mickey mouse

mickey mouse

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Cleveland Rocks!

Yet another road trip......5 hours each way to run 21.1k in Cleveland Ohio.
This time it was Emily and I making the dawn voyage across the border to the good old USA for the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon.
Before we left I just had to have my nails done....it's all about how you look when you run, after all, hence the Glam Runner Tutu made another appearance at this race as well.

Because Emily is an awesome travel partner, she had already planned out our trip. Not only did she have directions to everywhere, she'd scored tickets for the Indians vs A's at Progressive Field. 
Somehow despite working for the Toronto Blue Jays for 11 years, I've only managed to see a ball game in one park other than SkyDome. This made it two. Amusingly neither of us had researched if it was an open stadium, or planned how to be warm enough if it was. Whoops.  Brrrrr....Cleveland in May isn't much warmer than Hamilton in May. Lesson learned. However, it was a great excuse to buy a new sweatshirt at the expo, and pants, and earrings....

There's a direct relationship between how much sleep you need and how long the game lasts. Not only did they manage to toss the A's pitcher in the second inning, a squirrel got lose on the field and caused quite a stir. You can read an interview with him here, complete with video replay.

THEN there was an after game fireworks show, set to 80's hair band music. They were amazing, about a half hour of incredible kabooms, which kept us there even later.

Finally we made it back to the hotel, and went to bed.

Dark o'clock comes WAY too soon when you're running...the good news is that the RTA was running at that hour and was so easy to use even I could (almost) not get lost. The bad news is that the local McDonalds made horrible coffee.

I took these photos on our way to the baseball game, don't for one minute think it was LIGHT out on our way to the race! Amusingly the night before the train was filled with drunk baseball fans and the morning found it filled with sleepy runners. 
There's a lot you can say about the USA, but one thing I love is how well they do races. The pomp, the anthem, the rah rah rah. The course was great, the volunteers friendly and awesome, and the community support was fabu. Each neighborhood was out in force, cheering from their yards, there were banners welcoming the runners, and one group was even giving out BEER (Summer Shandy, quite nice).
 All the aid stations stayed open 'till the end, (and had BLUE powerade, so happy!) the finish line was up, everyone was still cheering. That may be because the full marathon came along the same route, but I was still thrilled.

We took a moment to pose with some amazing firefighters who were cheering along the course. They were so much fun, supportive and happy to have runners invade their Sunday morning. Amusingly we kept seeing a squirrel on the course, I'm convinced it was the one from the baseball game. 

I discovered that Cleveland has a ridiculous amount of bridges, and I think we ran over every single one. Every.Single.One. including that super long one behind Emily in the photo. We went back and forth over so many of them I had no idea what direction were were running, it was like being spun blindfolded right before you wack a pinata. 
We also discovered that in addition to beer you could have water from a local church (we counted that as GOING to church, it was Sunday after all). Then a few KMs later Emily met the POPE. Feeling very blessed by the entire experience. I kept running into Half Fanatics who greeted me with their number, and I had NO idea what mine was. For the record I looked it up: 
Fanatic #4595 (Neptune)

It wasn't my fastest half, it wasn't my wettest half, it wasn't my hottest half, but it sure was a fun, pretty, dynamic, amazing good time. I wish Cleveland wasn't so far from home. My Garmin did die before the finish, but I got some of it tracked, so I can figure out where the bridges were.

For sure I will be buying all the race photos, 'cause they were awesome! AND they did a finish line video too, you can see me at about the 10:45 mark of this video, on the left side.  Yep,Cleveland ROCKS

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Last place isn't always a bad thing

I was invited to the Chocolate Race in St. Catharines to be 
 the sweep for the 10 miler. The Sweep is the person who finishes the race last, to ensure that everyone has crossed the line and they can break down the aid stations and open the course again. (unlike the Sweep in Disney, but we won't discuss THEM)

I've never done that role before, and aside from the fact that I ran a half marathon last weekend (Windsor) and will be running one this weekend (Cleveland), I figured I was okay to walk 16k the weekend between.

When I picked up my race kit I found that although I was given a bib, I wasn't issued a chip, so I'd have no 'official' time for this race, it was like I didn't exist at all. Kind of neat, because it didn't mess up my times, but kind of sad 'cause then I'd have no time to beat :-).

It was a beautiful day to be out in a tutu, so I hit the course at the back of the pack. All the 10 milers took off into the sun. I plodded along behind, soon to be passed by all the 10k and 5k runners who had a delayed start behind us.

The upside to being last, your race photos are amazing because you're exerting NO effort at all, and therefore remain fresh as a daisy the entire time.
Also, there's nobody else in them, so you are all 'check me out' alone in the pretty surroundings. I HAD to buy this photo, it's one of the best ones ever taken of me 'running'. (thanks Zoom Photo, it's amazing)

A couple aid stations into the walk, after I'd had a chocolate marshmallow/strawberry on a stick and a few cups of Gatorade, I fell in with three ladies who were walking the 10 mile route. After confessing that it was my job to make sure they got in safely, we began to chat about stuff. Turns out I was walking with a two-time cancer survivor and her friends. This time last year she was doing chemo and could only manage 9 k of the walk.

This year they were celebrating each step they took together, almost literally. 
I didn't realize until I joined them but each kilometer marker they passed, they joined hands, held them up and whooped. They welcomed me to their crew and happily chatted with me as we headed back to the finish.

I've never been this far back before, never had no time to beat or clock to hit. It was oddly refreshing to be there for someone else, another purpose than counting the footfalls between me and the end.

What a neat experience. Three women I'd never have met without this opportunity, stories I'd have heard, questions I'd never have asked.  Sometimes it is a good thing to slow down and look around.

In the words of Rush (sorry Shannon). "Time stand still, not looking back but I want to look around me now". OH, but they WERE out of chocolate martinis at the end :-(

On that note, I'm running the Rite Aid Rock N Roll Cleveland half THIS weekend with Emily, and I doubt it'll be quiet there :-)

Cool update! The National Post tracks people's progress in the paper, and this week not only was I IN the paper, so was my photo!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Just because it CAN be done doesn't mean it's easy

 SO the moral of the story is you should not roll out of bed and run a half marathon with a woeful lack of training and expect that it will be as easy as the one you ran in Ottawa in the Fall. Actually, full disclosure, I was sort of scared that I'd either pass out or DNF.

I was worried that I'd driven my entire family 4 hours to Windsor ON, stayed in a hotel for the night and got a spiffy new tutu (thanks Glam Runner) only to find that my long winter hibernation would prove to be my undoing. 

I figured we might as well have fun, so we hit the pool to (and I even swam a few laps for 'training'). It turned out to be salt water, which was neat and unexpected. I tried to justify the swim by doing some laps and calling it tri-training.

Despite the fun swim and big dinner, I had a truly horrible night's sleep and woke up even worse off than I think I'd be had I just stayed up. Luckily there was a Tim Hortons in blurry-eyed distance so that made things a wee bit better.  For the record, nobody flinches when you go out dressed like that. Nobody.

I lined up for the race still wondering if this was going to work at all. Figured worst case I can walk 21.1 in strange city and enjoy the view.

I was happily running along the waterfront looking around at Detroit across the river when I realized you can see Joe Louis arena so I had a happy moment  running along the shoreline trying to take photos.

It was an out and back and out and back and halfway out and back loop type thing so I got to look at the same things a few times over. I managed to find the coolest pace bunny named Jim and his crew of 3 hour runners and threw myself in with them.

What a great bunch, a girl from Home Depot, a SAHM of three, a girl who managed Senior Programming and Jim, the crazy wonderful guy in the patterned running skirt (he's the pink haired guy in the photo above).

I was so thankful to have the group to run with because they were fun and a distraction that made the miles fly by. Jim kept up a great patter and was hugely motivating, I seriously would not have finished in the time I did without him.
At the last leg of the loops I fell behind the group, and they kept looking back to make sure I was okay. I tried to haul tutu and catch them but it just wasn't in cards. I just kept running since I was only 2k from the finish.

I came around the corner and could see the finish. A few hundred yards from the line, Pacer Jim came to my side. He said 'we're bringing this home' and handed me the pacer sign. Then he ran me across the line. I'm not normally one of those sappy runners, but this race was a hard one, I was out of shape and under trained, and could seriously not have finished without him, at least not in the time I did, so I was nearly in tears as he hugged me.

Luckily the firefighters at the finish line who give you the medal took my mind off the mood :-). Then I made my way over to the chocolate area and sadly discovered that they were out of the goodie bags!  TRAUMA (slightly offset by the chocolate milk). **

As I was limping around I was approached by Makda Ghrebreslassie from CBC Radio Windsor. She said my outfit was fun and she wanted to interview me for the radio. (I had to laugh, not sure how the visual translated to the audio).

My lovely family picked me up and we headed across the border to the Henry Ford Museum. Yep, I wandered the museum dressed like this, and nope, nobody commented.

We wandered around the museum having a great time 

After a wonderful meal at the Olive Garden (dang I miss having those in Canada), we drove home....

I've learned my lesson (sort of).  You CAN run a 3 hour half marathon (3:00:12) with no training, no sleep and (did I mention) new shoes? Should you do it? Likely not.  Will I do something stupid in a few weeks and run Cleveland Rite Aid? Yes, but I'm going to put some miles on my new shoes first!

Did I mention you get a PURSE of WINE for doing this race? Yep!

** Update**

So by the time I got home i already had an email from the race director appologizing for the fact that they ran out of chocolate, which I thought was amazing.  TODAY (May21st) I get home and THIS is was in my mailbox
talk about above and beyond...wow a handwritten, personal note  too! I'm so impressed.