Written on August 9, 2013 by Karen
5 Vineman 70.3 Races in a Row!
On July 14th, 2013 I completed my 5th Vineman ½ Ironman race in a row. My first race was in 2009 and I registered due to coaxing from my brother Matt and it was one of the best things I have ever done!!! In November of 2008 my training for Vineman began and registering for this annual race for the last 5 years has keep me motivated to train and stay in shape. Every year I am ambitious to train hard, but somehow injuries can get in the way. This year was no different. I had an injury last October that lingered far beyond my wishes and I really did not get to start running and biking until April. Luckily I was able to swim 2 days/week for months which really helped me. The last month before the race I got in some great training days, many were on the Vineman course and I was as prepared as I was going to be, once again.
Vineman weekend is always a lot of fun as teammates, racers and volunteers, gather at my parent’s cabin. This year was no different. It is fun to get ready and excited with everyone. Sunday morning I was able to sleep in and I found myself alone at the cabin. I ate a big bowl of Oatmeal (thanks Jamie) and drank some water. I had one of the last start times, so everyone was at the swim start at Johnson’s beach, or already racing the course! My dad drove me down to the start and I prepared for my race. There was a slot available on a bike rack towards the end and I put my bike in place and set up my transition. It was great there were NO lines for the portapotties, since everyone was already out on the course! I ate a ½ of Powerbar and stretched. It was overcast and I knew it would be cool after the swim on the bike. I decided to leave my race jersey (which was loose) in transition and put my sleeveless wetsuit (thanks Dustyn) over my trishorts and sports bra. I also bought new compression sleeves the day before and I was wearing them under my wetsuit. I know you are not supposed to do something new race day, but I had biked and ran in compression sleeves before. I proceeded to the River with all the other Orange Caps (Women 45-49). I positioned myself up front with a direct shot to the first buoy, so I could get out front and not get too swam over.
The gun went off and it was GAME ON! I swam out fast and got in a good position and did not run into too many people. The water felt great running over my arms and I felt strong as I swam past the Red buoys. Towards the turnaround I felt like they had added a few more buoys!!! When I finally rounded the last buoy, I was surprised that there was not a second buoy to round and the course just went diagonally as we started swimming down river. The “current” that I experienced all my practice swims, was not there. Instead the river felt choppy going down stream. So my second ½ of the swim seemed to take more effort but I still felt strong. (38:53 min)
T1 – wetsuit off, bike shoes, helmet, glasses on and bag up everything in a bag
( 5:33 min)
I ran my bike up the hill and clipped in and was off on the bike. I took in a Gu, biked 4 miles and hit Odd Fellows Road and was cheered on by my parents and my friend Wendy – great adrenaline rush! My bike went well – I felt strong throughout. I had biked the course several times in the weeks prior to the race, so I really “knew” the course and it seemed to go by quicker. I also trained on my (heavy) bike and was racing on Ryan’s (light) bike – what a difference! My favorite part of the ride was going past the 2nd bike aide station – run by DELTA TRI CLUB! It is great to see everyone in the club out cheering you on and dressed in appropriate or maybe non-appropriate Hawaiian wear! 10 miles before I anticipate seeing everyone and then the rush gets me through the next 10 miles to Chalk Hill! The 1.7 mile climb is just pedal over pedal to the top and the downhill always feels GREAT. I ate 2 Powerbar, some “dirt clods” and a Gu 5 miles before Chalk Hill and drank 2 water bottles and 1 gatorade on the bike. Overall I rode more “aero” than usual (thanks to Martin for the bike adjustments) and this allowed me to bike stronger yet feel less fatigued. I took a Gu before bike dismount.
(3: 32.40 min)
T2 – Bike shoes off, running shoes on, race belt on, drank some water and off I went
There was a long line for the portapotties in transition, so I got on the course and stopped at the 1st mile. I got some water and poured a glass over my head and knew I only had 12 miles to go. Somehow mentally this really worked in my favor. I started running really strong – I was not sure of my pace, but my legs were almost churning over involuntarily!!! The miles were clicking by and soon I was done with the first 3 ¾ miles – the hardest part of the course to me. I was in the automatic mode and was passing many people that were running and walking. Once I hit the winery, I loved running on the dirt trail and I knew I was ½ way there. Then it became a matter of “counting down”! My pace was not quite so fast, but I still felt strong. I took a Gu at mile 3, 6, 9 and 11 and alternated water and Gatorade at the aide stations and pour 1-2 glassed of cold water over my head at every aide station/every mile. Of course the longest mile is the “last mile” and I could not wait to be done! I finished strong and had such a great sense of accomplishment upon crossing the finish line. I got a really cool medal and got to go find my family and teammates in the athlete area. I felt amazingly great after the race (guess I did not race hard enough! lol) and immediately started my recovery by rolling my Nikken magnets on my legs and getting my Nikken water that I had in a cooler in transition.
(1:59.32 – 8:20 pace for the first ½ and 9:10 pace for the 2nd 1/2)
WHAT A GREAT DAY!!!
Overall 6:21.42 — missed my best of 6:17 last year but felt great throughout and did not have the same training as last year(when I trained for Boston) so I am extremely pleased ☺
I was 41 out of 112 in my age group and 1385 out of 2579 overall
(27th on the swim, 76th on the bike and 17th on the run) – guess what’s my strong sport!!!
Next year I plan on taking a year off from racing Vineman so that I can watch my son Ryan race – he will be 16 and finally able to race Vineman!!! I will get to experience it from the other side!!!
Boston Marathon Race Report – April 16th, 2012
Written on April 29, 2012 by Karen
Anything is Possible – even running a marathon in 90-degree weather! I was trained and ready to run the 116th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16th, but I was not ready for the heat! Despite the weather, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. From the moment we landed in Boston, you could feel the enthusiasm and energy of the whole town behind the marathon. Saturday was the big marathon expo where I got my race bib and official shirt and was able to buy any other race/running items available. We even viewed a video that showed the whole course in time lapsed photography. Then we went to “view” the finish line and I became even more excited! Sunday was all about rest and staying off of my feet as much as possible and then going out for a pasta dinner, of course, in the North End! Monday morning I walked across town to the Boston Common where they had 100s of buses lined up to take the 21,000+ (over 4,000 running had deferred until next year because of the heat!) runners out to the start. We waited in line for an hour to take the bus for another hour to the start. Finally we arrived at Hopkinton’s Athletes Village at about 9:40 – just 1 hour until race time and it was already HOT (85 degrees!). I planned to connect with someone from Stockton, Kerry, who was running her 11th Boston! Somehow we managed to find each other amongst the masses of people. It was now after 10:00 and time to walk a mile to the start. It was wall-to-wall people and it took over 30 minutes to walk there. Before we got to the start there was last minute portalets and a water station and I already was pouring water over my head.
Next thing I know, they are announcing that it is 2 minutes to the start. We, Kerry and I, ran up the sides of the crowds and into the masses of runners and then we went across the starting line to the yelling and screaming of all the fans – RACE ON! As I crossed the starting line, I hit my Garmin to start my time and I could not get it to work – I took this as a clear sign that my time or pace was not going to be the focus of my race! The first ½ mile is a good downhill and all you can see is 1,000s of runners ahead of you. I just followed the veteran runner Kerry and we dodged in and out of runners and kept to the right of the road. We both had our names written on our shirts and people were cheering us on BY NAME! It was so cool – I wish the temperature was too. By the 5th mile I was already feeling the heat. Between the actual temperature, the heat off the roads and the 1000s of people, it was really starting to heat up. By the 9.7-mile mark I was feeling a little dizzy and needed to stop and walk already. There were people already “going down” on the sides of the roads. I wanted to at least run to the 13th mile mark, but I knew if I pushed it, I might be like some of the others. So, I just walked a little and then started running again. Unfortunately after 11 miles I needed to walk a bit again. Kerry needed to go on, she had a flight right after the race. I began to run again and told myself that I could get to the 13th mile mark and then I would walk thru the aid station and drink a whole glass of water and Gatorade. At 13 miles – I knew I was half way done, it was only getting hotter and I was going through any hose, sprinkler, and fire hydrant possible as well as pouring water over my head at every aid station. The ice that fans were giving out was like Gold – I would grab some and put it under my hat or down my shirt to stay cool. I was already sick of Gatorade, but knew I had to force it down, or it could be dangerous. So I hooked up with 2 women, Kristie and Leslie, and we made a pact to get each other through the next 13 miles and cross the finish line!!!
It became a matter of walking and running the next 7 miles and making sure we were well hydrated. I knew my family was waiting at the 16.8-mile mark, so that became my next goal. They were supposed to be on the left side of the road and I anxiously searched for them amongst the screaming fans holding their hands out for “high 5’s”. Finally I spotted my daughter Katelyn with her Boston visor on and screamed “KK”!!! She ran as fast as she could towards my husband, son and dad. I stopped and gave them all sweaty hugs. My mom was on the opposite side of the street, so I dodged runners and crossed the street to give her a hug too. My family gave me an adrenaline rush to get me through the next miles known as the “hills”. I connected back with Kristie and Leslie and we continued to walk/run. Leslie needed to stop, so Kristie and I went on and approached “Heartbreak Hill” – this is the famous hill at the 19/20 mile. Despite the heat and my tight calves, I knew I had to at least run up part of Heartbreak – I had trained hard in the hills for this one! So we made it about ¾ way up and then decided to walk until the top of the hill and run after. Hitting the top of Heartbreak gave my a huge shot of energy – I knew I only had a 10K (6.2 miles) left and it was all “downhill” to Boston. The downtown was in site and the crowds were insanely loud. So I began running my descent into Boston and ended up running until the finish line. The crowds were more animated and I was taking it all in – they were YELLING my name and I was high 5ing them back. My favorite mile was the 22nd – I knew my family would be there to see me again and they were supposed to be on the left side again. I kept looking as I smiled and high 5ed and did not see them anywhere. Then I heard a loud “Karen” and looked across the street and there they were – all lined up against the fence. I somehow dashed across the street and even had to go back a bit to see them. I gave all 5 of them (my family and my parents) hugs and kisses and now I really was pumped – only 4.2 miles to go and I knew I could do 4.2 miles! Everything continued – water over the head any chance I got, Gatorade every mile and my legs just kept going until the 24th mile mark. All of a sudden I got an excruciating pain in my right foot – like someone stabbed my foot with an ice pick. I screamed and said “NO” aloud – I was not going to let this stop me. I kept talking myself through it until it stopped. I figured that it might have been a blister under my callus that all of a sudden popped. I was just so happy to be still running. The next landmark was the CITGO sign, which is at the 25-mile mark, right night to Fenway Park. This was a sight for sore eyes – I knew I was real close. After this point I was running thorough the “Back Bay” which was lined with screaming fans and then took the 2 final of the only 5 turns of the course onto Boylston St – I could SEE the finish line. I was high 5ing and taking it all in as I finished and went under the blue bridge of the Finish Line. As a volunteer put the well-earned medal around my neck I was quite emotional and gave her a huge hug back! I had and still have quite a sense of accomplishment and I was blessed with a safe finish and an amazing experience of 4 hours and 40 minutes!!! I never could have done it with out the support of everyone at home and those on the course – thank you everyone. Now of course I want to requalify and really RUN Boston, but I am going to let myself take a break and aim for 2014 – anyone want to join me ???