get up! I was pretty surprised that she hadn't busted her chin open, I mean she really went down face first, but I thought that the people who wouldn't let her get up were really overdoing it a bit. I understand the whole liability/suing thing, but she seemed fine and just wanted to get up and finish the race. Eventually they let her get up and she went around the track for her final lap.

All of that excitement helped to pass the time until the awards ceremony. Pretty soon everyone was gathering around the awards table and they were announcing the overall winners and age group winners. After hearing the 3rd place overall woman's time, I think that I may have been the 5th or 6th woman finisher, overall. Once they post the results, I'll be able to figure out my overall placement. I did manage to get 1st place in my age group though!! I was really excited and pretty proud of that. Races in Wilmore and Nicholasville usually have small fields and are fairly easy to place in, but I didn't think I would ever be able to AG place in a Lexington that was pretty exciting!

The official results have been posted on the website, so here are my stats from the race:
Age group placement: 1st out of 11
Overall women's placement: 7th out of 65
Overall race placement: 36th out of 124

I'm hoping to do another race in Lexington next weekend - the AVOL (Aids Volunteers) 8k. Since I've never raced an 8k before, my time will be an automatic PR! But it will be nice to get in one more longer local race before the Derby half-marathon in 3 weeks.

1st place in 25-29 age group - oh yeah!!

Post-race euphoria: 1st place in AG medal and a soft taco

Friday, April 3, 2009

Java Jolt

You may have seen the article in the NY Times this past Sunday regarding coffee as a performance enhancer in endurance events. It was a very interesting article - perhaps the most interesting comment was that studies show caffeine does not dehydrate runners (...although there is probably a study out there that shows that caffeine does dehydrate runners.) I normally drink coffee post-workout, but I hadn't given much thought to the actual performance enhancing aspects (other than the mental boost) of drinking a cup pre-workout.

Runner's World Daily featured a response to the article on Sunday, expressing incredulity over the fact that the NY Times article didn't mention anything about coffee's, ahem, shall we say "cleansing" abilities. I've never had to rely on coffee for this type of service, as I have a very nervous stomach. My sister Megan is the same way, and before our lacrosse games in high school, we practically needed to install a revolving door in our bathroom as we would get so worked up. This is probably too much information to share, but its pretty much a fact of life for runners! So, I normally am good to go in the morning sans coffee, but I decided to give it a try.

My main reason for not drinking it before heading to the gym in the morning is mainly due to time constraints. We use a french press for our coffee brewing, which is easy and only takes about 6 minutes total, but somehow the process always seems too cumbersome to complete at 5:15am. I had the bright idea on Tuesday evening to go ahead and brew up a french press of Starbucks Caffe Verona dark roast, ration out a few 8 oz servings, let the coffee cool down, and stick them in the fridge. I also planned out what I would eat the next morning, so that I would avoid the sick feeling you get when you have coffee on an empty stomach.

Wednesday morning at 5:10 my alarm went off and I hopped out of bed, eager to start my little experiment. I poured 80z of coffee into a small mug and heated it in the microwave as I prepared my whole wheat Thomas mini bagel w/ peanut butter and honey. I pulled the coffee out of the microwave and added a splash of skim milk. The whole process took about 5 minutes and was easy enough. I sat down to watch the local news (always very interesting and/or perplexing here in central KY) and eat my breakfast. The mini bagel went down easy, with Emma looming over my shoulder (she was standing on the top of the couch) hoping for a hand out. It was more difficult to get all the coffee down, even a measly 8 0z, but I was able to do it. I continued to get ready to leave, hoping to feel the familiar pangs of "ok, you should go to a bathroom now" that I have every morning but they never came. Uh oh...the coffee was now having the opposite effect! I stalled as long as I could, but eventually left for the gym just before 6:00am. I ran a hard and fast (9:05 pace, that's a good clip for me) 3 miles and felt great both during and afterward.

I tried the coffee and bagel again on Thursday before a 3.1 mile run - and felt great again. Maybe it's a placebo effect, or maybe the caffeine really is helping. I think I will stick with the coffee in small doses before workouts and races. Having the pre-brewed coffee on hand seemed to work really well, so I will probably continue with this method.

I actually have a pre-race ritual of drinking a 6.5 oz Starbucks Doubleshot before any race - from marathons down on to 3ks. My faithful readers will know that I briefly tangoed with an all out addiction to Doubleshots in June of 2007, but now that I have a healthy respect for the strong little brew, we seem to get along just fine.

I will be running the "Lions Run for Sight" 5k tomorrow morning in Lexington - I hope to finish in a sub 25 minute time. I will try to get a race report and pictures up this weekend. And yes, I'll be picking up a Doubleshot on my way home this afternoon!