Race Decisions – When Are You Being Too Picky?

Decisions, decisions.

UGH.

Lawd help me…

I’ve been running races on and off since high school.  Which, considering that took place in another millennium, that adds up to a lot of racing.  ALOT.  Some were awesome (all the Disney races), some stunk, (I Care I Cure 5k), and some were someplace in between, (Race for Women’s Wellness Half Marathon).  Each one a learning experience in it’s own right.

As I start looking at the calendar to pick my races for this year – and I’d like there to be more than the 1 or 2 I did last year, because, ya know……..LIFE – I get this feeling I may have set my requirements for races just a tad high.  By all means, please weigh in here.

Now, I’m not talking I need to have Disney-level race insanity for every race – nice as that may be – but my wallet certainly couldn’t afford said insanity.  But a few racer-friendly perks are always a good thing in my opinion.  Here are my top requests in case any race directors happen to be paying attention:

Manned water stations and/or appropriately supplied:  I did a 10k on New Year’s Eve 2017 along the beach in Boca Raton.  The two minutes you could actually watch the sun rise over the ocean was lovely, but once you turned off into one of the local neighborhoods, the scene wasn’t so pretty.  The one water station around Mile 4ish had one poor guy and his young son ferverishly trying to get water poured and out to the few hundred saps slogging by.  A couple of miles through the neighborhood brought us back to the same water station, only to find it both unmanned and out of water.  I was pretty much running in the middle of the pack, so I can only imagine how much worse it got for the runners behind me in the typical south Florida humidity that never seems to go away.  Now I know how difficult it can be to find enough volunteers for events like this.  However, this race has been taking place every year for the past 39 years.  Yes, 39 YEARS.  You think just maybe they might have stuff like this figured out by now, especially in the tropics?

Kids get their own race:   Make no mistake, I am ALL about kids putting down their phones and getting outside to move.  But if you’re doing everything you can to keep from running them over because they’re fully engaged in the “let’s sprint for 50 yards then come to a dead stop in front of some poor, unsuspecting sap whose brakes don’t work as well” mode, then the kiddies need to have their own kid moment of glory, if for no other reason than this poor unsuspecting sap’s knees can’t take emergency braking every 50 yards.

If you’re doing swag, do it right:  One word. DriFit.  I’ll pay an extra few bucks on the reg fees.

Use your outside voice:  Let it rip at the start people.  Especially for those saps like me who prefer to start at the back of the pack and haven’t had any mochaccinos before the start.  We can’t hear you chatting it up with the serious speed queens in the front row when you suddenly drop a “oh, let’s get this race started shall we?”  And pack up those obnoxious bullhorns.  They don’t work either.  Good option – put that local cheerleading squad to work.  Megaphones aren’t just for football anymore.

Take that constructive criticism seriously:   I can only imagine some of the ridiculous requests race directors see when they get their post-race surveys back.  However, there may be one or two that are actually good ideas that don’t cost anything extra to incorporate into the race day planning.  Like perhaps noting on the race website that drivers in the area ARE CRAZY AND DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THEY’RE GOING SO FOR GAWD’S SAKE, KEEP YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL.

No lady, I’m not sorry for scaring the crap out of you when I slammed a paw on the hood of your car as you looked right at me and hit the gas anyway.

All of the above noted requests, along with a few others (location, cost, registration fees, charity, etc) help me determine which races will hit my calendar in any given year.  My question for you is this.

Am I being too picky in what I want/need/expect from a race?

In my immediate area, 5k’s are rampant, 10k’s practically non-existent, half marathons are not too bad, and full marathons seem to be everywhere.  As I have yet to PR my half, I always have a few to choose from to maybe someday actually get it done.  My hesitation mainly stems from most of them, while geographically desirable, are not always the most convenient to actually get to, requiring one of those classic Disney 3am wake up alarms in order to have enough time to get ready, travel, park, get to the start, and warm up.  Plus, I know for logistical reasons, many in this area are held on Sundays.  Having a Monday-Friday desk job, a Sunday half doesn’t always equate to feeling so well the next day when you’re stuck in a chair and can’t really keep loose to fight off the DOMS.

It’s a conundrum.

Not this kind. Sadly.

As 2019 brings me to yet another year of debating which races will hit my schedule, I can only say this.  Every year I am eternally grateful that I have the ability and the resources to keep up with this crazy little hobby of mine.  Like anyone, I like to get the most bang for my buck and that is true for each race I consider.  Sometimes I wonder though.

Maybe I’d be better off just closing my eyes and pointing a finger?  Seems to always work well in my wine cooler.

Who’s a happy girl?

 

Enjoy the ride.

 

What helps you determine what races you will participate in? What are your race pet peeves?  Have you ever responded to a race survey?

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Southernmost Half Marathon Recap

 

This was one of those moments.

Huh?

Let me set the scene for you.

Sometime early 2017:  looking for a fall half to run.  Because I live in the tropics and what better idea than to train through all levels of summer hell for a fall race.  IN KEY WEST.  Yes.  THAT Key West.

Then.  Hurricane Irma.

Not cool Irma. Not cool.

Fast forward to early 2018.  Sign up for said race in Hades.  Again.  Because one does get used to the sensation of boiling blood coursing through your veins during training runs.  Can be quite pleasant at times. 

But I digress.

Wanting to really PR for once since my very first half in 2007 – yes, it has been that long – I set my sights on lots of speed work and consistent mile times.  Twice a week I would be up and out the door before 5am, all in an effort to beat the heat.  Of course, Mr. Humidity likes to make an appearance daily and at times could make breathing a bit of a challenge.  I simply plowed forward with the mindset of, “Well, if I can train in this mess, at least I have the advantage.  Right?”

Yeah.  Not so much.

Every week, up at 4:30 every Monday for easy runs, and Thursday for speed workouts.  Saturdays I’d sleep in until 5:30 and then hit the road for LSD days.  Of course, those were much better as I had my very own Grouper Road Crew along for the ride.  Cold drinks and cloths in a bike cooler, tunes from the wireless speaker, and of course, the Grouper himself.

He doesn’t really look like this.

After a momentary panic attack about two-thirds of the way through my training plan when I discover I had counted my weeks wrong, (probably due to all those 4:30am mornings),  I realize I had less weeks to train than originally thought.  No worries, I’ll simply skip one of my cutback weeks and increase the weekend mileage a little quicker.  I got this.

If you previously happened to have followed my little corner of the internet, then you are well-acquainted with my long-running #brokeknees drama.  I am happy to report that I have officially moved on from that drama!  But now?  #brokebutt drama.

Gee, thanks.

Yup.  Once again we delve into the dark runner world of injury, this time centered around that bitchy little piriformis.  Ooooh boy, can that little flat muscle cause some BIG runner issues.  Now, being an expert at making myself crazy over training time injury maintenance, I do what every obedient runner does.  No rest, overwork the butt, and bitch the entire time.  I also did throw in weekly chiro adjustments, the hated foam roller, and standing at my desk with my leg up trying to stretch out my butt at work several times a day.

That made for some interesting looks from the coworkers.

And wept as I saw that PR slowly slipping away.

As always happens when time is running out, I had a few good long runs, mixed up with anxiety and tear-filled long runs.  Trying not to subject Grouper to more #brokebutt drama than he needed to witness, I sucked it up and limped home on more than one long run, bitching the entire time.  Sadly, prior to race day, my longest good run was only 10 miles.  No biggie, what’s another 3 miles, right?

After spending my last six weeks of training in a total crap shoot, on a beautiful Friday morning, we drop off the Wonder Mutt at the sitter’s, pack up the Mutt Mobile, and down the Overseas Highway we go.  Packet pickup took 5 minutes – all packet pickups should be at a bar on the sand if you ask me – and back to the hotel to chill before hitting the hay early.  Thank you 5:45am start time.  All those gawd-awful early morning workouts were paying off.

Saturday morning.  The humidity is pretty high, Hurricane Michael is making his way just south of the States – really Mother Nature? – and Grouper and I jump on a rent-a-scooter to make getting to the start line easier.  (Great idea if I do say so myself).  I hit up a surprisingly clean portapottie, then hang out in the start area stretching and warming up, passing the time among all the marathoners, halfers and 5kers.  And of course, petting ALL THE DOGS, which did wonders to calm the pre-race nerves.  The full marathoners get called to the start line and promptly at 5:30am, the festivities begin.  The half was supposed to start at 5:45, but kudos to the race director for delaying 15 minutes as the lines for the portapotties had gotten quite long.  An announcement was made for the 5k peeps to jump out of line, and let the half peeps do their business so we can get the show on the road.  At 6am, we were on our way!

Two things to keep in mind should you wish to indulge in such madness:

  1.  It’s still dark out at 6am in October and course lighting is definitely NOT in abundance.
  2.  Duval Street is more like a study in not face planting thanks to the road conditions.

And the biggest lesson of all – HEAD WINDS SUCK.

Me. FOR 4 STINKING MILES.

Nothing like feeling you’ve won the Powerball when your first two miles are run at goal pace, you’re on track to #PRCity, you manage to not go over the railing into the Atlantic Ocean because you’re running a pier in pitch blackness, and you have to deal with crap like Mother Nature with a bug up her dupa.  She couldn’t even make it a decent headwind, but an angled side wind.  The kind that no matter which muscley cute dudes you’re running behind, (I’m married for gawd’s sake, not dead :)), you just can’t seem to find that sweet spot that said muscley cute dudes can run blocker for you.  You know that goal pace I mentioned?

Yeah.  NO.

Miles 3-6 were spent battling a bitchy Mother Nature to the point that all I could do was try to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Pace?  Out the window.  Conserving energy?  #jokeoftheyear.  Ignore what is now your screaming glutes?  Got that down.  Grit your teeth and hope the normally beautiful oceanside view comes to an end as quickly as possible.  Or more like just come to an end at all.  I’ve never been so happy to see a Mile 6 marker in my life.  Especially because Grouper was plunked right there, cold Angry Orchard in hand, tunes playing on the speaker, and dancing like a fool.

Best road crew ever.

Miles 6-9?  Another round of runner hell, this time due to a lovely out and back along U.S. 1, most of which was on an angle of much like the side of Mt. Everest.  There was no where you could run to find a bit of even ground unless you went up onto U.S. 1 itself; which wouldn’t have been bad, but after the slowed pace during the #headwindsfromhell portion of the program, traffic had started to pick up and becoming roadkill wasn’t really part of the next act.  Continued teeth gritting and carrying on was the only option.  Plus I knew Grouper was waiting back around Mile 9 with more Angry Orchard on hand.  Apple juice makes the world go round.

Once I was properly refueled, hugs and kisses from #bestroadcrewever, I knew I only had about a 5k to go.  Team #Brokebutt was making sure there would be no chance to revoke my membership, and a shot at #PRCity had long ago evaporated, so it was time to just finish the damn thing.  At least I had great scenery along the way as I hobbled down U.S. 1 with the Gulf to my right and a busy U.S. 1 to my left (no sarcasm here).  And of course, #bestroadcrewever buzzed up alongside me on his scooter, backing up traffic, music blaring, and shouting inspirational messages for all us runners in the vicinity.  Oh wait.  That would have been me.  Only me.  I had lost sight of just about every other runner both ahead and behind me, we had become that spread out.  Onward and upward!

Something like that.

A right turn over the bridge – thank you tailwind for once – and down into the neighborhoods adjacent to Old Town we go.  Remember I mentioned I had lost just about every other runner out there?  Not good when you come up to an intersection AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO.  Granted I had looked over the course a few times, but when you’re dupa is broken, your previously busted up knee is starting to complain, and you’re starting to feel a bit goofy in the head – more so than usual – it gets a little nerve- wracking until you notice some nice race person had placed some cones basically MAKING you turn where you need to go.  Score one for the non-goofyheaded race peeps!

Now.  Repeat after me.  LONGEST TWO MILES EVER.

Good job.  Great audience participation on that one.

After what I swore was previously mentioned LONGEST TWO MILES EVER, the finish line was in sight.  Actually it was around a couple more corners, but I could see it in my mind.  A right turn here, a left turn there, (oh look, Schooner Wharf Bar!  I’ll be right back guys!!), and THERE YOU ARE YOU GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL FINISH LINE!!

Let me just interject said beautiful finish was momentarily marred by large muscley sweaty dude FLYING by me with about 50 yards to go.  Why marred you say?

He was the winner of the marathon.  Yeah.  The FULL marathon.  Turns out Mr. Speedy had finished 15th OVERALL at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

STAY IN YOUR OWN PROFESSIONAL PLAYPEN SPEEDY MCQUEENEY.  Leave the Keys to us pathetic amateurs.

A sweet little old lady handing out medals, a big hug from Grouper, and an ice cold Gatorade later, we were back on the scooter and heading back to the hotel.  I would have liked to hang out for the post race festivities, but girlfriend just wanted to get off her feet and into a nice refreshing shower.  Because.  KEY WEST.  Time to get this party started!

For all the bitching about the race conditions, it was still a well-managed race.  MultiRace puts on a good show and I would absolutely recommend any of their events.  If you’re intrigued enough to give this one a shot just remember to bring a light.  And extra apple juice.

SOMO Half

Nothing but smiles…

 

Enjoy the ride.

What is your favorite running destination?  Have you ever run a race in the tropics?

 

 

Full Circle. Almost. Again.

In the last installment of Black Dog shenanigans here, we left you on the edge of your seats, (just work with me here people), waiting to see how the latest attempt at post-surgical recovery/rehab shenanigans was moving along.  My angel-winged running neighbor had recommended this GUY, who, as it turns out, has proven to be the man.  As in THE Man.  As in, after more than two years since all of this #brokeknee crap started, has actually been able to, ya know – FIX MY SHIT – and get me running kind of like a normal running person does.

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I’ll make this short as I know your attention span isn’t any better than mine.

Wait.

What?

Was I saying you something?

Oh yeah.  Running rehab shenanigans.

Anywho, this GUY, not only shoved a finger in that lovely area known as the piriformis, which was immediately followed by a string of cursing the like has never emitted from my goody two shoes yap –

incredulous-owls

Lady, you’re not fooling anyone.  Stop embarrassing yourself.

– but within about 10 seconds had figured out what was actually broken THIS TIME.  Say it along with me kids…

“Since you’ve got a completely shut down broke ass on your right side, your left side has stepped up to the plate, tried to do the work for both sides, and has now decided it’s had enough of this malarky.  It’s sending you the message, with all due respect, to go eff yourself, it’s tapping out.”

Well now.  That’s pretty…..specific.

What’s a frustrated runner idiot girl to do?  Get to work of course.  On BOTH sides of dear ol’ broke ass.

get back to work.jpg

The next few weeks consisted of such insanity as hip and glute strength building, cursing at my new BFF Torture Tony, Elastigirl-like stretching sessions, more cursing, zapping, icing, resistance band exercises I have to determine the validity of or if Torture Tony was just effing with me, more cursing, and oh yes….running.  Remember running?  That bastard of a sport that started all this nonsense in the first place?  That activity over which us runner idiots types have no power to ignore, like a mythological siren’s song?   Yeah, that one.

Jackass.

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After sweating and swearing through four weeks of visits to the GUY and Torture Tony, I was as ready as I could be.  I tried to ignore the knots in my gut that kept telling me…

Too bad you didn’t find these guys a year ago.”

You haven’t run further than 9.5 miles before your leg implodes, you know.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“There’s a big, fat Ghiradelli sea salt dark chocolate bar in the freezer.”

“Could you possibly be any more undertrained for this if you tried?”

“You’re an idiot.”

“You’re going to have so much kinesio tape on your leg you may get mistaken for a mummy.”

“Have I mentioned you’re an idiot?”

Next up, the final chapter.  Thrilled this painful journey is almost over aren’t ya?  It’s okay.  I understand.

resting-bitch-face-dog-3

Seriously. Killing me.

Enjoy the ride.

How long have you given a new type of therapy before giving up on it?  Have you ever had to apologize for swearing at your doctor?  Did you find the therapy got a bit more “intense” after unleashing on him/her?  Do you have cute pet names for him/her?

Wonder Mutt Wednesday

As many of us are in the middle of fall half/full marathon training,  Calypso the Wonder Mutt thought this was only too appropriate for the occasion.  Happy Hump Day hoomans!

wmw-running-shoes

 

Enjoy the ride.

How many of you run with your mutts?  Have you ever been embarrassed to be seen in public wearing the same thing?  Do you tend to ignore the runner hooman and lavish attention on the pooch instead during your runs?

Friday Funny

FF weekend cats

Enjoy the ride.

Happy long weekend to those of you pulling the Monday through Friday thing!  What do you have on tap for this long weekend?  Perhaps racing in the Happiest Place on Earth?  Fighting gators during your weekend triathlon?  Whatever you have planned, may you enjoy every second of the next few days celebrating in a completely pointless life.  See ya summer!