Monday, August 8, 2011

Photos from Riley's Rumble

The elevation map of doom, from my Garmin:

And the course map. There were a lot of out-and-back sections, this was both inspiring and depressing. It was nice to see runners, especially since it was so desolate, but seeing the same runners repeatedly had you questioning just how damn long the course actually was:

We insisted on making sure that we got photos at every opportunity. Last year we realised the slower groups weren't well represented in the end-of-the-year slideshow since the photographers don't often stick around (not that I blame them). So here we are around mile 6 or so:

At the you're-almost-halfway-there-though-it-feels-like-you've-been-running-forever water stop:

Closing in on those ice pops. I told the photographer, "I'm going to smile like this doesn't suck!"

And at the final water stop, taking a break to refuel, rehydrate and mentally regroup before pushing to the finish:

August 7th - Riley's Rumble Half-Marathon - 13.23 miles - 02:58

The race website says, "Riley's Rumble is the evil half that your mother warned you about. Don't be seduced by the lush bucolic countryside of rural Montgomery County. This race will challenge the best runners. If you want the 3 H's (hills, heat, and humidity), this is the race for you."

I am not the best runner and I certainly did not want any of those things, let alone all three. I wussed out last year and skipped this run, there were a lot of emails the night before about how awful it was and would be because it was stupidly hot last year - so hot and humid, in fact, that they didn't time it and turned it into a fun run. The weather this year promised to be better so I figured what the hell.

This is not a race for our program, but a well-supported training run. We do it to test race day strategies and night-before/morning-of prep but we're not supposed to go all out. I figured just finishing this thing would be enough of a challenge for me anyway so I wasn't stressed about it, though I was kind of terrified.

I got to the parking lot about 30 minutes before the start and it was packed, I have no idea why this is so popular. Hit the bathrooms, found my 12:30s and we lined up at the back of the pack. This is where we would stay and I had no problems with that. The weather wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been but with most of the road being surrounded by trees there was nowhere for the heat and humidity to escape so it was a bit stuffy. And there weren't as many water stops as I'd expected, I guess logistics made it kind of tough.

As a group I think we had a great first half, we ran the hills at a decent pace, took walk breaks at all the water stops, and were feeling pretty strong. Somewhere around mile 6.5 or so we started to split up, we regrouped around maybe mile 7, split up again. At mile 8.42 (yes, exactly, as the sign said) there were ice pops. These are magical and wonderful and were the best part of the race.

We stayed in three separate groups for the rest of the race so everybody had at least one other person for company (after Kathy turned in one hell of an amazing performance on some hills and stopped to wait for us to catch up). Which was great because, while the scenery is lovely, there is NOTHING out there. And no one. It's dead quiet, there are no spectators. Running with music was allowed but the roads weren't closed off so I don't think it would have been advisable.

The last 3.5 miles were tough and we did quite a bit of walking. We had enough energy to half-way run half-way up some of the hills, but there were SO DAMN MANY it became impossible for us. Even walking to the top of some of these things we were out of breath. Looking back you always wonder how much better you really could have done, but while you're out there it's so mentally and emotionally draining, plus you know this isn't your goal race and there's no reason to kill yourself for it.

I had my Garmin but didn't look at it until I knew we were close to the end. I saw we had about .4 miles to go and we'd make it under three hours if we ran so we did. We rounded the corner, saw the clock at 2:59:25. Sweet, just in time! We finished a little under 2:59, which is kind of exactly where I thought we would be. It's not a good time, but it was over. They're not lying, this thing is evil. Sure the uphills are often followed by some nice downhill stretches, but they do not even come close to making up for those inclines. I know I say this all the time about races, but I am NEVER doing this again!

Today I feel fine, surprisingly nothing is sore or injured and I'm not all that tired. I may still be, and always will be, a big girl but I'm a big girl who proves you can be big and healthy.

August 3rd - MCC Track - 5.97 miles - 01:12

I do not have an entry for a long run on July 31. This was to be a 17 miler with the group but I spent the morning on my couch in my pajamas instead. The night before I'd gone to the Outlaw Jam concert to see Poison and Motley Crue (yes, seriously). And it was AWESOME. So awesome, apparently, that I passed out cold while waiting for Poison to start. Not drunk, not dehydrated, just really hot I guess. I managed to recover, with a few trips to the medical and misting tents, and make it through the rest of the show but I woke up Sunday feeling like I'd been hit by a Mack truck so I decided to skip the long run so I didn't, you know, die.

When I got to the track Wednesday I found our little group and we were like the Waddling Wounded. I was still a little nervous about overheating, and confidence was not inspired when I tripped over the curb on the warm-up lap bruising my knee and scraping my elbow. A pace group buddy I hadn't seen in a while returned, hadn't been running due to work, vacation, then bronchitis. And our last friend had six stitches in his mouth from recent oral surgery. I told Coach Mike up front that the three of us were in somewhat rough shape and he could just let us go, but please check on us every once in a while.

Erring on the side of caution Bronchitis Buddy and I just tooled around the track at a decent pace - about halfway between LSD and speed. That was fine with both of us, and for not having run in a month or so Buddy did a great job. We walked a few cool down laps for a total of probably 6.5 miles. All things considered, even falling over, I was pleased with our performance.