Goodbye, Running Rogue!

When I first began my second attempt at blogging about running (third attempt at blogging in general if we count those early years of livejournal), I spent weeks, maybe months, brainstorming the perfect blog name. At the time I was a lone runner, so rainbows and butterflies weren’t on my dashboard. Eventually I discovered group running and made some fabulous running buddies and my outlook changed. Rogue no longer felt appropriate, but I wasn’t ready to change the name of my blog. Yet. Around the same time, I noticed more and more businesses adopting the name. I already knew of Rogue Fitness, and Rogue Ales. Then I discovered there was a running company in Texas called Rogue Running, and a travel company called Run Rogue. One of my friends even named his recruiting company Rogue Talent. Despite all of this, I still wasn’t ready to change.

When I wrote my State of Rogue post a few weeks ago, I was not ready to re-brand. A few days later, I discovered that Rogue Running had started a podcast titled “Running Rogue.” I felt that I no longer had a choice. First, I really considered whether or not I even wanted to continue blogging (the jury is still out), but second, I needed to consider if I continued blogging what direction I wanted to take my blog. I knew I wanted to continue writing about running, and I didn’t want to venture into the realms of career, finance or my own profession (which are most often the topics I get asked for advice regarding after running). I was in the midst of seeking out new running goals as I enjoy a hiatus from full marathons. How could I decide on a new focus for my blog when I lacked focus regarding running.

Eventually inspiration struck. For me, running is about chasing goals and perseverance. As I’ve grown through the sport, I’ve found my wings and taken flight. While I’m still setting and chasing goals, I’m never going to stop the metaphorical flight. So please seek me out over at my new blog, Chasing Flight, as I continue my journey! You can find all of your favorite Running Rogue content there as well!

GRL Honor the Fallen AAR

And I’m back! I was feeling a lot of negativity during and after this event so I had a difficult time writing up this AAR/recap and putting that negativity out in the universe. Obviously I made the decision to share my experience.

So this time I am going to recap the GORUCK Light event that I participated in approximately 21 hours after completing the GRH. But first after the heavy, I had my friend pick me up and we headed over to Hounddogs for a pie and beer. After that we headed back to the Heavy SP to retrieve my car. I swung by Starbucks real quick for my first cup of joe in a few weeks. I had just enough time to shower (but not wash my hair) before it was time to head out to the Challenge Start Point to shadow the welcome party. At this point, my feet were not happy. I was a little loopy. And it should be noted that when I went to replace my contacts, I never took out my left lens before putting the new one in and it took almost 10 more hours before I would realize why my vision was fuzzy.

After a night of rest and a morning of relaxation, it was time to get ready for the Light. If you want a reference, feel free to check out my previous GRL recap here. Now the Light events can range from shorten Challenges (or quartered Heavys) to a down-right party with a ruck. For Special Event Lights, the theme tends to be fun as in celebration, but this was Honor the Fallen. This was Memorial Day, and fun is not how you honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Before Roll Call and the Safety Brief, we were told to run through the fountains near the Start Point. Then again. And now low crawl. Okay we were wet enough finally. Once our names were called we were given a point to run to and back to our rucks continuously until given a new task. Because I had chosen to complete the HZL instead of the HCL/HTL, Cadre decided to have fun with me. First they dumped my ruck, and then I had to run to all four (4) points. Then it was crab walk. Then every one back to their rucks, grab hydration source and to a point. And back again. Too slow. Next grab your ID. To the point. Back to your ruck, grab your weight. Back to the point. Now repack your rucks. Too slow.

When it was finally enough, the individuals who hadn’t already participated in either the Heavy or the Challenge were instructed to move to the U-Haul to begin gathering our coupons. And eventually it was time for us to get on with our first movement.

When I first began participating in GORUCK events in 2014, Cadre would spend more time on “Safety” and include basic military concepts (ie ranks vs columns, what dress it up/keep it tight means, fall in, etc). But as the events have grown, I’ve seen Cadre rely more heavily on the GRTs (GORUCK Tough, or individuals who have completed a GORUCK event) for educating their teammates on these concepts. While this is a common practice in the military, if you have a GRT who was never given the proper instruction, how can you expect them to give (or even know to give) the instruction to their new teammates?!? Think of it like this, my first Light Class was 502 and two and a half years later this class was 1547. I think this is one of the reasons why during Light events, you don’t always get that “team” feeling, and instead its a bunch of individuals doing their own thing. Besides, it’s only 4-6 hours to build your team, which often isn’t enough time.

The Cadre picked newbies the entire event to be our Team Leaders for each movement. Despite sometimes rocky instruction from our Team Leaders, we were still successful. We moved from Bicentennial Park to Greenlawn Cemetery. During one of the one particular movement, the Cadre determined that our two apparatuses that we built during the Heavy would only be carried by women. Communication was really lacking during this movement but somehow we pulled it off. I didn’t rotate off from under the weight enough because there weren’t a lot of women to rotate, and I was definitely feeling this short time under weight on my feet. Once we arrived at Greenlawn, the Cadre allowed us time to share our stories of those we carried with us. Soon we were back on the road. During our last stop, Cadre put the HTL teammates under one apparatus and told them to lead the way. I put myself in between them and the rest of the team to offer my encouragement to my Heavy teammates. They definitely pushed the pace the last mile, and there was significant space between the HTL crew and the Light crew. Cadre directed us into a gravel parking lot. We did some PT, hung out, more PT, some more hanging out, putting weight away in the U-Haul, and finally receiving our patches. To illuminate the lack of “team” achieved by this event, we did not get a team picture because people left immediately after the patching. We had approximately a half mile to walk to our cars/SP. And I was a little annoyed because it was clear we only endexed at the gravel lot because HQ had given the Cadre a time-limit for the event. I don’t mind ending at a different point than the start, if there is a freaking reason, but when it’s an arbitrary let’s end here to end here, it kind of pisses me off. Not everyone has access to someone to pick them up, or can afford money for a cab (even though we are required to carry cash with us), PLUS we had bags of canned goods for our service project that we somehow had to get back to near the Start Point to drop off.

 

Moving on with the AAR.

What was supposed to happen: “lighter vibe, lighter loads and less time commitment, which means more time to party with your class after you’re done. ”

What did happen: None of the above. The vibe was not lighter, but it was an Honor the Fallen event. The loads were very similar to the Challenge. I don’t know how many people hung around after to party.

What can improve: I understand that it was an Honor the Fallen event, so “fun” and “celebrating” wasn’t to be had, but maybe we could have done that to celebrate the lives lived by the Fallen.

What we should sustain: I loved the planned out route. The Cadre had a lot of purpose behind what they did.

Final thoughts, we covered approximately 7.5 miles in roughly 6.5 hours. I was pretty bitter over the lack of teamwork and communication. I was also not happy with the feeling that this was more of a mini-Challenge instead of a Light. But this could be a result of the fact that I’m slowly growing over GORUCK events in general. Like everything, they served there purpose in my life and I grew immensely from them. I was impressed with my performance during the Heavy event, and that I survived the Light. I had almost a year off between GORUCK Heavy events, so maybe in another year I’ll be in the mood to come back from retirement.

Until then.

 

GRH Honor the Fallen AAR

Last year when I signed up to complete my first GORUCK Heavy, I signed up with one of my closest friends. Unfortunately life happened and I ended up going it alone. Almost. Thankfully I knew so many of my teammates. But after that event, I didn’t know if I wanted to attempt another Heavy because we were such a cohesive team, I couldn’t imagine an event any better (or easier for a Heavy). But when my friend asked me to do it with her…I couldn’t say no.

Going into this Heavy (or HZL aka Heavy, Sleep, Light), my biggest issue was how to train. Last year, I rucked event weight plus 5-10 pounds often and fast. I focused on push-ups and sit-ups and some other PT style movements. I utilized Pure Barre to increase my core strength and also to mentally prepare to push through when your muscles start shaking. Training for this Heavy was going to have to be different, because what I did before was not enough. Before I had kept up with my running, and this training period as soon as I could, I was going to cut that out. I had the LA Marathon in March, and I was coaching (plus “training”) for the Glass City Half Marathon at the end of April. I had started back up at CrossFit in December to get ready for lifting heavy shit. I also started rucking after Glass City; in order to make up for only having a month to train, I doubled my ruck weight and tried to get out there 3-4 times a week.

Two weeks before my event, I attempted my 12 Mile Ruck. Under the extra weight, I suffered more than usual, and called it around 5 miles. This made me nervous, but every other training ruck before and after when smoothly. Two days before the event, I loaded my ruck for the event (at event weight) and my body sang with happiness at my ruck’s weight. I easily went out and comfortably hit well below the required 12-Miler pace.


Columbus

May 25, 2017

Class 180

Cadre Karl, Montreal, and Shredder

Once again, I tried hard to sleep in. When that didn’t work, I tried to be as lazy as possible. Around 10:40am, I headed to Chipotle to fuel before the event. I had packed my ruck on Wednesday and only had my Pelican case to load prior to the event. Since this would contain my cell phone and car keys, this was going to wait until the last minute to get packed. I made some updates to my packing list after my last heavy. I included more food (which of course I didn’t eat half of), I switched to my 2L Source Bladder, and only packed 2 pairs of socks instead of 3. I included my long sleeve, my beanie, my buff and my Columbia Rain Jacket.

I left my friend’s house in Columbus around 3:15pm with a 30 minute drive to the start point. Unfortunately due to work, she had to drop the event, so I was on my own. Because of construction, traffic, and some pretty heavy storms, I arrived to the Three Creeks Metro start point around 4pm. I knew more people than I realized.

Around 5pm, the Cadre pulled up and told us we were in the wrong location and we had to hike quickly to another parking lot not far away. Roll Call and the safety brief went quickly. There really was no gear check other than to make sure we had our weight.

Cadre informed us that our PT test was going to be on-going until it wasn’t. We should consider everything a part of our PT test, because we could be performance dropped. The first movement was the push-up. The Cadre gave us the standard and wanted us to grade each other according to standard. I made sure that these were the most perfect push-ups I’ve ever done and completed only 29. Next we ran as a team to the wood line and back before being given our time hack to cover 7 miles in 1 hour and 24 minutes to our community service project. Cadre emphasized that there was no missing this time hack because we only had a window of opportunity to complete our service project.

At this point we only had our rucks, our team weight, a 15# bucket for holding the flag, and our flag. We were tied into a rope which didn’t hinder our movement in my opinion.  Unfortunately, one of our 24 teammates couldn’t hold the pace and we took their ruck within a quarter mile. Even still this teammate was holding back our pace significantly. It took us over 2 hours to cover the 7 miles. Thankfully we still had enough time to complete our project. This project was to clean up construction debris from a home renovation project to help make a former Marine’s bathroom wheelchair accessible. Afterwards we did 22 ruck swings for the 22 service-members who lose their personal struggles each day.

With that done, we moved single file to pick up a paver stone from a U-Haul van. This paver stone (weighing roughly 23 pounds) would be carried by each teammate for the remainder of the event to represent the tombstone/headstone of the service member we were memorializing that weekend. It was at this time, the first teammate dropped. We were now a team of 23.

Our next movement was to Nelson Park along the Alum Creek Trail. Here we did the second PT movement: sit-ups. I successfully completed 55 during the two minutes and felt happy with that number. Then Cadre taught us various maneuver movements and how our American Military’s tactics have changed over time. It was a great history lesson, and I learned quite a bit. After this was completed, Cadre encouraged us to stow our tombstones in our rucks if we could. Mine at the time just would not fit, so I was left carrying it using a climbing runner to sling it over my shoulder on top of my ruck.

During our next movement to Innis Park, we had to clear bridges (both over and under passes). After a failure, we sustained casualties. We met our next time hack, however, so we had an advanced team clearing our bridges for us. After meeting another time hack, we were relieved of our casualties. To be honest, I don’t remember much from this stretch of the night. Upon arriving at Innis Park, we were informed that we would be completing the last movement of the PT test. It would be a run and the standard was a 9-minute mile regardless of gender. I headed out at a comfortable and sustainable pace, trying to push it but not too much. I didn’t know how my legs were and I did not want to go out too fast and fall apart at this point in the night. As I rounded the turn to the finish, I heard 1-2-3…and then 8:04 as I crossed the finish line. In my state, I thought they were counting 9:01, 9:02, 9:03, so when I heard 8:04 I breathed a sigh of relief. Thankful I made the time, I turned around and headed back to the course to find teammates and run them in to the finish. After three shuttles, we were all in. During this we lost another teammate, which I should have known when my head count was only 22, but ever ruck was covered. We then were directed to complete 6 pull-ups. After which we were given time to do foot care. I changed my socks and realized that through the rain and the puddles, plus sweat, my feet were not doing well. This was right around the time the cops showed up. I don’t think it’s a GORUCK, if the cops don’t make an appearance!

The Cadre unloaded some sandbags from their U-Haul. I don’t remember the count, but at least one 120 pound, maybe two 80 pound and a 60 pound or two. We definitely were suffering under this weight, because we realized just how many of our teammates were just either unwilling or unable to assist. This didn’t stop us from meeting our time hacks. And because of that success, we were granted more rest breaks than I’ve ever had at any event. This was a relief because with my 2L bladder running down, I was able to fit my tombstone in my ruck and that weight was vicious. The sun came up and we had around 15 minutes for a sock change. Moving on again, we finished our time on the Alum Creek Trail and headed west on Schrock Road to Sharon Woods Metro Park. Sometime during this movement after Innis Park, we were allowed to break up the sandbags. This allowed me some time under the “40” pound sandbag. I use quotations because a 40 pound filler can hold at least 50 pounds of sand and usually Cadre expect fillers to be filled to the very top. Not to mention because of rain, this sand had gotten wet.

Upon our arrival at Sharon Woods, we received our next task. We were given additional weight, and instructed to construct two apparatuses to carry our current and additional weight. After construction, we would conduct a short test before storing the apparatuses and weight for a future mission. And by short it was an estimated 3 mile test. During this iteration, I suffered carrying the bucket and the flag simultaneously. The only people not contributing were the two individuals who were unable to fit their tombstones in their rucks and thus unable to suffer under additional loads. They were not permitted by Cadre to give up their tombstones to any teammate. The heat picked up because the sun was shining. This only made the suffering worse. I also had the 40 pound sandbag filler for at least one mile. This part of the suck was when I started to get angry at the teammates not contributing. We had very few bodies to switch out under the heavy loads and we were taking rests every 50 meters or so. Yet during this time, we had one teammate who was holding an ALICE pack of nothing but the rope used to construct the apparatuses. I at times begged him to switch with me for at least one movement and he refused. Eventually another teammate and I were switching on and off either the 40 pound sandbag filler or the 50 pound teammate every other movement. I would have loved to suffer with my teammates under an apparatus but when the shortest guy is 5’10” and I’m 5’6″, I would have been no help at all. My contribution was trying to manage the rest of the items as best as I could to give them relief. We were really breaking down as a team because everyone was suffering. But finally after 3 miles from hell we arrived. We were able to give up some weight and Cadre instructed us to change our socks.

We had a one mile movement and then 20 of us were pilled into the back of the U-Haul van. One road in the front and I was throw in the back seat of a shadow’s truck. The van ride was miserable for my teammates, but I felt blissful when we arrived at the field across from Thomas Worthington High School. I knew where we were and where we were headed. I glanced at the clock in the truck and knew it was around 1:30pm with an estimated 3-5 miles to the proposed ENDEX location.

Of course, it couldn’t be that easy. The Cadre gave us two large ammo cans. Once we began movement, it became clear that our team was still breaking down. Even more teammates began gray-manning. Cadre instructed another female and myself to switch off on one piece of equipment, which made me feel like a poop-stick because my teammates were struggling. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t suffering, because I was. And as our team continued to break-down, I felt my willingness to continue rapidly dissolve as I entered my dark place.

Then it happened. Because we failed to follow instruction, Cadre gave us some logs to carry. If I thought the 3 miles from hell were painful to witness, this was worse. We were so close, yet so very far. Traffic was picking up on the trail, and our lack of communication made for some very dangerous situations. Eventually Cadre directed us to an off-the-path hidden trail that wound its way to an underpass also known as storm drain passing under 315. We were then instructed to sit down in the water. At this time, we shared stories of who we were carrying for the weekend. We gathered together and sang the Ballad of the Green Beret and proceeded to move out of the tunnel across the field. Cadre indicated for us to form up, retrieve our bricks from our rucks, and take a lap around the baseball diamonds. When we returned, our patches were on our tombstones.

So let’s get on with the AAR.

What was supposed to happen: “a test of your desire to overcome under conditions of significant physical and mental stress. There’s more weight, more miles, and no sleep which makes for a lot more time for the Cadre to push participants past their limits. ”

What did happen: All of the above.

What can improve: In my last heavy, Cadre encouraged us to get under every piece of equipment. There was some equipment that I couldn’t physically get under due to height restrictions. I think (hope) I did my best to carry my share of the weight, more so than any other event I’ve completed. I can’t say the same for some teammates, as there were a few that refused to carry some of our heavy items.

What we should sustain: I loved the planned out route. I enjoyed the education we received throughout the event. I was also thankful that I trained with a heavier-than-event-weighted ruck because I was prepared for carry the tombstone.

Final thoughts, I’ll explain later that I was quite delirious throughout the night. I recorded the events above to the best of my recollection. It rained, but I don’t remember when, for how long, or how much. I may have missed details or incorrectly recalled the order in which things happened. Overall, we covered approximately 31 miles on foot in roughly 24 hours.

I’ll be back shortly with my AAR for the GORUCK Light that occurred the next day!

 

Glass City Half Marathon: Race Recap

I wasn’t sure how to write this race recap because it took me a while to process the race. I’ve PR’d twice at GCM before, but this year, it was not my goal race. Last year I worked my tail off to PR in the full marathon and I had a lack luster day at the races; this year coming off of LA training, I really wasn’t training very much more than to finish the race. So going into race day, I was not sure what my expectations were.

Race Week Training

I. Did. Not. Taper. You read that right. No taper. And if you read my 2015 PR Race Recap of Columbus, then you’ll recall I did the same thing. My mileage since LA has been low, so there wasn’t much to taper. I ran every day what felt good,  and I didn’t run when I didn’t want to.

Training Review

This year I transitioned from training for LA to training for GCM, while substitute coaching for Dave’s Running Marathon in Training program. During this transition period, I noticed that compared to this time last year I was running on average a minute/mile slower.

Race Day Wake-up

Sunday morning’s wake up came at 3:30am. Breakfast was a oatmeal with blueberries and peanut butter, and coffee. I used my morning walk with Addie to help me determine what I would wear for the race. After our walk, I packed my bags and we headed to campus. After a quick photo op with the Oiselle Volée flock, there wasn’t much time for a warm-up so I headed to the Start Line.

Start Area

I still had no game plan. I decided to start with the 1:55 pacer, except I couldn’t find them. I had set my watch so I had to manually lap each mile, and I was hoping this wouldn’t have me watching my garmin too much during the race. As I waited for the race to begin, I had 3 Raspberry ProBar Bolts and 2 Margarita Clif Bloks to start the race off.

Miles 1-3: 9’00″/8’41″/8’43”
I wanted to keep it relaxed early on since I really had no idea of my racing capabilities. I saw a fellow Dave’s MIT coach pacing her group, so I began with them as my rabbits. Shortly before Mile 1, I spotted Cory and Steph, hoping I wouldn’t regret trying to catch up to them early on. I stuck near them until right before Mile 2. I grabbed water around Mile 3 and decided to try to drink while running (and hopefully not choke!).

Miles 4-6: 8’40″/8’35″/8’31”

I was expected to feel fatigued and slow down at this point. Around Mile 4.5, I ate 3 Raspberry ProBar Bolts and 2 Margarita Clif Bloks. I was pleasantly surprised that my legs felt fresh and I had energy enough to sustain my current effort. I was pretty happy so far in the race. I was seeing my dad multiple times and Bob, one of the head coaches for Dave’s MIT, which helped keep me up beat being able to spot them along the course. (Side Note: this made me super excited to spectate the Cap City Half Marathon the following weekend.)

Miles 7-9: 8’32″/8’44″/8’39”

Around mile 8, I wondered if I had the potential to PR. I knew there was plenty of miles of the race remaining, but focusing on the possibility kept me moving forward. I was pleasantly surprised about how I was doing as we made the “turn-around” on Central Avenue and headed back towards campus. I forgot to fuel so I grabbed it around Mile 9.5.

Miles 10-13.1: 8’40″/8’19″/8’31″/8’11”
I passed Steph around Mile 10 and I knew she was struggling. I wanted to open up at this point in the race, but quickly realized I didn’t have the legs for a huge push. I knew without it that a PR was out of reach, but I would be damned if I wasn’t going to hang on and try for at least a sub-1:53.

Finish
Official Finish Time 1:52:30 (only 47 seconds off my PR)
Average Pace 8’35”

Holy Batman! My previous races at GCM had me working hard for my finish times. Relatively speaking, this race felt like a cake-walk. I was reminded why Ottawa Hills is called “Ottawa Hills” but really surprised (and absolutely amazed) how my body handled them and my pace.

Pros:  It was the perfect weather (probably because it was almost the perfect “date”–you can laugh if you’ve seen Miss Congeniality and know what I mean). GCM still isn’t my favorite race or course, but I’m trying to learn to see why so many people do love it.

Cons: I can’t get it out of my mind but I think there are some major security issues with this race (yeah I said it).

I’m done racing for the time being while I train for a GORUCK Heavy! If you’re interested, you can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Thanks!

Jes

LA Marathon: Race Recap

LA was my 4th (fourth-that’s right) full marathon in less than 11 months; this doesn’t take into account that I ran an ultramarathon in December 2015. That’s a heck of a lot of running, for me. I know there are marathon maniacs that are practically running a race every weekend but that’s not my life. I’ve taken a few days (okay a week) to process my LA Marathon race experience. I’ve already recapped some of the usual pre-race things such as the Expo in last week’s Friday Five which can be found here. So let’s get into discussing Race Day!

Wake-up: I slept very well and woke up before my alarm at 2:30am. I prefer having some time to relax, drink my coffee and eat breakfast, instead of sleeping in then having to rush.

Weather: Leaving my hotel I noticed that it was cool (55 degrees F), and a bit humid (around 90+%). I wore a pair of throw-away sweatshirt and sweatpants, plus my Oiselle Pom Hat.

Goals: I didn’t have any to be honest. I hoped I could break 4 hours, so I started with the 4:00 pacer. But I knew that my training period had many rough spots, so enjoying the course was my primary goal.

Shuttle: I was scheduled for a 4:30am shuttle from Downtown Santa Monica, but I arrived early around 4:10am and boarded a bus immediately. Approaching our exit for Dodger Stadium, we realized the exit was closed by CHP, so we were diverted to the general traffic entrance. Once arriving, we were turned around by traffic control. Many people on our bus were not very happy about this and a few wanted off the bus right there. It was barely 5:00am so we had plenty of time, and there really was no reason to stress (yet). I was sitting inside Dodgers Stadium by 5:15am.

Start Line: There was a lot of room at Dodgers Stadium, plenty of bathrooms, and free bananas, water bottles AND Clif Shot Bloks, which was perfect because I accidentally forgot to remove my second breakfast from my gear bag before checking it after I applied my body glide and sunscreen.

Mile 1-5: Within the first ¼ mile we were so bottlenecked we were walking. Within the first ½ mile men were breaking off to the trees for a potty stop. Our first mile overall was a wee bit slower than a 4 hour pace, but it was comfortable. Besides that first mile and sometimes at water stations, the course wasn’t very congested; you looked ahead and it was a sea of runners, but there was always sufficient elbow room thankfully. For this race I actually turned off auto-lap on my Forerunner 230, and manually lapped myself each mile marker to get a more accurate mile-by-mile split times; I only forgot three times because that’s how quickly this race flew by despite how slow I was running/walking. I knew there were some rolling hills but I underestimated these inclines (I should’ve driven the course!) and that’s saying a lot from someone who has run the Flying Pig (Cincinnati) and Pittsburgh Marathons! Mile 2 was my second fastest mile of the day at 8:44, but it didn’t feel uncomfortable; the pacer did slow down to a 8:58 for Mile 3, but as we hit Mile 4 I lost them because of the Hill. This was also the start of walking the water stations to allow my legs a minute of recovery.

Mile 6-10: I wasn’t quite hitting 4 hour splits, but I was happy with my pace. I had decided to walk inclines to save my legs because let’s just admit it now, I wasn’t in the best shape for this course. Around Mile 6, we passed Echo Park Lake. At Mile 9 I stopped for a potty break. I was also on the border of being too thirsty and worried that I would be overhydrating in the weather. It was sunnier than expected and I was regretting not wearing a hat. I was still pretty positive at this point, but a bit sad that the course was going by too fast and I was certain I was missing some touristy type sights.

Mile 11-15: Around Mile 11, I ran passed Hollywood & Vine, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I was excited to see these landmarks because I felt certain I had missed them. I don’t remember where it was on the course, maybe somewhere around here, but you get an amazing view of the Hollywood sign. Just as with Detroit, most of this part of the race was a bit of a blur; although I was in a much better place physically and mentally than Detroit. I think during this part was when Jen from NYC passed me, and when I noticed a blister on my foot. I also noticed that almost every mile appeared to begin with an incline which had me walking for almost a ¼ mile. I was probably too cautious at this point with the walking, but mile 4 pretty much tormented my quads and too a lot out of my legs.

Mile 16-20: I knew that I needed to learn how to push myself at this late in the race. But I was comfortable and not really thinking at all about my finish time at this point. It was during this stretch that I entered Beverly Hills and was running down Rodeo Drive. I really wanted to stop and take pictures but I was focused on putting one foot in front of the other because while my finish time wasn’t a concern (yet) I didn’t want to waste more time on my feet.  Despite how slow my mile splits were, the miles really did seem to be flying by!

Mile 21-23: Somewhere between Mile 20 and 21 I caught up to Jen and asked her if she wanted to run together. At this point, I was feeling good and knew I could pick it up. But I had been wanting to run with someone else for most of the course, so regardless of my desire to pick up the pace, my desire to run with someone else was stronger. Eventually around Mile 23, Jen encouraged me to keep going. I passed the Oiselle Cowbell Corner around Mile 23.5. I wanted to stop for a photo-op but my legs were just carrying me at this point and I knew that I had to dig deep to get in under 4:30. The only reason 4:30 even was a “goal” at this point was because I had caught up to the 4:30 pacer and suddenly I began calculating my estimated finish time.

Mile 24-26.2: In order to break 4:30, I had to hit a 9 min/mile for the last two miles. I had taken it too easy for most of the course, and with the hills being over I had that kind of kick left in my legs, but physically I had been on my feet for over 4 hours so sustaining that pace took a lot of mental focus to keep the physical drive alive. Contrary to the elevation map, I didn’t notice that lovely decline into the finish.
Finish: My watch said 4:29:53. I never noticed the clock when I crossed the finish. There was no 26 Mile Marker, and spectators aren’t allowed in the last 0.2ish of the actually finish line, so it was pretty lonely and a bit confusing because I’m not a very visual person when it comes to estimating distances. I saw the finish line and knew I was within seconds from not breaking 4:30 (not that it really mattered). Immediately after crossing a volunteer came and walked with me. I probably didn’t look good. I got my medal, took a picture, and texted my mom. Apparently I didn’t actually cross the finish line when I stopped my watch (there were at least 3 “timing” mats at the finish) so I didn’t quite break 4:30 this time around.
Official Finish Time 4:30:32
Average Pace 10’19”

Summary: Each marathon has been a learning experience. The distance is very humbling. Random fact though is that my pace was exactly one minute slower than my pace at Pittsburgh.

Overall: If I lived closer, I would probably run this marathon annually. But the cost of travel isn’t cheap and that will keep me from making this trip. I enjoyed the course, and the volunteers were freaking amazeballs. The course entertainment and spectators didn’t come close to Pittsburgh or Columbus, but the views made up for it. I didn’t have issues with the Shuttle to the Start line, but if you read my blog often you know I’m a planner and I prefer to be early rather than late. For my first point-to-point race, I thought the logistics were very smooth. Compared to Columbus, Detroit and Pittsburgh, while LA did have constant contact via emails, and social media, they are not as responsive to posts or interactive with guests as the others. The coolest feature of LA was the Students Run LA (SRLA) group, they just brought a whole new energy on the course that was contagious.

You can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Question: Have you ever run LA? If yes, what was your favorite memory of the race?

Jes

GORUCK Heavy AAR

The following post is over 6 months late. I drafted it that long ago but then stepped away from my blog. As I close out 2016, I decided to publish one last event recap.


What do you do as you recover from 2 Full Marathons in 7 days? You train for another event. This year I decided to accomplish one of my goals: Completing a GORUCK Heavy.

My first GORUCK event was the 4th of July Challenge in Detroit. (You read my after action review of a previous GORUCK event here.) So in 2016, I returned to Detroit to attempt a GORUCK Heavy on June 16th. A GRH (GORUCK Heavy) is approximately a 24+ team-based event, covering an average or 40+ miles, with a completion rate of 50%. It is not a race. There is no course. Just a start point and a group of weirdos who become family during the ensuing madness.

Being around the GORUCK community for going on two years, I’ve heard various experiences at Heavy events. There are so many factors that you can’t control (think Cadre, weather, etc), but there are some things that you can do to improve your chances of passing a GRH.
-Be mentally strong.
-Be able to carry heavy stuff over long distances.
-Be a team player.
-Know your weaknesses.

Primarily for Training I used a Training Plan from Military Athlete. This was a 6-week training program designed specifically for a GRH event. I didn’t follow this training plan completely. Additionally, I continued to run and attend Pure Barre because I enjoy running and couldn’t imagine giving it up completely, and Pure Barre was strengthening my core which was a major weakness for me. One component of a Heavy is the Physical Fitness Test consisting of 2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups and a 12 mile ruck in under 3 hours and 30 minutes. The Military Athlete plan focused heavily on this aspect, completing various of pushups and situps throughout the week.

One criticism I had of this plan was the time commitment to complete. Training schedule and times:

Sunday: Total Rest
Saturday : 4-6 hours (Mini events)
Monday/Wednesday: up to 4 hours. This depends largely on personal ruck time.
Tuesday: less than 60 minutes.
Thursday: 3 – 4.5 hours
Friday: Total Rest

My time constraints was a major factor in my modifications for the training plan.


Detroit

June 16, 2016

Class 121

Cadre CT and Heath

Like pre-race/event nights, I had trouble sleeping Wednesday evening. I wanted to limit my time awake prior to the event so I tried as hard as possible to “sleep in” and take a nap, but I ended up being awake around 9am.

I had packed my ruck on Wednesday and only had my Pelican case to load prior to the event. Since this would contain my cell phone and car keys, this was going to wait until the last minute to get packed.

I went over my packing list, and made some last minute deductions of food. I was getting nervous and worried about overpacking vs underpacking. I love my GR0, but when it comes to events I always feel like its too small. I had my super slim 20# plate, my 3L Source Hydration Bladder filled, a 2L Sea to Summit dry bag with some first aid supplies (IBU, Contact Solution, a small roll of athletic tape, nail clippers, safety pins, Body Glide), 3 Clif Bars (with caffenine) and 1 pack of ProBar Bolts (with caffinene), 2 Climbing Runners. I also had an 8L Sea to Summit dry bag with 3 pairs of socks, a long sleeve dry fit shirt for when it dropped below 60 over night, a spare dry fit shirt, spare gloves, beanie, buff.

I left my house around 2pm the day of the event and dropped my doggie off before swinging by Chipotle for one last meal. I had almost 3.5 hours to make a 90 mile drive which was expected to take 2 hours. Well it took almost 3 because of traffic.

I pulled into the parking lot at the start point right around 5:30pm. I loaded my Pelican case into my ruck and headed to wait with everyone else. I was a ball of nerves. I’ve read so many AARs of Heavy events, that I had developed so much self-doubt. It was comforting to know a few people at this Heavy event.

The event started smooth, roll call, safety brief and gear check. I was dinged for forgetting my spare headlamp batteries. WTH, I remembered packing them. I normally grab 3 packs to share, but decided I only needed the minimum required. I couldn’t remember what happened to them. When packing I keep all of my event supplies together and then sort what I need and what I don’t. Somehow my batteries, all 3 sets, were in the “do not need” box. Oops.

We first started with a PT challenge of ninja pushups. But Cadre Heath beat us. Our penalty was Flutter Kicks. 1701 of them. Then Cadre CT gave us our 23 exercises to work off the deficiencies found during gear check and 3 late comers.

Next, the Cadre explained how they designed this team event. I actually liked that they shared their thinking behind the process. It gave me an idea of what to expect during the 3 phases of the event.

We didn’t start off with the PT Test however. Which was the big focus of my training (according the the Military Athlete training I followed). I was so ready to knock it out of the park too. We did start off with some team PT. Cadre CT gave us a question. A number was the answer so when we guessed a number, if it was incorrect we had to do that many reps of 3 different exercises. Legit early on I was like fudge this stuff. I could see my car. Mentally its hard at this stage but I tried to remain focused on the current mission.

After some fun picnic table PT, a water run and sandbag loading, we were headed out of the park with our coupons. 41 started the event; 41 remained carrying 4-40+ lb sand bags, 1-80 lb sand bag, all linked together, a duffel bag of unknown goodies (it felt like rope). two water cubes/billets, our team weight (50#). and an American Flag on a 30+lb flag pole. The Duffel bag quickly became my baby.

We did so great as a team, changing out on all of the weights. Moving forward. Staying positive. It got dark quick and it made me happy. With sunset around 9ish and sunrise around 5:45ish, I knew that less than 9 hours and we would be halfway done.

After weaving our way through some trails we came across a parking lot next to a river/stream. Water is typically my weakness and on this June night I felt chilly and was hoping the water wouldn’t put me over the edge. We broke into teams of three and one lucky team got to hop in the water. During this one cop car showed up. Then a second. And a third. Finally I think there were 7 cop cars in that parking lot. And there we were holding our rucks over our heads cursing them for making this movement last even longer as the Cadre conversed with these find men in blue. And we were back on the trails.

 

I got on almost everything except the sandbags and flag pole. But then in one of our stops CT discussing leadership mentioned honesty and asked us who hadn’t been under the sandbags. And this only motivated me to make sure I was in the rotation for those damn bags.

It wouldn’t be a GR event without having issues as a team. Our biggest issue was with people (TL) forgetting a battle buddy. And so we lost strap privileges. ALOT. I really pushed myself here to make sure I was getting under weights, but with no strap privileges everyone was extra motivated to get under them. We got strap privelegse back for a whole two minutes before we lost them again. Around this time we passed a bank and apparently it was 4:30am. I didn’t see that clock AND I was looking hard.

We finally arrived on a beach and were given a break. This was a point where changing out of wet socks would’ve been nice, but you were looking at water and knew thats probably how you were going to enjoy sunrise, so it would be a waste of dry socks. I ate food, just one bar and quickly realized that I may not have enough food. I stored a bag of chews in my pocket for during our next movement.

As the sun rose, we were in the water doing the Tunnel of Love. And then my ankle cramped. I’ve always had bad ankle flexibility, so I wasn’t concerned until we stood up and I realized something wasn’t right.

The next phase we were running missions. We switched out Cadre and had Heath again and the sun was out. He gave us 40 minutes to go 2 miles. I grabbed my duffle bag baby and was determined to carry it the whole 2 miles. Because if I couldn’t at this point in the event then I didn’t deserve to stay. We arrived and then played in the field doing IMT. I knew during the high and low crawls that something was wrong with my ankle. It felt like it was still cramped. When we got a 5 minute break, I stupidily didn’t think I had time to change my socks but did pull them down to look for swelling. Seeing none I was determined to walk it off.

Cadre Heath decided we didn’t have enough coupons so he added a sandbag litter. We had a 3.1ish mile movement ahead. I wanted to carry my duffle bag the entire time, but I noticed the added weight made my ankle feel worse. I was just hoping that if we finished this mission we would lose some weight…hahaha. Then we started experiencing casualties because we missed our time hack.

I didn’t want to become a detriment to the team. After this movement we had some downtime and I changed my socks. Wow waterlogged feet for over 12 hours is not a pretty sight. I worked on trying to stretch out my ankle. It didn’t hurt putting weight on it, so I knew it wasn’t sprained or broken, but it hurt to point and flex it. So probably a tendon ligament issue.

During our next movement we came across some uneven terraine and I tripped while carrying a water cube. At that point I knew I  wasn’t questioning anymore, I knew I was in trouble. I hit a low with self pity and fear. I was in tears. I didn’t know if I should pull out and quit at that moment when we were over half way through. I didn’t know if my teammates would be punished if someone dropped especially this late in the event. I didn’t know if I would be able to carry our coupons any longer, and we had so many hours to go. I did my best to contribute during the movements.

Pretty much I don’t remember much between that movement and when we finally hit the trail. On the trail I busted out a flag carry. I wanted to make sure I got my hands on every type of coupon we had. I was put on litter carries too. Eventually we stopped for some instruction and it was nice to take off the ruck and sit down so I wasn’t putting weight on my ankle even though that wasn’t exactly the issue.

After that rest, my ankle was feeling good. We had 15 minutes to knock out a 1 mile…TBH I’m not sure if Cadre’s mileage was wrong, but from someone who has rucked and run a lot of miles, I felt confident in knowing how far we had gone. We were on a trail running about a 13-14 minute pace. And we passed the Mile Marker about 1/10th or more before we actually finished our “mile.” And we made it with 30 seconds to spare. They gave us another break. And because so many people were black on water, they gave us time to refill. They talked to us. Let us drop our coupons. And gave us our last mission. Carry the Flag and Team Weight back to the start point. And here it was our 12 Mile Timed Ruck. They gave us a 3 hour 30 minute time hack and told us this was not an individual movment but a team movement. After our speed mile, I knew I wasn’t able to make that time hack. Two teammates had to convince me to give up my ruck around Mile 2. I was so embarrassed. But deep down I knew that I had to do it if I wanted to finish. Cadre forced everyone to take back their own rucks around Mile 6. I took it back earlier because people were starting to complain about having to carry additional weight and I felt like a piece of doggy poo because of it. There were multiple points during that movement though where I was handed other peoples rucks or the team weight. The entire team was struggling after Mile 6. Everyone was hurting. Everyone one was just in a crap mood. We were hot (it was close to 90 degrees); some of us (including myself) sunburnt. Our pace suffered. We were also back on some trails so the terrain slowed us down, so did having to share with other users. Not that I’m complaining. Seeing people out running and with puppies kind of made me smile. I was seeing Mile Markers going awesome only 3 more miles to go and then someone said we had 4-5. Around the time I thought we had only a mile to go, we were told we were already 25 minutes past our time hack and still had two miles to go. And we had 30 minutes to get there. I broke down. Legit I didn’t think I could go another 2 miles let alone at that pace. I was forced to give up my ruck, and basically told I would be buddy carried if it had to come to that.

And then we were done.  And just like that we were patched. I stayed in that field with my shoes and socks off so long that I missed all of the amazing post Heavy food that people had brought for us. I was hungry considering that I didn’t pack enough food, but everyone seemed to have underpacked food this event. Many of my teammates headed out to the next start point as they attempted the HCL, even though so many of our feet were trashed from water logged. I headed home, stopping for food and a diet coke, and followed the remaining to HCL events on Facebook.

Immediately after this Heavy event I was back in training for the Detroit Marathon. My ankle didn’t seem to be a problem running. And unfortunately I had to back out of my 3 remaining GORUCK events in 2016. The first event I dropped was because I was sick; and the second I had to med drop because I was injured (which also made me drop the third). I have signed up for another Heavy in 2017. I’ll definitely be changing my training because I don’t think I was adequately prepared for the different PT we did. Plus I now know my weaknesses during a Heavy event, so I can work on fixing those; besides focusing on the PT test, which is only a few hours, does not prepare you for the remaining 20+ hours of the even.

Detroit Free Press Marathon: Race Recap

This race was not my race. It was for the most part a great course and a well run marathon. To start the Expo was a little basic in my opinion, while they had a lot there, there was just some things I was looking for that were absent.  Then again I’ve been to worse expos. My favorite thing was the Run Detroit booth with the course preview video. It was pretty fun using the people mover and seeing the billboards next to the start/finish line. I wish I would’ve gotten pictures, but I didn’t. We hit up the Expo on Friday, but came back on Saturday after checking-in at our hotel. Due to pre-race jitters, the only thing that sounded remotely edible was pizza so we enjoyed a salad and a deep dish pie at Niki’s; normally not my go-to be for a race meal, but when you have zero appetite for 2-3 days, you go for what sounds appealing because at least then you might eat some of it.

Hotel: The only downside of the Detroit Free Press Marathon is trying to find a hotel close to the start/finish line. No only do most of the local hotels require a minimum two nights stay (except the Casino a mile away at $499/night) they are at least $300/night stay. Another downside of a city-stay is the traffic-noise throughout the evening/night. But the plus-side was being able to walk to the start, and having a 2pm check-out after.

Wake-up: I didn’t sleep well. Shocker I know. My shoulder was bothering me most of the day, and made it impossible to sleep. So I got up and had to foam roll it before I could attempt any sort of rest. I was in and out of consciousness most of the night, waking up around 2:30am thinking I was never going to fall back asleep; then my 4am alarm happened and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. It was strange because Friday and Saturday I was a ball of energy doing everything possible to sit still and conserve, especially since I had a nervous tummy and my appetite was all but gone. Waking up Sunday morning, I had nervous energy but I felt exhausted.

Weather: Leaving my hotel I noticed that it was warm (66 degrees F), and humid (around 90+%). The wind which was supposed to be 10-15mph felt wicked strong.

Goals:  I set out with a pace goal for a 3:50 finish. My GCM time was 4:00, and I felt positive that I was in better shape than the Spring. I did make the decision to start out with the 3:45 pacer to help me make it over the Ambassador Bridge and through the Tunnel.

Start Line: I arrived to the start line around 6:15am, and it wasn’t very crowded. I noticed how small the corrals were too, but was happy to find the 3:45 pacer almost immediately. She was friendly and chatted with those of us around her; she commented that the course was long at 26.4 miles. I saw some familiar faces from Dave’s MIT. Around 6:45am the corrals closed, and we got ready to run.

Mile 1-5: Starting off I noticed we were fast, my watch was ready 8’29 pace, which was not at all what I had planned for. But it felt comfortable so I just ran with it. When we hit the Ambassador Bridge I was expecting the elevation change, but knew it was early enough in the course that it shouldn’t be too rough. I was wrong. Combined with the headwinds I slowed to almost a 10’30 mile. Coming down off the bridge I fell back into a 8’50 pace, but I knew something was not right.
Average Pace: 8’51”

Mile 6-10:  I had the 3:50 pacer pass me, and then the 3:55 pacer pass me and I knew I was in trouble. But looking at my watch and the Mile Markers, my watch was almost 0.22 off, which I was expecting considering I knew the course was measured long. Miles 6 and 7 came in around a 4:00 finish time. Mile 8 was almost completely in the Tunnel, and when I read that its hot and humid in that Tunnel–its so very true. I was sweating profusely, and very concerned that I was going to be in a medical tent before the end of the race. My Garmin FR230 had me at a 9’53 for that underwater mile. After the Tunnel my legs were not cooperating with me and I had consecutive 10’50 miles.
Average Pace:9’58”

Mile 11-15: To be honest, most of this part of the race was a bit of a blur; I remember stopping to walk because I was mentally checking in with my body to see what was fixable to try and salvage this race. I was hoping to be back on track for at least a 4 hour finish. At fluid stations I was taking two cups hoping to re-hydrate from the fluid loss in the tunnel. I texted my mom who I knew would be around Mile 13, so she would know when to expect me. I stopped briefly when I saw her to give her my passport and then headed back out on the road. I crossed the half marathon mark at 2:06:55. Now I was hoping to hang on for a sub-4:15 finish. At this point I knew I needed another packet of fuel, but my stomach wasn’t feeling it so I stopped at a fluid station to eat and drink before heading back on the road.
Average Pace: 10’33”

Mile 16-20: Approaching Mile 17, I was approaching familiar territory. But I was still struggling. I was motivated to pull through, although feeling the affects of too much water too quickly at the fluid stations. Shortly after Mile 18, the 4:15 pace group passed me. I fell in with their pace and started to feel really strong again. Then we turned onto Jefferson and hit a headwind. I knew it was time for another baggie of chews, so I stopped at the next fluid station to eat and drink at Mile 19. Then we turned into Belle Isle, and another headwind, but thankfully not an crazy elevation change. My legs were feeling okay, I saw Terra from Detroit Body Garage coming from the other direction; this made me happy because after the Start and my mom, I hadn’t seen anyone else I knew.
Average Pace: 11’07”

Mile 21-25: When they say Belle Isle is windy. Its not a joke. It wasn’t windier than the rest of the course, but most of the course had buildings providing relief and on Belle Isle it was just you and the wind. You could see the storm coming in. I was doing some quick math and determined I really needed to pull out some speedier miles if I wanted to cross that finish line before 4:20. I passed a much speedier Dave’s MIT runner who seemed to be having a rough race just like me, after some words of encouragement, I was back on my way. At Mile 23, I noticed that my watch was now surprisingly 0.55 off the mile markers. Right as we turned onto the Detroit Riverwalk the rain began. I knew with the rain and wind, it was going to take something fierce to get me to that finish line in time. I never saw Mile Markers 24 or 25, so I had no idea where I was compared to my watch. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I felt a bad headache coming on during these last miles.
Average Pace: 10’27”

Mile 25-26.2: Around Mile 25.6 there was the last fluid station, each fluid station had a distance marked until the next. I saw 0.6 miles to the finish and I felt a little relief because I had missed the last two Mile Marker signs and wasn’t really sure where I was anymore. We made a quick right and then left and while I couldn’t see the finish line (yet) I knew I needed the fastest legs of this race, thankfully my legs finally decided to cooperate.
Average Pace: 9’10”

Finish: As I headed towards the Finish Line, I saw a crowd of runners ahead and knew I needed to pass them otherwise they would slow me down right near the finish. Once again my legs didn’t let me down and I had the best kick in of my life. I guess when you run one of your slowest marathons (and 20:30 slower than your last marathon).
Official Finish Time 4:24:57
Average Pace 10’06”

Summary:
-Fastest Mile: 1(8’28”)
-Slowest Mile: 17 (11’33”)
-Number of Miles under 9 minutes: 4
-Number of Miles under 10 minutes: 11
-Number of Miles over 10 minutes: 11

Thoughts: To be perfectly honest, this race was not as mentally challenging as my last two Glass City Marathon performances, but physically I fell flat. Most of the race I tried to rack my brain and figure out what went wrong, so that I can fix it for next time. It could be partly due to training, or cross-training; my body felt as if this was more of a cut-back week in training than race week (you know what I’m talking about, the week when your body feels like sludge and you’re thankful it’s cut back week). I’ve run a lot more this summer in hot and humid and even stormy weather, so I thought I was prepared for race day conditions, but my body didn’t respond as if it was prepared at all. I did hear afterwards that many Marathon runners had rough races that day (including those in Columbus); heat and humidity might have gotten the best of many runners, although I did hear a lot of great races from the Half Marathon runners. This was my fourth worst marathon performance since I began running (followed by my 2nd Marathon in 2012, my first in 2010, then Dopey in 2015), but it was also my third marathon this year. I also ended with a horrible headache that kept me nauseous and on the couch until the following morning, typically I get these from allergies, dehydration or heat-sickness, all of which could have lead to a crappy race performance. If you gave me another week or two, maybe I could pull out a better finish. I have one more marathon on my schedule next spring then I think I’m going to take a break and focus on building speed at shorter distances for a while; something I feel like I’ve said before and never followed through on, but this race might have proven that I need to refocus for a while.

Overall: I was pretty impressed with the Detroit Free Press Marathon going into race day. Their website is pretty awesome. I love their responses to FAQs. I learned a heck of a lot just browsing around. But the best thing was how speedy they were to respond to questions via Twitter and Other Social Media. I asked questions over Twitter and not even a few minutes later…response! Amazing. I may have not been impressed with their Expo, but for the most part the course brought you through some neighborhoods that really came out to support the runners, and that is always a marathon win in my book. The only advice I would have for future runners would be to get the Passport card to carry, and please wear your bibs on your crest like Race Officials tell you too–so many Border Patrol agents were weaving in and out of runners trying to make sure they were wearing bibs!

You can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Question: Have you ever run Detroit? If yes, what was your favorite memory of the race?

Jes