June 4, 2014

Brown County

We spent a long weekend in Nashville, Brown County, IN, with Vicki and Bobby. Of course this included a trail race as part of the DINO series, and for the first time all four of us were participating. Bob and I were doing the 15k, and Kathy and Vicki were going to do the 5k (walking). We knew that this was going to be a challenging and tough course (first mile uphill), and it indeed was but also very beautiful. Bob found a bed and breakfast called the Robinwood Inn, and we stayed in the Maybelle cabin. It was a charming place with a ton of amenities and a short drive to the park.

FRIDAY

We headed south on Friday and stopped at Fair Oaks Farm along the way for lunch. After walking around the store and tasting cheese samples we enjoyed lunch. They have a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich that we all had some variety of with a side (soup, salad, etc.). The cheese is made at the farm and it was wonderful....oozy gooey cheese! :) Another item that they are known for is their ice cream...and yes we had a small dish of that for dessert.

In order to walk off some of the cheese, we walked around the farm and headed to the birthing barn. They have a light system outside the barn so you know if a baby animal is being born. The light was green, so we headed in to the barn. There were two cows about to give birth, and it was pretty cool. I admit that I have never seen this before and was grossed out at first, but it was pretty amazing to see how the mother takes care of the calf after it was born. The only down side was the noisy and annoying adults that felt the need to talk despite the "be quiet" signs. And yes, I did shush them as they were so rude.

After watching the birthing, we headed to Nashville and our B & B for the next few days. When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the owners (Tyra). She gave us general information and we headed to our cabin. 


We checked out all of the rooms and features of the cabin and chose our resting places for the next few nights. One of the nice features was a hot tub off the back porch! Once we were settled in and checked the TV for the broadcasting of the night's Blackhawks game, we headed out to walk around town.


Nashville is a quiet and quaint town nestled just south of Indianapolis. There is a wide variety of stores and eateries sprinkled throughout the city streets. KB made homemade lasagna a few nights before, so we did not have dinner in town. Rather we enjoyed a nice dinner on the back porch.

handmade soaps
The Wild Olive
SATURDAY

We woke up pretty tired after watching the Hawks pull off a double overtime win the night before to force a game seven. It was a cool morning but based on the weather reports, the heat would start around race time. Once we had our breakfast and made sure we had fluids, off we went to the park.

Upon arriving, we picked up our bibs and shirts and did a light warm up. Bob and I headed to the bathroom before the start, and it is a good thing because there is nothing on a trail run (leaves of three...)!

After some last minute directions (oh yea, the course is long...) from the race director, Bob and I were off. The 5k started approximately 10-15 minutes later, so Vicki and Kathy waved good bye to us as we headed up the first hill.  Going to stop here and let you take a gander at the elevation profile for this race...


This was no cake walk...and walk I did. The hills at miles 1 and 4 were intense and tough. Miles 2-3 I hung behind an older gentlemen who had a slower pace, but it was okay because I was still winded from that first climb. We briefly chatted and I know he wanted me to pass him, but I stayed behind to catch my breath and enjoy the scenery. Just before the mile 4 marker, I decided to pass him as there was some area that was a bit open. The trails in general were single track and the ability to move around others was not an easy task, so I had to plan appropriately around the nice man. Once I was past him, I had a little surge of energy and passed a couple on a downhill. This was the first place that I almost hit the dirt, but was able to keep my legs moving and regained my balance. I heard the lady say "that was impressive" to me...and it was. :)

Once I passed this little group and the water station, I realized that there was nobody behind or ahead of me for at least a half mile. It was important for me to stay focused on the trail and not lose footing because it would (a) hurt like hell (b) I would be solo and that would not be a fun walk back. The scenery along this part of the trail was wonderful! I did not have music with me (on purpose), so I was able to enjoy hear the birds singing and the sounds of nature. When I came back to the water station, I joked with the guys about them not having to come find me and there were still folks behind me.

Miles 6-8 was pretty smooth and downhill. Again I just enjoyed the scenery and took my time heading into the finish. Once I hit the 9 mile mark I was excited because I knew I was almost done. Ha! It was almost another mile to the finish and I was now ready to be done. The finish was very confusing and longer than it needed to be (the chute was an odd wrap-around).

Would I do this race again? Yes! For the most part it was organized and a nice course. There are a few things that would be nice to change (e.g. finish chute, registration lines), but you always have that at a race. It will never be perfect. I did not even care that it was longer than planned.

We headed back to our cabin and got cleaned up to head back into town for lunch and some more shopping.  I felt like I was the target of one of those Snickers commercials, and if food didn't come quick then someone was in trouble. :)  We enjoyed the afternoon of shopping and relaxing at the cabin. We even ventured into the hot tub and enjoyed the peace and quiet.  Once we decided on dinner (pizza from one of the local restaurants), we pulled out the Apples to Apples game and had a few good laughs.

SUNDAY

After a good night sleep, we packed up the cabin and ventured to a home made breakfast. The hosts greeted us with quite a menu of quiche, bacon gravy and biscuits and orange/almond waffles for breakfast.  We exchanged our experiences and snapped some group pictures (Lance is an art teacher at the high school).

 After packing the car, we were headed back north to the Valpo area. We decided to stop at Purdue (Bob's alma matter) and walk around the campus (since I had never been there before). We had lunch at the XXX Diner (which was on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives). After eating the Dale Purvis burger, it was time to walk part of it off. It was a beautiful afternoon and the campus was nearly empty for the summer. Once our walk/tour was done, we headed back north.



It was a great weekend and we had a lot fun, but also got the chance to relax!





Trail Run Extreme Recap

So what does one do on a beautiful Memorial Day morning? Run a trail run? Sure! 

Part two of the weekend was participating in the XYZ Series: Trail Run Extreme 12k at Imagination Glen Park.  I have run part of this course once before, so I knew that it had some more of a technical aspect to it versus a wider trail (e.g. Sunset). It would be important for runners to look down and pick up their feet.  Oh yea - and be ready for mud! :)

Bob and Vicki met at our house around 7:30 and we headed up to IG together. My debate was which shoes to wear (I know - tpyical for a woman to decide what to wear). I started with the Innov-8 Trail Roc's, but changed into the Salomon's when I saw Norm in his bigger trail shoes. I went back to the car and changed to my other shoes and put on my gaiters. Before the race started, they did a kids 1 mile race. It was fun to watch all of the kids run around the park. There are some pretty fast kid runners!

The kid awards, military recognition, playing of taps and national anthem followed. It always gives me chills to hear taps played. I miss those days of being able to play my trumpet. I connected with Angie and others as we headed over to the start area. They gave us some last minute instructions and then we were off. 

Our pace was easy and conversational. It was another nice morning, but a bit warmer. We headed into the trail with some twists and turns, and headed into the newly rebuilt roller coaster portion of the trail. You did have to be careful with your footing as there was still some moisture on the boards from the lack of sunlight. For most of the trail, we ran on the side of the boards to help with footing.  Then we got to the first crossing.  They had the crossing pretty well supported with ropes and helping hands. The bad part of being towards the pack is the crossings are pretty trashed by the time we get to them, but we watched what others did wrong and did the opposite. We tossed our water bottles across so we had both hands free, and we worked through it like rock stars. Looking down - our shoes were caked in mud. 

We made our way through more twists and turns and came to the next crossing. Again, very well supported and we made it through like champs. It was then into more trails and hills. The feet were caked in mud and water, but my feet felt fine because I had plenty of Blistershield in my socks. The third crossing was probably the hardest with a straight up hill. Again - we watched what others were doing and learned from their mistakes. This one definitely took more effort and arm strength. Made it up the mud hill with no issues (thank you Laura for my arm workouts!).

We were behind a group that had a slower pace, but they were moving. I know that we wanted to pass them a few times, but the trail was just not wide enough to make a move. There were some falls by people around us, so we stopped and made sure all were okay. We had one last mud crossing that was easy, and then we were more than half way done. 

Around mile 5 is when Angie found a spot to get ahead. Up to this point we had no falls between us. That was about to change. A few minutes after were split up is when I hit the trail like a falling tree. BAM! The group stopped (probably because they felt the earth shake) and came back to help out. I did a quick check of all parts and saw that I was okay. I was more mad that I had made it to that point without falling. After a few choice words, it was time to trudge on. And then I looked down at my right hand and saw blood. Eek! What did I miss during inspection?!?!  

It was the tip of my pinky finger. At first I thought it was the bone popping through, but realized it was not. WHEW! But it kept bleeding and I did not have anything but my shirt/shorts to wipe it on. I kept running and checking to see if it would stop. Of course it did not, and I just said forget it -- it is going to bleed no matter let's finish.

We made our way through the last mile and got to the edge of the woods. I could see KB snapping pictures, Angie waiting, Vicki taking pictures, and the big orange T & H timing inflatable. ALMOST DONE! 

I made my way to the finish and in a rare moment - walked across the finish. I was beat. Caked in mud. Bleeding. 

After additional inspection of my finger, it was dirty and also caked in mud but it would survive. Made my way to the pavillion for some food and water. Gave John a muddy high 5 (yes - he was already cleaned off). After sharing stories and inspecting all of the mud, it was time for the awards. As those were being announced, I made my way to the hose to clean things off. We hung around a little longer and decided to head out to breakfast (of course - because that is what we do). :)

Course was well marked and it was very organized (well until the end when they were doing awards). There will be a return to this race. 

Pictures from race (courtesy of KB)

October 24, 2013

Chicago Marathon....a little late....

SHORT VERSION:
  • 5:42:28
  • 22 minutes better than 2012
  • Beat goal time D (5:45)
  • Good nutrition and fuel strategy
  • Back to the half distance for the near future
LONG VERSION:

It has been eleven days since the Chicago Marathon.  There are some things I still cannot wrap my brain around, but overall this year was so much fun!  Don't get me wrong - I loved having my dad with me last year for each step of the way.  That meant a ton and will be a memory that I will never forget.  This year was so different.  It was for time versus the finish.  No matter what it would be better overall than last year because I knew what to expect.

I went in with a series of goal times to aim for and knew that if something did not go well, there was  a new goal to attempt.  The overall goal was under 5:00 hours.  The realistic goal was 5:15.  Neither happened...more on that later.

Our group is crazy.  All in a fun, maddening and loving way.  Due to various schedules we could not all go to the expo together.  They changed the rule this year about picking up packets and each participant had to get their own.  Andrea and headed to the expo on Friday, and we had a good time.  The expo was not very busy at all and getting our bibs was pretty quick.  Once we got our bibs and shirts it was time to walk around and check things out.





Andrea signing the wall.
We ran into a few OE folks and chatted with them for a few minutes.  In addition, I ran into a former student and a few high school friends.  It was pretty cool.

Me, Lauren (1st Marathon), Michelle (ran Berlin 2 weeks before!)

We headed back to northwest Indiana to attend the pasta dinner for OE.  After picking up the dogs from day camp and waiting for KB to get off work, we headed to the pasta dinner.  Overall it was pretty good.  It was in a smaller space this year, so there were lots of people all eating together.  A little too close for my liking, but it is what it is.
Like the table number?! :)
Saturday was busy with getting things packed, the dogs to boarding and trying to stay off of my feet as best as possible.  Pretty much did not get off my feet until later in the day.  Once KB was off work, we headed to the city for the next few days at the Hilton.  It was the official hotel of the marathon, so it was all decked out in pictures and motivation.  Knowing that the start and finish lines were across the street was pretty awesome.  We ate at the restaurant in the hotel and the food was good (and cheaper than the marathon sponsored pasta dinner).  KB and my mom surprised me with a custom made flower vase with good luck flowers.  It was so cool!  It was the picture from earlier this year at the Oklahoma City Half Marathon.

I had set out my stuff for the morning and crawled into bed.  In doing so, I realized that I forgot the wristbands for KB and my mom at home on my desk.  Great.  Fortunately, Vicki had 2 extra and I would get them before the race and meet KB and my mom in front of the hotel to hand them off.  Now it was time to make sure everything else was ready, plugged in and charged for the morning.  For some reason I was not nervous.  Just ready to go.  I know that I did better in training for this year despite having an interruption half way through.

It was race morning.  Weather looked to be ideal.  Helicopters flying over for media coverage and security.  This would be the first major marathon on US soil since the Boston bombing, so security was going to be tight and present.  We called for room service at 5:00 am for my favorite oatmeal and bananas, as well as coffee for the ladies since they were up at the crack of dawn with me.  I took my usual pre-run nutrition and started to get ready.

I met Angie in the lobby at 6:15 to walk over to Charity Village.  This was crazy!  Because of the security, we had to walk further than anticipated.  Once we were scanned and got to the OE tent, we had to hurry out because they were literally closing Charity Village.  I had yet to see Vicki, Dawn, Carey and Kelly.  They got delayed from their hotel trying to get a cab.  And now I was nervous.  After some text and voice call exchanges, we finally connected and started to make our way to the corrals.  On the way we met KB and my mom to give them the wrist bands.  Last minute hugs and away we went to the start area.

One of the coolest moments in the start area was hearing about a documentary that was being filmed on a young man name Maickel Melamed from Venezuela.  We saw Debbie and Lorie as they came in the corral and chatted for a few minutes.  They headed to the other side of the corral.  Wave 2 was scheduled to start at 8:00 am and then our corral was about 14 minutes behind that start.  In reality it was closer to 19 minutes. 



Vicki, Dawn, Kelly (1st Marathon) and Carey

We gave each other hugs, high fives and wished each other good luck.  Before we knew it...we were off!  It was quite erie to not see spectators on the first couple of bridges. It was obvious from the start that the crowds were going to be different this year.  We headed off a good pace.  Dawn took off quick, which we pretty much expected.  She has made such an amazing change since last year - we were all rooting for her to crush her time from last year.  The four of us chatted and enjoyed the company through the first miles.  We saw KB and my mom under Wacker which was fun so early in the race.  The crowds were pretty good through the first part of the race.  People shouting out names on our shirts and giving high 5's and thanks.  It was great.  I quickly commented to Vicki how great that was to hear.

We were moving at a good consistent pace at the 5k point and enjoyed seeing the great sites of the Chicago Theatre, Sears Tower, the Hancock and other notable land marks.  We then headed into Lincoln Park and towards the Striders water stop (mile 5).  It was great to see so many familiar faces and hear them shout our names or 'OE'.  The weather was still cool and we were enjoying a nice pace headed north.  We made the turn on Addison and then quickly south into Boystown.  This is always a fun part of the course and you just never know what you are going to get from the spectators.  It did not disappoint once again.  We continued to head south and I noticed two women ahead of us on the left.  The one had a pacer time and then a Cancer bib "for Tim".  I knew right away this was my cousin Laura.  We quickly caught up to them and they were so surprised to see us!  We chatted and ran through the Lincoln Park area (around mile 9).  I needed to use the bathroom so Vicki and I stopped at the next opportunity.

If you are ever a spectator at ANY running event and participants are waiting to use the port-o-john...GET OUT OF LINE!  There were two spectators that were in line to use the bathrooms designed for the participants.  Go to McDonald's and buy a coffee so you can use their bathroom.  I still cannot believe that I was patient enough to not go ballistic on these two women or the ones in front of us who did not have the guts to say anything.  UGH!  

We saw KB and my mom again shortly after the bathroom stop.  We were still on pace into the half way point.  We headed west towards charity village where I saw another friend from high school at the Mercy Home group cheering.  It was around here we saw my dad and Kathy.  Made a quick stop to say hello and then back on our way.  At this point we were on point for fuel and hydration and feeling pretty decent.  We had lost Kelly and Carey a while back as they stopped for a bathroom.  All of a sudden, Kelly came flying from behind us.  She had lost Carey a while back.  Vicki and Kelly were just ahead of me when my left calf started to tighten.  We had a water station ahead and I walked through it.  At this point I was not sure what I was going to get for this last 10 miles or so.  

The crowd support was still amazing.  There was a guy standing in front of a Starbucks, so I asked him where my latte was....he gave me a high 5 and we got a little chuckle out of it.  This helped keep me going as I could see Vicki and Kelly starting to fade.  I knew at this point I was on my own, so I cranked up the music and dug deep.

There were so many people off the side stretching and hobbling along the way.  I was bound and determined to not let that be me.  The calf loosened up enough for me to get back to running.  I went as long as best as I could until it would tighten again.  I saw my cheer team at various points along the last part of the course.  They were perfectly spaced out and that helped keep me moving.  I loved going into Chinatown and seeing the Pagoda overhead.  These were some of the things that I did not notice last year.  

I was able to draw off the crowd and knowing that I still felt good physically...well as best as I could for the most part.  I was frustrated that my calf was being difficult, but the chips were going to fall wherever they may.  Around mile 23 I ran into on of my dailymile peeps, Andrea.  She gave me a big hug and walked with me for a little bit.  This was perfect timing as it kept me distracted since my calf was flaring up at this point.  This was one of the hardest parts of the race as we head back east before hitting Michigan Avenue.  During this stretch, the crowd is pretty thin and the street surface is not the best to be on.  At this point, the sun was heating up and I could tell that I was not sweating as much as I should have been, so I kept pouring water on my arms and on the back of my neck to keep cool.  

Finally!  The turn on the Michigan Avenue at DeLaSalle High School.  There was a great crowd in this section and I was excited to be running at this point and took the advice of Jenny Hadfield....'go fishing'.  My approach at this point was to find someone ahead of me and pass them or catch up to them.  This was perfect.  It was a good approach for this point of the race.  Once we hit 18th Street the crowds really started to build.  Lorie and Debbie came from behind me and we ran together for a bit.  I waved them off around 24 and told them to go ahead.  I just kept counting down the streets and could not remember what the last street was before Roosevelt.  The big board was in view and my dad and Kathy were off to the left cheering.  The turn onto Roosevelt Road was amazing.  I kept looking for KB and my mom on the bridge.  They some how managed to squeeze into the last available space and I spotted them!  They cleared the rest of the bridge this year, so the crowd was less heading into the finish. I took a quick walk at the top of the bridge and then said to myself "let's finish it".

Made the turn onto Columbus and kept pushing for the finish.  Finally!  Done.  I looked at my watch and gave a fist pump.


I worked my way through the finish area and got my medal.  Thanked the nice lady that was handing them out.  Worked towards the the 312 and grabbed a beer.  I took about 4 sips and realized where the finisher photo area was, so got in line to take a picture.  Then the challenge to get to Charity Village began.  The way I thought I could take was not an option. UGH!  My feet were screaming at me and all I wanted to do was sit.  I got a hold of KB to figure out where they were located and headed towards them at Charity Village.  Yes.  I had to walk about a mile (maybe more) to get back to the Village.  To me - this was ridiculous and I was ticked.  I finally ran into Angie on the bridge over the tracks to make sure I was headed the right way.

Finally!  I made it back to Charity Village.  I took my medal off and put it over KB's head and gave her a hug.  Then gave everyone in the cheer group a hug and thanks.  I then checked in with the OE folks and signed up for the Trainers to do stretching.  I was quickly called and plopped down next to Vicki.  She did a great job and finished in 5:28!  Dawn crushed her previous time with a 4:46!!! Over an hour plus improvement.  I was happy that Carey finished strong and just a few minutes behind me.  Andrea, Brent and Bobby also did well!  

As we were walking back to the hotel (did I mention it was across the street?!?! :)), we happened to see my cousin Laura and her family.  It was so cool to see her with that medal draped around her neck. So proud of her!


We were supposed to go out that night, but I think we were all pretty trashed and tired.  So we ordered Lou's pizza.  KB and I walked to pick it up and then headed back to the hotel.  That pizza tasted so good!  We were all crashed and relaxing.  KB and my mom fell asleep around 8:30 and I was up watching t.v. and looking at facebook to see everyone's posts.  It was nice and relaxing.  

The next morning we met the crew at Yolk on Ohio Street.  We then walked over to Niketown to get our medals engraved (Thanks again Mike & Brent) and some finisher apparel.  The place was packed.  We then headed back to the hotel to check out.  By the time we got back to the hotel all of the marathon decor was taken down. Kind of sad that it was over.
Post marathon breakfast
This has been pretty long, so I am going to wrap it up with the following thanks to all of those that supported my charity, my training and my daily craziness.  You were remembered and thought about at some point along the 26 mile journey.  You kept me going when it got tough and inspired me to finish.

Thank you.  Now back to the half distance for me.

Cheers,
Michelle