Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hatfield and McCoy - Race Day...Finally

I know I have fallen off of the earth..I've been super busy with the end of school and my friend Becky's last days in Virginia..but I'm back.

Hatfield & long ago but what a great day of running!  We ended up getting up super early.  I was worried about the bus we were to catch from the finish to the start.  A local guy told us that he would be there by 5:30 to be safe.  Yikes!  We stayed thirty minutes away so that would put us leaving our hotel at 5 am.  The race started at 7 am.  but you know I do not like to stress before the race.  I would rather stand around and have time to use the portapotty than feel like I am going to miss the start.   We were shooting for leaving the hotel at 5:15.  We headed down to the lobby for breakfast.  They had some yummy cinnamon rolls.  I stuck to a bagel, banana and a coke.   I was so impressed that they put coke in their frig just for me!  How did they know that I love some coke when I run.  It was a pretty nice spread for 5 in the morning.

We drove to the finish through the mountains of KY/WV.  Even at 5:30 am. you could tell how beautiful this area of the country is.  I was looking forward to running.  It was going to Becky's first half marathon.  I told her that I like to start off slow and that if she wanted to run with me she could, but if she wanted to go ahead she could too.  She was a bit nervous that we would be the last ones running since the race was so small.  I knew we would not be last.  Although if we were that would be fine too..I really just wanted to enjoy the day.  We parked at the finish and hopped on a bus to head to the local grocery store to start our race.  I forgot to put on sunscreen (when the sun really isn't up you forget about sunscreen).  I did remember my handheld water bottle though.  So I was happy with that.  Turned out there was no wait for the bus to the start.  We hopped on and off we went.  We arrived at the start with lots of time to spare.  I was hoping that the day would be nice and cloudy and cool.  I hate running in heat.  And really the temps around VA were not that hot and humid yet so I wasn't really used to running in humidity.  Turned out to be a beautiful day for a run!

Before the start of the race

We got to the start pretty early.  Which really works for me because I always need to use the portapotty before a run.  Lucky for me I got to visit the portapotty twice :)  No random stopping during the race for this girl.  We saw lots of Marathon Maniacs at the start (and really throughout the race)  It was sort of like a reunion for Maniacs!  

The gun blasted and we were off and running.  Becky and I stuck together for the entire race.  I told her if she needed to go faster she could.  Megan was off running the full.  Both the full and the half share the first 13.1 miles.  We headed down the road and started talking to these three guys.  Two of the guys were running their first full marathon.  Not sure if I would pick the marathon with Blackberry Mountain as my first..nor a marathon in June, but to each his own I guess.  We chatted a bit and we were off.  Turns out we would run in to those guys a couple of times throughout the day.  Glad to say they all finished and had smiles on their faces.  

Becky now was ok with the fact that we were not going to be the last runners.  I guess she figured that we had to beat the people who basically started off walking. :)  Since there was no time limit I knew that there would be people of every level running/walking.  Becky and I just chatted and ran.  I was starting to dread the mountain.  I was glad we drove the course the night before so I could at least know when we were going to see the mountain.  After every turn Becky was convinced that we would see the elementary school from the night before.  Turns out that we took a different road and missed the elementary school.  So it was entertaining trying to figure out where that school was when we were running.  We saw some very nice country side and some nice people.  Here is the girl that was celebrating her birthday!  I love birthday runners!

The day was a bit overcast during our part of the run.  You couldn't ask for a better running day for June.  I was pretty worried about the weather prior to the race.  Becky and I were just plugging away at our run.  I knew it wasn't going to be a PR for me, because of Blackberry Mountain, and I really didn't run a bunch prior to race day.  I did run a half marathon a few weeks before, but nothing great.  I was just looking forward to enjoying a great run.  We turned and started to head up Blackberry Mountain. I had already told Becky that I was planning on walking up the damn thing.  So if she wanted to run go ahead.  She was fine with the walking.  I hate mountains!  I hated walking up that stupid mountain.  I might have uttered some swear words under my breath.  I will say that this race had plenty of water stops.  All of the local people at each stop were super nice! This truly was the nicest race experience I have ever had!  Everyone was so friendly!  They also posted signs along the road to welcome back runners that have previously ran the race.  I loved it!  I want my name on a sign!

We are heading up the mountain and I am a bit freaked out because the road is not closed to cars.  There are small school buses coming up the mountain.  A runner beside us tells us that they do tours on these buses on the weekends.  Cars were pulling over in front of runners on the right side and then waiting for oncoming traffic and then passing runners on the left.  For someone that has been hit by a car, not my idea of a fun time.  Although I will say I really had no car incidents all day (which is always good)  Some of the people in front of me, I was a bit frightened for...but maybe they were not frightened at all..who knows.  We get up to the top of the mountain and we hear this sound.  I told the girl beside me that it sounded like a vuvuzela from the world cup games...
She agreed with me.  So when we got to the top of the mountain here is what we saw...

So I of course turned to my new friend and said like I said it sounds like a truck horn. :)  Yeah that's how I roll!  I also had the most yummy watermelon at the top of that mountain!  Oh it was so yummy and sweet!  Watermelon could be my new favorite running food!  Too bad I couldn't put some in my pocket to take with me on a long run.

Well what goes up must go down, so I decided that since it was down hill (or rather mountain) we should take advantage of that and just go with it.  As we were running down we passed a older man with his fifty states shirt on (he actually ran fifty states twice)  Well since we were near each other I decided to ask him about his favorite race.  He chatted with us for a while and then we were off.  Turns out it was a small race outside of Yellowstone.  He also was certain that if a bear were to show up he just needed to pass one of us..yeah he was a character. I love chatting up random runners.

I also love running with random small horses on the course.  We were told about the worlds smallest horse may be here again, but lo and behold it was three of the smallest horses.  We were excited to see the horses and kept on going.  We knew that around mile 12 we would also see some goats.  I was looking forward to this because it would be close to the end and I don't normally run past goats.  I also find it odd that I am looking forward to the goats because I hate goats.  One tried to eat me when I was five years old and I have not really liked a goat since.  But for some reason I forgot about the fact that I had a near death experience with a goat and was looking forward to seeing the crazy goats at mile 12.

Towards the end of the half we made another new friend.  He was walking down a bit of an hill and I was like you can't walk down a hill..use the force!!  Yeah sometimes you just have to channel a bit of star wars on your runs.  He ran with us for a bit.  towards the end I was struggling a bit.  I just wanted to walk.  But Becky wouldn't let me walk so the last 50 yards I sprinted to the end.  She was not too happy with me.  You've got to finish strong :)  Becky did a great job on her first half and I may be a bit in love with Hatfield and McCoy!  The best race I have ran so far!  We we were done we grabbed some water and more watermelon and walked around a bit.

The History Channel was there filming something..there were reenactors  walking around.  I found it a bit odd that they were filming and a bunch of sweaty runners were walking around...not to mention the random game of corn hole.  Yeah nothing says civil war like some good old fashion corn hole.

Since the half was a different finish than the full we had to catch a bus to the finish.  We took a small school bus.  Talk about windy roads!  I do not get car sick, but I was a bit car sick from this ride.  We did see some of the marathoners running, which was fun.  I just kept leaning over with my head between my legs for most of the ride.  Towards the end another girl was feeling like she was going to be sick too.  I never thought I was going to be sick, but I did keep my head down just to make sure. She kept talking about being sick.  When the bus stopped we were trying to get her to get off the bus. I didn't need anyone throwing up on my running shoes!  She didn't get out.  It wasn't like the town was the big, we were not that far from the finish..I would have gotten out if I was as bad as she claimed to be.

After the bus ride we were walking around town and did some people watching.  Megan was thinking she would be done around  11:30 I believe, so no sense leaving the finish line.  And really I don't think Becky or I wanted to do a bunch of walking after our run.  We headed over for a free bbq.  Talk about yummy!

It was a very yummy post race lunch!  We decided to head over to the finish area after we got our picture with some pigs.

I think Becky just liked the fact that this pig had a beard!

We headed over to the finish line to watch the people finish.  We also to take some peoples pictures with Hatfield and McCoy as they finished.

 We got our own pictures taken with the guys too!  While were were watching for Megan we met up with a random stray dog..
He was super friendly.  I am sure he was a fed some yummy food from a bunch of strangers too.  We met up with Charli at the finish.  She was waiting for some friends too.

Next came Megan smiling as she crossed the finish line.  We were a bit worried about her because the sun was shining and everyone was saying how brutal the full was with the sun on the back half.

 Great race by all!

Megan looked much better than I would look with the heat and running 26.2.  It was such an amazing time in West Virginia/Kentucky!  I now have ran and can cross off the state of West Virginia.

Before we left the finish area, Megan had some yummy bbq.

Becky and I ran into our friends that were running their first full.  They made it!  Such a great day! Before we left, Becky who just loves pigs..made a new friend...
Becky was in heaven!  She just loves pigs!

We headed back to our hotel and got a shower and took a little nap.  Great day for a race!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Friendliest race award goes to...Hatfield & McCoy Half Marathon!

This past weekend was the Hatfield & McCoy Half Marathon/Marathon...I of course did the half.  This half is located in the mountains of West Virginia/Kentucky.

On Friday Becky, Megan and I took off towards the mountains of West Virginia.  We were off on our running adventure.  Eight hours later we would drive into Belfry High School for the pasta dinner.  It was my first ever pasta dinner.  I usually do not eat pasta the night before a race, but since it was included in my race ticket and it looked like it was fun...pasta dinner it was!  We made sure to stop at a very nice diner to have a burger so I could get my protein in before race morning.
Becky and Megan enjoying some lunch before we head back to the car.
We rolled into South Williamson, KY sometime after 5 PM and decided that we should drive the course to see what it looked like.  I also like to be able to picture where I am on the course and hoped that this would help.  We were going to run up Blackberry Mountain and I really wanted to see how much I would be swearing the next day.

Megan was excited to finish the full in Kentucky!

This was the first interaction with the very friendly people of Goody, Ky.  Everyone was super friendly.  When we got our pasta plate one of the high school kids asked if she could carry our dessert and drink to our table.  How friendly and nice!  We even got our picture with Hatfield and McCoy!  Becky and I were running as part of the McCoy family and Megan was a Hatfield..but don't feudin' just runnin'!
Oh how I love people in costumes!

After we shoved down our pasta we headed to the auditorium.  We didn't want to miss the door prizes and the play explaining the feud!  Really how many times do you get a skit included in the price of your race entry??

I felt certain that this was a winning ticket!

I was loving life right now!  Skits and door prizes...I couldn't wait to take it all in!

David Hatfield talked about the race and how it was growing every year.  This year the race was pushing 1000 runners along with the first ever wheelchair event.  Those hand cyclist were fast!  I believe they finished the full before I finished my half.  Over 40 states were represented along with a few runners from Canada.  I could see why..great friendly race atmosphere!  David also told us that tomorrow their was a kids fun 100 yd dash that any kid could run.  If they ran the 100 yd dash they would get a free shirt and a trophy at no cost to the kids.  They are trying to encourage healthy active kids.  I thought that was great!  

Next is the door prizes.  Our area seemed to be getting hit a lot.  People in back and in front of us were popping up as winners.  David was just calling number after number.  Surely one of the three of us will win something.  Towards the end it  happens..I hear my number.  I jump up and run up front.  I was running like I just hit the lottery!  I love winning door prizes!
 If you ever win a door prize you must get super excited like you have just won a million dollars.  That is what makes it so much fun.
Hmm..wonder what is in the bag.  I could have taken a lovely camo hat..but I decided to go with the mystery bag.  

And the bag paid off!  I won a great Hatfield & McCoy mug and a used car!!  I've never won a used car!  Don't worry I knew that the car was not included with the bag.  I'm sure one of the nice ladies handing out the bags dropped their keys.  I headed out to return the car keys.  It was nice thinking I won a car though.  :)  Later we met Sue who was very grateful that we returned her car keys.  She looked in some of the bags but didn't find her keys.  

Well after the raffle, we decided to head out to find our hotel.  We were staying at the Holiday Inn Express in the next town, about 30 minutes away.  When we got to the hotel the girl at the front desk asked if we were runners.  Why yes we are.  She gave us each a goody bag to welcome us to the race.  They also had some snacks in our room and will have breakfast starting at 4 am.  How nice!  Thank you!

Our goody bag had oatmeal, oatmeal creme pie (yumm), chips, postcards, pb and some literature about the area.  How nice!  We all settled into our room and prepared for an early wake up for the race the next day.  

Next up:  Race Day

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Next Up: Hatfield and McCoy Half Marathon

So Friday I leave for Hatfield and McCoy.  I have wanted to run this race since first reading about about from a bunch of different blogs.  Then last year on the last day of school I saw a parent walk into school wearing his Hatfield and McCoy shirt so I asked him what he thought of it.  He had nothing but good things to say about the race and the people that support the race and runners.  So this year Megan, Becky and I are running for the hills!  This will be Becky's first marathon and Megan's second full marathon.  Great things for everyone.

They have included a pasta dinner the day before the race.  It is included in your
race fee along with a post race pig fest!  Yumm!  They are also having each of us run as either a Hatfield or McCoy.  If you are a true Hatfield or McCoy you obviously will run for your family.  I am neither a Hatfield nor a I wonder which family I will be part of on Saturday.

My car is all vacuumed and she has new oil..the car is all ready for her trip to WV and KY!  Now I don't really know where we are going.  I feel the least prepared for this journey than any other running adventure.  I figure that Megan knows where we are heading.  :)  She is already packed and ready to go, so I am sure she knows what is going on.  If not we have phones to look things up.  What did people do before iphones??  We really only need to know where our hotel is, where the pasta party  is located along with packet pickup, and where do we start.  The rest we can figure out!  I pretty much plan on going with the flow of runners.  You can't go wrong with that!

When we finish look what we get!

Who wouldn't want a mason jar??

The only thing I am not really looking forward to with this race are the hills..or rather Blackberry Mountain!  I like running on flat surfaces!  Well the one good thing is that I really do not have a time limit.  I figured that it is June and I am running..just finishing is great this time of year.  According to my weather looks like the rain should be done by Friday night followed by low 65 and high 83 on Saturday.  Please do not get up to 83!  I'm not used to running in the 80's yet!  

Well soon I will be posting that I have finished Half Marathon #3 for the year!

What is a destination race that you really enjoyed?!  Did you like it because of the race or the people you traveled with?  Sometimes I like a race because of the company more than the race itself.  :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

National Running Day - a look back in time

As I was getting my run on today I got to thinking about all of the running I've done and not done in my life.

I remember always running around outside and playing with my friends.  We would play tag (freeze tag, tv tag and regular tag)  We would practice sprints by playing Red Rover (you remember the game where if you didn't break an arm you just didn't play it right..hold hands with the people on either side of you and call Red Rover Red Rover will Bill come right over..and hopefully Bill is a wimp and didn't break through you and your friend's hands.  Yeah a emergency room visit waiting to happen)  We also played Jail Break..which if you do not know what that is, it is basically tag but when you catch someone you take them to jail and their team members try and break them out of jail by touching the base that the other team is guarding.  I think I might have had pretty good endurance for this one.  Some of the neighborhood boys would have to chase me down awhile before they could actually catch me.  Then we also had kickball and baseball.  Now I didn't really run much for baseball since I was permanent catcher (I hated catching pop up balls...but loved catching behind the plate.)  As kids we were great runners without even trying.  There was no "I'm tired" you just ran around with your friends and had fun.  I hope running is always fun like it was as a kid, but lots of times it just feels like work.  It is so much easier to come home and sit down.  It is so much easier to sit down and watch tv.  But on some days..when the temps are just right, the sun is out and the run feels is just like it was way back when we were kids playing in the neighborhood.

Then as I started playing basketball in Jr. High School I started some running.  I was still playing with my friends and running around the neighborhood.  It was during 7th and 8th grade that I can remember our coach having us run laps around the gym.  Coach Dean would make us do lap after lap in 7th grade.  Then we would have to do some suicides. I hated suicides!  I think that is why he enjoyed making us run them, because he knew the hatred we all had for them.  A lot of the players hated the running part of practice.  I can remember not minding it.  It made it so much easier on game day.  We were in much better shape than some other teams we were playing against.  Then on game day we were running up and down the court.  My face turned beet red, same as it does today.  Somethings just don't change.

During 8th grade we would run our laps, but our coach was also our science teacher.  Most days we would beat her to the courts and start our laps..amazing how we always started our laps at 12..and then kept going.  She would question why some of us were not really sweaty.  Some days cheating on our running really hurt our game on game day.  Sort of like not sticking to a training plan.  Come race day it hurts a bit more because you skips some important runs.

Ninth grade was the first time I started to run on the road by myself.  I didn't want to die in basketball camp.  Coach Dean was once again our coach, so I knew that he was going to run us into the ground.  I didn't want to hate life too badly so I figured I better start putting in some running before basketball officially starts.  I wouldn't say that I loved running on the road, but I did it.

College came and so did some added weight.  Not sure if it was the freshman fifteen or not, but my weight was creeping up.  Junior year I started added running and walking to my day.  I was watching my snacking at work too.  I was starting to drop some pounds. I found out that the key to losing weight was running.  Too bad that is not working for me today. lol

After college, I was working long hours as a retail manager.  To cope with the long hours I started running again.  I was running and exploring a new neighborhood.  I was enjoying running.  Little did I know that I would soon not be able to run for years thanks to the car that hit me while crossing the road.  grrr...

In 2008 I run my first 5k.  It was wonderful!  I wasn't sure if I would be able to do it, but I was willing to try.   I felt like a kid.  I guess it didn't hurt that I had a dad yelling at his kid that he was not allowed to walk.  When he finished he could walk!  It felt like the dad was yelling at me too!  Not sure if that was good or bad. :)  Ah I don't think I would have even guessed that five years later I would have completed 38 races ranging from 5K's to Half Marathons!

Sometimes it is great to think back to all of our running, whether it was fun running as a kid or racing as an adult.  Just remember that running should always be fun!

Hope everyone had a great National Running Day!

What are some running memories that you have?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

stalking, restraining orders and The Northface Endurance Challenge

It was my third year volunteering for Northface Endurance Challenge in DC.  I really enjoy this event (I guess that is why I've volunteered there for the last three years.)  The only bad thing about the Endurance Challenge is that I have to get up at 3 am to make it to the park by 5 am.  Always a rough morning.  Becky, Megan and I headed out to meet Bill and the other volunteers to start our day of volunteering.  I was super excited to see Dean Karnazes again. (if you remember correctly he sort of had a crush on me last year when we met in the food tent)

Yeah he has his eye on me!  
This year I didn't get to stalk talk to Dean.  He sent the runners off and the headed somewhere.  I was not quick enough to follow him.  I thought he was going to come back.  Next year I will be a better stalker fan and follow him around.

He did walk past and said hi and touched Megan's shoulder.  I hope his eyes are not wondering to Megan now!  I'm sure that is not the case because as you can tell in the picture from last year he clearly has eyes only for me.  

On Saturday The Northface has three races running through Great Falls, VA, a 50 miler, a 50K and a marathon.  This Saturday it was supposed to get up in the 90's (and I am pretty sure that it did.)  The runners were great, but you could tell that the heat was really taking a toll on their race.

Becky and I were manning the bib marking areas before most of the runners were going to start to make their loop or loops through Great Falls.  This is our third time doing this, so we have a pretty good system down.  Becky loves marking the runners bibs too.  So we were really excited!

Then the Northface guy known today as Peter Pan comes and breaks the news to us.  We just need to write down their numbers, the people near the loop will be marking the bibs as they run the 7 mile loop.  Becky was really sad.  She looked forward to marking the guys bibs that were placed on the front of their shorts.  So after Becky came to the realization that she was not going to be feeling up random guys marking bibs we settled in for our first runner.

Look who is running towards us..

It is local runner Michael Wardian!  He was probably 4th or 5th when he got to us (he ran the 50 miler) and then when he left us at mile 35 he was in first place!  He ended up winning with an average pace of 8:09 (yeah that is pretty close to my 50 mile pace)  

Becky and I were having fun writing down the bib numbers.  Runners were not as close together as in years past..the heat was really slowing a lot of people down.  Which worked in our favor because we didn't have to write down fifty peoples bib numbers at one time.  Most people looked surprisingly well.  The 50 milers started at 5 am so when they got 19 miles in and to us they were not looking too bad.  Now when they left us at mile 35 that was a different story.  The people who really started to look bad were the marathoners who had the latest start of all of the runners (I think they may have started at 9 am.)  I had a fair amount of runners take DNF's from 11:30 on.  The heat was just brutal on those runners yesterday.  We were concerned about the mad rush of marathoners we were expecting and writing down their numbers, but it never really happened.  Because of the heat the marathoners were much slower and really spread out on the course.  One man told me he didn't see another runner until mile 9 which is really unusual.  As the marathoners were starting to dwindle down, Becky was pulled to work at the aid station near the loop.  The fifty milers had to run 3 loops so this was a pretty busy aid station late in the day.  I headed over to the aid station near my area to talk to Megan Jen, Charlie and Northface guy known as Unicorn (you can't make up these nicknames folks!)  I helped hold down a chair and chat with runners while keeping an eye out for any marathoners.  

It was a hot day for runner and volunteers.  Megan and I needed a nice cold coke like nobody's business!  So while walking back with our cold beverages, we see two girls eyeing up our cokes like junkies trying to score their next hit.  So since we love runners we gave these girls our cold cokes to help them get through the last leg of their 50K.  Yeah runners are great people!  

As we are sitting around chatting working hard, a runner comes over to ask Megan if she can walk on his back.  His weighted vest (who wears a weighted vest to run a 50k??) is causing his back to hurt.  So Megan being the nice person that she is decides to kill random guy and let all of the other runners know this is what happens when you mess with the family (Godfather style!).  

 I don't know about you, but when you are trying to walk on someones back and do your best godfather speech you need a man named Unicorn to help you balance.  :)

(no runner was actually harmed in the following pictures)  Runner 919 did survive and wanted us to have a picture of the weighted vest which caused his problems.  I told him to look sad since the vest was horrid to him! lol  Ah the people that you meet while volunteering!

We also met up with some Marathon Maniacs.  They wanted our picture together since Megan told them that she is a Half Fanatic and trying to become a double agent and join the Marathon Maniacs.

Speaking of people you meet while volunteering...Charlie was in charge of us near the aid station/bib check.  I noticed while I was holding down a chair at the aid station that people were asking Charlie for a picture.  Hmm  I want to know why.  Maybe I want my picture with Charlie too!  Megan told me I should ask Charlie what he does, which I did.  It took thirty minutes to get out of him what he really did.  Charlie Engle...
is an Ultra runner.  He ran across the US and has ran the Sahara Dessert!  He has a documentary about running the Sahara.  I quickly gave Charlie my full name so he can start the paperwork for the restraining order he may need to file.  After that I felt like I got to interview him.  I just kept asking questions about his life.  So interesting!  Who goes out to run what they thought was a 10K race his longest race yet (which turns out that it was a 100K race in Australia) and ends up winning his first 100K race?!   Crazy!  He is also running Badwater in 6 weeks.  Ummm..hello I know who I going to add to my stalking list! :)  Charlie was really nice and funny made the end of the volunteering job lots of fun!  

After our day of volunteering Bill, Liana, Becky, Megan I all met up for dinner since someone was older today than they were yesterday!  Happy Birthday Megan!!