Sunday, May 9, 2010


Being an Ohio native and a cyclist, I have heard about TOSRV for years, but never actually done it myself.   I have been down several times in a car, had a beer at Cary Park, and stayed overnight, but I had  never actually cycled down.    That has all changed, this year I did it!  

The day started out bright and early, the group I rode with met down at the Statehouse at 6am.   The forecast was for sun/clouds and 57 degree weather.   Not so bad, except that there was also a "wind advisory" warning out for the day; 17-20 mph winds with gusts up to 39 mph.   Ugh!   My worst nightmare on the bike, especially when it is a crosswind or headwind (we had both).    We convinced each other that it wouldn't be that bad and decided to at least ride to the first stop and see how things went.  

This is the group Pat, Mary, Tim, Maggie, Jennifer, Vince, Jeanne and I.   All of us were TOSRV virgins except for Tim.   Stop #1 was in Circleville.   It was nice to get off the bike, stretch, and get some goodies before heading out again.   I think most of us were thinking, first 29 miles, not so bad, we can do this! 

We barely started out of Circleville and all of the sudden we got caught in a horrific headwind.   I felt like I was giving it all that I could and was only going about 7mph.   At this point, I dug deep, kind of zoned out and just tried to pedal and stay on my bike.   The wind changed a little and we had kind of a cross/headwind for most of the next leg.   It was kind of funny to see everyone riding sideways and hanging onto their bikes.   I saw more than my fair share of people almost wiping out as a gust of wind blew at us!   I normally don't swear much, but this ride definately tested me and I heard things come out of my mouth that shocked me!   About 1/2 way into this leg I realized I was by myself.   I had passed everyone in my group and had no one in site.   I thought briefly about turning around and trying to find them, but quickly came to the conclusion that I didn't want to do anymore riding than I had to on this tour!    Shortly before the 2nd stop Tim caught up with me and said everyone else was way behind.    We opted to just pedal ahead and wait at the next stop for everyone.   Stop #2 was Chillicothe, it was definately a relief to get off the bike and get more food!     Our group slowly started to trickle in and we sprawled out on the lawn and caught up. 

Pat, Mary, Maggie, and Vince all decided they were done.   Pat had already called her husband to come get her and they made arrangements to come back and get the others.   Tim convinced me to keep going and Jeanne and Jennifer were determined to keep on biking until they hit Portsmouth.   The other nice thing was that Jeanne's daughter's were following us in a van with any supplies we might need.   It was comforting to know they were out there!   So, after a bit of a break, we hopped back onto the bikes again.

The third leg was somewhat protected from the wind as we entered the hills and forrests of Ohio.   So, the good thing was that we didn't feel the effects of the wind as much, but the bad news was that there were alot of hills in this section.   Not to mention a detour (due to a closed bridge) that took us an additional 7 miles out of the way.    The last 1/3 of this leg had us riding hills with a headwind.   My legs were toast.   I barely made it to the 3rd stop and all I could think was "I am calling my mom to come and get me."   Tim convinced me to at least get some food, sit down, and take a little break before making a decision.   I hobbled up 3 flights of steps (yes steps!), sat down, and started listening to all the other bikers.    Everyone, was complaining about the wind, seasoned riders were in disbelief.   I overheard a very fit looking cyclist saying that he had done this ride 10 years and it had never taken him this long to finish it.  Another guy, who raced for a team out of Cinci was complaining about only going 7mph in the headwind.   In a weird way, this really comforted me and convinced me that I needed to keep going to finish this.   So despite the fact that I desperately wanted to quit, I got back on the bike! 

Tim and I never did see Jeanne and Jennifer at stop #3 (Waverly), but they thought to take a picture here, so I am including it in the race report!  

Leg #4 wasn't as bad.   There were no more hills and the wind seemed to have changed to a cross/tailwind.   Tim and I made some pretty good time and finally made it to Portsmouth!!   

Tim's wife, Hannah, was there to great us and I was never so happy to see someone in my life!!  We were done!  We made it!!   The beer I had at Cary Park tasted like the best thing ever!   Finally, I was there as a rider and not a spectator!   Tim and I had discussed on this ride if a marathon was tougher or this ride, in the wind.   I think it was a tie, neither one of us could really pick one or the other!  

Jeanne and Jennifer eventually made it to the end as well!

I felt bad that I didn't wait around for them, but I was freezing!   Once my mom and aunt came to get me, all I could think about was a hot shower, warm food, glass of wine, and then bed . . .

Stats for the week:
Wed: rest
Thursday: 2400 swim, 40 minute strength/stretch
Friday: rest
Sat:  113 mile bike, no timing
Sun: 40 minute walk

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Big Sur Marathon

This race really should be on everyone's "Must Do" list.    The experience was awesome! 

The weekend started out with a flight to LA to get my sister, Lora.   The flight out was uneventful except for both of my ears hurting by the end of the flight.   The next morning I woke up with a heavy chest and cough.   Lora and I waited for the rush-hour to clear up and then we left by car to drive up the Pacific Coast Highway and the CA-1.   Definately the way to travel, it was relaxing, we had gorgeous views, and we got to drive the race course prior to actually doing the race.  

The next morning I woke up with a sore throat, productive cough, and my ears still hurting.   Per my sister, I sounded like a cross between the Marlboro Man and Patty and Selma Bouvier.   After downing some cold medicine, advil, and tea, I started to feel better and we hit the Expo and the Aquarium.   Later that night we met up with my MIT friends, hit the pre-race pasta dinner, and took time out for a "team picture." 
We called it an early night and by 8pm I was snuggly in bed, as we had a 3:30am wake up call.   

Race morning came very early, my throat, chest, and ears still hurt.   So for the first time ever I tried something new on race day; I downed some mucinex and advil along with my oatmeal breakfast.   We met in the lobby at 4:05am and headed downtown to catch a bus down to the race start.

After an hour ride through the dark, we finally made it to the race start.   Lots of people and long lines for the bathrooms.   We barely had time to stop and pose before the race started!
Our group split up, to find out hopeful pace groups:  Katie (3:45), Mark (?), John x2 & Kathy (4:30), Jen, I and Darla (5:00) and Jon just decided to wait for everyone to "get out of the way."  Lora, meanwhile, was just catching the bus to go out to the relay point at mile 16.5.  The race fortunately started a few minutes late (we were still in the bathroom at the actual race time) but we were still on the road by 7am! 
My initial goal was to start and stay with the 5:00 pacer as long as we could.   This was not going to be a PR race for me and I just wanted to enjoy the experience, take some pictures, and finish with my sister!   Lora and I had originally signed up to do the relay, it is broken into 5 segments, I was to do the first 3 and then join her for the last 2 so we could stay together.   It is very hard to plan when you are going to meet someone, but when I looked at the splits associated with the 5:00 pace group, it looked doable and gave Lora a better idea of when we might be there.    We stayed with the balloons for about the first 2 miles, but by mile 6 we were about 10 minutes ahead of pace!  

No worries though, this just meant we had more time to stop and snap some photos! 
The whole course is hilly, but one of the most daunting hills comes at mile 10 of the course, it is 2 miles long with various grades!   You can barely see it in the distance in this picture. 
The drummers are situated right at the bottom of the hill, it was vey cool to hear them and see them play.   I can't imagine how their arms and backs must feel at the end of their day!
Half way up the hill, we decided to try and reserve some energy so we split this into a 2:1 ratio (run 2 minutes:walk a minute).   I think this was a good strategy, because by the end of the hill I didn't feel so bad!
The end of the 2 mile hill and also the marker of the 12th mile!! 

The next views were some of my favorites, we took alot of pictures and I think we also added about 5-6 minutes to our time!
Half way there!!  Whoo Hoo!! 

After a few miles, our friend Jon, finally caught up with us.   I snapped this next picture as he happened to jog by us.
It was just by pure chance that I also happened to get Jeff Galloway in the picture, I had no idea that was the other guy in the shot until later in the day! 

Around mile 16, I started feeling a little tired and my left knee started to hurt.  Up to this point it had just felt tight, but it was definately pain I started to feel this time.   Darla was looking really good so we told her to go ahead.   Jen opted to stay with me, as she was coming back from an injury herself and her longest training run had been 16 miles!   Darla sped up and was able to keep up with Jeff Galloway's unofficial 5:00 pace group.    Shortly after this, the official 5:00 group passed Jen and I.   We started discussing how nice it would be to do the 6:2 plan that my sister had been using for her training! 
Finally found my sister (only 5 minutes after we had guessed we would be there), exchanged the relay slap bracelet, and continued on with our slow run.   Lora casually mentions that she wants to warm-up with a 20 minute run and then start the 6:2 format.   I think I almost fell over, that was not at all what my body had in mind at that point.   Unfortunately for Lora, Jen was thinking along the same lines as I was and after 5 minutes, asked how long before we could walk again!   Lora was looking forward to "the beer" that was rumored to be at mile 18, so i think she just went with the flow.  

So there was beer at mile 18, but not in the form we had hoped for!   Either way, it was another opportunity to stop for a break and snap a photo!

We ended up doing 2 rounds of the 6:2, but everytime we hit a hill (which was alot) we ended up back to the 2:1 pattern.   I pretty much hit a wall from mile 20 to 26.2.    My mind said "you can do more!"  but my body could not.   Between my left knee hurting with every step, my quads complaining on the downhill, and the cold/cough finally catching up with me, it was all I could do to walk.  

There were lots more photo-ops but we didn't really stop until we saw this sign, just wanting to be done at this point.   But there is always hope - less than a 5k less!!  We can do this!  

Our strategy from this point on was just to run/jog what we could.   It's flat here, let's see if we can jog to that cone.   Feeling okay?  How about the bridge?    The reality, I think, was that our walk was probably faster than our jog by this time! 

Finally!   The finish line!!  Jen sprinted ahead and  Lora stayed with me, we did cross together although there are no pictures of it.   They also ran out of relay medals by the time we got done.   It will be at least a month before they get some for us, as the artist has to do them and they are made of  clay.    Jen did get a full marathon one for me though, she gave me hers and then went back and found another!  

So, how did everyone do? 
1) Katie:  3:39 (a PR and a Boston Qualifier)
2) Mark:  >4:30, his knee also hurt and he walked much of the course from mile 8
3) John, John's son John, Kathy, and Darla - 4:55 to 4:57
4) Jennifer: 5:14
5) Team K (Lora and I) 5:14:19
6) Jon:  >5:30

Despite everything that happened this was an excellent race and one that intend on doing again.   The scenery was spectacular, I had a great group of friends, and running with my sister was awesome!   

**A few side notes:   John (father) donated his kidney to his son John.   This race was their 10 year anniversary of that event!   Elder John has completed somewhere in the ballpark or 15 marathons and 5 IM's.   This was his son, John's first marathon!  Katie is a machine.   She normally runs her long runs with the 10 minute pace group with MIT, then she goes out and kills the races!   I wish her well in Boston next year.    Lora is a trooper.   She put in a lot of hard work to run with us and then ended up walking at least half of her race to stay with me.   She also had to wait 3 hours at the relay meeting point for us.   It meant the world to me to finally do a race with her and I am grateful we had this opportunity in such a wonderful place.   I do intend on doing another race with her in the future.   Next time, though, it will be on her terms, her race, her pace! 

My stats since 4/20/10:
4/21:  30 minute easy run
4/22: rest
4/23: rest
4/24:  walked all over Monterey with Jen and my sister (16,000 steps per pedometer)
4/25:  26.2 mile run (5:14:19)
4/26: 30 minute slow walk at Lobos Point Park
4/27:  1 hour walk with Hearst Castle Tour
4/28: 1 hour recovery walk
4/29:  3 and 1/2 mile hike, no timing
4/30:  45 minute walk around airport
5/1: rest