Monday, July 9, 2012

Volksläufe 5K Race Report

On July 4th, I ran the Volksläufe 5K in Frankenmuth, MI.  Frankenmuth is called "Michigan's Little Bavaria".  It's a "fake" German Town in the Thumb area of Michigan.  I put "fake" in quotes, because although the buildings are a bit hokey, the area was settled by people of Germanic descent.  Most of the local residents are named Beirlien or Zehnder or Rummel.  We end up visiting Frankenmuth regularly because my husband's mother lives a few towns over.  My husband's mother lives near here:

Race Strategy Part 1:  Fast people stay home.
There are three races at the Volksläufe: a 5K, 10K, and a 20K.  While initially, I thought I would probably run the 20K, a quick perusal of past results and the finishers prizes prompted me to enter the 5K.  Apparently, the fast runners entered the longer races, leaving a relatively weak field in the 5K.  I'm a "medium" paced runner, but that  just might be fast enough to get on the podium.  The prize was a sweet beer stein! 

Race Strategy Part 2:  Complete a few track workouts.
I'd have to run fast, which I hate, and I almost never do.  In fact, until a few weeks before the Volksläufe, I'd DNF'ed all of my track workouts.  Mind you, I hit my times with no problem.  Mentally, I couldn't handle it.  I managed to complete 2 track workouts leading up to the race:  an 8X200 and a 6X400.  Believe me, this was a major accomplishment, and I wanted a medal.

Race Strategy Part 3: Tell everyone I know about the Beer Stein.
I told everyone, everyone, that I wanted that stein.  This was to make sure that on race day, I remembered that I needed to run fast,  or I would have to admit defeat.

Race Strategy Part 4:  Keeping Cool.
It was going to be 90 degrees during the race.  So I dressed like this:

I never run in a jog bra with no shirt, but what the heck!  I was out of town, why NOT make a fool of myself?  The, um, soft focus is doing me some favors here.  I looked at the professional race photos from the event, and ugh!  I didn't even know I had stretch marks till I saw the photos.  Yikes.  So not buying those.  I blame the cute one in the orange shirt.

I also made a bunch of ice, and while lining up for the race, I stuffed the back of my skirt, my bra, and my hat with ice cubes.

Race Strategy Part 5:  RUN!
There were about a thousand people in the race, including my husband and my daughter.  After loading myself up with ice and depositing the wee one near the 10 minute milers, my husband and I moved to the front of the pack.  I was wearing my Invisible Shoes because I thought they would protect me from the hot pavement, and perhaps I would run faster in them.  Here's a pic of my feet from a couple of years ago in my huaraches:

I started off at a 7:40 pace, and my husband rocketed in front of me during the first 100 yards.  The first mile wound through the parking areas and fields behind the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn, and then over the covered bridge.  At the one mile mark, there was a volunteer squirting people with a fire hose, and the course was wet.  My feet slipped, slipped, slipped, and then slid right out of the huaraches, which, admittedly, I probably hadn't spent enough effort on tying.  I threw the huaraches onto the side of the road, and continued on barefoot.  I was not too thrilled about this decision, since it was 90 and the last 300 yards of the race were on a rocky, gravel path.

The second mile wound through a residential neighborhood, where many kind Frankenmuthians had their garden hoses out and were spraying runners.  Thanks, folks!

At just before the 2 mile mark, I passed my daughter, who had run only just over a mile.  I cheered her on, but the poor thing was beet red, sweaty, and struggling.  I managed to keep below an 8 minute mile, but barely.

Mile 3 was hard.  Hard.   It was hot.  My legs wouldn't turn over.  Oh, ugh.  I couldn't get my pace below an 8 minute mile anymore, but I just kept reminding myself that a few seconds could make the difference between a beer stein, and not-a-beer-stein.  The gravel road wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, and I heard a few cheers of "Yay, BAREFOOT!"

I crossed the finish line at 25:20, and ran into my husband in the finisher's chute.  We then started backtracking to look for our daughter.  She didn't come through until nearly 1 hour, and she was healthy but moving slowly.  The heat had gotten to her.  Way to tough it out, Audrey!  She perked back up after we got her a popsicle and a cold towel, and fortunately, still wants to run another race. Alas, she was not DFL.

Then we headed to the pavilion to check the results.  My husband took fifth in his age group, and as for me....  Third!  I was getting the stein!  Yay!  Fourth place was only three seconds behind me.  It's a good thing I didn't give up.

The stein also came with a free beer.  My stein was a mini stein, and it only holds six ounces.  So, they gave me my free beer (which was awesome) in a plastic cup.  But I filled my stein with it a couple of times and drank the whole thing out of it.  I had the IPA from the Frankenmuth Brewery.  Bottoms up!  Delicious!

It turns out a half-sized stein is useful when it's in the upper 90s in Michigan.  You know, nobody has air conditioning there.  For the rest of the weekend, I poured half my beer in the stein and kept the other half in the fridge.
Mmmm......  Bell's Two Hearted Ale.  Best beer on the planet.
Before finishing up, I'd like to give some props to the race director.  The Volksläufe is an incredibly well run race, among the best organized I've ever participated in.  If you find yourself near Frankenmuth on the fourth of July, don't miss it!  (Unless, you are female, in your late 30s, and fast - then stay home!)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Running Adventures in San Francisco

This is a bit late, but you'll have to excuse me!  I've been held up by a death in the family (and an extra trip) that came between my trip to San Francisco and an already scheduled vacation.  Again, better late then never, right?

In mid-June, I headed to San Francisco for the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.  I stayed with my old friend Nick.  Here's a pic of sunset from Nick's roof:

A lot of people don't run when they travel for work.  But I do because it's a great way to see a new city.  I got to town on Saturday, and discovered Sunday morning that nobody goes running at 5:15 AM in San Francisco.  San Francisco ain't Boston.  I got made fun of by a lot of transients for not having any shoes on.  It wasn't too much fun, so I decided that I'd run after the meeting instead.

On Monday, I got back from the meeting at 5:30 PM, and had planned on having dinner with Nick.  But Nick didn't stop work until 8, which left me plenty of time to go for a run!  I ran out of his apartment and quickly found Buena Vista Park.  This place is beautiful, and it smelled nothing like New England.  I can't describe it - totally different plants.  I liked it so much I ran up it twice.  Here's some pics of Buena Vista Park:

I then headed to Golden Gate Park.  Here are some pics of Golden Gate Park:

When I was leaving Golden Gate Park, I was starting to bonk.   I tried to go shopping at Whole Foods on Haight, but that not the best idea since it was still several miles from Nick's apartment.  I kept trying to bargain with myself regarding what I could possibly run a few miles back with.  Then I saw the line...  and realized I'd never make it back to Nick's by 8PM if I waited.  I put my groceries back on the shelf.   No problem, though.... all the samples of olive oil, pizza, cookies, and gelato had pulled me out of my bonk.

I got lost on the way back to Nick's, and asked a lady walking a dog for directions to a corner near his house.  She looked at me funny and said, "You do know that it's a few miles away, and over that hill, right?"  She was pointing to Buena Vista Park!  Yay!  I got to run through Buena Vista Park again! I made it back to Nick's in time to go to dinner.  Good times.

But that's not even my best run!

My best run took place on Wednesday.  With the help of some people on the Runner's World Trail Running Forum, I had a plan for a long run in the Marin Headlands.  But first, I needed to do a little preparation.  I didn't have a fancy ultrarunner vest / pack thingy, and I've been scraping by using my car as an aid station.  I had ordered a couple, but I'm very short waisted, and the ones I've ordered have been too large.  So I jury rigged a bag onto my current hydration pack (Camelbak Charm).  Here's a pic - it worked great!

I started out at the Golden Gate Bridge and ran across:

Then I took the Coastal Trail towards Tennessee Valley:

I took this to the SCA and Alta trails, where I got some spectacular views of Sausalito.  I didn't know what Sausalito was before, but it looks pretty fancy.  And there's some cool forest in here, too.

Then I took the Bobcat Trail to the Marincello Trail, and ended up at the Tennessee Valley stables. 

Here's me in the Tennessee Valley.  You can tell I'm not from around here because I'm wearing the Target C9 instead of InkNBurn.

Next, I followed the Coastal Trail up to Hill 88.

This climb was so hard that that I had to stop and take pictures of berries.

But I made it to the top!

That's Rodeo Beach from Hill 88:
So I decided to go down there.  

Some cool sights on the way:

 I stuck my feet in the ocean when  I got to the beach.  The water was cold!

I stayed overly long admiring the surfers.

From here, I ran around the lagoon and attempted to pick up the Coastal Trail again.  I ended up doing some bonus miles, as it wasn't easy to follow the trail.  It kept going up and up FOREVER!  Is that my trail?  

(Yup.  It was.)

I was starting to get worried about making my flight, and I had also noticed that my cell phone was missing.  Oops!  But finally, I saw the Golden Gate Bridge:

And I ran across.  I think the grand total ended up somewhere around 19 miles. 
Epilogue - took public transit back to Nick's, made my flight, and replaced my dumb phone with an iPhone.  Thanks everyone that helped me make that trip a reality!