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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 2012 Marathon Maniac Reunion Comes to Utah!!

That's right folks! After two years of lobbying the Marathon Maniac grand poobahs have selected the Utah Valley Marathon as the location of the 2012 reunion!

Sign up now while the price is still low! You will not want to miss this one!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

#29- The Las Vegas Rock & Roll Marathon

On December 2nd, I flew to Las Vegas to participate in my last marathon of the year, the Las Vegas R&R Marathon. I was really looking forward to this race as it is the only time during the year that I get to hook up with my twin sister who lives in Atlanta. Angel is the endurance manager for the Georgia Chapter of Team Challenge, the fundraising team running for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation.

Teresa Baker and I got to Las Vegas and headed straight to the mall to pick up our Santa Suits for The Las Vegas Great Santa Run, which was held on Saturday morning. After picking up our packets and having some lunch, we cabbed it down the strip to our different hotels. With all intentions of hooking back up, we didn't see each other again until I got home!

I met up with my sister at the Mandalay Bay, unpacked my stuff and we headed down to the expo. We were so glad we went to the expo on Friday. My sister was in a meeting with the race staff and they told her that only 10,000 of the 44,000 attended the expo on Friday. That place was packed when we were there, I can't imagine adding another 34,000!

Elite Marathoner, Kara Goucher and I at the expo!

I so wish I would have had my showgirl outfit on for this photo!

Kara Goucher signed my race bib for extra mojo! I believe Kara!

After the expo, we got some dinner, got my flat Santa ready and then just relaxed. Not what most people do when coming to Las Vegas, but I was happy.

Saturday morning I hooked up with a few girls from my sisters Team Challenge team and headed down to the Santa run. When we got there all we could see was a sea of red. 8,123 Santas standing in the cold!
Ready to run! Ho! Ho! Ho!

 Lots of Santas!

I ran into Yolanda Holder on the course and she took this photo of me! 

We ended up beating the world record for the most Santas in one location! Yay! Sorry Liverpool!

After lunch a a little rest, we got ready to attend the Team Challenge pasta dinner. Before the dinner, my sister, coaches and her counterparts from across the USA got there early and formed a cheer-line (complete with pom-poms, whistles, horns, etc.) to welcome all of the Team Challenge participants. It was really inspiring!

My sister and I at the Team Challenge pasta dinner.

After the dinner, I went up to our room to relax while my sister went to see the the new Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show (I really wanted to go, but I would rather use that $100 towards a race entry).

With the race being held at night, it was hard to figure out how to eat on race day. I opted for a large breakfast and a small lunch as the Marathon began at 4:00pm. I had scheduled the Maniac/Fanatic photo at 12:00pm at the famous Las Vegas sign and didn't want to eat a lot of food too late. That was a good plan.

Maniacs/Fanatics at the sign!

Chris (#2), Tony (#3) and I (#1975)

Marathon Mitch and I
Endorphin Dude and I

After the fun at the Las Vegas sign I walked back to the Mandalay Bay for one more little rest before the start of the race.

I went all out for this race! I was all dolled up in my Maniac showgirl out fit complete with Sparkle Skirt, showgirl running hat, blinged out Maniac tank, false eyelashes (which I thought would drive me crazy after the first mile, but gave me no trouble and stayed on great) and bright red lipstick!

Me at the start!
I headed out to the start 10 minutes before the gun went off. It was really fun seeing other Maniacs, listening to Cheap Trick and just getting excited to start!

Don was freezing at the start!

Marathon Mitch and Kirby Mills

More cool Maniacs!

Waiting to go!

And then we were off!
This photo made it into the Las Vegas Sun Gallery!

The start of the race was crowded, but manageable. With only 6,000 marathoners, we had it much easier than the 38,000 half marathoners. We headed down Las Vegas Blvd., but before we got too far we took a left turn over the overpass and onto a really boring course for the first 13 miles. I was OK with that as I would much rather run the strip the second half anyway.

Everything was going to plan. I was running with the 4:15 pace group until about mile 12. When I saw I was safe of making the cutoff, I let up. I was feeling great, but didn't want to implode later. I thought I would still be close to a PR if everything went to plan.

Being fearful of the race running out of water and fuel, I brought my own, which would later be the smartest thing I have ever done. As I came around the corner at the half, I noticed that the first water stop looked like it was shut down! I never saw sports drink again until I went to my room after the race.

Shortly after getting on the Strip, I worried about the empty aid stations!

I was having a ball running the up the Strip at night with all the lights on. About a mile or so up the Strip, the gridlock came in the form of slower half marathoners and walkers. Apparently there was a lane dividing the half and the full marathon, but it was so poorly marked (with cones about a foot high), I didn't notice them until I almost tripped over one. 

I am no speed demon by any means, but walkers holding hands, walking 5 abreast and some even using walking sticks got to be a little annoying by about mile 16. There is nothing worse than finding your groove, than having to stop or take the long way around someone wearing headphones that can't hear you yelling "on your left"! Grrrrr! 

By about mile 19 1/2, I saw my sister cheering on the side of the road and I decided to not get stressed. The PR was out the window, so I might as well have fun. So I did.

By mile 23, it was cold and I was ready to be done! I sucked it up and finished in 4:55. Not my best, but under 5 hours. I will take it! I picked up my medal, and headed to where the post race food was. I was starving! When I got there I grabbed a bag of pretzels and the greenest banana I have ever seen!

Post race food at it's finest... NOT!!

I walked past the post race photos (I had no desire to wait in line for photos I wouldn't buy anyway) and headed into the Mandalay Bay. I couldn't wait to get a hot shower and some food! Did I get a rude awakening!

As I started down the hall, within a minute myself and those around me were trapped. There were so many people trying to get down the hall and nobody was moving. When we did move it was only a couple of steps at a time. I was trying to hold my foil blanket on without dropping my water and bag of pretzels. I knew if I dropped them I would never see them again. Then people started to drop. People were yelling for doctors, but any doctor in the crowd was already helping another runner in distress.  To see what happened in the Mandalay Bay, click the below link:

It took me over an hour to get up to my room. I took a hot shower and ate a granola bar for dinner. There  was a 3 hour wait for room service! No thanks!

When my sister came in around 2:00am, she said the Mandalay Bay looked like the Super Dome after hurricane Katrina! She said there was puke, poop, foil blankets and trash everywhere! There were also a lot of sick people. Was it from the water being dispensed from fire hydrants? I don't know for sure, but I was glad I had my own supplies.

I am not a real fan of Competitor Group since they started  raising prices and lowering the quality of their races. For $175 I feel like I checked into the Plaza and got bed bugs!

It was nice to see my sister though.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#28- The 11-11-11 Marathon of Sarasota!

I remember sitting next to Greg Goebel at dinner after the Marathon in Casper, WY in 2010. He was telling us his plan to host a marathon in his hometown of Sarasota Florida on 11-11-11. He wanted to model it after one of his favorite races, the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon in Northfield, MN. In this race runners run 150  laps around an indoor track. Greg wanted to do something similar only outside. So he picked a small park right on the water and convinced 68 runners from all over the country (and 2 from the UK) to fly to sunny and flat Sarasota to embark on  58+ laps around a .44 mile loop. A race that will forever be know as EPIC!

I flew out of Salt Lake City Thursday morning and by the time I landed in Tampa, I was starving and dying of thirst (I will spare you the details)! I got my rental car (after waiting 45 minutes for the shuttle bus) and headed to Sarasota as fast as I could, hoping to catch the end of the pre-race dinner at the Sarasota Yacht Club.

Well of course I got lost on the way, but still made it in time to eat (thanks to Galen Garrison, who was nice enough to save me a plate! THANKS G!), meet up with my Utah peeps, Teresa and Bob Baker, and to hear Greg introduce each runner by name and present them with their bib!

Greg presenting me with my bibs (my number for the front and my name for the back)!

The wonderful and beautiful Donna Loud was nice enough to offer me a place to stay while I was there, so after the dinner we headed back to her house to prepare for the following day.

We were up bright and early at 4:45am. We had a little breakfast and got ready and were out the door by 5:30am. We headed down to the park where we landed some rock star parking right next to the trail. It was cold right by the water. I was glad Donna hooked me up with a foil blanket before we left the house. I didn't pack any warm clothing, I was in Florida for Pete's sake! After a little mixing with others showing up, we headed back to the car where it was warm.

Once the sun came up, it started to warm up and people started gathering. This was like a Marathon Maniac reunion with all the friends you really want to see (not that I don't want to see every MM, but in a group of nearly 5,000, it's nice to have it narrowed down to all your cool Facebook friends)! The only people missing were #1, #2,  and #3!

 Maniacs at the start including, Pascal, Me, Endorphin Dude, Galen, Teresa and Vance!

Bob, Me Teresa and Joe from The Marathon Show!

Worship the Endorphin Dude!

Due to some bathroom issues (the city forgot to come unlock the bathrooms), the race got started a little late, but that was OK as we are all busy talking and getting to know one another. Greg introduced the military officers that came to sing the national anthem and present arms. Being Veteran's Day we all were extra reverent and then we were off!

Race Director, Greg Goebel

The Start!

Utah in the House!!

Teresa and I having fun as usual!

Running with Joe from The Marathon Show!

Greg and I on the course!

Every runner in the race got their own sign on the course! Sooo fun!!
Scott Dahl gets my vote for "Funnest Runner". He changed costumes almost every lap, taking on the persona of one of the other runners. AWESOME!

While running this race was a BLAST, it was definitely hard both mentally and physically. Running 26.2 miles in small loops on concrete was difficult, but the love on the course was like the strongest ibuprofen! By mile 16 my legs were feeling it. We are used to hills and the course had an elevation gain of 5 feet!

Teresa and I hooked up with our good friend Patrick Finney on the last few laps. We were dragging our sore legs around and couldn't wait to be done! We decided we would all finish together!

Patrick, Teresa and I crossing the finish line together!

After the race, about 35 of us headed over to Marina Jacks, a nice bar and restaurant right on the water. We all sat around raving about the race, eating drinking, dancing (yes that's right folks, I said dancing) and having a great time. It was a BLAST!

HUGE THANKS to Greg, who to our amazement, picked up the check for everybody there! Just goes to show that Greg Goebel is one nice guy (but we knew that)!

The next day, Donna took me over to her beach where they were having this cool sand sculpture competition. Really amazing!

Me in front of one of the sand sculptures.

When we got back to the house, I packed my stuff and finished my gift for Donna! I hope she will need a MM hat soon, but she will have to leave Florida!

Cute Donna wearing the MM hat I made for her!

I just can't say enough about this race. Last winter, there was a chance that this race might not have happened. I am so grateful that our friend Greg is alive and well and doing what he loves to do! THANK YOU GREG! 11-11-11 was a HUGE success!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In Memory of Spike

In 2002, I left my job at Betsey Johnson and went to work full time dancing. I had always wanted a dog and I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Pomeranian. They are just so cute and fluffy! I mentioned to one of my dance students (whom also happened to be a vet at the Bronx Animal Care and Control) that I was interested in adopting a dog from the shelter. My flexible schedule was perfect for having a new dog.

I lived in a studio so I needed a small dog. "I would take any of them, but if you come across a Pomeranian, I want it!", I told her knowing that getting a Pomeranian in the shelter was a stretch. About a week later she came to class with a Polaroid photo of her holding a cute, white Pomeranian. I knew he was mine!

My friend went on to tell me that they were driving around the Bronx in the rescue van when they came across an overpass which they frequently found dead cats and little dogs used for "bait" for fighting dogs then dumped there by the monsters that stole them. This particular night they saw a little fluffy white dog mauled nearly to death, but still alive. When I went to see him for the first time, he was nothing but a fluffy head and stitches. When I brought him home, my dance partner Roddy said "After all he's been through, you better not name him Snowball! He needs a tough name." Roddy was right. I named him Spike.

Spike was a hoot! He thought he was a big dog even though he only weighed 6 lbs. He used to ride in my bike basket all over Manhattan! He was my boy!

When I decided to serve a mission, my sister came to New York and took him to Atlanta while I was away. Between friends and relatives, Spike was well cared for. When I returned from my mission, my mom and and her husband had fallen in love with him. I stayed in Atlanta for 3 months after my mission and when Spike and I were going back to NYC, my mom pulled me aside and asked if they could keep Spike until I got settled in NYC again. I said OK. Every trip back to Atlanta ended the same way when I tried to bring him home.

I got married, moved to SLC, got 2 more dogs, a Yorkie (Toby) and another Pomeranian (Zoe). After my mom passed away, I thought I would be bringing Spike home after the funeral, but her husband couldn't take losing my mom and Spike, so I left him to keep Papa Jay company.

This morning I received a call that Spike passed away. If you don't have a dog or think of dogs as just animals we keep as pets, you may not get the pain that is in my heart over losing Spike. I don't have kids so I think of my dogs as my furry babies. Even though Spike hasn't lived with me for a while, he is still my little boy. I just looked at it as if he was at boarding school (hee hee).

I will never forget the joy he brought to me and everyone who scratched his belly. I love you my little Spike! I hope you are in heaven getting a belly rub from Miss Lillie!

Monday, October 17, 2011

#27- The SoJo Marathon! My First Ultra...Sort of!

The So Jo (short for South Jordan) Marathon was not on my list of races this year, but I decided to do it kind of last minute. The finish is about 5 minutes from my house so it was pretty convenient.

I didn't sleep well Friday night so getting up at 3:30am was a struggle. I almost decided to take my first DNS (Did Not Start). I just was not feeling it, but I drug my tired behind out of bed and made it over to the finish area to catch the 5:15am bus to the start (which got lost on the way to the start).

Since my marathoning partner Teresa decided to do the half marathon, I prepared myself to make a lot of new course friends as the the half started later and at a different location. I was happy to see a few of my Utah Maniac friends at the start. Franz, Kim, Melanie and Bob K. were all there.

Utah Maniacs Bob K., Franz, Kim and Melanie waiting for the race to start!

Since our bus got lost on the way to the start we didn't have to wait too long outside, we had a little extra time on the warm bus which was fine with me!

There were about 300 people in the marathon so the start was pretty easy. A lady sang the National Anthem and we were off. The sun was just coming up over the mountains when we started which made for a nice start.

The sun coming up as we started.

The course was pretty hilly, but in a good way. There were some long climbs followed by some nice long stretches of gentle downhill.

Looking back on one of the long uphill stretches near the Kennicott Copper Mine.

Kennicott Copper Mine

Getting in the Halloween spirit, there were also a few cute decorations along the course!

Even though I ran most of the race alone I did get the opportunity to meet a few first time marathoners which is always fun, not to mention I got to run past a domestic Elk farm!

These are just a few of the many Elk on the farm. These things are huge!

For not getting much sleep and almost not showing up at all, I was feeling pretty strong the last few miles of the race. When we hit the last 2 miles I was ready to be done, but was happy. I knew at that point I was close to a PR, but I did realize how close! Crossed the finish line beating my old PR by only 10 seconds! Hey a PR is a PR!

After the race I saw my Maniac friends who had finished about 15 minutes before me.

Franz, Me, Melanie and Bob at the finish!

We congratulated each other, ate some Chick-Filet sandwiches and checked the results board where we learned that I had won the Athena division and took 6th in my age group! Just ahead of me in my age group were Kim and Melanie (3rd and 4th)! Franz also took home an award for 3rd place in his age group! We got medals and a free entry to next year's race! Whoo Hoo!

Me with my medals!

Now at this point you might be wondering how running 26.2 miles is sort of an Ultra. Well, it's not, but I did run more than 26.2 miles that day. After the race I jumped in my car and headed downtown to a race that a friend and co-worker was the race director of. I told him I would run his race and I kept my word!

The Night of the Running Dead 5K was a really fun race. Running around the fairgrounds, you could either run as a human or a zombie. Humans got a 2 minute head start, then they unleashed the zombies. I didn't have time to get any zombie makeup on so I put some lipstick on my face (like blood) and ran as a human that was not quite a zombie yet (though I felt dead for real).

There was about 3,000 people at this race and there were some incredible costumes (hopefully I can add some photos later). While there was a glitch on the course in the form of a volunteer sending runners the wrong way on course causing some major confusion, it was still a fun run for a great cause (Huntsman Cancer Institute). I mean really if zombies were really chasing me I WOULD be confused right?

After the race I went home, ordered pizza and collapsed! It was a good day!