Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Race Report - Heatbreaker Indoor Half Marathon

Last summer, right after the Rock 'n Sole Half Marathon debacle, we were meeting with Chris when he came up with the idea of holding a half marathon during the summer at the Pettit Center indoors.  We already host the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon in January but now we were going to put one on in the summer.  Why?

It is almost perfect running weather inside the Pettit Center, 55F and no humidity and no wind.  And with the super hot summer we are having, it proved perfect for getting out of the heat and being able to run fast.  Thus was the beginning of the Heatbreaker Indoor Half Marathon, the Hottest Race in the Coolest Place!

I woke up around 4:00AM to get ready for the Heatbreaker and was at Pettit by 5:30 helping set up.  We were going to put on 4 heats of the half marathon with the first starting at 7:00AM.  The first heat was the money heat where the top 3 males and females were splitting $1000.  They were pretty fast, not outstanding however.  The winner finished in 1:11 and the next 2 were in 1:14.

The 10:00AM heat had the most runners in it, sometime like 55.  That is not a lot at all as registration was low for the first year.  I was able to do some announcing during the race and I would let runners know how many laps they had left and when they were on the final lap.

Amy and I early in the race.  Not even sweating yet. 
Photo by Bill Flaws at Running In The USA.

I was going to run the 1:00PM heat as there were not too many runners in it.  My friend Amy from Running is Cheaper Than Therapy was going to run with me in the heat as well.  Dana who also help with the race was in the heat as well.  Amy and I planned to run together trying to get a time of 1:45 if possible.  This equated to a time of 1:12 per lap average.  The gun went off and Amy and I began along with Dana for the first few laps.  Our first lap was very slow at 2:27 and lap 2 was around 2:20.  We were picking it up but it felt really fast.  I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to maintain the pace.

Amy and Dana on lap 12.  I am lagging behind after my 30 second break.
Photo by Bill Flaws at Running In The USA.

With only 24 in the heat, there was plenty of room to move around and have Amy and I run side by side.  We talked and the laps counted off.  I took at 30 second break at 10 laps and then it took me a full 5 laps to catch back up to Amy and she was running with Dana.  It seemed like as soon as I caught up, I was ready to take my next 30 second walk break at lap 20.  I was starting to feel better and able to maintain the speed but I hit the half way point about 1:45 off pace to break 1:45:00, or so I thought.

There is something cool about this picture of Amy and I.  Maybe the unusual angle?
Photo by Bill Flaws at Running In The USA.

After 25 laps, Amy suddenly got a really bad side ache or cramp and had to slow down her pace.  I kept up my pace wondering of it was a good idea to keep going fast since I do have a full marathon planned only 1 week later.  I decided that since the ET Full Moon Marathon was not going to be a fast or raced marathon, why not keep going.  With 10 laps to go, I found myself doing some math to see what I needed to do to break 1:45.  I think I figured about 2:05 per lap and I was maintaining about 2:08 so I needed to pick it up.  With 5 laps to go, I needed to run 2:00 per lap and just wasn't doing it.

Here I have only 7 or so laps to go.
Photo by Bill Flaws at Running In The USA.

Then I got a surprise.  With 4 1/2 laps to go, the announcer says I only have 3 1/2 laps to go.  What?  Really?!?!  I hit my lap button on my watch on every lap so thought I had more to go.   So I asked on the next lap and he says only 2 1/2 laps to go.  I pick it up more for my final 2 laps and finish fast in a time of 1:42:46.  I was extremely pleased with this time.  As I reviewed my splits on my watch, turns out I missed a lap right at 20.  My split there was 4:30.

My legs were tired for the next couple days but not too bad.  It is tough running at Pettit but so nice with the perfect weather, especially in the hot summer heat.  There were a few runners who ran more than 1 heat of the race.  They called this the 2 or 3 alarm challenge.  Then there was 2 really awesome (crazy??) runners who ran all 4 heats of the half marathon.  Mary and Hans both race over 180 laps and 52.4 miles.  Wow!!!

I am happy with my race and my time.  I wish we could have had more runners but this was the first year and when word gets out on how much fun this race is, I am sure more will want in.

Not much time to rest now.  Only 4 more days until the ET Full Moon Marathon in Nevada.  I am really looking forward to this one.  Should be a blast.

Keep on Running!!!

Dana has such a smooth stride.  No wonder he can run so fast.
Photo by Bill Flaws at Running In The USA.

Chris Ponteri, the Race Director, ran just under 1:30 in the 4th heat.  Behind Chris is Mary who was the 2nd female finisher in heat 1.  Here she is in heat 4, somewhere over 40 miles so far for the day.
Photo by Bill Flaws at Running In The USA.

Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan - Very Funny

Check out this link to a YouTube video.  It is with Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan who are teammates and training partners.  Both get a long really well (though you may think different after the video) and both will be representing the US in the Olympics on Sunday in the Women's Marathon.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running with Space Aliens?

I just signed up for my next full marathon.  The Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight Marathon.  This should be the best marathon out there for those of you who want to be abducted by an alien while running a marathon, if that is your thing.

We all know I am into odd races out there.  Beach Marathons, Hilly Marathons, Double Marathons, etc., so this one should qualify as one of the oddest.

The race, as the name states, starts at Midnight and also in the middle of the dessert in the middle of Nevada on August 5th.  It is run right outside the famed Area 51 along the Extraterrestrial Highway about 2 1/2 hours outside of Las Vegas.  I am guessing also that is should be a full moon too.  I have read a lot of reviews of this race and it sounds like a real blast.

Race headquarters are in Las Vegas and from there, we will board a coach bus for the 2 1/2 hour drive to the Famous Black Mailbox (which I am told is ironically white?!?!) of UFO folklore.  The full marathon as well as the 51K (get it?  51K for Area 51) start right at midnight where temps usually are around the 60's. Thanks God it is not at 12:00PM, that would be a scorcher.  Everyone wears a head lamp and well as a glow necklace as we run down the highway toward Rachel, NV where the finish is.  The buses take the half marathoners and 10K runners to their starting points and wait and the finish for runners after they are done.  Apparently lot of runner dress up in costumes and make it a real UFO type event. 

Sounds like fun to me.  I even have my shirt already picked out, the one I wore as a pacer for the Rock 'n Sole Half which is a really bright safety green color.  Kind of Alien like.

I am nervous about a couple things.  One is getting enough sleep before the race.  I fly out the Vegas Saturday morning and plan on taking a long nap at the hotel in the later afternoon before leaving for the race.  I know on the bus, it will feel like a party of sorts so no rest there I am sure.  I will be running from Midnight until ??? so no sleep there but maybe on the bus back to Vegas.  The next concern I have is the elevation.  the race starts at something like 4600 feet and gradually rises to 5500 before dropping back.  I I have only once ran at this high of an altitude and have heard some horror stories.  I do not plan on racing this one so whatever time I get is OK with me.  The 1000 feet of gradual gain over the first 13 miles will test the legs over the long haul but hopefully not kill them.

I am not too worried though, I will have fun.  I hope to see some aliens and maybe run a couple miles with them.  Hopefully Aliens don't have huge kicks at the end to beat me to the finish line.

Keep on Running!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Heat and Heatbreaker

It has been very hot across the country this summer and Wisconsin is no exception.  On my last post, you saw that it got up to 107F.  The heat did not go away much.  It was over 100 for 2 more days and then went to the upper 80's to lower 90's.  Then yesterday and today, it was over 100 again.  Ugh!  I makes going out and running difficult but I try to still do it.

One thing I get asked a lot in the winters are "Do your lungs hurt when hurt from the cold?" and my answer is always the same, "No".  Then a little over a week ago, Mike and I went for a run after work when the temps were 103F out.  (Dumb?  No, we went really slow and stayed close to water).  My lungs actually hurt from the heat but my pores sure got a good cleaning.

So what does one have to do to get into a good race in the super heat of this summer?  How about the Heatbreaker Half Marathon?  It is held on what is traditionally the hottest day of the summer in Milwaukee, July 28th.  But I have some good news, the weather will be almost perfect.  55F, no humidity, and no wind GUARANTEED!  What?!?!  This race is held at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee, an indoor half marathon.  This is the sister race of the Famous Icebreaker Indoor Marathon & Half Marathon.  I have run in the Pettit a couple times in the summer and let me tell you, what a cool experience.  You feel like you can absolutely fly around the track free and easy.  No humidity to slow you down and perfect temps!  There are 4 "heats" of the half marathon with the fast heat offering $1000 in prize money to the top 3 males and females.

I am helping out this year with whatever needs to be done and I am pretty sure I will be running one of the later heats, maybe the 1:00PM or 4:00PM heats.  These heats have less runners in them so it will be less crowded, more room to run.

If you are interested in running, let me know.  I can get you a discount on the entry fee.

So the heat continues here and everywhere else in the country.  But I still run, a little less than usual, but still running.

Keep on Running!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tough as Nails!

Not me, my daughter.  While I pride myself on running some really tough or odd races out there, I am not talking about me.

Yesterday, the 4th of July, my daughter and I went to a local Independence Day race.  We went to Waterford, WI to run the River City Fourth Fest 5K.  Just like to rest of the upper Midwest and  East Coast, we are in the middle of a major heatwave/drought.  We knew it was going to be hot, but even weather.com got it wrong on the low side for this one.

The race began at 8:00AM and it was sunny, hot, and humid already.  By race time, it was already in the low 90's and super humid.  My daughter had been looking forward to this race for awhile and we had already run in the heat so I was not worried that major disaster was going to happen, and it didn't.  She also did not want to run with me so I was on my own in front of her.

I ran pretty slow for me as the heat was terrible out there.  I ended up in a time of 22:41 and ready to take a break from all the races I had done in the last 4 1/2 weeks.  After I was done, I walked the course back hoping to find Melissa as she finished.  I finally saw her and she was able to pass a couple runners in the last 100 meters I saw her and finish in a time of 26:48.  WOW!  In that heat I thought that was amazing.  She has run almost a minute faster for a 5K before but not in that oppressive heat and humidity.  She was crying a little afterwards as she was hot and sore form the race so we walked away from everyone else until she could compose herself and that is when I heard the story.

Turns out that with about a quarter mile to go, she had to throw up.  Did she stop?  No, she kept running without missing a beat.  And she ended up taking 3rd place in the 10 to 14 year old age group beating 2 14 year olds by 1 and 5 seconds.  She was so proud accepting her award for 3rd place amongst the older and taller 14 and 13 year olds who also won awards.  She was less that a minute from 1st and she wants it next year.  I love her new attitude toward running, she is so competitive!  Tough as Nails!

Even with my poor time, I ended up 3rd in my old guys division out of 17.  So now Melissa and I have matching awards.  Pretty cool.

Later that day, it got super hot.  We saw a high of 107 on our way to the lakefront to enjoy a little Summerfest.  Within 3 blocks of the lakefront, the temps finally dropped 15 degrees to 92 (Still hot).  We got to enjoy about 3 hours of Summerfest with the kids before heading home to close to 100 temps again.  It is still hot today, over 100, but I would take this over the winder cold any day, just not for running and racing.

Did you run an Independence Day race?  How did it go for you and is it hot by you?

Keep on Running!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Race Report - Rock 'n Sole Half Marathon

On June 23rd, I ran my 4th race of June as a pacer for the Summerfest Rock 'n Sole Half Marathon that took place in Milwaukee, WI along the lakefront of Lake Michigan.  We have had a very hot summer so far this year with many races actually being cancelled or reduced in Wisconsin.  It was a releif to have some cooler weather for the morning.  And I am sure if was a huge releif for the organizers as well.

There was a new organization team in place for the 2nd annual race here becuase last year, there was a big time disaster for this race.  Last year it was very hot and sunny and the race ran out of water on the course and many runners needed medical attention.  The race took a lot of 'heat' for being poorly prepared, especially since there was plenty of warning that it was going to be hot.  I was not down at the race last year but from everyone I talked to or heard from, this year was so much better.

I was scheduled to be a pacer for the 2:20 group.  Obviously with my times from the past, I was not worried at all about being able to finish but I was a little worried about if the pace would be hard to maintain since it is a pace I am not used to running.  Turns out that it was not difficult.
My pacing group before the race, Cole, Bill, and Chera. 

The pace group I was in consisted on 3 runners, Chera, Cole and myself.  Cole was a member of the Jennipede team I was on last fall but was about 50 spots ahead of me so I didn't really know him all the well.  We all met that morning and all hit it off really well and had our plan to help all the runners near us.  The plan was to run about 10:30 pace and walk for 30 seconds through every waterstop (10 of them).  The race strated right on time at 7:00 and it was foggy out.  Temps were in the 60's so combined with the fog, felt cool.

The Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee on the lakefront and the first 4 miles of the race.

One of the features of this race is you get to run over the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee.  This is an express way that goes right along the lakefront, over the Summerfest grounds, and one of the iconic images of Milwaukee.  The race begins right away going over the bridge and then once over it, right back on it over again.  The bridge is 2 miles long so we were almost 5 miles into the race once we finally got off.

I was holding the 2:20 sign for our group and just talking to everyone I could, basically being a little of a nut, but is a playful, encouraging way.  I pointed out some features of Milwaukee to the runners from out of town as well as talked about some of the music acts coming to Summerfest, also known as the largest music festival in the country.  I wanted to help the runners relax and keep their minds off running for awhile.  Cole, Chera and I didn't really run together too much as we would go around and see how everyone was doing.  Typically Chera went ahead and talked to people and Cole lagged behind encouraging everyone to keep up with us.  We would yell back and forth to eachother keeping it simple and fun.

By the time we were heading back over the bridge, the fog burned off and we could see the entire Milwaukee area from atop the bridge.  I must have been looking too much when I tripped on a raised crack and went down scrapping my hand with the sign hitting the ground.  Besides my embarrassment, I was OK and was up quickly.  I am pretty sure I heard Cole or Chera saying "Down goes the Pacer, Down goes the Pacer!"  It was all good.

This about 11 miles into the race.  Amy was running right behind me and finished great under 2:20.

By 6 miles, we were getting to know the runners who joined our group and knew their names and even some background on them.  Us pacers knew it was only a matter of time until they would begin to struggle.  Pace was almost perfect as were were within 30 seconds the entire race.  One guy named Jim was riunning his first Half Marathon with us and had a goal of 2:30 but found himself with us.  He looked really good and relaxed for a first timer, that is until mile 12.  Cole made sure he went back to Jim and ran with him the rest of the way.  Jim struggled a lot but managed to finish in 2:19 and change.

Crossing the bridge to the "Summerfest Island" right about at mile 12.  Chera right next to me keeping pace and the group right there with us.

At the mile 13 mark, I was 21 seconds ahead of pace so I slowed down and tried to get as many runners pass me as I could before crossing the line in a time of 2:19:59.  We were running on chip time so hopefully a lot of these runners started after us and managed to squeek under 2:20.

The post race party was really good.  Besides getting some chocolate milk in me, I was able to get a free beer as a part of my entry.  Since this was the Summerfest race, they had a band playing at one of the 12 stages on the Summerfest grounds.  I think they picked an almost perfect band to play.  They were a really good cover band playing songs from the 70's all the way to now.  And the old man in me loved that the band was not too loud.  You could still hold a conversation for the most part and still enjoy the music.  I did have one of the runners from my group find me and thanked me for helping her get her PR.

I really enjoyed this race and enjoyed pacing and plan on doing it again. I have been invited to pace again in the fall at the innagural Milwaukee Brewers Mini Marathon held at Miller Park here in Milwaukee.  I will take that opportunity again.  Not sure what pace I will go then but will still go into it with the same enthusiasm hoping to get runners to their goals. 

As you can see, the shirt I had to wear was really bright neon green.  This will be the perfect shirt to wear for my next marathon.  I will tell you all about it soon.

Keep on Running!!!