Monday, October 28, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver announced for 2014!

I was weirdly excited to learn that the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series is expanding to Vancouver, BC next year… even though I have already run a race in Vancouver. But I can see an interesting "Cascadia Challenge" if you run Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland all in one year. (It's like the Pacific Peaks medal, but plussed up.)

Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver, October 26, 2014!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis half marathon race report

After a night with too many interruptions / distractions (Cards game lasting a little long, noisy neighbors partying next door from 2:15 - 3:00 a.m., and a fire alarm in the hotel at 5:20-something which meant we stood with our fellow guests in our jimjams for a while....); we arrived at the race start a tiny bit worse for wear.

We stopped at the VIP area -- sadly, no heaters -- where I made a game time decision not to bring the LSD Lite jacket and just wear my long sleeve over a tank.  I dropped off my bag and we headed to the corrals. I found a gap in the fence so we decided to just wait till our corral advanced. 

By this point it was almost sunrise - oooh, pretty!

I hope people don't get tired of seeing the Arch. It's spectacular, and every time I see it it makes me happy. I love that we had view of the arch from our room on this trip, and that we had a chance to squeeze in a quick ride to the top before the expo opened on Friday. 

But enough about the Arch for now... we were getting ready to run!!

The corrals moved forward quickly, so we started only about 10 minutes behind gun time. The start of the course ... and, actually, a lot of the course ... had lots of quick turns, so I soon lost D in the crowd. 

I had decided to try and run 5:1 intervals throughout the race, though I did run the first mile straight through. We ran past Busch Stadium, quiet but surrounded by media vans. Then back around past the Arch (well, parallel to the Arch a few blocks west) before turning east away from the river. 

Things get a little fuzzy here. We passed a historic district with a couple of grand old theaters, including the Fox theater. At one point we ran through a sweet gay-friendly 'hood with some bars and restaurants. At one point we ran down a street lined with some beautiful old homes. And at one point we ran past the university. 

The course lacked any serious hills, but had lots and lots of rollers. I kept up my intervals pretty well, though I missed having my loud watch. I think time goes by faster when I don't have to look at the watch!

I hadn't expected much from myself this race -- three days in the expo isn't the best pre-race workout. But I actually felt pretty good until mile 10. I can't say that I fell apart or anything, but I probably walked as much as I ran in the last mile. Still, I was pleased to finish somewhere around the 2:18 mark, since I was a little worried I wouldn't make 2:30. 

I crossed the line, got my medal, a Mylar sheet, and some chocolate milk before heading over to the VIP tent. Heartbreak: no mimosas this year. WHAT?!? So sad. But I had some mac n cheese, potato chips, veggies, and hummus, so I was pretty pleased with my lot. 

Nice things about the race: we got to see a lot of St. Louis; there seemed to be lots of bands; people were friendly; water stops were well stocked; and there were no major hills. And I got to see a new potential favorite sign: SMILE IF YOU JUST PEED A LITTLE. 

Less nice things: we didn't get to have a shot with the Arch in the background (both the course layout and the sun conspired against that); we didn't get to run by or over the Mississipppi at all; we didn't get to run through the Loop neighborhood. 

It seems fitting in this World Series town that we even got a Cardinal on our sweet medal:

Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis expo... In pictures

A few pictures from the Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis expo... 

Thursday 10/24, 12 noon - empty

2:00 - merchandising apparel

Meanwhile, the crew is building out Run Happy Island. 

Setting up the Deep Shoe Diver, where our gurus do gait analysis. 

Setting up Mount Crackatoe-a, where we hold a running game. 


Mountain, and two gurus testing the game. 

Feel the Ride, our mechanical shoe:

She's a beauty!

The control panel.

Dyana "testing" the ride. Yee-haw!

"Pace Euphoria" on stage for the hourly Sprintacular show. 


Finally talked me in to riding the shoe myself. 

Expo closed at 5pm; we started right in on inventory and packing. So by 5:40, the merch area looked like this:


The show crew will be working for several more hours -- thanks guys! -- but we were done working for the night. (Which left us time to have pizza at Pi, then walk to the stadium to soak up a little World Series vibe, eat some fro-yo while watching the game in a lobby of the Hilton, and then coming home to watch the rest of the game and rest our feet. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

RnR St Louis Half Marathon course

Arrived in a very quiet St. Louis this evening... Dyana and I had dinner in a cavernous bar/restaurant that was basically empty. On the plus side, we did have a new Pumpkin Lager...

We are staying quite close to both the convention center (site of the expo) and the start of the race.

After dinner we took a short walk to have a closer look at the arch -- still so surprising. 

Tomorrow it's all about getting things set up at the expo. I'm excited to have my first in-person look at Run Happy Island!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon -- 16 days away!

We signed up for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon on the day registration opened, waaaaaaay back on March 12. We decided that we had never been to the Epcot Food and Wine festival, wanted to try a different RunDisney event, AND it would be a great way for us to celebrate our anniversary. We booked flights, booked our hotel, booked time off work... and then sorta set it aside.

But now our trip is only a couple of weeks away -- which is both exciting and alarming at the same time. Why alarming? Well, there's a lot of work I need to get done between now and then. Both the job sort of work and the fun sort of work -- I mean, I haven't even STARTED our costumes!

In the meantime, I've been enjoying reading the race packet and studying the course map. I'm excited about running a different course. I mean, check out this map:

I love that we're starting at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (and not just because it's SUPER CLOSE to our hotel!). Then a nice run out along Osceola Parkway, which I have come to love from running the marathon. Then a spin through Animal Kingdom, past the Tree of Life, into Africa, around into Asia, through Dinoland USA, and then backstage and around the parking area before coming back down Osceola. It's like having an out-and-back, but with a nice break in the middle!

Then we'll head up to Disney's Hollywood Studios where we'll run down Sunset Boulevard, go through part of the backlot tour, run through the Streets of America (where I think we'll get a great "surprise"...), and then past Star Tours where I sure hope we'll have at least some stormtrooper action.

Then it's along the "river" and through the Beach and Yacht Club resorts along the boardwalk... which shouldn't be as disturbing at night as on a hot, hot day. Then we go backstage into Epcot where we pass next to Spaceship Earth and on to the finish.

(Yeah, I'm dippy excited for this race!)

Of course, I've got another half to run this weekend -- guess I should take a look at the course for Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis, too...

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Biggest Loser Half Marathon race report

For months, my pal Suz (a.k.a. The Long-Suffering Friend) has been running, and training to run a half marathon. Team WilSun recommended the Tinker Bell Half as a PERFECT first half, even if the time of year isn't ideal. But Suz was determined to run another race first -- a sort of "practice half" -- so she could assess her training, work out any kinks, etc.... All without the added stress of traveling to a half marathon.

So I looked at race calendars and spotted a new event: the Biggest Loser Half Marathon. The timing was perfect, it would be very first-timer friendly, and the early bird registration fee was a completely reasonable $35. I showed it to Suz and she agreed, so we signed up.

Fast forward a couple of months to race weekend. We went to pick up our race packets the day before the race. I was hoping the expo would be nice, but it was pretty mediocre. One or two local sponsors, the usual bib, bag, and shirt pickup. The only semi-interesting part was that they had speakers; and this being a Biggest Loser race, they had a few past contestants. Of course, neither of us watch the show, so the man standing on stage, yelling into aicrophine while lifting up his shirt to expose his less-than-perfect abs held no fascination for us. So we grabbed our stuff and left. 

Over a pint at the Blue Star we planned out race morning. Now, I hate being late. I hate worrying about being late. I'm that person who would just rather get to the airport and through security, thank you very much. 

So it's no surprise that we arrived at Gasworks Park just in time to get great parking across the street from the parking lot... right by the park, but not trapped in the lot or near the busy entrances. We had only been parked for a few minutes when the other spots on the street filled in around us. 

We sat in the nice warm car until 15 minutes before the start. Perfect! Then we made our way across the street and toward the start area. 

say cheeeeeese!

We took the obligatory pre-race pic, chatted with a few of the runners, and just stayed loose. 

Looking toward the start line ....

Suz looking ready to run!

In order to reduce crowding on the initial out and back portion of the course -- something I was very concerned about! -- they released runners in a number of waves, spaced a minute or so apart. They also had pacers in the starting chute, which (hopefully) encouraged runners to line up near their own pace. It seemed to work; I didn't feel as if we had to do all that much weaving at the start. 

the people on stage are, apparently, famous
As we got closer and closer to the start, we wondered who the various announcers were. I think we were suppose to recognize them as past contestants? 

Finally, it was our turn to go. Suz and I had settled on a 3:2 run:walk interval. I set THE LOUDEST WATCH IN THE WORLD to beep out the timing, and we set off. 

There was a tiny bit of clumping and weaving at the very beginning, but it wasn't too bad. From the very start, we stuck to our intervals, and just clicked through the distance. 

We ran out of the park, along the trail to Fremont, then across the Fremont Bridge. Then we started the bit I was dreading... the out and back along the Ship Canal Trail. But all in all things were okay. We kept up the intervals and eventually settled into our rhythm.

Beep beep beep, on we went -- hitting the unmanned turnaround (odd?), cheering for lots of runners behind us, and trading positions with a few other runners... orange polka dot, the camo girls, purple shirt... Then out along the Cheshiahud Loop trail, one of my all-time favorite runs. As we rounded the south end of the lake, we were heading toward a water stop when Suz said, "That girl looks like Meg." As we got a bit closer, we realized it *WAS* Meg. Pretty funny to see her -- and she was super excited to see us.

But there's no rest for the wicked, so we continued around the lake... even if I lost track of whether we were in a run or a rest and we had to get back on track after. Guess I should consider getting some sunglasses with a magnifying strip...

Around the loop we went, up the steep hill, back down, back up, lather, rinse, repeat. (If only we were allowed to run up the rest of the block on that first hill, then we could have skipped all the extra ups and downs!) Soon we were on the University Bridge, with its surprisingly long uphill... but Suz was a star and kept moving. In fact, we passed a number of runners on this stretch. Woot!

Then down onto the Burke-Gilman again, where we did the second out-and-back. They had police at the big intersections in the U District, so we didn't have a problem keeping moving. And before I knew it, really, we had run around the edge of campus and come to the turnaround... which was also unmanned. I don't know why that sort of thing makes me so sad, but it does...

We headed back toward the finish -- the "home stretch", albeit a long one. We stopped for a quick potty break at a pair of deserted porta potties, but continued on our way, discussing how disgusting hand sanitizer smells, but that it's probably better than the alternative.

We did notice that on the way back, one of the police at a key intersection was gone -- but we had no problems getting across 15th. Then on, on, on to Gasworks. We spotted a course photographer and Suzanne suggested we link arms. Let me tell you, it's hard to run like this!

run happy!

We were getting verrrry close to the finish at this point. Suz had been a total rock star during the whole race, but I could tell she was flagging a bit. Right as we entered the park, my watch chimed for a walking interval. Suz wanted to walk, I was going to let her... but a woman we had seen on the course shouted "jog it in! jog it in!". Suz said, "Yeah... run it in!" and started running. Atta girl! As we rounded the last little corner ("stupid hill at the finish!") she said she wasn't sure she could sprint... but then, of course, she took off and RAN IT IN!!!

yay Suz!!! You just ran a half marathon!!!

It took me a while to realize that the voice I could hear as we approached the finish line was this woman... who is potentially "famous"... but I heard her say, "High five! High five!"... so of course I went for it.

Here's another shot of the finish... yes, I'm clapping. I think I was mainly clapping for Suz, but a quick examination of some of my other finish line photos -- at least when I run alone -- ALSO show me clapping. I guess I don't know what to do with my hands when Wil isn't holding one. (ha ha!)

After the race I turned to Suz and said, "Suzanne Roman, you just finished your first half marathon... What are you gonna do now???"


I'm stupidly proud of Suz for being such a trooper and finishing so strong!

After the race we stretched a bit, drank water, ate some snacks, and I believe we had a photo taken... though I can't seem to find the darn thing. (Suz, is it on your phone??) Then, of course, we headed to the pub for a celebratory pint. Huzzah!

A few thoughts on the race -- they needed more volunteers... or perhaps a little better training of the volunteers at the water stops. But the race wasn't too crowded so it really wasn't that much of a problem. And, actually, that was my main complaint. I even don't mind the BRIGHT ORANGE TECH TEE. As always, I think, "Well, it will look good in the next race quilt..."

Also, the race featured a very heavy, handsome medal -- which was different than the 5K medal. (This is ESSENTIAL in my book.) It's hard to tell in this photo, but the blue background is sparkly. Nice job!

2013 Biggest Loser Half Marathon medal
Would I run this race again? Probably not. But I'm glad I ran it, and I'm glad to have run it with Suz. I'm super happy that it went well -- we'll have an even better time at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in January!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Funky finger Friday

Well, it's been a week since I had the pins removed, and more than 6 weeks since I broke my finger. My finger still feels pretty stiff, and I'm still a little precious about my entire left hand because I worry about snapping the bone (when will I stop being paranoid about this?).

But I thought it would be worthwhile to post a collection of funky finger pictures for posterity...

Hurty finger:


Pin me:

Mended (finger flute!):


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis....

.... meet me at the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Expo....

I'm going to be working in the Brooks "Run Happy Island" experience at Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis on October 25-26, and then running the half marathon on the 27th. Working race expos is hard -- there's a day of getting everything set up, two days of standing on concrete floors, followed by a crazy evening of breaking the booth down. Then the next morning it's up at the crack of dawn to race! Still, I love the experience, and I'm looking forward to it. Besides, it will be my first time seeing the new Run Happy Island tour!

Tickets are booked, hotel is booked, and I even registered for the race today. Guess I'm really going! Of course, before then, I have another race to run!