Throw Back Race Recap- and one Tonight!

I HAVE actually done a few races in the last couple of months- one I actually raced, and one I paced my husband for.

On Memorial Day weekend I ran the first in the Craft Beer Series in Portland, ME.

I pushed it in this race even though I was in the throws of my butt pains, tiredness, etc.  I believe that even after a full  night’s sleep I was chugging a large turbo D&D iced coffee on the way to the race!

Recap/Review:

Organization was simple, and no swag other than entry into the beer festival following the race.  We were OK with that!

The start:

I didn’t warm up (I KNOW), and didn’t see many people warming up.  Most people truly seemed “in it for the beer”.  They had corrals set up by expected pace- I lined up in the 7 min/mile area- with no expectations and 32 oz of iced coffee sloshing around- who knows what will happen?

my next thought was “why the heck is there NO ONE IN FRONT OF ME”.  Finally a couple of BAA runners found the front, and a few other lanky club runners, and some ladies that looked pretty serious.  I looked ridiculous, since I had my Boston jacket tied around my waist like I was heading out for a walk with Isaac.  (It was cold, I knew I would want it after, and no bag check).

I ran garmin-less- but used the Map My Run app-  which didn’t find our location right away so my data from the run is off.  It over-ran the first mile (and gave me a 7:24 split?), under-estimated the second (6:24??) and who knows about the third since I forgot to shut it off and later in the day after wandering around the beer festival for awhile it had logged 5 miles.  Whoops.

During the race I felt my butt in the first mile- it mostly felt like I couldn’t extend my legs the way I wanted to.  No matter, I just worked on improving my turnover- shorter, quicker steps (as I should be running, anyhow).  The race proceeds slightly down hill, then moderately uphill (but nothing any hardy New England runner would really consider a “hill”)- before a complete downhill finish.  I hadn’t realized how fast the last mile would be and it was  a real boost!  I ended up passing quite a few people in the end of mile 2 entering into mile 3-

They clocked me at 20:52; 6:43 avg pace.  Not terrible.  4th in AG (w/out removing winners)

NOTE:  there were NO water stops.  I didn’t need it- but if you did, I would bring a hand held.  I am not sure what the plans are for future Craft Beer Series races.

Hydration post race:  PLENTIFUL water.

Medal?  YES. AWESOME, heavy medals with a built in bottle openers.

Awards?  Only to the top 3 finishers, open male and female.  No age awards.

Beer Festival?  PERFECT.  It wasn’t too big, wasn’t too small- NOT overly crowded.  All Maine craft brewers and many actual brewers (not just sales reps) there to discuss the beer as well as hand out samples.  It did need more food for sale though-  we ended up just this side of hangry.

Would I run another in this series?  SURE.  Considering this was the very first time they had ever done this race I thought it went off without a hitch.

Register for the races here: http://www.craftbrewraces.com/

….   and tonight?  I am headed to Manchester, NH to run the HASLAW Manchester Mile and 5k.  I am running the 5k.  My plan?  We’ll see- but as of now I am planning on gutting it out and seeing where I am at fitness-wise.  I am pretty sure that I won’t be getting a PR- but I would love to be closer than Memorial Day.  The only hitch is that it could be 100% humidity and 87,000 degrees- which means just running to my potential in the given conditions and not worrying so much about my time.  *fingers crossed*

Anyone else doing a 4th of July race?

 

 

 

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a longer break than expected.. And a PSA

After Boston, after the Redding Run for the Cows, after a bunch of different events I was left dead TIRED.  In my bones, nauseatingly tired.

I had pains in my foot (like a golf ball, placed there just to annoy me)…  pains in my butt, just aches and pains all over.

I went to my orthopedist- and she said, “you are TIGHT.  EVERYWHERE.  You need a PT to work through these issues”.  OK.

I went to therapy, for dry needling and other types of myofascial massage (graston, etc)- but no one really knew the root cause of what was wrong.  Each week brought a new ache.  A new muscle group was bothering me.  I figured I was tired- I had run a marathon and then a half 2 weeks later.  13 some odd miles for funsies to celebrate a really cool chickie’s birthday.

Too much, right?  So I backed off, spent some time doing exclusively cross training- missing my sport, feeling down- and basically waking up each morning DOG tired,  like I had NEVER slept…  my days dragged and I just felt so awful- no amount of iced coffee or treats was perking me up and my elliptical workouts were leaving me drained.

During a particularly tough week, I was at PT when the grad student that was working on me noticed a bullseye rash-  on the back of my thigh, close to my butt on the inner portion.  (So I could see it, but it took some contortion).

Hrmm.  After work that day I went to the urgent care and described my symptoms.  The conversation was something like this:

Me: “I have this bullseye, but I dunno-  I don’t think I have lyme, I never found tick on me.  I don’t feel sick”

NP: ” Do you have any muscle aches or tiredness? Fever?”

Me: “No fever, but my muscles always ache and I am always tired- I ran Boston and then a half marathon, so now I am in PT for piriformis syndrome and plantar fasciitis.”

NP: “hmm OK.  Let me see the rash?”

… I turn over and show her…

lyme

NP:  “OK.  So- we can do a Lyme test- which may not accurately asses your Lyme status.  If you don’t have enough antibodies in your system it will provide a false negative.  However, when Lyme goes untreated the potential side effects are severe- including muscle damage, nervous system damage- and in particular the strains in this area have been documented to affect the heart.  Given that you regularly participate in endurance sports, I don’t want to risk a false negative and not treating you.”

Me: ” So I have Lyme Disease?”

NP: “well, like I said- we won’t know for sure, but your presentation-  aches, pains, exhaustion- lines up.  In addition, you have an obvious rash.  I would typically expect a fever as well- but the fact that you don’t have one is not a reason not to treat you.”

Me” So can I run???”

NP: ” As you have already been feeling, you will be tired, but there is no restriction against running. Your recovery may not be predictable if you do in fact have Lyme.  Like any infection,your body requires rest to recover.  It may take awhile to feel normal”,

Me: “OK.   Well, we’ll do whatever then”-  and I began 3 weeks of strong antibiotics.

In the course of 3 days, I immediately felt MUCH better.  Like I was awake again.

…..  and that was why I felt crappy for so long.  The marathon was one thing- but the extended- 6-8 weeks after Boston that I was still “recovering”?  Most likely Lyme Disease.  It has taken me another month or so to feel fully recovered-  bouncy in my runs, ready to tackle marathon training again-  but in all honesty some of my muscles STILL bother me,  and not consistently.

PSA:  CHECK YOURSELF FOR TICKS.  I didn’t and never saw one on me.  But- I hang out with my dog and lay around on the floor with him and RUN IN THE WOODS and work on my yard and in general expose myself to nature A LOT.  ALL THE TIME.  Spray yourself down with repellant if you know you are going to be out there, and dress appropriately.

Source: http://www.ppsinc.org/lyme/lyme06.htm   (I think it is over zealous to be dressed this way all the time- but if you want to be vigilant- there it is!!!)

It can take up to 30 days to develop a rash- IF YOU EVER DO.  Many people get no rash and have vague symptoms that worsen over time.  I don’t want to pretend that I am a medical professional  (since I am NOT)- and I don’t want every tired runner out there to think that they have a tick-born illness-  but be vigilant about your body!

Check You For Ticks- Brad Paisley (this song makes me laugh so hard!)

As runners we POUND our bodies and we expect them to bounce back-  and we often push through significant exhaustion to just “get it done”-  but keep in mind- sometimes the cause of our ailments may be something out of our control.

This article on Runners world also highlights some of the risks-

lyme

 

The good news:  I am finally running somewhat normally again.  I still have some butt pains and some hip crap going on, but I think that my foam roller and I have a handle on it.

Do I sometimes wonder if the wheels are going to fall off again any second and I will have a major injury as a result of this latest trial?  YES.  I feel imbalanced strength-wise and have been playing it SO SAFE as far as speed work and racing are concerned.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments- I will respond to everyone!

and also-  I am SO SORRY that as this was going on I let this place fall to crap- I have a really hard time admitting defeat- and I felt quite defeated in the last few weeks.  So please come back!!!

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Redding Run for the Cows- Race Review/Recap

 

Redding, CT is my hometown- so 3 years ago when Race Director John McLeary put together the first annual Run for the Cows I was psyched!  Unfortunately, 3 years ago was NOT my year and I DNF (and tore my plantar facia and spent a LONG time in a walking boot!)- and last year I had not only just run Boston but was still dealing with my stress fracture…..  so 3rd try is a charm?

Sort of. Since Boston was only 2 weeks ago, I knew I wouldn’t be in racing shape- so I ran this race to accompany my Mom for her first ever official half marathon.  My mother is in fantastic shape and frequently runs for several hours on weekend mornings (distances exceeding 16 miles or so)- so we weren’t intimidated by 13.1 miles.  However, there is something mentally different about being timed and having others on the course with you- so we set out to just have a fantastic long run.

The setting for this race is New Pond Farm- a working educational farm that features classes for children and adults as well as a summer camp for city kids who need to experience farm life.  I’ve been visiting the farm since I was a kid- learning how maple syrup is made, where our food comes from, and as they put it “connecting people to the land that enriches and sustains us all”.

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A view of the farm and cows!

The race features a the half marathon, as well as a 7 mile race-  AND a 5k which takes off at 7AM- so that you can also run the half marathon - and earn the distinction of being a true “mighty cow”.  We did not opt for the mighty cow this year- but perhaps if I have a late spring marathon on the docket that would be a perfect way to get more miles in!

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Tents and course maps (on the ground)

The start of the race is right on the farm.  Packet and swag bag pick up was seamless- plenty of volunteers and everyone knew what was going on.  There was the option to get bags the day before- and as a super personal touch, the race director would also allow people to get their things from his home (with an appointment) if necessary.  WOW.

The swag was pretty fantastic, too.  A reusable insulated bag with bottle holders (perfect for milk…..  or wine!), tech t-shirt, mug, mason jar, and a cow bell!  IMG_20140504_072319_491

Parking was split between the half and the 7 miler-  half marathoners parked on the farm and 7 milers parked a little down the road at the fire station.IMG_20140504_073056_315Me and the cows!

The race begins with a short loop on the farm.  The path on the farm is not ideal for racing and in fact large portions of the path were really muddy and footing wasn’t great- not exactly how you want to BEGIN a half marathon.  Considering that there are plenty of scenic roads in Redding, I would skip this portion.

Mighty Cow 5kers are off!
Mighty Cow 5kers are off!

The rest of the race is run through Redding and Danbury- on undulating hills (and some not so undulating!).  The race is not closed to traffic, which lead to some issues on West Redding Road in particular-(a connecting road to route 7 (a massive 4 lane major road))- drivers became quite impatient and one in particular revved his engine and then deliberately drove into a huge puddle, splashing runners.  Ironically, this car also had a motorized wheelchair attached to the back- why would a disabled person/their driver hate on runners so much???

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Water stop at mile 6 or 7

Water stops were plentiful and volunteers were in good spirits!

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Mom coming up (and soon to be going down) Starrs Plain Rd

The course is not easy.  I often found myself thinking “If I was racing this, how would I feel?”  My overall impression was that we were going downhill A LOT- but a quick look at the elevation profile shows that in fact we made some decent climbs. run for the cows elevation

The steep downhill is one that I would personally do away with.  The course changes from paved to gravel/dirt and heads sharply downhill- if I were running at top speed this would KILL my quads and make me nervous about the remainder of the race- you still have another climb ahead!  (But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?)

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The course is very scenic- and we had a good amount of spirit on the road with us!

Another portion that I would lose (in my ideal world)- the out and back down to Topstone Pond- in my opinion, this added dirt/gravel piece didn’t add much other than distance- and the change in terrain would have made me NUTSO if I was racing.  Also- there wasn’t much to prevent people from running into each other, or even sticking to the course.  The only upside of this portion were the cold sponges- being handed out by kids having a push-up contest!  Talk about spirit!

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I loved the signs at the end. The last few inclines are not terrible- and as soon as you get over the last hump you have a small downhill into the finish- easily one of the MOST beautiful finish areas I have EVER seen.  20140504_102604 20140504_102613 20140504_102607

Once finished, you are handed a carnation and a finisher’s medal (it was beautiful- and HEAVY!).

Post-Race food:  pizza, bagels, water, soda- you could really gorge if you wanted to!  20140504_103248

We didn’t hang out long – but I definitely found myself wistful to race this course at some point.  Prizes for winners included cutting boards, pint glasses, plaques, etc.  Getting a decent time on this course would be an indication of toughness- this is no “flat and fast” half marathon!

Overall:

AMAZING: race support, organization, food, swag, parking.

MEH: portions of the actual course itself.  My mother noted that for a Redding Road race an awful lot of it is run in Danbury.  I could deal without the Redding Road/Starrs plain loop (traffic-y and steep downhill), and also without the Topstone out-and back.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: The start! The muddy trail that has you loop around the farm needs to be re-thought.  Loose footing and mud are not a good way to start the race.

If you want to run next year, you need to be diligent!  The race will be open to Redding residents  January 1, 2015!  Later on, it opens to everyone else.  This year the race was run by people from 23 states- and given how beautiful and well supported the run is (regardless of my relatively minor complaints about the course)- it is worth traveling to.

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