Saturday, Mike and I did the Fort Atkinson Half Marathon. What a great race! Tons of good schwag (tech tee, backpack, medal, pancake breakfast, lots of giveaways, and wet towels at the finish), the city was so friendly and welcoming, the course supported well, and the spectator presence was unreal. Everywhere you ran people were in the driveway, had sprinklers going, had hand made signs made, cowbells, etc. EVERYWHERE. My only disappointment was I understood this was a flatter course and I would call it quite hilly, not big hills, but lots and lots of little rollers that grab your attention all the way through it. Despite that, I would do this over and over, thought it was just a real gem. Plus I was far from the slowet person there, which never happens!
For this one, I was thinking I would do the songs at each mile that kept me moving forward.
1. Vampire Weekend: A-Punk. Love this song, it makes me laugh and reminds me of the movie Stepbrothers. Great to get you going, very upbeat. Spent this first mile picking my pace bunnies. There were a handful of power walkers behind me and I was determined they stay there. I played leapfrog with a lady (I'd pass her, she's pass me, etc) in this first mile and up the first bigger hill. There were a couple of other folks I picked to pass later on. Picking people to pass helps keep me focused on forward motion and not on the mechanics of the run.
2. Beatles: Octopus's Garden. Passed two twenty-something girls who were chatting and jogging/walking early on. They looked very chirpy and I named them "the cheerleaders." Passed them and never saw them again.... it was just too early to for that level of perky.
3. Alexa Rae Joel: Notice Me. Great song. Continued to play leapfrog with the lady from the start. Together we passed Cubs Cap guy and his momma (It never pays to run in basketball shorts), and then shortly after I passed the old dude in the green shirt. It was pumping me up to continue to pick people off. I call this sniper running - picking people off one at a time. What can I say? It helps me pass the time...
4. Anthrax:efilnikufesin-n-f-l. This mile was dedicated to passing the leapfrog lady. At one point as we were running past an aid station, she held out her hand, shook mine, and said "Nice to meet you, I'm Mary Ann, and I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of each other today." We talked a bit during a walk break (she was from Illinois, gave me advice from the running clinic she went to (um, yeah) and told me I needed one of those Ironman watches that you can program for intervals (uh, I was wearing one....), and told me her son was training for an Ironman. I let her run ahead again as I walked up the hill, then I got ahead of her on the downhill and that was the last I saw of Maryann. By the way, you really shouldn't sing along to this song when there are others around. Not everyone appreciate the lyrics....(NFL- nice fucking life!)
5. The Dollyrots: Brand New Key. At this point in the run, I was wondering just exactly was meant by what I had heard about the course being pretty flat. It was pretty frigging hilly for me so far right from the beginning. I passed the pink top girl in this mile. Then she passed me, then she stopped in the portapot and and I got ahead again. She passed me again in a bit and walked a 100 or so yards ahead of me a while as we walked up a hill. I spied a small person in green basketball shorts ahead of her. I intended to pass them both soon, but first I had to walk up the hill.
6. Gwyneth Paltrow: Country Strong. This mile started in the country and headed back to town. I passed the pink top girl for the final time and then came up on green BB shorts guy, who actually a boy about 13 years old. I gave him a thumbs up, said "halfway there!" and executed the pass.
7. Hot Chella Rae: Tonight, Tonight. Love this song, always pumps me up. Sang it for a while and didn't care who was listening. Sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do to keep the motivation to keep moving.
8. House of Pain: Jump Around."I'll serve your ass like John McEnroe/.../if you come to battle bring a shotgun..." Somewhere in this mile while this song was on, I passed 2 more random people.
9. Billy Joel: You're my Home. I heard this song come on as I was passing over the river through downtown Fort. It made me think what a perfect song it would be for a first dance at a wedding and I started sobbing a little too myself. This little lapse of sappiness made me realize I was probably skating on the edge of bonking a bit so I ate some powerbar gel chewies from the pouch I was carrying and - VOILA! - no more sappy crying as I slogged along :)
10. The Police: Canary in a Coal Mine. Passed another pink girl. The streets here were very hilly and domed so bad I had to run down the middle of the street to keep from feeling like I was leaning sideways. I thought, seriously? More hills? This is nuts!!
11. Alien Ant Farm: Smooth Criminal. We were headed through downtown and the farmers market. I Picked a lady to pass up ahead who was soon being paced for a few blocks with hubby and kids. I waited, since it felt mean to pass a woman with her fan club watching, so I hung back and kept it easy Pretty soon, she pulled off to the side and was doing some stretching for her back and I executed the pass without contributing to her losing face. Cool.
I need a nap after all that!
12. Cake: The Distance. Passed a girl I called Thirteen. She looked like a shorter chubbier version of Dr House's Thirteen from the show, and she was the 13th person I passed. Somewhere in here, there was a lady on a bike in a medical shirt who was shouting at me "Go Jenny!" "This is a short day for you!" Looking good Jenny!" Obviously she knew me. I did not have my glasses on and she was going by me so fast, I couldn't focus her face before she was too far away to make out he face clearly. I was tired and didn't have the presence of mind to say I need my glasses -who are you? I felt like an idiot, because I couldn't place the voice even though I recognized it. (Later found out it was Julie (Plautz) Neppl, who I went to grade school through HS with.....duh.) Sorry Julie, I wasn't myself and was blind as a bat :)
13. Pitbull: I know you want me.In this last mile I played leapfrog with weepy pink shirt girl. It took me a while to figure out she was running with a constant medical escort. I quit passing her because it felt wrong, this seemed like an important moment for her and I don't know what leads to a personal escort, but I wasn't going to purposely rain on her day.
.1 Lady Antebellum: I Was Here. In these final couple blocks, I ended up passing her because she slowed way down and I just couldn't slow anymore, I needed to be done. Mike was nice enough to capture my finish on his phone. Thanks? I had no idea there was so much jiggly stuff going on . Wow.
So I am very excited to only be posting 12 **TWELVE** things for you about this race.
1. We have nicknamed this race the Gun Show. Seriously, everyone who shows up is ridiculously fast. For something that is so short, I am always way far last. Kinda bites at your enthusiasm for it sometimes.
2. Because of this, I spend my time on the run announcing to the corner marshalls that I'm last. Hopefully they appreciate knowing they can pack it up and go home. Its the least I can do for making them wait for me.
3. This night the water was much warmer than the last one (Tough to get colder, the last one was 54 degrees...). Wore a sleeveless wetsuit for this one.
4. There were a ton of people there this time. And they were still all smoking fast.
5. The swim went well. Felt fast and was able to pass up a couple pace bunnies by the end.
6. I took off with Alison at the beginning. We could walk out quite a ways. Before actually started swimming I was able to walk a few steps ahead of her and declare "I'm winning Alison, better hurry up!" She wasn't amused. :)
7. Took off from transition knowing I was doing really well for time. It isn't often I am out of the water before a bunch of people. Alison encouraged me to swim on the inside of the stream of people, which worked well. I swam out too wide somehow on the middle leg or I think I would have been faster yet.
From last year
8. I only slowed to walk twice I think. That was OK. It's harder to walk on the out and back courses because all the fasties are running at you the other direction, which is motivation to keep moving.
9. At the halfway point, I did some quick math and realized if I hustled back I could break an hour. That was my carrot. It hurt.
10. I didn't do it. Close though, just missed it and it was a PR time. Gives me a goal for next time :) Although I am last at every race, I am currently in second place in my division. I am hoping for a bobblehead trophy again this year, so hopefully not too many more chubby chicks join in the series. Sometimes it pays to be fat and stubborn.
11. They announced that the last place man and woman in the series will win a pitcher of beer and a bucket of wings each month for a year at Quaker Steak and Lube. Pretty sure if the past 2 years are any indication, I should nail it. At last, a goal!
12. Best thing about Aquathon night is Chipotle afterwards. Had a great supper with the Viemeisters, Zach, Steve, and Jamie. Yummo.
(To review, I am using the format of using the same number of key points as my run minutes per mile. I'm hoping you see less and less of me here that way)
1. This was our first true triathlon of the year. As usual, there were some jitters as we got ready to take off for the swim. God lord, that swim looked long! The water was a balmy 62 degrees. I chose to bring a sleeveless wetsuit.....too cold for that. Swam the first leg of the triangle swim with my head out of the water - rescue stroke style- until I could contain the face-in-the-water panicky feeling from cold water swimming.
2. They started women over 40 in the swim wave that went off just before the men over 60 and the relays teams. I would not have chosen to send the slow fat old ladies off at the end, but they didn't ask my opinion.
3. Did I fail to mention that we did this race before? 2 years ago. The race was nice as far as organization etc, but the difficulty of the course was a total suckfest. I swore I would never.ever.ever. do it again. And yet, somehow we were toeing the same line again.
4. I was thinking about it as I ran up the beach to transition and to my bike. "This bike is going to suuucckkk."
5. Once I took off on my bike, I quickly found my groove. I was out of the park quickly and headed out to the loop. There was no shortage of folks on mountain bikes to pass as I headed out. There are couple good downhills on the way out, but you have to turn right at the bottom of them and head up a monster around the corner. I hate it when there is no chance to enjoy a good downhill.
6. Then came the loop around Enchanted Valley Drive. It sounds very fairy tale-ish. The first part of it is- long winding downhill, coasting forever. Heavenly (but you know when you are headed downhill, the climb back up is never as satisfying). Then comes the climb back out of the valley. Into a headwind. uphill. The biggest hill comes up just before the turn to go back to "the stick" back to Gov. Nelson Park. Mile 15.....ouchie.
7. Headwind followed me back to the park. The bright spot in this is I got to pass a couple of my pace bunnies, including a freakishly fast dude on a commuter bike.
8. Once back to the state park, I was dreading the run. I got to a fork in the road by the ranger station that wasn't marked and I took the left one. I should have taken the right one, but it wasn't marked and since my wave started so late, there was already people leaving and there were pedestrians all over both paths. It ended up OK because it eventually dumped me out where I was supposed to be.
9. The run is a 10K trail run, first through a hilly open prairie, then through a hilly dirt path in the woods. I don't enjoy either type of trail and I especially am not a fan of hills. I sucked it up and ran as much as I could, shooting for a 80/20 ratio with varying success.
10. The last time we did this, it was really hot and the open prairie was insufferable. This time, it was cool, overcast, and had a strong breeze which made for a much better experience, even if I didn't like it much.
11. Shoe choice was poor. I wore my Gel Noosa tri shoes which let in a lot of trail debris. I have a pair of trail shoes, not sure why I didn't remember that I had them and wore them.
12. I was not last (there were I think 5 people finishing longer than me). I beat my PR on the course by 9 minutes, mostly on the run. I've decided I will probably let this course PR stand. If I ever start talking about this race again, please stifle my crazy-talk and remind me that I said I was never doing this race again because the bike is way hard and it's a trail run.
13. I do have to give props to Endurance House for putting on a first rate event. Even though I don't care for the course itself, they still put on a heck of an event. The registration was easy, the packet pick-up was easy, the schwag was great (tech tee, backpack, etc), the volunteers were awesome (thanks Wade and Tracy!!), there were plenty of course markers and corner pointers. The after party was great too - plenty of food, a beer truck, and best of all, they had print outs of your results when you finished so you didn't have to wait for the results to upload when you get home.