STRAVA Summary

Friday, November 30, 2012

MCM Weekend

Following the back to back weekend was another trip to the US, this time to Washington DC for the Marine Corp Marathon. The difference this time was that I wasn’t running. I would be acting as support, guide, coach, photographer, driver and chaperone for four lovely ladies who were going to be running the race. As I had done the race before and been to DC a number of times I offered my services to help out Shannon, Cindy, Karen and Joan. They warned me that I might never be the same, travelling for a weekend with four crazy blonds.
So we left on Thursday after work picking up Shannon and her minivan and then Karen and then on the highway. We travelled without incident to Erie, Pennsylvania. Got up in the morning and started the required shopping in Erie and then a “short” stop at Grove City for the outlet Mall. A couple of hours later we were back on the road. We arrived at about 10 pm in Alexandria, Virginia and settled in for the night. The next morning we headed off to the expo and got the girls checked in and did some more shopping at the expo.

Then it was sightseeing time. The girls had never been there before and so were keen to see what they could, in hind sight it may have been a bit much walking for the day before a marathon.

Regardless, we saw a lot of the museums and monuments before heading back to the hotel and then up the road to the nearest Olive Garden for dinner. Sunday morning came early and the ladies got ready and we headed out to drive to the Metro station and then head to Pentagon for the start.

This is where things started to resemble the time I did the race. Poorly organized for such a large race! Maybe it’s a case of too many people for the area that it is run in, at least the start and finish. We had to walk for a long way to get to the start area and by the time the girls got to the port-a-potties the race gun went off, signaling the start of the race. There were many people still lined up to use the facilities. The girls weren’t too worried, they weren’t in it to win it anyway.We all walked to the start area and took lots of pictures before I said my good bye’s and headed out to find them elsewhere on the course. I walked across the Potomac in to DC and along the course back towards the 9 mile mark where I could see them coming. I felt I got there early enough that I would be able to have a bit of brekkie. The temperature was a little cooler than I was thinking it would be so to get a bit of warmth in a restaurant was great. Back at the race I was not sure I would even see the girls in time to take pictures never mind see them at all.

I saw Shannon first and she was looking good and strong. The crowds of runners were thick, but I did see Cindy and Joan next, Cindy all smiles as usual, but looked like she was feeling the effects of her injuries. I never saw Karen at this point. Another hiccup in the day’s adventures was the Metro. The DC Metro is a fantastic system, but on this day although starting the Metro early for the runners I don’t think they put on any extra trains, as there were long waits between trains. Meaning each one was crowded with spectators and later, runners. I made it to the 17 mile mark unsure whether or not anyone and gone by yet. I walked around and just as I was suspecting that Shannon had gone by already, there she was. Still looking strong, but saying she was struggling a bit. I waited around at a point where I could see the runners going one way and coming back another way, but was afraid that I’d miss them this way, so I headed back over to the 17 mile mark and saw Cindy coming along. No sign of Joan though. Karen was next and was obviously just enjoying the race.

Joan came along shortly afterwards and was in tears. All her injuries were coming back to haunt her and she was not having a good time. I walked up the hill with her and encouraged her all I could. And then headed over to the 21 mile mark to see all but Shannon go by who was already past at that point. I walked again with Joan for a bit and reminded her to take her S Caps which she had forgotten about, hopefully that would help. I let her go, knowing the next time I would see all of them was at the finish. I got to the Metro and it was pure pandemonium. I waited 20 minutes for a metro which was packed with people, bikes, strollers and one old lady with a walker. Nobody could move. By the time I got to Arlington Cemetery I assumed I was late and would have at least missed Shannon coming across the finish line. Another hiccup! The instructions for spectators tell you to get off the metro at Arlington Cemetery. This entailed a walk back towards the finish line then up the hill and beyond, and beyond…. It seemed like I had to walk forever to get to the family meeting area and was hoping that the girls would be able to find their way there too as there seemed to be a few ways around.
I go the designated area and looked for Shannon and no, she wasn’t there. I walked around through mass crowds of people for an hour with no luck in finding anyone. I was starting to get worried. None of had any way of getting a hold of the others. I would back to the finish area and then back again numerous times. Finally going back to the meeting area I saw Cindy there. And within minutes, Karen and Shannon showed. They had all struggled, but were happy with finishing. I walked back up to the finish area to wait for Joan and she came through fairly quickly.
Shannon - 4:37:39
Cindy - 5:28:50
Karen – 5:31:06
Joan - 5:55:55

We all got back together and looked to get out of the downtown area. Another adventure begins. When we approached the metro we saw a long line and asked what it was for. The Metro was the reply. It was out of the building and wound down the street. And there were two lines, one on each side of the building. Now what? We decided to walk to either a taxi or the next station. We walked for about 45 minutes with no luck getting a taxi and still a long way from the next station, this after a marathon. Although Cindy was just wired from the juice she was drinking on the course. We had a 4pm late checkout but were in danger of missing it. Eventually we were able to wrangle a taxi and get back to the car. The girls got changed and showered in 30 minutes!!! Four women showering in 30 minutes! and not together either! Wow!
We were on the road by a little after 4 and were on the long road home. Another thing was this was the day before Hurricane Sandy and there was a lot of talk about not being able to make it home due to weather. As it turned out we had no issues and made it home in Barrie by about 2am. A long weekend, on the go a lot, but a lot of fun and some great runs by the ladies.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back to Back again.

Another long time between blog postings, but here goes as I try to catch up on the whirlwind of events over the past month and a half, as well as what is coming up. Yes that’s right, I’m not quite done yet this year.

It started in the middle of October with Oliver, RickyMac and myself heading down to Dover, Delaware for the Monster Mash Marathon, the first of a back to back weekend. We left Thursday night and stayed in Syracuse before setting of for the remainder of the drive to Delaware. A decent drive and in the comfort of Oliver’s Acura was nice. We shared the driving all weekend and arrived in Dover with lots of time to spare before the expo even opened.
Dover is not a very big place, but it was homecoming weekend (whatever that is) and the hotels were full, luckily Rick had booked ours ahead of time.
This was only the second year for this race and there were a few little things that they could have done better, but generally a good little event. The expo was just a packet pick up, nothing else. We went to the Olive Garden for dinner, across the road form the hotel and after a walk around, retired for the night.

The race starts at in the Dover Speedway on the track and the first mile is around the track. At 7 am we were off and running, that lap around the track is not runner friendly, with an extreme camber to the infield. Once we got out of the stadium it was much better. In to town and around a nice part we hadn’t seen yet. But by 10k we were headed out of town to the country roads for the next 30k. The only complaint I had (other than track) was that the country road section was rather boring. It was a nice day and there was some scenic areas, but generally it was well…. blah. My run went very well, I didn’t see Rick and Oliver after the start until an out and back at about half way and then until the finish. This was my first marathon in 2 years and I felt great, other than a few aches and pains early in the race. I finished very strong with a time of 3:36 outside the speedway. Rick came in next just over 4 hours, followed by Oliver shortly after wards.

We raced back to the hotel to beat the late checkout, showered and were back on the road by a little after noon. We were now on our way to Atlantic City for marathon number two. A two plus hour drive away.
I had attempted to run Atlantic City a few years ago when accompanying KevO for his first back to back. I was injured at the time and never made it through the first mile before my calf seized up. My memories of AC were not fond ones and not just because of my race, the city was a real sleazy hole and the race itself seemed very poorly organized. So I was very hesitant about this year’s race.

We arrived in AC and went to Baly’s for the expo etc.. Already the City looked better, cleaner and things were looking up. It still has a very sleazy side to it, but it looking better. The expo was much bigger and had more to offer. On our way from the expo we wondered through the Casino. Rick tried to spend a few dollars on a slot machine, but they wouldn’t take his bills.
Then for lunch on the boardwalk in the sun, meeting up with fellow runners and a few back to backers. After a couple of beers it was back to the hotel and then off to do a bit of shopping and eat.
The next morning came too quickly and we headed off to the start. It was great being able to stay in the casino and stay warm waiting for the start. It wasn’t cold out, but it wasn’t hot either so it was more comfortable in the Casino.
Soon we were in the corrals waiting for the start. I thought we’d all run together, but once the gun went off I started off at my own pace, a comfortable pace, and left Rick and Oliver behind. We ran along the boardwalk for a bit then into town, through a tunnel and around, before coming back to the boardwalk again. I was a little apprehensive as to how I would feel, but the legs were ok, a little sore at the start, but once we got going they just felt slightly stiff. I was waiting for things to go downhill, but it never happened. I ran well. After the halfway mark we off the boardwalk again and into some more neighbourhoods in the south end of town. A this point I struggled a bit, but once again was able to pick up the pace felt really strong in finishing. Actually I felt stronger finishing this race than I did the day before. Time = 3:41. The finish area was a nice courtyard of the hotel and was a sun trap so it was nice and warm, I enjoyed my free post race beer and some big pretzels (great idea), and waited for the others to finish. They finished in about 4:12 with smiles on their faces as usual, although Oliver’s was more like a grimace. My impressions of this race were that it was very well done was a decent course, flat and fast. I’m not sure about the boardwalk running though. I talked to the race director afterwards and he said that the race has been under new management for the past few years and they have made big changes. I noticed!!!
After changing a nice walk/stretch along the boardwalk to go to the Hard Rock Café for Oliver and have some lunch and then back to the car and off we went home stopping in Scranton for the night on the way back.

A successful B2B weekend.

Next up the Marine Corp Marathon. I wouldn’t be running, only acting as driver, photographer, chaperone for four blonde’s!!! Would I survive? Stay tuned.