Thursday, March 21, 2013

2013 RnR USA Nation’s Capital Marathon & Half-Marathon

March 16, 2013 7:30 AM
Washington, D.C.

Time Pace
Bib #
8:35 M35-39 94/324 556/2,059 723/3,552 3003
3:00:19 13:45 F30-34 2,239/2,439 11,403/12,525 18,545/19,945 25015
3:00:19 13:45 F45-49 642/746 11,404/12,525 18,546/19,945 34726
*Marathon    **Half-Marathon

This part written by Owen:

We had a great trip to Virginia/Washington D.C. to run this race.  It started Thursday night when we drove to my mom's house in Stafford, Virginia. We left after Michael got out of school, made great time, and arrived around 10pm.

We always have a ton of fun and great visits every time we go to my moms, so we decided to save some money and commute from Stafford on race morning.  Race morning commuting went smoothly, the problem was Friday afternoon getting our bibs.

I had to work Friday until noon, so we knew we were going to hit Friday Washington, D.C. traffic.  We hit some mild traffic on the way to the train station in Springfield, VA, but still got there in 40 minutes or so (it's about 25 miles away.)  We took the train to the station near the armory where the expo was in DC.  That took another 40 minutes.

On the way to the expo on the Metro

The expo was really nice, really big, and surprisingly not as crowded as I thought it would be.  We didn't spend much time there because we knew traffic was going to get worse and worse.

Malissa in front of the Armory

We took the train back to Springfield and got on the freeway for the 25 mile drive back to my mom's house.  My mom had let me drive her Mini Cooper to save on gas since just Malissa and I were going. The entire 25 miles was bumper to bumper traffic and took over two hours.  Because I was in the Mini, which has a manual transmission, my left leg was very tired from all the traffic.  Not what you want the day before a marathon.

Friday night my mom made a wonderful spaghetti dinner.  We talked and ate, then spent the rest of the night making our plans for the next day.  We worked out a strategy for Grandma and Gramps and my kids to hop on and off the Metro to see me at four points (counting the finish line). Malissa and I would leave early to get to the start, everybody else would leave a little later to get to mile 3 to cheer us on from there.

Malissa and I woke up and everything went as planned until we arrived at the start line.

The pack of runners at the station nearest the starting line.
Malissa and I said our goodbyes and she headed for her corral.  I headed to the gear check area.  I almost never use those, but the weather called for rain and we were going to go to lunch before going home, and I didn't want my supporters to have to carry around our clothes all day.  I found the gear check area, and couldn't believe what I saw.  The line to check my bag was at least the length of a football field.  I couldn't believe they made you stand in line to hand them your bag.  After each person they went and put the bag in the school bus in some organized fashion, then came back for the next bag. It was the most stupid thing I've ever seen.  The bags have our names on them, let us just throw the bag in a bin, you can organize them on your own time.

While waiting in line at bag check, I heard the start of the marathon.  I still was planning on standing in line for the bathrooms, which was also ridiculously long.  I finally got my bag checked, and ran to the start just in time to start with corral four.  I was supposed to be in corral three.  My bladder was full, and I hadn't done my normal pre-race stretching ritual.

I put all that behind me and enjoyed the amazing course. I realized after we started that I hadn't even noticed the Washington Monument that was right next to the start.  I made a point to enjoy the amazing scenery from that point forward.

I knew I'd have to find an early place to relieve myself, but there were so few port-o-potties.  25,000 runners and almost no port-o-potties.  There were never any that didn't have a line.  I absolutely can not accept standing in a line during a race.  I'll pee on the course before I do that.  So I found a tree on the side of the road at mile 6.

Water stops were another issue RnR failed on.  Gatorade was only at every other stop, which meant 4 miles in between Gatorade.  That is definitely too long for me. Also, several of the stops had nobody handing out the water, you had to serve yourself.  I couldn't believe it.

I had decided on a pace for a 3:40 finishing time.  I stuck to my pace tattoo through the hills, not bad hills, but they were there.  I was within 10 seconds of my goal at every mile marker until mile 23 when the dreaded wall hit.  I was determined not to walk at all during this marathon, and pushed through it, but about a minute per mile slower until mile 24.5.  On the last mile and a half, I walked for about 15 seconds a few times and finished at 3:45.

The course was amazing.  I loved the fact that we had the entire road even after the half-marathoners split off.  That was one thing this race did right.

Before the race I had seen signs advertising the free chocolate milk at the finish line.  I was SO looking forward to that.  I saw the people handing out the cartons of milk and grabbed two of them.  They were frozen solid!  I was so disappointed.  After the race it was amazing how many people were complaining about that.

It never did rain during the race, the weather was absolutely perfect, if not for a headwind during the last couple of miles.  But, I still had to pick up my gear bag with our clothes in it.  The line was even longer to pick it up as it was to drop it off.  So instead of enjoying the post-race festivities with my family, I stood in line for 30 minutes separated from them.

Overall this race was wonderful, I enjoyed it, and have fond memories.  But Rock 'n' Roll failed miserably.  My next race happens to also be an RnR marathon (Nashville), but I will stay away from them in the future.  I understand why they have such a bad reputation now.

Alicia and I on the train ride back to Grandma's
We had a wonder post-race lunch at "On the Border", and relaxed the rest of the day at Grandma's house.

Here's my Garmin data:

This part written by Malissa:

I was so excited for this race. I could not wait to share this experience with Lynne. Our goal was to finish strong and have some fun along the way.

After saying goodbye to Owen I met Lynne in corral 34. Lynne and I chatted while we waited for our turn to cross the start line. It took us 50 minutes to cross the start line so looking back on the race it would have been smarter if I took the drop off bag instead of Owen.

Right as we crossed the start line, bam there was the Washington monument. I was reminded of my first time to Washington DC in 2010. I was much heavier and I remembered how hard it was to walk so much that day. It really is amazing what a little training can do.

Owen and I 2010
Around mile three I started getting a huge headache and I was nauseous. I didn't mention anything to Lynne because I knew she would have offered to slow down and I didn't want to ruin the race for her. Mile four rolled around and I was getting worried because I was feeling worse. I decided to take my hat off to see if that would help, instant relief. Two days before the race I hit my head really hard on the corner of our kitchen counter, I guess the hat was squeezing my big head too tight.

I really wanted this race to be fun for Lynne so I made her make crazy faces at the photographers. This picture is going in a frame for sure!

When we got to mile five we were still feeling fresh and joking around. We thought there was suppose to be a huge hill at the beginning of five and we were excited when there wasn't. I just figured Owen's map was wrong, well that is until we got to 5.8 and saw the massive hill. I don't know what race Owen was talking about in his recap when he said the hills weren't bad because the hill that started at 5.8 and leveled off at 7 killed us. Thankfully Lynne's husband and daughter surprised us at mile seven. It was just what we needed. I know I looked like a crazy woman when I saw Katie cheering for us. It was so unexpected and I ran over to her screaming and yelling, Phoebe style with my hands waving over my head.

There were a few funny signs a long the course and guy dressed up as one of the Incredibles singing Call Me Maybe. I enjoyed mile nine to ten, it was a long gradual downhill and you could see the capital the whole time.

There was a slight uphill around eleven/twelve, I turned to Lynne told her this where you dig deep and remember all the hours we spent training and told her to push hard. By this time the miles seemed to get longer and longer and I remember thinking when is that finish line going to get here. We finished strong at 3:00:19, Lynne beat my first half marathon time by three minutes! I couldn't have scripted a better race, well I guess I would have taken out the hills, and I'm so thankful I was able to share this experience with Lynne. Now on to finding a marathon for us to run together!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2013 Columbia SC Marathon Relay

March 9, 2013 7:30 AM
Columbia, South Carolina

Division Place
Gender Place
Overall Place
Bib #
Team Lillywhite/Alves

Leg 1: 5 Miles; Malissa finished in 56:42 (11:20 pace)
Leg 2: 8.1 Miles; Owen finished in 1:03:15 (7:49 pace)
Leg 3: 5 Miles; Lynne finished in 1:05:03 (13:01 pace)
Leg 4: 8.1 Miles; Michael finished in 1:00:10 (7:26 pace)

Written by Malissa

Lynne and I are at the end of our training for the DC half marathon and since this is Lynne's first half marathon we wanted her to have one more race under her belt before race day. When searching for a 10k to run Owen came across the Columbia Marathon relay and thought it would be fun for us to run together. He thought it would be cool for Michael to run the last leg of a marathon.

We left Friday after Michael got out of school. As soon as we got to Columbia we checked into our hotel, went to the expo, and then headed to dinner. It was pretty late by the time we got to the restaurant. The kids were so tired and hungry, both Katie and Kyle fell asleep right as the food was being brought out.

Having never ran a relay before, I was a little worried about the logistics of the race. The marathon is a two loop course and I would run the first leg (5.1 miles), Owen the second (8 miles), Lynne the third (5.1 miles), and Michael the last leg (8 miles). I was most worried about the timing of the buses and we also didn't want Michael to be waiting by himself. There wasn't much info on their website so Owen e-mailed them. We got a really quick response that said there would be three buses that would leave before the race and then after the race starts they would have buses going back and forth nonstop throughout the race. We thought it would be fun to watch everyone finish and since there would be plenty of times to catch a bus we decided everyone would see me start and then hop on the bus to the first exchange.

Right before we went to bed Owen changed his mind and decided he better get on one of the buses that left before the race started. Race morning we were teasing Owen a little because he was a little bit in a panic to catch his bus. Turns out that it's a good thing Owen was rushing to catch the early bus because he made it there with only a minute to spare and while I was running the first leg there was chaos at the bus area. The buses were in the wrong area, at one point they only had one bus and it was so over crowded that faces were smashed up against the windows and they forced people to get off, runners didn't get to the exchange point in time and the first leg runners waited for 30-40 minutes...

While all that was going on, I was having fun running!  My goal for this race was to get a feel for where I'm at speed wise. My main focus for the past three months has been to just log miles. I wanted to take the focus off of speed and just fall in love with running again.  I went into this race hoping I could come in under an hour. It was a hilly course with a massive hill during the second mile. (The hill reminded me of  the hill at Big Sir just not quite as long.) I knew as long as I stayed under twelve minutes per mile I would be okay. I tried to conserve energy my first mile because I knew that hill was a comin' but it was so hard to slow down. As I was going up the massive hill I couldn't help but feel sorry for the runners that were running the full marathon and would have to run the hill twice. My second mile was definitely my slowest but with each mile after that one I tried to push it a little harder to see just how fast I could go. Around mile four I noticed that I still felt really good and my pace was getting faster and faster, it was then that I realized I was back!

My lap times:
mile one: 11:22
mile two: 12:23
mile three: 11:42
mile four: 11:19
mile five:10:59

*side note*  When I got home I plugged my time into the training pace calculator. I have another half marathon the end of April that I plan to run a little more competitive. I was shocked to see that it said I could PR in that race!

I forgot to mention that they were still setting up the mile marker signs while I was running past them and they didn't match up with my Garmin. By mile three I realized I most likely wouldn't run the full 5.1 that I was suppose to. Sure enough Owen was waiting for me at 4.8. I was happy to see him there. He told me the others hadn't made it yet, I gave him a kiss, handed him the bib, and he was off! Owen later told me he had fun passing all runners. He said it was great for his ego ;)

I called Lynne, she told me she was staying at the start line and Mike (her husband) and the kids were still trying to get on a bus. About a half hour later Michael, Mike, Kyle, Alicia, and Katie arrived. We had a little down time while we waited for Lynne to finish. The kids had fun handing out the water to the runners.
I was so impressed with Lynne's run. Because this was a hilly course and she's had some ankle soreness we kept telling her to treat this as just another training run. The last thing we wanted was for her to get injured the week before our half marathon. Based off of our conversation at breakfast, I expected for her to finish about 1:15 so it was so awesome to see her red shirt at 1:02.

Here she is getting ready to hand Michael the bib:
 One of my favorite moments during the race was Lynne's reaction when she finished. She just kept saying that was so much fun, that was so much fun!

Right after Lynne finished and Michael took off, the rest of us hopped on the bus and headed back to the finish line. We met up with Owen who had already showered and changed. I may have made a big scene that he was no longer wearing his team shirt and that he would look like a dork running across the finish line in street clothes...

Michael was just out of frame to Lynne's left.

Michael's goal was to finish his eight miles under an hour. Once we realized he was actually running 8.2 and it was hot by the time he started running we knew it was going to be close. Not as many people ran the full marathon and there was a huge gap in between runners at times. For a split second we were worried that if Michael was running all by himself that he might take a wrong turn, just about that time we saw him running our way. We joined him as he ran by and tried our hardest to keep up with him!

We all really enjoyed our runs and thankfully the bus fiasco didn't effect us. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Which Marathon for Nevada?

Written by Owen:

As part of my challenge to run a marathon in all 50 states plus DC, I have to choose very carefully what marathon to run in each state.  I don't want to repeat states, as I am anxious to complete this goal and don't want to "waste" a marathon on a state I've already completed.

I haven't had much trouble deciding until now.  For Nevada, there are two that I honestly can't decide between.  Here are pros and cons for each that I've compiled based on reviews from people that have run each, from my marathon preferences, etc.

We will be living in Utah at this time, so both are a convenient drive.

Pros Cons
Rock 'n' Roll
Las Vegas Marathon

  • The strip at night
  • Las Vegas is just so much fun.
  • HUGE spectator support
  • Sleep in, no early morning wake up call
  • Fremont street at night
  • Rock 'n' Roll Series (notoriously poorly organized)
  • Overcrowded
  • Half-Marathon congestion (30,000 half marathoners on poorly designed course)
  • Preparation to run at night, (when do I eat?, rest?, etc?)
  • Half of the course is very boring & isolated
Hoover Dam


  • Hoover Dam is so special to me.  My dad was an electrical engineer there for many years
  • Boulder Beach, Lake Mead start/finish line (lots of childhood memories here)
  • No auto traffic (all trail/paved walking path)
  • Stunning views of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam

  • A double out-and-back course  (run 6.5 miles, come back, then do it again)
  • I would have to wait to run the Tucson Marathon until 2014, because it is Dec 7
  • Very little spectator support
  • A little too small (~200 finishers)
  • More hills (400 ft inclines four times) see here.

So now it's up to you.  I want everyone that reads this to vote, which one should I run?