Thursday, March 24, 2011

RR: Yuengling Shamrock Dolphin Challenge: Part 2: Anthem Half Marathon

Yuengling Shamrock Dolphin Challenge
March 19-20, 2011 - Virginia Beach, VA

Saturday: Towne Bank 8K - 1:04:54
Sunday: Anthem Half Marathon: 03:08:03

Race Summary:  Ran "nearly naked" all weekend long (no watch to keep track of race pace) and had a fantastic time enjoying the Race, my Friends, the Beach and, of course, the Beer!

Also picked up my HALF FANATICS membership by finishing 3 Half Marathons within 72 days!  I am already looking at the list, trying to figure out how to move up to the next level of membership since "3 Half Marathons in 90 days" is only Level One. 

THE LONG VERSION - PART 2: (grab some coffee or a pint...this was a long weekend!)

Sunday: Anthem Half Marathon

I woke up Sunday morning, earlier, in an attempt to get Breakfast in early enough to feel like it made a difference.  Up at 5AM (race start at 7AM) and had my Bagel and Peanut butter and a large bottle of water and then puttered around, feeling anxious and nervous.  I had not brought enough "cold weather" running clothes with me and was very concerned that the high winds (15-20 mph) and the cooler temps ( 45F at start, high of 50F for the day) were going to make for a pretty miserable race experience.  I was much moodier than my typical "race-morning self" but the Ladies (Leanne, Judy, Alexis and Keri) just rolled with it. Good Friends on Race Mornings are a Blessing!

By 615am we were out the door and headed to the Half Marathon Start, a little 10 very windy blocks up from the hotel.  Did I mention it was COLD & WINDY? That didn't help my nerves much but I tried to relax and enjoy walking to the start - since everybody was starting in the same COLD & WIND b*tching about it wasn't going to make much difference - so I did my best to let it go.

After a fun Pre-Race photo op, we all split up to head to our Start Waves and I went to Wave 5 and stood with the huddle masses - there were lots of smiles and  pretty quickly after the National Anthem, we were off and on our way.

At the start: Judy, Keri, Holly (me) & Leanne

I really didn't see this coming - after having a rough day out on the 8K course - I honestly expected to have nothing for the Half Marathon and was really just planning to "move forward with purpose and try to have as much fun on the course as I could - no matter what my pace."  For this race, I ran "Half-Naked" - I had my Timex watch set for Run/Walk intervals of 3/1 - "to be started only if I ran out of motivation to keep running continuously" but I was not allowed to start the stop watch function that would tell me overall time elapsed, nor was I allowed to check on the actual time of day.

So here I am, feeling good, settling into a nice easy pace (at least it felt nice and easy - don't know, no watch to check!) and having fun, watching the people around me, checking out the neighborhoods and looking forward to the next 12 miles.

Miles 1-3 went by effortlessly - just moving along, settling in the pace. Just before Mile 3 we passed the local HASH HARRIERS Rest Stop and while I didn't stop and indulge in a little bit of beer - I did yell "ON ON" nice and loud and got "ON ON" and a few toasts from the folks on the side of the road!

I did break one "Golden Rule" of running that says "Do Nothing NEW on Race Day" but I was curious to try the nutrition plan that my own sister Heather has been using on her long runs since I have always been hit or miss on my stomach behaving on long runs.  Lately Heather has been using the "Running Buffet Method", as she likes to jokingly refer to it.  She eats one honey stinger chew per mile and keeps her hydration at regular intervals - as she needs it.  So I thought I'd give it a try.

My Result?  STEADY ENERGY and NO STOMACH ISSUES the ENTIRE RACE! (Also NO STOMACH ISSUES AFTER THE RACE - which has been a problem sometimes too!) I ate one Margarita Cliff Block every mile and drank water only when I felt like I wanted a little (which for me was Miles 3, 6, 8 & 11) and it worked out perfectly.  I am SOLD on the "Running Buffet Method" for any run longer than 6 miles from this point forward!

Miles 4-6 were spent on River Road - enjoying the bad Shamrock Jokes signs as well as some other Funny/Silly signs.  The one that I remember?

"I used to keep an open mind but it kept falling out of my head on my long runs; so I don't keep an open mind anymore"

Just before Mile 5, I stopped for my only Port-o-Potty break and while waiting in a long line, had a cool chat with a fellow in front of me who was running his first Half Marathon. As I left the Port-o-Potty, along came Priscilla & Debbie!  It was awesome to run with some Team Z teammates for a little bit but I honestly felt like the pace was a little faster than I wanted to go - so I backed off after about a mile of running with Debbie - reminding myself that "Today is for FUN, don't worry about TIME."

Just about half a mile from separating, I passed Debbie again - as she stopped at a Port-o-Potty and I waved "Hi!" and continued on.  Mile 7 came and went and I found myself thinking "I'm bored, this is getting harder, where is that darn lighthouse Ron told me about?"

The time had clearly come to "shake things up a bit" so I turned on my Interval Timer and started it.  I decided that from this point on, I would run 3:00 / walk 1:00 until the final turn onto the boardwalk and then run to the Finish Line.  It helped to have something "new" to focus on and I actually felt like my pace picked up ever so slightly, overall.

Miles 8-9 were fine - just working my way through Fort Storey - finally saw the Lighthouse and some beautiful Oceanviews, just in time to head straight into the WIND!  UGH!  But in perfect timing, right about Mile 9 - Debbie finally caught up to me and after discovering my Interval Plan - suggested that we stay together.  I was game and ready for the company so we divived the Intervals - My job was to keep us moving steady for the 3:00 Run and Debbie's job was to keep us "Walking quickly with purpse" for the 1:00 Walk.

We talked and ran and walked and talked.  It was really wonderful to spend some time with Debbie - hearing about her season plans, sharing my season plans - talking about swimming and running and everything in between. Debbie made the miles fly by and really I don't remember the headwinds - although I know we ran through them.

While I was not at all concerned with time, Debbie was focused on her time. She had done this race in 2010 as her first Half Marathon and she was steady and focused on a strong finish and setting a new PR (Personal Record).  We talked "Half Marathon Finish Times" in general, as I told her about my two Half Fanatic's races from this season (MS Blues & Myrtle Beach) and she shared with me that if we finished in/around my average pace for this season: 3:05-3:10 - She would come away with a nearly 20 minute PR.  This got my attention, because while I was not trying to race for time, I understood how much focus and effort Debbie was putting into her Race day and I was honored to be running with her and helping her make her personal time goal.

Before I knew it, we were looking at Mile 12 and just two more Run/Walk interval left. We agreed that "We only got two more Run/Walk Intervals and then we'd RUN it into the Finish Line - no matter how far we might be from the actual last turn onto the Boardwalk."  As it turns out our timing was perfect - our last 1:00 Walk was about 2 blocks before the final turn.

As we ran down the Boardwalk, Debbie asked me how I was going to finish - was I going to speed up? And I said "No, Sorry - this is all I have" and she responded "That is OK, this is all I have too but I am still going to have a big PR!" And with big smiles on our face, we ran together in to the Finish Line!

The rest of the day was spent enjoying Beer, Cheering on Team Z teammates and friends Ron and Shawn to their Marathon Finishes and a large tasty Philly Cheesesteak and Cheesecake at the Jewish Mother's Deli in Norfolk, VA with Shawn, Ron and Keri on our way home.

Ron, Shawn, Holly (me) & Keri - FINISHERS!
I couldn't have PLANNED a better Half Marathon Race Day if I tried - and maybe that is because this time, I didn't try. I just went out and took what my body had to give and focused on having fun and enjoying every mile. 

I would recommend running at least "One Race Naked Every Year" to those of you who run and for those of you who are not running - What are you waiting for?  Come on along - the finisher's BLING is worth every mile!
Just a little bit of the Race Swag & Bling - Half Marathon Medal, Finisher's Hat, Finishers Shirt (not in photo) and the 8K Finisher Medal plus an 8K Long Sleeve Tshirt and Half Marathon Tech Shirt - just for picking up your race packet!

Life is GOOD!  Live STRONG!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

RR: Yuengling Shamrock Dolphin Challenge: Part 1: Towne Bank 8K

Yuengling Shamrock Dolphin Challenge
March 19-20, 2011 - Virginia Beach, VA

Saturday: Towne Bank 8K - 1:04:54
Sunday: Shamrock Half Marathon: 03:08:03

Race Summary:  Ran "nearly naked" all weekend long (no watch to keep track of race pace) and had a fantastic time enjoying the Race, my Friends, the Beach and, of course, the Beer!

Also picked up my HALF FANATICS membership by finishing 3 Half Marathons within 72 days!  I am already looking at the list, trying to figure out how to move up to the next level of membership since "3 Half Marathons in 90 days" is only Level One. 

THE LONG VERSION: (grab some coffee or a pint...this was a long weekend!)

Friday: Race Expo Fun

Headed down to Virginia Beach with my wonderful friends and Team Z teammates, Leanne and Judy and we timed it perfectly! 3.5 hours from my front door to the Race Expo in Virginia Beach. We had fun picking up our race packet and shopping the Expo. It always nice to be at a Race Expo with friends who like to check out every vendor. I bought an official Shamrock Race pint glass for Jim and a commemorative race pin for me and managed to leave the expo with only the two race shirts that were part of my registration! That is a real accomplishment for me! LOL

We headed to our hotel. Judy reserved a room in the Hampton Inn Oceanside  - PERFECT LOCATION! It was right on the Finish Line chute for all the races for the weekend as well as the START for the 8K race and the 12-mile point of the Marathon. We were within walking distance of the Finish Line and Beer Tent! It doesn't get much better than that.

We headed out to dinner at "Rudee's on the Inlet" and had a great meal and then went back to the Hampton Inn to chill, get ready to race the 8K and wait for the arrival of our friend/teammate Keri - who rolled in about 10PM. Let the MEGA SLEEPOVER / RACE WEEKEND Begin!

Saturday: Dolphin Challenge - Race #1: Towne Bank 8K (4.9 miles)

Got up at 6:30am for an 8am race start, got dressed and headed down to Continental Breakfast at the hotel. Bagel with Peanut butter (standard training/racing breakfast) and glass of Skim Milk and I was ready to go. In retrospect, I realized that I did not eat my breakfast early enough, compared to normal training days - I really felt that during the race.

We walked out the front door of the hotel and were immediately standing in front of Corral 3. We walked over to Corral 4 as a group and Leanne, Judy and I eased into the crowd to wait for the start.
The weather was descent; breezy but temps in the low 50s already - perfect for a nice "almost 5-mile run."

Wave Starts had us crossing the start line about 5 minutes after the Elite Wave and we headed South towards 2nd Ave (start line was 31st Ave) with the wind at our back. I decided that this weekend I was running "Naked" - No Watch or Garmin to keep track of my time or pace - This entire weekend would be about Running for Fun and having a wonderful time with my Friends and Teammates.  This would be my last big Team Z Race Weekend, as Jim and I are getting ready to move in the end of April.  FUN was the ONLY GOAL!

First 2 miles were OK - I was having some odd lower shin pain and felt really low on energy. It frustrated me a little, since this was the "short run of the weekend." I really had no clue how long we had been on the course because I never saw the Mile 1 marker but we passed a water stop at 1.5 miles (which I know from looking at the race map the day before).  Skipped that water stop and just enjoyed being well in the middle of the pack and really tried to let go of how frustrated I was at feeling "kinda empty of energy".  With 9,000 people racing the 8K, even my slower pace is still the middle of the pack - no chance to feel like you were alone on this race course.

We hit 2nd Ave and turned onto the Boardwalk and INTO THE WIND for the next mile.  The wind gusts were 15-20mph and all around, people were joking and/or moaning about the wind.  My shins had finally stopped bugging me, so I was just happy to feel like I finally warmed up a bit.  Took a cup of water at Mile 3 / water stop and enjoyed all the "Go Holly!" from fellow Team Z peeps as they passed me.  No worries on being passed, I was out to have FUN!

We turned left of the boardwalk sometime around 25th or 27th Ave and back onto Atlantic Ave and ran past the hotel and got a bit of a break from the wind - thanks to all the big hotels for the last mile.  Passed the Hampton Inn, passed the Start location for the Half Marathon on Sunday and turned Right for the last quarter mile down the boardwalk to the Finish Line.  Treated to a TAIL WIND all the way into the Finish Line and had the pleasure of running with Teammates AJ & Nicolas for a "Three Z Finish."

I expected that I would finish right around 1:00:00 and did not actually look at the Race Clock at the Finish Line because I was busy having fun finishing with my Teammates. Crossed the Finish, got a nice Finisher Medal, met up with Leanne and Judy and we headed straight to the Beer Tent for a Yuengling - By 9:15am - after running 8K - I was standing on the Beach enjoying a beer with good friends!

CHIP TIME: 1:04:54 - This definitely reflects that I was low on energy and could have done a better job of eating breakfast earlier.

Rest of Saturday: Race Expo, Cake Adventures & Team Z Dinner:

Met up with Keri after the 8K, rinsed off and changed and then went back out to the Race Expo so that Keri could pick up her packet for the Half Marathon too.  Then Keri and I went on a little COSTCO adventure.  Since this would be my last TEAM Z Race Weekend before our move to Alabama, I wanted to do something to say "Goodbye" to my Teammates, so Keri helped me coordinate with Coach Ed and Coach Alexis to bring "dessert" to the Team Z Pasta Dinner on Saturday night.

Keri and I bought 3 huge sheet cakes for the 130+ folks that were going to be at the Team Z Pasta Dinner and then we headed back to the Hamton Inn to chill out with Leanne, Judy and Alexis until it was time to go to Dinner.

Had a wonderful time at the Team Z Pasta Dinner and Coach Alexis helped me tell the Team "Goodbye" and we all enjoyed some tasty cake - then we headed back to the hotel for an early night before the Half Marathon in the AM.

That's it for PART 1....

Yuengling Half Marathon to follow in Part II (Damn this is long! LOL)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Stuck in T1

So there are big things afoot in our household, we are looking at a Big Move in our immediate future but we are waiting on the final paperwork...

Big Life Changes like this always remind me of being in Transition; waiting for your teammate to finish the swim so you can get on the bike.

I'm excited, nervous, worried, pumped up, full of adrenaline - but I am just waiting...doing my best tp "patiently wait" (which, if you know me at all, you understand that PATIENCE is my least successful virtue.)...just WAITING.

In the mean time, life is moving forward, as usual, around me:

CANCER to 5K is getting ready to start another Spring season in VA and MD! (GO TEAM!)

Team Z is heading to Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend:
-  I'm running the Dolphin Challenge - 8K on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday

Team FIGHT has an amazing season of races ahead!
- Survivor Harbor 7
- IronGirl Columbia Triathlon
- Half Full TRI
- REV 3 TRI Series

• If paperwork goes smoothly (fingered and toes crossed), I will be racing the Gulf Coast Half Marathon on April 10th which means;

• I will complete the requirements to be a HALF FANATIC "Saturn Status" by finishing 4 Half Marathons in 4 consecutive months.

So as you can see, even while I am waiting, I find a way to keep myself occupied...

After all, a girl has gotta do something while she is waiting in T1.

Life is Good! LiveSTRONG! (y'all)