Monday, September 29, 2014

Talladega 21000 Recap

I don't run well in the heat (more accurately the humidity)!  I. KNOW. THIS.  It is the reason I don't typically run half marathons in the summer.  But this year, I decided to do a few as I am on a mission to do 14 in '14.   And, I still believe that magically the running fairy will waive her wand [*poof*] and the heat & humidity will no longer bother me.  Still waiting running fairy...HA.

Looks like people in the stands.
I am not a NASCAR fan.  But something intrigued me about this race.  It had good reviews, so I thought -- why not?  I convinced a couple of running buddies to come with me as it's so much more fun that way!  Parking and packet pickup were a breeze.  It was cool, overcast and breezy.  Yeah!   It didn't stay that way.  Boo!

Gentlemen, start your engines!  We started right on the track.  The route took us on, above, beside, underneath and outside the track.  My favorite part was the lap we did underneath the grandstands.  On a sunny day, this would be the only shaded part.  We did leave the track for a few miles around the grounds and then returned through the main entrance.  There were lots of signs paying homage to the movie Talladega Nights.  {Shake 'N Bake}

Having run a half the weekend before, I could tell I was a little tired almost immediately.  I just did what I could.  It was mostly flat except a few very steep ramps where we changed levels.  There was also a hill or two on the outside portion.  Nothing major.  I was surprised at how long the track is...2 1/2 miles or something like that.  Holy Cow.  The steepness of the banked curves is unbelievable. 

The last few miles on the track were brutal as the sun was blazing and I was "done".  Just keep moving.  Surprisingly, I ended up doing fairly well for a summer race.  I was pleased to have come in 5th in my AG.  (Arrgghh, HoHo...couldn't you have pushed a little harder?  Why did you run that half last weekend?)

I really enjoyed this race.  There was a definite coolness factor of running on a NASCAR track.  It was very well organized.  We had plenty of fluid stops and several GU stops too.  At the after party, they had a BBQ feast, beer, ice cream and an amazing band.  See you next year 'Dega.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

REVEL Rockies Recap

In August, I had the opportunity to run the inaugural REVEL Rockies half marathon (thanks See Mom Run Far!).  Being southern, I was curious about running at high altitude.  I've snow skied in Colorado but had never run there.  The course was to run through a canyon from Evergreen down to Morrison; from 7500 to 5700 feet. 

Great tech shirt!
The expo was located in Denver.  It was quite small and packet pickup was quick.  When I arrived in Morrison the next morning, the temp read 70.  Ughhh.  No kidding, it took the shuttle bus about 40 minutes to wind its way 13 miles up to Evergreen.  Now I'm nervous!  I love a good downhill route, but what had I gotten myself into?   About halfway up the temp dropped to, I'm guessing, 48-50 degrees.  Perfection.  We were given an emergency blanket and gloves in our goodie bag and I was able to stay warm until race time.

The first half mile was actually uphill...what the heck?  Once we crested that hill, it was pretty much downhill until we got to the last mile...again--what the heck?  The first miles were definitely a struggle for me due to the altitude.  (I was also favoring a sore ankle.)  I am used to heat and insane humidity but this felt different.  Instead of the overall feeling of heaviness the humidity causes, I just felt a burning sensation in my chest.   Where do you keep the air in CO?  I had no choice but to keep it slow.  

Sometime during mile 8, the missing air returned.  Yes, I could breathe!  At this point, it was warm again but the absence of humidity was very much appreciated.   I did my darnedest to make up the time lost at the top.  I'm very proud of the fact I ran my best second half of a half marathon EVER.  Had the last mile not flattened out and actually had an uphill finish, I may have gotten a PR.  Oh, well - another day.  [I did not train for this race as I didn't even know anything about it until 2 weeks prior.]  By the way, at altitude, a flat section feels like UPHILL.  The last portion and finish line were located in a loose gravel lot.  This is probably the only negative thing I can say.

The medal is as big as my face!

Overall, this was an awesome experience.  The route followed a rushing stream and there were times I turned off my music just to listen to the water.  We'd run around a curve and be staring up at a huge mountain silhouetted against a beautiful blue sky.  Stunning.  A definite "this is why I run" event.  Race organization was great.  There were plenty of fluid stops.  We were given a printed card with our race stats.  Very nice.  The after party had a great rock band!  The food was OK and a local beer was provided.  Even though my quads were trashed for days, I'd absolutely do this one again!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Team Waffle House

I have a new, dear friend who is as crazy obsessed dedicated to racing as me (hard to believe).  She too is a Half Fanatic.  We've been racing most Saturdays this summer if we can find one fairly close to home.  Recently, at an incredibly small 5k race, there was a female racer present who was apparently sponsored by a major sports food brand.  It was emblazoned on her running bra, visor, and shorts.  Impressive?  Absolutely!  [She won.]  Jealous?  Yes!!  Out of Place?  Ummmm, sorry, yes.

But, it got us to thinking...who could be our sponsor?  Whose name could we boldly stamp on our running bras?  [Note: neither of us would even think about running in just a bra!  Subject for another post!]  Who would deem us worthy of their brand?  The answer was immediate.  Waffle House.  Every small town in the south has one.  No Starbucks?  No Panera Bread?  No quaint local coffee shop?  No worries...you can always find a Waffle House.  It's a place to console yourself after a bad race or celebrate after a good one...and to definitely plan the next one.  Yes, we decided, we could wear those yellow blocks with pride!

So, we did our usual 5k this Saturday.  And, congratulations to Team WH for both placing on a very hilly course.  Of course, we stopped at Waffle House afterward to celebrate.  As we go our separate ways to race this coming weekend, good luck Sista on your race...and eat a Peanut Butter Waffle for me.  Go Team WH.