Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scenic Half Marathon Race Report

Look, I could justify it as a supported training run -- why not let someone else figure out the route, provide water, etc.? I could even justify it as another chance to pick up some hardware. I mean, you know how I love a good medal. But I'll be honest... it's because the race was in Idaho... and a race there would bring up my "state count" to FIVE. Sure, it's not a lot. But it's good to add another state to the list: Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, and now IDAHO.

I registered for the Scenic Half a couple of months ago -- the date was good (fit with our training schedule) and Sandpoint looked pretty. Friday after work we hit I-90 and drove till it got dark -- stopping in sweet little Ritzville for the night. Saturday morning we were up early-ish and drove the rest of the way, arriving in Sandpoint around 11. We wandered around town -- super cute shops, really friendly people. Even a cute little farmers' market. Packet pickup was well organized and speedy. We got our numbers (1050 and 1142), our t-shirts (good looking but, um, SMALL -- more a compression shirt than anything else!), and our goody bags. It's a sad state of affairs when a small race does better goody bags than Disney... but our bags had some treats, some icy hot packets, and -- best of all -- a souvenir "13.1" oval sticker. How awesome is that? So simple, but so lovely, too. Oh, and the Chamber of Commerce had also secured a number of runner's discounts -- another great touch.

We took our swag and headed back to the hotel, stopping in at the 219 Tavern ("a Five Star Dive Bar") for a drink... which turned into two... but we just couldn't tear ourselves away from the fantastic decor and old-bar clientele. Oh, and their signature beer, the 219er, was surprisingly tasty... Then an early dinner at the hotel (where the "Root Burger" was the best home-made veggie burger I've ever eaten) and then back to the room to lay out our things for the morning.

Slept reasonably well, but woke up to rain. Rain rain rain. Rain pounding on the metal roof, rain pouring over the edge of the balcony, rain making the ducks on the lawn really happy. But I was resolved -- we had come to Idaho to race, so race we would.

I did, however, make one very big error. We were so close to the start that we didn't need to get up early... so for an 8:30 start, we set our alarm for 7:45. I had brought bagels and cheese and peanut butter... and ate a whole bagel. With cheese. At 8:15. Is it any wonder that I spent the first 5 miles trying not to throw up and struggling to breathe. It's hard to breathe with a mass of bagel in your belly.

Anyway, we walked the 100 yards to the start and joined the crowd -- 500 people had registered for the half marathon. It was very low key -- we stood in a single "corral" (to separate us from the other distances), listened to the national anthem, and groused a little about the drizzle.

The organizers were clever and started the 10Kers 15 minutes after us, and the 5Kers 15 minutes after them -- so the only "other distance" people we saw were the very fast frontrunners in the 10K race, who caught up with us just before their turnaround. As such, it was difficult to tell how many people were doing the other distances.

The course started in a lakefront park, then ran a couple of blocks through town, and then out along what is usually a bike trail but is currently a very muddy path -- seems that they're doing some big work on the approach road. But then we went back on to a paved bike trail. and headed out across The Long Bridge.

Apparently the original two "long bridges" were actually the longest wooden bridges in the world, at over 2 miles long. But then they built a replacement steel and concrete bridge... and then another. We ran on the third bridge, which has been kept as a walking/biking trail across the lake. As you can see, our day was wetter and grayer...

Once across the bridge, we ran along a bike trail -- much nicer and quieter than the highway just a few yards away. With the field so small, I never really felt crowded, which meant we could have had quite an easy time of it. Except for the fact that I was having a hard time breathing, that is. The rain came and went, sometimes almost stopping, sometimes pelting down. I started off in my rainpod jacket, got too hot, and then just decided to go ahead and get drenched. Was happy to have brought a hat so that at least the rain stayed out of my eyes.

Wil kept us moving at a very fast (for us) pace, and we reached the turnaround in seemingly no time. Then back along the mainly downhill path back to town. There were plenty of water stops, lots of volunteers out to make sure we weren't impeded when crossing driveways and roads, and all in all everything ran smoothly. (Everything except me, but oh well.)

Was thrilled to cross the bridge again, and the last mile to the finish. We ran into the parking lot and I thought they were going to make us to a little loop or something -- but no, we just ran straight through the gate. We held hands, sprinted a bit (but didn't sprint past the lady ahead of us.... that seemed a little rude...), and got our medals from some tiny children who looked more than a little bit frightened of us. :)

It was all over so quickly that I didn't even look at our time - we just grabbed some water, a cookie, and made a beeline back to our room so that we could shower and get warmed up. I was bummed when I saw our time -- 2:28 -- and knew that we could have been much faster if I had just prepped better. Oh well -- still happy to have another race done. I figure the point of doing these "tune-up" races is to learn something every time. What have I learned? I can't eat an entire bagel 15 minutes before the start of a race...

Great job with the organization of the event overall. Not sure we need to run the race again next year, but I would definitely consider returning to Sandpoint when the weather is a bit better. For posterity's sake, here's the course map for the Scenic Half Marathon in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Remembering Terry Fox

It's been 30 years since Terry Fox had to end his Marathon of Hope -- where he ran 26 miles nearly every day for 143 days in an attempt to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. Running a marathon is hard enough -- but running on a prosthetic leg, and running every day for months and months? I can't imagine the strength and determination Terry must have had.

I have faint childhood memories of Terry's run -- and I remember when he had to stop, somewhere near Thunder Bay, Ontario, after running over 3000 miles. The cancer that took his leg had spread to his lungs. The image of him running -- with the hop-hop-step gait he had to adopt to give the springs in his leg time to reset -- has stayed with me for years. What I also remember is that -- though the running was so painful he said it took him about 20 minutes to "cross a pain threshhold" so the run became easier -- he also loved being out there running every day.

After he had been forced to end his run, Terry told a reporter "I loved it. I enjoyed myself so much, and that was what people couldn't realize. They thought I was going through a nightmare, running all day long.... Maybe I was, partly, but still I was doing what I wanted.... Even though it was so difficult, there was not another thing in the world I would rather have been doing."

This weekend is Terry Fox Run Day. All over Canada, people gather to raise money and run in honor of the man who in 2004 was voted the second greatest Canadian of all time in any field by his countrymen. It's sad that, apart from a run planned in New York in October, there don't seem to be any Terry Fox Runs in the U.S.

Care to learn more about Terry Fox? This great article ran in Runner's World back in 2007. I re-read it today over lunch, and sat there quietly sniffling. But also feeling very inspired.

Terry died on June 28, 1981. Next year's Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon/Half Marathon is three days before the 30th anniversary of his death. Anyone else up for running in Terry's memory next year?

Monday, September 13, 2010

the new job is different...

Today was the first workout in the Brooks Fall Fitness Camp. I was a bit anxious about this, for a variety of reasons:
1. I would be appearing in workout gear with my new coworkers
2. My coworkers are a very fit lot
3. Two words: locker room

However, in the end, it was fine. Patrick, the trainer, was tough but focused. We started out inside (Body composition measurement! Eek!) to warm up, then headed outside for some drills, and then came back inside for weights, exercise balls, and a dazzling array of "planks". The cardio wasn't a challenge for me (huzzah!), but I suspect my abs will be painful tomorrow... and that I will struggle to raise my arms as well. My fellow "campers" are all nice, with a decent range of abilities and levels of competitiveness.

One big difference at the new gig: there are workout classes in the company gym. (Did I mention that the Brooks gym is bigger than the T-Mobile gym, and serves a tiny fraction of the number of employees?)

One other big difference at the new gig: it is completely acceptable to attend meetings in workout gear. Even if you're sweaty and didn't have time to get a shower before the mandatory meeting. (Hey, it was only a 30-minute meeting... and I had a shower after that.)

I do, however, need to acquire more Brooks/Moving Comfort gear -- it's simply Not Done to show up in anything else. :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New kicks

I admit it, I used to run in Saucony. But now that I'm with Brooks, it was time to switch footwear. I had a pair of the Cascadia trail runners, but let's face it, I don't run on trails very often, so I have barely broken them in. So this is my first road run in Brooks shoes -- the Trance 9 to be specific.

We headed out early -- hoping to beat the rain -- and headed out to the lookout (via the "triangle" for extra mileage), then down down down to the Locks, and then along Market to 14th and up the hill to home. My feet felt pleasantly cushioned -- after all, Brooks calls these shoes "Cadillacs" -- and I felt good throughout the 6ish miles. I'll probably add some Superfeet in, but I'm really happy with the new kicks.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 Disneyland Half Marathon Race Report

Undertrained? Who cares! We were going back to the Disneyland to run the 5th annual Disneyland Half Marathon! We left work early on Friday to catch a 4:30 flight, landing in the small but perfectly formed Santa Ana/Orange County/John Wayne/SNA airport a little past seven. We rushed out to see the Disneyland Express bus pulling out, but jumped in a taxi because we needed to get to the expo before 8.

We told the cabby "Disneyland Hotel" (the site of the expo) and were asked "Do you know the name or address of the hotel?". This was our first clue that things might not go so well. Thank heavens for smartphones and GPS -- we were able to play the role of navigator and arrive safely... and in time... even if it took a Very Long Time to pay the young man... long enough that Disneyland Hotel staff came out and asked us to move along. Oops.

Then into the lower level to pick up our race packets, and were directed to a special "Coast to Coast Challenge" area. I'll admit it -- the main reason we were running this race again was the Coast to Coast medal. I mean, if I'm going to run a half and a full back to back to get a bonus medal, you can be darn sure I'm going to run another half to get another bonus medal. We got our numbers and our wristbands with instructions not to remove them until after the race on Sunday. Easy peasy.

special treatment

Up the ramp (on that glorious "track" carpet that makes me smile when I see it) and into the expo hall, which was much less crowded. We walked up to the shirt pickup -- no line at all -- and got this year's shirts. Well, let's just say I won't be wearing it again... but I bet some people were thrilled it was bright bright blue.

By this point it was almost 8:00, so we didn't linger in the expo but made a beeline for the official merch. There wasn't as much glitter this year, thank heavens, but in exchange many pieces had silvery foil on them. I was easily able to resist all the clothing again, but Wil picked up a race tank... complete with silvery foil "confetti" on it. Sparkly! And of course we got our souvenir glasses... and at the checkout they had another pin. Was pleased to keep the craziness in check a little.

Then we hurried through Downtown Disney, across the plaza (accompanied by a castmember for security purposes who didn't live up to her title as "runner" -- she couldn't breathe as we walked quickly across), and over to our lovely little hotel. We checked into our favorite room, dropped off our things, and then went back over to the park.

That night and the next day we wandered around the parks, lounged by the pool, and smiled and laughed a lot. I had forgotten how much I love the parks. Saturday night we tried and failed to go to bed early, and both of us slept freakishly badly. I don't think I've ever slept so badly the night before a race. Weird! So it was something of a relief to get up at 5am on Sunday.

On race day we were out the door by 5:20, nibbling bread and cheese or peanut butter, gradually joining other runners making the same trek to the start. We saw a cute, nervous couple with their bibs pinned on their backs. They stood next to us at a crosswalk, looked at us, and the woman said, "See, they've got them on the front... I TOLD you." By the time the light changed, they had the numbers off and were getting ready to re-pin them on their fronts.

The organizers had obviously told people to move into the corrals... which meant that there was no one in the queues for the portaloos. Eerie. It was about 5:45 at this point. So we made a last pit stop and then tried to find our corral. This year we had been placed in corral D... but it really wasn't clear how one was supposed to get to it. We milled around for a few minutes, saw no organization at all, so just nipped in to corral C through a break in the fence. Very, very strange. The corral was pretty roomy, and the sky was just starting to change.

gorgeous morning

They decided to reduce crowding through the parks by allowing 5 minutes between corral waves. This must have worked; there was no point when I thought things were too crowded. The wheelchair athletes were first; they got a countdown and then... weird green "fireworks" -- that were really just electric lights. Some grumbling in the corral that that wasn't very sporting, not having proper fireworks for the wheelers, etc.; so imagine our surprise when the elites went and also just got green flashes. More than one person around us said how weird it was not to start with fireworks. One interesting change: rather than a start banner, they had a massive led screen that switched from "start" to "corral A" to an animated "celebration" pattern at each start.

wouldn't fireworks be nicer?

We were really only in the corral for 10 minutes before the start (or 20 minutes before our wave started), so there wasn't a lot of time to chatter. But of course we took the requisite pre-race photo.

pre-race photo

Then, suddenly, we were off. Quick glimpse of Mickey, Minnie, and... was that Jeff Galloway? I was running my first event with a Half Fanatics shirt on (yes, I'm a dork...) and he called it out as we ran past.

mice and men at the start

Loved the changes to the course this year -- we ran around the outside of the park first, and then turned in "backstage" at California Adventure. Was excited when I realized that the World of Color fountains were on -- not as impressive as the actual show, of course, but really pretty!

Wil at World of Color

We ran all around the lagoon and then out of DCA, crossing the big plaza that was lined with people. Weirdly, most people were silent, just watching for their own runners. C'mon fans, it's not gonna hurt you to cheer for other people. I shouted, "Hey, it's pretty quiet out here -- let's make some noise" and everyone started whooping. Weird.

Then into Disneyland... and up Main Street USA. Glorious! Loved that -- I had really been disappointed that we didn't get to run up the street last year, so it was a great improvement. Then a twisty route through a lot of the rest of the park: through Frontierland, past the Rivers of America into Fantasyland, through the castle (where we all booed at Maleficent, standing on the balcony), and a loop through Tomorrowland, around the Matterhorn, past It's a Small World, and then backstage. Weird to see the train just standing next to a building backstage -- makes you realize that it's not full-sized at all.

booing Maleficent

blurry backstage "action shot"

All too quickly, of course, we were out of the parks and into bleak Anaheim. Not much else to report other than that we didn't have to loop around the parking lot at the Pond (or whatever it's called now...), that the "river" was just as dusty and dry as last year (and the bikers were just as sad to find the trail blocked...), that this year the Angels ballgirls stood at home plate and cheered everyone on in the stadium, that the tunnel near the end was deafeningly full of shrieking cheerleaders, that we no longer ran through the tiny archway before mile 12, that we didn't go back into DCA at the end, and that Jeff Galloway was at the finish line, too.

Angel Stadium

We got a shout out from Galloway as we came down the finish chute, crossing the finish line holding hands. We collected our race medal (which, sigh, looks like a 5K medal at a glance....) and our Coast to Coast medal, got "Chill" towels again (heaven!), got snacks and drinks, and then stretched for a bit in the pen. All in all, a nice event, but it's probably our last time doing it. Who knows... never say never, right?

Lovely things I remember: the "big hill" (the overpass) was brightened by a lovely woman in a Buzz Lightyear costume, earning her race karma by calling out runners' names to urge them up the slope. Got love from a half fanatic supporter twice along the course -- love wearing the "team" shirt! Also ran with/passed a couple of other fanatics. Nice to have that camaraderie. Some kids had made "snack cups" with a handful of mini pretzels and 4 Red Vines each and were handing them out somewhere around mile 11. Fantastic! On our way back to our hotel, medals clanking, we had to cross the route, but earned some race karma for ourselves by standing there for a while, cheering the runners on. It was great to see people perk up when we could tell them, totally truthfully, that the 12-mile mark was just across the street, through the arch, and around the corner.

We showered off the salt, had a little nap, and then a great lunch with Gretchen and Rick -- yay!

fit at the finish!

Because I like to save these sort of things, this is the 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon course map.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

RaceDay Alert

SUNNY DELANEY @ Finish in 02:36:23 (NET). Pace: 11:55. Sponsored by Disneyland Half Marathon.

RaceDay Alert

WIL HOLDER @ Finish in 02:36:22 (NET). Pace: 11:55. Sponsored by Disneyland Half Marathon.

RaceDay Alert

SUNNY DELANEY @ 15K in 01:48:46 (NET). Pace: 11:39. Predicted: 2:32:56. Sponsored by Disneyland Half Marathon.

RaceDay Alert

WIL HOLDER @ 15K in 01:48:45 (NET). Pace: 11:39. Predicted: 2:32:55. Sponsored by Disneyland Half Marathon.

RaceDay Alert

SUNNY DELANEY @ 10K in 01:13:14 (NET). Pace: 11:47. Predicted: 2:34:29. Sponsored by Disneyland Half Marathon.

RaceDay Alert

WIL HOLDER @ 10K in 01:13:12 (NET). Pace: 11:46. Predicted: 2:34:25. Sponsored by Disneyland Half Marathon.

RaceDay Alert

WIL HOLDER @ 5K in 00:37:01 (NET). Pace: 11:54. Predicted: 2:36:05. Sponsored by Disneyland Half Marathon.

RaceDay Alert

SUNNY DELANEY @ 5K in 00:37:02 (NET). Pace: 11:54. Predicted: 2:36:09. Sponsored by Disneyland Half Marathon.