Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Are you a WIMP?

Yes I am!

WIMP = Team Member of Weird Internet Marathon People

What did I do this past weekend. I flew to New Hampshire to do
Reach the Beach Relay. What a great experience on so many levels. This is another 200 mile race from the hills of NH to the beach with 11 other of your closest friends crammed into 2 mini vans.

The Set-up: Captain WIMP, Alisonvet, asked me to join the team way back in May? The team would be composed of fellow runners on the Marathon board of the running forum I've known some of these people online for years and have over the years and various races, met many in person. After much consulting with K, I was a go! I’d never been to the east coast and knew I’d LOVE to see some of New England running. Then K and I could visit Boston which we’ve wanted to do for years.

Training: It was a summer of trails and slowly building mileage up. I had trained for a half in June and was a bit disappointed by my time in all honesty. I had run a similar type relay in late July and been delighted with my pace but as a runner on that relay, I had significantly less mileage than I would at RTB (just over 12 miles). As relay time approached, I was feeling iffy about my projected pace over 18 miles and wished I had switched it to 8:30.

Pre-race: Seattle is far away! The earliest flight arrived 4:30pm in Manchester and I left at 6:50 am from Seattle. The team had arranged to have one van pick me up from the airport and we went directly towards the start in the White Mountains and to our hotel. It was just gorgeous. Mountains? Um…yeah. Ok. ;-) Rather pleasantly rounded hills but beautiful nonetheless. Dinner had been arranged at a local restaurant and we all tromped in to a late dinner. My New England pot roast with wine was delicious and the wimp company was great although service was slow. It is so much fun meeting so many people in person after so long.

After dinner, I was totally awake since it was only 7 my time. Everyone else was drooping. We went back to the hotel and I went running. This little ski town seemed sad and tired and waiting for the snow. At night trotting along the main street, I just enjoyed the quiet and the cold. I couldn’t wait to run the next day.

Race Day: That was a comfortable bed! Indie and I (we were sharing a room) slept soundly until 8. the continental breakfast was appreciated and the antics of the attendant were hilarious. She took her job very seriously! We were off to grocery shop and headed towards race start in good time.

Who said it could rain? It was cold and rainy for a chunk of the day, mostly when standing on a “mountain” waiting for our 1:00 start. We hung out with the another forum based team called The Fellowship of the Bubblewrappers as they were waiting for their 1:20 start. The whole start at the Cannon Ski Resort was just getting me excited. I got a nice RTB fleece which I then used the rest of the race.

After the start, both Van 2’s went off to lunch since this was our "off time" as the other vans were running. Good times and the hot meal was much appreciated after we had been waiting around in the rain. At least we weren’t running in it! Donna showed her excellent pandering skills by getting Doughboy (a famous forumite baker) to hand over baked goods early. Score!

Run 1: Oh yeah. There’s running in this event. I was the first runner in Van TuTu. I was really looking forward to my first run of 7.25 miles leaving from the Cannon Ski Resort. It was amazing seeing so many vans and the hoard of runners. I went off to do a warm-up mile by heading up the ski slope. The trees had just hints of color and the rain had stopped and I was so happy to be there. I would be starting my first leg around 5:30 pm on Friday evening.

My goal for this first leg was to run strongly but not kill myself on the overall downhill run. I had some good climbs in there as well and I knew I’d better run those conservatively. After the 6:15 opening pace, I quickly settled into my projected race pace with no problems. Really this was an excellent run with beautiful scenery and my head was in a really good place. I expected to be passed by Robyn here but it didn’t happen. At about the mid point, there was another van parked and they asked “Are you a WIMP?” And I replied with a whoop and a “YES!” I believe this was the commotion team which had befriended Donna. 7.27 miles – 55:05 – 8:00 pace. Well, I was committed to that 8. Not sure if I was going to maintain it but I was going to do my best!

Interlude: I get really spacey after running hard and need to eat immediately. I was delighted to find that they were grilling hamburgers and hot dogs at the transition where our second runner (donna) was coming in. I bought a hamburger and munched it down. In record time, Donna came flying in and Lauren was off to her challenging first leg. In the commotion of Donna coming in early and the rush to get out of the transition, I left my wallet at the transition. Now I didn’t catch on to this until at least a transition or two later when it was too late to do anything about it. I just had to trust that the hoard of runners and volunteers would be kind. Fortunately this happened early enough that I could call K to tell him to bring my passport with him when he flew out the next day. The lesson is that I should know better than to try and do anything complicated like carry my wallet after running hard.

Sleep?: Um no. We got to the van exchange area once all Van TuTu members had finished their first legs with a couple of hours to go. It was dark and quiet inside the technical college and nice to lie down but no chance to sleep. Oh well. Alison’s call to my cell that I had an hour until Cristen came in got my heart started. The volunteer group was selling coffee swill for 50 cents. It worked. I was ready to run again and really looking forward to my 3 am run.

Run 2: It was cold to be standing around in the transition area but it was perfect running weather minus some gusting winds. I opted for long sleeves, shorts and a headband to protect my ears. This leg was 4.4 miles and I let my van know to expect a quicker pace than 8. All my legs were rated moderate mostly based on rolling hills I guess and it was a thrill to see all the blinkies going off ahead of me when I was climbing a biggish hill during mile 2. I knew I’d catch a lot of them. The last mile got a bit challenging when the road became more uneven and gusts of wind would blow crud into my eyes but I kept it strong. 4.41 miles – 33:49 – 7:39 pace.

Interlude: The thrill here was watching Donna work an incredibly hard leg. She is one big rock star! Anu was being psychic and asked for a lifesaver candy as she went by the van (Donna had been handing them out to any runner going by). Lauren had the best run ever and it was a thrill to be there when it happened. Nagesh blasted his run. Peg (backseat buddy and Alison's Mom!) looked awesome. It was so much fun waiting for her to finish in the gorgeous transition area. Too bad a freaking wasp marred the moment by stinging Anu! Soon enough we were done and all cheered by the dawn of such a beautiful day.

Sleep?: Um no. It was really nice lying down in the sun waiting for Van 1 to finish their last legs. Typically this is a hard part of a relay of this type for me. You are tired and sore and stinky and still have to run one more leg. The peaceful gorgeous day did much to help dispel some of the mental challenges.

Run 3: I had been dreading this run ever since assigned to this set of legs when Peg joined the team. 6.9 miles of rolling hills. Ive only ever done relays where my last leg was usually pretty short (3-5 miles) and I wasn’t sure what to expect with this. I decided not to look at my garmin and just run by feel after the initial slow down from the start. I felt better than expected although hamstrings and hip were complaining. My big thrill was running the entire large hill at mile 4 when I passed quite a few people walking it. I roadkilled quite a few people on this leg and the mostly men I passed were getting grumpy about it. I often didn’t get a response back to my “good job.” I cannot keep track of roadkill and passes but I would say it was about even. I always passed some and got passed by others on each leg. Only towards the last miles did I allow myself to look at pace and was pleased to see around 8:15. Better than was expecting. 6.7 miles – 55:32 – 8:16 pace.

Finishing: The last legs of Van TuTu were all rather strange because of what we needed to do to get our runners in place for such short sections. What I most remember was the bundle of nerves Peg was as her run time approached. She was just so much fun and such a competitor. We drove to the beach with less fuss than expected (traffic) and were at the Atlantic Ocean! I went straight over to the announcer to see if my wallet was at lost and found. It was! Sealed in a plastic bag with “TEAM: WIMP TA #9” attached to it. Thank you to that runner and/or volunteer who sent that on. I gave kudos to them in my post-race survey. What a relief!

Peg came in exactly when expected and we all ran the bit to the finish line. The yelps and yips of “ow” were hilarious and felt by all. Peg was all emotional at the end as was I. And then? I had to reach the beach. I tromped right down to the water and stood in it. It felt fabulous. Eventually I had to sit in the water because I knew my quads and butt would thank me.

I am so delighted that I completely nailed my projected 8:00 pace exactly. 18.4 miles, 2:27:16, 8:00 pace. The final leg convinced me that I should probably wait to do a marathon. I’m getting there but I need more time and don’t want to jump so quickly into longer distances.

It was a total and complete pleasure to be a WIMP. I am delighted to finally meet so many Bubblewrappers and watch them in action. After the fun and intensity of RTB, K and I are had a blast in Boston as well. It’s been a spectacular trip. More about that later.

PuddleThumper's report posted to runango plus all other team members reports: link

Photos: link

Saturday, September 12, 2009


No, not for me!

I first started running because of a combination of factors. In fact, my first running event was as a walker at a 5k in 2001. I did the walk and saw women of all sizes, shapes and ages running the event and realized that I could run a 5k too. Less than a year later, I ran my first 5k in June of 2002 and the rest is history.

I had planned to go for a PR in the IronGirl Seattle 5k but realized it was going to be too close to the looming Reach the Beach Relay. What to do?

I could do what I did last year when I was coming back from injury and pace someone to a PR. That is always fun and challenging. Then I found out that my mom had gone on a field trip with her new living quarters and walked the loop at the Redmond Watershed Preserve. That's five miles long and pretty hilly! Well, alright, I can just walk a 5k with my mom and she was all for it.

The day started off bright and sunny with a promise of heat. That was perfect actually. No rain and no cold. With 1500 people scheduled to be in this event, I knew we'd have to get over to Green Lake early to get a parking spot and didn't want to get chilled waiting to start.

I put a timing chip on my mom shoes, handed over her bib and we went walking over towards the start along with other AR folks. She was amazed to see so many people! I explained that we would be starting towards the back adn it was going to be crowded the first half mile. Be careful! The race started a bit late and we were off. Wow it was really crowded! Of course, I've not walked an event like this in years so it was rather strange setting off from the back. I was worried my mom would get tripped but she held her line at her quick walking pace.

Sure enough after about a half mile, the crowds thinned. A few folks I know waved as they ran past and that was neat to see. LB came upon us as we were walking. she'd recently been diagnosed with a foot injury which precluded running. It was great to have more company and the miles went quick!

The last half mile was in sun and I could tell mom was getting a bit warm but she certainly never let up on the pace. We came towards the finish line onto a narrow path with 10k runners zipping past us and mom had to ask what all the people were doing? They were cheering all the runners in! She laughed at that.

As we came in towards the finish, I'd hope they'd say her age and name as they had done with some of the older finishers. they missed her though. Mom was relieved! She got her medal and a bottle of water and we went off to meet Coach Lesley and crew.

She had a good time and it was neat having her see a part of my life which has become very meaningful to me. We went off to pick up K and get some breakfast. She wasn't tired at all and wanted to go off to the mall and then walk home!

Checking results, she came in first in her division. I hope they mail a ribbon!

Congrats Mom!

As she said before we started, it was nice to see so many women out there being active. She thought it important to keep active and she is so right.