I must admit, this was one of the scariest Octobers I have experienced in a long time. If you recall from the last post (link here) , every day this month was packed with task after task trying to get everything done for the big party. If you recall from that post (or looked at the comments) you might remember that there was a quick mention of an “event” I was training for. That was a tad understated since the event was actually a half marathon… and it was scheduled for the DAY BEFORE THE PARTY. Actually, check that… it was literally the NIGHT BEFORE THE PARTY. I am not exactly sure what came over me when I decided to enter this race, but I had a Life List entry for this year to make it through 2 halfs sometime during the year. As you know, I made it through the first one back in September (link here). That didn’t leave a whole lot of time to get the second one in before the end of the year. Originally the thought was to hit the Vegas Rock and Roll 1/2 in December, but then I stumbled on the Screaming Pumpkin Race. First of all, it was at night which is my favorite time to race. Second it was a course I was familiar with and the cherry .. it was Halloween themed. You can’t go wrong with that can you? ummm, actually you can if you forget about all the other things that had to get done around that time.
The main issue was getting time to keep the maintenance runs up. I was already trained up for the half in September so it was really a matter of keeping the legs fresh and the endurance up. My runs were cut down to three a week – if I could even get that many in – and the miles were backed down into the 7 to 9 range which made it sliiiightly easier to get in between tasks. Unfortunately, sometime at the beginning of the month something bad happened … to the point I would have argued with any doctor that tried to convince me I didn’t give myself a hernia. That was the last thing I needed. I did make the training runs, but found myself going slower and slower at the splits. CRAP! The interesting thing is there was no visible sign so there was some optimism that it was just a nasty muscle pull. As race day approached, I became so busy that I actually forgot about it and somehow it ended up feeling pretty good – nothing like mind over matter – if someone could bottle that the medical industry would be devastated.
Hit the jump to read all about the event!
Enough rambling.. time to provide some details of the race. The morning of the race (Friday) was spent installing bathroom doors. About 2:00 I decided to head out and pick up a head lamp. Knowing how loose the footing was on the course made me a little uneasy running in the dark. That proved to be a wise move – if no so much to see the path, but to give an indicator to oncoming runners on the course. At 5:00 we headed to the cemetery…. because Linda had signed up for the 2 mile walk which was targeted to start at 6. I’ll spill out the details of the event as I go, but first off, costumes were highly encouraged. I didn’t have adequate time to come up with a costume, but Linda slipped on her cat ears and had the guts to give me control of the face paint. Note, I was threatened with instant death if I were to do something evil like deviate from the whiskers. Here she is in her pre-race shot.. Meow
Linda was actually accompanied by a friend – Rocket (yeah, the guy who saved my butt on the basement wiring). I included this shot because it looks like they are:
- A – getting a safety lecture about not overdoing it – you never want to go down on a walk course
- or B – being shown the proper technique to look the part of a cat
- o C – are being instructed that the elite runners near the curb will be timing their walk and keeping a very close eye so they didn’t cheat
In actuality, this event was run pretty loose and I think he was just telling them to go whenever they wanted.
I laughed when I saw this shot – that guy seems quite pleased with himself that he passed those elite … walkers.
Here they are on their finish from the 2 mile course. They actually seem to have more energy than when they started – what’s up with that? Rocket looks a little warmer though.
Ah, the post race cool-down. Guessing this didn’t take long since it was starting to get very cold out about then. The high that day was suppose to be 52 with a steady drop to 28 by end of the night. Congrats to Linda and Rocket for making it through!
Now it was time for us to get ready to take on the course. That isn’t a mistake, it was “us” or more accurately the team. There were actually a lot of different race options at this event. There was a 10K race, a Marathon Relay and an individual Marathon available. I picked the Marathon Relay which consist of up to 4 people. This allowed me to get my half covered and just needed to find some crazy people to fill out my team. Rhonda (Rocket’s wife) agreed to take the first leg and Ryan H. was willing to take up the remaining leg. Our team name was Zombies after Rhonda .. get it? Another interesting aspect of this race is you were not allowed to have a timing device on the course – the goal was to finish as close to midnight without going over. Those under midnight earned tiaras/crowns and wands – those over midnight were given pumpkins. So each of us had to predict our lap times and then back the appropriate amount of time from midnight to start. Pretty cool eh? (yes, as my brother quickly pointed out, this is ripe for cheating, but we’ll leave that topic for later). We gave ourselves a 4 minute buffer off our conservative estimates on the splits. It is not easy to estimate what running in the dark will do to your pace .. add in the cold, the hills and one other element and it becomes very difficult. When it came time for us to start we had to let the official timers know to start our timer chip.
As captain I felt obligated to provide some pre-run instructions to make sure my teammates were in the proper mindset for the competition – Rule #1 – Have FUN Rule #2 – Have FUN Rule #3 – Don’t talk about Fight Club. I kept telling everyone that week this was a stress free race and enjoy.
As mentioned Rhonda took the first leg for Team Zombies After Rhonda. I should point out she took the extra effort to have a special shirt made for the occasion “Zombies Don’t Like Fast Food”. Hilarious. Needless to say I felt bad I didn’t have time to get dressed up (told everyone I went as a runner this year), but I’m keeping the team name (and members) next year so I can redeem myself with a cool costume). There was actually some confusion at the starting line which resulted in Rhonda being told to go 1.5 minutes ahead of schedule at 7:58:30 – that’s right, about 2 hours after Linda and Rocket started their walk.
Right on schedule (actually slightly ahead of schedule – just over 64 minutes) Rhonda came in to complete her lap. An outstanding run especially considering she has been fighting a pretty serious leg injury herself! Well done!!
Next up was Ryan who was all decked out in his pirate outfit. Definitely the best runner on the team – to put it in perspective he decided to run a Marathon some weeks back pretty much on a whim. He also ran the IVS Half Marathon with me back in September and pretty much smoked me – probably led to my good time in a fruitless attempt to try and catch up with him.
Ryan went with the headlamp option (Rhonda actually chose the flashlight option – it will be interesting to see if she sticks with that or goes with a headlamp next year). Like Rhonda, Ryan came in within his prediction window, putting up an impressive 54:58 time.
Okay, it was around 10:00 and time for me get off my butt and take on the final two legs of the relay. Having been sitting in the cold since 5:30pm I needed to get the muscled primed. By now the temperature was dipping into the mid 40s and I was glad I went with the warmer of my run outfits (this one is actually my sub 30 outfit) – unlike Ryan I prefer to be warmer than colder on a run – probably from all that heat training for the Steamboat and Bix7. Linda says I looked intense… in truth that was pretty much a look of worry – I wasn’t sure how much energy was left in the body with the week of basement work, limited sleep and the door installation work that morning. One thing going for me is the opportunity to check off a Life List entry and I take those pretty serious – check mark or collapse, that was the options I was giving myself.
Off into the dark I went with my trusty headlamp and ironic halo (a last minute costume hehehe). I must say, the course surprised me. It was lit up with close to 4,000 glow sticks, but in reality that really just provided an indicator of where to go – without the headlamp there would have been an even higher risk of losing my footing in the loose gravel. The light helped, but like snowboarding in the evening, the light tends to flatten the field of view which hid a lot of the small bumps and valleys. The other strange thing is I actually became disoriented in the course a number of times. I am very familiar with the course from the IVS Half Marathon, but the lack of reference points (in this case headstones and markers) caused me to get confused on where I was in the course – this was a benefit when I finally realized I was further than expected, but a little demoralizing when it turned out to be farther back. I will reiterate that this course is very hilly and clearly one of the hardest courses in the area (maybe even in the state). So when I came out of the woods to close out the first loop I was pretty happy – and the team cheering me on was a huge lift for about 200 feet.
Why only 200 feet? well, that is because my team got their signals crossed. Before the race I gave the team very simple instructions on what to do at the half. If they “felt” like I was ahead of schedule then Linda was suppose to flash me as a reward for a great lap and an indication that I could take it a little easier on the second lap. If they “felt” that I was going slower than expected then Rocket was suppose to moon me as punishment for not meeting my goal and an indication that I might want get my ass in gear. I rounded the corner to start the second lap and went on alert for “the sign”. There Linda was, I was feeling pretty good about the split and eagerly awaiting my rewa…. what? Rocket was mooning me!!! WHAT THE HELL! I was flabbergasted and all the energy did an exit stage right. I gave an exaggerated slump to let them know that I wasn’t sure I had enough in me to go faster. Gasp, it was gut check time. So off I went under the assumption that I was letting the team down. Up the hills, down the hills, up the hill and down the hills I pushed myself. At mile 10 I took my customary energy Stingers and noted to myself it was getting very cold out – I could feel the wind picking up and the cold breaking through the layers. Not to mention my eyeballs were starting to freeze – thanks to not being able to find any clear running glasses while shopping for the headlight earlier in the day. At that point there were only two more hills to fight my way through and feeling somewhat confident this race was in the bag. The odd thing is I was actually passing a few people on the second lap causing some mental gyrations on what my pace was like. It is kind of spooky out on the course since the runners are spread out pretty far and for most of the time you are running by yourself. The runners without lights ended up looking like aberrations among the tombstones – eerie.
It was definitely an internal struggle, but alas I made it through. There was some confusion coming up out of the woods since I heard the announcer say there was 15 minutes to go in the race – that didn’t equate well to my internal clock and was a little uncertain as to what to do. It had been a long night so decided to finish at the current pace and take whatever came. Turns out the announcer was teasing another runner and I really crossed with only 7 minutes to spare. Take away our unneeded 4 minute buffer plus the 1.5 minute head start at the beginning and you have one hell of a race!
We actually took 6th place! – impressive for our first run ever. They ended up losing our times but were able to recover the first two legs and our finish time which is all that really matters – I can figure out my times from there. So in truth, Rocket gave the WRONG signal – I was ahead of schedule which warranted the reward, not the punishment. He claims I got the signals mixed up, but I’m pretty confident what the REWARD was in that situation and what the PUNISHMENT was. Oh well, I had a great time and sounded like Rhonda and Ryan also had fun – so much that we are all looking forward to a repeat performance. Next year we’ll probably cut out some of the buffer and spend some time going over the signals.
By the way, there were a lot of clever costumes at the event. Linda took a shot of this group and figured I’d throw it in – I came up on a few of these KISS fans walking on the course – based on where I passed them there was no way they were going to make it by midnight (for the record they ended up 46th, but the scoring doesn’t show what time they started so impossible to tell how far their 5 hour time took them past 12).
In closing I should probably confess that some of our buffer time was added to compensate for a little issue I have – no, not the injury, more mental. Since it was a Halloween event I expected there would be a few idiots out there. Yes, idiots that would have the gall to go as a $#%@$%@#$%@#$^@$%^ clown. Sure enough there was at least TWO clowns walking around the gathering area. After some serious discussions on the ramifications of this we decided that the extra time would address any ummmm deviations from the course… more specifically time for me to drag any of these clowns I come upon off the trail and beat the living shit out it. As an aid, visualize a dark setting, a secluded row of tombstones with colored hair, pieces of red nose and floppy shoes spewing into the air behind them followed by me calmly jogging back to the trail with a layer of white cream across the knuckles and a big smile on the face – 2 clowns, 2 minutes each.
So with that confession and the rare opportunity to see me wearing a …. crown hehehe, we’ll call it a wrap … a wrap to one scary month of work, a screaming good time and a relief that with all the struggles to get through I STILL hit my blog quota – now time for some badly need sleep and relaxation.