Saturday, February 26, 2011

For the love of Gasparilla?:)

We got up at 5 a.m. on Saturday, February 26th for our second Gasparilla, the big, annual classic race weekend event in Tampa. I was signed up for the 5K and Mike for his first 15K. We were both really tired! Mike's goal was to finish in under an hour and a half and mine was to just re-engage with the whole 'love of running' thing which hasn't been there lately for some reason :(. I really loved Gasparilla last year - it was only my third 5K and among 11 thousand runners I felt part of something so much bigger than myself. It's hard to get a good time at this race with that many people which takes off the pressure too:).


The Expo at the Convention was fantastic as usual and we 'kitted out' with tons of new running clothes...:)


Here's Mike on the right going over the line at 7 a.m. for his 9.3 mile race!!! I felt so stinking proud of my hubby :).

 
And he's in - in under an hour and 15 mins!!!



If I ever get a medal for completing a 15K I will sleep in it for the rest of my life...


The 5K lined up for a 9:30 start and it had started to get really hot which I always struggle with. It was high 70s with the sun just beating down on Bayshore and no shade. I had to dig deep...


And then I remembered the 15K wheelchair race. The winner completed 9.3 miles in only 31 minutes. At one point apparently he actually broke the speed limit on Bayshore ;)

video

And then I saw 23-year-old Iraqi war hero, Joel Tavera, running with a prosthetic limb. How can you not feel totally inspired?


The winner of the 5K broke the course record at under 15 minutes...OMG!!


During my race I have never seen as many people fainting and throwing up. One guy who looked like he was in his 70s fell and had blood pouring all down his face. Several runners had already stopped to help so I kept running but it was hard to relax with so many people who looked like they were dying. One guy nearly did according to the news story they published later. Apparently the girl who gave him CPR was actually in a Wonder Woman costume...how ironic :).


I have to admit, I was grateful for all of the walkers who were in the way since I was so hot I don't think I could have ran any faster anyhow :). I was very happy when I was done! (Bib 8332 in the picture below...)


Mike had a great experience and I found out later that my chip time was 31:10 which I was actually really proud of! I didn't exactly 'feel the running love' however - I'm going to have to do some work to get used to the heat since that probably isn't going to change and I do live in Florida :).

So that's 5 events done so far for 2011 before the end of February and my goal was only 6 for the year. I think I'm going to take a little break. I think I deserve it :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moonlight Madness at Bootleg Canyon

This was my first (and maybe last:)) attempt at a destination race. Since we were in Vegas for a long weekend I found the 'Moolight Madness - Desert Dash' 5K on active.com and thought it would be cool to try trail running in the desert at nighttime. The website said:

"Trail running is such a great way to get out and explore and with our group runs and races you are sure to be on some of the sweetest singletrack trails around. We also offer our own unique Moonlight Madness races...what better way to have fun than to get out in the dirt under the full moon!"

The organizers seemed experienced and it sounded like a lot of fun. We arrived at Bootleg Canyon with the 'BC' in the mountain (just outside Boulder City) just as the sun was going down...


It was very cold and windy so we stayed in the car. It was only then that we started to wonder just how well the trails were going to be marked and if this was really such a good idea after all...


When the sun goes down in the desert, it is absolutely pitch black...


We did love the hats in our race packets though...


At the pre-race meeting the organizers claimed that the trails were really well marked and there would be several experienced desert runners out there to make sure that no one got lost. They checked that we all had lights (I had bought ours at the running store which clipped onto our hats) and had a medic explain the protocol if anyone were to get injured. To be honest, that was the only clue that we may be embarking on something that could in any way be dangerous...I saw a mom with her two children so I told Mike I would be fine and to run ahead and said I'd stay with the mom so that I wasn't alone.
So the race began...after just a few minutes of turning my ankle on really narrow and rocky trails I realized I was going to get hurt if I ran. It was kind of like hiking in the dark since our cap-lights were really hopeless and the sky was too cloudy for there to be any moonlight. I stayed focused on the girl in front of me as best as I could and followed her for about a mile or so. I kept thinking that at some point we would get onto a surface fit for running on but it just didn't happen and it was too late to turn back. In fact at a couple of points in the course I actually had to use my hands to climb upwards! Then, all of a sudden, after about a half an hour, I realized that I was completely alone. I did my best to follow the reflectors that had been set up and started running again just to get out of there. I don't think I've ever been so frightened. Eventually I ran into a race organizer who told me that I was on the half marathon course. He told me that about seven of us (there were less than 50 in total) had all gone the wrong way and then had the nerve to suggest that I shouldn't have signed up if I wasn't experienced. Gotta love the guy...on their Facebook a few days before it had said:

"Moonlight Madness is coming up fast and there's one last chance before the race to get out on the Bootleg trails in the dark with the people that know them well... Yes, newbies are welcome! Come out and play for a bit."

Anyway, the guy kept pointing vaguely into the darkness and saying, you can rejoin the trail if you round that mountain over there and I started losing my ever-loving mind. Then another runner came by who was also off-course. Janie had injured herself on the 10K and had tried to follow the 5K to get back. We decided to find our way back together. We vented about how frustrating the whole experience was as we found our way back to civilization. I am so grateful to have found her - she was a complete sweetheart! As we crossed the line at 1 hour and 30 minutes, Mike looked like he'd gone to hell and back when I saw him - he had also gotten off course and then been stranded out there by a couple of the 'helpful, experienced desert runners.' He was so relieved when he realized that I was OK. There were still a handful of runners missing (including Janie's husband who ended up doing the half) so it was all very chaotic and emotional when I got in. I nearly punched the guy when he gave my the race medal but feel strangely attached to it now somehow...


I'm still processing what happened so I can't say exactly what I learned from the experience yet. Mike said he feels like he can take on anything now. Maybe I'll look back and feel something other than angry at the organizers one day...I certainly hope so...:)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My first (and Mike's second) triathlon - I can't believe I did it!!!!

I was poking around on active.com on Thursday and found a local-ish Sprint Triathlon designed for first-timers and with a pool swim too! I have only technically completed a few weeks of my 13-week triathlon training program but I just have been feeling so strong lately so I decided to take the plunge and sign up for my first one this weekend! Mike volunteered to do it with me so we both got up at 5:15 a.m on Superbowl Sunday and headed for Sarasota for the Superbowl Sprint Y Tri...!!
They don't give you a whole lot of information in advance (or I probably wouldn't have signed up :)) but once you arrive there are Sarasota 'Storm Team' Triathletes everywhere to help you. First you have to register and get your body marked up. I didn't realize that the number on your leg is your age at the end of the calendar year - like I needed a reminder...


Then we set up in the Transition area with all of the paraphernalia that you need for each event. The Transition was definitely the part that I was feeling most confident about since I'm very proud of my organizational abilities :)


At the kick off meeting they explained the rules and how the whole thing works and told some really inspirational stories. As if that weren't moving enough, they traditionally start the event each year with one of the club members taking three disabled althetes each through a phase of the course. Totally amazing and inspirational...


The Swim...
The swim was really well organized and we were seeded in order of our predicted finish time and separated by 10 seconds to avoid too much overtaking in the water. There was also plenty of room in the lanes and I actually managed to jump ahead of a couple of people and even some guys! I was really surprised at how tiring 8 laps (400 mtrs) really was though and together with the nerves and excitement I was quite out of breath when I finished the first event.


The Bike...
I have never actually biked for 12 miles before so I was most nervous about this part. And rightfully so. If I never go another day without hearing "passing on the left!" I'm OK with it. I'm just not fully comfortable with biking yet at all so I really struggled to get in a riding position that didn't hurt. I also can't pace myself yet either so I had no idea how far I'd gone at any point throughout the event. So when I first thought 'I've been biking forever - this must be nearly over' I asked one of the race officials how much longer there was to go. She said 'I think you're about half-way' and I think I felt my heart break physically in two. Anyway, I got myself together and after what seemed like about 2 miles later I looked down and realized that the bike lane was actually marked along the way. Some of it looked like it was written in some kind of secret code but there was no disguising the one that said "Half Way To Go..." I nearly cried. Anyway, I felt a bit better when a girl in front of me fell off her bike (at least I was still on mine) and sucked it up and pedaled away. I was so miserable and just couldn't wait to hit the pavement for the run. I kept thinking - I know how to run! And it's only 2.2 miles! Then I'm done! Finally the bike was over and I was astonished to discover that I wasn't dead last at all!! And there's Mike in the Transition area! Did I catch him up on my bike?! Really? No...he must have waited for me so that we can run together...that's so sweet :). What's that Mike? You've done the run already...OMG - shoot me now...

The Run...
The run wasn't pavement at all but a trail run. And now I realize for the first time that not only do my legs no longer work properly after all the swim/biking but also running on a trail is harder than the kind of running I usually do. This will likely be the longest 2.2 miles of my running career. But only a crazy person stops at this point. So...I did the two loops and Mike did the second one with me :). And the great news was that several people (in fact about half) have actually started walking now so I can do some "passing on the left" of my own!


Here's Mike during his run sometime earlier...:)


The Big Finish...
I lost my ever-loving mind when I finally crossed the finish line - I can honestly say I've never felt anything quite like it!

Post-race pics...


I feel incredibly proud of myself and so very lucky that my 40-year-old body is capable of so much more than I ever imagined. Now I can't help but wonder what else I can do...:)