Friday, September 30, 2005
I need to get my treadmill fixed. I haven't run since the PDR and I actually kind of miss it. I don't think I'll be running until after Utah though just because I won't have time to do it.
I can't wait until Utah! We leave next Saturday!
This weekend I'm doing a trail walk or hike or something. It's a guided hike on a mostly flat trail so it might be really annoying but Brian & I figure it will be a good way to spend time outside on a different trail than we usually use and if we hate it we can just ditch the gang and take off on our own. They offer 21, 11, 7 and 4 mile options and I think we're doing the 7/11 hike. I don't think I have 21 in me this weekend!
The final walk of the 3-day was short in comparison to the other two. About 14 miles. Unfortunately for the people with sore feet, knees, etc. there were lots of hills.
The last day is really different because they have a special closing ceremony and they hold all the walkers in a special holding area about a quarter mile from the real finish area until the ceremony is supposed to begin. This is good because it forces the faster people to slow down and take in the atmosphere. I tried to stay in the middle of the pack on the final day and I saw a completely different scene than at the front. It was still great, but lots more crowded and that meant a less pleasnt time at the pit-stops and more crowding on the route. But it also meant more people to talk to and more rowdy crowds. All in all though, I prefer the front.
The whole ending of the weekend was pretty cool. Approaching the final section of the walk the streets are lined with walkers who have finished, friends & family, and crew people who are screaming and clapping and cheering while music blares. You can hear them well before you see them and it's more dramatic than any race finish line I've experienced. I think this must be what it's like to be on the red-carpet. Once you finish you get your cool "victory" shirt. These are blue for walkers, pink for Survivors and white for crew people. They're very nice.
After all the walkers have come in for the day. They send the spectators up to the stage and separate the particpants into three groups: walkers, crew, and Survivors. Then we proceed into the closing area (through more throngs of cheering fans) where they put us all into concentric circles -- walkers on outside and then when we're all in there the crew comes in to be applauded by us. And boy, was the cheering for the crew amazing. I actually felt the ground shake. And they deserved every second of it. They really are amazing and they spend four days doing it and get less rest than us. They were great. Lastly, the survivors make it into the innermost ring and raise up the 3-Day flag. [Actually, they raise a blank flag symbolizing a world where there is no cancer and thus no need for the 3-Day. Nice sentiment, but I think they should use the regular flag.]
Anyway, during this final section a whisper went through the crowd telling us that the 3-Day tradition is to remove one shoe and hold it above your head in tribute to the Survivors. Let me tell you, it's pretty hilarious to see thousands of stiff, sore people trying to bend over in a tightly packed corral to remove a sneaker from a blistered foot. However, the sneaker salute was very neat. At least to the walkers, I'm not sure what anybody else thought of it. Later I noticed that the picture on our victory t-shirt is of three walkers holding up their shoes.
You might also notice in the photo that the person in the center is a man. I was surprised to see so many men walking. They were treated like extra-special heros but there were plenty of them there. I think they should market more to men because all the guys I talked to expressed a reluctance to particpate but were all glad that they had decided to do it. So tell all the guys out there -- come and walk!
My last words on this [finally!] are that it was an excellent experience, very well run, and something that I think you should do if you're even slightly interested.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
So things at camp on Day Two were good! My friend Lisa, who was working on crew, met me at the finish for the day and took pictures and it was really fun. Plus, I still felt great after 40+ miles. Life was good, and hanging at the camp with Brian and my sister who visited was really fun too. I was glad they got to see what it was like and take it all in.
As the day wore on and the last walker made it back to camp and raised the 3-Day flag [see photo -- they make a big fuss over the last person to make it back] my exhaustion started to kick in. I was beat -- so you can imagine just how thrilled I was when they announced that in the morning of Day Three they'd be taking us by bus to Chestnut Hill College. Awesome! My sister, who was still at camp, lives across the street from the college! And that meant that I didn't have to sleep in the tent!!! I'd get a real bed and a real bathroom and that I could sleep late on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the 3-Day folks make a big deal of scanning the walkers in and out of camp each day so they know everybody is safe and sound. When I asked about how to make that happen even though I was leaving the camp they told me it couldn't be done.
So I escaped. I packed up my tent and my duffel bag and snuck out of camp. We did recon at the college to make sure we could find the pit stop and route markers for the next day and then I hit the sack.
Check out my fugitive picture -- that's me leaving my hide out and making my way back to the route on Sunday morning.
Anyway, I was in bed by 9, asleep by 9:05. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of tarps flapping wildly in the breeze. I found my trusty headlamp and wandered to the porta-potty (although there was so much moonlight I hardly needed the light) and made it back to bed in one piece. I was up at 5 to start the day with a totally huge and awesome breakfast [eggs, hash browns, biscuts, bacon, oatmeal!]. Seriously, they feed you like you would not believe at this thing.
I packed up the tent and was out on the road by about 7:20. We had 19.5 miles on tap this morning so I was glad to see that the weather had changed and it was a lot cooler on day 2.
Day 2 was cool because I was passing through a lot of familiar territory. My huband's hometown, my sister-in-laws neighborhood, my old office park to name a few. I called the family and tried to help them figure out how to meet me for lunch. The 3-Day folks never really give up too much info on the route but I knew which mile would be our lunch stop (13.1) and where the nearest "cheering station was" (13.1) so I told them to get a map and find a park in the vicinity and come find me for lunch.
I got to lunch, and was right at home -- the theme was NERDapolooza! Brian and my sister were at lunch and my Mom was up at the cheering station a few miles later. Amazingly, after 33 miles and change I still felt great. Thanks to a couple Spenco second skin squares on my heel hot spot my feet felt great, and so did my legs. Right about now was when I started to regret not signing up for Disney's Goofy Challenge.
Brian walked with me for about 3 or 4 miles and I got back to camp in the front of the pack again. He met me back at camp, helped set up my tent and then took off while I got in line for the shower. This time things weren't going as smoothly because they had trouble finding a level spot for the shower trucks and they opened late. How dare they?!
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I hobbled into camp the first night and made my way to the gear truck to pick up my stuff and my tent. I have no idea at all what to do with a tent or how to put one up but luckily the nice crew guys were there to help all of us do the tents.
After setting up the tent and my air mattress I collected my clean towels and went to the shower truck. The hot showers are an awesome feature -- I really can't imagine this without the showers. Since I was in the front of the pack I didn't even have to wait in a line, I just walked right in. Fabulous!
So, now I'm clean and my bed is all set up. It was time to explore the camp. It's really pretty impressive. They have the whole tent city, a giant dining hall with tables and a stage for entertainment, plus a medical tent, a 3-day merchandise tent, and a place to hang out and relax and read and just chill out. It's pretty cool.
I left for the 3-Day on Thursday night. Walkers were supposed to report to Sesame Place no later than 6am on Friday morning and since I am not a morning person AT ALL I thought it would be best to stay at a nearby hotel. In the morning I waited in the hotel lobby by myself surrounded by packs of women decked out in pink gear who were all eager to get started. This made me kind of sad that I was alone and I was worried that this was going to be a long, miserable weekend.
Getting to Sesame Place, still in the dark, I dropped off my gear and was handed a pack of Mike & Ikes by the cheery crew guy who collected my bag. This was indicative of things to come: really nice crew people and free food! I made my way to the stage and waited, nervously for the next hour or so until the sun came up and the ceremony to start the walk began. In the meantime more and more packs of women crowded the area. Some of them were actually wearing fake styrofoam boobs on their heads. Many of them were chanting annoying boob-themed cadence chants and singing boob-themed songs. I thought to myself that if this kept up I wouldn't make it through even one day.
The ceremony was nice, a series of people talking about why they walked and coming to the conclusion that we all walk because we believe in a future without breast cancer. [For the record, over 400,000 people die each year from breast cancer. Every 3 minutes a new person is diagnosed. Every 13 minutes somebody dies. That's a lot of people.] I have to say, it was a total tear jerker of a presentation especially when lots of people around me started bawling I guess because they were remembering the people they knew who had died. I felt kind of like an interloper because I have no connection to the disease. (Thank goodness!) They also told us that Philadelphia had about 2000 walkers who raised 6 million dollars. Nice work!
Finally, about 7:15 we got started. We left the staging area and headed out onto the course -- and the whole first section was lined on both sides by cheering, clapping crew members who were handing out high fives and 3-day bandannas. (more free stuff!) It was very uplifting and fun.
The first day of walking covered 23 miles between Langhorne and Warminster. We walked through a couple of beautiful parks, and some cute towns. Spectators were few and far between except for the designated cheering stations but there were some notable exceptions like the lady in the Yellow car who kept popping up and telling us we should feel "damn good" about what we were doing and the nice lady in Newtown who set out snacks and opened up her house to the walkers so they could use her bathroom. This is a huge deal -- all we do the whole time is go to the bathroom. Porta-potties on the horizon cause the crowd of walkers to cheer with excitement. It's crazy -- but they push water and gatorade on you constantly so pretty much all the time you are scrambling for a bathoom.
I felt great all day, even towards the end when the sun beat down on us and things got a little more difficult. But over all the day went smoothly. It was so different from marathons where it's all about pushing hard and going as fast as you can. Here it was about making friends, and talking, and stopping to stretch and eat and relax every 3 miles or so.
At every pit stop along the way, the crew would wear costumes and play themed music as they provided food (string cheese, peanut butter and bagels, raisins, bananas, crackers, chips, pretzels, Pria bars) and bathrooms, and medical attention and of course STICKERS! How nerdy am I that I liked getting stickers more than just about anything?
I was back at camp around 4:00 and was one of the first hundred people to make it back. More on camping later.....
Monday, September 26, 2005
I was going to post some pictures but blogger seems to be going a little crazy today so that will have to wait. Booooo.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
There is a 35 pound limit on the stuff you can lug to the 3-Day. That does not scare me after the 30 pound seaplane limit from our trip to St. Croix.
What I hadn't counted on was how difficult it would be to wedge everything I needed plus an air matress (yeah, I'm bringing a matress, I'm a big wimp) and a sleeping bag into one duffel bag. I had to move from the one I was planning to bring to a different larger one. Thank goodness I had that option. Right now it's about to pop open and explode everywhere. Tonight, after I get to the hotel, I'm going to unpack and try to put everything in there in a more coherent way. Right now it's just all wedged in however I could make it fit.
It's so funny -- after I get to the hotel I need to take off all my work clothes and get into my pjs so I can send all the dirty clothes/shoes home with Brian. I also need to send home my handbag and everyother extra thing I have on me today so that it won't clutter my 3-day bag. This is so crazy.
The weather seems like it will be OK. Cool on Saturday -- a high of 73? -- but mostly dry. At least I hope so.
I'm trying to hook up with my team but so far not much luck. Keep your fingers crossed there will be no rain and some cool people.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
So, my last post was all about feeling panic over the weekend. Then I open my e-mail and find a link to a short movie from the 3-Day people. It's just scrolling text with dramatic movie soundtrack music playing. Here's what it said:
You’re about to join in a bold experiment.
An experiment with a goal no less than to rid the world of breast cancer.
It’s hard to imagine a challenge so great could begin with something as
simple as tying your shoes.
Something you do every day.
Soon, you’ll tie your shoes with a courageous purpose in mind:
to change the world.
We’ll have a big advantage. Because there will be an awful lot of tied shoes out there.
And they’ll all be headed in the same direction.
Toward the same goal.
Some will walk fast. Others slow.
Groups will fall in step, while others will keep their own rhythm.
You will find that some shoes are old. Some brand-new.
And that they come in different sizes. And shapes. And colors.
None, we hope, will have high heels.
As you were tying your shoes this morning, maybe you were thinking about all the things you need to pack. You know, an extra pair of socks, sun block, maybe a picture of the kids.
Now that you’re reading this, you probably just thought of something else.
There will always be something else.
You’ll be okay.
The most important thing to bring to the 3-Day is something you can’t forget.
You always have it. You just have to remember to share it.
Kindness is like water. Everyone needs it.
Some more than others. Some times more than others.
For at least three days, let’s try to give out more kindness than we ever have before.
Don’t be afraid to tell someone if their shoes need tying.
Reach out to your fellow walkers, in hand and in heart.
Give a crew person the hug they so richly deserve.
If you find yourself in camp early try setting up a tent…for someone you don’t even know.
You’ll find, kindness is contagious.
Kindness makes everything better.
Even sore feet. Even using porta-potties.
Which is good. Because the 3-Day isn’t easy.
It’s a long road.
It will be the start of something big.
Something bold and challenging.
Walking 60 miles in three days. That definitely falls into the “big” category.
That’s what sets you – and the 3-Day – apart.
The little voice inside your head that said, “What is the most I can do?”
That’s the stuff this world could use more of.
This adventure will begin with a single step for each of us.
It will reach out for generations to come.
Lives will be saved.
Hope for humanity will take a giant step forward.
And just think, it all starts with the simple act of tying your shoes.
See you on Friday with your walking shoes on!
Anyway, I got that, some rain gear, a travel alarm clock, some tarp type things and as I'm lugging it all home I am realizing what a crazy adventure this is going to be. My friend who came up with this whole 3-Day scheme has dropped off the face of the earth (she's totally hiding from me because I guess she decided not to do the event and can't bring herself to admit it) so I am heading into this on my own.
I've never camped before and I've never done an event bigger than a 5K on my own before. I don't think I've ever spent 3 full days alone before. Ok, so I won't really be alone since there are about 3000 people doing this event, but I don't actually KNOW any of them. I've never slept outside or in a tent. I'm kind of grateful that my friend is bailing because I think that might mean I get my own tent. That will be good because I don't think I'd like a total stranger snoring and whining about her blisters in my tent with me.
Tonight I have to go home and figure out exactly what I'm bringing and how to pack it correctly. I guess if I forget something it won't matter since I can just buy it or call Brian to come and deliver it to me but even that is tricky since they aren't even telling us where we're going to be on any given day. It's a total mystery adventure!
I've been checking the weather constantly. Right now the Weather Channel is giving all three days a fitness index of 8 which is quite nice. Unfortunately, there is a 30% chance of rain every day. It better not rain. I just hate rain -- luckily I bought my 89 cent emergency ponchos from Target. They wont' keep my feet dry but there is no way I'm dorky enough to wear those totally nerdy "sloggers" [think totes galoshes for sneakers]. I'd rather have blisters.
I picked up another possibly interesting thing at Target -- a one time use digital camera. If that works out maybe I'll actually post some pictures of this event!
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I wasn't sure how to approach this because I had run a new PR two weeks ago at Virginia Beach and I'm doing the Breast Cancer 3-day this weekend so I wasn't sure what my legs were ready for on Sunday. I decided to just let my body do the talking and kind of wing it and not care about my performance. If I wound up walking the whole time, so be it. Just make sure to have no injury or sore spots for the 3-day.
I got into my corral (one ahead of Brian) before the start and spotted my most hated race nemesis who I always see at the big local events. So much for walking at the start -- I need to get in front of the nemesis and stay there! Before the gun went off I decided to try something new and I ate a gel before we started. I thought this might help to counter the mile 11 bonk effect I felt at Virginia Beach.
The first two miles feel good, if a little warm. They made me worry that the day would heat up and be tough but luckily that never happened! Between miles 2 and 3 things were pretty lively as a guy was leading the E-A-G-L-E-S cheer over and over again as he ran. With the echo coming off the buildings that was pretty fun. I think that kind of wiped him out though because he faded as we made the turn onto the parkway and I never saw him again.
I made it to the 5 mile mark near the Art Museum before the winners finished the race so that was a minor accomplishment for me! Yay! At this stage, I'd been running the whole time except at the water stops. I felt really good and I was a couple minutes ahead of my Virginia Beach pace. Yay again! I ate my second gel at this point.
The stretch along West River Drive (now Martin Luther King Drive) was pretty good, I started more of a run walk along here but it was still mostly running. Brian caught me close to the 7 mile marker and while he acknowledged that he was probably going too fast, he felt good and wanted to maintain his pace. I let him go, knowing that it really wasn't worth it to me to push things any harder than I was.
Just past mile 8 there was a Power Gel station and here is where I nearly met my doom. I stopped streatch a little while I ate the gel and made sure that I had enough water to wash it down and that stop could have been bad. My IT band, which had been silent to that point, suddenly freaked out and hurt like hell. It even hurt as I walked, and that NEVER happens to me. I kind of freaked. I got off the road and started to walk on the grass which was a little softer and stopped a couple times to stretch it out. Back on the road, I decided to try running again and since it hurt equally to run and walk I decided to keep on running. We crossed the bridge onto Kelly Drive and by the next mile marker I had forgotten the pain. (For now anyway)
The rest of the race was total run walk and I was still pretty far ahead of pace from VA Beach. At Boathouse Row, which was past the 12 mile marker, I saw that if I really pushed it I could probably break 2:30 but my knee was hurting and I was a little scared of hurting myself for the 3-Day so I just maintained the status quo and finished in 2:31 and change.
I was really happy! That's about a 3 and a half minute improvement over Virginia Beach. I also managed to beat the race nemesis by quite a lot -- like 40 minutes.
The medal they gave out at the PDR was excellent! A very cool replica of the LIberty Bell. It may be my coolest medal ever. Anyway, I was pleased to see that Brian had finished ahead of me and was waiting at the line for me. He managed a totally awesome 2:25 finish! Amazing! now I have a goal for 2006 -- to beat his 2:25 time!
The race was really good and fun and when it was over I got to meet Deena Kastor, the Olympic Medalist and winner of the race. She set the American Record on the road on Saturday and she hung out and was signing race bibs and medals. It was very cool.
So here we are on Tuesday and my legs are in good shape and I'm trying to get in the right frame of mind for the weekend. I'm a nervous wreck, that's for sure.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
My sister and I, UC team Walk Don't Run, helped out Team Ski Bums from Cincinatti at the UC in Lexington, KY today. This was an adventure since we don't actually know the Ski Bums except from an online message group of Urban Challenge people.
They were getting clue support from thier normal clue solver & a member of another team that they are friendly with but asked us if we'd be willing to help a little and since we were really sad that we weren't going to Lexington ourselves we were glad to help. We were nervous wrecks but everything turned out great!
The whole point of UC is to solve clues that lead you to 12 checkpoints around a city where you need to get your picture taken. You don't know if you're right until you've handed in your camera at the end of the day. You also have to get to the checkpoints on foot or using public transportation only. So, it's a foot race for thinkers.
Anyway, it appears that we didn't not hinder the Ski Bums as they managed to come in a solid 4th in the race. We were thrilled! It was so fun and now I really, really can't wait for the National Championship in Phoenix.
Urban Challenge is so awesome. I hope this isn't the last year for it.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
The first one is the Urban Challenge in Lexington, KY. I'm not actually running this race but I am going to help another team who will be on the ground running. This is rather nerve wracking because I don't know the team I'm helping except from talking to them online. They asked if my team would be willing to help them & their other online brains at the race. Since I'm dying to take part in the UC in any capacity this year, I said of course. But now I feel like I have to really be good at helping or they'll hate us for ruining their event.
I'm also completely distracted by thinking about a half-marathon that isn't even going to happen until this time next year. I got a secret e-mail from WDW Endurance detailing the new Disneyland Half Marathon that they'll be holding next September. Registration opens October 15 but the secret e-mail said previous WDW runners (I've done the Disney marathon twice) will get first crack at registration before it opens to the general public. The race is going to go through both California parks and other parts of Anaheim. I've never been out there and I don't anticipate ever scheduling a trip to Disneyland just on it's own merits, so this seems like the perfect reason to get out there. Plus, they say that the medal is going to be shaped like the castle. How awesome is that?
The Disney marketers have me hook, line and sinker. Special new medal, secret way to register, and all that jazz. I can't wait to hand over my money.
In the meantime I have a little thing like this weekend's half to think about not to mention next weekend's 60 miles.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
My training has been lousy and my posting even worse.
The good news is that we went to Virginia Beach, despite our concern over the Hurricane disaster/gasoline shortages, and we had a gorgeous weekend at the beach and a great race.
Brian & I both set PRs on the course and my sister had a pretty good time too even though she swore she was going to take four hours to complete the course (more like 2:50).
My main goal for the race was to do it at a 12 minute per mile pace or faster which would have me finishing at 2:36 or better. My stretch goal was to finish in 2:30 (11:30 pace or so). I think that I could do that if I had a perfect day.
Sunday morning was perfect for racing -- slightly cool, low humidity. Just a gorgeous day. The wave start SUCKED. I hated it completely. We were trapped for 25 minutes before they let us cross the starting line. Usually it takes me less than 10. I understand how they didn't want to crowd the faster runners I guess but this seemed really horrible. I think I wouldn't have minded the delay so much if they didn't force us to stand smooshed together in the corral for all that time -- let us get in there later. I could certainly have used another porta-potty stop if I'd know I'd be trapped for all that time. Anyway, I hated the delayed start and I found the entire race to be far more crowded than ever before. I don't know if that's because I was faster doing the race or what but overall I really, really disliked the wave start.
The 2:30 pace group was in my corral with me so I decided to see if I could hang with them and hit my stretch goal. I was OK and right with them, or even slightly faster than them until the 5K mark when for some reason the road was smoky and smelled like BBQ. I slowed down in the smoky section and never quite got back on pace with the group.
I walked through water stops and found myself mostly running but taking the occasional walk break for the next several miles. I was planning on walking in Camp Pendleton because it's normally really hot in that section of the course and I thought it would be easier to walk there but it turned out to be nice and cool so I kept running. I did walk up the bridge around mile 8.
At the loop onto Atlantic Avenue I realized that I had passed my sister somewhere along the course and that made me happy because I knew she started ahead of me. Still, I was starting to lose some steam.
Brian caught up to me at about mile 10, right before the turn onto the Boardwalk. I was really glad to see him because I was tired and I thought he'd give me a boost and also because I was excited that he was having a really good race! His plan was to take it easy for the first 5 miles and then if he was feeling good he'd turn it up for the rest of the race. He didn't think he had a great time in him this year since he really hadn't done any fast walking leading up to the race. Anyway, he obviously was doing great and he easily turned on his turbo boost on the boardwalk and left me behind.
It was amazing that I had no juice at all to propel me to follow him. He went and I just couldn't make myself go after him. Very frustrating! I felt good in my brain and I was in no pain or anything but I just had no energy. I did the gels in the normal way but I think I must not have had enough breakfast or something because I just had nothing left. I walked almost the whole mile between 11 and 12 I bet. At the last water stop I doused myself with cold water and ran the rest of the way to the finish line. The cold wet shirt really helped me hang in there for that last stretch.
Anyway, my final time was 2:34:50 which I am just thrilled with. Maybe I can hit the 2:30 at the PDR in another week.
Brian finished in 2:34:15 so he's still the family champ.