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Monday. Last week was a crazy week with little time for much. On a scale of 1-10 I would say I have been practicing about a 5 in food management and a 5 in workouts — I’ve done most of what was assigned but did not execute to my max. Time to pick up the effort all around as holidays approach.
On Tuesday night I went to the team run workout. I did 1/2 mile intervals at marathon pace, 1/2 marathon pace, 10k pace and 10k again with recovery in between. They gave us the choices of 1/2 mile or 3/4 mile intervals. I think I did the exercise okay because of my times and heart rate intervals but I should have gone for 3/4 of a mile to push myself a little more. I did hit 163 on my HR so that was great for me.
Wednesday I was pretty sure I was going to get rained out from Thursday’s bike workout so I did 3 loops in the park, nothing to write home about. First lap 21:30 and two laps at 23 (had to stop on each loop for one thing or another). I wouldn’t call it close to race effort, but I practiced efficient pedalling and seat in the saddle time. I was well aware I was chickening out from standing. I didn’t swim which felt a little weird to not get that workout in at all.
Thursday, as it turns out, we did have practice afterall so I headed out to the park. It was a lot harder than the workout I gave myself on Wednesday. All the standing I had tried to avoid the day before came back to haunt me ten-fold. It was a lot tougher workout, but good.
A couple of us hit the road on Thursday afternoon to head down to Maryland to cheer for Charlee in her first 50 mile race — running race!!! The JFK 50.
I missed my WW meeting on Friday because we were travelling. I was pretty sure I was up and I really didn’t need to go in and have that put in my face either. And just to make sure I was up, I ate extra bread, french fries, fried food and assorted unhealthiness all weekend. Pizza, beer, egg and cheese on a roll, oh my God, did I really eat all of that? Yes, yes, I did — it was scandously decadent, I even had pie…. No, not all in one day, but over the weekend it was hard to find a salad (okay, I didn’t look too hard either….)
Friday I did a ride in Maryland. I found a couple of cue sheets on the Internet and turns out the area where we are staying has a lot of historical significance and good countryside for riding. The terrain was rolling hills and I got a chance to practice more standing. [A big hint from one of the coaches on Thursday morning when I told her that I was having difficulty standing again after sitting back down, she told me to engage from my glutes and hamstrings first and not to initiate the lift from my quads. Sounds obvious but that’s not what I was doing, I was trying to initiate from my quads and would get a ripping pain down the front of my quad. Her tip worked and that was great to practice.]
The temp was about 45 degrees with about 18 mph winds (I’m making up that number but they were pretty severe winds). I was pleased to find that I could dress warmly enough but the winds made the riding very difficult. A good workout but very trying and challenging on many levels.
We got a chance to drive a bit of the marathon course so we would be able to follow Charlee (our JFK 50 mile runner) around the course (we in cars, she on foot). The hills!!! OMG, courses don’t usually seem as bad when you are driving them as they do when you get out on your bike or run the same course — the hills often then seem much worse. This time, however, the hills seemed huge even in the car. “Yeah”, confessed Charlee, “I didn’t really do my research when picking this race, it’s pretty hilly.” We all laughed but I think each of use were thinking, hilly course, PLUS the trecherous trail running. How the heck was she going to get through this course? She was hoping for 10 hours but I was hoping that she just remained standing by the end.
Saturday we all got up early and started our caravan. Ten of us in three cars with maps to follow Charlee (as well as Kim and Kerri, two other friends who were also doing the race). When we got up in the morning it was 35 degrees. It was sooooo cold I didn’t think I could stand around to cheer, how the heck was she going to run in this weather? But she did.
It was really cool watching the runners come up the first hill. Just knowing what these people were about to undertake made me look at each one of them with deep respect. I kept staring at them thinking what makes you tick that you are willing to run up that freakin hill and THEN proceed to keep running 50 miles? The hill they start out running was unfairly gigantic — give ’em a ten mile warmup for goodness sakes, it’s not like you don’t have 50 miles to fit hills in…. I scoured their faces for looks of panic or fear — none of that. The front guys were really intense — all business. Then the next section was all smiles. Smiles? What are you people nuts? Do you not see that huge hill you have to run up? Okay whatever floats your boat. This is a picture our teammate Stella took. We were standing at the top of this hill watching the runners come up. Behind us is a hill three times the size that they have to keep going up, and up and up. This is just the start!!
We had it easy. After the runners passed we would jump into the warm car, go forage for some coffee or food, drive ahead to the next viewing station and wait. In the beginning there were few spots to view because they were running in the woods. Our second viewing spot was out in the middle of a small field. The runners would come barrelling down the mountain in the woods. We could see them through the trees, weaving their way down. I could make out people making little hops and jumps — must be rocks they were avoiding. Then they were unleashed into the field where everyone was standing around cheering… This is about 1:40 into Charlee’s running. We’re standing around shivering and the runners came through the field peeling off their layers and handing it to their friends and families. And soon we saw Charlee, coming through the field looking like a champ, followed by Kim and Kerri. This is one of my favorite pictures that our friend Stella took.
Everyone looked in good shape. We cheered as they entered back into the woods — not to be seen again for miles. Okay, back in the warm cars. Someone saw a coffee shop and we sat around getting egg sandwiches while the runners continued to navigate the woods and rocks. Good for them, could I have a little more coffee please…
Our next stop was significant. Thats where many of the runners would change their shoes from trail shoes to running shoes to get on the towpath for the majority of the run. It was very exciting to watch the runners coming out of the woods into the parking lot. Only problem is I didn’t understand how they were running. There was quite a drop from the woods to the parking lot. And the exit seemed crowded with very large rocks. How the heck were they running over those rocks? I trip on the Coney Island boardwalk, how did they do 18 miles of this? (Flashes of my run in Tupperlake when I took a spill on the 1/8 of a mile in the woods that were clear and marked — these people were running on portions of the Appalachian Trail — not groomed paths!!) I was thinking that I would probably have to sit down on the rocks and shimy down, there would be no way that I would run out that exit. And yet, here came the runners, barrelling out of the woods, jumping over the rocks like they were nothing. I felt unworthy to be even watching….
Then came our Charlee, bounding out of the woods like the rest of them. We were like a pit crew. Sitting her in a chair, she changed her shirt, shoes, race number. I like this picture. Charlee is taking off her over-tights (so she can run in just her shorts now, Cliff is pinning the number to her shirt, in seconds Becs will be yanking the pants off and Charlee will be gone…)
Her knees were bloody. Charleee? What happened? “Lot of rocks, I fell six times.” She grabbed water and whoosh, she was out of there in a flash. I can’t transition in a triathlon that fast! She did a wardrobe change, shoe change, number change, grabbed food and was out back on the road in about 2 minutes. Kim right behind her and then Kerri. Off to the cars for us, anyone hungry again? lol
The rest of the cheering became really fun because they were on the path that runs along the Potomac. Flat, thank God! Charlee had different people assigned to be her pace people (I was there for moral support because I can’t run a 9:30 minute mile so the most I could hope for was to catch her on one of her 1 minute walk breaks). It was supposed to have started to rain in the afternoon and I was worried with the cold weather (it got up to a whopping 45 degrees) that it would be too difficult for her to run. I didn’t tell Charlee, but I had been having visions of her freezing during the run and shaking. But my visions did not come true at all. Every time we saw her she looked better than anyone else around. Posture up, cadence great, pained look on her face but managing a smile in there. She was working hard but still remaining gracious enough to thank us all for being there. Me? I would have been cursing and swearing…. This is my favorite picture that I took of Charlee and Cliff on the path. Look how great she looks!
The day went pretty much like that, we chaseed ahead in the cars, trying to navigate the roads (and stopping for lunch and bathroom breaks). Getting there just in time to cheer for Charlee and Kim who were staying pretty close to one another. I kept saying to the people in our car, “the math doesn’t make sense.” How can we be at such and such a mile already? She’s not supposed to be done until 5 o’clock? But I just chalked it up to I must be tired and lost. (Thank God we had maps and GPS devices in every car….)
Finally we were at mile 46, everyone was getting very excited. We were all very happy and cheering madly for all the runners that we had come to know at every stop. Oh there’s so and so, Charlee is not far behind him. Oh there’s the gal with dirt all over her leggings from when she fell in the woods. Oh there’s the gal with the bandaged knee — trails of blood streaked down her leg (I remember seeing her when she hit the towpath with tears streaming down her face “can someone help me bandage my knee please?” — they took her to the ambulance, bandaged her up and she went on her way. Amazing. And then we saw Charlee, kicking butt. Running full force, rounding the corner looking better than most. Oh my God, we were all so excited, she is doing sooooo great!!! She is definitely going to make her 10 hour goal, easily!!!! Kim was just minutes behind Charlee, chasing her own PR.
We really had to dash to the finish line. The way they were looking, we better move fast, they only (ONLY!! lol) had 4 miles to go and if we got lost we might lose them. We got to the finish and we all had a laugh to see that the finish line ends not only at a school but in a Graveyard!!! Stella quipped to the paramedics,”so that’s their choice? Finish the race, get on a stretcher or go directly to the cemetary?!!?!”
The finishers were awesome, one after another sailing into the finishing line. Charlee could walk it in to finish under 10 hours, we weren’t even at 9 hours yet. Soon the clock read 8:56. I said aloud, this is going to be exiting now because for the next four minutes we are going to see the people chasing the clock to finish in under 9 hours!! We were all cheering wildly for the runners until someone said “There’s Charlee!!” We all looked at each other and went silent for a second. What? Charlee is coming in? Yep that’s her on the bottom of the hill. (Oh yeah, they make them finish uphill even worse than NYC marathon uphill.) We all started to go crazy. No way!!! She’s coming in under 9 hours? Can she? We looked at the clock and looked at how far down she was. We all shook our heads, no, she can’t make that. She’s been running for 50 miles, it’s uphill, it will be close but she’ll just miss it, but what an amazing finish.
And then we see her getting closer and closer. It was like the clock stopped. The rest of the runners seemed to be standing still. Everyone stopped but Charlee kept moving, cranking. We all jumped to action. Everyone ran down and started screaming to her. People were running along side her screaming… Go! Go! Go! I couldn’t think of what to say so I just said what she yells to me all the time “I want you to run so hard you are going to puke or have a heart attack!!!” I know lame but what else could I say to get her butt moving? She was hauling. There was no way I could even sprint with her for a second. GO! GO! GO! I couldn’t believe my eyes. She crossed the finish line in 8:58 and 29 seconds. Un-freakin-believable.
We were all out of our minds with happiness for Charlee and right behind her came in Kim and then a little while later Kerri. Everyone had been successful. They had made a plan and executed it perfectly. Goal set, goal met. What a great feeling.
We ate some pizza, drank some beer and told stories of the day, everyone agreeing that our gals looked awesome out there. Of course, Charlee was challenging everyone to do the race next year and we all balked. Over breakfast the next morning we continued with the rehashing of all the stories (was that Hawaiian women wearing full makeup? How could that guy be bleeding through his shirt at only mile 8?) Then of course, Charlee kept insisting that we were all going to sign up for next year. I said I would have to start with the 5 am start people in order to ever even think of finishing on time. Some of the JFK runners start their 50 mile run at 5 a.m. in the dark, wearing headlamps. Many of those same people finish after 5 p.m. also in the dark. When I finish my Ironman I will also be running in the dark. Cliff came up with a great slogan “I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK.” We joked that if I EVER do the JFK 50, Adam will use a bedazzle and stick little flourescant beads on my shirt with that phrase. lol, I loved it!!
We finally made it home to New York, I still had my assigned 2 hour run to do. Charlee had given me one of her hand held bottles she had used during the race (a pink Nathan). The rain had stopped and I was INSPIRED to get my water bottle, put on running gear and hit the westside highwayfor my run. I couldn’t believe how well I did. I was convinced that I was drawing JFK energy from the water bottle. I ran for 2 hours without so much as a pause. I even think I had a pretty good cadence going for the first 1:40 (I’ll admit I was getting tired on the last twenty minutes). But I kept thinking of somethinig Iwan had said in his NYC marathon report, when he got tired he tried to run faster so I played around with that a little…. I think it kind of worked, instead of backing down, I tried to push a little harder. Then I realized that I had miscalculated the time. I didn’t start running until 3:10, a 2 hour run would have me running much after sunset. I had to make the choice to either cut my run short or finish. So last night instead of cutting my run early, I continued on with a little smile on my face repeating “I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE DARK!” ROFL