Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 Racing Season: Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon (DMTM) Fast 5K, June 6, 2015 Deadwood, SD

The morning of June 6, 2015, I drove from Custer, SD where I was staying, up to Deadwood in the Northwest corner of the state. It was quite an interesting drive, and as you draw closer to Deadwood, the name starts to make sense:  there are literally lots of dead trees lying upon the hills as you dive down the canyon and into town.  I had volunteered earlier in the Spring to help with the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon & 1/2 Marathon since I would be out there, but didn't feel like I would be ready to run the event, especially with a race two days before and another the next weekend and then two more in Montana within a few weeks time.  Packet pick-up was held just up the hill outside of town at The Lodge at Deadwood.  

The lodge was a beautiful building and the marathon was given a very large ballroom for the packet pick-up and event expo. Emily, the RD, had done a great job of organizing and bringing in not only great vendors to the expo, but also as sponsors of the events which included a Kid's Wonderful 1K, the Fast 5K, the Marathon, 1/2 Marathon, and Marathon Relay.  I really enjoyed helping at packet pick-up and as a reward got an entry into the 5K.  [As a note, I was also suppose to help out on Sunday at the finish line for the longer races, but due to flooding in Hill City and not knowing the back roads real well, I opted to stay around Custer.  The drive home Saturday afternoon included rain, hail, flooding, and various route changes which included me driving past Mount Rushmore!]

The Fast 5K gets it's name because it is run on the final 3.1 miles into the town of Deadwood on the Mickelson Trail and is all downhill on a gentle slope with a wide crushed stone type of trail, perfect for someone from Iowa who runs a lot of gravel!  Since this was a point to point trail, we were bussed to the start just outside of town where we all lined up at the start line to get going.  

The race started next to a creek which ran alongside of us to the right and provided some of the natural beauty we experienced as we followed it through the canyon and into town.  I found I was running much faster than normal and realized this was not only going to be fast, but potentially very painful because of the speed I was going!  Eventually I found someone I could race alongside or just behind who was going about the same pace.  I would later find out she was using me as a pacer as much as I was using her, though I swear most of the time she was faster!  

We made it into town and the lady I was running next to had started to get away from me, and I started wondering about my place and position, so I began moving up and passing some people in the last 1/3 of a mile or so. In the end, I was just behind the woman who I had been running back and forth with, though one young lady tried to pass me in the finishing chute.  (Maybe she wasn't happy I had passed her in the final KM?)  Fortunately, I had crossed the first finishing mat before she passed me.  I talked with my "pacer" and her son, both of which won awards in their age divisions.  I had hoped to place in the top three in my age division, but just missed out and got 4th, 26/121 finishers. [Results.]  The awards, appropriate it seemed for this historic western town, were railroad spikes painted gold, silver, or bronze.  This race was also the Road Runners Club of America South Dakota Master's 5K championship so there were awards handed out for racers in the age categories 40 and higher.  I was pleased to see one of our own Iowans take an award in the female category, having recognized her from the RCC Run the Woods back in November, 2014.

I was glad to have the opportunity to run the Fast 5K as the Dino Run scheduled for two days before in Rapid City was cancelled due to heavy rainfall in the previous weeks which compromised the trails for race day.  This was probably the fastest 5K I have run in a few years since I switched from focusing on shorter distance races and started pursuing longer endurance running.  Emily and her crew did an awesome job, and I can see why the event is such a big hit!  (Local news: Mickelson Trail Marathon hits 14 years in Deadwood).

(P.S. Sorry I don't have any pictures for this race, but hope you enjoyed the review without them anyway!)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Athlete Interview: Kim MacKenzie, Part 2

The elusive Boston Marathon Finisher's Medal, 2015.
March seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away!  But, back on March 10, I posted the first part of a two part interview with Kim MacKenzie about the upcoming Boston Marathon.  Now, somewhat belated as I have been travelling on sabbatical, here is the second part of that interview, the part where Kim tells us about that wondrous day in April so many have come to both fear and love!  Enjoy!

Brad Zinnecker/Trail Running Faith:  Kim, it's been a few weeks since Boston, have you come down off the high of finishing one of the biggest, toughest marathons in the world?

Kim Mackenzie:  Good morning Brad...Wow, I guess it has been a month, where does the time go?!?  It really all seems so far in the past now.  I am back to reality and as I reflect on one of the toughest and biggest marathons in the world, I do feel a sense of accomplishment having been fortunate and healthy enough to run and embrace such an iconic event.  I don’t know whether what I felt was a high or a great relief it was completed.  There seemed to be so much pressure going into it (all self-inflicted of course) lol…I drive myself crazy sometimes.

Brad: Before we get to the race itself, tell us all about the hours leading up to it.  Did you take in other events, the expo, etc?  Is there just an incredible buzz leading up to the start?

Kim:  Well I arrived Saturday afternoon and felt completely exhausted once I hit Cambridge (which was where I stayed – handy to the subway and affordable).  

Brad: Wow, having lived and worked in New England, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say Boston or Cambridge was affordable!!!

Kim:  I arrived alone and wasn’t expecting my friend until Sunday (the next day) so I made a few calls to settled my mind and opted out of eating a meal (which wasn’t very smart, yes I know ;) and that night I laid in bed thinking, thinking and doing more thinking about the coming events.  I made a little oatmeal, which I brought from home, had a beer and went to sleep...@ 8:30 pm.  

The next morning I woke refreshed and
Tracey's poster she made for Kim!
energized.  I did a little 5K trot through Cambridge before 7am and I felt great.  I left for the Expo to pick up a few things, (aka SHOP for gear!) before it became too busy as I heard it can get quite crowded.  Even at 9am it was very busy but I had such fun and met some wonderful people.  I could feel the “crackle of energy” in the air.  I chose not to pick up my race kit until Tracey, my friend, joined me so we could enjoy and celebrate that moment together (and to get more data as to how long the time travelling from Cambridge to downtown Boston would/could be---can’t have enough data!). 

Tracey arrived before noon and ohhhhh it was sooo great to see her and her poster. We left for the trip downtown Boston again and picked up my race kit!
Race kit in hand!
This was very exciting and walking Boylston Street was electric with the sun shining, faces EVERYWHERE glowing.  Walking past (but not across) the Finish Line~ a blue strip on the road soooo familiar from months of visualizing it, yet like seeing it for the first time.  Passing all the former Boston Marathon runners in their various jackets milling about from years previous, the excitement and feeling in the air was palpable and BUSYYY.  We grabbed a bagel, sat on a patio on Boylston Street in the sun, had some water, people watched and finally left for the hotel room to get off my feet.  We had a wonderful supper, and I had my feet tended to by my reflexologist, (Tracey) and settled into the room…to thinkkkkk about...THE WEATHER !

Brad: Wow Kim, travelling with your own medical professionals! Did you sign a shoe contract while you were out there too? :) Okay, all kidding aside, what was the weather like the morning of the race?  How'd this affect your attitude?

Tracey, friend and reflexologist, tending to Kim's feet before the big event!
Kim:  Soooooooo the weather...I must say I was more of a wreck the night before rather than the morning of the race.  I received an email (as did 30,000 others) from the Boston Athletic Association making recommendation as to what to wear.  Prior to this, in my head I was settled and happy with my decision until I read the email…"Oh NO, I don’t have warm enough clothes!!" I thought as I panicked.  I had brought an assortment of clothes, but no winter gear!  "Headwinds/cold/rain...ACK!!"  All that evening was spent speaking and debating with former Boston Marathoners back home and friends as to what I should wear.  I couldn’t help but think of the forecasted headwinds, rain, and colder temperatures for the next day.  Finally after many hours (and my poor friend's sanity being put to the test) I settled on an outfit and was able to fall asleep.  I slept fairly soundly.

The morning of the race, I decided against what I had chosen to wear the night before and instead went with what I originally selected, shorts, a running singlet, gloves, arm warmers, a ball cap and ear covers...settled!  I had breakfast with and said good-by to Tracey who would see me en route and be at the finish for me, ahhh what a Sweetie!  I was ready to go and the weather did not seem as horrid as I had thought it might be.  Attitude was checked and in proper place. 
Attitude Checked and in proper place!

Brad: Alright, let it rip...tell us about your race--- What went well? What did you learn? What would you do differently?

Kim:  As I left the Hotel room, I decided to join some new friends I had met and we walked from Cambridge to the shuttle pick-up in Boston.  (I knew better but did it anyways.)  It was about 5K and felt good, buttttt, I knew I should be resting those legs.  Oh well...friends first right?!?  It was breezy and cold but no rain yet as we boarded the bus and drove for maybe an hour to the start line in Hopkinton.  

The run itself was amazing once I was able to actually run.  I shed my throw-away fleece at the start but kept my rain poncho and an extra t-shirt on, which I was glad I did as it began to rain when we walked to the start line which seemed like it took forever! The start of the race was sooo crowded that you couldn’t even weave through the runners.  When there was a little opening to the side of the road, I often made the mistake and got caught out and had to run straight into large puddles that had accumulated on the sides of the road from the rain.  I thought about blisters for a while as I waited for the crowd to thin and then forgot about it...I did not get any, so yay!  At around 18KM I finally felt I was able to stretch my legs and start to run.  Up until this point my pace was dictated solely by the crowd I was surrounded in and so I kept telling myself this will save my legs and I won’t fall into the trap of bursting out of the gates and running too quick.  But I had lost a lot of time and felt waves of apprehension as to my finish time and whether I could make some of the lost time up (although I knew this was near impossible) but I set off running and found my pace and rhythm over the rolling hills.  The weather was never an issue and I had shed the layered t-shirt and poncho somewhere along the early stages.  This was the type of weather I was accustomed to running in...I was finally racing.  I was enjoying seeing the crowds and runners for the first time.  There were certain moments that jumped out while I ran.  I noticed a man in front of me for a while and as I drew closer to catch him, I could read the back of his shirt, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Phil 4:13”  I couldn’t help but look to the sky and smile and knew I wasn’t alone in my run.  I saw a spectator in the crowd that looked identical to my sister Wendy-she smiled and said “You got this!” I smiled and touched her hand and set off again.  A stranger on the side street said “Power, I see power in them legs!”  I looked down and smoothed my hand over my working quads, yes they felt powerful to me too.  And then, finally, how long the last 2 miles of the race was…and especially that final turn up Boylston...seeing the finish line sooooooo far down the street, “You have got to be kidding me!” I thought.    

I ended up running a negative split in Boston which I hear it is not that common.  I felt great and sailed into the finish line with ease as the rain and wind pelted my face.  It felt great to really run hard with the final KM being my fastest.

Brad:  Wowza Kimmie!  A negative split!  That's crazy!  BTW, Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite verses.  I was praying for you as I watched your little person icon travel across the screen of my iPad online.  In addition, your Twitter fit fam that I am a part of was cheering you on, hoping for you to break 4 hours!  What did that feel like?  What was your official time?

Kim:  I know, I read and reread all the exciting posts of my fitfam on Twitter, post-race.  How I love you all!!!  I think I had shared with you that under 3:50 would be a great day, less than 4 hours a good day.  As the possibility of a 3:50 finish slipped through my fingers, I was doing the math while running (and let me point out this is not an easy task for me, lol!), and the thought almost crippled me of not getting that time as I felt strong and ready to have been able to accomplish it but the slow start may likely have contributed to missing it.  Who’s to say?  So I was determined to beat 4 hours.  My official time was 3:59:02.  I still feel I was faster on the day but have allowed that thought to become less sharp and instead have chosen to focus on my negative split, which was very exciting.  

Brad:  How were the hills?

Kim:  This may sound fictitious but I really didn’t notice many hills, either downhill or up.  Running down the hills was easy the first half as I was going at an easy pace.  I had prepared extremely well through the winter months running hills and running a “replica” version of Heartbreak Hill in Halifax time after time after time.  I could not distinguish between the rolling hills and “the” hill (Heartbreak) and only realized it was behind me when I saw marker Mile 23, whoopppeeee!!! 

Brad:  What was it like crossing that finish line? 

A windy and wet finish to Boston 2015.
Kim: Crossing the finish-line was a great feeling, many thoughts went through my head: happiness, relief and frustration…but they all lasted but a split second as I regained my composure and focused on getting to my friend Tracey who was waiting for me.  At this time it was so windy and raining so hard it quickly brought you to your senses.  I didn’t stick around very long as I began to chill very quickly after crossing the line.

Brad: Anything else you want to add?

Kim:  Oh my, I could talk about this event forever but there is a fine line between sharing information and blabbing, lol!  My thoughts are changing the further removed I get from the marathon.  I was content not to strive to do another Boston and focus on running the other 5 majors, butttttttt, now I am toying with the idea of getting a better qualifying time which would set me up in a faster corral... hmmm maybe??  ;) 

Brad:  The other 5 major marathons around the world, or another Boston...small potatoes, right?  What encouragement would you give to someone just getting into running and hoping to someday get to Boston?

Kim:  I would tell them it is for sure possible.  They just need to work hard and believe in themselves.  It all starts with a dream backed by some hard work, focus/commitment---you have to want it.  My story is a very simple one and it definitely shows that anyone can do it.  Believe in the dream and believe in yourself.

For most, getting here is the goal.  Kim wants to come back and rock it even faster! :)

Brad:  So proud of you Kim! Awesome job!

Kim:  Thanks Brad, I couldn’t have endured the training this winter without the wonderful support/push from you, my friends (both in the community and on-line) and family...I feel so blessed!  

Brad:  We were so excited for you as we followed online!  Thanks again Kim for taking time to share with me about your Boston experience!  

Goal accomplished, Philippians 4:13.

Monday, June 1, 2015

2015 Racing Season: George Wyth Adventure Run, May 16, 2015, Cedar Falls, IA

My middle son and I before we head out to the GW Adventure Run.
The week before the 9th Annual George Wyth Mud Run, aka the GW Adventure Run for 2015, was wet.  My son had already run in two junior high track meets, including the conference meet, during the week and we were looking for a good result to cap it off, but we also both knew it could get interesting.  

We arrived about 40 minutes or so early, plenty of time to get our bib, pins, and t-shirt.  This year's shirt was white with the front proudly displaying CVAST, Cedar Valley Association for Soft Trails, which puts on the race.  This year's field was perhaps a bit smaller than prior years, perhaps due to two other trail races going on within driving range of the Cedar Valley area.  However, it was an enthusiastic and fun crowd and we listened as Scott Gall, president of CVAST, and co-owner of The Runner's Flat, gave us last minute instructions.  These instructions included that there would be water/mud on the course, and that the course might be a little shorter than last year's, perhaps closer to 2.5 miles instead of 3.1M/5K.

The course quickly narrows into single track, and by the time we hit the tighter/harder to pass others type of narrow track in the woods, my son was off and doing well.  I let him go and decided to pace myself.  A few of the turns were slick and greasy, but when we hit the two big mud bogs I passed as I could, and got passed too, and then continued on charging ahead.  This year's course threw in a small little roller of a hill around the mile point that was a bit slick getting up and down even though it was really nothing that tall.  We then hit some tarmac for a brief 1/10th of a mile perhaps, before getting back into the woods.  By this time, I had started to put some distance to the runners behind me and was starting to think about working on overtaking the woman a ways in front of me.  I thought I still had about 3/4 of mile to go when I popped out of the woods and there was the finish line.  No, I hadn't missed a turn, the course was in fact a bit shorter than even the 2.5 miles!  My watch had it at 1.79 miles, making it closer to 3K instead of 5K.  I wasn't in a mood to complain too much as it was pretty humid out.  If I had known I was that close to the line, I might have pushed a bit harder, but c'est la vie!  It was a good race!!!

The food was awesome this year, a winning combination of select items from both Panera Bread and Hy-Vee.  My son had the bright idea to save 1 or 2 treats to bring home to the rest of the family, and so we did.  He placed 11th overall, 2nd in his age division, and I placed 15th, 2nd in my age division.  (GW Adventure Run Results 2015).  The trophies were mason jars filled with mud from the course and topped with your place number (1, 2, or 3) made out of twigs and hot glued together.

My second place age division award from the 2015 GW Adventure Run
After the awards we were told to take some more food, and so we grabbed a few more treats for the family and then later enjoyed them altogether at home after lunch.  We had a great day and enjoyed doing so well.  I believe this is my 6th edition of this race in it's various incarnations since I first moved here in 2007.  Praise God for another successful Spring race that I could enjoy with my son, and for the first time, he beat me, and I have no problem with that!  :)

My son with his 2nd place age division award.

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