Sunday, May 25, 2014

On the Run: Stony Creek "Back to the Beach" 1/2 Marathon 2014

Last weekend I ran my first ever "Ultra" 1/2 Marathon!  Wait, an "Ultra" 1/2 Marathon, you say?  Never heard of one of these?  I'm sure you're wondering how I was lucky enough to find this event and get it on my racing calendar.  Well, you can actually turn any regular 1/2 marathon into an ultra!  Here's how it works: 

Step 1: Run the race well enough so that you hit a point where you are running by yourself.  You can't see any runners in front of you to follow; you can't see any runners behind you if you turn around.  You want that sweet spot where there is a nice isolating gap.  This point will likely come past the halfway point after you have worked hard to pick off many runners.  

Step 2: Try to hit that gap right where there is a crucial turn.  It would be preferable if that turn is not well marked and instead of taking the turn, you could easily keep going straight.  

Step 3: Once you keep going straight, be oblivious to the fact that you still don't see runners, volunteers, spectators, or any other indicators that you are on course.  Don't stop even when you see that you're in a parking lot.  

Step 4: When you finally sense a problem, PANIC!  Do not immediately turn back.  Run in circles for 30 seconds trying to figure out what to do while you waste precious time.  

Step 5: Run back and forth a little bit as you try to figure out what to do.  This is an ULTRA, damn it!  You're here for the miles!

Step 6: Tell yourself that enough is enough.  Run back to the point where you missed the turn. Rejoin the race and haul to the finish line.  And honestly, this is the fun part.  Remember all those runners you passed in the first half of the race?  You get to pass them all again!  And they'll wonder where you came from.  Shhh... it will be our little secret!

There you have it!  Now you too can run your very own Ultra 1/2 Marathon!

Despite my little, uh, detour, Back to the Beach was a fantastic race.  The weather was perfect - a little cool at the start but sunny.  I love this race for the mix of trails, dirt road, pavement, and hills.  It's definitely a tough course but I'm not one to shy away from a challenge!  

All in all, I raced this one well.  I was slower on the trails, not wanting to trip and twist an ankle.  All the tree roots were well marked with orange paint but it had been a long time since I've run on trails so I needed to find my footing again.  There are two sections of trails (with dirt roads and pavement in between) and by the time I got to part two I was moving a little quicker.  The trail portions are varied - part shady, wooded areas and part open, grassy areas with dirt lanes (a.k.a. trolley trails).  In the second section of trails - around mile 8 - there is a really big gravel hill that you really have to work at to power up.  I loved it!!  There was a decent crowd to cheer me on and I smiled and waved to them as I ran up.  Even though I was slower on the trails, I made up some time on the paved portions of the course.

At mile 3 I passed a woman, putting me in 3rd and held onto that spot until getting lost at mile 10.  At the halfway point I was 3.5 minutes ahead of 4th place but I spent so much time checking out that parking lot (so scenic!) that she ended up finishing 48 seconds ahead of me. 

On the bright side, I ran hard at the end to nearly catch her and passed a whole gaggle of women (plus chicked a ton of dudes!) to do it.  It was thrilling to be able to pour on the speed at the end, especially when normally I'm just trying to maintain in the final miles.

After the race I chatted with some other runners at the finish line.  My friend Bridget was with me and I loved being able to see her finish out her race.  She did an amazing job at her first Back to the Beach! 

And she was pretty lucky to be with me for my first "Ultra" 1/2 Marathon!


(*Based on official race results for 13.1 miles.  Because I ran 13.7 miles due to stupidity, my actual pace was a little faster!)
Vanilla Chia Pudding (this recipe, minus the cocoa), banana 

Beatnik Beach / The Go-Go's 
Summer of '69 / Bryan Adams  
Chop and Change / The Black Keys  
Beanbag Chair / Yo La Tengo
  Designer Drug / Mayer Hawthorne
Machu Picchu / The Strokes
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
Honey in the Sun / Camera Obscura
Bulletproof / La Roux
The Violet Hour / Sea Wolf
Never Wanted Your Love / She & Him
Do It Anyway /Ben Folds Five
Take Me Anywhere /Tegan & Sara
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) / Kelly Clarkson
  What Happened to the Sands / Pas/Cal
Sunshinin' / The Vines
Let's Get Out of This Country / Camera Obscura
Can't Hold Us / Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Mercy / Duffy
Miami / Will Smith
 Hell / Tegan & Sara
Love the Way You Lie (Ft. Rihanna) / Eminem
Never Go Back / Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
So Good / B.o.B.
Misery / Maroon 5
Gold on the Ceiling / The Black Keys
Bright Side / Otto Vector
E.T. / Katy Perry 

Race Day Swag - Backpack (1st place AG award), medal, pint glass, and sticker

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