Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not Dead. Really.

So I know we haven't been blogging much, but there really hasn't been much to say ... partially because this month has been laaaaaazy. And not really in a good way.

"Santa" did end up bringing around some nice exercise gifts though, so that's good. I'll try to remember to mention those in what will otherwise be a really crappy recap of December.

Anyway, hope your winter training has been better than ours (so far ...)!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Race #7 of the Season: Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon

Wow, I'm way behind on this. I wanted to wait until I uploaded pictures and then I got all involved in making our wedding Web site and, well, yeah. Anyway, I still wanted to do this recap so here I am!

So, story. Strap in, because this is a long one.

When we usually fly, we typically fly stand-by because it's a lot cheaper given Brandon's pilot job. However, because we wanted to make 100% sure we made the race and the expo, we decided to just buy airline tickets and, indeed, bundled them with our hotel when we booked our trip. It was a good thing, too, as our flight going out was full. I think Brandon ended up getting free TV, but the standard Frontier channel ended up showing my favoritest Christmas movie EVAR in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for FREE, so I was happy.

We landed in Vegas, wandered over to one taxi line and then got rerouted to another line since some woman had had a seizure in the line. Awesome. Actually awesome was the rerouting putting us further ahead in line (score) and in a cab on our way to Mandalay Bay. When we got to the hotel, the official race headquarters, we found out that we were in THE Hotel at MB instead. No biggie; we just dragged our crap through the casino and up into our room.

We wanted to hit the race expo first thing and we wanted to get in a short run so we decided to combine the two. We changed into running crap and wandered through the labyrinth that is Mandalay Bay and the Luxor to outside and attempted to run to the Venetian, where the expo was being held. We were successful for the most part. I think people dodging adds an extra little oomph to a training run. Much advised for all athletes. Agility AND speed training; who wouldn't love it?

I'm marginally sarcastic here. But only marginally.

We finally gave up trying to dodge the crowds about a block or so away from the Venetian and decided to walk the rest of the way. We made our way into the building and to the proper area so as to pick up our race numbers and whatnot. Given that we entered different estimated finishing times (Brandon said 2:10; I said 2:20), we found out we'd be in different starting corrals. Obviously this was unacceptable, so I got myself changed into his corral so we could run together.

After getting our tech tees, I wanted to explore the expo, but Brandon was hellbent on seeing if the Wynn table still had any wristbands for the runner after-party at XS, so we had to hightail it over to that booth. Fortunately for him, they had tons. After procuring wristbands, we went back to the beginning of the expo to start the whole thing over and do it properly. There wasn't all that much good stuff there, but I did pick up a tech tee that I liked better and we met ultrarunner Scott Jurek and got him to sign a poster to Team Baby Dinosaur ... because we're nerds.

We also got a picture.

Saturday - Expo

After leaving the expo, we wandered our way through the Venetian and back down the strip back to the hotel, with me playing my first penny slot of the trip at Casino Royale. We'd been in contact with Kris and Mark and wanted to meet up with them. We managed to catch them in the midst of their crazy, whirlwind day and learned we were in the same wave the next morning ... very welcome news! Somehow Brandon got in the wave of couples and running Elvi and me switching waves got me in the midst of it as well.

After our brief rendez-vous, it was time to go our separate ways. Brandon and I took a shower, grabbed food at the Pyramid Cafe inside the Luxor and then wandered the strip a tiny bit before hitting the hay fairly early. We had a race the next morning, after all.

The alarm went off early, at 5:15am. We got ready and waited for breakfast to show up. The night before, we were thinking of possible breakfast options and decided the smartest course of action would be to have room service ordered up that morning. It was a pricey option despite the fact that we split a plate, but it ended up being worth it. The food arrived closer to 6 than to 5:30, something we weren't too happy about, but when food came, it was happy.

Sunday - Pre-Race
Eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast and strawberries.

After food, we finished getting ready, watched the sun rise up over the strip, grabbed the last of our stuff and headed down to the lobby. On the way down in the elevator, I helped Brandon put on his timing tag (he had issues with it for some reason). Once on the main floor, we followed the herds of people (after being directed to a short-cut) outside to the race start.

Outside, I started really regretting my decision to not run with a camera. Oh god, the PEOPLE. It was amazing. In any case, we took care of pre-race business and then found our way to our corral, jamming our way inside. We were looking for Kris and Mark, but didn't see them. Once we ended up squirming our way in the corral after the first gun went off, though, we heard our names being called and our soon-to-be-married couple was behind us. We hung out on the side waiting for them to squash themselves in and then the four of us stuck together until the race start.

As the race was their wedding, Kris and Mark were videotaping the thing. Brandon offered to get video of them crossing the start line, so we ran a bit ahead of them so he could capture it.

Ze Race Itself

We stuck with our new friends for the first two, two and a half miles; whatever it was until the Venetian and the run-through wedding ceremony. Those first couple miles were slow, but they were enjoyable and I think that ended up being a really good thing.

Once Brandon and I split off, though, we picked up the pace, and continued to do so for the next few miles. The first five, six miles of the race were pretty "easy," even though I hesitate to use that word. We were still on Las Vegas Boulevard for the most part and only ventured off right before the 10K point. Part of the reason I say this is because I checked my watch (which I started a few seconds after we started the race) and I saw that my time at the 10K point was better than my BolderBOULDER time. So that was nice.

However, the next couple miles, miles 6, 7, 8 and 9 for the most part, were pretty rough. We were off the strip (though partially on Fremont Street) and twisting and turning and in short, I was starting to hurt a bit. I consumed my gel at the water stop at about mile 7.5, walking almost entirely through the water station so I could snarf it. It was at this point that Brandon really started to vocalize his concerns about not being able to break 2:10 and it started really frustrating me. I know that we lost some time during that mile, but I didn't think that it would be that much of an issue.

Apparently I was wrong, as Brandon kept stressing about it. Him stressing about that stressed me out and I don't run too well when I'm stressed/upset. It screws with my breathing (which I have to be careful about anyway) and therefore makes me need to walk more.

Our original plan was to run the race together unless Brandon felt he could make it in under a 10:00/mi pace in which case he'd peel off. Around mile 10, he thought this was the best course of action and did just that. I know he was upset about leaving, but I didn't want to hold him back from his goals.

The next couple miles were a little rough for me. I was trying to get back into a rhythm, but it was difficult. I was in a definite run/walk pattern which I wasn't happy about, but I tried to just focus and keep going. I stopped at all the aid stations, figuring out that if I further diluted the Cytomax, it wasn't quite so terrible.

As the miles ticked by, I started feeling a little better. When I saw the 12 mile marker ahead, I resolved that once I hit that sign, I wasn't walking the rest of the race ... which I kept to except for one brief moment - the moment I saw Brandon stopped, walking slowly, about a half-mile later. I gave him a hug and we decided to finish together. He was in pain, but we ran to the finish line. On the final stretch, I asked if he was ready to kick it. He said yes, but it's been determined that I have a better kick than him so I did my customary sprint to the finish, crossed the line and immediately turned around to wait for him to cross. He did and I hugged him; so proud of him and proud of us for accomplishing what we had that day.

(amusing: go here, go to the search for photos area, and look for bib #21749. then watch the video. around the 8, 9 second mark, you'll see this crazy streak sprinting on the right side of your screen in blue and black. yeah, that's me. if you watch it from the other angle, you'll see me around the 12 second mark; i cross and then turn around and wait for brandon ... with some guy announcing that i need to leave the area. pfft, i was waiting for my mmrrammrraa!)

We grabbed our medals, our blankets and some food and then headed up to the room, exhausted, but happy.

Sunday - Post-Race

Final Numbers:
Chip Time: 2:15:41
Overall Place/Total: 7726/19217
Pace: 10:21.45/mi
Sex Place/Total: 3712/11942
Division Place (F25-29)/Total: 621/1785

We then attempted to take an ice bath (I was a bit more successful than Brandon).

Sunday - Post-Race
After freezing ourselves, we showered, changed and then headed back down to the crazy in hopes of seeing Kris and Mark cross the line.

Sunday - Post-Race
Bret Michaels rocking it out.

Sunday - Post-Race
The finish line.

At this point, we were starting to get a bit nervous that we'd missed our newlyweds. However, we heard the race announcer mention that they were still waiting for them to cross the line (apparently Kris and Mark's videographers tipped them off!).

Luckily, we caught them coming and were able to cheer them on to the finish!

Sunday - Post-Race
Looking good!

Sunday - Post-Race
He carried her across the finish line. SO CUTE!

We then booked it over to where they'd be exiting the food zone.

Sunday - Post-Race
Exiting with videographer(s) in tow.

We were able to quickly chat with them for a second, agreeing to meet up at the runner after party at XS nightclub later that night.

By this point, Brandon and I were ravenous, so it was off for food and some wandering. But not too much, because we were dead. That, and Brandon's foot was hurting. In fact, we ended up crashing out and NAPPING which we NEVER DO. Felt good, though. We woke up in time to grab some dinner before partying at XS.

On the way, we saw a pallet of ice on the sidewalk. Brandon decided to stick his foot in the ice ... but since we had to wait for a bus, he grabbed one of the ice bags and took it to the bus stop with him so he could continue to ice his foot.

Sunday - Night
Hehe, I'm so glad he's mine.

Soon enough though, it was time for XS.

Sunday - XS
Sunday - XS

Time for free booze, hanging out with Kris and Mark when they showed up and, in Brandon's case, lots of dancing. He had a fun time ... let's just put it that way.

After the party (which we skipped out on at like 10), we slowly made our way down the strip, stopping at Serendipity 3 for some dessert and watching the Bellagio fountains do their thing.

Monday, we walked around as much as our tired legs would handle, gambled a tiny bit and then, that afternoon, got on our flight back to home.

Overall Thoughts:
- I've spent way too much time writing this post and I really need to get to bed.
- If the Competitor group (that is, the Rock 'n' Roll people) put on an event near you, you should go. Even if you don't participate, it is worth the crazy spectacle. I'm tempted on doing Rock 'n' Roll Denver next year just for the atmosphere.
- In training, I think we need to do a lot more of those "middle mileage" runs. 6, 7, 8, 9 miles. I'm glad we ran 12, but I think we had too many smaller distance runs.
- This was hard. I can't imagine what running that distance will be like after swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 will be, but I'm signed up for it so I'll find out in August.
- The above point makes me realize that I'm going to have to train my ass off this summer.
- The above two points scare me. The challenge they pose also excites me, however.
- As stupidly hard as that was, I think I want to do another one as a stand-alone.
- That being said, I'm totally cool if my next one is the Slacker Half-Marathon ... even though I know that will probably kill my legs even more!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rock McKickAss

I promised myself I would title my blog post about the 1/2 Marathon this if I cracked 10:00 per mile. While I didn't do that, I still feel that this title is worthy. Because yesterday, I became a 1/2 marathoner.

I'll recap it tomorrow. But for the moment, I am a 1/2 marathoner. :-)

Here it comes at you, ladies and gentlemen!

Day before
We arrived in Vegas about 10:30 a.m. We quickly got off the airplane and headed to the taxi stands. After witnessing someone fall in line due to a seizure, we were able to get in a cab and head to the hotel, Mandalay Bay. We walked into the lobby and it was quite obvious that this was a race mecca of a hotel, which makes sense since it was the starting point for the race. We saw people with gear bags, lots of race shirts, and a few Ironman products. We checked in and were told we were going to be in The Hotel, which is on the Mandalay property, but is an adjacent building. Fine, whatever. We walked through the casino and eventually found our way to our room.

Once in our room, we unpacked slightly and decided to hustle down to the race expo so we could grab our packets. We needed to get in a warm up run and since that's the fastest way to move down the Strip, that's what we did! We took it at a pretty good clip, dodging in and out of people, running up and down stairs to get eventually to the Venetian. After about 20 minutes of running, we were nearly there, so we stopped running and walked from there. We found our way into the Venetian and hustled to the convention center that was towards the back of the hotel. Once there, we split up; T went to her line and I went to mine. She was going to wait; I was the only one in the 14K numbers. I chatted briefly with the dude then found T. She got her stuff, then we went to the corral change table. She planned on finishing in 2:20 while I planned 2:10, so she changed into my corral. Then we worked our way into the expo.

While T wanted to browse all the tables right away, I wanted to grab our nightclub passes for the XS Nightclub. We debated on what to do, then decided to grab the passes and work our way back. We found the table for the Wynn and got the wristbands. We then headed back to the shopping portion first. T grabbed a race shirt that has the cooler logo on it, and then we stood in line to meet Scott Jurek. He signed a poster to Team Baby Dinosaur and wished us good luck.

We then browsed the expo, stopping at most of the booths. We also bought a hot dog since we were starving. I stocked up on LaraBars and we decided to work our way back. We wanted to say hi to Mark and Kris so we started working our way back. Leisurely, mind you.

I took T through the Venetian so she could see that. We also stopped in Casino Royale for the first gambling of the trip, a penny slot. T played, I watched. We continued to work our way back to Mandalay.

We got back there about 3:45 and found Kris and Mark in the lobby, who were in the midst of dealing with wedding stuff. I give them major props for finding us. We talked for a few minutes, then bid adieu to them and headed back up to our room to clean up and change.

Those tasks completed, we left the room to head out and do some exploring. We stopped for dinner in a relatively cheap place in the Luxor and explored the Luxor. We walked all the way down to New York New York. We took some pictures, then worked our way back to our room to rest up and prepare for the next day.

Race Day
We woke up at about 5:15 a.m. on the 5th. I had arranged for room service the night before to be delivered between 5:30 and 6:00, so while we were waiting for our eggs, bacon, potatoes, and strawberries, we laid in bed and relaxed. I eventually got up and opened the curtains, which revealed an awesome morning in Vegas. We would get to see the sunrise.

Before our breakfast was delivered, I got prepped. I put my bib on my shirt (forgot my race belt) and Body-Glided. I also brushed teeth and put in my contacts. About then, our breakfast was delivered. While I finished up my last second prep, T sat down and ate her half of the breakfast. I put on some pump-up music on my iPhone and then ate my half. She got ready to go, and with that, we left our room. I had yet to put my timing strap on my shoe (couldn’t figure it out) so we decided to deal with that in the elevator.

When we got on the elevator, another couple was there. They seemed amused that T had to put the timing strip on my shoe, but when I told them that I could fly airplanes but not figure this thing out, I don’t think they were amused. I mean, c’mon people, laugh a little!

When we got downstairs, the scene was quite chaotic. There were lots of runners scurrying about, and a guy in the middle of the lobby pointing to go towards the start via the parking garage. T and I had yet to go this way, but we figured why not, right? It was a lot quicker and took us on a different view of the hotel. There were definitely a lot of people on their way to the event.

We got to the parking lot/staging area and it was clear to me that this race was going to be epic. The throng of people was unreal, and to this moment, I’m regretting not having a camera with me. We stopped at the first line of porta-potties we saw to make our last race stop before we got to the start.

We worked our way to the race start, where we found our race corral, number 14. There were a lot of runners, but we still looked for Kris and Mark, who were in the same corral as us. Some Cher impersonator (or maybe the real thing, don’t know) was singing the national anthem, and I gave a nice loud SIOUX! at the point of home of the brave. A few minutes after this, we heard someone yell THERESA and looked behind us and sure enough, there were Mark and Kris decked out in their wedding getup. Mark was wearing all black and had a black visor that said GROOM on it. Kris was in white and also had a pink and white veil, with a visor that said BRIDE. We exchanged hellos, congrats, etc. and then started working our way towards the front, assisted by a rope that kept hitting Kris and I in the ass.

With some Blues Brothers impersonators jamming out at the top of the race start stage, we were ready. Near the start, Mark pulled out a small video camera and I offered to take video of them crossing the start line. With that, and a cheer, we were off on our ½ marathon!

The Race

Surprisingly, the organization of the race made the start of it very anti-climatic. The crowd at the start was surprisingly small and we had to do very little jockeying. Mark reminded us not to run over the bump dealies that warmer climates have in the road. I assumed Kris and Mark were going to blaze ahead and leave us in the dust, but they stayed with us, and planned to until they turned off for the run through wedding chapel. T and I were immensely relieved at this; they were taking a slow pace which helped us out and we would have some friends to enjoy this experience with.

Mile 1 was nice and slow. Just how we wanted it to be. It might have been a little too slow, but neither of us cared. We were just happy to be running. At one point, Mark yelled to the spectators that he was getting married to Kris. In a not-so-brilliant comedic moment on my part, I yelled out “AND I KNOW THEM!” which garnered some laughs. Talk about keeping loose and relaxed, huh?

Mile 2 was picked up a little bit, which I was glad about. I still had my under 10:00 per mile goal and was quite confident I would make it. At about mile 2.5, Kris and Mark peeled off to the chapel. We congratulated them, said we would see them at the finish, and continued on our way to the mile 3 point.

At this point, T and I decided to pick it up a bit. We were starting to make up some time and we both figured that we could hold this pace for awhile and that’s what we did.

Miles 4 and 5 were smooth and easy. We started running to a sketchy part of the strip I’ve never seen before, past the Stratosphere tower. Both T and I were still feeling really good. After a water stop, which had really yucky water, T told me that she would take her gel at the next water stop. I was cool with that.

When we reached the 10K point, I smiled a bit and reflected quickly on how far I’ve come. T mentioned how she beat her BolderBoulder time. At about the halfway point, we were on Freemont Street in downtown Vegas. I was relieved because I was still feeling good and knew we could still make up time. T however was starting to feel a little fatigued. At mile 7, we walked through the water station and T took her gel. Unfortunately, this water stop took longer than I was hoping and we lost some time. T remarked how sorry she was and I told her it was fine; that we still had a lot of miles left to make up the time.

Before mile 9, she told me she was hurting pretty bad and was struggling to keep up. I tried to encourage her, but most likely only frustrated her further. Let me be clear that this was not my intention but unfortunately I messed up. L I had arranged with her before the race that we would run together all the way unless I thought I had a chance at under 10:00 and she didn’t think she could. At mile 10, we determined this was the case. I hugged her, told her I would see her at the finish, and began this run solo for the first time.

And how lonely was I. Even though this is what I wanted, I kept looking over my shoulder, hoping she was catching up. I was also feeling the fatigue and effects of the race, and realized that by mile 11, I wasn’t gaining any time either. Late in mile 11, I determined I would keep going, but I wanted to wait for T. Since my goal wasn’t going to happen, I wanted to finish with my running buddy, trainer, trainee, best friend, and fiancĂ©e. She caught up to me at roughly 12.4 miles and we agreed to finish it together. As we were getting closer and closer to Mandalay, the crowds were getting more numerous and the cheering was getting louder. I could see the 13 mile point and was excited at the prospect of finishing my first 1/2 marathon.

When we turned the corner, we had .1 left to go. T asked me if I was ready to kick it. I told her yes, but she was kicking it much better than I was. She sprinted ahead of me and crossed the finish line before me, beating me in the first Team Baby Dinosaur 1/2 marathon. I picked it up and finished just behind her, making the sign of the cross and pointing to the finish time, as has become my race finishing tradition.

Post-Race

Post race festivities were amazing. We were ushered through and got our finishers medals, then grabbed some water. T and I both were congratulating each other on a job well done. We grabbed bananas, yogurt, Cytomax, which is yucky, and bagels and pretzels. After we grabbed everything we wanted, we headed out and back up to the room. We were both really proud and happy, but there was still one more thing we had to do. After showering and stretching out, of course.

After showering and relaxing, we headed back downstairs. I was beginning to limp due to a phantom foot pain. More on that later. Our main goal was to see our new friends and newly married couple, Mark and Kris, cross the finish line. With Bret Michaels playing in the background, we made our way over to the finish line and waited. We heard the announcer at one point say that they were waiting for Mark and Kris, so we were hoping it wasn't too much longer. And then we saw them! They were running strong and happy. We sprinted to grab various shots of them, and then they crossed the finish line as well.

We caught them post race, congratulated them, gave some hugs, and promised to meet up later that night at the XS nightclub.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's my race recap. My official time was 2:15:48, or roughly a 10:22 per mile pace. I have yet to reflect on training; I suspect that will come next week. For now, I just want to enjoy the moment of being a 1/2 marathoner.

November Recap

I know, I know, I need to get this done. Coming at you tomorrow.

Ok, so tomorrow was two weeks...but still...ok, let's do this, shall we?

November was...interesting. I was starting to feel the effects of burnout from the 1/2 marathon training, which was not good, considering I still had a few days to go before the actual race. Combine that with a week of tapering + Thanksgiving and let's just say my training wasn't all that spectacular. It could have been a lot better considering everything. Let's take a gander at the numbers, shall we?

- 13 runs for 66.67 miles
- 6 times lifting
- 2 yoga sessions
- 1 swimming session
- 7 off days

I'm extremely disappointed in my cross-training, which I'm sure didn't help my burnout suffering. It's my own fault; I was having a rough month in terms of work stretches, but regardless, was not smart about my training. This is going to be a good month of evaluation when it comes to training next year for 70.3.

Friday, December 3, 2010

November Round-Up

November's theme was "stay the course." Therefore, the question is asked ... did I?

I would say ... I guess so. I adhered to the half-mar training plan I set out (... mostly ... cut down the mileage of the "long" run the last two weeks a little). So in terms of running, yes, yes I did. My cross-training, however, was a gigantic pile of FAIL. EPIC fail.

Don't believe me? Here, I'll show you:

Running: 65.7 miles (average went down about 15 seconds/mile)
Swimming: negatory. (average, therefore, stayed the same)
Cycling: 5.27 miles (outside. average went up .6 mph, but does that really count?)(also did one session on the stationary)
Lifting: five sessions
Other: yoga times two.

So yes, I ran and ran quite a bit (obviously), but everything and I mean EVERYTHING else was a disappointment. Tallying up the off days, I also took one-third of the month off. Hopefully this means I'll kick ass in Vegas this Sunday.

It definitely means I'm really looking forward to relaxing a little bit throughout the rest of the month. Mentally, part of me doesn't want to take the relaxation break because I've kind of enjoyed not gaining my hockey season fluff (as the sidebar says, i moonlight as a college hockey journalist and all that time in press boxes/traveling to games leaves not a lot of time/options for healthy food options). Still, the other part of me mentally knows I need this, to be reenergized going into next year ... as the training will only get harder.

I'm also hoping that the trainer we are planning to soon purchase will be a fun! shiny! new! toy that will help keep us motivated ... at least through the end of December. ;)

Oh, as for December's theme? Well ... I don't think we've come up with the official theme for the post-race part of the month. May post that later.