Monday, September 14, 2009

Endurance Weekend: Running and Cycling Sep. 12-13

The Highlander: Colin's 105 Mile Mountain Ride
Saturday, September 12

Setting up bike and gear for the big day starting just before 7 AM.

Colin climbed 105 miles worth of hills and craziness on his bike while I had fun spectating and driving to meet him at the rest stops. It is an incredible ride, with 15 hills which are major climbs. The killer hill comes at mile 100 and is literally a 23 percent graded incline. I had fun putting pics on facebook and tweeting up a storm as the day went on, documenting the ride. Colin met up with a buddy, Scott, who is the husband of Kathy, who I run with regularly. The two helped each other up the climbs all day and both said that got them to the finish. Near the end at mile 91 the two guys were at the fifth rest stop and decided to skip the sixth and final rest stop and head straight to the end. Colin said "Unless they have new legs for me there I don't think there's anything that will help me to the end." Ha! That gives an impression of the fatigue that is bound to ensue with such a challenging ride.

Tiny view of Bopple Hill which is a mile long, this shot does not do it justice...

I really was in complete awe of the notorious Bopple Hill at mile 100, it is fierce! I can't imagine climbing it. I walked partially down to cheer on riders climbing to the top and to wait for Colin and Scott to come through. The view from the spectator side is a steep hill with a gorgeous lake in the distance.

Unfortunately the cyclists miss the lake view and only have the endless hill in sight as they make their way to the top. And at the top on the right is a cemetary, classic. But from there its a short easy distance to the finish. Congrats on an outstanding ride guys! Loved watching and it is truly a grueling challenge. Finishing Time - 8 hr. 45 min.

Nothing like the finish...

The Rochester Marathon: The Story of Going Out Too Fast :) Sunday, Septemer 13

Here I am dying at mile 18 but so glad to see Colin with Gatorade and Body Glide. :) Several "first's" for this marathon: Ran in a skirt, carried water for the entire marathon, got my first blister (on my toe) ever during a marathon, lined up with a pace group at the start line...

Call me crazy, I signed up AGAIN for the Rochester Marathon after swearing to never run it again. But they were having pace groups for the first time this year so I thought I'd give the BQ dream time another chance. I only missed it by 3 minutes in Pittsburgh last May and thought maybe I could grab it this time around if I had my "perfect" day. Those days are hard to come by! After a few weeks of consideration, I signed up a week before the race. I've been Ironman Training all summer and threw in 20 and 17 mile training runs as I approached the Rochester race date.

I lined up with the 3:45 pace group telling myself I would hang as long as a I could and if I fell of I'd just let it go and not push which could risk unnecessary injury and poor recovery time for my "A" race, the November Ironman. Well, the leader took us out SO FAST for the first 5 miles. I needed to hold an 8:35 to 8:37 pace for the whole race which maybe I could have done, I'll never know, but the weather was outstanding. High 50's at the start, cool and breezy. The breeze lasted for the entire race and the temp only topped out at 70, great weather!

Back to those first five miles...we were hitting paces almost a minute faster then goal pace-7:42,7:43, 7:58, 8:08.....I was fresh so ran well at that point. If I were running a marathon on my own, I would immediately slow the pace if I hit one mile in the 7's! But I trusted our guide and hung in there hoping I could make it. I kept thinking, maybe this is it! Maybe I'm going to make it and be "Boston Bound!" Well you guessed it, by mile 13 I was struggling and by mile 15 I was on my own! No more pace group, my worst nightmare, alone on the boring canal path! This is probably the ultimate reason I didn't want to try and run my pace on own, I would end up on the canal path alone and slow down anyway. So big deal, I started counting the miles to 18 when I would meet up with Colin and some gatorade. :)

By that point I knew I would not make the 3:45 finish and rather then kill myself and run as fast as I could for a marathon I signed up for on a whim, I let it go. I slowed down, ran easy, but still in pain, and treated it like a training run all the way to the finish line. Man, 16 marathons and it's always HARD! Even if I take it easy and don't push myself, 26.2 miles IS pushing yourself...who am I kidding??

The 4 hour pace group caught up to me around 20-21 miles and passed me in about 15 seconds! My friend Kathy was running strong with them and I knew then that she would make her first BQ-and she did! CONGRATS!

I do love the adrenalin for the final miles though! By mile 23 I was thinking a long 5K to go! Then counting down to 2 quick miles and I started talking to people around me, cheering them on when they passed me or I passed them. I came upon walkers who responded to my encouragement with "You Rock!" Well, they rocked too!!! Then a couple of first time marathoners-I love telling them they're doing great and they're going to make it! I told one guy I was running for my ice bath at the end! It was his first marathon and he was obviously hurting but getting to the end. Amazingly another woman was at mile 25 of her 123rd marathon!!!! WOW!

Just yards from the finish line, my friend Kim, who had finished running the half, was standing there cheering me to the end. I pointed at the finish line and said "I get to STOP when I get there!!!" Spectators were cheering loudly and Colin got a picture of me smiling and hitting stop on my watch. Then you can see the pain on my face in the next picture as I walk to get my time chip taken back. Thank goodness someone reaches down to your ankle and takes it off for you so you don't have to. :) Finishing Time - 4:11:25

So why is it that now every marathon I run is about qualifying for Boston? I spend miles mentally battling the self-induced pressure and praying for strength. Constantly I think to myself-"Can I make it? Just relax and run! If it happens great, if not, at least you can run 26 miles!" In the end I know that's true, I love being able to run period. Another year for Boston, my goal this year truly is the ironman. And I'll be throwing up and crying with nervousness on THAT race morning! Can't wait! I think...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Can-Am Century Bike Ride: August 16, 2009

Colin and I had a lot of fun riding our first hundred mile bike ride on this hot August day! It was actually 105 miles by the end and it was great Ironman training for me and Highlander training for Colin. (He is signed up to bike the Highlander on September 12 which is 100 miles of really tough hills in Bristol, NY. One climb is a 23 percent grade!) Our friend Dave came with us on this fun ride and he is a veteran cyclist having completed 40 to 50 hundred mile rides already!

The group ride started in Buffalo, NY and cruised over to Canada for a lovely spin past Niagara Falls and through Canadian countryside. We all had to stop and show our passports to cross the border two times. My favorite part was the Canadian side, wish the whole thing could have been in Canada! Terrain for all the miles was mostly flat so it truly was a laid-back, easy ride, our average pace was just right at 16.0 miles an hour for the entire 105 miles. We did have one HUGE hill to climb, it was so long! And it was incredibly hot! Plus it was right around 60-65 miles so we were well into the ride at that point. But we all just granny-geared it and climbed to the top! Not bad, just one tough hill for the entire ride. :) The last 15 miles or so were on a bike path which we all objected to greatly due to pedestrians and major cracks in the asphalt. That part turned out to be quite humorous. Every time I thought we were getting off the bike path and onto the road, an orange arrow would point us BACK to the path AGAIN! Seriously, at the time, I was going crazy! I'd get this huge wave of happiness to be off of it and then there we were again. I had to just laugh at it or I would SCREAM! All in all it was a great course and it was fun to push the limits on the bike for such a distance.

The aid stations were great! There were four and we actually decided to skip the last one because we were so close to the finish-we just wanted to get to the end! I had perpetuem in my bottle on my bike which is basically liquid nutrition with calories, carbs, protein and even a little fat. It's what I plan to use in the Ironman and I've been training with it on long bike rides. It keeps everything leveled out so you never really hit a big energy low on those long bike miles. So even though the aid stations had sandwiches, drinks, fruit, cheese, pretzels and more, I mostly relied on my perpetuem. I had some gatorade and re-filled my water bottles and snacked on some grapes and pretzels, but not many. (Didn't want to get an upset stomach...)

At the end of the ride there was great post-ride food! And we took great advantage of it after the long, hot day on our bikes. Temps climbed to about 90 and we were in lots of full sun all day. Completing the miles was a huge confidence booster for the Ironman, I'm so glad to have ridden it. And Colin and Dave were great riding partners, we made quite the trio and really had fun out there!