Saturday, December 22, 2012

Debatisms 2012

I have been slacking quite a bit lately on my debatisms and race reports. I have done two races and have heard some pretty hilarious things and have failed to update my blog. I could go into a rather long-winded set of excuses, but I will suffice it to say that I have been busy. As most of you know, when I am not spending my Saturdays on two wheels, I am more often than not, coaching debate for a local high school. Unlike in years past, I am actually judging more often than not this year, which has some advantages and some disadvantages. As is the slogan of my group of work, “it is what it is.”
I feel compelled to reiterate that I consider debate one of the greatest activities in which a high school student can participate. There is a non-exhaustive list of skills it develops, but while developing some of those skills, it often stretches students beyond their limits, particularly when it comes to abstract thinking. While many students are able to grasp these concepts and work their way through the difficulties, others misinterpretation often lead to what my mother refers to as “down the rabbit hole” where reality and the laws that govern it no longer apply.
My first night of judging this season gave me some of my favorite “debatisms” that I have collected in quite some time. I don’t know if it is fortunate or not, but it was the last round of the evening, starting around 8pm (yeah, that’s what this crazy single female does on a Friday night). In Lincoln Douglas, you have a value, which is basically answering the question, “what value motivates the US government to provide universal health care to its citizens?” One of the very popular answers is the protection of life. Indeed, in this particular round, the Affirmative had a value of life. Like many novice debaters, the negative felt it necessary to disagree with absolutely everything the Affirmative said and stated:

1. “People commit suicide so OBVIOUSLY life is not that important, not nearly as important as my value of freedom.”
How do you argue with that logic? I mean, it’s true, people do kill themselves, so how can life be that important?  I often think of the great irony that you have the freedom to kill youself, but doesn't that put an end to freedom as well?
This particular debater had a way of presenting her arguments that made it hard to stifle my laughter. Did you ever watch Let’s Make a Deal? Contestants would have to choose between three different doors, and more often than not, the person would say, “Wink, I think I’ll go with… door number three.” Well, this girl did the same thing, “so, in refuting my opponent’s first contention, I am going to go with…”
2. She went on to say, “we can’t force people to do things that are good for them because it infringes on their right to freedom. For instance, we can’t force people to learn to read because that would infringe on their autonomy and that’s immoral.”
What??? Apparently, this young student thinks going to school is not compulsory nor is “No Child Left Behind.” When I told another coach about this particular debatism, he simply said, “what kind of autonomy does a person have who can’t read?” As I have said, these students mean well, but focus too much on the disagreement aspect of debate and not on providing better arguments. In summary, the negative said to me, “the right not to learn to read is more important than life.” Yeap, down that rabbit was where we went.
Sometimes, like many of my stories, out of the debate context, they just aren’t as funny or enjoyable if you don’t understand the culture of debate so don’t feel bad if you don’t want to read further.
For instance, in a round with the eventual tournament champion, I heard one debater say, “the state of nature is clearly a more realistic thought experiment than the veil of ignorance.” Now, I have been in the debate community for 28 years and have a degree in philosophy (and Economics and Accounting) and still have no idea how a thought experiment is inherently “more realistic” than another. On the ballot, I wrote to this particular debater, “I don’t think anything you said in this round today is ACTUALLY true.”
For my next stint of judging was in Public Forum on a very economics-based topic. I heard claims like:
3.“The Department of Homeland Security is a waste of money.”
4. “We will cut $300 billion dollars from the department of defense and have no impact on jobs.”

5. At the same tournament my mother heard, “Even with universal health care, people will die.” To which the opponent at least agreed, “yes, death is inevitable.”
At the next tournament, I heard of a combination that blew me away. I have gone back and forth about posting this story, but here we go and hopefully it makes sense to non-debate folks.
I was fortunate enough to judge a good round between two very good debaters on a Saturday morning after judging four rounds the night before. These two debaters were still debating whether the US government has an obligation to guarantee access to health care. The negative said that the US government does not have the obligation because it would harm human dignity. Ok, that’s fine, but then this debater supported this value of human dignity by quoting a pretty famous economist by the name of Thomas Malthus. You know in movies when the bad guy walks into the bar and the music comes to a screeching halt?  That's what happened when I heard this in my head.

For those of you who don't know Malthus, let me explain.  Let’s look up the definition of the word “Malthusian” in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

Of or relating to Malthus or to his theory that population tends to increase at a faster rate than its means of subsistence and that unless it is checked by moral restraint (i.e. limiting the reproduction of the poor) or disaster (as disease, famine, or war) widespread poverty and degradation inevitably result.

When I heard this combination of dignity and Malthus, I thought to myself, “I guess human dignity is only important for the rich these days.” After the round, I went up to the coach and mentioned to her that I found this particular combination ahhh…inappropriate and not in accordance with what the theorist actually wrote. To which this coach responded, “Oh, well you obviously have never studied Malthus.”
I opted to walk away…and fume to my mother. If I would have said something, it probably would have been, “Sure, use Malthus for human dignity. Maybe you can figure out a way to use Hitler to support the value of preservation of life for the next resolution.”
But alas, I am sure I have made myself an enemy, but in the debate world, that’s nothing new.
For the final tournament where I judged, I judged Student Congress. To put it simply, I do not enjoy judging the event. However, I did hear some good debatisms.
6. “Continuing to make corn ethanol will lead to the federal government subsidizing farmers.” Now, that would be a waste of money…oh wait, what’s that, the federal government already spends billions of dollars subsidizing farmers? Who knew? Crazy!
7. The people of the country of Africa are poor, but it won’t cost us anything to provide them with food and better conditions because we can tax them.”
8. “The African people won’t mind us re-colonizing the continent because we are going to help them.” … and if we help ourselves to a diamond mind or two, well, that won’t annoy them at all.
I hope some of these debatisms made you laugh and not think less of me for finding some of the mistakes that students make funny, that I am laughing at the mistakes, not the students. Some of the best debaters that I have ever coached have said things that still make me laugh.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chagrin Cyclocross Race Report

For no tangible reason, I felt compelled to do a cyclocross race.  I borrowed a cross bike from my friend Bill who broke his collarbone and was unable to race for the first part of the cross season.  I got it a little less than a week before the race, and I rode the bike twice: the day I got it for about half hour around my parents back yard and the next day on the towpath for about half an hour.

The race I decided to do was a costume race.  Feeling a complete lack of creativity and having the added restraint of it not wanting to limit my movement on the bike, I went to the old standby catholic school girl.  Despite having gone to catholic school for eight years, I was unable to find a skirt or one I could borrow so I ended up going to a store and buying one.  As a sidenote, buying a catholic uniform skirt made me feel pretty sketchy.  I wasn’t even wearing the skirt to a party, and I felt a sense of guilt objectifying catholic school girls in a certain fashion. 

Anyway, the race was on the Saturday before Halloween, and it was cold and rainy.  Racing CAT4 in cross has one big advantage and one big disadvantage.  The advantage, and it was a HUGE advantage on that day, was that we got to race before the course was completely destroyed.  The disadvantage is that we weren’t racing for money, but for medals.  Regardless, I got there, got my number, and opted to do a practice loop.   I think it took about one minute to realize I was completely unprepared for this race.  About 85% of the 1.5 mile loop was mud, there were some very technical turns, some standing water in ditches, and a few logs that required either jumping or dismounting.  It is not a good feeling when you are riding your bike and see what is ahead and ask the question, “How the heck do I ride across that?”  Consequently, I fell twice during the PRACTICE loop.  I think I estimated that it took me about 15 minutes to do one loop.   Our race was for 30 minutes, so I tried to comfort myself that the most I would have to do is three loops. 

After getting back, I talked to some friends and gave my camera to a friend Gary.  I opted to take off my rain jacket and tell myself that if I got cold, I just needed to work harder.  The official didn’t like where I had my jersey pinned so with about three minutes before we were supposed to start, I frantically repinned my number onto my jersey (a liittle déjà vu from first crit this summer).

They let the CAT5 men out about a minute ahead of us, then we started with the juniors.  The beginning of the loop was a relatively grass straightaway for maybe a tenth of a mile to what narrowed to almost a single-track.  At the start, I worked pretty hard to try to get ahead of the field to limit how many people I would be behind when the course narrowed, and it would be difficult to pass.  I found myself in 3rd as we approached the more technical section.  I felt like I was doing pretty well until I got to the second ditch when I went down, came up and fell over.  I fell in the same spot on the practice loop so I had definitely been anxious about this spot and would remain so throughout the course of the race.  It took me a few moments to get back on the bike, and by the time I got back on course, two women had passed me, including future teammate Michelle. 

I did a fairly good job through the technical section until I got to a section of close turns, and I fell again.  There was then some standing water over mud, and I just couldn’t pedal the bike through the junk so I basically walked through it.  I didn’t dismount, so I was walking the bike like I had no concerns over time!  There were also a couple of logs on the course.  One I basically rode over every time, one I usually hit with my bike, then got off my bike and carried over it, then remounted after putting the chain back on the bike.  I was pretty ridiculous.  I believe the line running through my head was usually, “Way to ride like an idiot Marie!”

After what felt like miles of techinical riding, the course opened up to a less muddy section with three logs, then the fastest part of the course on a gravel driveway before the start/finish line.  I know that I was back in 3rd place by the time I got back into the single track section of the course on the second loop.  Now, there are things that happen in races every once in a while that stick with me forever, and I think that on this second loop is one of those moments.  We were approaching the ditch where I had bit it on the lap before, and my competitor behind me yelled up some instructions how to ride through the ditch.  Did you read that?  My competitor (and current/future teammate) Michelle HELPED me get through what was my biggest obstacle on the first loop without any problems.  Words cannot describe how I feel about this act of sportsmanship, humbled is the only one that comes to mind, and it doesn’t do her kindness justice.

I pretty much struggled in the same places on the 2nd loop that I did the first.  Everytime I was starting to make progress, I would fall, or slide out, or forget to stop before the log, then spend a minute putting the chain back on the bike.  Seriously, I am kind of glad I was wearing a skirt as it distracted people from how pathetic my riding was. 

I know I was in 3rd going into the 3rd lap, and all I could think was, “WHERE IS THE FREAKIN’ BELL????  THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN DO FOUR LAPS IN 30 MINUTES!”  ‘RING THE STUPID BELL, I DON’T WANT TO DO TWO MORE LOOPS!”  I think it was on the 3rd lap that I started to notice the friction caused by riding my bike with a skirt between the bike and chamois, that or Bill’s seat was really that uncomfortable (honestly, a possibility). 

Once again, I made it through the water ditch on the 3rd lap without falling.  I believe I lost a lot of time on the log on this lap, but was doing pretty well.  Because I can never make things easy on myself, I went off course when heading for the 3 log crossing.  I nearly quit right there, I was so mad at myself!  I mean, I keep falling, doing stupid stuff, and was still in 3rd.  What else can I do to sabatoge myself?  But then I reminded myself that I am not a quitter and that there is still a chance I can get back on the podium.  Heck, I wasn’t even sure that podium didn’t go five deep.

I rode back to where I went off course and worked to get back into 3rd.  I believe it was the only lap that I finished not in 3rd, but still having another lap was definitely bittersweet.  I wanted the opportunity to fight back for 3rd, but I nearly cried at the thought of having to ride through that stupid ditch again.  I was also steaming hot and had opted to throw my glasses as they were just fogging up and just getting annoying.  (I thought I knew where I threw them, as it turns out, they have been lost forever).

I passed Michelle for what was either the 3rd or 4th time before getting to the single track.  I worked very hard and felt like I was making gains on getting distance, then would slip and lose time.  I should note that by this 4th lap, the course was destroyed, riding through mud is hard work!  I was reaching my anaerobic threshold trying to hold off Michelle to keep my spot on the podium.  We approached the ditch, and I absolutely cringed, but I somehow made it through once again!  Shortly after the ditch, I came up on a junior and had to slow down.  I wanted to be careful when passing her as I didn’t trust myself not to hit her in a narrow section while trying to pass so I was stuck behind her for long enough that Michelle gained back some of the time I had put on her. 

We were basically neck and neck coming out of the technical section, and I just pushed with everything I had left!  I believe I was maybe a second ahead of her reaching the three logs the last time.  I can’t remember if she passed me on the logs or not, but she probably did, but I was fairly confident that I could outsprint her, which was ultimately the result.  I got third in my first cross race and was pretty excited about it except that I was completely gassed. 

When I finally wiped the wad of mud off my watch, I noticed that we went for about 46 minutes.  Do the math on that: 46/4=11.5.  46-11.5=34.5  34.5>30 minutes which was supposed to be the length of time we were supposed to race.  It was some of the hardest 46 minutes I have ever raced.  As an aside, there is dirt on my garmin that I believe will never come off the watch as it is still there nearly a month later.

Shortly after finishing, and I know it was shortly because I was still kind of panting, Bill asked me if I would race cross again, to which I responded, “I don’t know, that was really effing hard!”  For anyone that doesn’t race, if someone asks you that question when you are still in the pit of pain the race created, and you don’t say no, there is no way you aren’t racing again.  Heck, for the last two hours of Ironman Louisville, I was singing “One and Done!” to myself and still did another Ironman so the answer to that question is completely irrelevant to reality. 

After the race, Michelle told me that “she was going to make me work for it” which is beyond what she did out there.  I left this race feeling really happy, despite it being cold, I had a great time racing and spending time with friends.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Akron Half Marathon Race Report

I am pretty embarrassed by this race, but I am going to post this race report (although a few months late) anyway.  Sometimes, we have to be proud of our failures as much as our successes.
For the 3rd time, I opted to take advantage of the FirstEnergy discount and participated in the Akron marathon. Working in downtown Akron has a couple of advantages, and one of them is being able to walk to the race expo. I still don’t know that many people at the GO, but one of the few people I do know was also running the half, so we went over to the expo together. It was no WAC caravan of insanity, but it worked.
As we walked to the expo, we came across a man wearing an Obama mask. Some woman was talking to Fake-Obama and asked my friend if he would take a photo of her with Fake-Obama. He said sure, took the picture, then as we walked away, he started venting about how he couldn’t believe this woman would just give him her camera. He then said to me, “I swear, if you weren’t here, I would have totally taken off running with that woman’s camera. What is it about me that looks like I am a safe person just to give your camera?” I think I said something like, “Sure, okay. Too bad you are literally the nicest person I have ever met.”
We made our way through the expo with no real glitches. I ran into a few people at the expo, including cycling friend Pam. I have to say, Pam looks a ton different in a dress, kind of surprised I recognized her!

Race Morning:
Pre Race:
My mentor gave me a race strategy, which was basically run all out as long as possible, then just jog it in when I peter out. It sounded fine to me as I had pretty low expectations for the race.
For breakfast, I had a PB&J sandwich and some crackers. I had no problems getting to the race, I did get off the highway to take city streets, and I parked where I park every week day for work. I walked maybe a third of a mile to the starting line. I was a little upset with the location with the clothes’ drop, but I dropped my clothes off and hit the port-o-johns. I tried to find my friend Bill who told me he would be at the 3:40 pace group. I stood there looking and waiting, and no Bill.
I was starting to get cold so I went to the port-o-johns again. I was kind of grateful that there was so many as I was able to sit in there for a while and warm up.
Eventually, I made my way to the 4 hr pace group, kind of surprised I had not found Bill and not seeing anyone I knew, that never happens at Akron! As soon as I said that, I ran into a few people from my hometown (one of which is the guy whose heart stopped at mile 2 and is luckily okay).
I got to the 4 hour pace group, resigned not to see anyone, and looked to my right and saw fellow Cleveland Tri Club board member Marsita. We started the race together, but she looked much more prepared for the race, and I let her take off.
I have done the half twice before, and this year was the first year that I actually felt under-trained going into the half marathon. I did, however, actually taper for the race, and I was remarkably surprised by how good I felt running. The weather really was perfect, very similar to the conditions for my first marathon, and I just felt good.
I was wearing my garmin, but I honestly didn’t look at it once for the first half of the race, I was just enjoying running and being in good enough shape that I can run a half marathon when I am not sufficiently trained for it.

Mile 1: 9:35
I believe I ran into CTC-faithful Tiffany who was doing the full marathon. She looked great! She gave me some support, and I think I congratulated her on a great race at Rev3. I believe she went on to PR in the marathon, but don’t quote me on that one.
Mile 2: 9:24
While I wasn’t looking at my garmin, I was starting to gain a sense of my pace based on the clocks at the mile markers. It was clear that I was running a 9 something pace and felt pretty good about it.
Mile 3: 9:01
Now, my father has started volunteering at races in attempt to see his little girl out there racing. At Wisconsin, he volunteered in transition and never got to see me…he did get to see my bike as they took it back to its spot in transition, but no chance to give me a hug or a high five.  Last year at Akron, he volunteered for a water station…at mile 22 of the marathon course. Too bad I was running the half.  Then, at Cleveland, he did see me, although he missed his spot at the water station.  So, this year, his assignment was volunteering in the 1st exchange zone for the marathon relay. I figured that it wasn’t directly related to my race, but I should be able to see him, right? WRONG! This year, they opted to place the first exchange zone under a bridge so that the relay people would be out of the way of the marathon and half marathoners. Sorry dad, one of these races, we will figure this plan out!

I do have to admit that I really liked the decision to divert the relay people from the aid stations. It has always been a source of frustration that people running either the half or full distance would get cut off going to aid stations by people that felt they needed water after running a few hundred yards. (Sad, but true). I don’t mean to offend anyone who ran or has run the relay as there are some serious runners who choose to do the relay, but you also have people who I think run once a year and consequently don’t pay attention to the runners around them.

I also saw high school friend Justin aka a coverboy model wearing a Cleveland Browns getup. I was kind of surprised by how I recognized him despite wearing a helmet and dreads. Sometimes, my brain actually works.

Mile 4: 8:59

Yeah, looking at that split, it even surprises me, I ran a sub 9 minute mile in the middle of this race??? I was really going by feel and apparently, some rest enabled my legs to function.

Mile 5: 9:07
It was around this time that I saw friend and new teammate Zac by Goodyear/Firestone/Brown Street. He took a few photos, and then I assumed he was going to a cyclo-cross race.

Mile 6: 8:55

Seriously, 2 sub 9 minute miles in this race?

Here is when the race started to divert from the excellent race I was having, to what ended up being a bad bad race.

Mile 7: 9:10

It is at this point that I started looking for a port-o-john. I was hoping that I could make just one bathroom break then be done for the day. Hahaha, silly Marie!  Well, I waited a little too long and the line was pretty long, but I didn’t have much of a choice, well, I could have started asking random people if I could use their bathroom in their house, but that didn’t seem right.

Mile 8.3 (sorry, I hit the lap thing): 14:21

Ouch, that hurt, it was then that I noticed my pace went from about a 9:10 pace to a 9:30ish pace. Yeah, that stinks.
It was at this point, I started having flash backs to the marathon in 2010 where I spent WAY too much time in the port-o-johns. Instead of the stop in the port-o-john alleviating problems, it seemed to develop them even further.

Mile 9.3: 9:42

I believe it was about this point that I started dry-heaving. I have experienced stomach issues more times than I care to admit, but I have never dry-heaved in a race. Apparently, peanut butter is a big NEVER NEVER AGAIN pre-race food.

Mile 10.3: 10:49, yeap, I had to start walking around this point.  Damn you stomach!

Now, mile 10ish is where the course diverted from the old half course. Instead of heading down to the towpath from basically the University of Akron, the course went over the Y-bridge again and the half turned around like we did at mile 2 while the marathon and relay continued on Broadway to go down to the towpath on another, just as steep, hill.

Mile 11.3: 11:17

Starting to get discouraged…

Mile 12.3: 12:12

Beyond discouraged.

Finally .9 (my watch was long) 9:18

Total time: 2:12:23

Post Race:

I ended not finding anyone I knew after the race in the post-race crowd so after finding someone willing to take my beer tickets, I made the way back to my car. I have to say that it’s the first time I have ever run half where my legs didn’t hurt because my stomach really hampered my ability to run well enough to make them sore.

As I made my way to my car, I ran into cycling Pam once again and talked to her for quite a while. I was starting to get really cold so I finally made my way to my car to grab my sweats and change out of my running clothes.

I then made my way back to the finish line waiting for Bill…and waiting for Bill and waiting for Bill. He ended up missing his goal by about 10 minutes.  My favorite thing about this race (besides it being free) is listening to Bill talk about how he is never going to do this race again but then getting the eventual text that he can't pass up the big discount early bird registration.  Ha!  He has already signed up for 2013!

Not my worst half marathon, but nowhere near my best.  It happens.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Portage Lakes Sprint Triathlon

Portage Lakes Sprint Triathlon Race Report
I have raced at Portage Lakes three times before this year: two sprints and one olympic. I have only ever placed in the Olympic and almost always find myself in the toughest age group in the race despite being in a different age group since the last time I have raced. It is the only local sprint that I have done where I had never placed been in the top 3 of my age group.
For some reason, I really wanted to do this race this year despite being completely undertrained for it. I have swam a total of about 5 miles the ENTIRE summer. Yes, there was a single day in January when I swam more than I did in the months of June, July, August and so far September combined.
I had trained for the run for HTC, but I had done a total of 2 speed workouts, and I just forgot to run the week before this race. I could have run on Friday, but I didn’t want my legs to be tired. Any running right now leads to some soreness.
Enough of the background and the excuses…
It was freakin’ cold. When I went to go get body marked, the guy laughed at me because I had on so many layers of clothes. Considering it was about 50 degrees, I didn’t think 4 layers of clothes was excessive.  I was happy that I got there a little early as the body marking line got really long about a half hour later. I later heard that they stopped marking people’s calves because the line was so long.
I had no problem setting up my transition area. I had convinced Mentor to come out and race, and by the time I got there, he already had his transition setup. I milled around for a while chatting with teammates. One had pre-ridden the course before the race, and he mentioned a turn where you need to make sure you are in the little ring. I made a mental note of it and continued to chat with folks. Little did I know that they had changed the course since the three times I had raced it.
I talked to Tattoo Mike, who lent me his trislide spray to make it easier to get in my wetsuit and to prevent chafing. Apparently, he isn’t the biggest fan of being cold, so he switched from the tri to the duathlon and had no need for his swimming supplies. It worked great, and I was very appreciative!
After Wisconsin last year, I was really paranoid about putting on my wetsuit too early for fear of calf cramps crippling my swim. With about 20 minutes to go, I finally put on the wetsuit and headed to the bathoom one last time. I think it was in that line that I had my biggest moment of panic as I had dropped my goggles. Fortunately, they were only about 10 yards away from the line so it wasn’t that big a deal. I had another pair, but I had done this swim before and not wearing tinted goggles would have been a big problem.
I got down to the beach, and I noticed that the swim looked longer than expected. I guess I am used to these sprints where you basically get your feet wet and the swim is over, forgot that some sprints actually make you swim. Standing on the beach was absolutely torture in my sleeveless wetsuit. I was freezing and then standing on the cold wet sand was unbearable. I quickly wised up and stood in the water that was 72 degrees rather than on the 50 degree sand.
I stood there with Mentor, and I told him a bad joke, kind of a habit of mine to try to break the tension. He laughed, but then he reminded me of my all-time favorite story of what he saw while waiting for IM Lake Placid to start in 2009, and I started laughing hysterically. I needed to be relaxed, and it definitely helped. I don’t think I can tell the story in my blog, but if you know him, ask him about it. Regardless, I haven’t felt that calm before a race in a very long time.
The women were in the 4th wave so I got near the front and took off running when the gun went off. The course was a beach start, running in the water to a buoy then making a right turn to do a loop around the buoys. The first stretch of the loop was by far the hardest as it was almost due east, and with the sun, it was pretty much impossible to spot the buoy. Heck, I couldn’t even spot it on the shore before the race. After reaching that buoy, I got much more comfortable and fell into a rhythm. I didn’t think I was having a great swim, but I didn’t think I was slow as I feared. I knew I had caught up with a few guys in the waves ahead of mine, but not as many as I usually do. I do miss the days of colored swim caps. It was always a fun little game as to how many different colors could I catch on a swim. Oh well.  I made a wide turn around the final buoy but kept swimming until I hit sand, then stood up and ran to transition.
Swim: 14:39 (15th out of 107)
I ran up the hill and the long way to my transition rack. I stepped on my wetsuit to get it off my feet. I had my socks rolled down so they would be easy to slip on my wet feet. I put on my shoes, sunglasses, helmet, and I was off.
Time: 1:32 (not bad considering it took some time to get the wetsuit off)
Bike: I don’t have a mount for my Garmin on my tri bike so I carried it until I got on the bike, then put it on my wrist while exiting the park. I would say that I probably passed about 10 people before I even got out of the park. I realized just how bad a swim I had because I don’t ever recall passing that many women on the bike course, at least not in short course.
This race was the first time I had raced in an aero helmet, and HOLY COW, I almost think they should be illegal! My Garmin beeps every mile, and I honestly thought something was wrong with it because it didn’t seem like I could be ticking off miles that quickly. I just didn’t feel like I was working hard enough to be maintaining the speed it was telling me I was going. I kept looking down at my computer, and even when I wasn’t pushing, I was going 20-21 mph. Granted, there were few instances when I wasn’t pushing.
Before the race, Mentor told me to be nice out there, and I said I would try, except that I see myself coming off as a complete B**** on the bike. When you are a strong female cyclist starting after three waves of men, you are going to be passing LOTS of people on the bike. Some of these people know how and where to ride on the road, others do not. My throat was slightly sore from yelling at people to get over. I would say that I passed at least 50 people on the bike, and that’s probably a pretty low estimate.

As soon as we turned right out of the park, I realized it was a different course than the one I had done previously. I knew that the old course was considered pretty hilly so I figured, it would probably be similar, and I think that is pretty much the case. There weren’t as many rollers, but there were some slightly longer uphills, still too short to be called climbs, but still a challenging course.
I recall getting to one turn, and I saw a steep uphill and realized that it was the hill that my teammate mentioned, and I quickly dropped to the little ring. I was grateful for the heads up because I might have tried to climb it in the big ring, then dropped my chain when I tried to go into the little ring.
Any experienced triathlete should look at a Sprint triathlon as a z5 sufferfest, basically a time trial of all three disciplines. I can’t say that I was going as hard as I would in a TT, but I noticed that on a few of the climbs, my breathing was pretty labored. I think that the presence of slightly longer uphills made it necessary to take some recovery on the downhill. Even if I didn’t dwell on it, I knew I was running when I got off the bike, and I didn’t want to burn too many matches.
I did notice that I did better on cornering on my tri bike. I don’t think a time trial bike handles as well as a road bike, and I have struggled adapting my handling skills to my Kestrel. I didn’t take the turns as sharply as I would on my Cannondale, but I definitely took more speed than I would have a year ago.
The bike course was a little long as I heard my watch beep for a 13 and 14 mile, no problem for me, give me a long bike course anyday! I was hoping for the best female bike split, and that’s what I got. As I made my way back to transition, I saw Tattoo Mike on the 2nd run for the duathlon. He looked a little surprised to see me already, and I took that to be a sign that I was doing well. 
Bike: 40:18 (averaged 21.1 mph with about 950 feet of elevation gain in 14 miles 1st out of 107 by 1:40)
As I approached transition, I told myself I could do it, so I reached down and unvelcroed my shoes and managed to get both of my feet out of my shoes before heading to the dismount line. I had never even practiced a flying dismount so I was really excited by the success I had on my first attempt. It definitely made for a faster transition as running in my socks was faster than trying to clop along in my cycling shoes. I got to transition, took off my helmet, stuffed my feet in my pre-laced shoes, grabbed my water bottle and visor and took off.
Side note: Read Eric’s blog ( if you want to read a good description of how to do a transition properly. I do believe I have read every race report he has ever written, and he is very methodical, and I tried to emulate him. What Would Eric Do? Apparently, Eric would also yell at you if you never practiced a skill and tried it in a race.
T2: 0:45

I felt like I needed to pee when I started running, and I contemplated ducking behind the same building I ducked behind in 2007, but I just told myself it wasn’t that bad. The run course was different than it had been in years’ past, and I think it was confusing, short, and probably plagued by people cutting the course. The course turned right onto a down and back into a parking area on a little peninsula on the lake. The course then headed in the direction of transition but turned right on the road heading out of the park. The course had a turn around on that road, and then headed back to the first down and back before turning left across the parking lot to the finish line.
I got passed by a woman coming right out of transition, and I don’t recall any other woman passing me, which is huge, I tend to bleed places on the run. There were two women ahead of me that I could see. The one woman wasn’t making much ground on me, but I wasn’t catching up either.
The first down and back is a bit of an up and down so I was prepared for a slight rise at the beginning, then enjoyed the little descent. As I made my way out to the second down and back, I spent a lot of time paying attention to who was coming in the other direction. I didn’t see many women at all so I figured I was in 3rd or 4th place overall.
It was in that second down and back where I started to wonder why I was going so slowly, and that’s when I realized that it was a nice false flat. I was happy when I saw the turn around, but it also seemed short at that point, that heading straight back to transition wasn’t going to be close to a 5k.
I enjoyed the run back towards transition as it was a gentle decline, and I was able to assess how much space I had on the women behind me. I think the closest woman behind me was about four or five minutes, and I felt confident that I would maintain my position in the race baring a cramp or falling or something stupid on my part.

When we got back towards the transition area, we were informed that we had to do the first down and back again, which I thought was kind of weird, but expected as the run would have been really short otherwise. I think there was lots of confusion at this point, and it also made it difficult because I could no longer just follow the guy ahead of me, I had to know where to go.
While I did pass a few people on this last down and pack (people I am assuming who were just starting on the run), I could tell my run was starting to get very forced. My pace went from an 8:08 to an 8:25 (mind you most of this was a false flat) to about an 8:30. I was getting very stiff, and I never really payed attention to keeping my arms loose.
On the last turn around, I could see that there were no women chasing me down so I kind of put it on cruise control to the finish.
Run: 23:29 28th out of 107 (yes, I am pretty sure it was still short)
I am not going to lie, the results make no sense to me. I don’t recall seeing four women ahead of me on the run, not to mention duathlon women on the course, and there were enough down and backs that I should have seen them. I recall seeing two. I am not going to say it’s intentional as it was very easy to do, even unintentionally, but I am pretty sure there was some course cutting taking place. Regardless, 5th overall out of over 100 women is a good result. I was 3 minutes back from the winner, and I did manage to place in the sprint at this race, FINALLY.
Total Time: 1:20:46 3rd in the 30-34 age group, 5th overall.
End Notes:

I can't think of anything that went wrong in this race.  I got my watch on while riding just fine.  I had no problem working the multi-sport function on my watch.  I had gum ready for the run.  I didn't drop my chapstick.  I honestly don't think I have ever had a race go so smoothly.
The top 3 women in the 30-34 age group all did better than the 1st place finisher for the men’s 30-34 age group.

Mentor came up to me after the race and poured an ice cold cup of water over my head. He was so excited for me, he said he heard them announcing my name as he was in T2. He kept saying, “you crushed it!” For him to say that, it’s a compliment. It’s rare for him to do or say anything that might inflate my ego.
I was wondering why HFP decided to change the run course, and my best guess is because they lacked the volunteer support to man a 3rd aid station on the run course. Maybe not, but I hope they change it back to a closer to a 5k run (even though I don’t really complain about short run courses), but I think there was plenty of course cutting going on at this race. In almost every activity, I am starting to get this realization that volunteers are really underappreciated. So, the next time you are racing, say thank you to the volunteers and consider volunteering for a race yourself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rev3: Volunteer Report

Rev3 is a half and full triathlon hosted at Cedar Point.  I had lots of friends competing in either the half or the full, and I just thought it would be a fun weekend to go out and support them.  If I am going out to cheer, I might as well volunteer!

On a whim, I reached out to someone with whom I went to high school, and she offered to let me stay with her on Saturday before the race.  I thought she was doing the full, but she was just doing the half, feeling a bit burnt out after rocking out Ironman Lake Placid in July.  My friend John was doing the half and staying Sunday night, and he said I could stay with him that evening. 

I wish I could say that Saturday was a smooth day, but it was anything but.  Everything took a little longer than it should, and what I thought was plenty of time to get everything done, ended up not being enough.  End that with some personal frustrations with people and forgetting toothpaste, and I ended up unloading on a friend who was in the wrong hotel lobby at the wrong time, and I appreciate his willingness to listen to me despite facing a big race the next morning.

It was cool catching up with Chantell.  She was a senior when I was a freshman, so we didn’t know each other that well, but we threw together, although she was a very strong shot putter, and I was a pretty good discus thrower so there was no sense of rivalry.  She also knew way more about was going on in high school, and it just reaffirmed what a naïve twit I was back then.

I woke up Sunday morning at 5:30 to go for a run before volunteering.  I was hoping for 10 miles, but the more I ran, the more I thought about how much of the day was going to be on my feet and how anything over 6 would probably be good.  I had to stop to go to the bathroom, but for once, my stomach wasn’t having many problems with the idea of running.  I opted to run from our hotel to Cedar Point via the Causeway and then around Perimeter Road to Hotel Breakers.  I thought that with all the traffic it would be rather safe…ahh, not the case.  Let’s say that my ankle is still a little sore from the multiple jumps out of a speeding car’s way.  I guess some people don’t do mornings.  The last two miles back on the causeway were nice as the course was already closed off, and I was free from the near death experiences that plagued the last 4ish miles of my run.  I did stop and take some photos of the sunrise, realizing it was going to be a beautiful day!

I got back to the hotel right around 7 and gave a mental well-wish to my friends starting the full length triathlon (same as an Ironman, just a different name).  I had my breakfast, watched some television, packed a mini-supply bag and headed up to my volunteer post a bit early.

I was excited to see some CTC people as I walked towards transition!  Janet and Tiffany both looked ready to rock the bike course!

I was scheduled to work in transition from 9:30 to 2:30, but I ended up working from 9 to 2:17ish.  At first, I helped in the changing tent, and I also helped re-rack people’s bike bags.  After that job was basically finished, I helped to keep unauthorized people out of transition and making sure people didn’t randomly walk in front of the athletes heading into the transition area.  It was during this time that I saw a lady trying to get to peel banana, but as she finished peeling it, it slipped out of her hands.  Thinking about how crucial the potassium is in a banana, I ran to the aid station table, grabbed a banana and ran after her to give it to her.  She appreciated it, and I felt like I had done my good deed for the day.

After about 10:15, we closed down the “swim in” chute and rolled up the carpet and pulled it to the side.  In case you were wondering, a long carpet soaked in water and wet sand is shockingly heavy. 

I did have some kid ask me if I had ever done a full.  I told him that yes, I had done two, so like any kid, he asked, “so why aren’t you doing this one?”  “Ahhh…I didn’t want to” was all I could muster.

After about 10:30, I spent the next four hours at the dismount line.  My job was to point at the line and tell the incoming cyclists to dismount their bikes before reaching that line.  I probably had a half hour before the job really started, and I enjoyed talking to a CTC newbie Krystal and fellow CTC member Tim (who was one of the guys in charge of the volunteers in transition). 

I would say that this spot was pretty exciting.  It was very cool watching all the experienced triathletes do their flying dismounts, talk about impressive.  By the time they got to me, they had their feet out of their shoes, and their body on one side of their bikes.  Krystal was awesome as she kept me company, and we also enjoyed talking to a couple of older ladies.  At one point, I overheard one of these ladies say something, “oh that was nice.”  I looked over and asked, “are you two enjoying the view?”  To which one of them responded, “Oh yes!  We may be old, but we’re not dead!”  How awesome!  Looking at some very good looking men is definitely one of the perks of triathlon.

Aside from Krystal, there were several people from team Spin/Second Sole, and it was cool talking to them for a little bit.  It was during that time, that I looked down the road, and about 20 feet away, a little girl had meandered in front of some oncoming cyclists.  Good thing I wore my running shoes!  I ran down and swooped the girl out of the oncoming cyclists’ path.  As I came back to man my dismount line, I had all the spectators start to applaud me…it was a little embarrassing.  The older ladies kept telling people that “I had saved that little girl’s life.”  I don’t think that is as much, but I might have prevented a cyclist from crashing and potentially hitting the little girl.

The other good thing about working the dismount line was that I got to see pretty much everyone I knew doing the half.  Some were really excited to see me, others (Eric Gibb) were so focused that there could have been half naked stripers, and he wouldn’t have noticed =)

At one point, Krystal and some other CTC people went and got food and offered to bring back some food.  I was hungry, but I had food waiting for me in my bag so declined the offer.  I did ask for Diet Pepsi, which they brought, and which did help.  Krystal did buy herself some sweet potato fries and was unable to eat them all.  Every one and a while I took a fry as she just had them hanging in front of me.  After a little while, they were all gone, thanks Krystal!

Around 1pm, it was starting to get slow.  Most of the people doing the half were either running or finished, and the full racers were not quite finished with the bike course.  I had several friends doing the full, and I expected to see about four of them before I finished volunteering.  The first person I expected to see was Ken, who had told me he expected to be back to transition at 1:30.  Sure enough, at 1:28, there he was!  After Ken, I got to see Eddie, Janet and Brandon. 

Around 2pm, I was exhausted and wanted some real food!  I also wanted to meet up with Durno and go cheer for people on the run course.  Krystal and I walked over to the finish line just in time to hear them announce my friend Mack’s name.  I saw Gibb and Brad and talked to them about what awesome races they both had, but was really on the hunt for Durno.  After about 20 minutes, I found him, and we made our way to the watering hole on the run course. 

On our way, we animatedly cheered for all the people we saw on the run course.  When we got there, Tim had drinks waiting for us (although he had to leave by the time we got there), thanks Tim!

After a very odd conversation with a man at the bar in a Harley shirt, I remember very little, but here are the highlights:

-They had a medal fence around the patio without a door.  I kept climbing up and over that fence eveytime I saw someone I knew.  I would have to say that the tally reached double digits.  I managed to sit on the one ince top for quite some time.  My balance was apparently steller that day!

-I had dropped my chapstick pretty early in the afternoon, and anyone who knows me knows that I am likely freaking out about that…fortunately, Eddie gave me one he found in his stuff.

-Janet came off the bike in 2nd about 6ish minutes back from the 1st overall female.  Slowly but surely, she made up that time and won the overall women’s amateur race.  I always thought that Janet was just naturally gifted until I did a workout with her last year.  Not only is she talented, but She works REALLY hard!  I have nothing but props for this awesome accomplishment!

-At one point, I looked in my bag and found 2 Rev3 visors, no clue, absolutely no recollection of receiving them.

-I recall seeing Ken at mile 19, and he had on his game face.  Despite some very drunken antics, he would not be broken!  Great race Ken, it was awesome see you rock this course!  When we saw him in the parking lot later, he looked more human, but still a little low on energy.

-I do recall winning a pair of running shoes.  I have no clue if they are any good, but they were free!

-Eric tried to get the announcers to play our HTC theme song (Das Racist anyone?), but I don’t think they had it.  To be fair, even iTunes doesn’t have it!

-I ate a ton of pizza and Eddie’s cookies at the finish line, but I wasn’t hung over in the morning so maybe that is the perfect meal!

-Oh, near the end, someone slapped me in the face.  It was black out kind of pain, but Joe (Janet’s husband) assured me that my nose wasn’t broken.  Four days later, it still hurts!
            -According to J. Mack, I reached a level of intoxication he didn’t know possible for me. 
Having seen me get smashed in ’09 after losing a bet at the Columbus Marathon, he thought he had seen me at my drunkest.  He said that it wasn’t even close.

-CTC had an impressive day at Rev3

-I will probably not drink again anytime soon.  The only time in my life do I recall honestly drinking more than I did at this race was the infamous party bus in Santo Domingo back in 2003. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

HTC: Part 3

Van 2 piled into the van, and, in vain, attempted to find a place for breakfast. As a general rule, I do not eat anything at least 90 minutes before I run, and after my 5 mile run, I was hungry. As mentioned, we didn’t exactly have the healthiest selection of foods, so I opted for a diet coke and to wait until we found a restaurant to eat…
We were stuck in traffic, and we were slowly but surely getting passed by LOTS of runners. At this point, I had several thoughts:
1. Surely, we will turn off the HTC course and be able to find a place to eat
2. If we are stuck in traffic, what is our van who is actually running right now doing to get to exchanges?
3. Yes, those oreos look good, but I want real food…okay, maybe just one.
I recall Bill saying somewhat confidently that even if it’s a McDonalds, we were going to get breakfast. (Side  note: not the first time someone promised to take me to McDonalds and failed to find one)  Well, with every passing exchange zone, even the hope of McDonalds vanished. What was one oreo became three, maybe four. I was sad, dejected and crying behind my Smith shades. We were stuck in that traffic for about 2.5 hours, and like everyone else, went to the next major exchange and ate at the concession stand set up there.
The only good thing about this time in the van was getting to check out some of the runners. There was one guy with an amazing body wearing animal print tights, and I couldn’t help but roll down the window, stick out my head and scream, “NICE!!!!” I believe he nodded in appreciation.
The last major exchange was definitely the most interesting of the trip. I made a B-line to the concession stand. At the concession stand, they had a grill guy, and they wrote up a slip with your order and you handed it to the grill master. Now, if there is one thing I have learned from my mother, it is the ability to be completely comfortable starting a conversation with a total stranger while waiting in line. This stranger just happened to be tall and handsome and felt perfectly comfortable joining the rest of my group as we sat and ate our coveted food. One of the first things this guy asked me was if the two vans got along with each other. In a kind of, are you kidding, we looked at him and said, “we all get along great!” Apparently, he was in a van with five other women and the other van also had one guy and five women.
Okay, stop right there. I am female, and if you tried to put me on a team with nine other women, I would probably walk away before you finished the sentence. But, more power to this guy, more power to him for carrying on a conversation with yet another woman. They had some problems with exchanges, at one point, one of their runners had to wait an hour for the other van. I guess that hour long wait created some bad blood that was kind of ruining the rest of the trip. For fear of having more delays, he had to leave, but he asked for my number before he did.

I might have bragged about getting some hot guy's digits after running about 11.5 miles with no shower and less than 2 hours of sleep, now that’s game! (Oh, he does live in Michigan so it is entirely possible that I will see him again). I have a feeling it will be much like the guy I met at a bar in Houston, Texas who let me crash at his place 3 years later to run my first marathon.
Back to the race...

Per usual, Josh came in running like a cheetah, and we managed to get Robin up there in time for the exchange. Because their van hadn’t quite made it through the traffic, I walked with Josh back to our van and gave him some powerade. We waited there until Katie came running up with the clipboard. We were once again unable to hang out with the other van as we were fearful of traffic. It was around this time that the inability of my, or my teammates’ brains, to function completely started becoming apparent. I recall getting the clipboard and Josh’s finishing time and couldn’t figure out his segment’s time. I sat there for a few minutes before I sucked it up and used the calculator on my phone to do the math.
Throughout the race, we were constantly predicting people’s finishing times to make sure that we would be at the exchanges when they got there. When multiplying pace times number of miles becomes difficult, you know you are no longer operating at full capacity. Conversations also became more deliberate. At one point, I recall talking to Bill about something that seemed important. He looked at me and apologized that he hadn’t been able to register what I was saying. I then looked at him and said, “oh, I don’t know what I said either.” With little sleep, little nutrition, and some significant physical exertion, I was breaking down physically, mentally, and somewhat emotionally.
The next exchange had one of the more memorable moments for me on the trip. As we stood there waiting for Bill, some guy finished running, and he, in all of his soaked sweatiness, brushed up against my back. “UGGGG!” I recall yelling. There are worse things in life, but for someone who 1) doesn’t like smells and 2) other people’s body heat, this brush of bad luck left me retching.
Now, John’s last leg looked nasty! It was almost 8 miles, and there just wasn’t any shade. While it was my job to continue to give John as hard a time as possible, even I had to relent after he finished that leg. He didn’t look good (or worse than normal, JUST KIDDING). It was during that leg that I was driving, and I nearly fell asleep at the wheel. It became clear to me that it was time to hand the keys over to someone else, even if I was still quite capable of some impressive maneuvering in the parking lot. I did do a bulk of the driving, but that’s because I have a strong propensity to get carsick. There are few people, my ex being one of them, who have never made me carsick from his driving.
This exchange was also difficult to navigate. The volunteers were being quite strict about not letting people past a particular line, and well, I was having a hard time 1) hearing the person announcing the numbers coming in and 2) seeing the people as they came in as well. Consequently, I had to stand in front of the turn so I could see Jen as she approached and ran forward to get to the exchange line.
When I got the snap bracelet, I was definitely in this “get this thing done” mode. It started with a mile climb on a gravel trail. Even though I only run trails usually a handful of times a year, my focus on cadence and the general momentum of the race that faster teams start later and catch up to the slower teams, I was just picking people off on this hill. I hit double digits on the number of kills I had on this trail. After the trail, it was another quarter-half mile of climbing. There was a runner right ahead of me, and his van came up and asked him if he needed anything, to which he responded, “yeah some tunes.” They fulfilled his request and started blaring “Ice Ice Baby!” The combination of cheesiness and preference for any music rather than silence made it an enjoyable few minutes of music.
Once we reached that little summit, it was a nice downhill for about a mile and a half, and that is when my side cramps, and my stomach let me know that these last few miles weren’t going to be easy. I got to the flat section after passing a few people on the decent, and I just kept trying to count down the number of minutes until I should be finished.
I still had a couple of miles to go, and I saw my team walking to the beach from the parking lot. They weren’t cheering for me so much as yelling at me that I needed to stop. While driving to the finish, they realized that they had forgotten to give me the timing chip (only required for the last runner on her last leg). As soon as they realized I needed this chip and wondered how they were going to find me to get it to me, I turned the corner, and John was able to attach it to my shoe.
I wish I could say that the rest of the run was uneventful, but it was anything but. First, we had to run over a land bridge that was about 30-40 feet in the air with a significant grade and with hand rails that only went up to about my waist. Like many people, I am scared of heights, but unlike most people, I also know that I am clumsy enough to trip over an imaginary line and fall to a horrific death. I maintained relative control over the freaking out and made it over it safely.
After that, some guy who had passed me started to slow up. He was wearing an Ironman Coeur d’Alene hat and opted to slow down and ask if that was an Mdot tattoo on my neck.  At this point, we had about a mile to go, and I was honestly scared I was going to crap my pants. I tried to talk to him, but I couldn’t muster much more than what races I had done. I felt bad, but it was at this moment that I spotted a public restroom and excused myself to relieve myself and my fears of being truly embarrassed at the finish line.
My pace had slowed down, and I took only a couple of minutes in the bathroom, but I still had about a mile to go. With my body completely rebelling from the concept of running and having at least half of my team waiting for me at the finish line, I pushed myself through the physical pain to get to the finish line. With about a quarter of a mile left, I heard them announce our team name and that I was finishing! I heard my teammates cheer, and I pushed to get to the finish line. The finish line was pretty poorly marked, and there was a woman walking through the finishing chute. I never know what to do, do I run past her, or do I let her have her moment. Having been faced with this decision a couple of times, I have decided that I just pass them if they are walking.
Final leg had a 9:50 pace including the bathroom break, pretty pathetic, but would have been about 9:30 otherwise for my 5.2 mile run.
Post Race:
So, van 2 (my van) struggled to get to the finish line. In fact, they weren’t there when I finished and probably took another 30-40 minutes to get there after I finished, which I kind of expected when I saw them with a couple of miles left.

Standing there, van 1 was asking me questions like, so how was your second leg today? I looked at them and stared blankly. I honestly couldn’t remember. After a few cues and several minutes later, the run started to come back to me. Man, that run was less than 12 hours earlier in the day, and I honestly couldn’t remember it.
I asked them about their 3rd legs, and they talked about having to run to get to the exchanges so the incoming runner didn’t have to wait. We stood around and waited until the Van 2 people finally made it there.
It was kind of a cluster at the finish, and your team has to get called by the announcer to go through the chute and collect the medals. The team recommended that I try to get the announcers attention because I am female and well apparently pretty good at getting guys’ attention, but I had no flirt left in my tank so we sent the next choice: our team Clydesdale Steve Thompson who got our number called basically immediately! (Look back at my Part 1 and you will see Steve modeling his compression socks, he knows how to get someone’s attention). He later admitted he told the announcer we had flights to catch.
I had to go through with someone with the clipboard, and I received our teams’ medals, which I got to give out to everyone. After a few team photos, we opted to skip the finish line party and head out to get some dinner on the drive back to Portland. I was a little disappointed as tall and handsome guy had invited us to a party, but no one (myself included) was really up for it.
The last final bit of the saga was the death march back to the car. I hadn’t eaten for about 2 hours before my run. I ran for about 50 minutes, and then I waited for Van 2 for about 30 minutes, then another 20 minutes of photo taking and plan making.  So that is over four hours of not eating at all after about a day of barely eating. I was crashing and had to walk about 2 miles to the van. For the second time that day, I started crying behind my Smiths because I was so hungry. I recall Kate comforting me, telling me I would be okay. I think she prevented me from breaking down completely on the side of the road. When we got back to the car, I downed a diet coke and some Nutty Bars that held me over until dinner.
By the time we got to dinner, we were all in good spirits. We had good food, good conversations and shared the various stories from the different vans. It was at this dinner that I heard the most annoying but ironically funniest song I think I have ever heard (Das Racist: Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell) that has made me laugh ever since.
Some Post Scripts:
HTC has a rule trying to make sure people don’t sand bag their times, that if you finish within 30 minutes of your predicted time, that you receive an automatic registration for the following year. Well, we were 50 minutes ahead of schedule, and no one was sad that we wouldn’t be getting that auto registration.
Everyone, new members and old, had a good time and are excited for the opportunity to do another relay in 2013. I am grateful for Joe who sent out that email back in 2008 starting the ball rolling on this relay.
Being the last runner was really hard, and I give James and Josh props for having done it in the past. I had a longer time with minimal nutrition and little rest, it was difficult.
I do not like racing feeling this under-trained. While I am grateful that my team cares more about having fun than being competitive, I re-affirmed that I do not like racing under-trained. I can get away with it on a bike, but when it comes to running, I am just not strong enough to get away with it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

HTC: Part 2

After finishing up our first legs and dropping off JC's and Bill's wives who were enjoying the shopping available in Portland, we headed towards our next major exchange location.

We had a hotel reservation in St. Helens, but because of a fire at a tire store, there was ample traffic preventing a quick entrance, and we probably spent at least an hour trying to get to the hotel that could have been spent either showering or sleeping. I had contemplated showering, but by the time we got checked in, we were looking at less than 2 hours of sleep. Now, I am not a great sleeper, but I was asleep by the time my head hit the couch. We had a 2:30 am wake up to get Robin to the next major exchange, so I didn’t sacrifice that measly 90 minutes of sleep for a shower. I did, however, take the time to brush my teeth.
When we got to the exchange, we had our one and only encounter with a not-so-chipper volunteer. Because we were coming from a hotel, we were coming to the exchange zone in the opposite direction of everyone else. The volunteer tried to tell us we were at the wrong exchange. We started making our way to the next exchange, but the description of Robin’s leg and the roads we were on just made J. Mack uncomfortable. We called the other van and sure enough, we had been directed away from the correct exchange. With about 30 seconds to spare, we got Robin to the exchange, but we didn’t really get to see our pals in the other van, but we did get them the keys to the hotel room. Now, it was 3:15am, but even in that darkness, Robin’s leg looked nasty, mostly uphill and not fun at all.
I kind of took over the responsibility over the clip board so when we got to the next exchange, I was out with Bill waiting for Robin, and that had to be my favorite exchange. We were at some farm, and the sky was as clear and brilliant, it just couldn't be ignored.  There was a very energized dog who was playing fetch with whoever was in the front of the Honey Bucket line.  And then there was a moment when I heard someone say, look how good she looks, especially in that jacket.  When I looked more closely, it was a gray jacket with "United States of America" on the back.  It definitely looked like one of the American olympic athletes wore on the medal stand.  Of course, I didn't think to look for a number or anything like that, but I like to think that the only stars weren't in the sky at that transition.

When Robin came back to the van, he was completely energized. He said he had a realization while on that brutal leg. Some guy said to him, “we are almost to the end” meaning of the brutal leg, when Robin said to him, “When you get to be my age, you don’t want to focus on the end, you really have to enjoy the journey.”

Now, if I felt bad for Robin because of the difficulty of his leg, I couldn’t believe Bill’s leg. At our very first relay, American Odyssey, Bill had the single hardest leg of the race, with something like a 15% grade climb after 2 miles of false flat. To this day, when I climb, I think of Bill “Billy Goat” Everett. Not only was it all uphill, but it was on a very dirt road. The dirt covered his glasses and between the dirt and the steam, he literally struggled to see, but he rocked it out regardless.

It was around this time that we were literally in “the middle of nowhere.” There was no GPS coverage, no cell coverage, I mean, they gave longitude and latitude coordinates for directions to the next exchange. After dropping off John and collecting Bill, we did have someone come by asking for “toe clips.” Talk about a time and place you don’t want to be stuck in a ditch. Now, I let John know that his “I am just going to take it easy lies” were not appreciated on his previous leg. Well, it took us a while to navigate through the vehicles on the side of the road (the parking lot for this exchange was literally the road). When we passed John, he was nearly finished, maybe a mile left of a 5 mile leg. I yelled out the window to him something like, “I see we are taking it easy, huh????”

Because of John’s speed, Kate, our next runner, was in quite a hurry and when she got up to the exchange she realized she was wearing two different shoes, one was hers and one was Jen’s. In a mad rush, we got her the right shoe in time for her not to make John wait again. Now, both John’s and Bill’s legs were on a horribly dusty dirt road. See photos of our “white” van after these legs. Now, John was a little fussy over the state of the vehicle, and when he saw the dirt, he thought it was chipped paint and nearly flipped out. After calming him down, we got moving to the next exchange.

I was kind of grateful with the timing of things, slowly but surely, the sun was starting to rise, and I was confident that both Jen and I would be free of having to wear the vest again. I don’t mind the safety vest, but by this stage of the race, they start to smell, and well, I don’t do smells.

After picking up Kate and dropping off Jen, we headed to my leg. We pulled in and were somehow picked out from the crowd of vehicles to try to give a jump to a vehicle that had died. Man, talk about some bad luck, one vehicle stuck in a ditch, another vehicle refusing to start. Despite trying to give them a jump, the vehicle wouldn’t start. I had to give over the driver seat to someone else to prepare for my leg. Now, it was about 7:15 when I would start running so I opted not to wear a visor and go for sunglasses and headband. I have to be honest, I bought these really cool orange Smith shades, and I was itching to wear them! Before the run, I got some great motivation from my team, Bill said to me, “what stands between me and 3 eggs over easy is your run, the faster you go, the faster I get my eggs.” Little did Bill know…

As Jen approached, there was a runner right ahead of her, and I kind of willed Jen not to pass her… the next runner, ahh, let’s just say didn’t have the body of a runner, and I was confident I could pass her. Now, this leg was just a shade under 5 miles, and it was in the 50’s temperature wise. I would have been cold had I not worn long sleeves, but I was a little warm in my neon Green Akron half marathon tech shirt.
Sure enough, I passed several people on this leg, and I was feeling great. There was a guy in green who passed me, but then he stopped pulling away so I spent most of the run trying to match his pace.  The cant in the road was pretty round so I was having a hard time picking somewhere to run, but I was making good time. After about a mile, my van passed me, which is always fun to hear your teammates hooting and hollering. Because we had been in the Middle-of-nowhere, Oregon for several hours, there was some concern as to whether our other van would be there on time. Sure enough, about 3 miles into my run, I was treated by another van of teammates cheering for me. I am still curious how I am so easy to spot from behind amongst lots of other runners, but the cheers were definitely a pick-me-up, especially since I was suffering from side cramps. (I almost never get side stitches when I run, it was a very odd experience for me).
The other obstacle of this run was that I was running through a cloud. My shades were fogging up like crazy. I was definitely kicking myself for not going with the visor, but that’s what I get for putting fashion over comfort, a blind run!
I believe I was still positive in the “road kill” game for the first 4.5 miles, and then it’s like the flood gates opened, and I got passed by about 6 people. I would have been upset, but one of the guys who passed me was in tight black running clothes, pretty ripped, and well, provided an excellent view! I almost said thank you, but I thought I had seen a wedding ring as he passed.

Once again, I was happy to see James ready to go and passed on the snap bracelet. I did suffer through Eric taking photos of the dew on my face, but once again, Van 1 didn’t have lot to chit-chat as they had to get back to trying to collect James after his last short run.