Running pic

Running pic
Yup, that's me!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Green Bay Half-Marathon Recap

So, my race did not go as I would have wanted it to. I believe that this is the wake-up call that I need to stop eating crap and, as my friend Natasha would say, ‘drop a few L.B.’s.’ But anyway, here’s the recap of the 2013 Green Bay Half-Marathon.

We all drove up Friday night with a brief stop in Milwaukee for dinner at a Southern-style restaurant where I had some awesome brisket. We continued on to Green Bay and checked in at our hotel.

Packet Pick-up: So easy. It’s held at Lambeau Field so there is plenty of parking and a large atrium/concourse area for the expo. There was no wait time and plenty of volunteers on hand to get me my packet. The shirt was so-so. It’s white this year which I don’t love because they tend to get pit-stains and other discolorations so easily. The only other thing in the packet besides the bib was a Boston wrist-band that they wanted us to wear for the race. There was a moment of silence before the race and they wanted everyone to hold up their arm with the wrist-band on. Sorry – if I didn’t train in it I’m not wearing it for a race, but I’m sure I’ll wear it for other things and shorter races.

Expo: The expo is pretty nicely sized with a variety of booths from retailers, races, accessories and products. I looked at a bunch of running clothes but ultimately didn’t buy anything because I so don’t need any new running clothes and the best deals were on winter gear and I’m pretty well stocked up in that department. I did stop by the booth for the Madison Mini Marathon because I had signed up on-line and wanted to see if they had any freebies and I scored a cup, a sweat towel and a pair of BMO Harris socks. I also got a chance to see the course map and the nice person working the booth sort of talked me through the sights and the terrain of the course. My husband who drove me up bought a pair of running shorts that he likes and I think he may order a few more pairs. He prefers a longer short because he’s seen the horror of the shorts wedgie too many times and doesn’t want to fall victim. The shorts he bought were Frank Shorter brand.

Saturday night dinner: Caesar salad, pasta with Bolognese sauce, a couple of pieces of bread, and one beer. This is pretty standard pre-race fare for anything 10+ miles. I was in bed and asleep by 10:30pm.

Race clothing: It was projected to get into the mid-70’s so I wanted to dress for warm weather. I chose my Nike Tempo 2-in-1 shorts that have a longer compression style undershort because they eliminate chafing in the thigh area. I picked a Roadrunner brand tank that – note – I have worn plenty of times before. My usual Nike compression style sports bra, a pair of Balega socks and my new-ish Saucony Kinvava 4’s rounded out the ensemble.  I had a small zip-lock baggie that I put 2 Clif Shot Blocks into and pinned it to my shorts. I also used my iPod shuffle and my Yurbuds because I knew I’d need every ounce of motivation I could get.

Race morning: Got up at 5am and had a cup of coffee, a glass of water and half a bagel with peanut butter. ‘Took care of business’ – if you have to ask, you’re not a runner. Got to the race site (also Lambeau Field) by 6:10am. Got in line for the port-a-potty and waited only about 10 minutes (I did have to pop to the front of the line and ask if there was a reason no-one was using the handicapped port-a-potty – there was no reason so people started using it and then the line moved 33% faster). I again ‘took care of business’. This was an ominous sign – the gut was not feeling 100%. But, the show must go on.

Gear check: I can’t comment since I had my husband with me and he was my gear check, but it looked like they had a ring of school busses around the parking lot and you had to find the bus that corresponded to your bib#. This seems to be a unnecessary expense – renting all those busses – but it also worked out well and it looked like people were able to get their gear checked and picked up easily.  The only bummer would have been if you were parked far away from the bus that was designated for your gear. Plus, if it had rained the gear would have been kept dry.

Lining up: So easy at this race. Unlike many races in Chicago – both larger and smaller – there is no shoving, no wedging of bodies. People in Wisconsin seem to like their personal space and the corrals only tightened up about a minute to race time. The race started right on time and like every race it was a little crowded at first, but it seemed that compared to many other races that most people had lined up pretty close to their actual running speed and since the course was entirely on streets it was plenty wide enough to pass people after about the first mile.

The course: It’s a nice course – not particularly scenic – with rolling small hills (for every uphill there is a corresponding downhill). It mostly winds through residential neighborhoods and people really come out to watch and support the runners, which is nice. There is a portion at the end that goes through a sort of ugly industrial district, but I think they have to do that to get you back to Lambeau for the final lap inside the stadium – which is pretty cool. I didn’t feel great the whole race and I did need to use an on-course port-a-potty which pretty much screwed my time. This was, I believe, my 3rd worst half-time. Boo. But, I’ll take it and the lessons I learned.

The medal: They always do a nice job and this year was no exception. It’s a nice, heavy football shaped medal with a quality ribbon that differs for the full and half people (especially nice for the marathoners who deserve special distinction).

Post-Race party: Very nice! There were rip off tags on the bib for 2 (yes, 2!) beers (or root beer if you’re under 21) and a brat – how very Wisconsin! If you were a spectator you could buy beer and brats, which is a nice touch – often spectators can’t get anything, even if they wanted to buy it. They also had chocolate milk, fruit, bagels and tons of water.  I guess it’s good to have a supermarket chain and a major brewery as your sponsors. They also had a band playing cover tunes and people seemed to be hanging around enjoying the party.

As I alluded to, my race wasn’t great. I was undertrained, gastro-intestinally challenged, and I am a wee bit porky – but – I love this race anyway and I’d certainly do it again. I also managed to chafe in an entirely new and awful place – the inside of my upper left arm.  Glide would have helped, but I didn’t think to use it since I’d run in that tank before without any problems.

Next up is the Soldier Field 10-Miler. I’m (again) not expecting to PR at this race distance, but I do think I’ll have fun. I know a ton of people doing the race and Soul Asylum is playing after the race! I really liked their old album Hang Time and I’m thinking of trying to contact them on FB or Twitter to request a couple of oldies. I know they still have room if you want to register for the race last minute -

Friday, May 17, 2013

Ragnar practice weekend

Hey! So, no races since the Ravenswood Run 5K, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out there running. I’ve been really good about maintaining the minimum 20-miles/week so that I can get in my 1000-mile goal for the year. In the two weeks following the race I’ve logged 22 and 23 miles and this week I’ll hit a recent high of 29 miles. It hasn’t all been boring slogs either – I took a runcation with some of my Ragnar teammates up to Wisconsin to get in a day of multi-runs.

We arrived at the rental property in Albany, WI on Friday evening at about 8:45pm and by 9:15 we had our running clothes on, our headlamps strapped on and we were out on the trail. It sounds a little creepy, but I’ve been up here before plenty of times and I know the trail well – it’s the Sugar River State Trail – a nice rails-to-trails project that is flat, has few road crossings and cuts through mostly farmland so the chance of running into another human is pretty much nil at that time of night. Despite my assurances of safety we still managed to get freaked out by strange noises that in reality were probably just spring peepers (that’s frogs – not peeping Toms). We did our 5 miles and got back in time to make a quick pasta dinner, shower and then go to bed.  The next day brought the same times two about 2 hours apart to get the feeling of running on tired legs. Then we showered again and headed to the nearby New Glarus brewery for some yummy beers and a bag of cheese curds in their tap room. Only one beer for us on our nearly empty stomachs and then we headed into New Glarus proper to have ‘linner’ at the Glarner Stube. We split an order of delicious fried cheese curds and in a most uninspired manner we all had the wienerschnitzel and rosti potatoes– what can I say? It was fantastic!

After linner we walked around town a little bit but were pretty pooped so we headed back to the house for a nap. We all came to around 7pm and we sat around and drank wine until it was time to go to sleep again – sorry to bust the myth that runners are CRAZY PARTYERS. At least not my crew of runners.  The next day we woke up, made a big breakfast of eggs, chicken sausage, and leftover rosti potatoes and then cleared out and headed home. 15 miles broken into three segments isn’t really that much, but it does give you the feeling of hitting the road when you’re stiff and a little creaky and it’s good practice.

This weekend I’m heading up to Wisconsin again – Green Bay this time – for their half-marathon. This is the site of my half PR two years ago – 1:55 & change – but I don’t expect to beat that time or really even come particularly close. I’ll be the first to admit that during my injury I kept eating like I was running 20-30 miles/week and the resulting 10 # is definitely slowing me down. But, I love this race. For a smaller city race they have great crowd support , a fun expo, a lap around Lambeau Field, and a finishline beer & brat. I’ll be back next week with a race review.