Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gulp! We're Registered

It's official. Greg and I are registered for Raid the Rock Adventure Race. It consists of a canoe portion, "trekking", and biking on dirt roads and single track trails. Oh yeah, and a freaking "mystery" event. Greg and I will be competing as a team. And to add to this challenge, we have to bring a compass since we'll be reading maps/coordinates. Kind of makes me yearn for trail makers!

I'm excited and nervous at the same time! But hey, tackling 50 states by just running half and full marathon road races would just be plain boring for this family!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Park City Half Marathon Race Report

What a great morning. I woke up nervous because I wasn't sure how I would respond to the altitude and that whole toenail loss had me worried. But once I saw the sun rising over Olympic Park and walked toward the starting line, I knew it was going to be a great day.

The race started at Newpark Hotel, a little outside of Park City in Kimball Junction. The course followed through the Redstone development, past the Swaner Nature Preserve (beautiful), along the multi-purpose trail until we reached a softer surface trail and even mixed it up with a little single track trail.

What was really neat about this course was passing by numerous "recycled material" sculptures. So cool to see a metal family of cyclists, among other neat outdoor artwork. We passed by the McPolin Barn and reached the Park City limits before looping back toward the start.

Everything about this race was simple. And I really do like simplicity. No big expo. Seriously, who needs another pair of socks or shorts the day before a race to schlep back in your suitcase? We picked up our packets outside at a tent where you had a gorgeous view of the mountains. No fanfare at the start. Just the Star Spangled Banner, then we were off! No bands throughout the course (well, one band at a barn which was neat). No clocks. Just mile markers. The finish line consisted of water cups and little paper baskets (like you get buffalo wings in) filled with a slice of cranberry bread, a few pretzels, a half slice of peach and a half banana. It was nice being able to just grab a basket of food and a cup of water and not trying to balance everything in weak arms post race. The colored glass medal was hand made by an artist, which made the race that much more unique and will look quite nice in my collection.

Overall, great day...wonderful race experience... and I have marked off the 26th state, and 13th half marathon, while enjoying a memorable vacation with my family!

Race: Park City Half Marathon
Finish Time: 2:24:22

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Fun Run

And yes, running can be fun. Tonight, after an exhausting and mind-draining day of work, I dashed through my door, changed my clothes, and went for a run. I asked my 3-year-old if she'd like to come along in the jogging stroller. While I got dressed, she loaded up the stroller, got her a glass of juice, filled up my water bottle and waited for me at the front door. This has never happened. Together we knocked out a 6-mile run and it was fun. I felt good. She enjoyed herself. And a good run was accomplished (with a little strength training pushing a 40-pounder in a stroller up the hill at Sweetwater).

Park City: Great Place to Visit

If you're reading this, grab a cup of coffee (if it's morning) or a good strong IPA (if it's later). This post will be a looooonnnggg one because I loved loved loved Park City. Saturday morning was race day. I'll cover that in a separate post.

After the race, we enjoyed some pool time...I can't tell you how wonderful it is to swim for 20 minutes, then jump into the hot tub for 10 minutes and keep doing that like it's interval training! After lunch, I got to meet Bob Roll. Darn, if I wasn't over the top with giddiness. I made Megan come with me just in case I forgot how to speak fluent English. Meg was my go-to person when I met Billy Corgan...who also had me speechless. What is it with bald men and me? Blurry picture - I hope to have a better one to post later.
While Greg and Bridget were "napping", Meg and I went to Knead a Massage for a litle 30-minute action. It was her first and they certainly made my calves feel better from that hilly course! Afterwards, we watched stage 4 of the Tour of Utah-awesome since we got to see Levi Leipheimer up close.
After a half marathon, a massage, and standing in the sun for 2 hours watching Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah, I had absolutely no trouble falling asleep! Sunday brought more excitement in this fantastic ski town. We tried out a great little local breakfast spot, then enjoyed ourselves at Park City Silly Sundays where I picked up this handmade hat and the girls and Greg tried on silly hats!
Later in the afternoon, we all hit up Olympic Park. Greg and Meg went down the Quicksilver alpine slide and ziplined at the Olympic Park, which boasts having the steepest zipline in the United States traveling at 50mph along the K 120 ski jump hill.

So much fun. B got to take a ride on her first ski lift and loved it. We topped off the day with dinner at Zoom.  
Monday was hiking and to squeeze in a gondola ride (Meg's big request). We decided on The Canyons for the breathtaking gondola ride views and the easier hiking trails for kids.

Loved the gondola ride up the mountainside and we took advantage of 3 different trails. The first one, Red Pine Trail, I carried Bridget ala piggyback style for the 3 mile trek, with her falling asleep on the last 200 yards. I have to say it was so darn cool to have lunch at the Red Pine Lodge at the top of The Canyons...relaxing and taking in the views.

Bridget was hilarious singing a Canyons version of Laurie Berkner's Going on a Hunt with her words of Going on a Hike while on the High Meadow Loop! The Nature Trail she pretended we were hunting bad guys with her stick while also clearing a path. Great day!

Dinner at Red Banjo, drinks at Wasatch Brewery, ice cream for the girls, then a little time picking up Park City t-shirts.  Dinner options in Park City are diverse and yummy. We ate at a pizza joint (Pizza and a Noodle), at a linen tablecoth restaurant (Robert Redford's Zoom), at a dingy little Mexican place which had a salsa bar (I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in salsa while we sampled AT LEAST 20 different salsas) and the oldest restaurant in Park City (Red Banjo...and yes, the restaurant was full of banjos). Coffee was to-die-for. The views were amazing. One afternoon, Meg and I sat at the base of the Town Lift and enjoyed a coffee just staring out.

Surprisingly, for a ski town, Park City was not overpriced. There are so many activities you can do for free. I also couldn't believe how cool this town was for families or for a quick weekend getaway for a couple. If you couldn't tell, I fell in love with this place and will definitely go back.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Just Met Bob Roll

I'm a cycling dork and I'm way beyond over the top with excitement. I just freaking met Bob Roll. I watch him EVERY year on the Tour de France and now I just saw him prior to the Tour of Utah. To top it off, both Levi and George will be racing in a couple of hours. Seriously, pinch me!

Park City May Be My Favorite Course

The Park City Half Marathon may have been one of the hardest courses so far, and even though I didn't PR, it may still be my favorite race so far. The beauty of this town is amazing. I loved watching the sun come up over Olympic Park while waiting for the race to begin. The altitude didn't affect me as much as I feared and my toe (lacking a toenail which fell off Thursday-thank you Grandma's marathon for that memory) didn't hurt like I worried - a big sigh of relief. My unofficial time was 2:24:22 and I felt pretty good, except for my calves screaming at me due to 6+miles of climbing. I'll write more later, but right now I've got an amazing town to check out!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Local Store Dilemma

I'm a big believer in buying local, when possible. I will avoid a cart-laden walmart parking lot every time I can and visiting Applebees is not happening when we have so many wonderful independent restaurants serving great local produce/food. So of course my local buying habits extend to my neighborhood running store. But that's where my dilemma begins. EVERY time my husband and I stop there to get new shoes, they are out. Come on. I wear Brooks Adrenaline and he wears the most popular Asics. It's not difficult to keep those in stock. But ok, I always give them my name and wait till their stock comes in (often 2 weeks). Except this time, I was a little steamed that I had to give my freaking name. Hello? My family buys at least 6 pairs of shoes a year, clothes, gu, socks, and any other crap I tell myself I need. So here's my dilemma...what is the incentive of buying local when I don't even get name recognition. Zappos and Amazon not only greet me by name (granted, it's insert your name here by the computer), but I get my product within a day or two delivered to my house with a follow-up email thanking me and recommending other stuff I may like.

This is bugging me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunday's Run

Sunday's run was exhausting. I couldn't squeeze it in during the early morning hours, not that it was cooler because even the mornings have been littered with heat misery. No, I tackled my 10 miles once again at the 2:00 pm hour (1:50 to be exact). I can actually count the number of times I've done my weekend long runs on a treadmill on one hand. I simply refuse to log in 10+ miles on a treadmill. I will gladly run in 15 degree windy, snowy weather then take an ice bath while fueling back up with my favorite recovery drink - a Bear Republic Racer 5 or Lagunitas IPA. But the heat/humidity combo I decided I had no choice-indoor or bust. So I've wrapped my head around my dreadmill miles, only to be greeted by my local Rec Center sign saying they're closed on Sundays. Are you kidding me?! Off to the Metroparks I go. But 84 degrees with 87% humidity did me in on Sunday. I finished the 10-mile run in about an 11:00 min/mile pace, slower but required. Autumn can't get here fast enough...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm Now Over Half-Way

I'll be tackling the 26th state next week when I finish the Park City Utah half marathon. I figured a post on what I like/dislike about races as well as my favorite races might be good at this point.

1. Chicago Accenture Olympic Triathlon. My husband competed in this race in August 2005. It was during this race, cheering him on, that I got the incredibly crazy idea that I would do a marathon. For anyone who knows me, this is how I think: "today sounds like a good day to do x (like buy a car, get a dog, decide to run a freaking long race)." back to the triathlon, for an urban course Chicago really brings the beauty. The swim is in Lake Michigan where beautiful boats are docked; the bike is along the entire shoreway; and the run goes by Shedd's Aquarium and is FULL of loud, cheering spectators. The finish is at Grant Park. The host hotel is across the street and the entire event is spectator friendly. I was able to see Greg up close during the swim, at each transition, along the bike course and during the run and still could meet him at the finish line. I cannot say the same about the Marine Corps Marathon, which is NOT easy for families/support crew to get around. The expo set the standard for all subsequent expos - hello? Talk about over-the-top! The schwag was amazing and every detail was attended to for the athletes.

2. P.F. Chang's Phoenix Marathon in January 2006. Yep, my first marathon so it's going to be special. I was so excited when I crossed the finish line and got my free bright green Spenco sandals (aka "shower shoes") and a Crispie Creme donut. I was even more excited when Greg and Megan met me at the finish line with a present from Tiffany's for my accomplishment. The course was full of spectators of all ages, I loved seeing Camelback Mountain at every twist and turn in the road, and I still laugh at hearing the story of Megan "bonking" at mile 20 while "spectating" and needing a trip to the Bk Lounge for chicken fries! Super easy city to navigate as my crew saw me at 4 or 5 points along the course!

3. Portland Triathlon in August 2009. Loved the course, although I felt like a drowned rat when I was getting out of the Williamette River. In contrast to Chicago, I actually liked that the expo was nothing more than bag pickup an a couple wet suit vendors. This was also the place where I test road and eventually bought my Fuji road bike. But the finish line was kick-ass! I was greeted with a stainless steel water bottle, a pint of Deschutes amazing special brew IPA (it may have been the BEST craft beer ever), gelato, and an assortment of BBQ foods. My family could see me at all 3 points on the course; the event had arts and crafts on site for kids, and the race organizers really took care of the athletes. Can you believe on race morning, the local Calligraphy Society donated their time at 5am to write numbers on our arms and legs! Very cool. Also, best race shirt ever-long sleeve bamboo with 3 chickens for flail (swim), flee (bike) and flap (run).

4. Other events worth noting: IMT Des Moines for the great shirt with the course on the back; the Flying Pig in Cincinnati for the BEST finish line and post-race food; the Kentucky Derby mini-marathon to run a lap around Churchill Downs while they're getting it ready for the Derby festivities; and the Bill Luti 5-Miler for having a wonderfully giving former cross country coach to yell out splits.

I'm getting excited about Park City next week. I've never run in altitude, although I have lots of experience gasping and grunting for air while climbing steps in Breckenridge. But I just found out that the Tour of Utah cycling race will be comig through Park City the same day I run the half. And George Hincapie will be racing! Plus, let's not forget it's the home of Sundance. I would seriously pass out if I got to meet Robert Redford!

Stay cool in this heat!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The 3 H's Are Back: Hot, Hazy & Humid

I got up this morning at 6am to get in a short 4-miler before the temps started rising. At 6:00am, it was already 80 degrees with 84% humidity. Are you kidding me? After cutting my Sunday long run short due to oppresive afternoon temps, I'm not about to go outside and melt like a cheap popcicle. Looks like I'm forced to get in my miles on the dreadmill - blech! Fall, where are you?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blueberries and a PR

I sometimes am amazed at just how much fun I can have on a Saturday in CLE. The morning started off with a 5k for a wonderful cause - the Youth Challenge. Megan and I joined Karen for a morning of PowerBars and a PR. I still can't believe it, but I set a personal best by almost 5 minutes finishing in 27:51!!! Thanks, Karen and Megan, for sharing this with me!

Afterwards, we joined up with Greg and Bridget and went to Hillside Farms in Hinckley to pick blueberries. Look how full the blueberry bushes are!

Armed with buckets, we immediately started picking the bushes clean!

Bridget proud of her work.

We waddled out of there with enough blueberries for pancakes, muffins, and any other creative concoction our imaginations can come up with. Mmmm an I'll put a few in my beer - I'm smiling already.

What a great day!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Greg and the Girls Day Out

Today was a special "Greg and the Girls" day. While Meg was volunteering at Girls with Sole, Greg and Bridget knocked around at the Zoo. If you don't have a membership, I can't stress to you enough how wonderful of a purchase a Cleveland Metroparks Zoo membership is! At the end of their visit, they played around with masks at the shop. So. Darn. Cute!

After Meg was done, the three of them ventured out to see a real submarine. I loved listening to their stories when I got home about how much fun they had and how much they learned. Another wonderful day spent in the 216!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lunchtime Cycling

In my short 31 minutes I managed to churn out 7 miles at an average speed of 13.8 mph. Not blazing fast, but it gives me a base for which to improve upon. I'll be biking to work again this week (on a non-stormy or non-steamy day, or does that even exist anymore?) and will continue to work on my speed. It's fun working different muscle groups...I just need to find some *comfortable* shorts!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Heat Will Not Win

My run this morning was proof of that. The heat and humidity will NOT wreck my Sunday morning runs. I am not a morning person. Never have been. Never will be. But this heat and humidity, a strange partnership of demonic portions, has transformed me into a morning runner. This morning as I started my 7:45 am ritual, I thought about how just a few months ago I would tuck my water bottles under my vest to keep them from freezing. Now my h2o overheats because there's no cool place to hide them. Powerade warm is pure punishment! But today, I embraced the heat (not really, I sucked it up!) and managed to eek out a 10-miler in 1:46. So take that, August. You will not beat me!