Cincinnati: Bonus trip

It occurs to me, I never talked about a quick trip home.  I found a great ticket deal on Frontier Airlines and bought a quick ticket to get home.  The ticket was a no-frills situation, meaning my seat wasn't assigned ahead of time and I couldn't bring anything except a personal item (read: SMALL backpack).  I was okay with that.  I'd read the 'fine print' and knew what I was getting myself into.

Early: I got up to run, and prepped to head out the door.  I did the bus-light rail combination to get to the airport.
Flight: I was in seat 1B.  Calm down.  There's no first class on this plane.  I've never sat that close to the front before.
Cincinnati: Mom fetched me at the airport.  After the obligatory Skyline stop, we headed over to see Grandma.  I had a bonus visit with a cousin who is in Texas by way of California and Ohio.  We had a great visit with each other and with Grandma.
That evening we had supper and then Mom, Marge, and I saw Christmas at Pemberly which I adored. The actor who played Arthur reminded me of David Hyde Pierce (and I can pay no higher compliment).  It was a good time.  With Ribbons!

Morning: I had a run on one of my favorite trails in Cincinnati.  It's all down hill at the end.
Visit 1: Dad and I went over to see Grandma.  We woke up her up around 10:30am, like a teenager.  I was a little worried at first but we had a great visit.
Afternoon: We had a date in Kentucky to see some of my favorite people in the world.  It was Master Luke's birthday.  He got a copy of 'The Hobbit' because he hadn't read it yet.  I asked for a call or letter so I could know what is his favorite part.  (Personally I like when Bilbo puts them in the barrels and floats the drawves down the river.)
Evening: I saw my 'downstairs Mom and Dad' (they need a much better Blog name) and Marge again for supper.  Then all of us went to see Colette.  I went as an "I'd like to see downstairs Mom and Dad" but was pleasantly surprised at the movie itself.

Morning: Guess where I went for a run.
Morning Bonus: I got a big mug of coffee, came back, and watched the NYC Marathon.  I was shocked my Mary Keitany and stoked to see Shalane come back and take 3rd.
Lunch-ish: We had a family shopping trip to buy food for supper and prepare some of it.
Afternoon: We hung out with Grandma.
Evening: I got a visit from some of my favorite people north of the border.  Cousin has been married for the last 18 months, but with Super Mom for much longer than that.  Super Mom's baby was born late March.  My visit was chiefly with Super Baby.  Super Mom asked to see some older pictures of our family and we found some gems where cousin and I were 4 or 5. Super Baby has her Dad's ears.  Dad's ears are also my Uncle Jerry's ear's and my Grandpa's ears.  Just saying.

Morning: Just one more time for the trail run, right?
Last coffee and visit with Grandma.
Lunch/Afternoon: Mom and I actually had a great time shopping for office furniture and beds.  And I got one last Skyline lunch into me.
Evening/night: Ask me about flying home.  It wasn't bad service, but it showed me what happens when a smaller airline with fewer planes hits a delay.  Happily, I did make it home in time to vote, which was my ultimate goal.


Flying Home... a story

6ish Sunday night - check in online.  I am in seat 25A.  I'm pretty sure that's the last row.

3pm Monday - start asking the Google Maps lady how to get from Springdale OH to the airport.  She suggests going all the way around on 275.  This sounds both ludicrous and correct, so I advise Mom of the plan.

3:20pm Monday - Mom and I are done shopping. We've made one last pit stop before the 'road trip' to the airport. We get on the road.

4:00pm or so - arrive at airport.  Hug Mom goodbye.  Make request for two handed hug, because that's a thing that has to happen sometimes with Mom.

4:20pm - there is a bird in here.  Inside.  In the airport.  Not a pet.  It's like a sparrow or something.  It's really freakishly close to me for a wild animal, and I used to be a wildlife biologist. 

4:35pm - Mom calls.  "What'd I forget?"  Mom says I didn't forget anything but I am a GENIUS for not getting on 71/75 Southbound because it is stopped.  It's really the Google Maps lady who's a genius, but I'll take the credit.

5pm or so - the flight delays start. Original departure time was 6:05pm.   First delay update was an 8:15pm departure.  But the plane kept not leaving the airport where it was parked and having some maintenance test it kept failing. 9:20 departure.  10:20 departure.  11:05pm departure.
I am considering going to the Delta counter and purchasing a ticket for tomorrow, just in case.
Also, I begin to research my ballot since I have to vote.  That's the one optimistic thing I did all night.  "I'll get home in time to vote so I have to know what's going on"
I Facetimed with one of my favorite people in KY. He got to play flag football at the Bengals Stadium.  He said it's very big from standing on the field.
I called a friend who is a former airline employee (not from Frontier).  Friend calmly explained the airline really is doing the right thing, and all they can, though also acknowledged the frustration of not knowing what's going on.

8:15pm or so - plane has studied, passed its tests, and is scheduled to depart.  We are awarded food vouchers for $15 (which is kind of a lot).  They do not work a Graters.  They cannot be used for alcohol.  That gets a collective groan.
I grab my voucher and head down to Smash Burger where I am first in line.  As the lady is talking to the kitchen about my order she yells "nine in line" and then "all vouchers".  All I heard from the kitchen was "DAMN!"
I made friends with a 7th grader from St Paul academy who is anxious to get to school tomorrow (versus trying to get out of it) and and 8 year old from Blaine who does Tae Kwon Do and Dance.  She likes dance only when the music is good.  Her brothers play soccer but it's not her thing.  She's also on her student council/senate and she's learned you don't just vote for people because you like them, you have to vote for who has good ideas and can help.  (As I'm researching school board candidates and court justices).

9:59pm - plane from NC lands in CVG, though we are in some doubt because it takes a few minutes to arrive at the gate.
Thus begins the slowest 45 minutes of my life, watching people get off the plane, then watching them wheel people off the plane, then having the 3 zones ahead of me board.  All while I watch the rain POUR down outside.  Will the plane take off tonight?!? 

10:50pm - I am on the plane.  25A is not the last row.  It's second to last. We sit for a while with the door open which makes me not trust that we'll actually depart tonight.  But, the dude in the middle seat of my row got moved up to a window seat somewhere, so now we all have more room.

11:00pm - the door closes and we push back.  And then sit there again, just long enough to make me nervous.  Also, a kid is crying.  I totally get it.

11:05pm - bumpiest take off I have ever experienced.  Seriously thought I was going to die, and then remembered if I was really dying I'd come out of my body and it wouldn't hurt.  The fear and nausea means I'm going to live.  Wahoo!
Since I checked the weather, I know it's also raining in Minneapolis. Which means the landing will likely be just as uncomfortable.

Switching to Central Time:
11:45pm (still Monday) - very smooth landing.  I am nothing but surprise and relief.  I'm also in the second to last row of the plane, so I have some time to glory in that feeling.
Getting off the plane a guy stops to put on his jacket in the only area not blocked by moms off to the side trying to get their little ones back in strollers.  I went around him.  I was so done.
12:05pm - I ask TSA agent how to get to Uber pick up.  (I know it's not in a normal place.)  She was done with her job and said 'ground transportation' which was true for the first 100 feet of my journey, but then became incorrect.
Bloomington Police officer is super friendly and sorts me out, mostly.
Then I get to the other end of the skyway bridge and there's no sineage to go back down a level, but that's the level the cars are on, so that's what I do.  My Lyft driver was super close and very friendly.

12:45pm - I am hone and unpacked, and my backpack is put away. I did not believe this was going to happen.  Also, all my clocks are wrong and I have no idea what's the time.

Happy Election Day.


Running Conditions in October

It's been a fascinating month weather wise.  I say this typing with my patio door open, after two different snow days.  I'm seeing how much I use my various buffs for head cover in the slightly cooler weather. 


Perfect Races

The Tuesdays on the Run this week asks "If you could make the perfect race, what would you like to see included?  Do you have any deal breakers that would make you avoid signing up for a race?  Have you run a race that you would consider "perfect"?"

Must Haves/Deal Breakers: 
Closed to traffic.  I've run a few races that have been on roads open or partially open to traffic and as a rule I hate them.  I'm looking at you Lola's Half Marathon
The exception is Feet in the Street because you just cannot believe how well done that race is, including traffic management.  
Chip timed: When I was picking my last 5K, that was something that I really looked for. This seems to be an issue particularly in the 5K distance.  Longer distances are almost always chip timed. 
Excellent Race Organization: There's one race organization that's kind of notorious locally as one to be avoided.  They famously cancelled a full marathon in a way that just screamed "let me take your money and hang on to it for a while, because we know we don't have permits for this race". 
For me to fork over money, the race organizers have to be legit.  Locally, I've enjoyed any Mary Anderson Races or Final Stretch Races.  On a larger scale, both TCM and Flying Pig are incredibly well organized. 

The "perfect" race:
The closest to perfect I've ever seen was actually the Avondale 5K.  It's a very small race, partially open to traffic.  It was so crazy well organized, and the police did such a great job of traffic management, I'll run it every year I can.  (This race has a special place in my heart because it's where I'm from.)
Honorable mention: When I'm asked to compare TCM and Flying Pig, I put Flying Pig first.  TCM seems to have race routes in more affluent areas of town only.  Flying Pig routes covers some low income and African American neighborhoods.  Everyone gets involved, including schools and neighborhood groups.  It's a big city race but all the different groups and course entertainment make it feel like a small town race that belongs to every little neighborhood on the course.


Linkfest: Runner advice, etc.

Runner advice #1 Run like we are lifting you up and carrying you towards your goal. I used this on race day and literally imagined my friends "lifting me up" those hills.  I even made a note to myself to remember.
 Also, be your own best friend, be kind and supportive of yourself.  True story. During a race, I have to be my best cheerleader.  Anyone who knows me knows "cheerleader" isn't a word used to describe me. 

Do you encounter wildlife on your run?  I am totally afraid of bears. What would I do if I was running and I saw one?

Sports related, and life related, but not running related.  I never went to any homecoming.  Not in high school, college, grad school, or as an alum.  Though I'm sure my reasons are different than those mentioned in this article, it's never been for me either.


Gracie's Cupcake Trot 5K

Gracie's Cupcake Trot in Andover, MN. 
Registration: Online via IM Athlete.  Since it's via IM Athlete, it's fairly predictable and easy.
Packet Pickup: It's a race day pick up.  The volunteers are super sweet!
SWAG: Pink bracelet, a hair tie that I did not take, and an adorable shirt.  All runners get a free cupcake after the race.
Transportation to and from the race: I drove to the race, got there around 8:45am which was PLENTY of time.  Parking was in a lot, totally not a problem.
Volunteers: There was a mix of volunteers.  Some people had shirts saying "Gracies...." (Mom, Dad, uncle, etc) and some had normal volunteer shirts.  Most of the course marshall volunteers appeared to be teenagers.  I want to know how this organization got so many kids to stand out in the cold and clap for me.  That alone is wonderful.
Start Line: The start line was in a parking lot.  No joke.  Also, no timing mats.
Finish: OMG, the last 0.01 miles are up this super steep little "speed bump" thing.  Someone was behind me and I was trying so hard not to get passed.  I thought I was going to die.
Things to know:
Timing: The website says this is a chip timed race. In real life, it's a gun start and chip finish.  There were 65 people in this race, so the gun times and chip times are about the same.  Not a big deal.  But, it's a distinction a lot of "serious" runners would make.
Start time: This race started 15 minutes late because there was a presentation about the non-profit putting on the race that took a while.  I knew at 9:20 when the kids run hadn't started that the race wouldn't go on time. There was a warm space inside (with indoor restrooms with hot water) to wait.  It's not a big deal, but it's something that people who come to run a race will notice.
Course Map: There's no Course Map available online.  I wish there was.  Seeing an elevation profile also would've helped me have a better day.  I think some runners would've been curious enough about the course to bring them out just for that. Since it's a certified course, there's got to be a map somewhere right?
Race Recommended For: This is a very small, very low key race.  I saw lots of kids and families, including a few moms with strollers. Overall the race was adorable, the volunteers were nice, and I'd do it again if the timing works out.
Fasties: Because it's a small race, you will probably win
People who like to run alone: I got a lot of practice racing the tangents and chasing people.  Even though this was a race, it felt like a training run in some ways too, because I was on my own so much.
Families/Kids: There were a lot of kids here; there's also a shorter fun run for kids before the 5K if you have a kid who's too little to go 3 miles
Health conditions: If congenital heart defects have impacted your life/family, these are your people. 
If you're normally in the back of the pack; here's my infographic.  I was in the top 10 women.

My run:
Start time: Posted as 9:30am for the 5K.  In real life, it was 9:45am, which they announced around 9:15am.  At least there was a warm place to wait.
Weather: Ask me about the wind and snow.  The wind was rough.  Snow stopped before the race though.
Wardrobe: Top: Long sleeve shirt; jacket, hat
Bottoms: Brooks running pants, wool socks
Shoes: Merrel Trail Crushers because I wasn't clear if this race was going to be on pavement or not
Route: This course runs around Bunker Hills Regional Park.  I mostly ran this race because I wanted to see Bunker Hills and decide if it was worth it to buy an Anoka County Park pass. (If any of these paved trails are plowed in the winter, I absolutely will buy a park pass.)  This is a very hilly course.  Starts on a road, but mostly on paved trails.  In most places there were volunteers to direct runners at turns, but a couple more places could've used a volunteer.  I was glad I had a runner ahead of me to follow.
Plan/Goals: I was sort of thinking if I could run under 30 minutes or not.  Ultimately the plan was "run by feel" and "run hard".  I didn't know if I could do 30 minutes because I didn't know the course or elevation.
Execution: I ran the first mile too fast, but generally did the "run hard" and "run by feel" thing quite well.  Around mile 3 I could hear someone behind me so I really poured on the gas at the end.  I thought I was going to die. There was no oxygen.  I really didn't want to get passed.
Nutrition:  LOL.  Did I tell you about the cupcake at the end?

Results: 32:45, 3rd in my age group.  I don't know if I get an AG award because I left shortly after the race.
From today, I learned: Even in a race where I'm not going to look at my watch, might be a good idea to check my pace in the first quarter mile to make sure I'm not being an idiot.  I started the race a bit too fast.  I think if I'd been smarter, I could've squeeze out even more in the last mile.
Remember for next time: The first mile is the hardest.  Don't be an idiot.
Bonus: Ask me about the cupcake at the end.
My first race of 2018 was super cold and windy, so there's a nice symmetry with the conditions of this race. 


Outrun your... uh-oh

My friends at TCM had a promotion this year called "Outrun yourself" for the 10 Mile and Marathon participants.  If you ran the race last year, run the same race this year, and your time is faster, you are automatically qualified for the promotion.

Let me tell you, I think the worst thing in the world would be to win regular first prize. How bummed would I be if I won a freaking marathon entry?  I really just want the hat. 


Race Photos

TCM offers free race photos for the 5K, 10K, and 10 mile.  Last year I couldn't find any pictures of myself from the 5K or the 10 Mile, but I had some from the 10K.  This year, I have them from all 3 races.

10K (Saturday): I am dressed like a highlighter!

5K: Not posted because it's like a page from 'Where's Waldo' and I'm in the same outfit.  (Perhaps if you gave us the loop course back, things would be less crowded?)

10 Mile, half way point.  I legit did not know there was a camera there until I saw someone else 'strike a pose' and then I looked over and saw what it was.

10 Mile Finish. The guy in the gray shirt kind of tried to pass me /cut me off.  I was aggravated.  Would you have done that to a dude?  No? Then you're a jerk for doing it to me.  Here's him getting up in my business.  (Also kind of like Where's Waldo)

And here's me out kicking him.  Hard.  


Day of the Girl Relay

Plan: Ragnar is having the Day of the Girl challenge to benefit a women's running group in Ethiopia.  Y'all know this is my thing, right?
Route: On the Greenway for the most part, and then finish with a walking cool down on the track.  It's too cold for this crap.  (5.24 miles on the Greenway, 0.47 miles on the track for a cooldown).
Weather: It was 37* and 17mph winds.  Running into the wind was not super fun, but running with the wind on the way back was really a blast. (Almost literally.)
Wardrobe: Pants, long sleeve shirt, pull over, compression socks, Merrel shoes. I did not wear gloves and slightly regretted that decision for a minute.  Did I tell you about the wind?
Execution: So, I wasn't looking at my watch for a while because my sleeves were pulled up so high.  But when I did look at my watch, I was thrilled to see my HR in the low 130s and me just trucking along like always.
From today, I learned: Running into the wind is good practice for not "fighting" the wind.  Running with the wind is fun because it just is.
Bonus: So gar over 6,000 miles have been logged. Mine are already recorded.


TC Loony Challenge Race Review

Registration Online.  Register early for the race series.  It's popular because it's a guaranteed entry to the 10 Miler.

Packet Pickup: For the series, racers get a 'Saturday' bib that uses 1 number for both races (Take a lesson Flying Pig) and one number for the Sunday Race.  The Sunday bib has a little 'Loony Challenge' emblem on the front, and you get back tags for both days.  The expo is also the TC Marathon Expo.  It has a good mix of vendors, races, and local charities.  I picked up a hat while I was there. I looked in the official store but I wasn't wild about anything they had.

Saturday: 10K Medal and shirt; 5K Medal and shirt, one pair of gloves.  The 10K medal and 5K medal are the same, which is different from years past, and seems pretty cheap to me.  Like, oh, now I have two of this medal.  WTF?
Sunday: 10 Mile medal and shirt.  Pair of gloves.  The shirt is neon.  It's definitely one of the uglier shirts I've ever seen. Free beer at the finish for those over 21.  This year there were vodka samples too, so that was on point.
Race Series: Vest for the series.  Medal for the series.   The vest is a pleasant surprise.  It's a nice weight, zippered pockets, and even a secret inside zipper.  The medal for the series is always one of the prettier medals I get every year.

Transportation to and from the race:
Expo: Bus to/from West 7th, where I'd parked and met a friend for lunch.
Saturday: Bus/Green Line to the races and then Green Line to Dungeon Master's car to get home
Sunday: Bus to the start line; Green Line to a stop where I met Olive and we cheered for the marathon for a while before she took me home.

Start Line:
10K/5K uses a start line next to the finish.  This year, no joke, there was a box truck parked on the course , 100ft past the start.  It was fenced off and everything.  They knew it was going to be staying there.  Truck/fencing situation lead to a horrible bottle neck after the start. They should've just fenced off the course to that width from the start for both races.  10K and 5K races are a mass start.  The 5K in particular should be a wave start.  It is way too crowded with kids seeding themselves incorrectly. 
10 Mile start line is in Minneapolis.  This year there were 4 corrals, which meant I started around 7:25am.  I was to the front of the corral, so I got to see the other corrals going off.  That was fun. The 10 Mile start is fun because some of the marathon runners come and cheer at the start line and it's one big park.

10K: Same as it always has been.  Out and back along Summit Ave with a fair amount of climbing.
5K: Reverted to the old (bad?) course after the fantastic changes they made in 2017.  The 2017 course was a loop.  The old (or current I guess?) course is an out and back with 2 way running along Summit Ave.  It is waaay to narrow for the number of people on the course, and for kids who don't get the concept of 'two way traffic'.  I watched kids and adults almost run into the elite runners coming 'back' because they were on the wrong side of the street.  This is another reason they should do wave starts.  It's just better for runner safety.  (I do think kids belong in this race and it's a well done race for kids.  There are some things the organizers could do to make it safer for all the competitors, especially kids who've never run a race before and don't know the etiquette.)
10 Mile: This course has been the same for a long time (as long as there's not a land slide in the way).  The course has a lot of climbing, particularly in the middle.  I find it challenging but super fun.

Pace Team:
10K, 5K: No pacers
10 Mile: Well, there's what the website says, and then there's what happened.  There are pacers for this race.  However, the corral/pacer situation was a total cluster.  Last year I ran a 1:54 which put me in Corral D today.  (I was 32021, and Corral D started at 32000, so I was close to getting into Corral C).  Based on last year's time of 1:54, obviously a good goal would be 1:50 right?  The 1:50 (11:00/mile) pacer was in Corral C, so I couldn't run with them.  (Ok; sometimes that's how things break down.). Oh, by the way, the 2:00 pacer (12:00/mile) also started in Corral C.  I think that person was straight up in the wrong place.  I passed her in my last mile and NO ONE was with her.   Because really, if you qualify for Corral C, you run faster than a 12:00/mile.  A lot of people in Corral D run faster than that.  For next year, if the corrals are split at the same paces, they should have a second 1:50 pacer in Corral D.  And the 2:00 pacer also needs to start in Corral D where they belong.

Fan Support:
10K, 5K: People do come out for this and stand on Summit.  It's not a ton of people but there is some support.  The chute into the finish is packed with people, so that's always a blast.
10 Mile: I thought there were more people out than last year.  Or maybe I was just paying more attention this year?  There's a ton of people downtown, and this year there were a few spots of people along the River Bottoms as well.  SE Mpls and into St Paul there were lots of people, and Summit Ave is always crazy.  I ran by the free beer at mile 8.  I thought it'd just make me sick.  Butif it's your cup of tea, it's there.  Apparently I also ran by Whiskey shots.  That doesn't sound like something I'd pass up. 

Finish:  All 3 races have the same finish line in St Paul near the Capitol.  As a runner, it's the best finish line of any race I've ever done. It is amazing.  And then there's what happens just after the finish line.
5K/10K: Finish area is super family friendly and the 'chute' is pretty small.  There's medals, water, bananas, and a couple other snacks.
10 Mile: The first part of the finisher chute is pretty standard.  Bonus here because they usually have hot broth.  Might as well be manna from heaven.  Shortly after that things go haywire.  The chute is crazy long and winding.  It's just walking around, the only other thing there is in there is baggage.  Outside the chute are a few other amenities.   The changing tent and family reunion area were in a field that was unfortunately pretty soggy this year.  In the changing tent a lot of runners stood on their mylar blankets to change and stay out of the mud. After I was warm and dry, there's a beer garden. There's also a PR bell that I couldn't find this year.  At some point, I was done walking and looking for it, so that's partly on me.

Race Recommended For:
Race Series: Is great for someone who wants to run a lot over the weekend, but not run the marathon. It's okay for slower/back of the pack runners but not walkers.  You need to run a 10K comfortably in 1:25 or less.  (Because the 5K starts 1:30 after the 10K.)  For me, training for two back to back days of racing was a good challenge for my endurance and my strength.
10K: Fasties, first timers, race walkers, anyone who loves a big race, anyone who wants to try a well supported 10K. There are race walkers and walkers in this race, but not as many as in the 5K.
5K: Fasties, first timers, race walkers, walkers, and kids who are big enough to do a 3 mile race.
10 Miler: Fasties, first timers, race walkers (I have been passed by many race walkers here), anyone who's looking to go up in distance from a 5K or 10K, anyone who wants to increase their speed over a longer race, anyone who likes climbing or hilly races.

Bonus: I put my series results on this report last year, so including it here again.