Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
I have no more races planned this year. Maybe a 5K on New Year's Eve but other than that, nothing. I was checking my miles for the year and I am at 1434 miles so far. I have realized that I improve my marathon time when I increase my mileage. Some of you can get away with lower miles and still run fast, but I am a shorter distance runner by nature so I need the miles to improve late race endurance.
Last year I ended up at about 1480 miles for the year. 1500 should be a no brainer but since December will again be a training month, I think I may try to get to 1600 miles for the year. I will have to accumulate about 160 miles for December to do that, but July and September with both over that so I have a chance. I guess we will know in 31 days.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Also, it was slightly colder than Nashville 5 days ago. Nashville on Sunday was low 70's, Milwaukee today didn't quite reach 30 and it was windy. That means it is wind chill season. I am not sure how cold it felt, but it was down there. I don't mind this temperature, at times it is quite refreshing. My knees hurt a little more after the run, but that goes away after the warm up.
The Monkey was the last planned marathon of the year. I don't think I will find another to run this year but I do have a few already planned for 2011, January 2011 in fact. January 23 is the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon in Milwaukee. But Mike and Paul are trying to convince me to do something crazy on the second weekend of January. If you don't know me, I am all about crazy. I'll let you in on it when (or if) I do it.
I hope you all survived your Turkey Trots and Thanksgiving Dinners.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Fun. Great. Exciting. Awesome. Groovy! These are other words that describe this marathon.
I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday to get ready for the Flying Monkey Marathon. I knew what to expect and I thought I had prepared enough but there is no telling what the Monkeys of Percy Warner Park had in mind for the day. I had my usual oatmeal and packed my stuff to get out of the hotel and was ready to go. Mike & I left for the car to pack it up. The first bad omen of the day occurred. As I was pushing the cart with all our bags and cooler to the car, I could have sworn I saw a blurr go by and knock my mug off the cart to the ground breaking the mug. Damn flying monkey are leaving the park and hitting us before we even leave for the race. My mug does have some special meaning for me. It was a birthday gift from my oldest girl when she was just barely over 1. You can see her “signature” on it. I will try to glue it but I think the oatmeal days in it are done. I brought that to many a marathon over the years.
It was a cool morning but not cold by any means as we headed for the park and then drive into a grassy field to park the car. After a quick visit to the port-o-let, I went to the car and brought the cooler full of beer boiled/grilled brats (A Wisconsin Special) to the food area. A volunteer was going to heat them up for me while I was running so the runners and volunteers could have a good treat after the race.
Near the starting area, I was finally able to meet up with Melanie from Life is a Marathon. I have been reading her blog for 2 years now and it was really cool to finally see her in person instead of just seeing her in pictures and print. Before the race had started, I had decided to run with her group of friends for awhile so we could talk some and just have a good time. This marathon was not a serious one for me (like it is possible for anyone) so a good conversation would be welcome to knock the miles off to. She introduced me to Amy, Matt and Liz who would also be running in the little road party. What a cool bunch of runners to spend time with.
The weather was warm now, warm enough that I was not cold in my singlet for the start. I would guess it was close to 55F but it would soon climb to the upper 60’s to low 70’s by the end of the race. Great weather for a fun run, not great for a race. Good thing I wasn’t there to race.
Mike went up ahead before the start as Trent, the race director, told us some final instructions as we lined up in on open field with just a small tent and a starting/finishing chute. Soon the horn sounded and now there was no turning back.
Did I mention this race was crazy? Here is what I knew so far. The race was 26.2 miles long. Duh, that is the distance of a marathon. There was about 3500 feet of elevation gain and loss throughout the race. WOW, that is A LOT. The people in the race were quite festive and all seemingly happy, some even dressed in costume including one as Dorothy Gale. Get it? Dorothy Gale from Wizard of Oz? Flying Monkeys from Wizard of Oz? If you don’t get it by now, never mind.
Within the first mile and a half, we have already climbed nearly 300 feet. They even reminded us of that with a sign that said, 300 feet up, 3200 more to go. We maintained an easy pace and it felt quite easy. The cool thing about this first part was that at one point, climbing a hill, the leaves were falling all over. It was like running though a curtain of leave falling like snow flakes. It became a game of who could catch one before it hit the ground. Like I said, we were not running seriously. The miles and hills clipped away as the group talked about this and that telling stories of past races, run, injuries, future races, etc. Some other runners would join the group for a bit and then go on. It was a festive group and I enjoyed just listening to the stories. I found it fun to talk to Matt and Amy and hear their stories of past races and accomplishments. Like I said, really cool people.
This race is considered one of the hardest in the country and I would have to agree. There are at least 5 climbs of 250+ feet and an additional 5 or so climbs of at least 150 feet, if not more, not to mention all the “small” hills all over. How anyone could possible “race” this course is beyond me. One cool thing about the course is that you run every part of the course 2 times, but the second time is in the reverse direction of the first time. It is not an out and back course, it is a loop course with a few shorter loops to bring you back to the other direction and 2 small out and back areas. This is a laid back race and just after mile 5, we enter a small out and back with a very short loop at the end. Just before the loop was many “?” chalked on the ground not saying which way to go. Seems we could choose our own way and that is what people did. Some went left, some went right. We went right passing people going the other direction around the loop. Funny? Yes!
Turns and Curves and Ups and Downs.
After the loop and O&B, we start to descend the biggest hill of the course. Here is the biggest problem of this hill. It seemed A LOT shorter going down it that climbing up it at about 19.5 miles.
By mile 11 or so, the monkeys began to get feisty. While I did not actually see any of them, I knew they were there stalking us as we ran along. I was glad I was in a group as if I was alone, I could have been a goner. They still taunted us by throwing acorns at us hitting us occasionally. Good thing flying monkeys don’t have great aim or velocity or we would have been toast!
The group went past the halfway mark in about 2:15:30. It wasn’t too long after this that I decided it was time to go on by myself, so I left the group and forged ahead. I was feeling really good so far so picking up the pace actually felt good. I got to the mile 14 marker and Ben Schneider, the leader, passed me going the other direction. He was at mile 24 already. HOLY CRAP! On this Course!!!!
If you saw my mile splits can easily where the up hills were and where the down hills were throughout the race. I would have an average just over 10:00 per mile but some miles were down to the low 9’s and even into the 8’s, where others were in the upper 11’s and even a couple in the 12’s. There was no even running this course. You could possibly “even run” based on effort, but not pace. Suddenly, just before mile 16, I caught up to Trent, the race director. We ran for a bit together before he stopped to talk to the volunteers at the water stop just past mile 16. I wasn’t passing too many runners at this time which I found odd but I figured we were spread out a lot. Later I would pick off a lot of them.
At the 19 ½ mile mark, there was a water stop with extra friendly volunteers and quite a few people watching the race near the stone wall entrance to the park. Did I mention the volunteers at this race were awesome! They really were. Hooping and hollering it up whenever a runner can into view and encouraging us to keep going (like stopping was really an option, NOT). They would ask how I was feeling. “Groovy” was always my response to honor the theme of the race. Now the hell was to begin. I begin to ascend the largest and seemingly never ending hill on the backside of what is know as nine mile hill (the hill isn’t 9 miles long, it is just situated at the 9 mile mark of the 11.2 mile loop around the park local use all the time).
Suddenly I had to walk some. I was taking my usually walk breaks through the water stops, but this hill was too much to handle. I actually convinced myself that walking the really steep parts would benefit my final time and not hinder it. I really think that was the case. While this hill only lasted a little over 1 mile, it seemed like it went from mile 19.5 to mile 38! I think I walked close to half of it. Relief came in the form of the same O&B with the loop at the top of the hill but there were hills on this too. This time I went to the left around the loop. Entering the O&B, I saw a lot of runner coming out which actually got me going. Runners to catch!
After the O&B, it seemed like I kept climbing some until I had a very long down hills section from just before mile 22 to just after mile 23. This was too steep of a hill to really use well. Now the issue was my toes. They were not blistered, but on every foot plant on a down hill, my foot would slide slightly forward in my show making my toes hit the front of my shoes. A little painful but not too bad. I was picking off runners frequently now and I was finally able to run a good pace again after the massive mountain I had just climbed a couple miles before. All the runners seemed friendly and still somewhat happy to be out there. It takes a sadistic type of runner to attempt this marathon and if you do, why not be happy while sharing misery with your fellow runner.
At mile 23.5, I hit the “This is not a hill” hill. Let me tell you, they lied; it was a steep little hill. I walked 2/3 of it. Passing the steeplechase horse track at mile 24.5, I was passed by the first runner in over 10 miles. Crap! Was I slowing? While this run was just for fun and not for time, let’s be honest, it now was for time and I wanted to break 4:30. I needed to maintain just over a 10:00 pace to break 4:30. He didn’t stay too far ahead of me and I was able to pass him back around mile 25.5.
I never know when I will blow up in a race so I still wasn’t positive I would break 4:30 but I didn’t want another Fargo incident (finish time 4:00:16) so I kept up the pressure. Good thing there were other runners I was still passing to keep me encouraged. Just before mile 26, I entered the field path to take me to the finish line and I pass the final runner that I would pass. After a quick turn, it was all downhill to the finish line and I knew I had sub 4:30 in hand. I eased up so I wouldn’t pass the guy ahead of me so I didn’t look like a jerk at the finish line and finish in a time of 4:28:24 according to my watch. I got my monkey medal and kept walking so I wouldn’t collapse. I was tired (duh!) My finishing place was #100 on the dot! Glad I passed the one guy at mile 26 to get top 100! I even negative split this bastard of a course (2:15:30 / 2:12:54)! It sure didn’t seem possible going up the mile 20 mountain at the time.
Mike found me and told me how he did and we watched Melanie, Amy, and Matt finish. Mike finished in 3:52:15, far off what he usually runs, but like me, he has run 2 previous marathons in the last 5 weeks. The post race food was everywhere but, as usual, I can’t eat any of it as my stomach was not ready at all for food. They had so much food for the runner and volunteers it was crazy. Yazoo beer too (I did have some of this, but not too much). After a free post race massage, it was time for awards and door prizes. They had lots to give away, posters, wine, sandals, stickers, monkeys, etc. I talked to a lot of the other finishers as they read off winner/door prizes and to my surprise, I was called out. I was able to get to final bottle of Flying Monkey Red Wine. Could this be made from real blood of captured flying monkeys? I can’t be certain but it sure seems that way. Mike won some sandals as well but quickly found out they were too small for him. His daughter now has a new pair of sandals.
After a few quick pictures and good-byes, Mike and I headed out for a quick shower at the JCC before hitting the road for the long drive home. We were officially on the road by 3:00 and it wasn’t long before it was dark which makes the trip much more boring. Just north of Louisville in Indiana, we stop at a “Texas Road Use” for dinner. I was really hungry and ate every last piece of my sirloin steak and shrimp combo as well as rolls, fries and sides. I was actually still a little hungry after all that but enough is enough.
I was able to take a short nap for about an hour while Mike drove though Indiana. I took back over in northern Indiana as Mike slept all the way through Chicago. What a difference a time of day makes. On the way down, we lost over an hour driving through Chicago and this time I did not even hit the breaks 1 time from the Indiana/Illinois boarder until way past northern Chicago getting off on Hwy 41. We finally hit our work where Mike’s car was at 1:15AM. But not before it started to rain 1 mile from the end. Come on! So we moved Mike’s stuff to his car in the rain and then we headed home our own ways. I finally got to sleep just after 2:00AM but able to somehow get up at 6:45AM to get my girls ready for school. I did get another hour after they left.
In summary, what a really cool race! I really want to run it again if I can get back to Nashville next November. Trent puts on a great, low key race. I highly recommend this race, that is unless you are going to take my spot. For $70, you get 2 shirts, a sticker and magnet, very friendly volunteers, an awesome post race food spread, a very unique finisher’s medal, and some new friends. And, of course, a freaking hard ass course including sore quads and knees thrown in for good measure.
I have now run 27 marathons (8 this year to date) and this one definitely ranks up in the top 3 along with Grand Rapids and Icebreaker. If you ran this race to and have found my post, please leave me a note and say hi. Also leave your site as well if you posted a report. I would love to hear what you all thought.
Bill – 1 Monkey Kill!
Monday, November 22, 2010
A HUGE baseball bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.
The weather was wonderful for the drive and we were able to get to Nashville about 1:00. We then went to Mike's relatives home in a very exclusive neighborhood with very large homes and from what I hear, a few celebs living as well. We were able to stay for about an hour and a half before we had to head to the Belle Mead area to pick up out packets and race information.
After about 9 hours of driving, we finally get into Tennessee.
Our first view of Nashville driving in.
At packet pickup, I was able to meet Trent, the race director, as well as some of the others that were putting on the race. I also bought a poster which looks pretty cool.
After picking up our packets, we headed to Percy Warner Park to drive some of the Monkey course to get a feel for what we had gotten ourselves into. We headed out from the start area and went the correct way on the one way route. We started on the south end of the park and that happens to be the "flat" part of the park. There really isn't a flat area of the park but if you were going to compare it to the rest of the park, it was less hilly. We found out shortly the hell that we were going to have as we climbed "nine mile hill" as they call it. The rest of the drive was very much like a roller coaster. Lots of ups, lots of downs, and lots of turns. As we were in the second half of the drive around the park, it was getting dark and something swooped right above us over the car. I do believe this was the monkeys warning us to stay away. I do have to say that this park is very beautiful and I was very much looking forward to my run though it the next day. The park reminded me a lot of a park we have in Wisconsin called Peninsula State Park in Door County. There were more hills in Percy Warner but the feel of the narrow roads through the wood was very similar.
Mike & I then headed for the Pre Monkey dinner in Mt. Juliet where we met quite a few other Monkey runners while we ate some good pasta and had good conversation. We met a few runners from Florida that run lots of marathons all over. I love meeting runners from all over the country at these pre race dinners. The usual talk is what marathons we have all run and what we liked and didn't like and what plans were going to be for the next day. The people we met were really cool.
After dinner, we headed to and checked into our hotel but it was fairly early still. We ended up driving to the Opryland Hotel for a little Christmas Light viewing. OK, OK, I know, I was just ripping on people a few days ago who had Christmas Lights up . . .but . . .I have wanted to see these lights at the Opryland Hotel since I saw them on the Travel Channel awhile ago. Since we had the time and we were in Nashville, I had to take the chance.
The manger scene at the Opryland Hotel.
Mike inside one of the Opryland Atriums.
If you didn't remember from earlier this year, the Opryland Hotel was flooded really bad in Spring and was closed until just last week. The place looks amazing now. They have over 2 Million lights over the entire grounds inside and out. If you are in the area, I suggest dropping by.
We didn't stay too long since we did have to run a hilly marathon the next day.
Next: The Monkey!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
This isn't your average marathon, it is one made from hell, at least that is what I am told. I am pretty sure there is not a flat part on the entire course. It is advertised as 3500 feet of elevation gain AND loss throughout the race. Up and Down and Up and Down and Up and . . . . you get the idea. I can't wait.
I don't have any realistic goals for this race other then 2. 1. Finish 2. Have a great time! I am driving down to Nashville with my friend Mike who is also doing the Monkey. We plan on stopping in Louisville and touring the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Tour and then getting to Nashville Saturday afternoon. We are going to eat a the pre Monkey dinner which should be really cool since there should be lots of Nashville runners there that we can meet.
The race is Sunday at 8:00AM and the weather looks interesting. I have told you that this is not your normal marathon and neither is the weather. I saw a post on their website that said the forecast calls for 20% chance of precipitation and 80% chance of Pain and Suffering. Bring it!
The hardest part may very well be the 9+ hour drive home AFTER the race. Yes, Mike & I plan on driving all the way back to Wisconsin after the race. Well, not right after. After the race, they have a runner/volunteer smorgasbord. I plan on bringing down some Wisconsin favorites, and not Cheese. Beer? Perhaps some.
I will end this post the same way Trent (Monkey Race Director) ends all his email updates:
Peace, love and hills.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Dana is a considerable faster runner than I am but he runs with me if he doesn’t care about his pace. We ended up running 18 laps (5 miles) at 8:05 pace which actually felt not hard. It wasn’t easy, but not hard. More like a pace run. It was all good and we got done in plenty of time for the meeting.
The meeting went well. It is a lot of fun being on the committee and giving my input as to how we should put on the race. It is a lot of work, but fun. Something new we are doing this year is having a different shirt for the participants of the Full and Half Marathons. Instead of the usual technical short or long sleeve shirt that most of us only use when we are running, we are having a rugby style long sleeve shirt. One that you can wear when you go out with friends or to the store or even just lounging around. If you are like me, you have lots of technical shirt, more than you know what to do with. We know there will be participants who will gripe and complain about it, but we think the majority of the runner will like the change. All of the committee members are runners and we all like it.
The meeting went well. The full marathon is already full. The half marathon had 15 spots left as of yesterday. There were plenty of spots open for the marathon relay but we know that all 100 spots of that will fill up. Of all the races, I think the relay has the biggest buzz and excitement. There are over 300 runners along the outside of the track cheering on their teams and exchanges going on all the time. The unique part of this marathon relay is that a team can exchange as many times as they want to. If teams wanted to run 1 lap at a time and then exchange, they can do it. It is fun seeing the strategies involved in this.
Today, I was able to squeeze in 5 miles while my girls were at messengers (equivalent to Girl Scouts). It went pretty good. I felt fast again though I know I wasn’t going that fast. I will probably not be able to run again until Monday but I think I have enough miles in for the week. I think I am near 25 miles and since I have another marathon in just over a week, I am good with it.
If you are local and want in on the Icebreaker, I suggest you sign up quickly. If you are not local, maybe you would like to think about coming to Milwaukee next winter and trying it out. It is a real blast!
By the way, I have now seen 3 more houses with Christmas lights. I did have someone suggest that it may be Diwali Lights. As much as I would like them to be that because at least they would be the right time, I can say with almost certainty, that they are in fact Christmas Lights.
Monday, November 8, 2010
The run went well today. It always seems like I am running faster than I really am when I run in the dark so I felt like was was cruising tonight but was only going a moderate pace. I ended up getting in 7 miles at 8:37 pace for just over 1 hour. I felt good.
About a half mile from work, I did see my first Christmas lights of the season. Come on people! At least wait until after Thanksgiving! Hey, I love Christmas lights more than most but I have my limits. I can only hope that this was a guy who put them up over the weekend and just wanted to see how they looked in the dark. I should be able to know tomorrow.
On another note to all you blog readers and people who like to get stuff for free. I wanted to share a new blog I came across last week from a runner here in Wisconsin that has TONS of giveaways on her site. Check out Jamie's Running Diva Mom website and check out all the stuff she gets to try out and then also give away. Right now she has 7 different items she has reviewed and is giving another away. I haven't won anything . . . yet . . . but it sure looks like a lot of cool stuff from headbands to compression socks to books to jewelry. OK, I haven't tried to win everything, but I do give gifts to other runners, some of whom are ladies, so I try to win those as well. Check her out and her site.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
In the first week after running a marathon on only 2 weeks recovery from the last marathon, I am running as if I hadn't run a race in 2 months. I have felt great! I ran 5 miles on Friday over the hills loop near my work and was able to run it at about 8:20 pace and it felt easy. This morning, I woke up early and ran 11 1/2 miles at 8:36 pace and it didn't feel bad. The legs were not 100% but they felt good.
I am going to contribute this to the post race free massage they offered after the Haunted Hustle Marathon. What ever Abigail did seemed to have worked. Since the next marathon, The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon, is not one I am going all out in, I will use this time to begin the training again with the goal of a fast marathon in January. Don't get me wrong, I will run and try hard at The Monkey, but since the course seems insanely hilly and difficult, it will be more like a hard long run than anything.
A quick update on Paul & Mike. Both of them ran the Grand Rapids Marathon with me 3 weeks ago. This weekend, they travelled to North Carolina to run the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh. I didn't know Raleigh was the City of Oaks?!?! Well, you learn something new everyday. Mike ran a 3:38 and Paul ran 3:53. Since Paul & mike are as nutty as I am, they both have another marathon planned quickly like me. Mike will be joining me in Nashville for the Monkey and Paul will be running the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa, FL. Paul has run this one before.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I don't think I could run a marathon in a costume. It has been a long time since I have even worn a costume for anything. But if I had to, I think I may lean toward the Green Man costume. Seems cool to me.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
This was at about 15 miles. I was running with Sandy at the time. We chatted a bit, she is a very nice lady.
I am not sure where this was. Maybe near mile 18?
I think this was a little after Mile 20. You can't see it in the picture, but I was beginning to get really tired here.
I also have been reading a few more race reports from others who have run either the Haunted Hustle full or half marathon. I may have even made a few new Blog Friends. I met a lady named Jamie, she seems like a really cool lady and a cool runner. I hope to read more from her. Good Luck Jamie!