Tag Archives: Personal Records

Unlucky #13: The Ann Arbor Marathon

Way back in 2014, I was in great shape and setting PR’s like a champ. It’s been nothing but a sharp nosedive from greatness since, but I do marvel at my accomplishments three years ago. In March of 2014 I set my half marathon PR of 1:50:10 at the Ann Arbor Half Marathon, a very hilly course that in no way should have inspired record-setting speed from me. To this day I have no idea how I pulled that off; to put things in perspective, I returned to run the Ann Arbor Half in 2015 and finished more than 35 minutes slower. Hoping to redeem myself, I did register again in 2016, but after a fun night out with Shawn I woke up race day morning with a hangover, looked at the freezing temperature, said “fuck that”, and got back into my warm bed.

I had never skipped out on a race due to laziness, and guilt inspired me to do something pretty stupid at the end of last year- I registered for the FULL marathon in Ann Arbor as my penance. Never mind that the full was a double loop (ew!) and in March (when Michigan’s weather goes on the rag). Not only would it make up for my misdeeds, but training for a March marathon would inspire me to get my butt out the door during the most miserable months of the year.

As you’ve read in previous posts, I joined up with friends who were training for a 50 miler on their weekend long runs to train for Ann Arbor. A gentle twist of the arm saw me signing up for the 50 miler as well, and now Ann Arbor went from “Early Spring Marathon to Keep me Motivated” to “A Mere Training Run”.

The weather leading up to Ann Arbor wasn’t terrible- pretty mild and no snow or ice. In fact, the Friday prior to the marathon was set to hit 75 degrees! Oh but in typical schizophrenic Michigan fashion the temperature would drop to 40 the next day. The forecast for race morning called for just shy of 40 degrees with a 90% chance of rain. Lovely. I kept checking my weather app hoping that through sheer positivity I could change the weather, but alas, I don’t have X-Men capabilities after all.

The night before the marathon my parents came over to see the new house and of course no visit from mom and dad would be complete without a visit to a local dive bar. Long story short, I ate a lot of bad food and drank a lot of rum. I could barely sleep thinking of everything that would surely go wrong the next day- I wouldn’t make the cutoff. I’d get drenched. I’d have to poop 50 times. When my alarm went off after a solid two hours of actual sleep I almost began crying, that’s how little I wanted to run. Thankfully a friend from the ultra training group was using the marathon as a training run as well, and accountability saw me make my way to the starting line.

Conditions the first half of the race weren’t bad- I even took off my gloves and rolled up my sleeves. As horrible as weather conditions are for Ann Arbor, you can’t deny that it’s a lovely and scenic course. It takes you through the University of Michigan’s campus, through riverfront parks, and through the Arboretum. Thankfully my tummy was on it’s best behavior and the Tailwind Nutrition was keeping my energy steady. Dare I say it, I was enjoying myself! Then, magically on cue, as soon I started my second loop of the course, the rain began to fall.

The rain started as a mist and I thought, no big deal. Then Mother Nature laughed at my arrogance and it began to pour. Areas of the course became nothing but puddles which aren’t as easy to hop around after 17 miles of running. The Arb was nothing but mud. And remember how I said it was not even a high of 40 degrees? I was absolutely miserable. At one point the Five Hour pace group leader ran up to me and asked, “You’re running slow, are you okay? Taking in enough calories?” First of all, fuck you for asking such a condescending question. Second of all, I answered a bit more diplomatically, “I’m running a marathon in the rain, I’m as good as I can be.” Mr. Happy Asshole replied, “Well I’m running a marathon in the rain too! Stick with me and we’ll finish together!” UGH. I had really wanted to finish in less than five hours but the prospect of having to listen to him for the next seven miles was enough to make me walk and accept defeat.

When I finally finished I was a soaking and shivering mess. The Mylar blanket handed to me was soaked as well but I took it anyway. In all, I finished marathon #13 in just over 5:11, which given the weather and course conditions and the fact I had run 31 miles in the week leading up to this marathon (and it was just a training run after all), I was pretty satisfied. Thankfully I was smart enough to pack a change of dry clothes and my training buddy had an office in town where we could get changed.

To put it in perspective how cold I was driving home, it took me 20 minutes to work up the courage to leave my heated truck and walk into my house. When I finally did, I spent most of the rest of the day on the couch watching comedy specials on Netflix. I treated myself to a victory Bloody Mary and lots of peanut M&M’s.

A2Marathon

My penance having been satisfied, that night I swore off running Ann Arbor ever again. However, an urge to return and break five hours has been nagging me since. I never claimed to be a quick learner.

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The Lost Year

As my tens of loyal readers surely noticed, I didn’t publish a single post to The Rum Runner in 2016. I previously discussed that this was due to having a travel-intensive job that drained most of my excess energy. In fact, I thought I would just abandon my silly little blog all together. When I had the urge to write a few weeks ago I had fun looking back on all my previous posts and reliving some fun (and some painful) memories. It’s truly hard to believe that I’ve been recording my musings on running for five years now!

That being said, I realized recently that I sold myself short regarding my running accomplishments last year. In addition to many miles logged on Hampton Inn treadmills, I completed three marathons in three new states:

  1. The Walt Disney World Marathon (as part of the Goofy Challenge), Florida
  2. The Wisconsin Marathon, appropriately in Wisconsin
  3. The Tucson Marathon, Arizona
Arizona

MB and me in AZ

I won’t go into mega details since I’m terrible at writing exciting recaps. In fact, I’m pretty terrible at writing anything exciting. But you know who DOES write awesome recaps? My friend MB over at Run All The States! There you can read about our shared adventures, and her solo ones, which I’m sure she’ll be doing more of because my husband is all “smart” with money and has put his foot down on doing any out-of-state marathons for a while because we bought a house and we’re adults and he’s a BIG MEANIE (just kidding of course, but I’m itching for an adventure).

I didn’t set any PRs with these marathons, unless number of poop stops during a marathon counts as a special PR. Darn Disney and their early-ass wake up calls really messed with my system the entire weekend. Wisconsin offered a great course the first half of the marathon, then saw us running on shoulders of main roads the second half. Also featured on the second half was a brick wall of wind pushing against me. Tucson had a pretty boring course as well with even more miles run on shoulders of main roads, only these weren’t closed to traffic! Another thing all three of these runs had in common was a complete lack of beer. After running the Route 66 Marathon in 2015 I’ve just come to expect booze every few miles to help kill the pain.

Other running highlights from last year:

  • Visiting one of my best friends in Salt Lake City, Tracy, and running the SLC Half Marathon. It’s such a beautiful course and I’d love to return to run the full again.
  • Subjecting myself to more trails- I ran three trail half marathons and one four-hour timed run on a loop in Bloomer Park. I have learned that trails are hard and make me hungry. Boy I can’t wait to run 50 miles of trails soon (that was typed in sarcasm font).
  • Running the Brooksie Way and actually pushing myself to a challenging pace on such a beautiful fall day in Michigan. I love this half marathon so much.
  • Completing my very first Detroit Turkey Trot! It was also my first 10K in a very long time that I finished in an hour. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

So despite the missed races and long runs and time with friends and family due to my job, I guess upon reflection that 2016 wasn’t the complete disaster I remember it to be. Also, those hotel points and SkyMiles will prove very handy when I’m allowed to travel again. Honestly, what I am looking forward to most this year is more miles and fun with my running friends.

 

 

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New Year, New Training!

We are now 12 days into the new year and I must say, it’s already off to a better start than 2014. Life is so much more enjoyable without divorce drama and a Polar Vortex to contend with. The short time I’ve been here in 2015 has mainly been spent working toward my two main goals this year: Swimming an open-water 5K and PRing the shit out of a Spring marathon, whether it be the Flying Pig or a different, local, race I may or may not register for that takes place at the end of March (*shifty-eyed glance*).

I’ll admit, I’ve been a terrible slacker on my long runs lately. I really have no valid excuse other than “I don’t feel like it.” I have a great guy and fluffy cat at home, making it way to cozy and difficult to take a three-hour run on a Saturday morning. However, now that I have that “sub 4-hour marathon” itch again, I’ll be forcing myself out the door more from now on. You don’t get fast eating caramel corn and perusing Twitter all morning long.

Still beats the treadmill.

Whatever it takes

One area where I have not been slacking is swimming. I logged over four miles of swimming last week, more than I swam in the entire month of December. I really enjoy my swim workouts. I feel my kick getting stronger and my stroke getting more efficient, even though I’m still getting passed by large old men on the regular. Oh well, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I ordered some new goodies on clearance from SwimOutlet.com to reward my new swimming obsession, which included a new pink bathing suit and swim cap. Well, the swim cap already has a hole in it and the suit is cut high on the hips and makes my butt look like biscuit dough exploding out of the canister. Not exactly the motivation I was looking for.

Speaking of my exploding butt, I’ve decided to make a really big concerted effort to cut out the junk. Yesterday at the store I bought a bunch of power greens, berries, lean chicken, sweet potatoes, and other things that I usually buy and throw away after they’ve gone rotten in the fridge. But not this time! I have a new pink bathing suit that I need to fit into (and am too lazy to return)! More dinners at home will be the next step, which is easier when you have a boyfriend who makes amazing homemade chicken noodle soup.

More long runs. More swimming progress. Don’t eat crap. Easier said than done. I get lots of inspiration reading the training plans and progress of others and really enjoy all of your blogs. Hopefully you all can do the same reading my incoherent ramblings. Even if you aren’t inspired, there’s a chance I’ll post a picture of my cat every once in a while.

Thanks for reading!

 

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2014 Year in Review: Numbers and Math and a Preview of 2015

My father is a numbers guy and that has always bugged me. Whenever I mention a social gathering/race/whatever I’ve just attended, his first question is always “How many people were there?” When I point out that sorry, I wasn’t aware I was supposed to be counting, he starts throwing out estimates. “Were there about 20? More than 30?” It gets on my nerves for the simple fact that my brain isn’t wired that way. Numbers are my enemy. I’m a known generous tipper because of my inability to do simple math in my head. I would suck on the Price is Right because fuck if I know what a broom is supposed to cost. The only time I obsess about numbers, however, is in relation to my training. Here is what my 2014 looked like in numbers. My dad would be proud.

In 2014 I completed 2,198 miles:

I ran 1,794 miles

I biked 375 mile

I swam 28 miles

I ran 2 marathons with a PR of 4:29:10 (which included at least 5 potty breaks)

I ran these marathons in 2 new states (scratch Utah and Indiana off the long list!)

I ran 6 half marathons with a PR of 1:50:10

I ran 3 of those halfs as a pace group leader

I ran 1 half marathon through 2 countries (I heart you Detroit International Half Marathon)

I finished 1 half marathon holding the hand of the man I love

I ran 6 5Ks with a PR of 23:47

I entered 3 sprint triathlons and successfully completed 1 (damned open water anxiety)

I missed out on 3 races I registered for due to being hit by 1 car

I peed in the woods 2 times

I pooped my pants 1 time

And on that final (brown) note, I will end the data. I’m very proud of my accomplishments in 2014, even though it ended on a frustrating note with inexplicably slower speeds, including a 10K I ran in 1:01. Ouch. I’ve been going out for shorter runs lately and trying to really push myself and I’m happy to say there is still some speed hidden inside of me, I just have to work for it.

Though I’m already registered for two marathons in 2015, including the Skyline Chili 4-Way at the Flying Pig in Cincinnati (that’s a 5K, 10K, and full marathon all in one weekend), my main goal is to run less in the coming year. I feel like a lot of my training runs lately have been for the wrong reasons, whether to prove that I’m tough or to be like the cool kids who run 50+ miles a week. Running less will also give me time to swim more, which will help me achieve my main goal of 2015: swim an open water 5K. Right now the idea sounds ridiculous and I’ve been afraid of telling people for fear of being laughed out of the room. Really? The same girl who couldn’t finish 750 meters in a sprint triathlon is going to finish 5,000?! What can I say, I love an impossible challenge (unless it involves math). I love how strong swimming makes me feel and though I have a long way to go, I’m willing to put in the effort. I see many more group swims with the FAST Masters Swimmers in the coming months.

The past year was thrilling and difficult and exciting and terrifying and shitty and wonderful and I can’t wait for the adventures and life experiences the new year brings.

 

 

 

 

 

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Racing and Pacing and Beer Chasing

RACING

Hey, didn’t I run a marathon recently?

Officially it’s been a little over two weeks since I ran the Salt Lake City Marathon, though it feels like ages ago. You can probably tell by my reluctance to write a recap that the race didn’t go quite as well as planned (the other reason being my master procrastination skills). My official finish time was 4:29:02, which is officially a 30-second PR, but I was hardly in a celebratory mood after finishing this marathon. My run was plagued by stomach issues so severe that I had to stop FIVE TIMES to use the port-a-johns. Every stop I saw my goal time slipping further and further away, and I even thought about quitting. However, in the midst of my despair, I thought about how I was getting that medal whether I finished in four hours or six hours, and to stop acting like such a sore loser. I had trained in below freezing wind chills and through personal turmoil, so I wasn’t going to let a “crappy run” (see what I did there!) ruin a good time. And in the end, I did have a great time running Salt Lake City. The course was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and I had some of my best friends there to cheer me on. Life was truly good that day.

My next marathon will be a return to Charlevoix on June 21st. I’ve been cutting back on sugar, which I believe to be the culprit of my crappy experience (I did it again!). Nothing but plain bagels before long runs from now on, and absolutely NO CAFFEINATED GU! I’ll be experimenting a lot with pre-long run nutrition in the next month, which will hopefully get me closer to my goal of breaking four hours.

PACING

A few months back a message was posted to the Your Pace or Mine forum asking for volunteer pacers for the Let’s Move Half Marathon in Mt. Clemens. Though it was a week after my marathon, I knew I would have no issue pacing the 2:20 group and happily volunteered my novice services. I figured it would be a fun new running experience, plus I get to run a half marathon AND get a medal for FREE! I had a blast with my pacing partner, telling horrible jokes and feeling kind of like a badass when people marveled at my ability to run a half a week after a full marathon. I can’t wait for more pacing opportunities in the future, as my race addiction is quite expensive. Below is a picture that captures the sheer joy a free race will bring:

I am ever so white.

I am ever so white.

BEER CHASING

This past Friday I ran ANOTHER FREE RACE thanks to the kind people in the Southeast Michigan Runners Facebook group. The race was the Hightail to Ale 5K held at the Atwater Brewery in Detroit. Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Atwater Beer. I had tried their IPA in the past and it was pretty gross. However, my favorite kind of beer is always FREE, so I was excited to run a 5K that gave you not only a free beer, but also a pint glass, shirt, and bottle-opener medal! Add in a nice jaunt along Detroit’s Riverfront, and this race was pretty much perfect. Despite hosting over 4,000 runners I was able to PR according to my watch, though my name is mysteriously absent from the official results. Hmm. Oh well, it was a fun Friday night race and I got to see a lot of familiar faces. Metro Detroit truly has a tight running community.  And as for my free beer, I tried the Dirty Blonde. It was…okay.

My next race will be the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids, my first time doing this famous 25K! Speaking of beer, a stop to Founders will be absolutely necessary. After that, I’m giving racing a rest until Charlevoix. I think my body and wallet will be grateful.

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Obligatory Post About 2014 Goals

Hello Dear Readers (Wow I have Readers!):

I’m about four weeks into 2014 and already I can tell it’s going to be challenging, Polar Vortex aside. Between life, work, and run-ventures I’m going to have a full year. I have a lot to look forward to and much to stress over as well, which makes every day an odd mix of excitement and anxiety. Below I’ll try to make sense of the days that lie ahead in 2014 by outlining my two major goals for the year:

1) Live on my own and enjoy it: In a month or so I’ll be moving in to my own place, all by myself, for the first time, EVER. I’ll only have myself to depend on financially and all the bills I’ll be paying out of my less-than-stellar income sure have been a wake-up call. I’m not afraid to work two jobs if need be but I’d also like to be able to enjoy time out with my friends and my hobbies. Finances aside, the freedom involved in living alone will be fun. I can run when I want, watch what I want, cook what I want, or just walk around in my underwear with the radio on full blast like I usually do when I have to house to myself.

Speaking of my less-than-stellar income, part of this goal is to make myself more marketable, whether by new certifications or by working towards a new degree. First I need to figure out what I’m good at and what I’d enjoy doing for the next 30+ years. I’m getting by, but I’d love to get ahead, and I doubt “Really good at music trivia” is a plus on a resume.

2) Finish four marathons and a 50K: Holy shit what have I done?! Marathon #1 for the year is on Sunday, the Ohio Northern University Polar Bear Indoor Marathon. You read that correctly, 211 laps around an indoor track (I can’t wait to write a race recap!). Marathon #2 will be the Salt Lake City Marathon on April 19th. I’ve pegged this one as my PR Race, and I really hope to finish in 4:15 or less if the elevation doesn’t kill me. Marathon #3 will be the Charlevoix Marathon, which is tradition. If anything I’ll look at it as a training run for my 50K. Speaking of that, I’ll be running the Woodstock 50K on September 6th. Why? I figured if I’m going to run 31+ miles, I might as well do it the year I turn 31. And last but not least, I’ll be running marathon #4 in November, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. If I don’t meet my time goal in the mountains of SLC, there’s always flat Indiana.

Thanks goodness I’ll have my favorite training partner Mary Beth to join in on the pain in Salt Lake City and Indianpolis. Why have I signed myself up for such madness? Well, I like the discipline of training for one. Secondly, it gets my mind off of my implosion of a personal life. Thirdly, I love running adventures with friends. The memories and laughs they create are priceless.

I’m thinking these two main goals will be enough to keep me occupied through the rest of the year. There are other smaller goals I’d like to accomplish if I have the time, such as volunteering at some races, swimming and biking more, maybe even completing another sprint triathlon. I’d also like to read more and am toying with the idea of not having a television in my new place (I doubt I’ll be able to afford cable anyway). Despite my whining about money, I am truely rich in love and support from my family and friends. No goal would be possible without them.

What are your 2014 goals? Anyone out there as crazy (or crazier) with their race schedule than I am?

 

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Don’t be Lead Astray by an Australian Accent: Lessons Learned from my Third Marathon

Long story short: On Sunday, October 6th I ran my third marathon, The Wineglass in Corning, New York. My chip time was 4:29:34, which means I ran about 13 minutes faster than my last marathon. Of course I’m happy about that, but I was hoping to shave a good 20 minutes off of my previous time.

Short story long: Why the hell did I pick some obscure marathon in Upstate New York? For starters, a big group from Your Pace or Mine were going and their persuasive ways convinced me it would be fun. Besides, when I signed up back in December 2012, Randy and I planned to visit some of his family who lived in the area and make a lovely trip out of it.

Fast forward to a week before the race: I was involved in a car accident in which our car was totaled and Randy got a new job. Randy and I both agreed it’d be better for him to stay behind since a new job is more important than a marathon. Since we were down to one car, I pleaded to my YPOM buddies for a ride to New York, and was given an offer I couldn’t refuse: Three ladies had rented a house in a winery and one of their housemates had backed out. For only $125 for three nights I could hitch a ride with them and stay in a house instead of a dingy motel. SOLD!

After a seven-hour car ride we arrived Upstate. I can’t even describe the beauty of the Finger Lakes region. The buildings are historic looking, it’s full of quaint downtowns and marinas full of sailboats, and the valleys surrounding Lake Geneva were full of trees changing color for fall. Here is a picutre I stole from online of a waterfall we visited in Watkins Glen:

Image

Freakin’ gorgeous, right? I would go back in a heartbeat.

For those who don’t know, Corning NY is where Corningware is manufactured. For those of you who aren’t married, Corningware dishes are those things your mother demands you put on your registry and they really come in handy when making casseroles. Anyway, my point is that glass is a big industry in Corning. There’s even a glass museum! Hence, the Wineglass Marathon. Every participant received a wineglass and a small bottle champagne along with a custom glass finisher’s medal.

Now, on to the big event. I’ll break it down by the three main lessons I learned while slogging through those 26.2 miles:

1) An Australian Accent Does Not a Good Pace Group Leader Make

When lining up at the start line I noticed there were pace groups. My goal time for the marathon was around 4:25 or faster. So, when I saw the 4:20 pace group, I figured I’d be able to hang. Besides, the pace group leader was Australian and extremely charming, cracking jokes and taking our mind off of impending doom. I stuck with his group and miles flew by listening to him tell tales of the many marathons and ultramarathons he’s completed.

His charm started to wear thin, however, when for some odd reason the subject of Islam was brought up. Little did we know, our goofy Australian pace leader was a closet bigot! He didn’t think too highly of Muslim people and warned us that all Americans would perish at the hand of Islam is we didn’t read the Koran and educate ourselves. Needless to say, this was not the conversation I wanted to be listening too. I started distancing myself from his group soon after. To be honest, I was beginnning to feel exhausted as well. The sun had come out and the 100% humidity and 75 degree weather were killing me. It was obvious that 4:20 was an overly ambitious goal given the weather conditions.

2) Don’t Listen to Bigoted Australians When it Comes to Your Personal Hydration Needs

So, you caught the part above about the crappy weather, right? Well, a smart runner, especially one like me who sweats like a whore in church, would take careful measures to keep properly hydrated. Well, my dumb ass listened to Mr. I-Hate-Muslims-Australian who instructed us not to drink any sports drink until mile 21, and only take tiny mouthfulls of water at each aid station. Maybe for someone like him who runs ultramarathons in 90 degree weather, that advice would work. For an average runner like me, listening to that stupid logic cost me precious time in the last 10 miles. I felt dizzy, my head was pounding, and I didn’t even have the strength to say “thank you” to the volunteers handing me precious, precious Gatorade. By that point it was too late, I was officially dehydrated.

3) Wear Shorts That Fit

Again, it bears repeating, it was hot. At some point around mile 21 I began taking full cups of water to pour all over myself to cool down. It felt good, until my shorts became so soaked that the weight of the water was causing them to fall down. I can’t describe how fun it was to have to constantly pull my shorts up every few steps for six fucking miles. At least the fear of displaying a full moon in my marathon photos took my mind off of the dehydration.

Somewhere around mile 24 I swore off marathons forever. After I was able to recover for an hour, I settled on no more marathons in heat and humidity. Despite the weather, I would highly reccommend The Wineglass. The scenery was beautiful, the aid stations stocked, and volunteers cheerful. The food spread after the race was plentiful with pizza, bagels, fruit, and chicken noodle soup. The only thing I had an appetite for after the marathon was a cold can of Diet Coke, and by God it was the most amazing can of Diet Coke I’ver ever had in my life.

I have no marathons on the horizon until January. I’m enjoying being lazy and running when I feel like it without a plan. However, it would be nice if my “marathon training appetite” adjusted accordingly. I’m giving some serious thought to running the Salt Lake City marathon on April 19th, 2014.The best thing about Utah? No humidity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Laura Tried!

GUESS WHAT KIDS!!

I did it. I finished my first sprint triathlon. Peanuts, I know, but we all have to start somewhere. Despite having a Bud Light budget, I was able to finish with a smile on my face and a strong desire to do more triathlons in the future. As much as I hate writing race recaps, I’d be remiss if I didn’t write about popping my Tri Cherry.
The Location

Beautiful Sandusky, Ohio! actually, the city of Sandusky isn’t beautiful but it does contain Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast (trademark blah blah). I’ve been coming to Cedar Point since I was a small child, but this was one of first times I came by car, not boat.

I brought my friend Andrea along to be my sherpa/map-reader/life-coach/brain since Randy wasn’t able to make the trip with me. I also had three friends that would be doing the Half Iron Man Sunday morning: Staci, Shawn, and Paul.

Race Day Morning!

I woke up feeling refreshed and excited, despite an evening spent sampling Sandusky’s “night life”. I put on my tri suit and 100 temporary tattoos with my race number and Andrea and I made our way to the transition area. Shawn, Paul, and Staci were awesome enough to wake up bright and early with me. Shawn also attempted to help me set up my transition area, but alas, only the Sprint Tri athletes were allowed. Boo! I was counting on his help but no big deal, I copied off the people around me. As I looked at all the high-end tri bikes I couldn’t help feeling like a fool with my $400 road bike with a helmet I purchased at Meijer’s.

The Swim!

It was a beautiful morning for a swim in Lake Erie, and as I waded out into the water I noticed the temps were good and I was confident in my decision to forego my wet suit. Besides, I hadn’t trained once in a wet suit so why would I mess with it now? Come to think of it, I had only done one short open-water swim before this and wasn’t really prepared and oh my God I’m gonna drown…

AHH!

Before I could completely panic it was time to swim. Adrenaline overtook me and I only focused on the swimmers around me and staying on course. In fact, I was a little obsessed with staying on course and was constantly looking up to make sure the buoys were in sight. There was one girl who kept bumping into the side of me. Every time I’d move over she’d get closer. I gave her a good kick and she backed off. Like sharks, you must show other swimmers you are a threat and they will quit attacking you.

As I finally approached knee-deep water I wasn’t sure whether to run my way in or swim. Every article I read said swim until you no longer can to conserve your leg energy. Well, I swam in two feet of water and felt stupid. As soon as I stood up my tri-bottom sucked onto me like a second skin. I passed Andrea and my other buddies cheering me on as I made my way to transition. “Do I have a camel toe?” I shouted to Andrea, who shouted back, “Who cares? GO!”

In all, my half mile swim took half and hour to complete. Pitiful. I definitely have some work to do before my next triathlon.

The Bike!

Ah, the dreaded bike portion.

Transition from swim to bike took me nearly six minutes. I was obsessed with getting my feet as dry as possible to prevent blisters. Also, I had no fucking clue what I was doing. Prior to my race I had gone on one 8-mile bike ride, so I had zero expectations for this leg. I finally made it onto my bike and was directed onto a beautiful, yet deserted, road along the coast of Lake Erie. The view was pretty, but there were no other bikers in sight and I was worried I had made a wrong turn. Finally I spotted a photographer. “Am I going the right way?” I shouted at him. “Of course!” he replied, looking at me like the idiot that I am. At least I didn’t ask him if I had a camel toe.

The final half of the bike portion was along a main ride that was NOT closed to traffic. I’ve never rode a bike on a road before, let alone with cars whizzing by, so I was pretty cautious. I drank no water because I thought if I bent down to grab my water, I’d fall off my bike and get flattened by a car. I was so thirsty. All in all, it wasn’t a bad ride. Dare I say it was relaxing? Obviously I didn’t “race” this portion, I just enjoyed it. The 12 mile ride took me 50 minutes to complete. Not as bad as my swim, but not great either. Oh well, on to my run…

The Run!

Well, I certainly learned what I’m good at. As I wheeled my bike into the transition area, I definitely got a sense of the dreaded rubber legs everyone talks about. I had no idea how I was going to run on those things. However, seeing all my buddies cheering me on gave me the strength to turn my hobble into a running-like motion.

The run portion was a stupid double out-and-back loop through the parking lots of Cedar Point, not exactly the “run through the park” the website advertised. Oh well. I had no watch on me so I was blind to my pace. The rubbery leg sensation went away surprisingly quickly and I started feeling stronger. On the run I enjoyed doing what I normally do during a road race: people watching. I saw many fit people and many people who did not look like your average triathlete. It always makes me happy to see all shapes and sizes participate in athletic events.

I’m not sure if dehydration was making me delirious, or if I was feeling a “tri high”, but as I made my way around my second loop I felt ecstatic. “I’m gonna hug and kiss everyone I see! I don’t care if they’re a stranger! I love everyone!” I kept thinking to myself. I heard my name called as I crossed the finish line and saw all of my awesome friends cheering. Luckily for them I spared the kisses but grabbed each one them despite being a sweaty mess. I was so happy to be done.

My 5K time was 25:00, only about 30 seconds slower than my PR. I’m still not sure how the hell I pulled that off.

Closing Thoughts!

I HAD A FUCKING BLAST!! Seriously. I’ve never had that much fun doing any other athletic event in my life. There are definitely more triathlons in my future, and I’m even toying with the idea of doing a Half Iron Man next year. I’ll probably have to sell a kidney for the proper equipment, but hey. You only need one, right? Believe everyone when they tell you triathlons are addicting.

The next day I was able to play cheerleader for all of my Iron Friends. If you ever have a chance, go watch an Iron Man race. It was an inspiration. Seeing all different ages, body types, and abilities convinced me a longer distance triathlon was in my reach.

Phew. Well I hope this wasn’t as boring to read as it was to write. My description did not even come close to capturing the fun, excitement, dread, fear, and empowerment I felt completing my first triathlon.

Next stop: The Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY

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Annoying Jerk and Old Iron Man: Making Friends at my Latest 10K

When it comes to races, some people enjoy the larger events with the big group of runners and cheering crowd. Me, I like to feel like I’m on my own little run until I get to the finish line where there is hopefully a shiny new medal waiting. Don’t get me wrong, big events are thrilling and the race-swag is nice. However, with a larger group of runners comes a bigger chance of running along side some annoying people.

The Stony Creek Distance Run is a small, week-night 5K and 10K race that takes place on the trails of Stony Creek Metropark. It’s also cheap, which made it a perfect choice for me. After a nerve-wrecking drive from Birmingham to Shelby Township in rush-hour traffic (it should be mandatory punishment for sex offenders to drive M-59 at rush hour every day for the rest of their lives), I happily awaited a pleasant run on the trails. Oh, and pleasant it was- perfect mid 70’s temps with no wind gusts or humidity. Pleasant, that is, until I ran into Annoying Jerk.

Commonly during a race I distract myself by focusing on other runners and assigning them names and character traits. For example: “Wow, Blue Shirt Girl is fast. I’ll let her pace me for a while. I wish I had her butt.” Or, “Ooh, Tattoo Guy sure has some dreamy eyes…” are thoughts often going through my head. For the first two miles of my 10K I focused on Old Iron Man, an older-looking fellow with an Iron Man logo tatooed on his ankle. I assumed that meant he had completed a full Iron Man and therefore he was instanly my hero. I ran close behind him for a while, until I was finally accosted by Annoying Jerk.

Annoying Jerk came from behind around mile 2.5 and began running my exact pace, nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Since we were running on a narrow trail, and I’m claustrophobic, and who the hell does that shit anyway, I tried to surge ahead to lose him. In doing so, I passed Old Iron Man. “Great job!” he said to me. Awww. I dropped Annoying Jerk for a while until he caught up with me, again running practically on top of me. I tried to express my annoyance in civil ways, such as sighing heavily and surging ahead several more times. But each time I did, Annoying Jerk would come sprinting from behind to run my exact fucking pace.

Now, if Annoying Jerk had been a good-looking shirtless guy, I may have enjoyed the company. “Why doesn’t he just pass me?” I kept thinking to myself, until finally I decided to lose him for good. With a 2 miles left to run, I sprinted ahead and never saw him again. I was then able to enjoy a solitary run through the beautiful trails until I crossed the finish line.

As I stood around after the race waiting for results to get posted (2nd in my age group, woo-hoo!), Old Iron Man congratulated me on a good run. “You kept a great steady pace! Good for you!” Old Iron Man also won his age group! I want him to be my grandpa. Then I saw him. Annoying Jerk was coming right at me. “Hey there! Good job!” Well, you would know, you were practically running on top of me THE ENTIRE RACE. But I didn’t say that. I thanked him. He then proceeded to explain how he had an hour drive to the race, and how he could’ve run faster had he not been so tired. Dude, don’t give me your bull-shit. I beat you and that’s all there is to it. Go home and cry into your Annoying Jerk beer.

In the end, the crazy antics of one inconsiderate runner weren’t enough to ruin my race. I went home, cleaned the dirt off of my shins and relaxed with some red wine. I’m running another 10K on Saturday- the AdvoKate in Rochester. Let’s hope there’s more Old Iron Men than Annoying Jerks (and some shirtless guys wouldn’t hurt).

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Charlevoix Marathon: A Weekend of Running, Family, and Road Bananas

Beans offers a congratulatory handshake.

Beans offers a congratulatory handshake.

You all know I hate writing race recaps/reviews/whatever you call them, simply because I’m not good at it. Someone who is good at it is Jeff over at Detroit Runner. You can read his recap of running Charlevoix here. Now, on to my nonsense-

Long story short: I did it! I finished marathon #2, the Run Charlevoix Marathon, in 4:42:42. Now, the official results page shows a different number about a minute slower. But the number I’m posting is the one the race announcer quoted as I crossed the finish line. Race Announcer Man would never lie! The “gun time” can suck it.

Short story long: I will now break down my marathon experience highlighting the most important aspects, like…

The Weather! Around 55-60, extremely humid, with a light mist. The mist felt great and helped cool me off. It also lead to some epic chafing.

The Swag! Wow, Charlevoix really outdid themselves this year! Instead of a long-sleeved tech shirt, we got a really high-quality cotton T-Shirt (gender specific!), a performance hat, and running socks with “CVX 26.2” printed on them. Nice!

The Medal! Oh, only the most beautiful medal in all marathons, in my limited opinion. You can kind of sort of see it modeled by my cat above. It’s a heavy one, with a cool stained glass effect. It really captures the beauty of Downtown Charlevoix.

Aid Stations! They were plentiful and stocked with water, Gatorade, GU, and Twizzlers (??). The volunteers were friendly. Lots of port-a-potties as well, and yes I had to use one at mile 3.

Crowd Support! Almost non-existent. This is a small race, if you thrive on cheering strangers and bands at every mile, this race is NOT for you. I, for one, zone out so much while running that the apocalypse could be occurring around me and I wouldn’t notice, so it didn’t bother me.

Scenery! The full marathon course had several beautiful views of Lake Michigan. The overcast weather added to the mystique of the water. I’m not a very religious person, but there were points where I couldn’t help but thank God for the ability to run and for the gorgeous land around me.

Best Marathon Moment! Seeing my mom, dad, and Randy (and my parent’s dog Barley) cheering me on at mile 24. I wasn’t expecting them to be on the course at all! Their support helped me push through those final miles with a smile on my face.

Worst Marathon Moment! Stepping out of the port-a-potty at mile 3, I stepped directly into a massive puddle in the grass. My entire right foot was soaked for the remainder of the race, though with the 100% humidity I hardly noticed.

Funniest Marathon Moment! Seeing my brother Jeff wandering along the side of the road at mile 25. Apparently he grew impatient waiting for me to finish so he started walking until he saw me. “What are you doing here?” I asked. “I found you a banana if you want it. It was on the side of the road,” he replied. No, I did not eat the road banana.

All in all, it was another amazing weekend spent in Charlevoix with my family and running a PR. I would’ve liked my time to be more around the 4:30 range, but shaving 37 minutes off of my first marathon time is nothing to sneeze at. Plus I can honestly say I never hit the dreaded wall. I was sore, of course, but my energy was consistent throughout. Now, I have my sights set on the Wineglass Marathon in New York in October. Marathons are beasts, but for the first time I feel like a worthy foe.

 

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