Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hello? It's me...

I am not much of a blogger in general, but to be honest, I forgot I even HAD this blog (as evidenced by the last post being dated 2011).

Late last night I stumbled across a blog (runningplump.BlogSpot.com) in my Google searches for "100k with inadequate training".  Since I wanted to follow her posts I signed into the site only to be reminded that Maintenance Mania was still online.

So much has happened between 2011 and now, April 2016 - the only way for my few readers to catch up is with a handy bulleted list:

* My group, "half2run" folded.  The running store that hosted it sold out to some really unpleasant guy hired to rebuild their web.  He re-formatted the club/site into something not at all like the group I loved so much.  All bitterness is now gone with the wind, but it was rough, especially since I was at the 19/25 states mark and was due to finish up soon.  We were informed that all of historical race data was gone, that the types of reviews I posted were unwanted, and that the "community" that I was a part of was not the demographic they wanted.  Anyway, the last "State" I completed was Toronto (Oct 2012).  I couldn't see paying the high travel costs to do these 1/2s for no end purpose.

* I dropped my certification with the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and got my ACE Group Fitness Instructor (GFI) certification in its place.  A far superior certifying body for someone like me who has not the finances/desire to go back to college to get a NASM.  I then studied for, and earned an ACE Specialty Certification in Senior Fitness (for people 55+).  To be honest, I thought this large investment in my education and training would pay off in revenue but that has not proven at all true to this point.

*  I have gone through a lot of weight fluctuations between 2011 and 2016.  In the Spring of 2013 my Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and I dealt with all the stress with lots of candy and fast food.  By 2015 my weight was elevated far above my normal 30lb yo-yo-ing.  My goal weight is 155, and I got all the way up to 239 by April of 2015.  I've lost a good chunk of that now, but am still a good 20lbs over 155.  I'm content with weighing 160 for my "walking around weight" and probably only need to go below that for racing purposes.

* In 2013 I did my first "Ultra" at Outrun 24 https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=33495 a timed 24-hour event on a 1-mile looped course through Chapin Forest in Kirtland, OH.  I chose it because I knew a lot of people doing it from my running club (The Ohio Runner's Network), I'm a "night owl" and it is only about an hour from home.  My first goal was to go to 50k and then be done, which I accomplished with only minor blisters and stomach issues.  I was in decent shape, but no where trained to do it any justice.  The next year (2014) my goal was simply to "do more".  I was 15 lbs heavier and my feet ended up roached.  I finished with 37 miles.  Last year I almost bagged the entry as I was 221lbs and REALLY, REALLY unfit.  I decided the last few weeks to walk only, at whatever speed I chose.  It was a long and boring experience.  I did my 26 miles and called it a night.  (Still pretty good for a completely unfit fat lady).  This year my training program was again the "Pull it out your ass" method, with the intention to beat my body up AT the event, rather than multiple times in training for the event.  I'm still a very heavy runner, and ain't nobody got time for my frequent overuse injuries that prevent me from doing the regular walking/running I do.  This perspective wouldn't go over well in the Ultra Community, so let's just keep it between us....I'm about 10 lbs less than my first year and have plenty of time on my feet so I'm going for "the big medal" for the 100k.  I have several strategies planned, but weather, my persnickety stomach, and my tender feet will probably weigh in just as much as any strategy.

O24 Report to follow...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Texas - State #18/23rd Half-Marathon

In December I finished off 2011's half-marathon schedule by running the "RunGirl 13.1" female half-marathon.  The race was a double loop through a State Park and the adjacent roads in a suburb of Houston.  The only time I've ever been in Texas was an ill-fated trip when I was fifteen with my family, which, you are correct to infer was torture.

I flew into Houston on Friday night, and made my way to my hotel.  Saturday I headed downtown Houston for my packet pick-up which was held at the store Tri-On The Run.  Packet pick-up went very smoothly and I picked up my fabric bag with logo, a long-sleeved gender-specific tech shirt, temporary "RunGirl 13.1" tattoos and sticker, and a RunGirl 13.1 knit hat.  Also got the usual Lip balm and some race adverts.

Sunday morning the weather was perfect for running, cloudy and in the 40s.  I broke tradition and did NOT wear one of my short sleeved "Half2run" shirts, but instead chose a long-sleeved Towpath Turtles shirt.

I love all-female events.  They are VASTLY different than regular races.  There is an absolute BUZZ of chatter prior to the race and non-stop chitty-chat from the mid to back of the pack until the latter miles.  Another difference was obvious at the first aid stop around mile 1.5.  Here a woman was holding two boxes of tissues saying, "Kleenex?  Kleenex?"  Only a woman would think that there would be few blowing "snot rockets" and on a 40 degree morning there would be copious sniffing!

The course bored me TO DEATH.  A double loop is NOT my favorite (although I prefer it to point to points), but this flat course wove through the park on a road closed to traffic with NOTHING to look at except trees and road for 75% of the way.  When we went around to the start/finish area, it was by a large lake that was beautiful but very windy.  Another spot that we actually passed three times was the most ugly area with ramshackle shacks and trailer parks.  A rather unsavory looking woman in pajama bottoms, a ratty robe and long, unbrushed blond hair did venture outside of her trailer to cheer.  She was quite a character to look at, but I gotta hand it to her - she stood out there cheering for all three pass-bys and was one of two crowds of "fans" who actually cheered on the sidelines.

I have been eating well and am 1/3 into a training plan over the past six weeks so my weight was down so I took this one a bit harder than the last couple.  I walked briefly through two aid stations in order to chew and swallow Sports Beans, but otherwise pushed on at a pace that I hadn't maintained for 13 miles in at least six months.  I ate at mile 5 and 9, and broke down and put my iPod on to combat my boredom at mile 7.

At about mile ten I was READY to be done.  But that is nothing new.   I ran a smart race and was moderately happy with my 2:32 finish.  The finish celebration was a mess; all of the family members got into line and helped themselves to all of the food/amenities for the runners.  Since  many of the runners had children and men in tow I was not too surprised, but I was disappointed since I never got to get my authentic Texas breakfast burrito!  I did take full advantage of the post-race mini-Bundt cake though...Actually I took TWO.  I had to be back at my hotel to shower and check-out so I didn't wait around for raffle prizes or get the massage.

Starting to plan out my race calendar for 2012.  I have seven more States to complete my "half2run" quest.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Provo Halloween Half-Marathon (State #17 half#22)

Well, I'm typing this up suffering with a cold that I picked up no doubt flying back across the country after the Provo Halloween Half-Marathon.

I went out there with 2 running friends and my sister, costume in tow for what I hoped would be a great race.  Not DO great in the race, but have fun.  Seems like I'm writing that a lot more often this year.  My weight is WAY up - went into this one at 195lbs. which is exactly 20 lbs heavier than I was last year.  All I do is talk about it, not do anything about it and my mood, habits and running have suffered greatly.

Back to the race report - I had hoped to do somewhere between a 2:45-2:55 but the first 5 miles of this race were all downhill and at mile 3 I pulled/strained my right soleus muscle.  I kept trying to slow down and relax before saying anything thinking that it would loosen up on its own.  It didn't.  At mile 5.5 we were held by the police for 2 minutes trying to cross a HIGHWAY (!) and immediately after I stopped at a port-a-potty (which I almost never do, but my body was out of whack) and waited TWELVE minutes in line!  About a half mile later I stopped to take a picture of a fly fisherman and our friends (who were walking it) caught up to us!  My sister and I decided that we'd walk with them for a while - that any time goal was probably shot.  Unfortunately walking was no better on my leg than running was, but it was a lot easier/more fun chatting and stopping for photo ops.

We walked the rest of the race and really had a great time.  In all, the race was a dissapointment (logistics), and people of Utah are NOT like anyone that I would normally associate with, but the scenery was absolutely unbelievable.  The trip was very expensive, but unfortunately I'm at that stage of my half2run quest as I've ticked off all of the surrounding states already.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"No feudin' just runnin" State 16/25 race report

As part of my “half2run” quest my sister and I headed south to the 12th running of the Hatfield & McCoy Half-Marathon.

As we made the five hour drive to the Tug River valley my apprehension mounted by the mile as we drove through the beautiful landscape.  Although it was absolutely beautiful, with tree covered lush dark green mountains, I could only wonder if the 1270 foot climb at mile six would look like one of them. 

My sister and I had made a detailed race strategy for this race.  After seeing the elevation chart we knew that this would not be a race to worry about our finishing time.  So, we decided that we would run it together and do everything possible to enjoy it and be entertained.  I decided that if I were hot and miserable, I’d need something to make me laugh so I came up with a nickname that she was to use throughout, “Brandine Po” and she would be called “Big Possum”.  All runners in this race are put into teams, you are either a Hatfield, or a McCoy and then the times are sorted to see which family “wins” the feud.  So, I was Brandine Po McCoy, and she was “Big Possum” Hatfield.

Although this is a very small race (500 runners total), Running Times had done a write-up about it, and I had also read a raving review by a blogger that I follow. 

The marathon is a loop course, and the half is a point-to-point.  The races are held in conjunction with the Hatfield & McCoy annual festival, and there are musicians, activities and a post-race pig roast to enjoy.  The elevation chart sums up the level of difficulty; the June 11th race date adds to the challenge with plenty of heat and humidity.

The race director is David Hatfield, a descendent of “Devil Anse” Hatfield, patriarch of the Hatfield family.  He is a wonderful character and a runner after my own heart, a 5-hour marathoner with a genuine love for runners and the sport.  He presided over the free pasta party the night before the race at a local high school.  We were entertained by a skit with local actors who portrayed “Devil Anse” Hatfield and Randolph “Rand’l” McCoy describing their historic feud.  David Hatfield couldn’t have been more welcoming and enthusiastic and assured us “as long as you finish before dark, when the shooting starts, you’ll be fine.”  Runners came from 40 of the 50 States, and although a quick look around the crowd showed a handful of serious (read, fast) runners, the majority of those present looked like they were there to enjoy running and time together.  David made special mention to those who had returned to run this race more than once.  Then he closed out the night by giving out lots of door prizes (interrupted by rambling, corny stories).

Race day temperatures were humid, but temperatures this year were moderate at the start.  The race started right on time and we headed into the hills of Kentucky.  There is a water stop at every mile or so, and we met the most friendly, wonderful people out on the course, and at the aid stations.  We stopped for a minute at just about every aid station to chat with the volunteers, some of who had worked hard on a theme.  Mile 10 took the cake with their “still” with overall clad volunteers, little buildings with “critters”, banjo music and a big jug of moonshine.

The course follows the path of historical feud sites and we took a minute at each to learn more about the history of feud between these two famous families. 

As we climbed to the peak of the 1270 foot mountain we were touched to see that race organizers had erected “thank you” signs every few feet with the names and addresses of all of the runners who had returned to run this race again.  We were behind a man who exclaimed “Hey!  This is me!”  These signs were a very nice touch appreciated by those who were being thanked as well as by the rest of us.  At the summit it started to POUR.  So we carefully trotted down to the base and made our way to the finish.

Finishers receive a big, heavy medal, a cold wet hand towel, and a moonshine jar with a plaque inside with their finisher’s position.  Age-category winners get a special lid for their jar.

This is a race for runners who enjoy traveling to races for the experience of seeing new places and meeting new people.  This “home town” race is now one of my favorites out of all the half-marathons I’ve done and I highly recommended it to runners of all abilities.

Kentucky: State 16/25