Thursday, April 17, 2014

Three Things Thursday - Riverboat Series Wrap Up

1.  I arrived home Tuesday night exhausted.  Tired from the flight home from Memphis, from the time zone change, from running 3 halfs in 3 states in 3 days.  I had to be up early for work yesterday morning.  But, despite still being worn out, I found a minute to move my magnets on the Map of Awesome.

Haha, Alabama, you are now surrounded by completed half marathon states.
2.  Hanging up the medals from the Riverboat Series, I noticed again how awesome they are.  Since I ran three of the races, I received three states to hang off of it.  Those who finished 5 races, have 5 states to dangle down.  The medal itself is so classy.  Well done Mainly Marathons, well done.

Love that riverboat...
3.  The best part of this multi day event was the people.  It wasn't about where you finished or your time.  Everyone had different goals, some were participating for 5 days in an effort to gain a ridiculous number of halfs or fulls for 2014.  Others, like MCM Mama and me, were racing in these states for the first time, on our quest for 50 half marathons in 50 states.  We were all in it together, from the teenage kid who absolutely crushed the marathon on day 1, to the man running barefoot, to the woman walking in her pink hat with the flowers on it…cheering for me and all the runners as we passed by on the out and backs.

I highly recommend doing these races with friends that will dress matchy matchy with you.  Friends that will be tourists each day, when the races are over.  Friends that will help you make memories you will never forget.  Thanks to Sonya, Trisha and MCM Mama for an amazing long weekend in and around Memphis.

Half Marathon Race Recap Day 1: Kentucky
Half Marathon Race Recap Day 2: Tennessee
Half Marathon Race Recap Day 3: Arkansas

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Riverboat Series *Arkansas* Half Marathon Race Recap

Lake Chicot State Park
Half Marathon State #33
Monday, April 14, 2014
Start Time: 7:00 am
Temperature: 60 at the start
Bib #510
Overall: 2
Finish Time: 1:58:10

This has become my favorite medal.  Arkansas is a huge add on!
Sunday night, we stayed in Greenville, MS.  I had the worst night's sleep, due to thunder and a noisy air conditioner (that we finally turned on, gah!).  Our room was so hot, what a bunch of Oregonians in the middle of Mississippi.

Lake Chicot State Park is 45 minutes from Greenville, assuming you take at least one wrong turn. My GPS lead us into the middle of a field.  I'm sure it was part of the park, but picnic shelters and visitor centers don't have street addresses to program in.  Luckily, Trisha's GPS felt the campground, where the start was located, was a better ending point.

The non stop thunder and lightning on the drive over was a bit disconcerting.  Beautiful and scary. The views of the Mississippi River, crossing over from Mississippi into Arkansas were spectacular. Luckily, as the sun rose, the rain stopped.

Pre race directions.
Today's course was a 1.31 mile, flat as a pancake, out and back.  We would need to acquire NINE rubber bands, one for each lap, then finish up with a 10th lap.

Pre race, with my partners in crime, nice and dry and ready to run.
I started out near the front of the pack, with a handful of full marathoners in front of me.  After the first two laps, I dropped my hat (the skies had cleared, thankfully).  And, I decided to attempt a sub 2 hour half.  Heck, this was my final half in three days, why not?  This was definitely the course on which to attempt it.

Since the laps were so short, we passed each other a lot on the out and backs.  I was able to see my buddies and cheer for them constantly.  I was also able to see the second place runner, a woman named Kelly (who camped at each park and will be doing all 5 races), every time I turned around at an orange cone (on both ends of the course).

Mid race somewhere, when it was still dry out.
I didn't carry my water bottle, instead choosing to drink Gatorade and eat gummy bears after most of the laps.  I had a few miles that were under 9 minutes, so I was able to drive my overall pace down.

At mile 10, out of nowhere, some guy in a white shirt comes up behind me and passes me.  He went on to win the race.  Oh well, I finished strong, with that sub 2 I was determined to achieve.  Thank goodness the courses got flatter over the three days.

Just as I was finishing, the rain started.  The heavens opened and it was miserable standing under the RV awning, trying to stay dry and watch for my buddies to finish.

Snuck out for a rainy photo under Mr. MCM Mama's umbrella.  Not sure a picture can capture how wet it was.
Soaked!  She said the back half of the course all puddles.  No way around them.  The rain came down hard and fast.
I can't imagine what it was like to walk/run a full marathon out there.  Some of those runners would be on the course for over 5 hours.  Yuck!  I was so glad to be finished with Arkansas, and finished with 3 halfs in 3 days.

After our showers, we went to Leland, MS, to the Jim Henson Museum.

Me with Kermit, and my elementary school favorite, Miss Piggy.
The drive from Leland back to Memphis, TN is about 3 hours.  The rains never let up, there was even a flash flood warning.  But, we made it back safely.

Our hotel for the last night was right off of Beale Street.  We arrived in town, just in time to visit the Peabody Hotel and watch the famous Marching of the Ducks at 5pm.  The duckmaster walks the ducks from the lobby fountain to the elevator, every evening.  

The duckmaster is on the red carpet, ready to go.
I had the best BBQ ribs for dinner at the Blues City Cafe, then we walked down Beale Street.

Probably a bit more exciting on a weekend night.
Another amazing day, traveling between three states within 12 hours.  Good times, good times.

Good luck to all of those Riverboaters running in Mississippi today, for their 4th race in 4 days!

Riverboat Series Kentucky Half Marathon Recap HERE.
Riverboat Series Tennessee Half Marathon Recap HERE.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Riverboat Series *Tennessee* Half Marathon Race Recap

Meeman-Shelby State Park
State #32
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Start Time: 7:00 am
Temperature: 65 at the start
Bib #510
Overall: 3
Finish Time: 2:01:38

Tennessee medal added to Kentucky!
We stayed Saturday night in Millington, TN.  Twenty minutes from Meeman-Shelby State Park, where half marathon #2 out of 3 in a row would start.

We took a wrong turn or two, but finally found the start/finish/aid station RV.

Instant half marathon set up.
My big concern was whether or not I should carry my water bottle, or grab it after the first two miles. Today's half was a 2.18 out and back on a mostly flat paved, shady, tree lined path.

Trees.  Lots and lots of trees.
I chose to carry my water, for all 6 laps.  With the temps at 65 degrees, and a bit of humidity, it was a good choice.  As we started, a young, thin, fast woman in a half marathon bib shot out in front of the pack.  Yeah, I would not be repeating as race victor.

My buddies and I spread out right away, so I plugged in my iPod and got used to the scenery.  Once again we would acquire a rubber band every time we passed by the aid station.  After 5 rubber bands, you head out for your last lap.

The aid station volunteers worked tirelessly to provide one heck of a spread.
I filled my water bottle with Gatorade and ate gummy bears, until the last lap.  I decided not to drop my water bottle, but carried it, filled with water, for my finale.  I knew the leader was gaining on me, as she passed by me closer and closer at the turn arounds.  Coming back, with 4 rubber bands on my wrist, my main motivation was to not get lapped by her.  Of course, she caught me with less than 200 yards to the finish,  As I watched her walk off the course (she must have finished under 1:40), I grabbed my 5th rubber band and headed out for the last lap.

The last two miles were at a 9:30 pace on my Garmin.  Every muscle in both legs hurt.  I kept reminding myself that tomorrow's race would run itself, and stay focused on today.  It was weird to finish strong, knowing that we'd be running one more half, in Arkansas tomorrow.

5 rubber bands + 1 more lap = Tennessee half marathon medal.
My Garmin measured the course at 12.84 miles.  Sonya's measured the course even shorter. Trisha's measured it longer than 13.1.  Fun Garmin facts to ponder.  I was surprised to see my finish time so close to 2 hours, as I don't show elapsed time on my Garmin screen anymore, just my lap pace, overall pace and distance.  Bottom line, I ran 10 minutes faster than the day before, in Kentucky.

2 halfs in 2 days done!
In fact, everyone ran faster on day 2 than day 1.  Way to go ladies!
After showers, we headed south to Memphis for lunch.  Near the Civil Rights Museum, we had Guss's Fried Chicken.  Actually, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles, french fries AND fried chicken.

We were able to make it over to Sun Studio, in time for the 1:30 tour.  It is now a museum (but they still record in the same room where Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis got their starts).  The tour is $12, worth every penny, with the dynamic tour guide that tells you the studio's story.

In the recording studio, where Bono and U2 recorded "When Love Comes to Town" with BB King.
I know, Elvis is amazing.  But, Rattle and Hum was released my freshman year of college.  This accidental Memphis history tour has been a pleasant add on to our 3 halfs in 3 days experience.

This morning, we're running at Lake Chicot Park in Arkansas.  A 1.31 mile out and back, for race #3. Good grief, how many rubber bands do we need to grab before we finish?

**You can read my recap of the Riverboat Series, Kentucky Half Marathon (Day 1) HERE**

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Riverboat Series *Kentucky* Half Marathon Race Recap

Columbus Belmont State Park, Kentucky
State #31
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Start Time: 7:00 am
Temperature: 55 at the start
Bib #510
Overall: 1
Finish Time: 2:11:38

One down, two to go!
MCM Mama told me that Mainly Marathons puts on a great event.  But, I honestly wasn't sure how it would go, running a half marathon, in a park, in Kentucky, completing 6 loops.

A gorgeous site for a half marathon.
We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Union City, TN.  The park is 45 minutes from the hotel.  We parked right by the start/finish/aid station (the race director's motor home) and grabbed our race shirts, bibs and main medal pre race.  

After a few words from the director:

1.  First loop heads off to the left on pavement for a mile
2.  Go through the parking lot, around the orange cone and up past the motor home
3.  Take a right into the trails.  Complete that 1 mile loop.
4.  When you come out of the trails, grab a rubber band.
5.  Repeat until you receive 5 rubber bands, then do both loops one more time.
6.  When you finish, give your number to the timers and grab the little state medal to hang below on the big Riverboat medal.

Easy peasy.  The first paved hill up into the campground wasn't too bad (the first time up it).  The view of the Mississippi River was breathtaking.  We'd have the chance to view it 12 more times, passing it out and back on this first loop.

Check out that view.
The race had about 100 runners, doing the full and the half.  A lot of Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics, building up their completed states or overall race count.  Many runners were run/walking, as they could be doing up to 5 marathons 5 days in a row.  We were spread out quite well over the course.  It was great to see other runners on the out and back parts of the loops.  I got lapped by the lead marathon runner (darn teenager).  I was able to pass some of the walkers, so it was hard to figure out where I was exactly in the scheme of the race.

Remember, this event isn't about winning.  It has the feel of an ultra race.  Camaraderie.  We're all in this together.  Everyone is out there to finish their event, in their own time, encouraging, stopping for water and snacks.  Laughing, truly enjoying the experience.  And, many people would have four more races to do in the next four days, after this one.

I tried to run my 10 minute/mile pace.  Trisha stayed with me for the first four miles.  We chatted, encouraging everyone we saw.  We both put our music on after that, and I was on my own.  The trail section of the course was rough, muddy, a bit hilly.  I wasn't expecting this and spent extra time watching my footing, trying not to fall down.  My pace fell to 10:15 overall for awhile, then I was able to drive it back down (I only stopped at the aid station once to fill my water bottle.  I'm going to bring an extra one tomorrow, the volunteers will refill them, so I can swap between the two).

Coming out of the trails for the last time.  Photo courtesy of MCM Mama's husband.
My finish photo cracks me up.  The guy in the blue is headed out into the trails for that loop.  The person cut out of the photo on the right is one of the rubber band hander outers.  I didn't know what to do when I finished.  The Kentucky state medal add on was on a table, they told me to grab one. Another volunteer took back all 5 of my hard earned rubber bands.  The timers asked for my number, and told me that I was the first half marathon finisher.  Then everyone went back to business.

Very fun.  I grabbed some snacks…brownies, olives, Fritos, cookies, gummy bears (which I grabbed during the race as well).  I cheered Trisha on to her third place finish.  Sonya threw me the car keys as she did her final lap.  I ran MCM Mama around the parking lot and the orange/black cone for her final loop.

Me, MCM Mama, Sonya, Trisha
After showers at the hotel, we drove to Memphis and went to the Civil Rights Museum.  A must visit if you are in Memphis.

The Civil Rights Museum is housed in the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.
Heck of a day.

This morning, we're getting up to run Day 2 of the series at Meeman-Shelby State Park in Tennessee.  A 2.184 mile out and back.  All I can think of is 5 more rubber bands.  And brownies and olives at the finish.

Arkansas Race Recap
Tennessee Race Recap

Friday, April 11, 2014

Walking in Memphis

This afternoon, we will be Walking in Memphis!  Well, at least in the airport.  Finally.

We fly in to Memphis, then we'll head north to Union City, TN.  Our first race is at Columbus/Belmont St. Park in Kentucky.  The course is two loops (2.1 miles total) that we will repeat.  I'm most excited that there are views of the Mississippi River.

The Map of Awesome has been neglected.  I'm coming for ya, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas!
The second half marathon, on Sunday morning, is in Meeman-Shelby State Park, back towards Memphis.  The course is an out and back, 2.1 miles that we will repeat.

The third race is at Lake Chicot St. Park, Arkansas, a three hour drive from the Tennessee race. This course is a 1.31 mile out and back that we will repeat.

Since all of the courses are repetitive, we will receive a rubber band every time we pass the start. Once we have enough rubber bands, we will know we've completed the correct distance (and, I'm sure, my Garmin will confirm as well).  I'm just a bit excited to race this quirky way, acquire my rubber bands and get these halfs done.  There is one race shirt for the whole event, but medals for each individual race.

My strategy is conservative.  I'd like to finish all three halfs in under 2:10.  That means running 10 minute miles, for 39.3 miles, in 3 days.  I know I can do this for two halfs in two days, so we'll see about that third race.

Ready to go!
I've packed two GUs for each race.  Protein bars for pre race breakfasts.  My handheld water bottle for the plane and the aid station (they're trying to cut down on waste and will refill water bottles and have them waiting for us).  Running clothes for each race in individual gallon size bags. Compression tights to wear every day post race.  My iPod has awesome songs on it, and my Garmin is alive and well.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend.

Let's do this!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Things Thursday

What? You don't count baby ducks on the run?
1.  Due to the Bridge to Brews 10k on Sunday, my need to run three long runs in a row last week, and my schedule this week, I ended up running 6 days in a row.

Friday - 6
Saturday - 8
Sunday - 6.2
Monday - 4
Tuesday - 3
Wednesday - 3


Luckily, my favorite 3 mile loop includes a canal, and it's baby duck season.  I'm proud to share that there are 9 new ducklings in town.  I spotted them on Tuesday and yesterday.  I ran late enough yesterday that I got away with wearing short sleeves and a short running skirt.  Spring is here!

Heck of a filter.  Kind of celestial.
2.  Due to this weekend's travel and races, I'm only lifting weights twice this week (two days in a row, not preferable).  I hate to drop a day.  After coming back from vacation (and putting on 5 lbs.), I got back on track with my eating and weights.  I dropped 4 lbs., just by getting back into a routine.  I am such a believer in the positive metabolic effect of lifting weights 3x/week.

Sadly, I broke S' adjustable weights.  I was moving them, and dropped them in the garage.  Don't ask.  That's why there are 15s (instead of the adjustable 17.5s) in the photo above.  He finally got around to fixing the adjustables (thank goodness, I'm so glad I didn't destroy them permanently), but my punishment has been using lower weights for two days.

3.  So, today is a rest day.  All the training for 3 halfs in 3 days is done.  The hay is in the barn.  We fly out to Memphis tomorrow morning at 6am.

My goal for this training cycle has been to cover the miles, lose weight and gain strength.  I don't have a speedy strategy for any of the halfs.  I'm mostly concerned about the middle race.  I've done doubles before.  My plan for a double is to hold back on the first day, then hold on and try not to walk on the final day.  With three races, how to handle day 2?  I have just a few days to put some more thought into this.  I like having a plan for every race, even when they aren't PRs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Getting Ready to Get Ready

One year ago this weekend, I was in North Carolina, knocking off state #21.

Pretty in pink, 2013 Flying Pirate Half Marathon.
Wouldn't you know, this year, this weekend I'm taking on states #31 (KT),  #32 (TN) and #33 (AR)? And, one of my North Carolina race buddies, MCM Mama will be racing with me?  I can't believe it's been a year since I've seen her, a year since the NC race, and a year since the Boston Marathon bombing.  I remember some of the Flying Pirate runners were rushing up to run Boston the day after our race.

This weekend, each race has a dress up theme.  Saturday will be blue and yellow for Boston Strong. I think this is such a neat idea, and we had already planned blue and yellow matchy matchy for day 2.  So, flip it around and…

I need to figure out how to add that to my yellow shirt for real.
…yellow and navy for Saturday, race #1.

Today is my last run (and weights) workout for the week.  Tomorrow will be a rest day, and Friday is a travel day.  Cutting back leaves so much time to think about the races, and logistics and when are we going to visit Graceland anyway?

We do fly in and out of Memphis, TN.  Any tips on what we should do and see while we're there?  

Plan for the Week
Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: Weights and 3 miles
Wednesday: Weights and 3 miles
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest