Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Mercedes-Benz Marathon

February 17, 2013 7:03 AM
Birmingham, Alabama

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 3:40:43 8:25 M35-39 23/91 170/637 212/995 30

Written by Owen:

This weekend was just what I needed in so many ways!  Our lives have been so busy lately (largely because of my racing calendar) that I needed a vacation.  I originally scheduled this weekend to be a family road trip because it is only a six hour drive from Charlotte.  A couple of months before it, however, we decided to let the kids spend some time with their grandparents, so Malissa and I could enjoy this weekend by ourselves.

The trip started off somewhat stressful.  There is a bunch of road construction going on between our house and Opa and Neina's (the kids' grandparents).  Friday after Michael got home from school, we immediately hopped in the car and headed to their house.  We were stuck in traffic, and worse, we could see the other direction was gridlock as well (which we'd have to travel again once we dropped off the kids.)

We had plans to stay at a hotel in Duluth, Georgia, which was a little more than halfway to Birmingham, Alabama from Charlotte.  I had already bought movie tickets for "Safe Haven", which  Malissa REALLY wanted to see, for 1030 PM Friday in Duluth.  While stuck in traffic coming back from dropping the kids off, we knew we weren't going to make that.  So we wrote off the $20 I had spent and decided to stop in Charlotte at Cheddar's for dinner. We had left our house almost three hours earlier, and were still five miles from our house (30 miles driving north, 35 miles driving south).  That made for a long start to the trip.

One more problem...the heater in our car had gone out a week or so before this trip.  So our toes were really, really cold.  The heater in the back worked good, but that did little to help our toes.  We contemplated taking turns sitting in the back seat, but that just seemed weird.

We made it into the hotel in Duluth about 11:00 PM Friday night.  I really wanted to get to Birmingham in time to see the Bell Center Kids run.  It is a very short "race" of kids with down syndrome. It started at 11:00 AM, which meant I'd have to get up and do my 2 mile run very early.  Because it was dark and I didn't know the area, I did my run on the treadmill in the hotel.  I finished and we were on the road by 6:45 AM.

Again, it was very cold in the car, so cold I was worried I was doing damage to my feet the day before a marathon.  But we still had a good trip and arrived in Birmingham in plenty of time to check in to our hotel and see the kids run. It was very crowded, but seeing the kids' reactions made the early morning wake up worth it.

One of the winners of the Bell Center Run
We have decided to really try and do some tourist type stuff at each race.   Looking back on all of my marathons I've done so far, we tried to not miss much work which meant not doing as much as I would have liked at each of them.  So I did some research on what there was to see and do in Birmingham.  I came up with the Civil Rights Institute and Vulcan Park.

After the kids' run on Saturday, we went to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  Our bodies were still on East Coast time, plus we had been up a long time.  So at 11:00 AM Central we were ready to eat.  We actually had to wait for the restaurant to open its doors for us.  We enjoyed a really good meal.

After lunch we went to Vulcan Park.  The weather was really, really cold and windy, but it offered some great views of Birmingham.  It is the world's largest cast iron statue and has a lot of history that we learned about while there.
Overlooking Birmingham

Malissa in front of the statue
It's hard to take a picture in front of something so tall.

After Vulcan Park we went to the Civil Rights Institute.  It is a museum filled with tons of history regarding the decades of struggles blacks have had in the area.  I really enjoyed learning, seeing all of the presentations, and can't imagine living in that time.  Sadly they don't allow photography.

Then we had a nice relaxing dinner at Amore.  It is a nice, small, Italian restaurant that was recommended by Trip Advisor.  We really enjoyed it.

After dinner we made up for missing the movie the night before and saw "Safe Haven". We both really enjoyed it.  I won't say any more because I hate spoilers.

We headed back to the hotel, which was across the street from the park where the start/finish line was.  We went to bed about 10:30 after a really long day filled with tons of fun things that Malissa and I did together.

Sunday morning I got up at 5:00 AM.  I always get up two hours before the start so I can eat one last carb-heavy meal before the race and give it time to digest.   It was time to get dressed for the marathon.  The day before we were so cold.  It was in the 30's but a very cold wind had us chilled all day.  I could not make up my mind on what to wear for the marathon.  I've never worn a long-sleeve shirt for a race before.  Pants were out of the question, I hate running in pants.  The forecast called for 25-35° with hardly any winds.  I decided to wear shorts and a short-sleeve running shirt.

Main goal of this sign was so I could spot Malissa in the crowd, but it was a big hit!

Before the race all bundled up.

My running attire for the first mile at least.
Malissa was going to be at several places along the route, including shortly after mile 1, so I ran that first leg with my sweatshirt on.  After about a half mile, I started looking around for someone with exposed arms so I could ask them how cold they were.  I honestly couldn't find a single person with short sleeves. I told myself "I guess that's your answer."  I decided I'd keep the sweatshirt for a while.  I wasn't going to see Malissa again until shortly before mile 13.  I hated the idea of having my sweatshirt tied around my waist that long, but it was cold.

Just before I saw her after mile 1, I called an audible and took off the sweatshirt and handed it to her.  I was already sweating bad under it and couldn't imagine wearing it any longer.  I kept the gloves and was just fine.

This marathon is a double loop course, which means you run a 13 mile loop, then repeat.  I wasn't too excited about that but it turned out to not be that bad.  Knowing what hills to expect was really nice.

Because of the disaster of my last marathon, I had decided to really take this one easy so I could finish happy.  I decided under 3:50 is still a good time and would help me enjoy the finish.  I was supposed to run each mile around 8:40, but couldn't quite slow down that much no matter how hard I tried.

I remember noting at about mile 12 that I had absolutely no problems.  Usually I have a joint or a spot in my shoe, or something that is bothering me.  I was feeling great, the 25-30° temps really helped.   I saw Malissa again at mile 12.5, and again at mile 14.5.  From there I knew I wouldn't see her again until the finish.  

At mile 13 I stopped at a port-o-potty.  When I came out I saw the 3:45 pace group go by.  I could tell they were a little ahead of schedule, but I decided to try and stick with them anyway.  The miles went by, and I stuck with them.  At mile 24 they kept talking about how ahead of schedule they were and were debating if they should slow down.  I figured why slow down at that point?

I don't know if they slowed down or not, because I turned on the jets a little bit and passed them.  I had gas left in the tank all the way to the finish.  Total opposite to my experience in Miami.  I finished almost 10 minutes ahead of schedule and loved every minute of it. I actually had negative splits by 1 second!  If it weren't for the adrenaline of miles 1 & 2, mile 26 would have been my fastest mile.  That is the definition of a successful marathon, even though it was 19 minutes slower than my PR.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

2013 49er Gold Rush 5k

February 2, 2013 9:00 AM Charlotte, NC

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Michael 20:44 6:41 M10-14 3/8 22/265 24/556 389
Owen 21:23 6:53 M35-39 5/28 33/265 36/556 390
Malissa 38:28 12:23 F30-34 36/41 220/282 483/556 388
Lynne 38:28 12:23 F45-49 13/16 221/282 484/556 183

Written by Malissa:

Please forgive me if this post is all over the place, it's been a few months since the last time I posted on here. First let me share a little bit of what has been going on these past few months and then I will share why we ran this race and the recap.

After Richmond I was feeling a bit burnt out so I took a break from running and focused on another passion of mine, art.

I painted this for Michael's room
I used this time to reflect on why I started running in the first place and what I was hoping to gain from running. Before running all my time and energy went into my kids and Owen and I had completely lost who I was. I was learning that in order for me to properly take care of my family,  I needed to take care of myself first. So in the beginning, running was a way for me to gain my life back but as time went on I was more focused on getting faster and running race after race that I forgot my main goal, to become the healthiest me possible. I no longer was losing weight and was slowly gaining back the weight I had already lost. I was losing myself again, but this time to running.

While I was trying to figure everything out, my friend Lynne kept asking me when I was going to start running again. She really wanted to train for a 10k and wanted a running partner. It was about that time that I really started missing running so I told her I would be ready after we got back from Owen's marathon in Mississippi.

On the way home from Mississippi I remembered that I needed to get started on my training for the DC half marathon (I signed up for the race awhile back when Owen signed up for the full). I remembered that Lynne wanted to run with me so I texted her, "since you are going to be running with me do you want to train for the DC half marathon?" She wanted to look at the training schedule and give it a week to see if her body was up for the challenge. I was really excited to have a running partner and was hoping this would help me stick to a training schedule.

For my past two half marathons I was using the advanced training schedule. I was really hoping the extra mileage would help me get faster but instead I got burnt out. I decided for the DC half I wanted to go back to the basics and started using Hal Higdon's Novice 1 training guide. I knew this would be best since I hadn't ran for a few months. I knew it would take me a bit to get back to where I was before. I like this training program because he has you do cross workouts one to two times a week. We are doing kickboxing twice a week and I LOVE it. It's just enough of a break for me to be excited for run days.

I mentioned in this post that I wanted to use running to help others. I talked about helping middle school aged kids. I had a lot of fun this summer in my mother-daughter running group. During our first long run I had an ah-ha moment. I also want to help moms. I still want to train for myself and get better but I don't want that to be my focus. I want to help others find their better self too.

After that first long run I came home and was so excited. I felt something that I hadn't felt in a long time...runners high. I remember I couldn't shut up that day. In fact when I got home I hopped on the elliptical for another 30 minutes. It was probably a mistake because later I crashed BIG time but I was just so excited to feel alive again! Lynne also agreed after that race to continue training for the half marathon.

Our training programs calls for a 5k race. There aren't very many races this time of year so I was happy to see there was one at the UNC Charlotte campus the weekend we needed. The campus is right down the street from us but this was only my second time on the campus, it's really nice.

Before the race...freezing our butts off.

Crazy guy in the front took his shirt off right before the start...seriously?!

Owen (black) and Michael (blue) in the center.

Lynne's goal going into this race was to come in under 40 minutes. I am a tad faster than Lynne so going into this race everyone was asking me what my plans were. Was I going to run by myself or run with Lynne? Owen and I knew I wouldn't PR this race (I have a little more junk in the trunk right now) but Owen still thought that I should run my own race and see where I'm at. I told him I would play it by ear but I had a plan up my sleeve.

The night before the race I printed off two pace charts from Taz Running.  One that would have us cross the finish line at 39:58 (Lynne's goal), and one for 39:00 (what I thought we could do). It was my goal to prove to Lynne that she could do better than she thought. I brought the pace chart that had us finish at 39:58.

Not the most flattering picture of me but here we are at the start of the race.
The week leading up to this race Lynne had extreme pain in the back of her calf and ankle. I few times during the race I asked how her leg was doing. I know by now she is so tired of me always asking how her leg is feeling but I just wanted to make sure she was ok. Side note: She had her leg checked out this week and it's just shin splints. I had never heard of shin splints in the back of your leg. Her doctor told her to wear a compression sock and stay away from hills until it feels better.

Speaking of hills, there was a huge hill at the end of the first mile and the beginning of the second mile. I took this in consideration when I made our pace charts. We were way ahead when we finished our first mile and the hill ahead was even bigger so I mentioned to Lynne if she wanted we could slow down a bit. Lynne was in the zone and didn't slow down. Our second mile was faster than our first. The last mile was downhill. A much needed break after the big hill we just ran up. I knew by this time that we were going to come in under 39 minutes, I just didn't know how much under. The last mile we also had to weave in and out of cars. In my opinion I think they could have closed down the route for at least one hour so we didn't have to share the lane with cars.    

Lynne has learned that I like to pick my speed up just a little at the end and finish strong. This is something my dad taught me when we ran together a few times when I was in high school.  The finish line was back on the track. As soon as we hit the track I started speeding up. Right before the picture below was taken Lynne told me she didn't have enough left in her to pick up the speed. I told her don't worry about it because we were crushing our goal time. Just about that time we heard our kids cheering for us. Next thing I know, she'd picking up her speed! It's amazing how often our mind will tell us that we can't do something but our body proves to us we can! We crushed Lynne's goal time of 39:58 and came in at 38:28!

Hearing our kids cheering for us.
It was very cold for NC but we still had a nice size cheering squad:
Mike (Lynne's husband)
Katie (Lynne's daughter)
Opa (My dad)
Neina (My step-mom)
Joana, Jeff & Julianna (neighbors and friends)
and by the time we finished; Michael & Owen
The sign that Julianna made for us.
After the race both Mike and Lynne said that there is no way that I'm going to run the DC race with Lynne because they feel that she is holding me back. I beg to differ. She is not holding me back at all, she is helping me grow. Through working and training with her I am becoming a better trainer and runner myself. A dream that I hope one day I will fulfill.  I still plan on getting certified when things calm down with the move. In the meantime she is helping me with my "street credit". Helping her crush her goal was reassurance to me that I am on the right path.  Plus, I'm having so much fun "training" Lynne for her first half marathon. She's kind of a teacher's pet... There were a few times, the first two weeks, after a run she would say that I worked her hard and she was having trouble keeping up. I kind of chuckled under my breath when she said that because I was following her lead. I learned early on in our training that she's very competitive and likes to be out front. No matter how fast I go, she runs just a little faster. There have also been some runs were she has had to slow down for me. We are a good team and  I'm looking forward to running the DC half marathon right along side with her. I have no doubt that we will be pushing each other to the finish line!

Moving on to the speed racers:
Right now Michael is training for the NC half marathon that is this March. He has been craving a 5k so he was excited to hear that Lynne and I were signing up for this race and he wanted to run it too. Because of Owen's taper for the Miami marathon he was not able to properly train for this 5k but he had a great race anyways.

I told Owen he was crazy running this 5k just a week after his Miami marathon but he insisted and he had a great race.

Michael took 3rd place-14 and under
We stuck around for Michael to get his award and then we headed to IHOP for brunch. A much deserved treat after our great races!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 ING Miami Marathon

January 27, 2013 6:15 AM
Miami, Florida

Time Pace Division Division
Bib #
Owen 4:11:59 9:37 M35-39 178/424 887/2,409 1,161/3,787 838

Written by Owen:

This trip couldn't have been timed any better.  Charlotte (and most of the rest of the country) was under a terrible cold spell with freak winter storms and just miserable weather.  I landed in Miami on Saturday afternoon and was greeted by 85° sunny weather.  I only wished my family could be there to enjoy it with me.  This trip was a treat I asked for as a birthday gift.

After landing, I got my rental car and got checked into the hotel.  I was staying at a Holiday Inn Express by the airport.  I wanted to stay on the beach, but Miami Beach hotels were crazy expensive.  I was by myself, so there aren't a lot of photos from this trip, I am horrible at remembering to take pictures.

After checking into the hotel, unpacking, and relaxing for a bit, I drove to Miami Beach for the expo.  It was a really big expo, and very well organized.

Malissa and I are both huge Kara Goucher fans.
After the expo, I went back to the hotel to relax for a bit.  This was my only down time of the trip since I was scheduled to fly home immediately after the marathon the next day.  Most people would have gone to the beach, but it just wasn't appealing to me to do that by myself.  So I decided to go play some Blackjack at the Hard Rock Casino in Fort Lauderdale. I got to the point where I was quite a bit ahead, and thought about leaving with my winnings, but hadn't played very long so I kept going.  I lost it, and ended up leaving down $25, but had a lot of fun.

Eating out at a nice restaurant by myself didn't sound fun either, so I bought a really yummy (huge) sandwich at Publix, and chugged a bunch of Orange Juice.  I wasn't feeling 100%, I had been fighting off some kind of head/throat cold that only partially slowed me down.  That plus all the smoke from the casino, and I was not feeling good.

I usually stay within walking distance of the start/finish line at marathons, because I hate driving to them.  Driving to them forces you to get there earlier to avoid traffic, find a parking spot, etc.  This time that wasn't an option so I drove at 4:00 AM to get there before the traffic was bad.  I found a parking spot right by the start line (duh, should have parked by the finish line, which was 0.7 miles away).  That doesn't sound like a lot, but that's quite a walk after a tough 26.2 mile run.

Waiting for the race to start.  It started about 30 minutes before sunrise at 6:15 AM.
I felt great at the start, but knew it was going to be a tough marathon right away.  The weather was by far the warmest marathon I had ever run, and it wasn't even sunrise yet.

The course was beautiful, second only to Big Sur. The first two or three miles was unbelievably crowded.  It was pretty frustrating spending that much energy trying to pass the people that lined up to close to the start.  There was absolutely no corral placement enforcement.

At mile 10 I was still feeling great, one thing I failed to do was look at the map to determine when the half-marathoners split off.  I like knowing that so I know when I'll get relief from the congestion.  Turns out they didn't split until a block before their finish near mile 13.

The weather continued to get warmer and warmer.  By mile 17 or so, they had switched the flags to yellow indicating to take it easy due to the heat.  I was really starting to slow down.  My goal pace had been around 8:30 per mile, but was hovering around the 9 minute mark on miles 16-20.

By mile 20 I was really starting to hurt.  I decided I'd walk .05 miles at each half-mile.  That worked for the miles 20-22, but on the 23rd mile I needed to walk a little longer.  I called Malissa and told her this would be my first marathon where I don't come in sub 4 hours.  She gave me some encouragement, so I started to run again.  Immediately both calf muscles seized, nearly bringing me to my knees.  So I walked some more and tried again, same thing.  No matter what I did, I couldn't run without my calves getting tied in knots.  I called her again to tell her I was going to walk the rest of the way.

At about mile 24, someone asked if they could walk and talk with me.  He introduced himself as Ethan.  I very rarely talk to people during marathons, but we were both struggling and I very much welcomed the company.  Turns out he is a Marathon Maniac also. We chatted about our racing history and challenged each other to run to specific landmarks a block, two blocks, etc ahead.  He REALLY helped me.  My calves had loosened up a bit and I felt really good.

I finished the last 1.5 miles at a pretty good pace (considering) and finshed feeling good right along side Ethan. I finished at 4:11:59. My slowest time by over 20 minutes, but still very much enjoyed it.  Thank you Ethan!

Ethan and I cross the finish line.

Number 12!
My Garmin data: