Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kodachrome Cleveland

Here's a few pictures from Cleveland.
Our Suite! Not too shabby Cleveland. Not too shabby indeed, though as one friend pointed out, it looks like the corner of the room is on fire....

View from our lounging quarters
Who doesn't love immature, pre-race, pacer hijinks?

Felt. Like. Death.

Notice the extremely efficient 1/4 inch stride taking place here.

Maybe the coolest medal I've earned. The guitar spins!
Don't ask about mile 2...but I did the math and my average pace through 25 miles was 8:20! Stupid puke session!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hot in Cleveland!

Marathon number four is in the books. It was a hot day for a 26.2 miles in Cleveland, it didn't go perfectly but I made it through. So now I can tell you about the great weekend I had.
Cleveland Marathon Pace Group. Anyone spot me?

Months ago my buddy Nick told me he was pacing the Cleveland Marathon and said I should see if I can get in on it too. He put me in touch with Kara, the pace group leader for the race. After exchanging a few emails with her, I was in for pacing the 3:40 group (8:24 pace).

Fast forward a few months and six of us piled into a van Saturday morning, five pacers; Nick, Jon, Mike, Brett, Nick's wife Andrea and myself. We arrived at the expo center about four hours later, picked up our packets and made our way to the pacers booth. We met some of the other pacers and collected our pace signs and shirts.

After getting our goodie bags and chatting with the pace team, we made our way through the expo. They had a booth there advertising avacodos and were giving out samples of a pineapple guacamole. It was PHENOMINAL! After I devoured five or six samples before the rest of my group finally managed to drag me away. You bet your ass I got the recipe card first!

The Expo wasn't in downtown for some reason so that was kind of lame, but we fought our way through the baseball game traffic and got to our hotel around 4 o'clock only to discover that our rooms weren't ready yet!?! Seriously? WTF. We found out later that every hotel was booked solid the whole weekend because a Casino just opened in downtown that week and apparently it's a big deal? Anyway Nick, Andrea and I were sharing a room and were happily surprised to find that we had a kickin suite! This place was pretty big and apparently we were the only pacers with such amenities! I guess the wait was worth it lol. This became command central for our Kzoo group and we spent our free time hanging out there.

We gourged ourselves at the pasta dinner at the Hyatt and then took a foot tour of downtown Cleveland before retiring for the evening.(As if we wouldn't see enough of it on Sunday) There was some very cool architecture downtown, I actually wish we had more time to explore.

They wanted us at the start coral by 5:45 so we arrived promptly at 6....whoops. NBD everyone was slow to arrive and we stood around for a while anyway. After taking a picture of the pace group we lined up and waited for the start. I met a lot of really nice runners who were looking to run with us and fielded questions as best as I could.

The race started and as always, there is a large number of people who don't line up according to pace that we had to bob and weave our way through in the first mile. My co-pacer Mike, whom I met the night before at dinner, did a great job of getting us through the herd.

The first few miles clicked off without problem and I was learning more about the people running with us, and trying to give any advice I could along the way.

Though it as nice and cool at the start, the sun was starting to heat things up quickly. I alternated water and powerade at every water station and gu'd around every 45 minutes. At mile 10 there was a hill that, from what I'm told was not in the course last year, and it was a pretty decent hill. Fairly steep and not short. I think this is where we started to drop people. Mike and I kept trucking along right on pace, if not a couple ticks early. We found ourselves having to back off a touch from time to time, but he had also said we wanted a slight cushion built in for the last few miles becuase they are hot!

The half marathon split off around mile 12 and this made negotiating water stops much easier with a group. We still had a dozen or so runners with us who had been from the start but I did start noticing a few people were missing that I had talked to earlier. Like Beth who said I was quickly loosing points by not only being named Jordan, but also by being a Michigander. She was nice enough though that I'll let it slide haha.

The sun was really starting to heat up by mile 20 and I was using my pace sign as a sunblock to help keep it off my face. It actually worked really well! At mile 21 we caught one of the 3:35 pacers who had dropped off pace. He told us one of the 3:30 pacers had dropped out completely. I was still feeling good at this point but could definitely tell the heat was going to be a factor in the final miles.

By mile 23 I don't think any of our pace team was still with us. A mile later I started to catch myself trailing from Mike, first 10 yards, then 20, then 50. It was all I could do to hang on. According to my Garmin as I crossed the 24 mile mark I was still on pace and actually a little ahead but I was beginning to eat into the cushion we had built in.

Mile 25 I was really starting to stiffen up and felt thirsty. I got to the last water station, downed a cup of powerade and half a cup of water and dumped the rest on my head. This felt better for all of 300 yards or so, until I started to get dizzy. I realized I would rather not be in the middle of the road if I were gonna pass out, so I made my way to the side, near a group of people. Any cushion I had built was lost and I plopped down in some shade beneath a tree. Every bit of me wanted to be continuing on, but I was getting even more woozy at this point. I tossed my pace sign in the trash and asked a spectator if they could flag down a medic. I was actually a little scared at this point. It wasn't the pain I felt in Chicago with cramping, I actually wasn't cramping at all, it was more of a disoriented, going down quick, narrow vision type of thing. I felt this way one other time, when I was in third grade and I passed out in class. Not good.

I saw someone had flagged down two medics on bikes and they were approaching me when I, now sitting, turned to my side and vomitted half on my leg and half on the sidewalk. Classy lol. The medics arrived at my side and waited for me to finish expelling any fluid left in my body. Asked me how I was doing and started checking my pulse. 110 the first time and then 64bpm onle a few minutes later. Of course as soon as I had tossed any fluid from my body my left leg began to cramp pretty good, but not nearly as severe as Chicago. after sitting for a few minutes and the medics gave me the "ok" to continue on I started out back onto the course.

I started walking as quickly as I could but slowed a bit when I started to realize how thirsty I was. There was a half mile or less left and soon I saw Mike jogging toward me. He had waited at the finish for me but when I didn't show up, he started back out onto the course to find me. I was so thankful for this and couldn't thank him enough! Luckily he had half a bottle of water with him, and gave it too me. Now that I had some water in me we started a slight jog for the last stretch and though I was totally dead leg, trotting along, I was glad to be jogging to the finish.

While jogging in with Mike he told me he finished on time so that was a relief. I was feeling pretty terrible about missing the time goal especially when I was that close to the finish before things blew up. He did his best to reassure me that it was all good. I saw Kara almost immediately after finishing and before I could say sorry for missing the time she was already asking me how I was feeling and if I was okay, and reassuring me that everything was good. I still feel bad for not hitting the target the last mile, but they made it a little more bearable.  Official finish time 4:10:12...

I found my friends who were pacing and we made our way back to the hotel to quickly shower and pack our things, since the hotel would not allow late check out and we had to be out by noon. This kinda sucked because I really wanted to just chill for a bit. Also Brett was pacing the 4:55 group, so he wouldn't even finish til noon so he had to pack his stuff before the race and shower via Wet Naps in the hotel lobby bathroom haha.

All in all it was a fun weekend with some great friends. Every part of me wishes I would have survived one more mile, but I can't do anything about that now and I've got to look forward to the next race, which I still haven't decided on yet. I'm open to suggestions. The race was done pretty well I think and I don't really have any complaints from a runners stand point. The medals are pretty bad ass too!

I'll post some pictures from the weekend later on this week when I get some more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pacers Get Their Own Potty and I Still Had to Pee!

Today's post is brought to you by my political science class that I'm procrastinating doing the reading for by blogging....enjoy!

In all this running I've done over the years, there are still plenty of things that are new  to me; like being an official pacer at a race. No longer am I a virgin to pacing though, last weekend I scuccessfully paced the 8:00 group for the 5/3 River Bank Run 25k. It was a lot of fun and I'm excited to follow it up with pacing the Cleveland Marathon this weekend!
Pace Crew!

I ventured north to Grand Rapids with a group of running friends from the EPIC Crew Saturday morning bright and early (5 am!!!!). There were actually a lot of us from Kzoo pacing this race so it was pretty cool. I think there were 8 of us including my buddy Nick who was my co-pacer in the 8 min group. It was funny because every other group had at least 3 pacers, most with 4. Our group was the only one with only 2 pacers, not because someone dropped, but that's all they planned for apparently. We told everyone that it was becauase we're just that good haha. Clearly with all this experience I've had from previous pacing gigs ;-) Speaking of previous experience, I went out last Wednesday and ran at an 8 min pace for 6 miles, just to practice and get used to slowing the pace down and I had no idea it would be that much work to slow down. (not trying to brag here but try it yourself, go out and run 45 seconds slower than you would on your LSD runs and you'll see just how tough it is to show restraint lol).

C'mon who wouldn't "guitar joust"...
We arrived and picked up our pacer shirts and then hung out in the pacer room near the start for almost an hour and this right here is worth pacing by itself. Why? you ask, because we had access to bathrooms that were just for us!!!!! That's right, no waiting in line for team flomax to pinch one off, you can actually go to the bathroom when you want/need to! Sheer bliss. We also had time to fool around with our pace signs: Pace sign guitar band, pace sign sword fight, pace sign canoe paddle, pace sign ax, and the list goes on. It was like the prop skit on Who's Line Is It Anyway. Awesomely fun and the fun didn't end there.
Lining up for the race, Tom, Nick and I

Nick and I kept the party going throughout the whole race. I really hope we didn't offend or annoy many people (I started to sing aloud the Bloodhound Gang song because it was stuck in my head, but stopped just short of the line "put your hand down my pants and I'll bet you'll feel nuts" thankfully I realized it was probably innapropriate...) We made fun of everything we could think of, cracked jokes and told stories of our plans for a beer mile and a chicken Mcgnugget ultra mile. I'll tell you about those later.
More people starting to line up

Why yes I did take photo at the 1/2 way point
About 5 miles in, after Nick had been saying all morning how he had to stop and pee during both of his last pacing gigs, it hit me. I had to pee. I decided that as soon as I saw the next porta-potty I was gonna book it ahead, drain, and then haul tail to catch back up. The plan worked great, except when I heard the group run past and could hear Nick offereing 20 bucks to anyone who would tip over the porta john I was in. I'm sure some of them considered it haha. It didn't take that long to rejoin the group and I made fun out of the sprint by sticking my arms out wide and acting like an airplane, complete with noises as I weaved in and out of people. I'm sure they thought I was missing a chromosome or something haha.

I seriously had so much fun during this run, I even said I may never race again and just pace everything! (I will definitely still race but I won't balk at an opportunity to pace a race here and there either) I took a couple pictures and a video on my phone mid run, and even tried calling my friend Dan who was pacing the 9 minute group, during the run. He didn't answer. Jerk.

Before the race Nick and I started talking about fun things we could do as we crossed the finish line and we really wanted to use the pace signs as paddles and act like we were canoeing across the finish, but unfortunately we abandoned the signs at the earliest we could because they were more like wind blocks than pace signs. We totally pussed out. Instead we went with a jumping high five. Nothing too exciting but I'm hoping there is at least a good picture of it.

The best part of pacing was standing in the finish chute area and having people come up to us, shake our hands and thank us for keeping them on pace and entertained. It was a pretty awesome feeling. Usually I'm just out there for myself so it felt nice to know I might have helped someone meet their goals.

So yeah it was a lot of fun, and like I said I'm pacing the Cleveland Marathon this weekend. It's gonna be HOT HOT HOT! I'm gonna be tackling a 3:40 on Sunday and hopefully it goes as well as it did last weekend. I've never been to Cleveland before and it will also be the first time I've raced in Ohio so I'll be able to check another state off my list!

I'll be looking forward to taking Memorial weekend off from racing, but I'm considering a 5k that Saturday so we'll see. It's been a busy month for racing and I think I could use a break. I'm thinking about shooting for a PR at the Charlevoix Marathon the end of June so I don't want to push it. We'll see how I feel after Sunday.

Hope all is well with you guys!
Hanging out with the guys in pacer "hall"
Yes I am fully aware how un-color-coordinated that outfit is.

Post race refreshment tent and look my beard is almost back!

I totally almost forgot to tell you one of the best parts of my weekend! I got a new pair of shoes! For free! The long awaited Saucony Kinvara 3's!!!!!!!! I've only run in them once, which was a "suicide pace" run and they felt great but I'll tell you about next time. Here they are, my precious!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Hometown Half

This past weekend was a pretty damn good one! The tale goes something like this.....

One year ago I ran my first half marathon, the 2011 Borgess Run for the Health of it. I'd run one marathon a couple years before (and it didn't go as planned) but I'd never run a half before. I'm backwards like that from time to time. My first half by all means was a success. I hit my time goal and felt great doing it. I had also begun to make many new friendships in the running community that I'm happy to say have grown ten fold since.

Fast forward to this year and I wanted to run the Borgess 1/2 again. I was really tempted to run the full Kalamazoo Marathon but I decided that I wanted to see just how much I had progressed in the past year. One thing is for sure, even though I have been a runner off and on since jr. high, the experience I've gained in the past 12 months is vastly more than I had before. Since my first half, I've run 2 marathons, 5 half marathons, and a handful of shorter races. I recently even won my first race ever, a local 5k!

So I wanted to know what I could do. How much have I grown, how much have I learned? Well I still aparently haven't learned to tie my shoes...but I'll get to that. Let's back up to Saturday shall we?

I volunteered to work the race expo for Saturday. I'd never volunteered at a race before so I was both excited and nervous going into it, but c'mon how much could I really screw up... They started me off passing out race bibs and shirts to pre-registered runners. This is when I finally got to briefly meet Redhead and Spike! Our pre planning wasn't so extensive. In fact we just decided to keep an eye out for eachother at the expo since they knew I'd be there. Problem is of course as soon as they got there I got hit with person after person wanting their darn bibs! Don't they realize I'm trying to meet people! Jeeze! j/k. So we had a quick hello, Red called me out on shaving my beard...I know, I know I should be whipped! Fear not though it's already begun to fill in nicely.
I got to pass out bibs for a quick bit before being moved over to the late registration table and spent the last 3 hours of my shift there. It was pretty cool and I actually had a lot of fun doing it!

After the expo I headed out to the EPIC Crew pasta party at a fellow runnerd's house in town. We stuffed our faces with carbs and chatted away about past and future races. There was even a man there from Sweden who was invited by Dave our host who had met him at previous marathons. Anders, the Swede is working on marathoning in all fifty states and this weekend he was going to check Michigan off his list. Pretty cool to have someone from across the pond at our humble little shin-dig!

Good Morning EPIC Crew!

The EPIC *ahem* Lady *cough* pacers...well most of them haha
Sunday morning rolled around bright and early. I met up with the rest of the crew at the race. A good number of EPIC members were pacing either the half or full marathons so we decided to meet outside the pacers room for our group shot. The women pacers had pink singlets and the men had orange...well mostly. They apparently ran out of medium mens singlets so rather than go up a size a few of the guys decided to show off their inner femininity and sported some lovely pink pacer singlets! It was rather funny to see them as you might imagine.
And we're off! Start of the 1/2 marathon, Joe is next to me in green, fellow EPIC runner Ryan is in red to Joe's left

I got a nice three mile warm up in with my friend Christen (my coed relay partner from last month) and we made it back to the start/finish area about five minutes before the gun. Perfect timing. We stripped off our warmups, pushed our way to the front of the pack and waited for the magic words. While standing there I had a sudden thought back to my last 1/2 marathon and how my shoe came untied in the first half mile. Not wanting this to happen again I decided to re-tie them then and there...worst. idea. ever. They had already made it 3 miles with no problem so I probably shouldn't eff with them...well I did, and a half mile into the race one came untied. again. grrr!!!! I was running along with my friend Joe and we had planned on sticking together since we had similar time goals in mind but when I was forced to stop and re-tie, a gap opened up between us and I never closed it.

The beginning of the race wasn't all bad though, I spotted Redhead on the side as she was cheering for me so that was awesome and then not long after that I realized that one of the guys right in front of me was my freshmen and sophomore year cross country coach! It was really good to see him and pretty cool to be running with him even if for a short bit after all these years!
Joe and I, stride for stride before the "incident" (Ryan is hiding behind the guy in red shorts)

After the stupid shoe lace debacle I tried pickin up my pace to make up lost time but I just never got all that comfortable. Not like at Martian, maybe it was the higher humidity, the quicker first miles or the couple hills, but I definitely didn't feel as fresh in this race. I managed to keep Joe in sight for the most part though and kept trucking along. Rounding one of the last corners I saw Red with camera in hand and an awesome sign at her feet. I dug for whatever energy I had left ( the steepest hill in the race is in the last 3/4 mile and I was feeling spent) and tried to drop some time for my last mile. I had to sprint my tail off in the final 50 meters to pass two guys and outlast another to the finish.

And going! haha

All in all it was a successful race, my time of 1:25:01 was an improvement from last year by over 7 minutes and within 30 seconds of my PR I set at Martian a couple of weeks ago. It also got me to 21st out of roughly 2300 people (my goal was top 25) and unexpectedly 3rd in my age group! So while I didn't feel all that special during the race, I surely felt great afterwards.
Joe and I decided they're coasters for shot glasses....

Pretty cool medals. I like the cutout runner

I wasn't the only EPIC member to have a great day, we had two women finish first and second in the women's marathon and quite a few placed in their age groups. Nicole, who won the women's race broke the course record by I think 6 minutes! It was a great day all around and I sure enjoyed my day off from work yesterday. I spent my time off finishing book 2 in the Hunger Games trilogy and went for an easy 4 mile recovery run with a couple buddies who also had the day off. A great weekend indeed.

Oh I also found time to go see The Avengers and I must say it was pretty damn AWESOME. For the longest time I wasn't sure it would be any good but I was happily proven wrong. I recommend it if you enjoyed the Iron Man movies.

This weekend I'll be pacing the 8:00 group at the Riverbank 25k in Grand Rapids, so if you're gonna be there let me know and come say hi! Check out the Pacer Profiles!

One last thing... remember Anders, the Swedish runner? Well aparently he writes an official blog for Runner's World Sweden (which I was previously unaware existed) and he posted a couple pictures of the EPIC Crew and talked about us a little in his most recent post which you can check out here! That's right EPIC is goin international!!! haha

Thanks to Red for this picture!

Caught between the shirtless!!!! And I got em both before the checkered flag!