Half Marathon Training: Week 4

This week was an odd week, starting off with a holiday and then I was traveling pretty much the full week so I didn’t exactly adhere to my plan – oops ;).

Monday – Easy Recovery Run

I woke up with sore legs from the long run the day before and didn’t feel right so I decided to just skip the run this day and hung out in the pool for the majority of the day.

Tuesday – Rest Day

I took a red-eye to Atlanta so I was supposed to rest, but I ended up doing about 20-30 mins of yoga and then a nice 2.4 mi run on the treadmill in the afternoon between meetings.

Wednesday – 45 min run – 8:45/9:00 min pace

Ended up doing 53 mins – 5.7 miles – 9.20min pace – includes a 1/4 mile walk in mile 3.  It was super hilly & 100% humidity. Oh and I walked and was on my feet in 4 in heels from 7am until 11:30pm 🙂

Humid, Run, Buckhead, Georgia, May, 2014
This is what it looks like after a super humid run – my hair was straight before I left!!

Thursday – Rest Day

I actually did not exercise per say – but I was on my feet in those darn heels again – LOL – from 6:45p until I changed at the airport around 4:30p.

Friday – Easy Run – 9-10:00 pace, sprinkle in 2 minute pick ups to race pace effort x 4-5.

This didn’t happen, instead I worked, rode in the car for 5.5 hours and then walked the RnR San Diego expo.

Saturday – Walk around expo a bit, keep legs loose

Actual: 3 mile run with Meb (so much fun, recap coming) – I forgot to turn on my Garmin until late so I only registered 2.82 miles, 25:09, 8:54 average pace.  Walking around La Jolla & then Little Italy area of SD.

Hanging out in La Jolla Cove
Hanging out in La Jolla Cove
San Diego Marina
San Diego Marina

Sunday – Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon

I finally, after 18 half marathons, achieved goal #1 for my half marathon training!!  I ran my first sub 2 hour race. Recap coming on that!

Now, my next goal is to conquer the hills of San Francisco in about 7 weeks.

The Road to Rome: Maratona di Roma: The Race

This post has been a long time coming, I should have written it a long time ago, but I have/had a lot of conflicting views on this race.

Last time I wrote about Italy, I had been to the expo and did a shake-out run with The Roman Guy. After the shakeout run, I had a really yummy lunch with Laura & then headed back to The Beehive to just chill out the rest of the afternoon/evening. I like to just veg out in my Pro Compression marathon socks and I always eat pizza the night before a race.

Margarita Pizza, Aqua Naturale & my fav purple Procompression socks - a prerace ritual
Margarita Pizza, Aqua Naturale & my fav purple Procompression socks – a prerace ritual

I didn’t have a TV in my room, so I just read some, surfed the internet & chilled before heading to bed. The race didn’t start until 9am so I didn’t have to be up too early, but I always like to be ready early & there early, just in case.

I was prepared for anything, it had been semi nice out my first 2 days in Rome, but the forecast was calling for rain. I was a little nervous about the rain, I’m not a fan of running in the rain to begin with but wet cobblestones made me a little anxious. I have run on cobblestones a lot, when I lived in Orlando, but Winter Park cobblestones & 2000 year old cobblestones are a little different.

I had an outfit picked out, a black Lululemon pace setter skirt, a teal cool racer back, long sleeve swiftly & my newton gravity shoes.  What I ended up wearing was all Lululemon, running capris, teal cool Racerback, purple long sleeve swiftly, white rain jacket, my cold weather running headband & my newtons.

Ready for anything
Ready for anything

I left the hotel around 6:45a and headed towards the train station to take the metro to the start line. The metro was free for all runners on the day of the race. It was pretty cool seeing all the other runners with their backpacks. Just a sea of red backpacks :).

At Termini, waiting for the metro. Free for runners on race day.
At Termini, waiting for the metro. Free for runners on race day.

The race had put up posts on Facebook telling us all to get off a Circus Maximus instead of the Colesseo stop, which was actually closer, but closed. From the metro stop it was about a 10 min walk to the starting area. It was drizzling a little at this point, I had my umbrella up, just so I didn’t get too wet before the race.

I got over near the Colesseo & took a few minutes to eat some bread with Justin’s peanut butter with honey. I filled my hydration belt bottles with pre-mixed Gatorade (the Gatorade there tasted different) & headed into the madness. There was a very small entrance that they were letting runners into the pre-race area. It was super congested & not the safest way of doing things in my opinion. It felt like with all the runners trying to get in, it could quickly become a mob.

Arriving at the colosseo before the race.
Arriving at the colosseo before the race.

Once I was inside, I went straight to the porta potties, which in my opinion was another disaster or rather poor planning, set up on the races part. There were about 20 porta potties each with a huge line, I waited in line for almost 45 minutes before I had to get out of line to drop off my bag. I saw a few signs directing us to the various bib numbers so I headed in the direction of my bib number, but I had forgotten that women were in a separate section, so after walking down a bit, I had to turn around & go thru the crush of runners all the way to the end, where they had the women’s baggage trucks. Burnt Toast moment #1.

Backpack for baggage drop
Backpack for baggage drop
My baggage drop truck, #58 - alllll the way at the end...
My baggage drop truck, #53 – alllll the way at the end…

I finally got there, dropped off my bag & then ran into 2 of the other runners from the shake-out run. We took a few photos & then I was off. I was supposed to be in Corral 3 but by the time I got up to the starting area it was too late. Burnt Toast moment #2

It was freezing and had been raining off and on by this point. I still had to go to the bathroom and was stuck in throng of runners. We finally were able to start moving towards the start & I was pleasantly surprised to see porta potties before the official start so I ducked in to one, did my thing and didn’t lose anytime on the clock – yea!!

I had a plan for the race from my coach, Mary, and while I really wanted sub 4 I didn’t think it was a realistic goal based on my training. I only had 12 weeks after being out for 2 months and I was running straight vs Galloway so I scaled back to a more realistic goal of 4:10..

The plan was this: (for a 4:10 marathon, the average pace needs to be 9:06 per mile or 5:55 per km)

first 5k-10k: get comfortable. Try to run a little slower (about 10 sec a mile) for this part, as to not go out to fast.
10k-20k: you might still be under goal pace here. Thats fine. Just make it closer to 5 sec slower a mile
20k-30k: Find goal pace now
30k-finish: Move a little faster than goal pace to make up the time. Since you started out slower, you should have the extra energy to push here.

This is what really happened: numbers wise but the numbers don’t tell the real story.

Distanza Pos. Pos. M/F Pos. Cat. Tempo RealTime Parziale min/Km
Via Ostiense (5K) 5000 9483 1194 9476 00:35:37 00:30:43 7.07
Via Ettore Rolli (10K) 10000 10499 1334 10492 01:05:59 01:01:05 00:30:21 6.35
Lungotevere dei Sangallo (15K) 15000 11211 1464 11203 01:37:44 01:32:50 00:31:44 6.30
Via della Giuliana (21.097K) 21097 11103 1477 11093 02:18:41 02:13:47 00:40:57 6.34
Piazza Lauro De Bosis (25K) 25000 12010 1711 12001 02:45:17 02:40:23 00:26:35 6.36
Viale della XVII Olimpiade (30K) 30000 12208 1813 12199 03:22:31 03:17:37 00:37:14 6.45
Piazza di Spagna (40K) 40000 11590 1711 11581 04:31:09 04:26:14 01:08:37 6.46
Via dei Fori Imperiali (FINISH) 42195 11573 1703 11563 04:47:08 04:42:14 00:15:59 6.48

 

First off, I knew that the race would be in kilometers, but I trained in miles, next time, I run in a foreign country, I’ll train in kilometers instead of miles so I have a better idea on my paces, etc.

The race started out fine, it was a bit slower than I would have liked, but it was pretty crowded.  I had read that the first & last 6 miles were cobblestone, but it was kinda intermittent between cobblestone & regular road, with a little bit of marble sidewalk thrown in :).

It was cold, to me, for about the first 6 miles and then it got incredibly humid. I had already taken my jacket off and it was around this point, which was actually I would come to find out, in my cousin, Elena’s neighborhood, near Marconi. I took off my long sleeve skirt here. I was really struggling & I ended up walking just a bit at this point when I took off my shirt. I tied both the skirt & jacket around my waist, the were Lululemon & kinda pricey so I didn’t want to toss them. Burnt toast moment #3, I should have taken the swiftly off before the race & just had the jacket, but too late now.

Of course right after this point, the rain would start in earnest & I was stuck in my tank top since my other tops were wet. It was around this point that things would go horribly wrong and I had a really bad asthma attack, that left me wheezing for about 2 miles – around miles 8 – 10.  I had my inhaler in my pouch, used it and tried to run as much as I could until it was over. Burnt Toast Moment #4

By this point, I probably could have called it a day & just quit, but I came all the way to Rome & I had put it out there on social media, so there was no quitting.  Even after 4 Burnt Toast moments.

I decided to just do my best to finish and I need up doing Galloway pretty much the rest of the race, running when I could and walking when I had to.  With torrential rain in parts, and not feeling very well, I got to St. Peter’s and took the only photos during the race. When I got back to AZ & showed this pic to my mom, she was like that is a horrible photo, which it is, but it really shows what I was going thru during this race.  I wasn’t even half-way thru the race and I felt like I had run 50 miles.

St. Peter's Basilica midrace selfie by St. Peters Looking back from St. Peters

After this point, I just kept trudging along, I was drinking lots of Gatorade – at least 1 cup sometimes 2 at each water stop, which were every 5k.  I thought the Gatorade tasted different, but it seemed to work although, I did have to take a pit stop around mile 19.  The aid stations were well stocked, with water, Gatorade (although they called them sale, or salts), cookies, fruit and maybe some other snacks too.  i was pretty bad about fuel during this race, i think i only ate a total of 2 honey stinger chews the whole race. Oops!

I remember getting to the area around the Spanish Steps & then Piazza Navona & being cheered on by some fellow Americans – thank you for that! before getting into the final stretch. Around 38km, I was walking and a fellow runner passed me and said “Forza!” Which was what I needed to hear right then. I managed to keep going, even passed him and was feeling pretty good, even after having been out there for over four hours.

Then we got to the last aid station which was inside a tunnel about a mile or so from the finish.  Here comes Burnt Toast moment #5 (I think, it’s getting hard to keep track, huh).  It was super slippery, I grabbed my cup of Gatorade and promptly almost went down.  I kept walking and almost fell over a 2nd time, and then a 3rd so after having made up some decent time, I had to walk thru this tunnel since it was so slippery.  I finally made it thru and I knew I was almost there.  I remember getting right in front of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and all of a sudden, I realized that there was a huge puddle right in front of me.  I remember looking down and seeing it, trying to move to the left and then next thing I knew, I was on my butt, my legs having fallen right out from under me with my hands on either side.  Now, I think it’s hysterical, but at the time, I was so ready for everything to be over, and I just sat there, finally this guy helped me up, but looking back now, if he hadn’t helped me, really, I have no idea how long I would have sat there.  And this was the big one, Burnt Toast moment #6.

When I went down, I hit my hand on the base of my palm, and when I got up, I couldn’t even open my hand up all the way, but I had a race to finish, so I picked myself up.  Oh and remember, I had my jacket & long sleeve swiftly around my waist? They were soaked, completely soaked since I had been sitting in a puddle at least 6 inches deep. So while I was in tears, I fixed my shirts and I managed to cross the finish line and get my medal.  When I got it, the girl was like don’t cry, and I told her I thought I might have broken my hand, oops.  Fortunately after about 10 minutes, the pain subsided a bit and it wasn’t so so bad.

One weird thing about Italy, you cannot find ice anywhere, here you finish a race and everyone is walking around with ice, there, I don’t think I saw one person who had any ice and come to think of it, I don’t think I saw any ice at all the entire time I was there.

So I finished the race, I was soaking wet, I had to walk all the way to the end to get my bag, at which point, I like everyone else, put my marathon space wrap around me and changed out of my wet clothes, right there on the sidewalk by the Colesseo.  There was a girl next to me from the Netherlands, who asked me to hold the wrap around her so she could change out of her sports bra, I wasn’t quite that brave 😉 but I did change out of my capris and put on dry pants.  I was done, and as one of my instagram friends said, even with all the craziness, I looked strangely content in this photo.

Post Race Medal Shot

Marathons are always a challenge, I was incredibly disappointed with my time but considering all the burnt toast moments and the fact that I only had 12 weeks to train, basically from scratch, I’m really happy with my accomplishment.  As my now coach said to me when I emailed him to tell him how I did, I could have quit after the asthma attack at mile 8 and the fact that I didn’t says a lot more about me than the number on the clock.

That being said, I do have big goals regarding the marathon, and I made the decision after this race, that I needed to achieve my goals in the half marathon before I could work on my marathon goals.  There will always be another marathon to run :).

Final thoughts on the Maratona di Roma…overall a well organized race.  I think that they need more porta potties and to make sure that women know that their baggage check is separate from the men.  It should have been labeled on the paperwork and with signs.  Obviously you can’t control the weather but running it in the rain was a definite challenge.

Have you ever had a race go so horribly wrong?  And what did you do? Did you quit or push thru?

Half Marathon Training – Week 3

Week 3 didn’t exactly go as planned, I was pretty tired after 2 weekends of back to back runs.  I was sore and could definitely feel that I hadn’t taken a full rest day.

Beautiful skies all week
Beautiful skies all week

So here’s the week in review – One week until the Rock n’ Roll San Diego 1/2 Marathon.

Monday – Easy Recovery Run – 35:24, 3.35 miles total – 10:33 average – 1.25 mi run, .5 mi walk, 1.25 mi run, .35 walk

Tuesday – Strength Training – 30 min

3 sets of 12 reps with 8 lb DB (dumbbells) DB Squats DB Chest Press DB Chest Fly Deadlifts DB tricep kickbacks/extensions DB bicep curl DB alternating lunges DB lateral raise (5lb) DB shoulder press (5lb) Crunches Reverse Crunches Low bicycles Double leg raises

Wednesday – Tempo Run, 45 min total, 15 min warm-up, 20 min “comfortably hard”, 10 min cool-down.  Actual: Total 5.39 miles, 57:38, first 4.10 miles 8:50 average, walked the last 1.29 miles.

I don’t know what it is about the Tempo Runs, but they are sooo hard for me. And my legs were dead by this point.

Unscheduled Rest = Yoga & a kitty making sure I'm doing it right :)
Unscheduled Rest = Yoga & a kitty making sure I’m doing it right 🙂

Thursday – was supposed to be 45 min run around 8:45/9 min pace.  Actual: unscheduled rest day & 20 min of yoga

No hills mean using what you do have - Pedestrian overpasses
No hills mean using what you do have – Pedestrian overpasses

Friday – Hill repeats – Actual: 35 min, 12 repeats up the pedestrian overpasses, run up & walk down, 1 mi warm up & cooldown Total: 3.07 miles  Legs felt better but still a bit tight

Saturday – Scheduled rest day with foam rolling & stretching – Actual: 50 min deep tissue massage, 4.15 mile hike thru Sabino Canyon in Tucson.

Hiking, Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona, springtime
Hiking in Sabino Canyon near Tucson

Sunday – 1:40 min run, 15 min warm-up, 60 min at 8:50 pace, 20 min at 8:45 pace, 5 min cool-down. Actual: 1:39:26, 11:01 miles, 9:02 average.  9:24, 9:17, 8:51, 9:04, 9:01, 8:46, 9:10, 9:14, 9:11, 8:29, 8:54.

As you can see I had a hard time maintaining pace this morning.  I woke up with sore legs and while it wasn’t a problem at first, it was a challenge to get down under 9 min miles most of the run.  Although, based on today’s run, I am on pace to achieve my goal so I’m happy.  Now to see what happens next week :).

Weekly Totals:

23 miles running, 4 miles hiking, 30 min strength training, 10 min stretching

 

Half Marathon Training Weeks 1 – 2

I mentioned this in my last post but I’ve decided to focus on my half marathon time for the rest of the year and focus on getting stronger and hopefully faster before training for my next marathon.

I’ve worked with 3 different coaches over the last year and a half and I think I’ve finally found someone who is going to be the best fit for my goals, etc.  It also helps that for the first time in a long time, I’m finally mostly healthy so I can actually focus on things other than just endurance.  Focusing on the half marathon for an extended period of time, gives me a lot more flexibility in my workouts, I don’t have to worry about doing 20+ mile runs in the extreme heat this year – yea!!

Now why do I work with a coach?  I equate it to having a personal trainer, someone there who will motivate me, push me and keep me accountable.  I have run a lot of races, so could I do my own training plan? Sure, but I really like having someone with more experience do it for me.

My newest coach, is also my physical therapist and thus, knows me and my injuries well so I think that it is a pretty good fit.

My schedule is given to me via an app/website called Training Peaks, at first I wasn’t very impressed, but now that I’ve started using it pretty consistently, I like it.  I can download my workouts from my Garmin.

Week 1 (May 5 – 11)

Sunrise Run

Mon: Easy Recovery Run 30 min – I did 2.85 mi in 31:17 – tried to keep low heartrate but didn’t succeed – ended up walking a lot to keep it down

Tues: 30 minute Core Work out

Wed: 45 min run – negative splits – 5.08 mi – 9:09, 9:08, 8:57, 8:48, 8:22 and then 7:45 for the .08 mi

Thur: 30 min Leg Strengthening Workout – 3 sets of 12

Fri: Rest Day

Sat: Night Run 10K – Read more about that here 🙂

Sun: 75 min run 9:30 – 10 min pace – actual 7.86 mi – 10:07, 9:47, 9:39, 9:39, 9:37, 9:23, 9:18, last .86 8:57

Total: 22 miles running, 60 min cross training

Week 2 (May 12 – 18)

midrun selfie

Mon: Rest Day

Tues: Tempo Run – didn’t quite work out the way it was supposed to – I wanted to run on the treadmill at work, but they were all full so I went outside, my Garmin says it was only 84 but it felt way hotter and so windy.  I ended up walking a lot so 5.01 miles 45:01

Wed: 30 min Negative Split Run – 3.46 mi – 9:16, 8:46, 8:16, last .46 8:04

Thur: Strength Workout: 30 minutes – 3 x 12 reps of each of these :

Squats, One arm rows, modified push-ups, overhead presses, bicep curls, burpees, tricep dips, crunches, reverse crunches, side arm plank with hip touch, tick tocks, superman

Fri: Was supposed to be spin class but I don’t belong to a gym so I used my dad’s total gym bike for 50 min/18.3 mi

Sat: Hill Repeats – 2.3 mi warm-up, 1.78 mi hill repeats (90 sec up, 3 min down) x 6, 2 mile cool-down walk

Sun: 75 min run 9:30 – 10 min pace – again a bit faster than I was supposed to be – negative splits 9:41, 9:44, 9:23, 9:09, 9:13, 8:54, 8:54, 8:28, last .2 8:11

Totals: 20.5 mi run, 18.3 mi bike, 30 min strength workout

All in all both weeks went well.  My legs are tired, but I feel really good, surprisingly good. Now let me find some wood to knock on – LOL. A little recovery in & by the pool and I’m ready to start week 3 🙂

Recovery

 

 

The Night Run 2014 Scottsdale 10K Race Recap

After my performance in the Rome Marathon back in March, I decided to concentrate on the half marathon distance and working on my speed on the shorter distance before tackling the marathon distance again, so I decided to incorporate some new events (the duathlon) and some shorter distance runs, like The Night Run 10K to work on my speed.

April was definitely a recovery month for me, and I’ve yet to run over 8 miles since the marathon, which worries me a little since I have a half in 2 weeks but I trust my coach and my training. 🙂

But I digress and that’s not what this post is about now is it…without further ado here is my recap of the 2014 Night Run 10k.

I registered back in February during “early bird” registration so I was able to get in for $30 for the 10k, which is an awesome price, I know that was $5 off the regular early bird price of $35 so if you waited until day of, it was probably around $45, give or take, I’m not sure since I registered so early.

I did this race back in 2012 when it was an 8k.  The city of Scottsdale requested that they change the course this year, which in my opinion was a great thing.  The year I ran it, we were running around Old Town, which is cool, but there were cars backing up and driving by so I much preferred this years course.  So this year on 5/10/14 they had the first 5k/10k event.  Very cool that the date & the distances matched up :).

The Night Run Scottsdale, May 10 , 2014, 5k, 10k

We had the option to either pick up our packets before the race or on race day.  I wanted to look at some new shoes so I headed to one of our local running stores, I-Run on Saturday morning to pick up my packet.

They have some nice tech shirts (although they are a little thin for the white color – I can see right thru mine) and they also gave us glow in the dark bracelets for the race.

The Night Run 2014, 5k, 10k, Tech Shirt, Glow in the Dark Medal, May 10, 2014
Nice Tech Shirt & Glow in the Dark Medal 🙂

Night races can be difficult to fuel for because most of us are used to racing in the morning.  I’ve actually been running a lot in the afternoons lately so I think that may have helped me out this time around.  I ate a normal breakfast, a foot long oven roasted chicken sub from Subway for lunch, a piece of fruit in the afternoon and then a piece of bread with peanut butter about 2 hours before the race.  I drank a ton of water, because it was somewhat hot outside.

One of my friends, came with me to the race, after I commented about 15 times about how I haven’t had anyone come cheer for me for the majority of my races.  (I think I guilted him into it – LOL joking)  So I told him that his job as my spectator was to hold on to my stuff and be my official photographer :).  Of course I forgot to mention this until we were on our way and for a night race, the iPhone doesn’t do quite as good of a job as a real camera with a good flash, but it’s all good.

We got to the race location about 75 minutes prior to the race start.  I like to get to races early, I don’t want to have to be searching for parking when the race is starting.  This location is really good, by the Scottsdale Civic Center, and there is a garage by the library that is a short walk to the start line.

PreRace Expo - set up of live results Race Food Truck Mini Expo at the Race

They had a lot of vendors around the start area, we just walked around for a few minutes, mostly so I could get some photos and see what was going on, before sitting down to chat before the race.  I don’t normally have anyone around to chat with before the race, outside of other runners, so I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t have a chance to hit the bathrooms a second time before the race. Ooops! uh yeah, that wasn’t fun, I had to go the entire race. Burnt Toast moment #1 🙂

PreRace "Glam" Shot lol
PreRace “Glam” Shot lol

The race started at 7:30pm and both 5k & 10k were on the same course, one loop for 5K, 2 for 10K.  Once I found my spot, one of my running buddies and fellow Ragnar Trail Zion teammates, found me.  We barely had a chance to say hi, he asked me if I was running for time or fun and then we were off.  I really wanted to see what I could do, so I think I lost him pretty quickly.

Burnt Toast Moment #2 came at the beginning of the race.  I forgot my case for my phone and I was planning on putting it into my spibelt but I again wasn’t paying attention to what was going on, so totally unlike me, and I didn’t put my phone in the belt before the race started so I was having trouble fitting it in and didn’t want to waste time.  I ended up carrying my phone in my hand or under my tank top strap.  I was a bit nervous about that though because during my first marathon I burnt out the camera from not having it in a case from the sweat, and I’d be lost without my phone camera.

Back to the race, I didn’t want to go out too fast because I am notorious for dying at the end but it was a really fun course, I enjoyed it.  Some road, a little greenway, more road, no parking lots :), a couple of minor hills and just a overall fun course.

Garmin Race Map
Garmin Race Map

My Garmin was only 4 seconds off my official time, probably because of turning it off after the finish line.

NEGATIVE SPLITS!!!
NEGATIVE SPLITS!!!

The only time in the race that I had any doubts was in Mile 5, we turned the corner onto Drinkwater and it felt like the wind really picked up.  I just tried to maintain my speed the best I could.  The wind died down once we turned onto Indian School and by this time I had been passing a lot of 5kers.  There was a guy who passed me briefly before we turned the corner for the last 100 meters, I thought he was going to try to race me to the finish, so as soon as I turned and saw the finish line, I picked up the pace and was back to my sprinting days, I could feel my knees were higher and my stride was longer, it felt amazing and it was even more amazing when I realized that I PR’d the race by 21 seconds.  Technically it was a bigger PR than that since the course for my last PR race was almost .2 mi short, but on athlinks it’s 22 seconds :).

Official Race Photo from the Night Run
Official Race Photo from the Night Run

This is the only official photo I had and it’s not the best, although I do appear to be floating – LOL.  I was totally spent at the end of the race, I gave it everything I had.

Post Race Photo Op with "Night Al" Official Mascot of The Night Run
Post Race Photo Op with “Night Al” Official Mascot of The Night Run

They had tons of food and water after the race – I knew it would be dark after the race so I snapped a pic before hand.  Cold water bottles, fruit (apples, bananas, oranges), clif bars, cookies & pretzels.

Post Race Snacks

All in all this was a great race and now that there is a 10k race, I would definitely do it again.  It’s one of the last races in the Phoenix area before it gets too too hot.

Have you ever done a night race?  Do you fuel any differently for a night race vs a day race?

Athleta Esprit de She Tempe Duathlon Race Recap

Back in December when I was planning my winter/spring race schedule I got a few emails from Esprit de She because I was a founding finisher after I ran the 2013 Esprit de She 10K in Tempe, AZ.  I remember seeing emails about the Tri/Duathlon last spring but I was training for multiple half marathons and I didn’t have a bike so I figured that wasn’t really for me.  Plus, I am a horrible swimmer, I had a really bad experience in swimming lessons back when I was like 5 and while I can get by, underwater, back-float/stroke, treading water, the basics, I can’t do any strokes.  So I figured a duathlon was probably more my speed, I can run, I think I can still bike and regardless it’s only a total of 15 miles so why not give it a whirl. 🙂  I re-read this and remember, yeah, crazy marathoner here, 15 miles is nothing, LOL. 5k running 12 miles on the bike, piece of cake, or so I’d like to think ;).

The way I swim - with a floaty
The way I swim – with a floaty lol

But at the time I was coming off my injury, a possible bulged disc in my very low back, and stationary biking was helping so I decided I wanted to at least try the duathlon this year.  At the time I entered the race, December 31, I didn’t even own a bike so talk about crazy, I spent $94 to register for an event that I didn’t even have the right equipment for.

So what did I do, being on an extreme budget, like not wanting or having more than $100 to spend on a bike & hopefully a helmet too, I started scouring craigslist for bikes.  Most of them were mountain bikes or crazy expensive road bikes but I was able to find someone who was selling an old, Trek Multitrack 720, that was in great condition.  The first time I looked at it, it was listed at $150, then it was down to $120 with a make an offer so what the heck – I figured I’d go out to check it out.

It was in great condition and I was able to get him down to $80 so I am now the proud owner of a new bike.

It's old and it's not a real tri bike but it'll do for now :)
It’s old and it’s not a real tri bike but it’ll do for now 🙂

Well flash forward to May 3, about a month after my last marathon and a month when I was totally not motivated to really exercise at all, so I did maybe 3 total bike rides, the last one for 10 miles 4 days before the race and no brick workouts.  I was nervous but in the end this was all for fun so I headed out to the expo to pick up my packet and to drop off my bike which you were required to do on Saturday.

Esprit de She bikes racked while picking up packets
Racks for the bikes while picking up our packets.

As I mentioned earlier, I was a “Founding Finisher” since I did the 10K last year so they had a separate line for packet pick-up.  There were a lot of founding finishers so the line there was 3 times as long as the other lines, but it moved relatively fast.

Esprit de She Packet Pickup Tempe Beach Park, AZ, May 3, 2014
Founding Finisher Packet Pick-up

After picking up my packet and getting my really nice race shirt, a Moxie Cycling commemorative shirt and a reusable Athleta bag with goodies inside, I took my bike over to the transition area.

Esprit de she goodie bag Esprit de she Moxie Tank

Esprit de she transition bracelet
Transition Area bracelet – Required for coming & going into the transition area, even on Saturday

There were 2 tags that we had to add to our bikes, as we know, I’ve never done anything like this so I was just watching everyone else, one lady was telling her friends to make sure the purple tag was in a spot where it wouldn’t rub on their legs so I stuck mine at the top, and then they had d-tags that had to be zip tied to the top of handlebars.

Esprit de she bike tag 2 Esprit de she bike tag

Bike's racked and ready to go
Bike’s racked and ready to go

They had special bike races for the founding finishers so I raced my bike and then headed back to the expo area to listen to the safety meeting.  It was really hot out, like a 100 degrees, so they had added some extra tents and handed out bottles of water.  I’m glad I went to the meeting, I had no idea about some of the USAT rules.  As I was listening to them talk about some of the common violations, bike helmet strap not clipped in transition, staying 3 bike lengths from the next bike, 15 secs to pass someone, etc. I kept thinking, I guess I better go online and read these rules.

The meeting lasted about 45 min and then it was time to rest and relax for the big day.

I arrived at Tempe Beach Park around 5am on Sunday.  I was really early, but I’ve been there for PF Chang’s half marathon and the parking can get really crazy so I wanted to get their early.  Since I was doing the duathlon, I didn’t have much to layout in transition, so I just kinda took in the whole scene.  I ran into my friend, Kate, who was doing the Sprint Relay with another friend Jen, so we chatted for a while :).

Finish Line before the race
Finish Line before the race
Getting body marked in the transition area
Getting body marked in the transition area
I love being at Tempe Town Lake at sunrise - so pretty.
I love being at Tempe Town Lake at sunrise – so pretty.

I got marked, I thought it was interesting that they asked you your age at the end of the year and put that on your leg instead of your current age.  I have to say though, that it took me forever to get the sharpie off my arms & legs.  I had to use my dad’s Goop to get it off after washing it 3 times with soap. LOL.

 

Marked and ready to start
Marked and ready to start

The Olympic distance triathletes started us off at 6:30a with a floating start.  There were swim waves every 3 minutes and then the duathlon started at 7:00a.

Esprit de She Floating Start Olympic Esprit de She Olympic Swim Start

I was so ready to just start after having been down there for 2 hours.  The first run portion was 1.5 miles and off we went.  The first half was on the dirt path and then after the turn we were on the concrete path with some rolling hills.  I was able to do really well in this portion, finishing in 12:18, 8:09 average, which put me at 23/131.

I headed into the first transition, hopped on my bike after 1:38 and headed out.  The bike was what made me nervous, but I just did what I could do.  I think I have a small problem with my bike though, maybe it’s out of alignment? I’m not sure, but it felt really wobbly when I took my hands off the handle bars so I wasn’t able to drink as much as I would have liked.  The bike course had a few hills but I thought it was pretty fun, I liked racing down the hills more than I thought I would.  I finished in 49:39 avg 14:99mi/hr to put me at 81/131.  Considering I really only road 3 times in the last 20 years before this, I’m pretty happy with that :).

Transition 2 was a bit longer because I mixed up the row where my bike was supposed to go but after 1:58 I headed out for the second run (1.79mi).  This is where things went a little downhill because I was extremely dehydrated by this point and so unbelievably hot.  It was only 79 but with sun beating down on us, I was really feeling it.  I ended up having to walk a bit of this part and dumped water over my head on both sides of the water station.  I was feeling pretty bad towards the end and walked up each of the hills.  I heard my coach, Charlie, who was there for another one of his athletes, cheering me on in the last 1/4 mile and I pulled out a fast finish.  Crossing the line, I felt like I was going to pass out &/or be sick, but after getting my medal, some water & Aspire, I felt better.

A nice benefit, they put up the tape for all the finishers to go thru.
A nice benefit, they put up the tape for all the finishers to go thru.

Something nice that they did that I haven’t seen at any of the other races I’ve personally done was having a tape for all the finishers to go thru.  As someone who is more of a middle of the packer, this was a nice touch and definitely made me feel good.

After going thru the tape, I was given a medal, it’s pretty nice, duathletes got a purple ribbon and triathletes a red ribbon, a bottle of water, a bottle of Aspire sports drink.  They also had orange slices, pretzels, animal crackers, I think, and chocolate milk.

I saw my friends, Jen & Kate after I left the finish line area and we had to get a commemorative photo of the 3 of us.

Jen, Kate & I after the race. Jen & Kate got 2nd place overall in the Sprint Tri Relay!! Great job ladies!!
Jen, Kate & I after the race. Jen & Kate got 2nd place overall in the Sprint Tri Relay!! Great job ladies!!

There was a finish line party after the race, with the “Bubbly Bar” which had mimosas, I don’t drink when I have to drive, so I didn’t try them, but they were served in cute little Esprit de She glasses.  I got some brown rice, egg white, pico di gallo casserole from My Fit Foods which was really good, drank my water & my Aspire sports drink.  This was the first time I tried Aspire and it wasn’t bad.  Didn’t taste like it had as much salt in it as my Gatorade but it tasted pretty good.

Esprit de she finish line mimosas Esprit de She Post Race Fuel

After a few snacks I grabbed my bike out of the transition area and headed home to recover in the pool.

Esprit de She post race medal shot

All in all this was a great race and I would definitely do it again.

I learned a few things though…

1) I need to get my bike fixed so that it’s in alignment and doesn’t wobble

2) Brick workouts!! Definitely need to ride the bike and then run, the 2nd run kicked my butt

3) Drink more during the event, I was seriously dehydrated and that played a part in the 2nd run portion

I’m really excited to have been able to help kick off the 2014 Esprit de She season in Tempe and I’m looking forward to running the 10k again in October.  If you are in the Phoenix/Scottsdale general area and want to join me, you can register here. Please put EDS62 in the promo code box.  It’s not a discount, but it will let them know I told you about the race. 🙂

 

Disclaimer: I have been chosen to be a 2014 Esprit de She Ambassador however, I did pay for my entry to the 2014 Tempe Duathlon and was planning to do this race and the 10K in October even if I wasn’t selected. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Race Recap: Ragnar Trail Zion

This past weekend I went up to Zion with some of my running buddies to run the Ragnar Trail Relay.  We did the McDowell Mountain Relay last year and so when one of my running buddies told us about a team that was looking for runners, we jumped at it.

A little burnt toast moment that almost ruined my trip, the day before I was to leave, I woke up with an issue in my back.  I have had a lot of back issues throughout the year, but this was different, it got tighter and tighter all day when I was at work, everytime I went to get up from my ball chair, I felt worse and worse. So off I went to see my PT, Charlie, at Cadence Physical Therapy and he helped manipulate my back to get it back to somewhat normal. But how would I feel on the trails…

I was a part of 2 teams and as luck would have it the captain of the other team, Robin, had reserved 2 cabins way back in November for the race so not only would we be running the relay, we wouldn’t have to camp! Win win in my book.  (McDowell Mountain was my very first time camping and while it wasn’t bad, there is no way I’m turning down a cabin with a real bed and a shower!)

We stayed in cabins 501 & 502, which was called the Overlook Mountain Home at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.  I unfortunately didn’t get any pics of the cabin but you can find information about the resort & the various cabins/mountain homes here.  Personally I would so recommend renting a cabin.

The drive from Phoenix to Zion was about 6.5 hours and except for the last bit in the dark, it was a pretty easy drive.  I’ve really not been out of the Phoenix area since I moved here about 2.5 years ago so it was nice to see some different parts of Arizona.

The only complaint I have, and this is because my phone is attached to my hand, lol, I wasn’t able to access the internet, text or email during my time in Zion.  I seriously have my phone no less than 2 feet from me all day long, mostly due to my job, but also because it’s habit and not being connected was so making me crazy – LOL!!  Eventually I just went with it and said, I guess I’m not meant to do anything today & chilled out 🙂

Waking up the next morning to this beautiful, crisp morning.

Ragnar Trail Zion Day 1 Sunrise
waking up to a beautiful day

My cabin mates were overachievers who thought to bring all sorts of fun extras with them so we were able to start the day with our normal green smoothies, score! Thank you Margaret & Wendy for being so awesome and bringing the Vitamix with them!!

Day 1 Ragnar Trail Zion Green Smoothie

We had a really early start time 9:30am, because at McDowell Mountain we started late and were a little slower than we thought so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time, especially since the elevation was significantly higher than in Phoenix.  So we ate up and headed down to our camp site to hang out before our safety meeting.

 

Our camp before everyone else arrives Photo Credit: Tom Scotney
Our camp before everyone else arrives
Photo Credit: Tom Scotney
Ragnar Trail Zion Transition Tent
Ragnar Trail Zion Transition Tent
Ragnar Trail Zion Safety Meeting
Ragnar Trail Zion Safety Meeting

All teams have to go to the safety meeting which goes over the trails, the different color and shaped signs to look for, what to do if you get hurt, if your runner takes longer than you expect, if there is lightning, etc. etc..  There wasn’t anything mentioned about snow or rain.  Although I did hear later in the day that they added a little something I had mentioned to the director of the yellow loop about how it seemed like the signs were really far apart in some areas.  They added that some of the signs were really close together when you could have other options and far apart when the trail was clear.  They also mentioned about using headlights starting 2 hours before sunset for safety and that they would be adding blinking lights to the signs when it got dark.

Ragnar Trail Zion Finish Line
Ragnar Trail Zion Finish Line

They told us about how we would be getting different wrist bands, green, yellow & red for our different legs and we would also have one bib for the entire team that we hand off after each leg.  So after all this, we were off.

Ragnar Trail Zion Runner 1
Tom starting us off in Leg 1 in green Night Run shirt
Ragnar Trail Zion Runner 2
Margaret, Runner 2 coming in after the Yellow Loop
Ragnar Trail Zion Runner 3
Joan our 3rd runner coming in after the long Red Loop

I was Runner 5, I didn’t really care what leg I did but it’s hard to wait around.  When you do a regular race, you wait around, but just for a bit, this was for hours so it was a bit difficult in terms of what to eat before going out.  I have a lot of problems with race nutrition when I’m doing a standard style race, but I eat relatively normally for relays.  Weird.  I wasn’t nervous for the relay like I am for regular races :).

Finally it was my turn, I got the bib from Mandy and headed out for my first leg, the Yellow Loop, 4.6 miles with a 600+ ft elevation change.

Ragnar Trail Zion
Heading out on my first leg, the Yellow Loop
Photo Credit: Joan Topham

Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop

Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop Friday 2pm
Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop Friday 2pmish
Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop Selfie
Taking a quick break on mile 2 of the Yellow Loop – uphill
View from the Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop
View from the Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop
The uphill on the Ragnar Trail Zion Yellow Loop
Another uphill on the Yellow Loop – this one was sandy

I started out running thru camp for the first mile, then the second mile was pretty much a hill the whole way, I actually walked most of this mile, I didn’t train properly, after the Rome Marathon, I was recovering and just not real motivated so I wasn’t really well trained for hills, but since this was just for fun, I was listening to my body and my heart rate was out of control high so walking it was.  The trail was a lot different than those in AZ.  It was a lot softer than our trails and sandy in a lot of spots.  The last photo above was pretty much all sand and the single-track trail was practically on the edge.

I didn’t get any pictures of the other part of the trail as mile 3 was a great single track downhill (red somewhat packed sand).  It was so much fun, although you had to really watch your step.  I cruised down this part.  A part of mile 3 linked up to the Red Loop and then both loops (actually all 3 loops) would finish on the same section.  The section at the end, was another uphill trail with numerous switchbacks, pretty steep, I walked this section too until we came up to another part of the camp.  Towards the end of this loop, the wind had picked up so much that I actually had to walk for a min to be able to cover my mouth and nose (I have asthma and dust isn’t a good thing :)).  I finished this loop in about 56 min (11:13, 18:30, 10:10, 11:39, 10:14 last .50) handed the bib off to Wendy and went to chill for about 8 hours before my next leg.

I was pleasantly surprised that I had no back pain during this leg or my next.  I could still feel the stiffness when getting up from sitting, laying down, etc. but nothing while running.  Yea!!

And off to dinner we went…

Ragnar provides dinner for the runners on day 1 as part of the registration fee so we headed over to the Mess Hall and chowed down.

Dinner Day 1 Ragnar Trail Zion Mess Hall

Inside the mess hall Ragnar Trail Zion
Inside the mess hall Ragnar Trail Zion
Dinner consisted of Pasta, Veggies, Frozen Bread, Salad, a Cookie & Lemonade
Dinner consisted of Pasta, Veggies, Frozen Bread, Salad, a Cookie & Lemonade

I didn’t mind the dinner for the most part.  I thought the veggies were awesome – really flavorful and the pasta was al dente.  I’m not a fan of iceberg lettuce, but I ate it :).  The bread was good, but I could only eat a few bites around the edges because it was still frozen inside.  I normally wouldn’t eat cookies, but I was hungry and it was peanut butter so I figured a little protein LOL.

After dinner we headed back to cabin, where I took a 2 hour nap and just hung out while waiting for my next loop, which would be around 11:30pm.  We weren’t exactly sure how long it would take the runner before me to run the Red Loop (8.2 miles) so I went down around 10:30p to wait, because I didn’t want to miss him. They had TVs with the team names & numbers coming up when your teammate was 2/10s away from the finish.

My second loop was the Green loop which as just over 3 miles.  I unfortunately don’t have any photos because it was pitch black out and even though I had a light, it was super dark and I didn’t want to break or lose my phone. Besides I’m not sure if the photos would have come out in the dark.

I really enjoyed this loop, although it was sooo dark that I really just went super slow because they had mentioned that there was a super steep downhill section with loose rocks and I did not want to fall.  I really didn’t think that down hill was that bad and compared to some of the trails I’ve done here, it wasn’t bad.  I think my headlamp was dying though because I had a hard time seeing, or maybe that’s because my contacts were dirty, I don’t know, but I thought it was super hard to see.

Again, you ended up at the same uphill switchbacks, again I walked this section and then then ran when I got to the top.  This leg I finished in 36 mins (11:55, 11:36, 12:22, final .02 8:41).  I could have gone faster, but again since it was so dark, I just wanted to be safe.

I again handed the bib off to Wendy, told her to be careful since it was so dark and then headed up to the cabin to get some sleep.  I figured I had about 8 hours until my next run, so I took a shower and set my alarm for 6:30am so I could get some food before heading out for my next loop, which I was estimating at around 10am.  I woke up and went downstairs, saw Joan, who told me that Margaret, runner 2 had just left and they expected her back around 7:15a when Joan would go do the next leg.  I got a small bowl of cereal and then went back to bed, setting my alarm for 7:30a.

I was awakened to a lot of talking and so I got up to see what was going on and this was what awaited me…

What we woke up to on Day 2...
What we woke up to on Day 2…

Seriously, I think my mouth dropped open and I was like WHAT? Are you kidding me? I seriously haven’t seen snow in years, I can’t even tell you the last time.  I live in the south for a reason and snow is one of those reasons :).

As we were all taking photos and commenting on what was going on, one of our volunteers, Maryanne contacted another of my teammates and told them that Ragnar had called the race.  Only one problem, one of our runners and one of the runners for our other team were still on the course.  Margaret, runner 2 was not only on the course, she was also wearing capri pants and vibram five finger shoes.  John was in shorts and just regular running shoes.  We were incredibly worried about both of them and wanted to do something, but and for good reason, Ragnar wasn’t letting anyone extra out on the course to look for people.  So we waited and finally John came back to the cabin and then about an hour later (3.5 hours after going out) Margaret was back as well.  Thank you Lord!

Walking down to the Village Ragnar Trail Zion
Walking down to the Village Ragnar Trail Zion

Near the transistion tent Ragnar Trail Zion Day 2 More snow Ragnar Trail Zion

After they were both back safe and sound we went down to the camp site to start breaking things down.  We ended up getting everything back up to Wendy’s truck and then the cabin in 2 trips.

Taking down the tent on Day 2
Taking down the tent on Day 2
My running buddies, Tom, Ken & I after cleaning up our campsite.
My running buddies, Tom, Ken & I after cleaning up our campsite.

It was a mess, snow, mud, water, but we managed to get it all back up there and then most of decided to head home in case the weather continued to get worse.

It was a big surprise waking up on Saturday morning to the snow and not exactly how we expected our 2nd Ragnar Trail Relay to go, but I think in the end we all had a great time and really enjoyed the event.  I know that we were all so relieved when both John & Margaret finished their loops and while the rest of us weren’t able to finish our last legs, I know that they made the right call for the safety of the runners.  I would not have wanted to be out there in those conditions and I hope that no one was seriously hurt while out there when the weather turned bad.

While we didn’t officially finish, we were still awarded our medals and I can now add Utah as my 8th state that I have run a race in. (I did run my last 8.2 mile loop Sunday morning back in Phoenix, it was on the road and much flatter, but I felt like I needed to do it – if nothing else for myself.)

Ragnar Trail Zion Medal 2014
My Ragnar Trail Zion 2014 Medal

All in all I really enjoyed this weekend and I’m looking forward to McDowell Mountain again in the fall!

Have you ever run a race that was cancelled due to weather?  And if so what happened?

The Roman Guy Maratona di Roma Shakeout Tour

After spending Friday afternoon at the Maratona di Roma expo and having dinner with my cousins & aunt, my cousin Simona took me back to The Beehive for some sleep.  Saturday was a big day.  A few months before I had met another marathoner via instagram, Laura, from the Washington, D.C. area who goes by @laurentinaphoto – Follow her – she’s amazing!  Anyways it was her first marathon and somehow she came across The Roman Guy (follow them too :)) again via instagram and they (Sean & Brandon) were also running their first marathons and were going to do a little tour/shake-out run the day before the race.  I have been lucky to have been to Rome many times, but since I have family that lives there, I don’t always get to do the touristy things so I thought, this sounds like a lot of fun and signed up as well.  For 45 Euros, we got a tour of the Colosseum & Forum, a run thru the city & a super cool, Team TRG New Balance tank to commemorate the day.

So Saturday morning, I fueled up with good American style breakfast – eggs and toast 🙂 and set off for the Colosseum.  The tour was going to start there and then we would do a 2 mile shake-out run going hitting up a lot of the best tourist spots in Rome.

I got there a bit early so I just walked around getting the lay of the land – before heading back to meet up with the group. It was kind of cloudy so I was hoping it wouldn’t rain.

The Roman Guy, Rome Italay, Colosseum, March 22, 2014, Maratona di Roma

Notice how the section on the right looks different than the section on the left?  Brandon told us that they had actually renovated a portion of the Colosseum because they had taken a lot of the Travertine for other projects around the city.

It was a bit of a cloudy day, but the 12 of us runners weren’t going to let that get us down and so we started off with a tour of the Colosseum.  Brandon did most of the tour, Sean was the photographer for the day and a lot of the photos you’ll see today are from him (THANK YOU!).

The Roman Guy Shakeout Tour Maratona di Roma
Love this pic 🙂
photo credit Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy

I’ve been to the Colosseum twice before, but it was really nice to be on a tour, Brandon & Sean had insight into things that you just can’t know from looking around.

The Roman Guy Shakeout Tour, Maratona di Roma
Brandon showing us a map of the what the Colosseum looked like when it was built.
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy

Inside, they had built a partial floor to show what it would have looked like back in the day, I don’t remember that from my last visit in 2003. But that’s not to say it wasn’t there, 2003 was a long time ago :).

The Roman Guy, Shakeout Tour, Rome Italy, Colosseum, Floor, March 22, 2014
Personal Photo
The Roman Guy, Shakeout Tour, March 22, 2014, Rome, Italy, Colosseum
Check out our awesome Team TRG (The Roman Guy) singlets – super cool 🙂 personal photo
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy

After a quick tour of the Colosseum, we headed over to the Roman Forum to walk around for a bit.

Panarama of the Forum

The Roman Guy, Shakeout Tour, Rome Italy
Leaving the Forum, time to start our shake-out run. Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy

So after we left the Forum, we started down the stairs by the Palazzo Victor Emmanuel, which looks a lot older than it is.  This was right near the start & finish line of the marathon.

personal photo
personal photo

And so off we went.  In Italy, unlike here in the States, cars stop when you cross the street, in fact they expect you to cross and if you wait for them they stop for you.  It’s very interesting how it works.

First Stop The Fountain of Trevi Personal Photo
First Stop The Fountain of Trevi
Personal Photo
The Roman Guy, Shakeout run, maratona di roma
Group Photo – Fountain of Trevi
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy
The Roman Guy Pantheon Maratona di roma shakeout run
One of my fav places, the Pantheon.
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy
How massive are these columns?  Personal Photo
How massive are these columns?
Personal Photo

The Pantheon is actually 50 years older than the Colosseum.  It’s fascinating to me how it looks like a regular building on the outside and then a dome inside and where the famous Rafael is buried.

We hit up the Spanish steps but there were so many people, I didn’t feel it was photo worthy 😉 LOL.  Little tidbit about the Spanish Steps, the poet, John Keats lived in the building to the right of the steps before his death at 25.

And on we went to Piazza Navona, where we saw Bernini’s fountain – I always think of Angels & Demons when I go to Piazza Navona now :).

Bernini's fountain in Piazza Navona. Personal Photo
Bernini’s fountain in Piazza Navona.
Personal Photo

And then we finished up in the Campo dei Fiori, the market, in the center of Rome.

Me & @laurantinaphoto by Campo di Fiori
Me & @laurantinaphoto
Photo Credit: Sean Finelli, The Roman Guy
Campo di Fiori, Market  Personal Photo
Campo di Fiori, Market
Personal Photo
Me with The Roman Guy(s) Brandon & Sean Personal Photo
Me with The Roman Guy(s) Brandon & Sean
Personal Photo

I really enjoyed this excursion and I would totally recommend it to anyone.  It was an awesome way to see the city, Brandon & Sean were great tour guides, they seemed more like friends than guides 🙂 and I met a lot of really nice runners.  If you are in Rome and are looking for a great way to see the city, I totally recommend contacting The Roman Guy.

 

 

Maratona di Roma Expo

So last time we spoke, I was just about to go thru passport control after landing in Rome. Got my passport stamped and I was ready to go.

First thing I had to do was catch a train from the airport to Roma Termini and drop my bag off at the hotel.

And so we wait...Train to Roma Termini
And so we wait…Train to Roma Termini

After about 15 minutes of waiting and a 35 minute train ride, I finally made it to the main train station in Rome.  Roma Termini.  My hotel, a cute little hotel/hostel called The Beehive (more about them in a future post) was literally 5 minutes from the station, however I was tired, dragging a huge suitcase and wandering around without GPS for over a 1/2 hr trying to find this place.  I asked for directions, I walked in circles, seriously, practically in tears, and finally had to use my cell phone t0 call (who knows how much that cost me!) to get directions.  And to find out what? That I literally walked around it about 5 times but just never crossed the street.  Seriously?!? Wow…

You’ll find I like to digress some, ok, a lot and I have to say, this was one of the toughest weeks, without having access to my cellular data, (I literally am never without it due to my job) no gps, no iMessage, no Instagram likes, facebook responses, nothing without wifi.  How did we survive, without all this technology??

Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled program.

The Maratona di Roma Expo was held at the Palazzo dei Congressi, which was probably about a 15 min ride on the metro, blue line.  Another quick digression, I’ve lived in Italy, I speak relatively fluent Italian with a decent accent, enough to get by, I am 3/4 Italian with dark hair, people were speaking to me in Italian from the moment I stepped off the plane, asking me questions, even though, I have as good an idea as they do, it was hilarious.  I say this because, I’m standing in line to buy my metro card and this couple is asking me all sorts of questions about which line to take, etc. like I’m a native, it was really funny.

So I took the Blue metro toward Laurentina, getting off at Eur Fermi, it wasn’t really clear to me at least which way to go, so I asked someone and off I went.  After walking about a mile (give or take) I started to see people with red New Balance bags.  I came up on the back of the expo, where the vendor check-in was and saw the cutest Maratona di Roma Smart Car (according to my cousin, a native Roman, there are like over a million Smart Cars in Rome).

Maratona di Roma smart car

Arriving at the expo, I was there pretty early so there weren’t many people there, I saw photos from others where that red card was completely full.

Red Carpet for Marathoners
Red Carpet for Marathoners

maratona di roma expo marathoner entrance

42,195 vs 26.2
42,195 vs 26.2

Inside the expo, it was pretty much like a normal expo, the only thing that was different in this race was that women’s bibs were in a separate section, at the end of the line.  I should have remembered this for race day, but I didn’t and it was an issue the morning of the race.  Just like here, pick up the bib first and then your shirt/bag at another booth.

Women's bib started with F (at the end of the line)
Women’s bib started with F (at the end of the line) sorry for the blurry photo

There was a spaghetti lunch available but I wasn’t that hungry so I skipped it and headed into the expo portion of the building.  The red carpet continued throughout.  The expo itself was split into a number of different sections, first up, food & beverage samples, I skipped past this part, because there weren’t a lot of samples and most of the items were processed, not really things I’d use.

Then you walk thru an area with other races – there were actually a few sections with other race options, my favorite was the Kenyan Tourism board booth.  I literally laughed out loud as soon as I saw it.

My favorite booth at the expo :) Kenyan Tourism Board
My favorite booth at the expo 🙂 Kenyan Tourism Board

I kept following the red carpet to where the shoe booths were, all the big names, New Balance (sponsor), Brooks, Mizuno & Asics had booths, along with some of the other big sponsors for the race.

Brooks Booth at Marathona di Roma expo

New Balance Booth at Maratona di Roma Expo

The expo finished up with a charity section.  Right outside was something I love, the first time I experienced it was at the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon in DC.  It was a wall with all the names (in alpha order) of the people participating in the marathon – so cool :).

One section, it went around for a bit - there were 19,000 or so names!
One section, it went around for a bit – there were 19,000 or so names!
Found my name ;)
Found my name 😉

Me at the maratona di roma expo

The swag bag was pretty cool, they gave us a 20th anniversary New Balance backpack, a New Balance tech T-shirt and some pasta.  The backpacks were used for gear check too.

Swag from the marathon - where else do you get pasta in your swag bag!
Swag from the marathon – where else do you get pasta in your swag bag!

The expo was Thursday, Friday & Saturday, and all in all it was pretty nice, I had read a few reviews where they commented that things were a lot different, but it seemed pretty similar to me.  There were a lot more booths for area races, but I guess with the proximity of so many different countries, it’s kind of like us with states. With the exception of the big race companies, it’s normally local or near-by state races that exhibit at the expo, there other countries are as close as California.

I was glad I went after I arrived because it was a bit of a ride over and I wanted to relax after my shakeout run & tour with The Roman Guy on Saturday.

Have you ever done an international race?  Was the expo similar to those in the States or completely different?

 

The Road to Rome – Mar 2014

After a week of jet lag, work and life I’m finally ready to start recapping my trip to Italy and the Rome Marathon.  Warning 🙂 this will be a bit long & lots of pictures.

Where to start…well let’s start with the flight to Rome.  I was so unbelievably lucky to find flights on US Air using my miles and not only that, I was able to fly to Rome in US Air’s Envoy class on an A330 plane.  I had to make 2 stops, but it was worth it to be able to be in one of the Envoy Suites for the flight to Italy.

I fly a least 4 – 6 times a year and I’ve been lucky to sit in first class on short domestic flights, but never internationally so this was a nice treat and perfect since I would only have 2 days before the marathon and I needed to get some sleep on the way there.

First Flight to Rome
First Flight to Rome

Domestically, I had stops in Dallas and Philadelphia.  The flight to Dallas is relatively short so there was just beverages and snacks.  It was quite nice to see that one of the snacks was actually something that pretty healthy, Nature’s Valley Fig Bars, Non-GMO, relatively low sugar, no cholesterol, no transfat – super yummy!  I had a raspberry one on the plane, but I actually had blueberry, apple cinnamon & peach-apricot in my bag.

Coffee & Nature's Valley Fig Bar
Coffee & Nature’s Valley Fig Bar

Imagine my surprise when I looked at the US Air magazine and saw that the featured city for March was none other than Winter Park, FL.  How cool is that!

US Airways March 2014 Magazine, Winter Park, FL

After a nice and easy flight to Dallas, I had a relatively short layover, during which time I started sneezing and getting a little bit of a sore throat. Oh, no! Not a fun feeling to have, fortunately, a zyrtec and I was feeling better in no time.

The flight to Philly was a bit longer so we were served lunch on-board.  I’ve flown first class before, but normally either short flights or on red-eye flights where you don’t get fed so this was a nice treat.

As we were getting ready to take off, the flight attendant asked us what entree we would like.  There were 2 to choose from, a miso beef with bok-choy or a pasta duo (penne with marinara sauce & tortellini with alfredo sauce), since I knew I would be eating some amazing pasta, I chose the beef.

After we took off, she brought us drinks in glass cups, and then about 20 minutes later our meals.

Real Glasses!
Real Glasses!

First Class Entree

My lunch included, Miso Beef, cooked well done, but it literally just melted in my mouth, it was so tender.  It was served with white rice and a vegetable medley of carrots, green beans & I guess there was some bok choy, I couldn’t really tell.  There was also a salad with a balsamic dressing and a chicken & slaw side too (I tried it but it wasn’t one of my favs).

For some reason, I didn’t expect dessert, but there was one, an amazing chocolate cake.  For someone who isn’t a huge fan of chocolate for me to say it was amazing is huge :).  Not that I didn’t enjoy the rest of my meal, but this was by far the best part.  Super rich chocolate flavor, incredibly moist with a fudgy topping and cocoa on top.

Chocolate cake first class us airways

The flight itself was fine, long, when you are anxious to get on your way to your final destination.  The pilot told us we would be landing early and then we ended up having to circle the airport until our original arrival time, which was frustrating since I only had about 45 minutes to get to my gate for my flight to Rome.

Finally arriving in Philly and I literally got to the gate, had my passport checked and they were ready to board – talk about timing :).

Passport checked, boarding pass ready, Zone 1, Seat 2A
Passport checked, boarding pass ready, Zone 1, Seat 2A
Finally just about on my way.  US Airways plane to Rome
Finally just about on my way. US Airways plane to Rome

As I was boarding the plane, the flight attendants were directing us to the various areas of the plane, the A330 is pretty large and in both Envoy & economy there are 3 sections, window, middle and opposite window so they want to make sure you go to the right side to make it easy for everyone.

My Envoy Suite was super cute and I immediately made myself at home, I even forgot to take a picture of it empty because I was so excited!

Envoy Suite US Airways A330

Extra space, Envoy Suite US Airways A330

Chilling in my Envoy Suite US AIrways A330

Not too long after I got semi settled, the flight attendants started coming around with a tray of beverages, they offered prosecco, orange juice or sparkling water.  I very rarely drink alcohol before a race or on a place (don’t want to be dehydrated) but this was a special occasion and as I told my boss and friend, I was like what would R.J. do and said Prosecco it is! lol

Prosecco to start US Airways Envoy to Rome

They came around and asked us what we would like for our entree before we took off, there was a nice menu with 4 dinner options, Tenderloin of Beef, Sun-dried Tomato stuffed Chicken Breast, Citrus Mahi Mahi and for the vegetarians Spinach Lasagna Rolls.  I chose the beef, I hardly ever eat beef in my normal day to day life, but you’ll see as I continue to recap, I eat a lot of it during this trip, interesting…

US Airways Envoy Menu

One last thing before we take off, they brought us cute little bags with some supplies – let me tell you the eye mask came in super handy.

US Air Envoy Amenity Kit

And away we go…

Taking off for Rome

Once we took off, things started happening quite fast.  The flight attendants came by first with bottles of water, then hot towels, then to bring our starter for dinner.

Warm mixed nuts to start
Warm mixed nuts to start
Appetizer course, Sliced pesto chicken breast with tomato-caper relish, salad & hot rolls
Appetizer course, Sliced pesto chicken breast with tomato-caper relish, salad & hot rolls

I loved that they let you pick your own rolls and had wheat and multi-grain.  The chicken portion of the appetizer was ok, nothing special and I tried the relish, but it had way too much onion in it for me.  The salad was good – they had darker greens in it, none of that horrible iceberg lettuce, thank goodness.

Super cute, tiny balsamic vinaigrette
Super cute, tiny balsamic vinaigrette
Entree Course - Tenderloin of Beef with morel mushroom sauce, served with sweet potato mash & broccoli florets
Entree Course – Tenderloin of Beef with morel mushroom sauce, served with sweet potato mash & broccoli florets

The beef was really good, I don’t use a lot of sauce so I left most of that, but the sweet potato mash, so so yummy.  That’s really the reason I choose the beef, of all the sides, that was by far the best option in my opinion.

Ben & Jerry's Health Bar Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry’s Health Bar Ice Cream

There were several choices for dessert, Raspberry Mousse, a cheese plate or ice cream.  This looked the best and it was good, although, the chocolate cake from the DFW – PHL flight was way better ;).

After dinner, they dimmed the cabin lights, I finished watching This Means War and went to sleep.  The nice thing about the envoy suite is that the seat lays flat, however that doesn’t mean it’s super comfortable. I have long legs and while the seat laid flat, there was a bit of space between the seat and the extra portion for my feet so I felt that a lot.  They gave us really nice thick blankets, but for the first time ever on a trans-atlantic flight, I was so hot.  I feel like even with that, I was able to sleep pretty well and fortunately when I woke up I did not look like Debra Messing in The Wedding Date.

I woke up just in time for breakfast and we were about 1.5 hours from Rome, over the Alps at this point.

Sunrise over the Alps
Sunrise over the Alps

Breakfast is served…

Spinach & Turkey Bacon Quiche
Spinach & Turkey Bacon Quiche

There were 2 choices for breakfast, the spinach & turkey bacon quiche that I picked & a yogurt & fruit bowl.  This was good, but unfortunately it wasn’t cooked all the way thru so I kind of just ate around the edges.  It’s such a nice change to see lots of veggies & fruit accompanying the entree.  They also served warm croissants and coffee.  I tried a chocolate croissant and was a little disappointed, it wasn’t really worth it, but it was seriously only 2 bites.

Not too long after breakfast we were on our final descent and landing in Rome.

Roma Fiumucino Passport Control

First stop passport control and then on to Rome…

Come back this week to see what happens next :).

Have you ever flown business or first class internationally?  What was your favorite part?