Tuesday, November 20, 2012

OBX Marathon. November 11, 2012

Second time at OBX.  I loved this marathon 2 years ago.  Its mostly flat, “just one hill” at mile 22 and at a place I love to visit.  

This would be a test run for me to see how much work I have yet to go for my BQ attempt March 2013.  

We made the last minute decision to change from a hotel in Currituck to a camping site in Kitty Hawk.  Forgot about Jordan (our dog) and how we would need to take her with us (oops!)   The hotel was not pet friendly.  We found an awesome site in Kitty Hawk - full hook ups for $40 bucks a night.  Pets welcome - AWESOME!

We planned to leave around 11 on Friday, but things happened and we were not able to leave until 2:00.  We also took a wrong turn (rather, we didn’t turn) and added another half hour to the trip...  We finally crossed the bridge from Manteo to the OBX, and the whole island went dark.  Literally all the lights up and down the coast and several miles inland were without power.  We were driving down US 12 hauling a 21 foot camper, looking for a campground we have never been to, with no streetlights and no stop signals.  It was a mess!  We got to what we thought was our campground to find out we had already passed it a few miles back.  We turned around, and found the place and set up our site in the dark.  Yes, it was a stressful day....  But just as we were finishing up, the power came back on - YAY!!  We went out for dinner at The Outer Banks Brewing Station.  

Saturday morning Andy, Kayla and Drew ran the 5K.  It was great to be an observer as opposed to being the runner.  I loved cheering them on.  Drew came in first for the Surrette family, followed by Andy and then Kayla.  So proud of them!!

We went back to the camper for a bit.  Joey came by for a visit, then we went to the beach for a while.  The kids waded in the surf and looked for shells, but it was pretty cold!!  No swimming or playing in the waves this visit!

Later that night we went to Kitty Hawk Baptist where they had a spaghetti dinner for the runners.  We had gone there in years past, once for my 13.1, and again 2 years ago for the 26.2.  Awesome meal once again!  It was followed by a short service which was awesome.  I left there with Hebrews 12:1-3 in my heart - “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  The pastor kept saying “run with endurance”.  I hid that in my heart for Sunday.

Sunday morning I was ready!  Put on my kilt and met up with the other kilted runners at the start - Joey and Karla.  We planned on staying together.  My goal was 3:55 which I thought was attainable so I knew I might be a little ahead at some point.

We started off together at lap one.  After that I started pulling ahead some.  Not much, but I felt good and wanted to “bank some time” if at all possible.  I had my music on and was focused on the race.  

My husband and I had sat down the night before and plotted out all the stops he would make while I was running.  I saw him and the kids every 4-5 miles up until mile 17.  It was awesome to have a cheering crew :D  I also traded hand held bottles when I saw them.  I would trade in my ‘used’ handheld, and they would have another one filled with water, and the pouch filled with gu’s and s-caps. Awesome deal!  

I started to feel a little “off” around mile 10.  Something wasn’t quite right and I didn’t feel so well.  Not sick, not stomach or digestion related but it kinda felt like it does just before you get the flu. I kept at it though my pace had slowed some, but not much.  I was not sure if it was running the hills in the woods, or how I felt, but I was losing some time.  I took a quick pee break around mile 12 and when I got out of the porta potty there were Joey and Karla.  

We passed the halfway point just over 2:00.  I was bummed realizing that it would be a long shot for me to reach 3:55 and not feeling well.  I stayed with them and was maybe 5 seconds behind them at most.  I didn’t want to let them out of my sight.  I kept thinking “Run with Endurance”  I was kicking myself for not finding a Sharpie and writing that on my left arm before the race, but yet, I kept thinking of it.  

It was amazing how many people said to us “nice kilts” or “nice skirt”.  That was fun and the encouragement along the course was uplifting.  There was one guy who was cheering for someone one not too far behind me - maybe a couple minutes or so, but every 4-5 miles he would be there, hitting on a huge cowbell with a  drumstick (with good rhythm I might add), huge red curly hair, and a sweater 5x too small for him with his belly hanging out (on purpose I would hope).  It was humorous every time I saw him.  Had to laugh - Loved it!!!  

I stuck with Joey and Karla for the next 8 miles.  Around mile 20  said to Joey, “I might not be able to sub 4, but do you think I can get a PR?”  He said “sure, but you cannot slow down” (My PR from before was 4:06:50)

That was all I needed.  I picked it up again for the last 6 miles and started pulling away from them.  It was a tough grind but I had a goal.  Not my original goal, but it was something to strive for.

By now we had been in the sun for a couple hours and it was much hotter than I expected.  I was going through water faster than I thought I would.  At what I thought was an aid station I got the top off my handheld and was hoping they would pour water in it.  Well, my mistake, it was a beer stop!  I put the lid on my water bottle and drank the half cup of beer anyway ;)  There was a water stop another mile ahead where I did fill my water bottle to the top :)

I was at the bottom of the bridge just about to make the assent when my iPhone started playing the next song on my playlist.  It could not have been timed any better - Tom Petty’s “Runin Down a Dream”.  Wow.  I kept my cadence to the beat of this song and it brought me all the way to the top.  Awesomeness indeed!  The only part that was not so awesome is the 23 mile sign was not posted on the bridge.  I had planned on hitting it with my hand, but it was not there this year.  *sigh*

One thing that my ultra running has helped with during this marathon is that I was able to pick up the pace again, even in the tough last 6 miles.  I passed more people in this section of the run than I did anywhere else.  I was hoping to pick up a running partner somewhere along the way, but none were to be found...  well, at least until the last .4 miles.  There was a woman about my age who was walking.  I said “come on, lets finish this up”  We ran strong, step for step for a long while.  Many people cheered us on seeing how we were pushing each other along and working it!  She said “I wish I could just see the finish line!”  I told her “It is right around that corner”   She ended up taking off when she saw it.  I did too, but I saw my family right there cheering me on - I ran at them with a big ARGGGGG (see photo above) and gave my son a high five.  That was a great moment having my family be there for me at the finish.  I looked up at the finish saw the time of 4:05 something on the clock and knew I had just worked my way to a PR!!  I crossed that finish line one very happy kilted woman :D

I finished, received my metal, and someone walked me over to a shady seat where I could get a drink.  I was pretty dehydrated, but I didn’t realize it at the time.  I met up with my family at the back of the finish area where the kids and I stocked up on “free” coconut water.  Andy joked with me saying that I nearly got my race fee covered in how many coconut waters I had ;)  (BTW, that has been a drink of choice of mine for several years).

We hung out for a bit with Joey and Karla afterwards, took a few pictures, got some free food and beer then decided to call it a day.  

We got back to the camper and I took a quick shower.  I had had a LOT to drink after the race.  Still, I hadn’t “gone” yet.  When I finally did, it was by far darker than it should have been, freaked me out actually.  I think this was the most dehydrated I had ever been during a run, and I was drinking a lot.  Later that afternoon my stomach was a mess....  I think I took in too many caffeinated gu’s during the run.  I don’t take in caffeine normally, and to have this much at once really messed up my gut.  I will leave it at that.....  

We hung out at the beach for a good long while.  Saw other marathoners limping around out there.  We talked some, congratulated each other and kept walking.  It was a good afternoon.

Went back to the campground, had dinner, and called it a night.  The next day we packed up our things to head out of town.  Last stop though was Jockeys Ridge.  I was really sore and had no expectations of climbing the dunes, but ended up doing so anyway.  It was a great way to end the vacation.  

I forgot to stop my garmin when I finished so my time read 4:30 something when I plugged it in :s  I hate it when I do that!  The data that was pretty cool though was showing that I was able to hold my pace for 6 miles and most significantly for the last mile.  My time did not slow down for the mile of the assent of the bridge.  That was awesome too :D

But the most awesome part of all was a few days later when I received an e-mail from Bruce Bokish with the  OBX marathon official results:  4:04:41.1  Rank: 7 F-35 to 39  woo!

Was it what I had hoped?  No, it wasn’t but I wasn't too disappointed, especially with at PR

I learned a few things:
  • I am coming back from a 2 year ultrarunning streak and trying to build up speedwork for shorter distances.  It is not the usual building up to the 26.2 distance, I came off a 100 mile run in April.  
  • I am 2 years older and just a smidgen faster than I was at this race in 2010.  
  • Compared to how I did 2 years ago, I ran the first part faster in 2010 (sub 2) but ran the second half stronger in 2012.  Endurance?  Strength?  Wisdom?  Maybe a little of each. :)

Lets see what this winter holds.  Tough training?  Yes.  Early mornings?  Yes.  Hill repeats?  Yes.  Mile repeats?  Yes.  Will it hurt?  Yes.  Will it just really suck some days?  Yes.  But guess what:  it will be the only way I get to Boston.  Bring it on!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Women's only 5K Greensboro, NC. October 6, 2012

This is the one race that I have been “so close” to the podium in the several years I have run it. This was going to be the year that I was hoping to break that streak and finally make it.

I hadn't been training for a 5K. Haven't run a competitive 5K in 2 years actually. I had just come off of an easy summer running schedule, physically and mentally preparing myself for the training I knew would come during the fall and winter for the BQ attempt in March. So for me to think that I could just get on the podium without seriously training, might have been a stretch, but hey, that is how I think. I have a goal, and as always, want to achieve it.

The morning started off cool but sunny. A great day for the run! Met up with the Yum Yum Ya Ya's team – They had asked me months earlier if I would join and I said I would love to! Love me some Yum Yums hot dogs! :D

We took a few pictures and proceeded to the start. I had 6 songs on my iPhone that I had picked to try to keep my cadence at or around 180. I haven't worked much with my cadence like this in a race, but I knew my normal cadence was about 165, well below the optimum 180. I was hoping this might give me a little something to focus on while running.

Before I knew it, the gun went off and we started. Slight down hill, right into an uphill grade. I tried to keep a steady pace as I knew I would have to hold it for the entire 3 miles. I kept my eye out around me for “people who looked like they were in my age group”. It really did not matter too much though as the field spread out quite quickly. 

I can't say there was one person I tried to keep an eye on. I was racing myself and trying to run to the beat of my music without getting my heart-rate too much over 180. About halfway through we looped back and the walkers were cheering the runners at the front on. That was awesome. The cheering kept getting louder, and I wondered why, until a 9 year old passed me. WHAT! Well, she was my “new goal” stick with her. Holy smokes she was fast. I did the best I could to stick with her, but she stayed well ahead of me. It was about this time another woman was trying to go around me and I was not about to let her do that. (sorry!) She looked older than my division, but still, it gave me that push I needed to power up that last hill to the finish. There was one other person who finished just ahead of me that passed me about 2 miles in that I was trying to catch, but didn't. I finished up that hill with the screaming crowd and nearly passed out at the finish. I had given it my all. 23:33. I hoped it would be enough to make that podium.

I heard the announcer saying the names and places of the top 20 finishers. I kept listening for my name and sure enough “in 18th place, Amy Surrette with a time of 23:33” woo!! I posted the result on facebook and went in search of the results to see the places.

When I got to the board, they had just posted the first sheet. The first thing I noticed when I saw my name was 4 in the division slot. I looked again and saw the person who finished 1 second ahead of me was in my division and came in 3rd. I was so disappointed. Missed it by one second!  I had a bit of a pity party for about 15 minutes, then pulled myself together and realized that even though I didn't train for this run, I was nearly contending for a podium finish.

Next year. Yep, next year will be another opportunity. I will be in the Masters division, I will train for this one, and Lord willing I will finally know what it feels like to be on the podium and not one or 2 places away as I am so used to.

Not many races have “gotten under my skin” like this one. I have come so close so many times here, I just have to one day finish this “unfinished business” with this race and be able to walk away from it. Until then, I will continue to return in my quest to make it to that podium :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hinson Lake 24 hour September 29 - 30, 2012

Ahh, my second year at Hinson.  Goals this year were way different from the year before.  Last year I was going for as many miles as I could, this year my goal was to run 39 miles for my 39th birthday.  Looking to have some fun and run some miles with a good group of friends :)

We arrived Friday afternoon and set up the camper in the back 40 of the lodge. Several runners had already arrived and were setting up camp.  Others continued to arrive after we got there.  After we got things set up, many of us met up at the local Italian Restaurant for dinner.  We took up the entire back room!  Hey, we have to carb load somewhere, right?  Might as well do it with friends :D

After eating we went back to the lodge. It was then I decided to make the short drive over to Ellerbe to talk with the folks who's dog bit Joey and I in June.  They still had not paid the balance of the medical bills, and I was ready to move on from that mess, but they had to finish the bills first.  I got to their house and they were home.  I didn’t dare step out of the Jeep into the yard that had way too many animals in it.  I called them and she came out and talked with me.  After talking for an hour about many things, I drove away with the balance of the money they still owed for the medical expenses, and a final feeling of peace and closure from such a horrible accident, that should have never happened....  

Got back to Hinson and was quite happy!  Shared the news with the circle of friends who were camping there at the lodge.  Some couldn't believe I went on my own to square up the debt, but they were happy that it was over too.  Hey, it needed to be done, so I did it.  

In true ultrarunner style, we retreated to our tents and campers by 9:45 to try n get some sleep.  OK, so we don’t know how to party the night before, but we sure do for the next 24 hours!

I woke up well before my alarm and got dressed.  Got the kids up and had them get ready as well.  It was just me and my kids this weekend - Andy had to work so I had to play both runner and mom during this event.  I knew it would be kinda hard to balance, but was willing to do it as the other choice was not attending at all...  

My kids were way excited to be at Hinson.  Last year they had a great time and logged many miles. It was a race they talked about all year and how they wanted to go back again. They each had goals this weekend and were ready to reach them!

8:00am and the race is underway!  The kids and I started out together, but Drew and Kayla took off and left Ashlynn, Jordan (the family dog) and I behind.  Drew’s goal was to run 50 miles, up from 50K last year, Kayla's goal was 26.2, and Ashlynn's was a 10K.

I started off slow with Ashlynn and Jordan.  Took the first lap at a walk.  We took another lap together then went back to our canopy so Ash could rest.  I was hoping that Kayla and I could rotate watching Ashlynn but Kayla was quite interested in logging the miles early on.  I was happy that she and Drew were running, but it was hard to play mom when I wanted to run...  So that is how most of the day went.  I would go out for a lap or 2 when Kayla stayed with Ashlynn, then we would switch.  

I slowly started logging some miles.  One thing that was fun was getting to go out and run with some folks that I don't get the opportunity to run with very often.  I logged some miles with Mark and Tim who I am friends with on facebook but had not met in person before.  It was an awesome thing! I even ran one fast lap with Bobby.  Most definitely my fastest lap of the day.  My heart wanted to run like that all day, but that was not my goal.  I also had to keep track of my kids. I didn't get the chance to run with everyone I had hoped to, but was at least able to say hi to most everyone.

Night started to fall, and I was still a ways off from my 39 miles.  Kayla had gotten in her marathon and was helping at the aid station, Ashlynn was chillin at the canopy, and Drew was still running.  He was closing in on his 50 miles.  I was waiting by the canopy for him for quite some time, waiting for him to run by, but he hadn't.  I had someone run by saying that Drew was looking for me so I went out for another lap looking for him.  He was waiting for me on the bridge at the half way point.  He was getting tired.  I told him he was 4 miles away from 50 miles but I could tell he was done.  He came to the decision to stop at 46 and what I thought was great is that he was not disappointed that he did not make the full 50.  He said that will be next years goal :)

Joey arrived during the late evening and Ashlynn fell asleep on his lap.  The day had worn her out.  She  covered a 10K. I was able to get in a few miles while she slept with him.

Joey and I ran my 39th lap together and I called it a night.  Tried to fall asleep in the chair under the canopy, but a cool breeze had picked up off the lake and I took the kids into the camper with me to finish out the night. 

Early the next morning we headed back down to the lake to see who was still running and to take down the canopy.  Lots of people were still movin.  Relentless forward progress...  Pure awesomeness in motion!  I started taking down the canopy when Rebecca came by nearly in tears saying “Amy, I am going to make my 40 miles just this lap to go!”  If anyone knows about running and crying its me (flashback to U100).  I stopped taking down the canopy and said you got this and I started running with her.  We took off jogging down the path, me in my flip flops and jeans and Rebecca in her running attire on this last “banana lap”  It was awesome!  I hadn't planned on running any more that day, but I couldn't let her go on her own!  We finished up on the other side of the lake, she dropped her banana when the horn sounded and we walked in happy about another great Hinson Lake 24 experience!  Congrats on a great finish Rebecca!  So proud of you and your accomplishments.  You have come a long way girl! You are a huge inspiration to not only me, but to Kayla as well.  She looks up to you a lot!

Now the real work began, had to tear down the canopy and the pop up camper.  This is the third time I had to do this after running an ultra.  Last year after the 100k at Hinson,  again at Crooked Road after 83 miles and again now after 40+.  Sometimes I think the real endurance comes after the race and pushing forward doing all the other stuff that needs to be done.  ;)

Got everything packed up and met up with a few folks afterwards at the local Shoney's over race talk, bacon, eggs and chocolate milk  :) 

Another great Hinson in the books.  Thanks to Tom who puts a great race together each year.  My family and I are looking forward to 2013!