Twin Cities Marathon 2014

 by Bill Durbin, re-posted from the Team Rogue PM Blog

Well, I gave myself a week to write this one, because the last one just took way too long. I started writing in the same second-person-present voice I was (attempting) to use in the past few posts. It’s kind of half “the story” written that way, and half just me interjecting random stuff. It’s a little disjointed, but less long-winded that usual. If you go for this kind of stuff then read on. If not… well, do whatever the opposite of reading on would be. Read off?

Before
It’s a crisp, cool, dry morning. Perfect running weather. In fact, all the usual things that nobody ever has any control over seem to be going perfect today.

The start line is up ahead, and everyone is loosely corralled by their bib numbers. It’s light out. It’s nice to be able to see everything. Usually, these things start just a tad darker. Brent is standing on a gate looking for Ashish, who in turn is looking for a last-minute bathroom break. Taryn and Cam are nearby. One last round of good-race-mojo encouragement as the announcer gives a 3-minute warning, ramps up the energy, and crowd close to the start.

The nerves never go away until you get to the other side of that line. You can’t help bouncing around a bit. Those three minutes seem to pass in just a few seconds, and then the race begins. The kickoff music turns out to not be Prince after all… Instead it’s that dynamite song.

For a couple seconds I was disappointed that my Prince-music prediction didn’t come true. I half expected him to come tearing around the corner on a purple motorcycle with a starter pistol. A guy can hope, can’t he? But then I had an image of my daughter Penelope singing the dynamite song and it made me smile (I don’t actually know the name of the dynamite song, I assume it is ‘Dynamite’ though).

TRPM Twin Cities Runners (and special guest!) before all the stuff above.
Photo ©2014, Ashish. Used without permission.

Easy on the Front
Crossing the line, it’s a little over a minute behind the gun and that glorious race-start calm descends. You’re no longer thinking about what you have to do – now you’re doing it. That changes the whole situation.

The first task is to run easy. Don’t get carried away. Amy has said it a million times, Steve reiterated it on Thursday, you’ve repeated it to yourself over and over again… DFIU in these first few miles. Starting further back turns out to be a good thing as far as that’s concerned. The road is wide here, but the crowd is pretty thick. There’s not much point in weaving around people. Just wait for the gaps and shoot through. The first mile is over before you know it – a quick sanity check on the time – close to seven minutes… Good. Mile 2 requires a bit more focus to stay on target. You pass Ashish and exchange some encouraging words. The miles start flying by… 3, 4, 5… Almost time for the first real checkpoint.

Mile 6. 41 minutes even. One minute behind target. That’s about right.

It felt like I did an awful lot of watch-gazing during this race. I made the mistake (???) of picking a goal time with some super easy-to-remember intervals. 20 minutes for every 3 miles. And at most of those 3 mile intervals, right at the marker, I was checking to see where I was at. Quite a different feeling from my previous race.

Now it’s time to really start focusing on getting light and efficient as possible. The watch is already reading a little extra mileage. It’s been a bit more crowded than expected. You’ve been doing an ok job of running the tangents, but with so many people you can’t really do it without cutting people off or getting pinched in a corner. You’re gaining on a group that must be the 3:00 pace group. They are packed four or five people deep and taking up the whole road. When you see that the sign says 3:05 it’s startling. They have to be going way too fast!

It isn’t until I did the math afterwards that I realized, if these guys started near the front then they were probably on an exact even split. I think that is what they are told to do.

The next thought is “How am I going to get around all this?” The road is very curvy through this section, and it is obvious the pack has the tangents on their mind as well. The runners on the edges are having to slow down each time the road curves their way. “Do I try to worm my way through the middle, or wait for a straight stretch? When even is the next straight stretch? You realize you have no idea where you are or what comes next on the map.

That’s not entirely true. I was somewhere south of and/or still in Minneapolis. I knew that much.

You studied the course so well preparing for this day and it’s just been a blur of twists and turns since leaving the city. You haven’t even been paying attention to the corners. It’s billed as the most beautiful urban Marathon in the country, or something like that. That might be true, but ever since leaving the city streets a few miles back not a single building, lake, or street sign has registered in your mind. All you see is road, trees, runners, more road, more trees, and more runners. Apparently, some of these houses along the course are amazing, but…

FWIW, I thought Philly was more interesting. Then again, I wasn’t really at either location to appreciate the scenery.

You are hugging a left-hand corner when the choice becomes obvious. The road curves in a big arc to the right and the pack goes with it, leaving a few feet of open pavement to their left. It’s an extra wide corner, but by the time the road turns left again, you’re ahead – they are behind.

Steady and Strong
It’s like the pace group was a cork in a very twisty-necked bottle. Everything has thinned out and now it’s road, trees, and spectators. Lots and lots of spectators. Good ones at that. They aren’t saying stupid things like “only 19 more miles!” They’re giving words of encouragement in vaguely-stereotypical regional accents. “Goh Red!” “Way te goh Rogue Running! Lookin’ strong there!”

I never heard any ‘You betcha’s, but of course the situation didn’t warrant any. Again, I wasn’t really looking around much, but I do remember one sign that amused me.

It is finally possible to run straight from one corner to the next and hug the insides. You establish a comfortable pace that feels about right and just settle in.

There’s a familiar shock of blond hair up ahead. It looks like it might belong to Kirk, a fellow Rogue, and he’s running strong. You aren’t actually sure he knows who you are, but you say “Hey Kirk” and utter some encouraging words as you sidle up to him. If it turns or to be a stranger, no harm done. But it’s him. The conversation is brief, but the familiar face is welcome.

A few more miles slip by. You pass the 13 mile marker and the timing mat for the halfway point is just ahead. Everything still feels ok – smooth, relaxed, light… but now its time for that check-in.

The watch says 1:27:58. It’s pretty close to where you expected to be at the half – you’ve gained about 30 seconds and you still have about 30 to make up. Really, that’s perfect. But then the math starts messing with you.

Running math is hard, and Marathon math is damn near impossible. But there is one math problem that’s simple to do at this point in the race: multiply by two. I don’t know a single Marathon runner who doesn’t do that math problem at the halfway point – Everyone is thinking “If I run the second half exactly the same as the first half…”

Well, ok.. I’ve never actually asked another Marathon runner if they do that math problem. It’s just… come on! Everyone really does this, right?

The other you (I) obviously got off on a tangent there. You were saying that the math started messing with you… “Wait… That’s like 1:28, and 1:28 times two is 2:56, and that means it’s still a minute to make up? Right?”

It takes enormous willpower to keep the mental train on the rails. There is no room in your brain right now to reason it out and identify why it is wrong. It just is. You just have to trust that, and banish the demon. You yell the expanded and uncensored version of “JFR!” at nobody in particular, and it seems to do the trick. 28 seconds. That is the right answer, and if it isn’t the right answer, we’ll find out soon enough.

I didn’t actually yell that. Not out loud. I might have muttered it under my breath, but I was screaming it in my head. That’s what counts.

Maintain
The 15 mile marker is coming up soon, and it’s almost time for another gel. The problem is, you really, really don’t want one. Really. Everything else feels great right now, except your stomach. You pull out your remaining selection of Gu and take stock of what’s there. Vanilla Bean, Salted Caramel, and Salted Watermelon. Yuck. Just looking at them makes your stomach roll.

Most gels taste pretty nasty to me. Vanilla is kind of the base option that seems to be the lesser of all evils. It is the “natural” Gu flavor… If you were to actually go out in the wild and find a guberry bush, and pick a bunch of fresh guberries and mash them up into a paste, that’s what they would taste like. All the other flavors are just trying to mask the guberry-ness. But you can’t ever really mask it. 

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, not only do they taste kind gross, but it usually gets more difficult for me to stomach them as the miles get longer. However, the two “salted” options actually invert this fundamental law of Gu, and seem to taste pretty decent once I’m tired enough. They are both pretty much just guberry plus salt before you get going though.

And (no, I’m not done with this aside yet… hang on) I don’t know what was going on with my stomach. This wasn’t even my last scheduled gel, and it wasn’t so late in the race that I should be feeling so hostile towards the little packets of vile. Maybe the pasta at dinner had something to do with it? I normally go more for veggies and protein the night before a race. It’s something to think about next time – maybe try a few new dinner options in the shorter races this fall and winter. Enough of the note-to-future-self…

You put your gels away and vow to revisit the decision somewhere before the next water station. A couple miles later, and it’s been decided that salted caramel actually sounds pretty good right now. You dig in your gel pouch and pull out vanilla bean. Nope… return that one and grab one of the others – salted watermelon. Dammit! Keep that one in your hand and grab the others from the pouch to see them all at once… Wait.. there’s only two in here! Crap! I must have dropped the other one! Watermelon is the choice – probably because it has “salted” in the name. You must not be tired enough. It tastes disgusting.

I didn’t drop it. My race brain must have decided it was special or something. Apparently I went through the trouble of tucking it into the back zipper pocket on my shorts and zipping it up when I put them all away at mile 15. I don’t remember doing that at all. I was already back at the hotel and showered when I found it there.

It’s not so much your stomach objecting to the Gu now – your brain simply does not want the guberry-watermelon-flavored gunk. That first taste brought a shudder. You just hang onto the rest until the water tables appear up ahead. The blue and red cups at each station have some Powerade concoction that you’ve been avoiding like the plague all race, and now is no exception. You want water. This stop, however, obviously didn’t get the memo on the cup-color-codedness and flags thing. The water has been in the white cups after the Powerade and after the blue “water” flags at every station so far. The first white cup you grab is full of a Windex-colored substance that isn’t water. You drop it and grab for a real water, wash down the remaining Gu, and feel a little better.

I realize it sounds like I am complaining about the water station. I’m really not. I completely appreciate all the volunteers that come out and make these events happen. I thank them when I’m passing the tables whether I am getting something or not.

Mile 18 – you take a quick survey and see how everything is holding up.

Of course, it was a 3-mile interval so I looked at my watch, too. I don’t remember my split at this one though.

Still have the hat, gloves, and makeshift arm-warmers. Hands are icicles but arms, head and everything else is doing ok. The arm warmers (old socks with holes in them) are kind of wet and bunching up in the crook of your arms though. You decide to take them off. They decide to stay on. Pulling on them from the bottom isn’t working. You start to roll the left one down from the top, but it just gets stuck at your elbow. You have a sudden fear that it is going to get snagged on your watch and then just flap around, dangling off the end of your arm for the rest of the race. You win this time, silly am socks. As for the hat…

The Almost Last Part
The scenery is still just whizzing by, oblivious to you standing there. Or maybe it’s the other way around. But there’s one landmark you’ve been waiting for – the bridge over the river. Because Gabe said he’d be somewhere after that bridge on the left-hand side of the course. It’s also a mental thing. It is the place to start thinking strong thoughts.

You can hear Gabe before you know it’s him. He’s ringing his cowbells and cheering on the runner up ahead in the green shirt. He’s by far the loudest spectator you’ve seen on the course, but when he sees you his eyes get wide and he turns up the volume even louder. As you planned (just a few minutes ago), you grab your hat and toss it straight up in the air. Except… it doesn’t go straight up, it goes straight at Gabe! Oops!

I wasn’t the only person to throw clothing at Gabe this day. It sounds like he turned into quite the coat rack. But I wasn’t exaggerating when describing how loud he was. Maybe it was just amplified by the personal connection. Who knows. At any rate, seeing Gabe there definitely gave me a boost. And he kept my hat and returned it! Gabe deserves some special credit thanks. He was supposed to be out there running the race alongside us, but he was sidelined with an injury. That didn’t stop him from coming out and freezing his butt off to cheer the rest of us on. 

Gabe and I. Believe it or not, I stopped and had a beer with him there between mile 19 and 20.

At mile 21 another time check, and you’re only 14 seconds off target! Slowly but surely whittling away at that remaining time. You’re actually going to make it!

The Part Between “The Almost Last Part” And “The Last Part”
There are conflicting reports about the hill. The monster one on the map that looks like it just keeps going up from about the middle of Mile 21 to the end of mile 23. There have been a few short but steep hills sprinkled throughout the course. Ones that made you think a little. But none of those even registered on the elevation map. There’s a short and steep part at the beginning of “the hill” as well. That one really is a bit of a challenge, especially at this point in the course. Once past that, you discover that for the rest of these miles there really is no hill.

Ok… so there may or may not have been a hill. My mind was reading that whole section as being too flat to care. Others felt differently. And my splits indicate that yes, there is a hill there. Perhaps it just has something to do with your mental state. My mental state was still stuck on “I’m actually going to make it!” and I was pushing myself pretty hard.

The miles are beginning to feel very, very long. It’s that weird end-of-race twilight zone where everything starts to happen in slow motion, probably because everything hurts so much. You have started questioning your motives for pretty much everything, but especially for this race. You’re thinking of cancelling the next one on your calendar.

“GO ROGUE!” The shout comes from behind. You haven’t heard anyone say that today… that is not a cheer from here. That is someone from Austin, and that shout was for you. A quick glance over your shoulder, and it’s Steve and Ruth! More familiar faces are exactly what you needed at that moment. Despite the pain and mental issues, you are still running strong, and now you are determined to finish that way.

The Last Part (Except For The Part(s) After The Last Part)
The mile 24 marker kind of rains on your little “finish strong” parade. You’re expecting to see that you’ve knocked more time out, or maybe, just maybe you’re even ahead of the game now. But it says 2:40:23. Hrm.

This was tough, because I was completely convinced I had sped up since mile 21 and was going significantly faster than my goal pace. I was working really, really hard at this point, and I did not have a whole lot left to give.

Hang on. Hang ON! You’re so close! Just be strong and finish it! On the edge, yes, but not falling apart. Past mile 25 now (FIVE LAPS!)… past that subtle left turn in the road…

You keep waiting to see the church. The church (so it’s been written) is what signals the imminent end of this race. And, like the museum at the end of Philly, it supposedly sneaks up on you. Looking for the church, looking, looking… and there’s the Capitol building off in the distance. But the capitol is like… past the end of the course. Isn’t it? Wait – maybe that’s not the capitol. Maybe that’s the church? You turn to look over your left shoulder and Oh, no… that’s the church!

It’s pretty obvious that my brain is scrambled eggs and toast.

Your head swivels back to the front and now, you can see the capitol, the 26 mile marker, and the finish line! Glancing at the watch again it’s at exactly 2:53.

Two minutes. I can make it there in two minutes.

The Marathon is a funny race. It beats the crap out of you physically and mentally. It takes you right to the edge. Then if you are lucky, it will nudge you over the edge and show you something amazing there. I was lucky this time. I got nudged. All of the pain vanished at this point and I had one purpose. Get to that finish line in two minutes! As I can now see from the data my watch collected, the finish line was about 1/3rd of a mile away at this point.

Time is going fast again. It doesn’t feel like two minutes. You’re at the finish line with your hands in the air. You eventually stop running, then stop your watch and take a look to see where you landed.

The Aftermath
This is the first time I’ve ever laughed at the end of a Marathon. I laughed and laughed, and someone handed me a medal, and I laughed some more. When the woman with the space blanket came over to me, she said “You seem like you had a good race!” Like a dork, I showed her my watch and said “That was my goal, right there!” And I started thanking her and all the other people who were handing me the post-race stuff.

Somewhere in there, I shed a few tears. Maybe it’s the first time I laughed at the end of a race, but it’s not the first time for the waterworks. I’m already kind of an emotional guy. Then I put myself into a situation where I’m mentally and physically exhausted, I just finished doing something I wasn’t completely convinced I could do… the faucet comes on.

I retrieved my dry bag and futzed with it for a couple minutes. I couldn’t get it open because my fingers were frozen, numb, and basically useless. Finally I used my teeth to rip a hole in the bag so I could get at my junk. I donned some warmer clothes, found my phone and tried to call Stephanie. I knew they were going to be out, so I left a message. Decided to try the other phone too, and left another message.

I saw Cam, Brent and Flashish then. (That’s not a typo, it’s his new nickname.) We all exchanged some congratulations and they went to grab their bags. I called coach Amy. She said we were rock stars, and told me my official time was 2:54:56! And then I started to choke up again.

The Bragging and Thanking Section
The stuff up there was fun and all, but I need to get my brag on. Of course, I also need to say the obvious thanks to my wife for putting up with this running thing once again and still supporting me (as usual), my coach for believing I could do this before I ever did (as usual), and the Team Rogue PM crew for allowing me to suffer alongside them through the steamy summer (we’re all unusual, so I won’t say “as usual”).  Did I mention Steve and Ruth? and GABE? Friendly spectators? Thank you!

You all can leave now. I’m just going to do my normal little victory lap and be done with this one.

Time: 2:54:56  (3:41 PR!)

Placing:
Everyone, 164 / 8852
Age group, 16 / 707

Official half splits:
First, 1:27:57
Second, 1:26:59 (that’s an unofficial half marathon PR!)

Geekometer Splits:
1.   6:56
2.   6:59
3.   6:38
4.   6:39
5.   6:44
6.   6:40
7.   6:39
8.   6:35
9.   6:36
10.   6:33
11.   6:31
12.   6:31
13.   6:37
14.   6:36
15.   6:31
16.   6:34
17.   6:39
18.   6:44
19.   6:39
20.   6:29 <- Gabe
21.   6:36
22.   6:46
23.   6:46
24.   6:30 <- Steve + Ruth
25.   6:42
26.   6:42
26.36 2:08 <- Me

A 2-second Story

by Allison Macsas (re-posted from her blog)

Last weekend I toed the line of the US Marathon Championships in Minneapolis, ready to race 26.2 for the first time in two years. First and foremost, I was there to run sub-2:43 to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials, a goal that I made known. I had other hopes too: I wanted to break 2:40, and I wanted to finish top 10. The combination of two years away from the distance, a very different sort of training scenario and the fact that I’ve never finished better than 24th at a US Champs race gave rise to a healthy dose of self-doubt and caused me to keep those thoughts largely under wraps.

In the end, the race was a big, big success, the result of a long journey and some new ways of doing things. Here is the story:

QUICK BACKGROUND

The 2012 Olympic Trials was the best race of my short-thus-far marathoning career. I had qualified with a 2:44, then had a spectacular day in Houston, running 2:40:47. Before that race, I had declared that it would be my grand finale, the end of professional racing and of my spot with RogueAC. I was too burnt out, too tired of balancing huge training weeks with full time work and coaching on top of that. Though I did leave the team, I knew the moment that I crossed the finish line that I wanted to be back in 2016; I just needed some time away.

Against my better judgment, I raced Philly that fall and fell apart at the end, the result of rookie mistakes and a summer of unenthused training. I really stepped away from road racing then; 2013 was all about enjoying my runs with Team Rogue, training for and running the Leadville 100 and then being injured (hello spin class!) after said race. I’ve run some lowkey half marathons since then, and knew I was really back and excited again when I hit a new PR in Vancouver this past May. I was ready to think about the marathon again. I chose Twin Cities mostly because of timing; I leave for Africa at the end of October and will be guiding trips, so I needed the race to be done beforehand. Plus, Minneapolis tends to be cold, and cold is my secret weapon.

THE TRAINING

My training was very, very different from anything I’ve done before. As you may know, I moved into an RV at the beginning of June and took off for a summer of working remotely, guiding trips and escaping the oppressive Austin heat. Steve Sisson, who has coached me for the better part of the past four years, agreed to write a loose schedule for me and serve as a sounding board as the summer progressed.

The workouts themselves were not too different from what I’ve done before. What was different was that I rarely had marked routes, so other than a few track workouts and one big race prep a month out, everything was effort-based with no hard numbers to analyze. Another big change was that I ran trail, a LOT. Like, 5 days a week, if not more. Trail running is something I’ve never been able to love in Austin for a variety of reasons (takes too long, requires driving to a trail head, bad falls on rocks, etc), but out on the road in the beautiful American West, I was HOOKED. While I felt sure that these trails were making me strong, and definitely more resilient, I couldn’t help but wonder if the drastically slower pace would hurt me on the road. But when I saw that I was running some of the fastest track workouts of my life, alone, at altitude, I stopped worrying so much.

Another change? Running late morning and midday. I’ve always run early mornings, and always believed that I feel best at that time, but I quickly found that with a flexible schedule and cool weather, 4-something (and 5-something) alarms were history. Sleeping 8-9 hours every night was a game-changer when it came to recovery and mood and mental focus.

I also had no routine to speak of, as we moved so frequently. Between June and the end of September, I found myself running in Angel Fire NM, Durango & Colorado Springs CO, Moab UT, Ely NV, Soda Springs, Truckee & Lake Tahoe CA, Crater Lake, Bend OR, Kelso, Seattle & Bellingham WA, Vancouver, Coeur d’alene ID, Whitefish, Bozeman & West Yellowstone MO, Jackson WY and Denton TX. I rarely knew exactly where I’d be going when I walked out the door, a big change for someone that’s always been a bit of a control freak about when and where I get my mileage in. And of course, I didn’t have a crew, or anyone at all, to train with. I only had myself to meet for workouts, and only had myself to push through the hard parts.

All in all, I felt strong and fit going into the race, but there were a lot of unknowns in play.

PRE-RACE

We’d been staying at my dad’s house for a few days, and had the RV parked outside. On Thursday I went out to begin packing, starting with the most important part: shoes. I’ve been supported by Skechers Performance since the spring, and had a lightly used pair of GoRuns that I’d been saving for the race. I opened the closet and found…one shoe. So I dug everything out of the closet, then from the storage compartment under the bed, then from the storage compartments under the RV; I found tons of running shoes, but not THE shoe. Eventually I had to accept that it was gone and that my only option was to race in a very old, very trashed pair of the same shoes. I threw them into the bag, and crossed my fingers.

I had an easy flight in from Dallas, and was so happy to be back to fall colors and cold, gray weather. That afternoon I met up with former teammates Scott and Jeff for a (fast!) shakeout run followed by dinner with their families. Saturday was all about killing time. A morning run with the guys and Alli, organizing water bottles for drop off and one of those elite technical meetings that never fail to put butterflies in my stomach as I size up the field of very fast-looking people. The afternoon dragged; I finished a book, organized my gear, and even did some design work to pass the time and take my mind off of the race.

Finally it was late enough for dinner. We all met up with Steve and Ruth and headed to a brewery where I spent the whole time fighting nerves and half-wishing I was one of the relaxed, beer-drinking spectators. But, overall the energy was good and the nerves weren’t overwhelming; I was just ready to go get this thing done. Finally it was an acceptable bedtime, and go time was near.

RACE MORNING

The alarm went off at 5. My roommate and I made our respective breakfasts, grabbed coffee from upstairs, got dressed and boarded a bus at 6. We were taken to a hotel next to the start where we had a big ,warm ballroom to wait in. I wished Alli good luck in the 10 miler, then sat on the floor with Scott and Jeff and continued to kill time. Eventually the three of us went outside to run a few laps around the building; It was very cold and overcast, and I wondered if I should wear arm warmers before remembering that I didn’t bring any. A singlet, gloves and very old shoes it was! At 7:30 we began the procession to the starting line; by the time we got there it was time to strip down, put our bags in the back of a truck and line up. I didn’t get a chance to do any of my normal warm up drills, but for some reason it didn’t bother me. I did one stride and felt fast. I was ready to go.

THE RACE

The gun went off, and the crowd surged forward. I knew the pace would be fast at first, due to starting line excitement and the cold temps, but I restrained any urge to go after the flood of girls ahead of me – it’s a long race. I wanted to go out around 6:10-15, settle in at 6:05 and try to get faster at the end. The first mile came in at 5:58; too fast, but not dangerously so. I backed off a bit, relaxed, settled in.

Somewhere within the second mile I found myself next to Ruth Perkins, whom I’d met at a half marathon in Seattle last month. We knew that we had similar goals, and she suggested that we work together. I always find myself alone in races, to the point that I’m convinced I must be subconsciously separating myself on purpose. The only time I’ve ever teamed up and worked with others in a race was at the Trials, and that was of course my best race, so I agreed to give it a shot.

We decided that we’d take turns leading a mile at a time, and quickly settled into a rhythm. She was running a bit more aggressively than I’d planned to do so early on, hitting 6-6:05 for her miles, and I was running a bit more conservatively than she had been planning on, hitting 6:05-10 for mine. Our averages were coming out perfectly though, the rhythm was good and it was so nice to have someone to trade encouraging words with.

The miles were flying by; I saw Steve a number of times, and around mile 10 he told me that Ruth and I were in 10th and 11th place. Really?!? I felt like a ton of girls had gone out ahead, and I really didn’t believe that I could be that far up in the field. It provided a good boost, and we kept on. A number of guys came in and out of our little group as we went along. At times it was a bit too much of a crowd for me and I had to fight the urge to just break away and claim some space, as I knew that it was helping to run with others.

10632761_866134283420033_893951132770705449_nSomewhere after the half marathon point we came up on another woman and passed her; now we were 9th and 10th. The pace remained steady, we were able to grab our water bottles with no issues and I felt very, very strong as we approached and passed mile 18, then 19. I knew there was a three mile climb ahead, but I wasn’t worried. Mile 20 came along, and the climbing soon began. It wasn’t steep at all, but it was certainly noticeable. We passed more girls, some of them passed back; I switched between 6th and 9th place quite a bit, but was able to continue pushing and run more aggressively than I’d expected.

I saw Steve a final time at mile 22, and that was about the time that the marathon decided to show me who was boss. That too-familiar feeling of numb legs and desperate thoughts set in; it was like a switch flipped and I instantly went from heroic strength to wondering if I could make it to the 23 mile marker. I’d lost contact with Ruth – she was behind me, but I didn’t know where – and any concept of paces or splits. I took a deep breath and told myself to calm down, it’s just running, keep going. One foot in front of the other.

Scott had made it sound like we’d hit mile 23 and then it’d be a downhill homestretch, but that was far from reality. There were some down hill stretches for sure, but also an uphill to go with each one! I silently cursed the climbs, the happy comfortable people on the sidelines and Scott for those false hopes, but kept moving forward. Two girls blew by me, putting me into 8th place. I sternly told myself not to lose a top-10 finish. The Sharpie splits on my arm were still visible, and as I passed mile 25 I knew that I had my qualifier in the bag by at least 2 minutes, though I wasn’t so hopeful for a PR anymore. 1.2 miles seemed almost insurmountable at that point, but I’ve been there before and always made it through; it was time to shut my brain off and go.

At mile 26, I saw 2:38:xx on my watch. My brain had truly shut off, and I could not figure out for the life of me how long it would take to run .2 miles. 30 seconds? 3 minutes? No clue. Luckily, the finish line was visible – and down a hill – at this point, and the sight of a finish line can bring out superpowers. I ran as hard as I possibly could, half convinced that I was going to fall onto my face. Soon the finish line clock was visible, 2:39:50 and ticking forward quickly. I gave one last push, and saw 2:39:58 as I crossed, convinced from past experience that the official time would be several seconds slower.

POST-RACE

10653421_726424947425699_6493222970184888746_nI stumbled through the chute, hardly believing that it was over, and luckily had a volunteer lead me to the elite tent where I first found Scott’s dad, then Scott himself and Alli. I learned that Scott nabbed a top 10 finish, Alli won the 10 miler and then, via a text from Steve, that I’d done it! 2:39:58 officially!! Sub-2:40, 8th place at a US Champs race and of course, an Olympic Trials qualifier.

I looked for Ruth but never saw her, and worried that she’d fallen apart at the end. But, I soon saw that the exact opposite had happened – she finished just four seconds behind me, in 9th place with a nearly 4 minute PR! Teamwork indeed.

The rest of the day was pure, exhausted contentment. We veeeery slowly shuffled a mile back to the hotel, where I showered, packed up and went through a deluge of congratulatory texts and Facebook posts. I marveled at how my feet were in near-perfect shape despite the pair of old, tread-less shoes that I’d raced in. Skechers FTW! I joined a big group of Austinites for brunch nearby, where I had little interest in food but lots of interest in beer. Although we were the only people there, the service was mind-blowingly slow and I seriously contemplated lying on the floor for a short nap.

After that it was already time to move to the Happy Gnome, where a Rogue-wide party was happening. It was wonderful: food, drink and a ton of great people that I hadn’t seen since May, all of whom had fantastic races! Eventually I had to leave for the airport where I boarded one of the most uncomfortable flights ever (note to self: never, ever leave the same day you race), but not even that could wipe the smile off of my face.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Could I have finished stronger and faster? I think so, had I stuck to my start-conservatively plan a bit better. Do I regret how I ran? Absolutely not. My big goal and my secret goals were all accomplished and I now know for sure that I’m back in the game. I know that taking two years away was a smart decision. I know that doing things differently can yield great results. I know that not only is it possible to mix competitive running with this unstructured, nomadic lifestyle, but that I’m actually better for it. Most importantly, I’m excited about all of it, and excitement is key to success, whatever the endeavor.

Stage Three: The Actual Race

A race report from magical and exotic Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Part 3 (catch Part 1 here, and Part 2 here)

10632891_716796906448_8039759965038456960_nAll three of us, Alicia, Anna and I were going for BQs at this race. Josh was shooting for an epic halfer PR. We’d all had mixed training camps this summer, and the pre-dawn tension was high.

The race had 450-ish full marathoners total, so there really were no corrals, and it started on the high school track/football field. The weather was perfect, 55*F or so, so we spent most of the warm up hiding under the bleachers out of the “wind.” When the start time came close we all said good luck and went to line up behind our respective pacers. Josh was starting somewhere else with the half marathoners, so we wouldn’t see him until afterward. They sang the anthem, prayed the prayer, and we were off! Coming out of the track onto the road my main goal was to stay between the 8:12 pacers (BQ time) and the 8:35 pacers (for a 3:45 marathon). The 8:35 pacers kept riding me, and I had to keep going fast to avoid getting passed by them. I noticed that my Garmin read 7:55. About this time I heard him say to his pace group: “I’m really counting on y’all to let me know if I’m going too fast, my race pace is 7:35.” PACERFAIL. I mean, really. The guy had ONE JOB. In any event, they backed off, and I slowed down to 8:24s.

Originally, this was my BQ attempt. However, the Great Fairy Step-Godmother of Injury came calling and I had 12 days of inactivity right in the middle of prime mileage. A 3:35 seemed unlikely, so I was mainly hoping for a 340, figuring that if I was feeling strong around mile 17-18, I could try to pick it up and close with a negative split race and possible BQ. As one of my friends put it, “maybe you’ll have a heroic last 8 miles.” I would argue that the last 8 miles of any marathon are pretty heroic regardless of pace.

We headed out of town, northward towards the regional airport. I was clicking off my miles at pretty much goal pace, which is new for me. About mile 2 I was passed by a lady who had the unfortunate habit of getting right on people’s shoulder, hocking a loogie to the side and then trying to pass on the right. I want to be clear that I think this type of race behavior is not acceptable, and also that I passed her later in the race while she was walking. It serves her right!

It’s not a big race, so you’re spread out fairly soon, and I could actually relax and concentrate. Everyone around me in this race had an accent that sounded like a character from A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. It was pretty amusing! I played leap frog with a group of three ladies who were talking very loudly and enthusiastically. Eventually we ended up talking about our MGP goals, and we were right around each other. However, waterstops and mile markers were the main places that spectators were gathered, and I have an inability to maintain my pace when I know people are looking at me, so I generally just sped up going through those areas. The spectators were very supportive and enthusiastic, considering how cool it was and how spread out the race was. After we looped around the Sioux Falls Regional Airport (scenic!!!) we headed back down south and cut over to the levies along the Big Sioux River.

This section was pretty flat and sparse and was also a bike path that had surprisingly NOT been closed for the race. It generally wasn’t a problem except it was kind of annoying now and again to put up with bikers who clearly had no idea a) a race was happening and b) how much I was already hurting. However, while the terrain was flat, it was also exposed and the whole section involved running into a headwind which contributed to the effort level of holding MGP (that’s what Im telling myself). We finally got done with the levies and headed back into town across a bridge that overlooked the Water Treatment Plant (scenic!!!!) and jogged immediately past a Correctional Facility (scenic!!!)

After that we maneuvered back into downtown where the waterstops were populated with a lot of high-schoolers and there was a lot of energy and hilarious cheers. There were not a lot of signs along the race course, and certainly not any I hadn’t already seen on other courses before, but the cheer that seemed to be the most popular was the USMNT World Cup cheer: “I believe-.” There were some very hilarious middle school cheerleader types that were simultaneously encouraging “you’re doing so goood!!!!!” and bossy: “stay to the right of these cones, right around this corner!”

Downtown was also a head game similar to Duval, where it’s just enough of an incline to feel awful, but not enough of one that you know why it feels awful and then it gets in your head and fear and doubt start flying. I did however, basically PR coming back down that stretch (this was a mistake. At no point in a marathon, except the finish line, should you PR) and happened to see my teammate Alicia go by on the other part of the course (victory high-five!!). The course wandered back over to the Falls Park (actually scenic!). Going around the twisty-turny park, I was still hitting my 8:24s, but I was starting to dream about my delusions of grandeur (“oh I just ACCIDENTALLY BQ’d at this race! I wasn’t even TRYING!!”) and I told myself that if I was going to go have a heroic last 8 miles, now was the time. So I tried that for a mile or two, and then I hit the wall.

I don’t know if in my previous races (they have a history of not going well) I was just distracted from the concrete-leg feeling by my concrete-stomach feeling, or if my legs were just shot from pounding the downhills and trying too hard, but they were like anchors at this point. Mile 20-24 were slogs. I knew I wasn’t going to hit my 3:40, and I walked through one or two water stops. This section looped largely through neighborhoods, where the roads were also not closed, and it was unclear which side of the cones we were supposed to be on. Until the cars came, that is. Later, after we went around a high school, we actually got out onto the access road of a highway (scenic!!!!!) which was also not closed, and we were all just running in the right side lane, assuming that the cars would see us and not hit us. At that point, I would have taken death. Not to be dramatic.

The last 2 miles were on another jogging/bike path that had also not been closed to the public. At this point I was passed by the 3:45 pacer guy (he had ONE guy with him), and I also kept leap-frogging a guy in a bright yellow shirt and visor who would charge past me, and then I would pass him later when he was walking. I passed him and he told me “good job blue” (I was wearing blue Team Rogue jersey) and then he caught up to me at the mile 24 water stop and said in a very wanna-be personal trainer way “here we go Blue, let’s get this.” I didn’t have any energy to think of a response, and running with someone when you’re both hurting does help, regardless of how patronizing one of the people might be, but I came out of that stop actually feeling revived and started putting back in effort and he dropped after a quarter mile.

The final mile was pretty good, a guy at the mile 25 water stop jogged with me to hand me a cup of Powerade (I really appreciated the effort, but I didn’t get a chance to thank him), and then there was a guy on the last stretch who was very aging-track-coach who got down in my eye-line to make sure I was looking at him and told me “doing good, keep it moving.” The turn to the homestretch was a welcome sight. I finished up with a 3:46, which was not what I wanted, but was still a PR, and I don’t think I could have done more on the day.

After my traditional sit down and cry a little (no reason, is just how it goes) I called my mom to tell her how I did, and then I spotted Josh in the crowd. We talked about the race and the course and the deceptiveness of the hills/role of the wind. They were also giving out DQ ice cream sandwiches (TEXAS!) and we soon spotted Alicia and Anna in short order.

None of us ended up with what we were hoping for, and we all had some bruised egos getting back into the shuttle bus. But that’s what teammates are good for, suffering together and making fun of the terribleness after. As Alicia put it: “Stupid Falls.” Anna also had the ingenious idea of getting beers at the bar before heading to our rooms to take a shower (shower beers) which all the other runners at the hotel agreed was a good idea and one they wished they had thought of. We all met up in the hotel restaurant after showering and changing for some more beer, good food, and story-telling.

If I can be effusive for a moment, I think the best feeling is the post-race feeling. The work, the suffering and the challenge is over, and the rest of the day is a celebration of how it went or didn’t went and however it did go, it generally doesn’t end up mattering. To me, winning and losing are two sides of the same coin and it’s a mistake to read too much into either of them. Certainly all the encouragement I saw when I logged into Facebook and had 25 notifications from all my teammates, past and present made me feel better. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Coach Amy for putting up with all my ridiculous and neurotic emails, and my teammates for putting up with all my dumb jokes/attempts at humor (particularly Anna, Alicia and Josh on this trip), and the Rogue community at large for reading my blogs and not making fun of me (so far).

We went, we tried real hard, and we all left alive! I’d rate the Sioux Falls
Marathon as a pretty good experience over all. 5/5 for the weather, 4/5 for crowd support (not a lot, but the ones that are there are very supportive), 3/5 for deceptive hills, 3/5 for scenery (very pretty in places!), 2/5 for the ratio of snot rockets to pavement (too many) and 1/5 for BQ-ing, just because I didn’t manage to. Thank you.

New Places and New Faces: Changes within the Rogue Team

“There is nothing permanent except change.” – Heraclitus

With very mixed feelings, we post this blog. We recently lost one, and are soon losing another, long-time Rogue team member to new places. We are certainly sad about that but excited for them to pursue new opportunities, and very excited to welcome two new team members who joined us this month.

warrenWarren Brown, our Cedar Park Training Manager, is leaving us at the end of September. He will be moving to Dallas to be closer to family and has accepted a position with Southwest Airlines. Warren joined Rogue in November of 2011 and has been with us for just under 3 years. He has literally done everything at Rogue, from coaching to the retail floor, race management to sponsorship acquisition and managing Cedar Park (CP) retail to finally managing CP training. Rogue CP many not have survived had he not been willing to plug in wherever he was needed; a dutiful man to say the least! His speedo-wearing love of Rogue will be missed to the fullest; Warren, we will miss you man. Come see us back in Austin often!

jenTo fill Warren’s spot, we are very excited to announce a new team member joining us as Training Manager in Cedar Park. Jennifer Harney (Jen) started with us on September 2nd. Jen previously trained with Rogue prior to accepting a position as training manager at Luke’s Locker in Austin, where she has been for 3 years. Over the last three years Jen has grown and developed a successful training model with Austin Fit (a partner of Luke’s Locker), applying a number of ideas that have since been adopted nationally with USA Fit (the national brand behind Austin Fit). Additionally, she also managed numerous coaches and lead countless groups of her own.

Jen is truly passionate about running and, specifically, the running community of Cedar Park where she lives with her 2 boys.  She relocated to the area almost 10 years ago to coach for Stoney Point HS. Jen not only loves Rogue but more specifically Rogue Cedar Park. As the store and training continues to grow into its own, we are excited to bring in someone with her combination of experience and direct connection to the community.

chuckIn addition, as you already know, Mr. Chuck Duvall’s last day with Rogue was late last month. He accepted a management position with Austin Tri-Cyclist and is now adding bikes, wet suits and all sorts of fun tri-gadgets to his retail expertise. He left excited to learn new things there and further pursue his passion in the triathlon world. Chuck was with us for just over 3 years after we brought him on in May 2011 to fill a need for part-time retail shifts. He started with one 4-hour shift and worked his way up to downtown Store Manager over that period because he was always willing to step up and do more. We already miss his passion for this business, his love for shoes, and bold, outspoken demeanor (boom!). Chuck: we love you man. Once a Rogue, always a Rogue, so don’t be a stranger!

sarahThe great Sarah Madebach has been promoted to downtown Store Manager to replace Chuck in that role. Her first position at Rogue began just 10 days after Chuck joined us in 2011, and we have full confidence that she will fill Chuck’s very big size 12.5 Hokas. Congrats to Sarah!

jamesTo support Sarah and our retail team downtown, we are also super excited to announce that James Dodds is rejoining our full-time team, this time as Assistant Retail Manager downtown. He was previously our original Training Manager in Cedar Park before moving on to pursue other opportunities. Now, we have him back full-time in addition to his coaching duties for the Austin Marathon. Some of you may not know that James is a closet shoe geek and has worked plenty of time on the retail floor up in Cedar Park. Ask him about his shoe problem. We love James and are excited to have him back.

Thank you again to Chuck and Warren for being such great team members over the last 3 years. We will miss you but are excited for you as well. And, welcome (or welcome back) to Jen and James!

The Beast

by Josh Benge

This past weekend, I traveled up to Sioux Falls with a few of my fabulous TRPM teammates to take on the Sioux Falls Half Marathon while they were taking a swing at BQs and PRs in the full edition. After a day of mild shenanigans with the team to take our mind off the race (See the blogs of one Mandy Deen), I headed to the hotel and rested up for the night.   I had what I would consider an ambitious goal, and long story short, it didn’t pan out for me the next day.  That’s not the point of this though.  On the plane home from Sioux Falls post-race, I was re-reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and something struck me (if you know this book, kudos… if you don’t, buy the damn thing or I’ll loan it to you).  In Chapter 19, a reference is made to ultrarunner Lisa Smith-Batchen, one of the most accomplished distance runners of all time.  She speaks of the exhaustion and fatigue of the later parts of races as “The Beast”.  The text from Born to Run is as follows:

Lisa Smith-Batchen, the amazingly sunny and pixie-tailed ultrarunner from Idaho who trained through blizzards to win a six-day race in the Sahara, talks about exhaustion as if it’s a playful pet.  “I love the Beast,” she says.  “I actually look forward to the Beast showing up, because every time he does, I handle him better.  I get him more under control.”  Once the Beast arrives, Lisa knows what she has to deal with and can get down to work.  And isn’t that the reason she’s running through the desert in the first place – to put her training to work?  To have a friendly little tussle with the Beast and show it who’s boss?  You can’t hate the Beast and expect to beat it; the only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.
 
I am by no means an ultrarunner or anywhere near the caliber of Lisa, but there is something to be said about the Beast.  If you have raced, you know what the Beast is, and it isn’t necessarily the fatigue or exhaustion.  I think we all have our own Beast(s).  You don’t know your Beast?  It could be the thing that you wrestle with in miles 20 through 26.2 of a Marathon.  Or in every damn bit of a 5K.  Maybe you have several Beasts working on you at once (mind, body, weather, combination)?  Maybe your Beast is a chameleon that can change colors and bite you in the butt when you least expect it.  Don’t know your Beast(s)?  I applaud you, or I challenge you to dig a little deeper to find it. For now, I’ll tell you about the Beasts I met in Sioux Falls.  My mind and my anger.
This wasn’t intended to be much of a progressive race.  That is, unless I was ready and willing to take my pace much lower than intended race pace as I was starting right around my goal pace.  But what could go wrong?  Weather was perfect, course was perfect (mistake number 1: respect the course, don’t assume), and I was confident.  Mile 1 through 5, perfect.  It couldn’t have been better and I was clicking off miles at race pace or slightly under.  I tucked in with a group of Collegiate XC runners from Gillette College in Wyoming and a few locals that were a part of the 605 Running Crew out of Sioux Falls.   I let them lead the way to block the wind and keep the pace as they were right around where I wanted to be (one of the smarter things I did all day).
Then, things went a bit south on me.  Enter mile 6 and enter the Beast called Josh’s mind.  Too much thinking can be a bad thing kids, especially if you aren’t thinking straight. My mind was about to get as crooked as it could.  I wasn’t intending to do a progressive run and the crew I had been latching onto was going to start cranking down significantly.  I had been listening to them discuss this plan and started playing with the idea myself, giving myself a few scenarios.  GREEDY!  Instead of listening to my heart and my race plan, my mind got greedy and way too involved…  here’s a 5 second snapshot what my thought process looked like before things went south….
“You’ve banked a good 40 seconds and are feeling good, so why not go with these guys (Mistake 2: Never bank time, bank energy… Allison Macsas, I could hear you preaching to me) …. you’re past the hard part of the course, why not? (Mistake 3: see mistake number 1 again, always respect the course)… you recovered on those early slow climbs really well… you’ve raced and trained on harder courses (Mistake 4: once again, see 1 and 3, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS respect the damn course)… If you have a bad mile 6, you can always back off the pace above your race goal and recover to make time up later (Mistake 5: now I am thinking way too much and I’ve given myself Plan B if I fuck up mile 6.  There should be no Plan B or out unless I know I am injured)….

Licking my Chops and Being Greedy
So with all of these thoughts looping in my mind throughout mile 6, I started seeing the group pulling away from me.  I then realized that I was on the Sioux Falls equivalent of Austin, Texas’ very own Duval St.  You know? That slow, deceiving climb over about 3 miles? To add to the slow mind misery, I start seeing my time bank fading, my energy going down, legs feeling lead like and worst of all the looping thought process is getting perpetually worse.  This leads to round two of thoughts over a much longer period of time (miles 7 through 8 in the last two miles of my climb)….
“Well so much for a sub-1:30, might as well back the pace off and just PR (Mistake 6: I have COMPLETELY abandoned Plan A and started relying on my watch when I should have said “screw the watch” at this point and stuck with #JFR)…  my legs are feeling tired.  Was it my nutrition?  Was it my hydration?  Did I go out too fast? Why do my legs feel like lead?  How could I be so stupid to put myself in this position?  This is so embarrassing! (Mistake 7: Why are you thinking about the inconsequential at this point, what’s done is done, #JFR)
Those 3 short miles (6 through 8), were nothing more than me over focusing on why my race was going wrong rather than finding a way to embrace the Beast that was my mind. I was convinced I was wasting an opportunity on a race I had flown a 1000 miles for. I was letting the Beast punch me right in the face and I knew it.  I didn’t have to love the Beast at this point, I just needed to find a way to control and tame it.  Racing isn’t fun at times.  In fact it is never really fun, but I had just made it more of a grind than it needed to be.  I’m not going to bore you with the details.  Miles 9 and 10 were no different.  More mind minutia and convincing myself that I had fucked up.
Then, something happened coming down the bike path when mile 10 turned to 11.  I was still convincing myself what a crappy race I was having and how much time I had given up when I got passed by a smiling racer who chirped, “Good Job, only 5K left”.  At the moment, I thought that was the last thing I needed to hear.  It pissed me off beyond belief.  You’re going to pass me and tell me what a good job I am doing?  How dare you?  Retrospectively, however, I wish I could have found her and thanked her after the race, because she had brought out another Beast of mine that I am much more experienced with controlling… anger. Unlike the mind Beast that overtook me mid-race, I embraced my anger Beast and channeled it like it was an old friend.  There was only one thought in my mind that entire last 5K.  Catch her if you can, and anyone else along the way.  Simple thoughts, simple goals, good results in those last 3 miles because I knew my Beast, and used it to my advantage.  My last last 5K just was just over my original intended race pace.  There was no pain, no extra thought, just an end goal.  Did I break 1:30?  Nah.  Did I PR?  Nope.  But I channeled and embraced one of my Beasts.  I’ll call that a win.

Mile 11 Water Stop … From What I Can Remember… I have dropped the mind Beast and Channeled the anger Beast
I still have a lot of work to do to locate my race Beasts and find out what my relationships are with them.  In fact, I don’t have to love them like Lisa Smith-Batchen does. To each their own! I just have to try to understand them, nurture them when I can, and respect them every chance I get.  Love may or may not come in time.  There is no clear answer for any of us trying to take control of the one or many things that haunt us during the race. I think we just need to know that no matter what we do, Beasts are always going to be there.  We just need to find a way to fine tune our relationship with them.

Stage 2: Distraction

A race report from magical and exotic Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Part 2 (catch Part 1 here)

by Mandy Deen

After a terrifying plane ride on the world’s smallest commercial plane (one seat, aisle, 2 seats, 12 rows), I succeeded in arriving in SCENIC Sioux Falls, South Dakota (upon landing the weather was about 60*F outside and everything smelled fresh and clean and delightful. I had to put on my sweater). Being very much earlier than my teammates (overanxious over-achiever!), I had a large amount of time to kill until they arrived and we could go about killing time (driving each other crazy) together. Luckily the Sioux Falls Sheraton had a TV on which there was both a Law and Order marathon and US Open tennis!

As much as tapermadness is a part of gearing up for a race, the last few days, I find, are best spent distracting yourself. There’s nothing you can do about it now, and worrying about hitting the wall, or body parts falling off (always a concern), or cramping, or the amount of pain you might encounter is not going to stop any of those things from happening. I know because I’ve tried. I always try to remind myself that my fear of the pain when I’m sitting in my comfortable hotel room is worse and scarier than the actual pain when it happens on mile 20 (more on that later).

After a surprisingly good meal at the hotel restaurant where the waitress didn’t even know that the marathon was happening or that it started next door, and a long discussion about how much better and nicer my view out my window was (Sioux Falls is flat, green, with lovely wide avenues and picturesque little houses and neighborhoods where everyone is friendlier than a wet dog, dontcha know. It is Everytown, USA), we all retreated to our rooms for an early night of obsessing about race strategy/watching hilarious South Dakota regional commercials.

The next day we got up, made it to packet pick up at the expo which had an adorable small-town/disorganized feel to it (high school basketball gymnasium). I had to help the woman at the Clif table work the iPad credit-card attachment thingy because they don’t take cash, and because I’m a librarian, and also because I didn’t bring any Gu’s from home because all I brought was my carry on and I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of security regulations regarding liquids on planes. Btw, fyi, jsyk. Alicia and Anna got sucked into a vendor tent with some kind of miracle pain-relief cream (cures plantar fascitis! migraines! Ebola!!!!!! AND menstrual cramps!!! anyone who HASN’T been using this product their whole lives has been living a life of needless suffering and pain!) made from Emu oils? (?????!!!?) with very enthusiastic sales people who were distributing samples whether you wanted them or not. Everyone immediately started applying it to their problem areas. Later it was brought to the attention of our group that Alicia thought the lady said it provided 45 hours of pain-relief instead of 4-5 hours. Which, when you’re all slightly on edge due to impending race-ness (there was annoying number of people in the hotel/expo wearing their Boston gear. I thought this race was for people who HADN’T qualified for Boston yet!!!! #smugbq-ers), is nothing short of hilarious.

We took a cab into downtown that day, because there was not ONLY an art festival, but also a German Fest (sponsored by Shiner!!!!! what an exotic, specialty beer!!!). After deciding quite quickly that being surrounded by well-meaning but decidedly in-the-way families (there were a lot of toy bows and arrows at the art fest), was not good for anyones nerves. We walked down the length of the main drag, Philips Ave, and took lots of dumb pictures with the local “sculpture walk” sculptures. #art. (I am assuming Allison will insert multiple photos from my Facebook account here.)

(note from Allison: yes I will)

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Due to the local cab service failures, we ended up just walking down to the Falls Park, which was across from the German Fest. I did not realize until I was in the shuttle from the airport to the hotel that there would ACTUALLY be falls at Sioux Falls. But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. We took lots of pictures of the very pretty falls and got a stranger to take a team picture of us all in front of them (which certain teammates have failed to upload to the internet so far, just saying.) After that we headed over to our selected Italian restaurant (Luciano’s, or, Lucifer’s as we kept calling it) for an early dinner. Due to another local cab service failure, we actually got dropped off on the southern area of the street instead of the northern area of the street we requested. We ended up just re-walking the entire length of the street down to the restaurant which was by the Falls. Funny story, there’s only ONE door to get into the place, and it’s not labeled and it’s very well hidden. Which we took as a sign of it’s exclusiveness and also small-town Sioux Falls-ness.

At this point, everyone was pretty tired and the pre-race crazies were setting in on us all, and we were all noticing how tired we were and we all kept agreeing to stop talking about the race, and then starting up conversations about the race/our race plan/our race fears. But the food was good and the wine and beer was good, and we were all sad we couldn’t take the leftovers back with us. There was nothing left to do, the next thing was the race.

One more cab ride back to the hotel, a final check of email/Facebook for race plans/internet pressure (the entire Rogue internet is watching us all!!!!!!!!!!!!) we all went our separate ways to settle in for a night of trying to sleep. THE ALARM CAME EARLY THE NEXT DAY.

A Taper Madness Flowchart

A race report from magical and exotic Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Part 1

by Mandy Deen

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 6.23.00 PM

Get it guys? Guys, guys, do you get it? IT”S A TAPIR!!!

But seriously. The flowchart.

Should I go run?

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I don’t HAVE to, tapering is about rest, right? I can’t gain any fitness here.

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Maybe I really should go run, I haven’t been running much at all lately.

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You can’t seem to motivate yourself to run lately, I bet there’s something really wrong with your head. And you don’t want your body to get TOO relaxed before the race.

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No, You need more sleep, everything feels really draggy, and there’s no way you can sustain MGP for 8 miles much less 26.2 if you feel this way in a week!Stay in. Don’t run.

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Holy crap, you’re probably completely losing your ability to motivate yourself to go run, I bet you never have a consistent training program again and in fact stop running all together, but only due to incredible mental weakness. You big weakling!!!!

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…but I mean, I don’t feel too bad about these crazy thoughts and emotions, we all have them during a taper, right? Right?? RIGHT??? Just me?

That’s all for now, Part 2, The Pre-Race, to follow.