Tag Archives: races

Treviso Marathon – Crisis Averted

I was so close to not running the race. Mentally, I had thrown in the towel and  my poor brain started rehearsing an explanation of why I didn’t run the marathon. But I did run the race. It wasn’t a great race, but it was a great learning experience.

*    *    *    *

Initially, I planned to set up my trip itinerary with all the necessary details. However after some emailing with my sister, it seemed like she had the whole trip squared away for me.  She’s a more than capable individual, so I relaxed and left it in her hands. I now know that I should never leave things to chance (or someone else – capable or not.) I should have done my research anyway.

Just getting to the Expo was a major hassle.

We planned to check out a city market that was on the way to the Expo. We were running a bit late and, and were hustling to get to the market before it closed. The “directions” to the Expo were in Italian, so I had no idea what I was actually reading. There didn’t appear to be a specific physical address, just general instructions depending on which way you were coming from. But we figured we could plug in the street names listed on the form into the GPS and that should be good enough. We had all afternoon to find it.

It was cold and rainy out, which made for miserable driving conditions. To make matters worse, the windshield wipers made this loud honking sound with every pass. So rather than endure the honking, my sister kept switching the wipers on and off manually. Every. Three. Seconds. I found this to be extremely annoying.

We passed the market and it started raining harder. Neither of us wanted to deal with the rain, so we bailed on the market. Turning our attention to locating the Expo, we found that none of the street names from the race form were getting us any results from the GPS. We sat at a gas station pondering what to do.

At this point, we were about 30 minutes from the house. I suggested we head back home and get the other printed race info we had, but my sister didn’t want to drive back; she figured we could find it anyway. Somehow. So we headed off toward Treviso.

The next two hours were unbearable. We didn’t really know where we were going. I don’t know what my sister put into the GPS, but we seemed to be driving forever and getting nowhere. Both of us were getting severely agitated from the drive and with each other. Finally we stopped at a gas station. Amazingly, there was a map taped to the window. Even more amazingly, I found “Piazza Borsa,” one of the locations listed on my form. We input some of the nearby streets into the GPS and headed off again, feeling hopeful.

There was still a lot of circuitous driving, but then merging into traffic, we saw it: a tiny yellow arrow with the word EXPO on it. Hallelujah! As we headed down that street, more arrows appeared, and finally I saw the building where the Expo was held. I was so relieved that we’d finally found the needle in haystack.

The destination
The destination
Inside the Expo
Inside the Expo

The Expo was small and crowded. I got my packet containing my bib and chip, and my goody bag. It had all sorts of goodies: the t-shirt, pasta, walnuts, crackers, jam, even a small bottle of Prosecco! My sister went shopping at a COIN (no idea) store for girl stuff and I stood outside and took pictures of stuff. We had lunch at a small cafe nearby and then headed back.

We got home and I was exhausted. I watched TV and got sucked into the black hole that is Imgur. It wasn’t until late that evening that I started prepping my race clothes. As I went through my goody bag, I realized that the packet containing my bib and timing chip were not in the bag. I looked everywhere in my room, then the living room, the car, the bathroom. I asked my sister if she’d seen it and she hadn’t.

I somehow lost the entire packet?!!

I thought the packet probably fell out there when I was showing off the goodies in the bag at the cafe we ate at. We called the place, and surprisingly, they were still open. The person that answered hadn’t worked during the day, we should call back in the morning at 8. There was still a chance the lady who served us tucked away the packet. So we planned to drive to cafe in the morning.

I got my stuff ready. I slept maybe two or three hours. We got up extra early to make the hour+ drive. We got there and saw an old man setting up chairs on the outside patio. I showed him a note asking about the packet. He ushered us inside and  showed the note to (who I assume was) his wife. She was the one who served us, and she said there was no packet. My stomach sank. I was sure that it was going to be here. Now what?

My sister, who was majorly pissed off at this point, drove to the start so I could ” talk to an official” and straighten this out. I was in a daze at this point. I had accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to run the marathon.

We got the the race and I went to find an official, but registration had shut down hours ago. I went back to the car and told my sister there was nothing I could do. She told me, “Run it anyway. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They kick you out of the race?” This had not occurred to me as a possible solution.

So I ran the race as a bandit. Of sorts.

Waiting for the start.
Waiting for the start.

Even though I had paid for the race, I felt like a fraud at the start. I was paranoid and nervous, thinking someone was going to notice that I wasn’t wearing a bib. But no one noticed. And really, why would they?

The best thing about the race was the people. Hilariously, during the first mile, tons of guys peeled off left and right to urinate. As we entered each town, everyone was really happy and the spectators were all smiles, yelling, “Bravi, bravi!” I high-fived lots of smiling kids which was awesome. (It’s my hope that this would inspire a kid to become a runner.) People on bikes tagged along, several runners pushed people in wheelchairs, one wheelchair guy propelled himself with only one arm. Saw a guy guiding a blind guy. I’d never seen this kind of spirit in US races.

The race was a struggle for me, as I was already physically tired and mentally drained. The course didn’t seem spectacularly scenic, but  I was okay with that. I was just glad that it never rained.

Somewhere near the finish.

I saw my sister yelling during the last bit, and that lifted my spirits. However, the last mile into the city was torture because there were so many turns and it just seemed to go on forever.  Once I saw the finish, I gave it everything I had, which wasn’t much by then.

I crossed the line around 3:45, unofficially.

Finished, feeling like death.
Finished, feeling like death. I wore a vest to carry my camera, cell phone, and gels.

I was a bit nervous at the finish, as volunteers were removing the timing chips. But I walked through undiscovered. And then I was saddened when I saw the piles of finishers medals. I didn’t try to claim one. Despite not being an “official” runner, I was really glad I ran the race. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about the medal, it’s about the run.

Lighthouse Hill Ranch 10/20 Mile/ 50K Trail Run

Tomorrow I’m running a 20 Mile trail race.

It’s a pretty small event. Last year, there were 55 finishers for the 10 mile, 17 finishers for the 20 mile, and a mere 11 finishers for the 50K. This is probably the smallest race that I’ve ever been to.  Two weeks ago I inquired about previewing the course. They don’t have day access (must be private land) I would have to rent a cabin in order to do so. I forget what the price was, but it was way too much. So I, and likely everyone else, will be running this race sight unseen. I’ll be doing (2) 10-mile loops. Easy peasy.

I’m excited but not nervous at all. Mentally, I’m looking at this race more as a training run. In fact, my marathon training schedule has me doing a 20 mile long run, so it fits perfectly. But I am going to run it hard, as it would be nice to place. I don’t know if they have awards or not, but I would definitely earn some “trail cred” with the people I run with.

My friend Zach is running the 50K. It’ll be his first ultra, what’s more it’ll be his first run over 20 miles.  He’s been logging good mileage for several months, and I asked him “What are you going to do with all those miles?” That finally convinced him to sign up for a race. Which reminds me, he still owes me $65. He’s a beast of a runner, but I wonder how he’ll handle all the variables at the same time – nutrition, hydration, sweating (he sweats like crazy), which leads to chafing, mental issues, gastrointestinal issues, pacing, etc.

Several Rockhoppers are also running, so that’ll be nice to see them. However, most of them are doing the 50K, which makes me feel like a chump. Whatever. I’m hoping I can take some cool race photos. Although that seems really hard, most race photos I’ve seen are not flattering at all. But maybe I can work some magic. We’ll see.

Most importantly, I need to remember to make a new playlist!!

Race Results!

I don’t think I mentioned it, but during my run last Tuesday, I had a brand new injury appear out of the blue. I was afraid it was going to wreck both races, but thank my lucky stars it did not. Things worked out just fine and I am super relieved.

I was nervous about the 5K. I wanted to push hard, but was fearful about making the injury worse, especially for Sunday’s 13.1. It was very cool out, I ran around the parking lot to warm up.  I could feel some slight pain, but hoped that would be it. Otherwise, I felt good. (And this may be TMI, but after two trips to the bathroom -one of which was five minutes before the start- I felt a lot better. It really sucks to run when you think your stomach might betray you at any moment.)

Before long, we were lined up and then we were running. I started my playlist, or at least I thought I did. I had an 18 minute playlist that I was hoping would carry me to an 18 minute finish. All uptempo, hard charging music. But the second song? 06 Jah Calling

At this point, I realized I’ve always used my iPod shuffle on random, and never bothered to figure out how to specifically play the playlist! D’oh! But Jah was calling for me to go easy the first mile, which I did.

The course was not the same as I’d run before, so my pacing felt off. I was shocked when we hit a turn around and were halfway home. And I must say that I hate turn arounds where you go around a cone and just turn around. I’d much prefer a gradual turn like a roundabout or something. This kind of turnaround just seemed lazy, like they couldn’t be bothered to figure out something more graceful. Perhaps expectations are lower in races that go through shopping center parking lots.

I started to pick up the pace and passed a few runners. My breathing was under control, but my heart rate was high. One of the guys I’d passed came back and passed me. I tried to keep up with him, but he wasn’t having it. He toasted me and I had to let him go. The last quarter-mile was tough. I gave it all I had. Cruising under the clock, I saw my time 19:32. (6:17 pace.)  Not as good as I’d hoped, but under 20 minutes, which was my goal. The good news is, there’s plenty of room for improvement at the next 5K!

I developed a new-found respect for the 5K distance. As an aspiring ultra runner, a 3.1 mile race seems silly, but this race isn’t about distance, it’s about speed. It’s almost like an extended sprint. Which is doggone hard! And beautiful. It’s another way to see how much you can endure. Best of all, this test takes only 20 minutes instead of 20 hours! I definitely look forward to doing more of these, and training specifically for the event.

One race down, one to go.

It was another cold start. So cold (relatively speaking), that I was wondering if I should have worn more clothing. The wind made it seem way colder than it was. But I knew I’d warm up.

I had my dad try and take my picture with my iPhone. That was a comedy of errors as my dad is challenged by any technology from this century or last. After literally the fifth try, he got a picture.

In front of the Alamo before the race.
In front of the Alamo before the race.

I will definitely have to teach my dad how to use a camera one of these days…

So the race start was 7:45. I got an okay spot near the front. I was cold and nervous. There was a guy to my right wearing a Garmin that looked like it was from the 80’s. He had his arm in the air for a good four minutes trying to acquire satellites. I never heard a countdown and all of a sudden we were off.

Surprisingly, the crowd thinned out almost immediately and there was tons of room which was great, but weird. The wind walloped us the first two miles or so, but eventually died down. Or I stopped noticing it. One or the other.

I had no idea about the course other than this map below.

Dumb map
Dumb map

I can be really dumb sometimes, okay, a lot of the time, but I just now figured out how to read the map. It does tell you which direction to go! My point was I had no idea what to expect on the course. The good news is there was only one hill on the course, and it was no big deal at all. The hardest part was making sure I was following the arrows on the ground.

My mystery injury wasn’t bothering me, but then some other things pains made appearances. Most of them were brief, but noticeable. It made me think of that idea of intentionally inflicting some smaller pain to take your mind off of a bigger pain. Thankfully though, the second half of he run was pain-free.

When we got to Trinity University, we ran around the track. That felt great underfoot and was a welcome relief from the concrete. This was the halfway point and I didn’t even realize it. I had a gel with me that I had intended to use at the halfway point, but I didn’t want to stop or futz around with it. Plus I’d eaten a ton of quinoa two days in a row, so my glycogen was still good.

I looked at my watch and tried to math in my mind where I should be to hit my time goal. I had forgotten to write down my goal on my arm. Was it 1:35? 1:37? 1:39? I thought it was 1:35, which meant I should be at about 47 minutes, and I was at 49. So I freaked out and started running harder.

Even if I had written down my overall goal finish time, that information is basically useless. If I’m falling behind my pace, I need to correct that during the race, as early as possible, not near the end when it may be too late. They have rub on tattoos – “pace tats” – which have your time splits.

pace tat I’ve never used them before, but I now understand how they would be useful. With the pace tat, the info is right there. You just look at what mile point you’re at and your time, and you’ll know where you stand. Because the last thing you want to try to do during a race is math.

I may have to give those pace tats a try because I thought I had set up my Garmin for a virtual pacer, but didn’t get that to work. Honestly, I think I’m not really cut out to wear a Garmin. Or maybe I just need to find a Garmin for Dummies book. But back to the race.

I’m pushing hard now, and coming down a hill, I see a huge mass of runners coming up the hill. For some reason, that makes run even harder. I hate to think I was showing off, but maybe I was. A little bit. And so I showed off the last 4 miles, averaging about 6:35. I felt good!

The finish finally showed up and sprinted the last bit. I remembered to stop my watch. After I’d caught my breath, I looked and saw that I was under 1:35!  (And actually, my goal was 1:37.) My Garmin had me at 1:29:32, for a 6:52 pace (and only 13.01 miles.) The race ticket had me at about the same thing. I was super happy that I’d made my goal and wouldn’t have to fret about it for the next few months. Although I will admit I was a little bummed because if I’d run five minutes faster, I could have gotten into the A Corral…

But for now, the races are over. Time to get healed up and ready to start building up the base.

Worst backdrop ever and why do I look so weird?!
Worst backdrop ever and why do I look so weird?!

Race Weekend Doubleheader!!

This should be an interesting weekend. I’m going to run a 5K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. I didn’t plan this, but it’s what’s going to happen, love it or not.

I did plan for the former race, the Culinaria 5K Wine and Beer Run. I ran it two or three years ago, mainly for the booze and not surprisingly, had a great time. It was kind of weird, drinking wine out of plastic cups before noon after running a race… Yeah, we got pretty -ahem- wasted and made some new friends. It was a good day.

But this time I’m not running for the booze. In fact, I won’t be partaking of any alcohol after the race. I told myself I was going to stop drinking for a year after I got into a scrape with some of my friends on New Year’s Eve. I’ve got 2 1/2 months under my belt and I feel good about it. But the main reason I signed up was to just blast it and see how fast I could go in a race environment. But now, it looks like that will have to wait.

When I broke the internet* and registered for Chicago, I applied for Corral B, which requires a 3:35:59 marathon or better.

I don’t really know how fast I can run a half marathon or a full marathon, because it’s been so long since I’ve run either. The only marathon I’ve run was Portland back in 2010. That is too old to count, not to mention that my time wasn’t anywhere near good enough. And the last time I ran a half marathon? Um… I think I’ve run two halves in my life, but those were two or three years ago. (One of which I ran with my best friend on the day he got married!)

So how did I figure my time? I went by Tony’s time.

Tony is one of the Rockhoppers, the group I’ve been running with that mainly does trail running. But he and several others in the group had just “crossed over to the dark side” and run the Austin marathon. (Which I seriously regret not doing). He’s an older fellow and apparently had a great race, running something like a 3:40. So I figured, if he can do a 3:40, surely I can manage a 3:35. Yep, Corral B for me, please.

After I finally got registered, I must have been so flustered that I missed the part about providing proof of your 3:35:59 marathon or 1:37:59 half marathon time before August 26. (Or maybe I was so naive to think they went by the honor system?) I only noticed this while randomly revisiting the Chicago marathon website the other day. But August 26, that’s five months. Plenty of time to find and run a half, right? Well, not really.

April 3rd through June 2nd I will be traveling, which leaves the last half of March, and June, July and August. I Googled a race calendar for Texas and found few races to choose from, even fewer that were in town. And all of them would be during the ridiculous Texas summer. It’s not even officially spring yet and it was 90 degrees today. That’s seriously wrong. Running a summer race, I’d risk not making my time goal due to the heat. If that happened, there wouldn’t be enough time to find another race. But there was a half … this weekend … after the 5K.

Somewhat grudingly, tonight I registered for the Alamo 13.1. (Sidenote: why are some races so darn expensive?! This one was $85 to start with, and went up to $105. It had better be one good race.) I figure run this race now and get the 1:37. If, for whatever reason, I can’t manage it, I will still have three months to try again. Okay, brain, good plan.

But heck, how cool is it to run races back to back?! I’ve never done that before. It would have been awesome if the 5K was after the half. That way I could run both races hard. As it is, I’m going to have to throttle back at the 5K. Of course, I say that now, but once the adrenaline starts flowing, it’ll be hard not to blast off. Part of me, no, most of me wants to say the heck with it, just go for it at the 5K. I mean it’s likely less than 20 minutes of running!

The main reason this is a big deal to me: if I get into Corral B, I have a better chance at running a time good enough to qualify for Boston. That in itself would be a big deal for me and I would be super stoked.

And what would be even cooler is if I actually got to run Boston…

*   *   *   *   *

Sorry there were any pretty pictures to look at. I’ll have some for the next post, I promise!

*The internet must have been broken since I was able to register, despite serious technical difficulties that resulted in registration being suspended for like two weeks. About 15,000 other people were able to register as well. But I’ll always think of it as the day I broke the internet.