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24 Apr 2013

So it’s no secret I’m a Disney fan. Seven years ago one of the biggest motivators in my even considering a half marathon was a newspaper ad announcing the Inaugural Disneyland Half Marathon. The medal was so shiny:

I was way too scared/lazy/out of shape to even make an attempt at that first event. In fact it was five years before I crossed the finish line and earned a medal. I have a blog of my experience HERE.

But Disney races are like Doritos, you can never be happy with just one. And this year? Disney announced a new challenge:

DUMBO.

Dumbo consists of a 10K (6.2 miles) on Saturday followed by a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Sunday. So you get a medal for each race and a bonus medal for finishing both the same weekend. Three medals in two days. Woohoo!

Today Disney released the Jeff Galloway Dumbo training plan. I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet but it’s linked HERE.

If you are interested in other Disney training plans click HERE.

I have a countdown on the top right of this blog. Dumbo is Labor Day. I always said I’d enjoy running right around the time elephants could fly. I never figured Disney into that equation. LOL!

I’m so excited I can barely stand it.

26 Jun 2012
Categorized As: CarbKiller, race details, running

Yesterday after over a month of phone tag, HZ and I managed to actually have a conversation. For the first time in over a year.

Okay it was more like a year and a half.

And do you know what a year and a half means? Well in our case it started out with “how have you been?” and ended with me agreeing to fly to Little Rock for Little Rock Marathon Weekend in 2013. That’s right, Little Rock registration isn’t even open yet (August 1st) but by golly I’ve agreed!

HZ is running the half and I am so excited to join Team Melf in her hometown! So the question is this. Do I run a half marathon with one of my favorite people? Or do I commit to the full enchilada and run the Little Rock Marathon. Remember Little Rock? The one with the crazy medal? Last year’s medal was glittery purple and HUGE. This thing would turn heads in Vegas. So of course I want one.

 

Decisions, decisions. Run with the half or run the full? What do y’all think?

7 Jan 2011
Categorized As: CarbKiller, race details

I’ve seen two quotes recently that I thought were pretty cool. First:

“It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

and another:

“Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” Margaret Shepard

I finished three half marathons in 2009. That was 39.3 race miles more then 2008 where I sat on my butt for most of the year and I might have swiped my 24hour fitness card may be a dozen times.

In 2010 (the year of crappy blogging) I logged 223.7 race miles. That doesn’t include training runs and it didn’t include the 14.6 miles of Marine Corps Marathon which I don’t count because I didn’t finish. Most of those miles are from May to December.

14 half marathons (my two streaks are 4 in 37 days and 8 in 84 days)

one 10K

A 10k is 6.2 miles which is kind of a weird distance. I did it so I could get a medal that said 10k on 10-10-10. The best part? The medal they gave out was the size of about two pennies laid side by side and didn’t have the date on it! Small medals I’m okay with, I’m even okay with sticker medals (a medal with a sticker on it to display the details) but a generic medal on such a neat date? Race fail!

eleven 5Ks

It’s still my worst distance. I mean really truly kicks my butt. The first two miles are always hard on me for some reason and when your whole race is 3.1 miles anyway that doesn’t give you a lot of room.

2010 Recap (the best, the worst, and stuff that made me laugh)

OVERALL FAVORITE RACE: The Marine Corps Marathon- I know I didn’t finish it but the course was fabulous and what I would have given to be able to run the rest of it. I did see it from the sweeper bus but it just isn’t the same.

LEAST FAVORITE:   Columbia Half Marathon- it was horribly run, incredibly dangerous and I wish I could afford to hire a skywriter to warn the runners before next years race. If you missed the details check out my BLOG about it.

HARDEST: Rock and Roll Los Angeles 1/2 Marathon- Now don’t get me wrong the race itself was actually great but it was the week before the Marine Corps Marathon and mentally I freaked out. From my very first mile. It actually got to the point where two friends were text messaging me nonstop encouragement and I just put my phone away. For me that’s bad.

FLATTEST: Long Beach 1/2 Marathon- Last year I did this race and they ran out of medals. This year I walked the entire course with my friend Brandi’s mom Pam. It was her first half marathon and an amazing experience. I also realized something pretty important. No matter how many races I do there are always people who have done dozens if not hundreds more races then I have. I had gotten so used to being the most clueless/inexperienced person in the group it really shocked me when I realized I was actually an experienced runner. Crazy!

MOST SCENIC: Malibu 1/2 Marathon- It was a point to point race where you park at the finish line and a bus takes you to the start. You have to go the 13.1 miles back to the finish. The start was right on the beach (we were all stading around next to the sand waiting for the start and two pods of dolphins swam by, plus I saw a sea lion. It was the coolest thing EVER. Running along Pacific Coast Highway where all the movie stars live didn’t hurt either!

BEST MEDAL: Disneyland 1/2 Marathon- I have wanted it for so very long and the anniversary bling was a bonus.

LEAST FAVORITE MEDAL: Magic Mountain 10K- What genius decided a generic medal was a good idea on 10-10-10? NOT COOL!

SMALLEST EVENT: Los Angeles County Holiday 5k- A small race but the race organizers were fabulous and the  medals were awesome!

LARGEST EVENT: Rock and Roll Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon- Me and 28,000 other people running up and down the Las Vegas strip. And when we got to the finish line there was a concert with Bret Michels.

MOST UNIQUE: San Francisco 1/2 Marathon- I literally got talked into doing the race 48 hours before the race started. I signed up online at 10:30am Friday morning, threw a bunch of stuff in a bag and was in my car driving to San Francisco by noon. The weather was perfect, the scenery was interesting (I don’t know much about S.F.), and at the finishline I received my first ever bonus medal.

MOST FUN: MLB All Star Charity 5K- Ran past Jillian Michels from The Biggest Loser and looped the field at Anaheim Stadium before reaching the finishline.

BEST CAUSE: Operation Jack 1/2- A great race for a great cause (Autism).

MOST ORGANIZED: Run Racing Events- Both the Long Beach Marathon weekend and the LA County Holiday Half weekend were incredibly well organized.

BEST DESTINATION: Carlsbad 1/2 Marathon- Still my personal best half marathon time but it was such a beautiful course and the residents are so fabulous and supportive.

JUST PLAIN FUNNY: Oceanside Turkey Trot 5K- The race was Thanksgiving morning and they had a costume contest for the runners. People were wearing fake turkey hats, one woman dressed up as a football game, my favorite was the man and his wife duo. She was dressed like a turkey and he was dressed like a chef with a fake meat cleaver and he chased her the entire 3.1 mile. And we got free piggy banks you could decorate yourself at the finish line.

13 Nov 2010
Categorized As: CarbKiller, race details, running

Introducing the 35th anniversary Marine Corps Marathon medal along with the front of the race shirt. Best race shirt EVER by the way, I’ll take better pictures of it later because it really deserves to be cataloged. I have to say there are very few things in this world more extraordinary then starting a race course surrounded by members of the military and running past the gravestones of all the soldiers who laid down their lives in defense of our nation at Arlington National Cemetery. It’s truly humbling.

That being said there is something you should know. That’s not my medal.

What?

Really, it’s not my medal. You see I started the Marine Corps Marathon but I didn’t finish it.

And let me tell you it is really temping to end this blog entry there. I tried and I failed right? We can add MCM to a long list of diets, piano lessons and high school calculus.

I’m sure if I asked some key people I could add to that list pretty quickly but you get the picture.

I know some of you are disappointed. Really truly disappointed. Maybe you’re disappointed for me. Maybe you’re disappointed in me. Maybe you’re doing the crazy fat girl mind meld and thinking “hell if she can’t do it and she’s done all these other races I’ll never do it.”

Stop that! Seriously.

I have failed all over the place in my life. Hell look at this blog. When we started this we promised to blog daily. Um…yeah big fat failure there too. Heck, if you think about it Failure is just about the scariest F word out there. But I did fail. I failed at 14.6 of 26.2 and had to get on a school bus because my foot was so beat up I needed a ride to the finish line (or preferably to my hotel but I had to settle for the finish line).

That being said I have to tell you a secret: even as a big fat failure the Marine Corps Marathon is AWESOME. If you get a chance click HERE for the course map. (Beware it’s an Adobe PDF document and it might take some time). Any course that runs past The Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetary, along the Potomac River, past the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and along the entire loop of the Mall in DC past the Capital Building and back towards the Pentagon to end at the Marine Corps Memorial (the Iwo Jima Statue) is pretty amazing. I’m more upset about missing the chance to run the rest of the race course then I am about missing the medal (and we all know how much I love medals).

At the same time I don’t want to mislead you. I’m not feeling jolly and Tigger-like about not finishing. It sucks. I knew a couple dozen people on the course from my various running experiences and not finishing in front of them stunk. Returning home to California without a medal also stunk. The Marine Corps Marathon was celebrating it’s 35th Anniversary and I missed the ANNIVERSARY medal. But you want to know the biggest stink bomb of all?

The DATE of the Marine Corps Marathon? October 31st? It was the 2500th Anniversary to the day of the running of the first marathon in Greece.

And really when you fail in the attempt to celebrate 2500 years of history you’ve pretty much hit rock bottom.

Or so I thought.

A week after I royally failed MCM Edison Pena one of the miners trapped underground in Chile for 69 days finished the New York City Marathon.

::crickets::

Isn’t that horrible? Don’t you feel sorry for me? I mean from all appearances I have every reason to plop my ass back on the couch and pretend this running thing was a bad dream right?

I’ve learned a lot in the past year but my most important realization is that in life there are only two kinds of people: people who show up, and people who don’t. Whatever else happened, even if I’d had a cramp and quit the course before the first mile, I still showed up.

At 4:30am on October 31, 2010 I took the D.C. Metro to the Pentagon station. I was nervous, I was excited and I was determined. On that day my determination didn’t carry me across the finish line. It did, however, carry me 14.6 mile.

Next time I will go the distance.

7 Jun 2010

Want to know where I was Sunday, May 30th?

Lets try this word association-style.

OJ Simpson

White Bronco

Why YES! I was in Brentwood, California whose residents have spent the last 16 years rolling in wealth and trying to live down their notorious former neighbor. (It has been 16 years how scary is that?)

For those too young to remember, or anyone who was too busy playing professional beer pong during that time period click HERE and read the lengthy “legal history” to mend that gap in your cultural literacy.

Anyway, OJ was chased by the cops whereas I got to run past them.

So the good news was I got to run the city streets for 3.1 miles. The bad news is that it was my first race where I actually RAN since the beginning of March. And that kind of break is never pretty.

Let me just stop complaining and give it to you in pictures right?

Okay I have to share this one because it freaks me out. This is the ground at the VA where I parked. What the heck are those holes? Are they snake holes? Are they gofer holes? Am I about to score a free game of whac-a-mole? Yes, these are the things I think about 20 minutes before a race. I’m not really much for profound thoughts at 6:30 on a Sunday morning.

Anyway, I finally tore myself away from these freaky mysterious holes and took off for the starting line.

And this is the first thing I saw when I got to the race:

Now any true runner will tell you this is a fabulous and welcome sight. Note there is NO LINE. That means you if you have a nervous bladder you don’t have to worry about getting in lines three times.

Anyway, I like to call this area the Olympic Village. I like telling running buddies “hey I’m heading to the Olympic village, I’ll catch you at the start.” It sounds so much classier then “I gotta pee. Again.” The truth is I only suffer from nervous bladder when I see exponentially long lines at the pre-race porta potties. Seeing no line made me realize I was guaranteed not to have to pee and that makes me feel like a winner right there.

So instead of lingering I went straight to the check in and picked up my treats.

With the exception of the shirt and the $10 off Dick’s Sporting Goods (Best swag ever!), all the other items were from the race expo. It was an excellent expo for a 5K.

I ran my treats back to the car and headed for the starting line.

It was quite a nice patriotic touch for Memorial Day weekend.

**thumbsup**

Then came the race

See all those runners? They’re trying not to make eye contact with the guy in the cop car on the right.

Kidding.

Anyway, these are all the people that smoked past me. Including the short kids in the middle. But that’s okay because I have:

And therefore I’m happy.

Not all 5Ks give out medals. Actually most 5Ks don’t give out medals which is a stinking shame because a little bling at the end of a sweaty distance never hurt anyone.

All in all it was actually a lovely race experience and I plan to do it again next year (provided they have a medal of course).

6 Jun 2010

Today I spent an hour and some change watching the Lakers play the Celtics at the gym. I’d gone there with the intention of doing four miles (maybe six) and walked in during the 3rd quarter of the game. Now, the fact that I didn’t know the Lakers were playing tonight should probably tell you something. The fact that I was the only person in the gym who (silently) cheered when the Celtics won should tell you something too. But it was a nice distraction considering my fabulous running watch had a dead battery and I forgot my ipod.

An hour and five minutes later I got off the treadmill knowing tomorrow morning Kobe Bryant will be crying in his Wheaties. Heh.

And you know what I also realized?

The World Cup is coming!

The World Cup is coming!

Check the schedule HERE

Understand I know nothing, heck I know LESS then nothing about soccer. But I love it. LOVE THE SPORT!

You know what I mean?

No?

NOW do you know what I mean?

Meet Cristiano Ronaldo, he is a baby, and a manwhore, and he’s Portuguese which frustrates me because that is a language I can’t even pretend to understand.

But he looks really nice shirtless.

Really REALLY nice.

As do so many of the futballers.

So I’ll be watching World Cup on the treadmill, and preparing for the America’s Finest City Half Marathon. AFC is San Diego, CA. On August 15th. I’m going to burn like a poptart and melt like a ball of wax but I’m hoping to outsmart the Endless Summer and cross the finish line before the heat gets to me.

Here is a picture of their bling from 2007

I borrowed that picture from THIS Flickr site. That dude runs his races exponentially faster then I do so he’ll probably be on his sixth beer by the time I get my medal.

So I’m in training for this and the Marine Corps Marathon.

But if any of those World Cup guys decide to pull a Brandi Chastain and yank off their shirts before, during or after their games I would be okay with that.

Just sayin’

1 Mar 2010
Categorized As: CarbKiller, race details

First let me apologize for disappearing. I have completed two races since I last posted here. I ran a phenomenal race at Carlsbad (San Diego, CA) and almost broke the 3 hour barrier. I also completed the Columbia Half Marathon this weekend. Please bear with me I will come back and post updates on all the things I’ve been up to but I really need to post this first.

A lot of people visit this blog for advice, curiosity and support. Have you ever wondered if there is a worst case scenario? I just completed a worst-case scenario race. Please, please learn from my mistakes and take note of this race series. These are very poorly run races and are NOT a good idea for inexperienced competitors. 

I will also post a number of blogs in the coming month about specific gear and race strategies you can use for your own benefit.

The good news is that I just finished my 5th half marathon. The bad news you can read for yourself:

I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out how to articulate the disaster that was my Columbia Half Marathon. I’ve tried big words, little words, and a fair number of cuss words. I dumped them all and decided to start over and just tell it like it was.

This race was an unexpected addition to my race schedule. Instead of doing 6 Southern California half marathons as modified long runs preparing for the LA Marathon in mid March I found myself on a five-month contract in Charlotte, NC. The race calendar in the Charlotte area is quite sparse compared to SoCal so I found myself branching out. It turned out Columbia about 2 hours south had an inaugural race which part of what appears to be a newly-formed series. The Columbia is the first race of the USRA Half Marathon Series (USRARaceSeries.com) a 18-city nationwide Half Marathon Series in mid-to-small size markets. It sounded like a good deal to me so I signed up.

I’ll admit I was a little annoyed when the website stated “no race-day packet pickup” but I drove 2 hours to visit the expo hoping to at least see some new gear or something. The expo had 4 tables. One table sold vitamins, another sold a cube display for medals, a third was for the April Palmetto (again Columbia, SC) half marathon I was planning to run and a fourth which was bland enough to not even register on my radar. I was given my bib, shirt and goody bag with flyers for future USRA series races, a discount flyer for a local massage place, a tourist brochure for Columbia and a couple safety pins.

It also, fortuitously, had a course map.

I had driven down with a friend for company and we returned to Charlotte just in time to realize I didn’t have a timing chip. They’d never mentioned a timing chip to me, I hadn’t seen them being passed out, it wasn’t attached to my bib and none of the info I had from the race mentioned where to find it. I’ve run a half dozen races and I’ve never had that problem so I panicked and called the number on the map. That turned out to be the guy who certified the course for the USATF. Oops. Then I emailed the race from the address on the website. No response. Then I called the Hilton hotel (where the expo was being held)
and asked the desk clerk to please take a message to the race director. No response.

I should have taken that as a sign.

My race day began with a car thermometer that told me it was 27 degrees outside. I was more then a little worried about that because I haven’t run outside in Charlotte yet. Still, I began my chilly drive at 5am with plenty of time for an 8am race start. A Google map search led me right to the race start which was fabulous because it wasn’t the same place as the expo (pretty rare for small races). I found parking easily and couldn’t help but notice the huge banner that screamed “TIMING CHIPS.”

Oh! Eureka!

I picked up my chip, laced it up and was ready to go. Except I didn’t know where to go. There was a large orange cone behind the timing chip table and I was joking with a friend on instant messenger that it was the “unmarked starting cone.” A bullhorn announcement told us the starting line was at the top of the small hill behind us so we all treked over there. No starting banner. No timing pad or carpet or anything that I saw. No clearly deliniated starting point of any kind that I could see. I saw the usual array of unique characters dressed in a wide array of clothing based on 27 degree temperatures and
walked around a bit to keep warm. When the time came to start the race there was no gun. No, there was a guy who shouted “GO!” really loudly. I would have thought it was a joke but all the runners started moving forward so we were off.

I hit the start button on my Garmin when I realized there really was no timing pad. I must have hit it in the right place because the mileage seemed pretty accurate when compared to mile markers.

I started the race, as always, at a run. I ran a good portion of the first mile. I remember looking down at my Garmin and thinking “wow at this pace I’ll smoke my Carlsbad PR!” I knew I couldn’t maintain that because I hadn’t trained (at all) but I was thrilled that my body felt good and I couldn’t feel shin splints. Initially there were cops EVERYWHERE which was great. Officers were directing traffic at intersections, keeping an eye on runners, etc. Imagine my surprise 1.5 miles in when a cop drove about 10 feet behind me on the street for about 2 tenths of a mile in his patrol vehicle. Was I really the last person in the race? It wouldn’t be the first time but I was shocked that a sub 13 minute mile left me in dead last position.

It hadn’t. After awhile, during which time I was very nervous and kept glancing over my shoulder because the police car was 10 feet behind me emitting exhaust in my direction if nothing else. I saw a handful of women stragglers up ahead so I picked up the pace a bit hoping to at least get near them so the cop car guy could see there were several of us together and not follow so closely. Didn’t matter. The officer finally used his bullhorn to order “If you’re going to walk then you have to use the sidewalk!” The posted course time limit was 4 hours, I was exactly 22 minutes and just over 1.5 miles into the race
and they’re telling me to use sidewalks? This was for a course advertised as walker friendly? WTF!

As we all know if a race advertises a course time limit then the roads are closed for the duration of that time limit unless runners are slower then that time limit. In this case a 4 four hour time limit meant the road should have been open to us unless we were slower then an 18:30 minute mile and I was WAY under that at a sub 13 minute. So here I am moving at a pace fast enough to beat the bridge for the Marine Corps Marathon and I am being redirected to the sidewalk for the walker friendly Columbia Half Marathon. The sidewalks were nothing to write home about either. Basically it was a disaster.

Fortunately or unfortuantely I’d already decided to take the race easy because I was scheduled for a second local half marathon in Charlotte next weekend so I moved to the sidewalk confused, but undeterred. The rest of the racers had sped up and I was about to follow then but I happened to notice one woman walking by herself near me. She looked really worried. A quick conversation later I knew her name was Dee, it was her first half marathon, she’d told her husband she wanted to get more active before they retired and her longest workout to date was 6 miles.

The cop following us in the car had freaked her out (heck it freaked me out and I’m a 5 time half marathon finisher). I told her not to worry she was doing fine and she gave me the a tense smile. At that point my first race played back in my head. If I hadn’t had course buddies there was no way I would have finished that thing. I glanced at her one more time, mentally getissoned my faster pace and and told her I’d be her walking buddy. I actually remember saying “don’t worry, I’ll do the race with you.” I have no idea why I made that promise because I’d spoken with her for about 3 minutes and I had hoped to jog at least some of the course but the whole thing at that point was just so surreal I couldn’t bear to leave her behind. I explained my how my Garmin worked, told her we were making phenomenal time. She relaxed. At that point we were walking a 15:30 mile.

Not too far after that we reached a major intersection in the road. The race course crossed a major boulevard. Imagine our surprise when we found no police at all and had to wait for the little white walking man to light up so we could cross like ordinary pedestrians. One street later there was a little two lane suburban road and there was a policeperson directing traffic at that intersection but the previous boulevard had been unmanned. We hadn’t reached the 3 mile marker yet. Ironically we also hadn’t reached a water stop yet although the website specifically stipulated that there would be a water stop every 2 miles. I was already worried about hydrating every two miles. It turned out the race officials had changed water stops to every three miles without making a note of that anywhere. Thank goodness for my 16oz Camelbak bottle.

We reached the first water stop and I actually stopped moving to refill my water and grab extra and extra cup of water and powerade. Dee took one cup of water but I figured she must have a bottle in the little mini backpack she was carrying. Big mistake. The course continued and went on to mile 4. By mile 5 I couldn’t see mile markers anymore I was relying strictly on my Garmin. Mile 6’s water stop was right next to Mile 13 (the second part of the course looped back on the first). There was no water just a bunch of discarded cups on the street. Dee and I also picked up another friend, also a first time half marathoner.

At that point I remember thinking maybe they moved the water stop forward a bit so the traffic from 13 wouldn’t interfere with 6. I’d never heard of that happening before but it was a race of firsts so who knew? I realized we were sunk before mile 7. At one point the road turned and I saw a lone man dressed in jeans wearing an orange vest with a walkie talkie in his hand about a tenth of a mile away from me. I sprinted up to him and after confirming he was course support I told him we hadn’t
had any water at mile 6, I had one buddy who hadn’t had water in almost 4 miles and asked what was going on.

He told me the police had reported there were no more competitors so they shut down. I told him now he knew this was clearly not true. He told me there would be water at the next water stop. I told him “Look if that’s mile 9 this woman can’t wait for over 2 miles to have a drink. I have a bottle she doesn’t. You need to get water out here. At least bottles or something.” He apologized, said it would be taken care of and we continued. Dee thanked me for speaking up and I apologized on behalf of runners, races and competent race directors everywhere. We also picked up two more walkers a woman and her daughter-in-law. The woman was doing her first half marathon and her DIL was her buddy.

It was a convenient time really because we were about to walk down Klapman, a street that I referred to on Facebook as a “Freeway” because the speed limit was 50 mph and cars were clearly exceeding that. There was one coned lane (we assumed for us but there were no markings suggesting that). That was all that was between us and the cars. We walked the equivalent of two exits and then climbed the exit ramp literally taking our lives into our hands because there were no cones and there was no shoulder on the pavement. We reached 9th street and it was worse then the freeway.

Now we were walking against traffic in a coned lane but cars were driving in the coned lane and honking at us. We would walk on grass, gravel, shoulders, or sidewalks. Whatever was available at the moment. I think the only thing that kept us going at that point was there were five of us together. They all appeared relieved to have someone who had done it before and they were delighted with my Garmin because they knew for sure they were moving at a speed fast enough to make it under 4 hours. They could also ask how many miles we’d gone and get an exact response. Viva Garmin.

I remember asking Dee, my initial walking buddy at one point around mile 8 if she wanted to cut part of the course. This was a woman whose longest walk had been 6 miles pre race day. She’d reached mile 8 with only one cup of water in 2 hours and 30 minutes. The sun was shining, she didn’t have a cap or sunglasses. I’ve never cut a course in my life but I was willing to cut here and there if she needed it. She looked at me and said, “I’ve come this far I’m not cutting now.” I think that’s the best example I could give for why I decided to stay with the newbies. They were truly fabulous people.

So we stuck it out.

At mile 9 there was our second (and last) water stop. That water stop consisted of two guys with SUVs, two tables, two orange gatorade coolers and a half dozen filled cups on the table. They were stunned to see us. Apaprently the cops had told them the race was over and they should pack it up and leave. They stayed, not because the course support guy I spoke with at mile 7 called them, but because they felt like they should. They asked if we knew we were the last runners and we said we didn’t know but we thanked them profusely for sticking it out. If it hadn’t been for them…I don’t want to think about it.

At that point the cones had run out before mile nine and we were relying exclusively on the not to scale course map I’d folded into oragami and jammed into my spibelt. The water renewed our resolve and our enthusiasm. I was able to take my first Gu of the race not because I particularly needed the energy but because I felt like I should. I told anecdotes from friends, my own silly running experiences and random advice. My friend Deb Facebooked me a funny cannibal joke and I shared with the group. We got a good laugh. Other friends sent me inspirational running quotes and high fives. I passed them along.

When the map confused us (the map was cheerfully labeled “not to scale”) we asked local residents directions. In one case I flagged down a car and asked how far away our next turn was. We walked narrow roads with no shoulder and a deep ditch filled with water on the bottom on one side. We crossed busy intersections without any support but a standard traffic light. I cannot conceive of what lunacy inspired the USATF guy to certify this disaster as an official course. I realize he anticipated police presence but wow.

By mile 10 we’d lost our most recent walking buddy and her DIL. They’d stopped for a potty break and were about half a mile behind. The two women with me were in no shape to stop so they could catch up, and Dee was looking particularly grim. The DIL in an inspired moment ran to catch up with me so she could ask if they were still on track for time. I remember saying “You have an hour and ten minutes to finish less then 3 miles. At her current pace she could walk it really slowly and still finish.”

Mile 12 was a major boulevard mostly uphill. About halfway up Dee said “I feel nauseous.” I expected it of course, three dixie cups is nowhere near enough to fuel a four hour walk but it was still scary to hear. At that point I still had 10 or so ounces in my Camelbak so I unscrewed the top and gave her the water bottle. I will never forget the look of shock on her face. She kept saying “are you sure you don’t need it?” She was still gripping the water bottle when we reached mile 13 around 15 minutes later.

At 13 I could see the finish area. The post race area was nothing but empty tables. There were two large vans being packed up. I was so unspeakably angry I shouted “Hey which side is the finish for the half marathon” I had to shout it 3 times before they realized I wasn’t kidding. They had to unroll the timing mat for us. I crossed the mat, received my medal and demanded to speak to the race director. One kid asked me for my timing chip which I had laced into my shoe. While unlacing it I was told (again) that the cops had told them ages ago there were no more runners on the course and they had to close it down. You don’t want to know what I think of the Columbia Police Department of Columbia, South Carolina.

I handed over the timing chip and approached the race director. He had two guys wearing tshirts from the sponsoring running store standing next to him. Suffice it to say I tore him a new one to his shock and amazement. He kept repeating he was sorry over and over and telling us he paid for four hours worth of police time. He couldn’t seem to believe we didn’t have police assistance or escorts or ANYTHING.

Just then Dee and our other walking buddy approached me mid-conversation with the RD and interrupted to say “Jesus brought you to us today. He took care of us by sending you. You were our miracle.”

Now understand I have a big mouth there are very few things that will render me speechless but that did it. The RD, his two buddies from Strictly Running (the running store) and I stood there gaping for a minute at this woman who was so moved by my map reading and Garmin updates and water bottle sharing all of which she should have had free and easy as part of her race entry.

And then the race director asked us where we are from.
Answer #1- Columbia, SC
Answer #2- Columbia, SC
Answer #3- California.

He kept apologizing and telling us this was part of a race series and it’s not supposed to be like this because he paid for four hours. He tells us this absolutely will not happen next year and we were all too tired to give a crap so we said nothing and turned to leave. As I’m walking away he asks where I’m from in CA and I say SoCal. He tells me they’re having a race in Stockton in November if I’m willing to give them another chance.

He took our names (since he would have our info on our registrations) but said nothing about refunds, a free race fee, or anything else.

I then had to walk up a steep hill back to my car since the end looked close to the start on the map but remember, map not to scale.

To top it off at around 5pm after the race yesterday I received an email from Strictly Running threatening me with a $30 fine if I don’t return my timing chip in the next 23 hours. The email listed my address publicly along with the email addy of every other person who didn’t have a timing chip returned. I have no doubt my finishing buddies are on that list. Apparently they’re not technologically advanced enough to understand the wisdom of using blind copies on email. I responded to the email
but received a second reminder this morning. I really want them to charge me so I can sue them in small claims court. It would be my absolute pleasure to take this one to court. They’re lucky we’re not suing the police and the race organizers for reckless endangerment.

I’m not sure why I didn’t call 911. I think in any other situation I would have but the police person in the car following me before mile 3 was so aggressive and threatening I just didn’t really want to feel like that again.

As for the race director. I urge everyone and anyone to become familiar with the USRA race list just so you will know what NOT to run. Maybe the police made an error but you know what? I suspect they were give very poor instructions. Perhaps the RD couldn’t control the cops but there is a BIG difference between water stops every two miles (which is listed on their website) and water stops every three. The four hour limit was a joke. The timing chip issue was a disaster and the course was not marked at all after mile 5. There was exactly ONE first aid station also before mile 5. Nobody communicated with anyone else (walkie talkie guy did nothing to get us water and apparently nobody communicated with the guys at the mile 9 water stop).

I’m just grateful I didn’t need my RoadID although I do find it ironic that Road ID sponsored the bibs.

9 Jan 2010
Categorized As: CarbKiller, race details

Today was the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Half Marathon. I know this.

How do I know this?

I picked up my race packet, pinned on my bib (how come I can never get them straight?) and showed up at the starting line.

And while I was suffering through clear skies, perfect temperatures and a gorgeous day to race…

My wimpy friends in Florida were partying their way through rain, sleet, and snow (literally) to rock their Walt Disney World Half Marathons and score Donald Bling.

My start was pretty good actually. I was excited enough to take a picture of a guy wearing pink shoes.

(I mean I wear men’s running shoes so it’s only fair really)

And then snapped a picture of the military guys singing cadences as they smoked the 5K

Then the gun went off, we moved forward and about 3/4 of a mile into my race I knew it was over. My knee was throbbing and I couldn’t imagine walking back to my car much less jogging a half marathon.

Sh**

So ended my half marathon aspirations. The question then became:

Should I continue the half marathon risking further knee bruising and just quit the course when I couldn’t take it anymore?

Or should I just go left instead of straight and continue the 5K course basically bailing out on the half marathon.

I walked back and forth for about 10 minutes trying to decide.

But my crazy ambitious 2010 race schedule loomed in my mind and I decided I wasn’t going to risk an LA Marathon by acting like a fool for a half marathon medal.

I posted a shirt here a couple weeks ago:

This is my motto.

I would rather show up and try then not show up at all. And if I have to choose between finishing a shorter race or futher endangering my health in a longer one that’s a no brainer. I mean, I’m a little bitter because there are no 5K medals for this race, but it’s still a no brainer.

 So I finished the 5K.

And I’ll have a chance to avenge my half marathon DNF in 2 weeks when I do the Carlsbad 1/2 marathon.

A week of knee braces and cross training. I can deal with that.

A HUGE HUGE HUGE congrats to everyone who is cheering or racing during Walt Disney World Marathon weekend. You are all exceptional compeitors for fighting the craziest Florida weather conditions ever!

30 Dec 2009
Categorized As: CarbKiller, lunacy, race details

So I decided to do a marathon.

I’m not really in shape. I’m totally unprepared. But hell, I have 3 months how hard can it be right? (/sarcasm) This time last year I’d signed up for the Surf City Half Marathon and was terrified of 13.1 miles. That was a LOOONG way from my couch.

This year I’m feeling the same thing only the distance just doubled and I’m staring down the cold ugly face of truth. I managed to bullshit my way through my first ever half marathon but people die attempting marathons. I’d really rather not be one of them.  

Why am I pushing this when a smart person would just register for a June marathon and train properly?

Historically the LA marathon goes through some of the crappiest most boring parts of LA. The dreary roads of downtown and parts of the inner city (no not the super scary parts). But THIS year? The race starts at Dodger’s Stadium. You do a little loop and then haul ass for the beach. 26.2 miles through some of the coolest real estate on the planet.

**Enter crazy training schedule**

There is a delightful gentleman by the name of Hal Higdon. He is best known for his Marathon knowledge and God knows at this point I could really use some expertise. He wrote both Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide and (more importantly) Hal Higdon’s Smart Running: Expert Advice On Training, Motivation, Injury Prevention, Nutrition And Good Health

I have read neither of these but I’m going to have to look for them because Hal won me over with the Hal Higdon training programs. There is advice on how to train for any distance (from 5K to the super hard core ultra marathoners).

And they’re FREE! (because we all know I love free)

My schedule? I’m doing a tweak of THIS one. I’ll post it when it’s finalized.

So I basically have 80 days to figure this out.

My biggest challenge?
The LA Marathon does not have a time limit however streets re-open to traffic at an approximately 13-minute per mile pace. At that time, participants still on the course will be required to move into the curb lane or on to the sidewalk and obey all traffic signals. I’d rather not fight traffic so I have to figure out how to get my slow-ass half marathon time down to 13 minute miles.

Oh and I also want to shake the hand of Bill Higgins from Fullerton, CA. Bill is in a class all by himself and that is just incredible.

15 Dec 2009

So I have one of

to add to

And the race course? The one they originally described as

Changed considerably without notice. My previous blog map was the updated trail but reality looked like:

One disclaimer.

The race course was something like 13.3 according to my GPS watch. I forgot to mark my location at the finish line so 14.67 includes all post-race walking until I got to my car. That didn’t include the extra 2 miles I walked in the morning going from my car to the race, then back to my car and back to the race which would make it 16.67 miles overall.

All in all not a bad day. My feet are fine. My muscles are pleasantly sore but it’s not excruciating and I think I’m finally getting the hang of this race thing! Next step? Solve the shin splint problem!