Monday, August 19, 2013

Two pee stops and a PR - Drake well Marathon 2013, Titusville, PA

Getting there:
Heather, the kids, and I headed up to New Castle, PA on Friday August 16th for the Drake well marathon in Titusville, PA on August 18th, 2013.  I got a shake out run in on Friday at Pearson's Park in New Castle just to get the blood flowing.  On Saturday, we headed up to Titusville, PA, checked in to the Comfort Inn, got our bibs at the Titusville Community Center, and then grabbed some angel hair pasta at this hole in the wall called Maria's.  Here is a quick snapshot as we entered town:

This is a snapshot of the community center where we picked up the bibs:

The restaurant where we ate dinner got horrible reviews online but I found it perfect for the occasion:  carb loading!  Our view at the comfort inn had us looking at some railroad tracks and honey boo boos cluttered back yard.

 But when you pay 70 bones for a room, you can't expect much.  To give you a taste of the town average weight per individual in Titusville, PA was topping 2 bills easy which surprised me a little.  Additionally, Titusville did not appear the most culturally diverse - that did not surprise me.   Two days there == 0 black or Hispanic people...The only Asian individual I saw was running in the race...All those things said, everyone running the race and in town was extremely polite and friendly to be around. The night before the race as I always do, is set out the clothes:

The Race:
The morning of the race (Sunday August 18th, 2013), I got a wake up call for 4:30am for a 7am start.  You know its a small town when your wake up call is actually from a person!

I like to get my toast and peanut butter down in order to get the bowels moving for a cleaning session.  Nothing worse than having to crap 5 miles into a marathon...luckily, I haven't had to many GI issues while running marathons and 50ks.  So we pack up our crap and head over to the Ed Meyer complex where the finish line will be.  However, the start was a good .5 miles away and everyone seemed not to know where it was.  We walk over to the start which was on a bridge and I pee at least 2 more times - yea, nervous pees.  Ok, its about 7am, we are all at the start lining up...So I am getting the garmin ready and I hear this horn go off.  It actually scared the shit out of me.  When the horn went off, no one moved..then another horn goes off which apparently was for us.  The first horn was for the 1/2 marathoners and the second was for us....however, we got no warning, no bull horn saying we will be starting soon, no all of a sudden, people start running.....for some crazy reason, I am in the front a few people from the top...don't ask me why, I just I start off with a 6 minute mile pace...I go about .5 miles before I look at my garmin and say, "you better slow the F down jd"...knowing some sizable hills are coming, I dropped my pace back to a 9 minute mile pace.  Out of the gate, I am following this older Chinese man who I referred to (in my head) as yellow man...not because of what you think but because he was decked head to tow in all yellow happens with many races, you will sometimes run with another person for a while...well, we ran together for the first 10-11 miles...he would pass me on the downhills and I would pass him going up the hills.

The course dragged you through the town of Titusville, a quaint, rural run-down little town.  Some people actually came out and gave us water throughout the race which I enjoyed.  I kept a moderate pace for the first 10 miles, about a 8:58 average putting me a little before the 4 hour mark for the marathon.  So as usually happens, I have to pee during the race - that is even after 40 pee stops before the race.  I stopped at mile 4 on the side of one of the hills to piss in the woods.  I figure I may have lost about 30 seconds max.  Then I took another piss around mile 15, again, not a big deal but mentally, I just need to.  I was happy with the time so far given the hills in the beginning were tough but not killer and when I say killer, I mean Blue Ridge marathon killer..  The first 10 miles took you through town making turns all over the place.  The Titusville police were out helping direct traffic given you didn't have the roads to yourself.  You passed Titusville high school, a cool little farm with some cows, the drake well museum.  From miles 10-24 we hit the bike trail which was about 7.5 down and 7.5 back.  From miles 10-20, I kept a 8:41 pace and was extremely happy with that...everytime I hit a mile, it was in the 8:40 range.    This section of the course was flat and I ended up passing around 8 people during the 14 mile stretch.  The best mile I had was on mile 1 which was a 8:14 and the worst was on mile 4 which was 9:56.  The trail from miles 10-17.5 felt like you were going down and from 17.5 felt like you were coming up.  At mile 23, you actually went up a 200 foot hill.  At this point, I was clock watching and told myself that this hill won't stand in the way although I still got a miserable 9:15 mile on that section.  I put on headphones around mile 18 which definitely gave me some pep.  I thought I did an average job fueling - I took 1 gel at mile 8, mile 14 and mile 20.  I also had a byte of a chocolate waffer around mile 18 but never finished it.  I took two endurolytes around the hour mark for each hour of running (See FUEL).  The temps were around 65 which was perfect for running.  My best marathon time was a 3:57 back in October 2012 at the Marines Corp Marathon, which also was my first marathon.  This being my 3rd actual road marathon (5th marathon or over race).  As you come off the paved bike trail, you enter the Ed Meyer complex baseball field.  Its about 200 yards to the track but its all on grass.  Not a big deal but if your trying to BQ or best a time, you are internally bitching!  Finally, I got to the track and picked up the pace, rounded the turn to a massive crowd of 20 people :) and saw the clock was in the 3:49 range and really wanted sub 3:50...I sprinted in to get a final time of 3:49:22 with an average 8:45 pace.  As much as I joke about the town and the people, it was a cool time and I really love small marathons.  If you do too, I suggest the Drakewell marathon.  If it works out next year, I might do it again.

I finished the race with a time of 3:49:22 and which averaged a 8:45 pace.  This beat my previous marathon PR by over 8 minutes which was done at the Marine Corps Marathon back in October, 2012.   Here is a shot of me at the finish line:
Here is a picture of me finishing the race:

Here is a snapshot of the finishing results:

The Bathroom situation:
The mens bathroom at the Ed Meyer complex had TWO urinals and one stall.  For 200 people which included both half and full marathoners, you better get used to shitting in the woods.  The bathroom was somewhat clean but the bar is low for me....just give me a hole in the ground and some semblance of toilet paper and I am good.  I was able to hit the dumper before the crowds arrived but later the line was out the door.  Overall grade:  C+ was clean but definitely could not handle the number of people that showed up.  However, the starting line did have port-o-pots (~4 in total) but you had no idea they were even there until you actually got to the starting line.  All in all,

Splits per mile:
Lap 1, 08:14, 1.00 miles, 8:15 min/mi, +164/-123/287 ft 5.4%
Lap 2, 09:53, 1.00 miles, 9:53 min/mi, +278/-17/295 ft 5.6%
Lap 3, 08:15, 1.00 miles, 8:15 min/mi, +73/-323/396 ft 7.5%
Lap 4, 09:56, 1.00 miles, 9:56 min/mi, +372/-52/424 ft 8%
Lap 5, 09:51, 1.00 miles, 9:52 min/mi, +150/-95/244 ft 4.6%
Lap 6, 09:04, 1.00 miles, 9:05 min/mi, +73/-188/260 ft 4.9%
Lap 7, 08:41, 1.00 miles, 8:41 min/mi, +30/-246/276 ft 5.2%
Lap 8, 08:43, 1.00 miles, 8:43 min/mi, +44/-80/125 ft 2.4%
Lap 9, 08:40, 1.00 miles, 8:41 min/mi, +65/-112/177 ft 3.3%
Lap 10, 08:27, 1.00 miles, 8:28 min/mi, +99/-82/181 ft 3.4%
Lap 11, 09:16, 1.00 miles, 9:16 min/mi, +158/-96/254 ft 4.8%
Lap 12, 08:27, 1.00 miles, 8:27 min/mi, +101/-106/207 ft 3.9%
Lap 13, 08:36, 1.00 miles, 8:36 min/mi, +115/-134/249 ft 4.7%
Lap 14, 08:51, 1.00 miles, 8:51 min/mi, +90/-101/191 ft 3.6%
Lap 15, 08:45, 1.00 miles, 8:45 min/mi, +106/-114/219 ft 4.2%
Lap 16, 08:44, 1.00 miles, 8:45 min/mi, +87/-129/216 ft 4.1%
Lap 17, 08:35, 1.00 miles, 8:36 min/mi, +95/-106/200 ft 3.8%
Lap 18, 08:41, 1.00 miles, 8:42 min/mi, +172/-71/243 ft 4.6%
Lap 19, 08:26, 1.00 miles, 8:27 min/mi, +126/-153/279 ft 5.3%
Lap 20, 08:39, 1.00 miles, 8:39 min/mi, +170/-120/290 ft 5.5%
Lap 21, 08:53, 1.00 miles, 8:54 min/mi, +103/-172/274 ft 5.2%
Lap 22, 08:54, 1.00 miles, 8:55 min/mi, +101/-101/202 ft 3.8%
Lap 23, 09:21, 1.00 miles, 9:21 min/mi, +199/-98/296 ft 5.6%
Lap 24, 08:53, 1.00 miles, 8:53 min/mi, +91/-114/205 ft 3.9%
Lap 25, 08:21, 1.00 miles, 8:22 min/mi, +101/-139/240 ft 4.5%
Lap 26, 08:01, 0.98 miles, 8:13 min/mi, +68/-140/208 ft 4%

I had the following:
3 hammer gels (apple cinimon)
1 chocolate Waffle Stinger
6 endurolytes (2 per hour)

Post Race:
After I finished the race, I waited for Heather who came in around 5 hours and 5 minutes.  It was a tough race for Heather and we all have had races like that.  Sometimes you just don't get the time you want.  It happened to me at the North Face 50k and I am sure it will happen to me somewhere else.  Next up for both of us is the Youngstown Ultra 50k in Youngtown, Ohio on September 14th, 2013.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I ran Drake Well but not Drake Awesome!

Setting the stage
August 18 was marathon #3 for me, Drake Well Marathon.  I haven't been as hyped up and nervous for this marathon as I was for the last two.  I have been telling myself that there is no pressure and that it was just a good supported training run for YUTC on September 14.  This was my plan as I was thinking that we would have usual hot, humid August weather.  When I saw that we were going to have unseasonably cool temperatures and no humidity, I let the thought of a PR start to creep into my head.  Realistically, I knew a PR was unlikely on this course (you'll see why later), but I still had the idea in the back of my head which eventually led to some disappointment later in the race.

Pre-race prep
I put together an awesome playlist for my shuffle.  I had picked out my race gear and had my Brooks Adrenalines ready to roll.

 I did a two mile shake out run at Pearson Park, and I was feeling really good.  Because I have the most awesome mom ever, we had the kid situation under control as she was going to take them for Saturday night and Sunday most of the day.  My dad also took on the challenge of taking both of them to Chuck E. Cheese on a Saturday night (yikes!) so kudos to him for pulling that one off.  On Saturday afternoon we rolled into Titusville.  Titusville is a very important town in world history as it is the home of the very first oil well in the world. 
They have these little model derricks all over town.

Entering town...typical small town Western Pennsylvania so I felt at home!
We checked into the Comfort Inn which was clean and serviceable, but our room had this lovely view of the train tracks and Honey Boo Boo's house.  We tried to get a short nap in before packet pick up, but the trains coming through were using their whistles pretty loudly and Mama June had a pool party and picnic with lots of screaming kids in full swing.  (Thankfully, both of these activities quieted down by bedtime!)

Packet pick up was at the Titusville Community Center.  The community center was the former home of one of the wealthiest oil and lumber barons in town during the boom so you could see a lot of the former opulence in effect in the pick up room.  Pick up was pretty bare bones.  Two guys were working and gave you your race number.  Then you went into a hallway and looked through a box for your swag bag and picked your shirt up out of a pile.  There weren't a lot of runners picking up packets so it went smoothly.  There was also a pasta dinner being offered, but it wasn't starting until 7 pm which is way too late for me to eat on race night, but it was nice that they offered this.
Packet pick up in progress

For a low registration fee race (only $55 for early registration), I was impressed with the shirt and swag bag.  We got a bunch of snack type items (crackers, Clif bar, gel samples, candy), some coupons for Dick's Sporting Goods, a commemorative timing chip, and the awesome bag.

Excited about my swag bag!
So we headed out in search of some pasta.  We had read some online reviews about this place called Maria's.  Everyone said the food was good, but three separate reviews complained about the horrifying service and compared the cook and owner to Seinfeld's soup nazi.  We were a little afraid to check the place out, but there aren't many options in Titusville.  We were pleasantly surprised.  The pasta was excellent, the server was really pleasant, and the food came out quickly and with no problems.
Two thumbs up for Maria's!

Race Day
I slept restlessly, but I did sleep the night before so the 4:30 am wake up call wasn't too bad.  I ate my raisin bread and peanut butter sandwich (should have had two which I did before B&A Marathon), loaded up my Honey Stingers, Endurolytes, and gummy bears in my Spibelt, and was ready to go.  It was pleasantly cool...55 degrees so I was excited about the weather.

Bathroom situation
There were plenty of toilets on site at Ed Myer Complex for the women (about 8) that were clean and with toilet paper.  I had no lines at all, but this was likely because there were only a small number of women running both the half and full marathons.

The Confusing Start
Start line!
Add caption
 We got to Ed Myer Compkex where the finish was.  Everyone seemed confused about where the actual start line was, but we finally figured out that we had to head up the road about 0.5 miles.  So we headed that way at around 6:30 am.  We got there and milled around and were told that marathoners should go stand on the bridge.  Then all of a sudden this horn goes off.  Those of us in the back of the pack of marathoners (only about 100 of us anyway) turned around to see what was going on, and we saw the half marathoners head out on their race (they were starting in the opposite direction).  Then the older man with the horn nods at us and blows the horn.   The front runners still weren't moving because they hadn't turned around to look at the man so everyone in the back is now yelling at the front of the pack to go.  After a bit of confusion everyone starts running, but I'm pretty sure they started the race clock when the half marathoners started meaning that all of the marathon times were slightly off.  I started my Garmin when we actually started running so my time was about 45 seconds off of the official race clock.

Pre-race selfie
The Race!
So we start off with a loop around the Drake Well Museum.  I was excited to run so I didn't pull out my phone to snap any photos, but it was a really nice warm-up loop.  I chatted with a few Marathon Maniacs on this loop.  They were taking their time and having a blast.  After the first mile, things started to get real.  I knew the first 8 miles were the most challenging part of the race with some climbs that were not overly challenging, but enough to wear you down if you didn't run them conservatively.  So we hit the first climb, and I slowed myself down to an 11 minute mile and just climbed the hill steadily.  I felt really good when I got to the top.  There was a nice downhill, but the pavement was a bit broken up so you had to watch it on the descent.  Then we started winding on some rolling hills over back country roads.  We hit an aid station at the bottom of the hill.  The field strung out pretty quickly so that I was running by myself a lot starting at mile 3. So right around this point was my least favorite part of the race because we had to run for about 0.5 miles on a really busy road, and they had no cones or lane blocked off so we were basically running on the shoulder.  I was really pissed off at this point, but then I could see a volunteer waving for people to turn off so I knew I didn't have long on that road. I had been following this kid in a white t-shirt with #16 on the back for a while.  I was watching him just kill the hills and wondering how long he was going to keep that up.  So mile 3 started another uphill grind, and I could see #16 struggling a little.  This climb was long and gradual.  I was so proud of myself because I was just grinding away slowly on this climb and feeling strong.  We hit an aid station at mile 4 and then the top of the climb at mile 4.5.  It started to drop off a bit into one of the most picturesque parts of the race.  It was so gorgeous running almost alone out there on a country road. 
Do you see all of the other runners out here?  No!  Because there weren't any!

Loved the cows!

Pretty barn
At this point we passed a house where a mom and daughter had come out around mile 5 for an impromptu water stop and had written all kinds of fun things on the road.  It was a nice surprise because it was lonely out there and devoid of spectators.  It was also really peaceful though.
So right before mile 6 we start the last short climb.  Above you can see #16, but at this point he has slowed to a walk.  By the time I reached the top of the hill, he was bent over puking on the side of the road.  I did a quick check to see if he was OK as I was running by.  He gave me a thumbs up so I kept going.  We were then treated to a good long downhill and some soft surface.
I felt like I was running down Haymarket Road.
I was loving this part of the race and was keeping a nice pace.  I was really proud of myself for covering the hills conservatively and coming through 7+ miles feeling really strong.  We ran on these back roads for a bit and then we hit downtown Titusville for a short tour.  We did get to run by Titusville High School Home of the Rockets where John Heisman (of trophy fame) played high school football.  We ran by a lot of gorgeous historic homes that were badly in need of renovation.  There were a handful of people out walking dogs and wandering around.  I overheard one man asking a race volunteer if we were running a 5K marathon.  I inwardly sighed and kept on running.  I was amused by one elderly gentleman who was all dressed up in his church clothes and was standing on the sidewalk in front of his house clapping and waving for us to make the turn at his corner.  I much appreciated his enthusiasm.  At this point, #16 had played leapfrog with me a few times as he would sprint past me only to slow down or look really sick. Our tour of downtown ended, and we hopped on the bike path near the Drake Well Museum.  I was glad about this because I knew it was the out and back section so 1)  I wouldn't have to think anymore and pay attention to turns 2)  it was flat 3) I would get to see JD at some point  4)  it was almost the halfway mark.

So we hit the bike path and #16  starts walking, and I finally pass him for the last time.  It was nice to see half marathoners on their way back and get and give encouragement, but it was also a little discouraging because one portion of the bike path ran right past the finish line.  I was still feeling really strong when I hit the half marathon mark around 2:20.  I felt good about this time because I felt like I had run really conservatively in the beginning and could easily sustain this pace for the back half to come in around 4:40-4:45 which would have been a good day for me on this course.  Soon I started seeing the male front runner men so it was fun to watch them fly by.  There were also some folks out at the aid stations with fun signs (Run Like An Angry Kenyan and You are Not Just Doing Drake Well.  You are Doing Drake Awesome.)  I was around 16 miles when I spotted JD.  He had made the turnaround and was headed back and looking strong.  I was still feeling OK knowing that I had the turnaround coming up at 17.5 miles.  At mile 16 aid station I realized that I had gone through all of my fuel except for a Honey Stinger Waffle.  I was a bit worried about that.  I paused for a minute or so at the turnaround to eat my waffle and get some water down with it as well as to reward myself with the ipod.  Somewhere in here was an aid station with the most enthusiastic volunteer ever.  He would see a runner coming from way down the path and start whooping and hollering.  As you reached his station he would encourage you although I had to laugh when I hit him at mile 22 on the way back, and he said 'Looking hot girl!'

Mile 18 was where I started to crash.  My quads were starting to feel crampy so I took another Endurolyte to see if that would help.  My pace was slowing significantly, but I could see two runners in front of me that I had earlier dubbed the orange twins.  I had caught glimpses of these two guys in their neon orange shirts all day long.  I realized that I was gaining ground on them so I tried to hold onto my shuffle run until I got past them.  After successfully passing the orange twins, I noticed a woman ahead in a neon green shirt who was walking so I force myself to run for 10 minutes to see if I could catch her at about the 7 minute mark I passed her.  I finished my 10 minutes of running and switched to a power walk.  From mile 20 on I was alternating between power walks and slow running for as long as I could tolerate without severe cramping.  I really wanted to run.  My head was screaming at my body to run, but my quads were just in so much pain with running.  I could power walk comfortably and move at just a slightly slower pace than I was running so I just kept pushing along.  I came upon tattoo boy at that point.  He was really struggling.  We exchanged a few words of encouragement.  We continued to leap frog each other and mutter comments until about mile 25 where he seemed to get a burst of energy.  He said, "Let's finisher this fucker strong!" and tried to get me to finish up strong with him.  I tried, but his pace was more than I could handle so I let him go ahead.  Somewhere in here I had a small mental breakdown where I was almost in tears over disappointment at my performance, but then I pulled it together by reminding myself that I had the opportunity to spend half of my Sunday enjoying nature and that more time on the legs was actually better for my ultra training (although maybe not for my ego).  I finally saw the turn off from the bike path to head back onto the track for the finish.  I hated having to run over grass for about .2 miles before hitting the track.  As I came onto the track I was shuffling along.  JD spotted me and ran over to encourage me to finish up strong.  I did the best I could to simulate a strong finish and crossed at 5:05 according to the race clock (my Garmin had 5:04).

Not my best day, but I really enjoyed the race and the scenery and I got some good time on my legs.  If I'm being honest, my training for this marathon was not as good as it was for B&A.  It was really a struggle for me to balance long runs and kids and vacation this summer especially with some of my long runs falling on really hot days.  My last 20 miler was 4 weeks ago, and it wasn't a good quality 20 miler.  So some of my issues were fitness related and I know that I miscalculated when I packed my fuel.  I also should have eaten a bigger breakfast.
Will the real Heather Durick please stand up?

Review of the race
If you like running for hours by yourself on back country roads and shaded bike paths, then this is the race for you.  There's a little mix of trails, a few hills and some pretty scenery along the way.  There are not many spectators so it's not a race for those that love crowds.  The start was a bit disconcerting, and the post race food was really bad.  I also noticed that they didn't have a medic on hand at the race so this was a minus for them as well.  It's a small town race, and I picked it because the area has fond memories for me from growing up.  I wanted to do a small local marathon with easy logistics, and this was a good one to pick.  If you are trying to BQ or PR, this is a tough course to do it on given the mix of terrains and hilly start.  If you are looking for a well-supported solo training run, then this is your race.  

Aid Stations
They were pretty reliably every 2 miles along the way.  They were basic but serviceable and never crowded.  They had water and some watered down Gatorade.  They had a limited supply of fuel and electrolytes, but you really needed to carry your own.  The volunteers were wonderfully helpful and friendly.

Endurolytes-1 per hour at beginning; doubled up on a few near the end for a total of 6 for the race
1 packet of Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade Chews
Handful of gummy bears
Honey Stinger Chocolate waffle

Post race recovery-Treated myself to a DQ Blizzard (the kid working at DQ was not impressed by my medal)-also got to wear my new cool Title IX hoody and skirt.
Running for the DQ since I am not near a BQ!
Also want to do a quick shout out to RunPrettyFar for the rocking hair ties.  They are now marathon tested and were awesome!

Course map and elevation

What's next
So now I trust in Hal again and start on the Multiple Marathon Program since I have 4 weeks until 50K!!!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

More fun in Moab

Long delayed post catching up on the last of our vacation fun....

So after our too crowded day in Arches National Park which was breathtakingly gorgeous, but a little too populated for our tastes, we decided to get off the beaten path a little and explore Negro Bill Canyon.  This was the best idea of the whole trip and was rated favorite hike EVER by our family.  Negro Bill Canyon was originally the home of William Granstaff, one of the first settlers of color in the area.  Then canyon had a much more unpleasant name until 1960 when it was renamed.  There is still an ongoing movement to rename the canyon to Granstaff Canyon.  The trail is about 5 miles round trip on an out and back route to Morning Glory Natural Bridge which is billed as the 6th longest natural rock span in the US. 

We wanted to get in and out of the canyon early to beat the heat so we hit our favorite breakfast spot in Moab, the Red Rock Bakery.

 Right in the heart of downtown Moab, we highly recommend it for amazing fresh breakfast fare and delicious coffee as well as a friendly and helpful owner who specifically opened early for us on the second morning of our trip after learning that we were wanting to have breakfast at 7 am so we could hit the trails. So if you are ever in Moab, definitely visit the Red Rock Bakery.  I highly recommend the breakfast toastie (sourdough bread, egg,  avocado, and tomato with veggie cream cheese).  As an aside while we are on the topic of food, we also recommend the Blu Pig for delicious barbecue and Moab Brewery for excellent local beer. 

OK, enough food talk.  We hit the trail and were rewarded immediately by shady green paths directly into the canyon.  The trail markers were clear and easy to follow. 

There were about 12 total stream crossings on this hike which was fun for the kids and really awesome.

 The trail was fairly easy with only a few moderate climbs and not much rockiness.  We actually spotted one runner while we were out there, but otherwise the trail was pretty quiet with only about two other families out there during our entire hike.

  At the end of the hike, you are rewarded with the splendid views of the Morning Glory Natural Bridge. There is a tempting little pool beneath the bridge, but we had been warned that it was surrounded with poison ivy so we did not approach.

The kids had been begging to rock climb, and we had spotted the Big Bend Boulder Field along the road so we stopped there before lunch and let the kids have a go at it.  They had an absolute blast tackling some of the smaller boulders. 

In the afternoon we had an awesome time exploring the Colorado River!