Sunday, May 19, 2019

Last Best Beer Run 5K "Race" Recap

I am not a fan of the 5 or 10K distances for races.  I'm not sure why, but maybe it is because I'm not fast.   I may not like the 5K, but I LOVE craft beer and this was the finale event for Billings Craft Beer Week.  Let's see... Running and Beer.  Yep, I'm in.

I would like to thank Travis Hutchinson who is a local member of our running community, Competitive Timing Guru and the RD (race director) of this event.  I don't know if Travis has ever put on a race before but I'm sure this one had to be a challenge, particularly in a city with open container restrictions.

Packet pick-up for this event was at Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill.  This is not one of my usual hang-outs but they have pretty good food and a lovely atmosphere.  If you haven't been there, I recommend it particularly during the cold season when they have the fireplace going.

A little fun a packet pick-up - Trying to win a prize for posting on Instagram

We did not get great weather.  It rained like crazy all day Friday and turned to snow by Saturday morning.  Thankfully it was more of a drizzly snow that didn't stick and tapered off mostly during the run.  Unfortunately, I think the chill kept away some of the runners and the after party definitely suffered - not drawing in as many non-runners as I am sure the RD would have liked.

Mitch doesn't drink beer and didn't want to run the no-beer 5K so he volunteered to ride his bike as a course sweeper.  Since he was the only cyclist that didn't bag out, he was also the race leader.  He got to be first and last in a race!  How many people can say that?  Thank you, Mitch for being a volunteer.


The concept of the race was to drink *4oz of beer at the start and then hit 5 "aid" stations along the course where you drink a *4oz cup of beer (two at one location) before moving on.  I didn't take my phone on the run because of the weather but this is the beer station at the start, hosted by Yellowstone Valley Brewing.  They served Huckleweizen - not my kind of beer but I was glad they picked something "light."


Other local breweries that were awesome enough to dedicate time and beer were High Plains (Laurel, MT), Montana Brewing Co., Canyon Creek, Thirsty Street, Uberbrew and Carters.  At the finish line there was also the Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill and Red Lodge Ales (Red Lodge, MT).  Angry Hanks was supposed to be there but for some reason they did not make it.

I did not experience any issues, but there were some hiccups for the front runners because there needed to be a volunteer or at least some arrows at a couple of spots along the course.  Mitch wasn't able to clearly tell which way to go and neither could the runners which resulted in them taking a somewhat revised route. By the time I got there, there were volunteers at those areas so we were sent the correct direction.

I got precisely 3.11 miles.  I think my finish time was about 32 minutes.  I forgot to turn off my watch right away so I stood around for a minute or so before I looked down at it.  Strava has me with a total running time of 28:36 (9:21/mile) which doesn't include the time I was stopped to drink beer.

Running with beer in my belly was harder than the eggnog mile we did this winter (which wasn't easy either).  As soon as I started running the beer was working its way in to a foam that instantly made me feel full.  I started out at a fast pace because I wanted to push myself.  I didn't look down at my watch at all during the run but based on effort I know I was giving it a good pace.  After the first mile though, I was slowing down.

Overall it was a blast.  My only wish was that I could have run with someone since it was more of a fun run than a competitive event. 

The swag is great.  I love the t-shirt which has a cute design and is soft, comfy material.


At the finish line, we received a *5oz glass and we were allowed to fill it as much as we wanted at the after-party.  I didn't drink very much after the run because my gut was a mess of beer foam already and I needed lunch.  This glass might be one of my favorite finisher awards ever.


I hope the Last Best Beer Run comes back next year.  If it does and I am around that weekend I will definitely be back.

Today is long run day, it is nearly 9:00am, I haven't picked my route and I am still sitting in my pajamas. It is time to get moving.

On another note, Mitch and I both got rejection letters for the Bridger Ridge Run.  It is a long shot to get in the first year on the lottery.  If it works out, perhaps we will volunteer some time this year since we now have nothing going on in August and I've already put in for the time off.


Have a great week!

*Denotes correction from original draft

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Since we last talked, I got a DNF!

I've had a couple of great weekends.  I'm so glad that it is finally spring and I can enjoy the beautiful outdoors again.

It has been over a week since our vacation came to an end, but we topped off our last days with a road trip to Bozeman for the day.  We have been there quite a bit lately because when we found Backcountry Burger it became one of our favorite places to eat.  Nevermind that it is almost 2 hours away. The Pub Poutine and Garlic Aoli are totally worth the trip!


Of course, you can't make a trip like that and only go for food so we also went for a hike on the M Trail.  We've never done that trail in all the times we've been to Bozeman, but since it is the end of the Bridger Ridge Run, we decided to check it out.  The route we took was pretty steep.  We gained 1,030 feet in one mile.


The views from this trail are definitely worth the climb and the weather was perfect - just cloudy enough to keep it cool.



Mitch took the steep trail back down and I opted to take the longer, less steep route back to the trailhead.  I loved it!  Most of it was a perfect grade for a downhill run.  I wasn't really dressed for running but I did it anyway.  The worst part was the lack of a sports bra.


I went back to work on Monday to 1100 emails, which I was mostly able to ignore and file because I had someone that really took care of stuff while I was out for 7 working days.  I also had a big presentation to put together for seven clients so my work week went by in a blur.  It helped that I was only back through Thursday because we had another race the next weekend.

I started running because of the Montana Women's Run - a 2 or 5 mile event in downtown Billings that attracts around 8,000 women every Mother's Day weekend.  When I started training for the 5 mile, that is when I got the running bug and the rest is history.  I love the Women's Run, but 3 years ago I thought I would do something different and go to Helena for the Don't Fence Me In trail run.  That year, I signed up for the 12K and Mitch did it with me (not something he would have done for the Women's Run).  Helena trails are amazing and I loved it so much that I have gone back the two years following to do the 30K (Mitch too!).

Because we literally JUST got back from our trip to Vegas, we planned to stay in the least expensive hotel we could find.  This hotel is downtown, less than a mile from the park where the race start is and the entire Helena downtown street mall is between the hotel and the start.  The room was small, they used standard keys (don't lose that!) and the old building made so much noise that we though there was a prostitute upstairs.  Turned out it was the plumbing!  But the room was adequate, the bed was comfortable and we loved being that close to town.  Once we parked at the hotel we didn't use the car again until we went home.



I forgot my gaiters so we stopped at Tread Lightly which is Helena's running store.  I was really sad to see that they are closing their doors.  I found my favorite brand of gaiters there - Dirty Girls are the best and Mitch found this hat that matched them.  It is now my favorite hat.  I've never liked visors but Headsweats makes the most comfortable visor I've ever worn.  This is going to get a ton of miles.


Packet pickup was at Blackfoot Brewing.  One of my favorite beers is released for this running event so I was excited.  See my awesome Dirty Girls in the picture?  Flat Angie.


I wish we had trails in Billings like they have in Helena.  Since we don't, I really wish Helena was closer than 4 hours away.  Don't Fence Me In trail run covers some amazing trails.



We dropped out of this race at 11.5 miles.  We had just hit the aid station with 10 minutes to spare before the cut-off and we could have continued, but I just didn't have it in me to carry on for the last 7 miles.  The biggest climb was still ahead, as well as a very steep downhill to the finish.  I could have finished.  I know I could have pulled the strength to do it, but I also knew that I was tired.  Two weeks out from our marathon and only 10 days from when I was able to walk after that.  It was okay to stop and I knew that if we had kept running, it would have been mostly walking and we would get to the finish line after most of it was gone anyway.  I HATE to get a DNF.  DNF = Did Not Finish.  But I'm still not mad that I called it a day.

We had plenty of fun the rest of the day.  Once we got a ride back to the finish, we went to lunch and met up with a couple of friends from Billings Area Trail Runners back at Blackfoot Brewing.

We also enjoyed walking the street mall.  The Merchantile has some of the best coffee I've every tasted.  This pic is shots of espresso with cream and honey.  Delicious!


We got almost as many miles that day as we would have if we had finished the race and I still had a great day.


On Sunday, we went for a hike up Mount Helena which is part of the race that we missed.  We took the 1906 trail up - 1,140 feet ascent and then down the Powerline Trail because Mitch likes the steep stuff.



Mitch is up to his usual shenanigans at the summit of Mount Helena.  Always going for the photo bomb.


What's next?  We are heading back to Helena to run Moonlight on Mount Ascension - 12 hours of overnight running.  Last year we got 30.5 miles officially so we will shoot for an extra loop for a better finish.  We have 38 days.

PS We should find out if we got in to Bridger Ridger on May 19th.  Cross your fingers for us.  Mostly for Mitch.  He wants it more than I do.  LOL!

See you this weekend!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Race Recap - Revel Mt Charleston 2019

In case you missed it, the post covering most of our trip to Vegas can be found here:
http://www.runwhichway.com/2019/05/our-vegas-adventure.html


Revel Mount Charleston - April 27th, 2019


https://www.runrevel.com/rmc
Click Image to visit website

We arrived in Las Vegas on Thursday evening so we would have plenty of time to visit the Expo on Friday.  On our travel day we put on over 30,000 steps between the airport and walking the Strip that evening.  I think this detail is important later.


Friday, April 26th

Even though we went to bed after 2am on Thursday, we got up by 7am on Friday.  This was planned because we wanted to get to bed very early since we had to get up around 1:00 am to be ready to catch our bus to the marathon start. We figured if we didn't get much sleep and got up early enough that getting some sleep the night before the race would be easier.  It was, but in retrospect it probably wasn't a good strategy.

Race Expo - UNLV Cox Pavillion

The Expo for Mt Charleston was a little bigger than the one for Revel Rockies which we did last year.  It was well organized, had several vendors and was held in a very spacious building.  The volunteers working the packet pick-up were helpful, friendly and efficient.

A few things worth noting about the Expo:
  • There were quite a few vendors including Aftershokz, doTerra, Sprouts and several places to buy GU, electrolytes and gear.  We bought some salt tablets (since we forgot ours), a few GUs and a hat for me.
  • There was an information booth with details about the race and you could get a wrist band for the beer garden after the race in case you didn't want to carry your ID.
  • There were photo booths where you could hold up signs for fun pics (we didn't participate in it this year).
  • They had a "tattoo station" with temporary tattoos
  • The Expo was scheduled from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm which reduced the crowds significantly.
  • Sprouts gave out free snacks (bananas and such).  I liked that they did this and I think it would have been a great idea for them to have food trucks on site.

Awesome Swag -

Good swag is fun to get!  We do quite a few events that give little to no swag so when we do a race that has plenty of goodies it makes my heart happy.  I'm not sure why this picture is sideways since I've tried rotating it a couple of times.


The GOODR sunglasses are my favorite swag and since Mitch doesn't care for how they fit I got two pairs.  We got to pick from blue and black frames and I now have both.  Revel is etched small on the lens.  I have to say that the bottle of probiotics is the most unusual thing I've ever got in a swag bag.
Note: The Trail Junkie sticker wasn't part of the swag.  I picked it up at the Nevada trail runners booth.

Course Preview -

After the Expo we drove out to preview the course as is our prerace tradition.  Revel Mt Charleston is a point to point course that starts at the Mt Charleston Lodge and runs downhill on a two-lane road for 21 miles before turning towards the city.  The views are pretty but we didn't get pictures.

When I say "downhill" I really mean it.  This race has over 5,000 feet of elevation loss.  There are a couple of small up hill sections but they are brief and not significant.  Many people complained about them but I didn't think the hills were nearly as rough as the one big hill in the middle of Revel Rockies.

https://www.runrevel.com/rmc
Click Image to visit Revel Mt Charleston website
While we were out on the preview drive, we took a little side trip up another hill.  There are some great trails in the area so we went for a short excursion on the Robber's Roost Trail.  We didn't go far since we'd already put too many miles on our legs. 


We had dinner at the Draught House where I had beef stroganoff that was delightful.  After that we went back to our hotel and hit the sack by before 8:00 pm.

Saturday, April 27th - Marathon Day

We paid an extra $40 each to ride the bus from the Strip to the start line.  Our recollection from Revel Rockies was that the long ride on a school bus was uncomfortable and they had really nice buses for people that bought the premium ride.  It was convenient to drive a few blocks down the Strip to the hotel where the bus picked up rather than across town where the free buses were.  While they were more comfortable than a school bus, they weren't as "fancy" as the ones we saw in Denver last year. 

I was pretty irritated that we spent the money.  1.  They didn't even bother to check receipts to make sure riders had paid for the ticket.   2.  They used the same bus service for the free ride and we would have had the same kind of bus either way.  It was almost a complete waste of money.

At the marathon start, Mt Charleston Lodge was kind enough to open their dining room so runners could stay warm and sold coffee and hot chocolate.  We pulled up a small spot on the floor and waiting for the start.  Unfortunately, they love dropping runners off an hour or more before the start, which I'm sure is so everyone gets a chance to use the porta-potties.  Mitch recognized John Fegyveresi - a Barkley Marathons finisher from 2012 (we've seen the documentary a few times).  He wasn't 100% sure so we didn't go say hello, but later looked him up to verify that he was in the race results.

My Run -

To get a Boston Qualifier I would have needed to run 8:22 minutes/mile for the full duration of the race.  I knew going in that I wasn't going to get it.  I just wasn't running that fast in my training.  But I had some secondary goals I was shooting for - a 4 hour marathon (9:07 min/mile) seemed attainable.

Immediately I had trouble with getting my legs to turn over with any speed even going downhill though keeping a pace around 8:45 was sustainable and I did so comfortably as soon as I got over the first hill which came within the first half mile.  The temps were in the 50's - comfortable running weather.  That was short lived.  The temps were in the low 80's by the time I was done.  I really don't mind heat, but it does slow your pace especially when you don't get time to train in it.

Aid stations were set up every two miles.  They all had water and PowerAde and the latter stations also had GUs and/or fruit.  Two of the aid stations were out of cups by the time I got to them and I was about mid-pack. The volunteers did a good job improvising and I was thankful I decided to wear my hydration vest.

I hit the proverbial wall at mile 12 - SO. EARLY.  I was still maintaining a 10'ish minute/mile pace and hoped to get past the bonk in time to still pull off a 4 hour time but things only got worse.  My pace got progressively slower, I had to take more walk breaks and it hurt to lift my legs to run.  By my final mile my pace was in the 14s and I finished in 4:41:38.  It was slower than Revel Rockies last year and no where near any of my goals.  I don't think the impact of this hit me until days later.  I was very tired but thrilled to be done and excited to have another marathon in the books so at least I enjoyed the afterglow a bit (even though I don't look like it in this picture).


The finish line at this race was hands-down better than Rockies and they even kept all of the vendors and booths up through the end of the race.  Rockies was starting to dismantle well before the last runners came in and I think that is bad business when you advertise a certain course time.

The food at the finish was pizza and by the time I was there, it wasn't worth eating.  It is the same thing they served at Rockies and you would think that they would figure out by now that pizza doesn't keep well.  They also had snow cones for sale and the beer garden served a variety of Lagunitas.  I wasn't walking well so I relaxed in the shade of their tent and enjoy my beer before heading to get my drop bag where I kept the sunscreen.

Then I headed over to the finish line and watched Mitch run in.  He did awesome and it was dang hot by the end of his day.


Overall, Revel Mt Charleston was a great event.  Well organized for the most part (not counting lack of cups at 2 aid stations) and the course was one of my favorites as far as road marathons go.  The Revel races are put on by a company called Brooksee, LLC and their races are designed to be fast.  Mt Charleston is currently their fastest course and I agree that the elevation loss was a perfect grade to have been right for me to get a great time had my day gone better.

I know several "runner errors" that sabotaged my efforts for this run -
  • I did too many miles of my training through the winter on my treadmill which was old and the paces weren't accurate.  It also meant I wasn't getting nearly enough downhill miles to prepare for the beating my body would take on this course.
  • My sleep strategy leading up to race day was poorly executed.
  • I put on roughly 50K steps (that's almost a marathon) in the two days preceding the race so my legs were tired going in.
Unavoidable elements that also influenced my day include the hot temperatures and airplane travel that was required to get there as well as work stress & travel that disrupted my training schedule in the final weeks.

I've never been as beat up physically after a marathon as I was after this one.  The first couple of days after I had to be very cautious while walking because my quad would just give out causing my leg to buckle at random times.  It took about 5 days before I could move around without pain.

As some time has passed and I've had time to digest the unfolding of my goal race for the year it has been a hard reality to come to terms with.  I trained for this one event for 32 weeks.  I followed a plan specific to helping me hit the paces I needed for a Boston Qualifier and though toward the end I felt my speed was still lacking, I knew I was closer to getting there.  I was faithful to the plan with some exceptions due to illness and made some modifications for work travel but even if you count those times, I did 26 weeks exactly as prescribed.  I ran 6 days a week and during the peak of training was putting in over 60 miles/week.  I ran in the dark.  I ran in the cold.  I did long miles on a treadmill.  All of it with just this one goal in mind.  For over a half of a year I ran, ate, slept and breathed running with the hopes of getting a time to qualify for Boston and in the end I came up short.  Way short.  I didn't even hit a time that made me feel like it was attainable and I'm having a difficult time being okay with it.

I know I need to go back to the drawing board.  I need to reassess and determine what I can do to improve. There won't be a next time without a back-up plan, that much I know.  I've done 6 months of training and put all my eggs in one basket this season and I don't have a secondary race planned to see if I would do better given different circumstances or a better day.  I'll walk away from all that training empty-handed this year and that's a mistake I won't make again.

So here's to learning from it all and using those lessons in the future.  Now I get to move on to trails and crazy distances in the mountains with my husband.  At least these blog posts will get infinitely more interesting and have prettier pictures.

While I really don't love race pictures and Revel's were no exception, here are a couple from Mt Charleston because you can see the beautiful views that I didn't take the time to get shots of during the race.




Today we are putting our application in for the Bridger Ridge Run lottery.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Our Vegas Adventure

We're back!  What a whirlwind of days it has been!  Today's post is about our Vegas trip (more pictures than anything).  The race recap will be up on Sunday.

Our vacation started on Thursday of last week (Wow... has it been a week already???) with our first commercial flight together.  I fly for work all the time and we've flown together in private planes (Mitch is a pilot) but we've never done this before.  I made sure Mitch got the window seat on every flight.  We had a long layover in Denver which I was happy about because Denver has a pretty awesome airport.

We arrived in Las Vegas around 5:30 or so - a little late because someone packed dry ice in the same compartment with an animal on the plane and they had to fix that.  By the time we picked up the rental car and drove to the hotel, it was closer to 7pm.  We almost doubled our rental car price by adding the insurance.

We stayed at the Stratosphere... actually now called The STRAT.  Cool things happen on this tower, like people jumping from the top on bungee cords.  Yikes!  There are also rides at the top, but we never got around to going up there.


I booked our room through Hotels.com at a pretty awesome rate.  Unfortunately, to get a room with any amenities (like a refrigerator) we had to pay another $25/night.  Between that and other "fees" our room cost almost doubled.  At this point I'm starting to think Vegas is stupid expensive. The room was sufficient, but certainly not impressive.


After an expensive buffet for dinner we decided to go for a walk from the hotel.  It wasn't our intent to head all the way down to the Strip, but that is what we ended up doing.  We walked over 5 miles from our hotel almost to the other end.  I cannot believe how many people there were.  It was so crowded.  The sights were amazing though and I loved watching the Bellagio fountains.


On a day that we spent 3 hours on an airplane, we still managed to get SO. MANY. STEPS.  That was even after taking the Monorail from the MGM to the STRAT rather than walking back.  We capped off our first night with a trip to the hotel bar where I paid $10 for a 12 oz beer and Mitch paid $3 for a glass of ice and a splash of diet coke.  Bedtime was around 2:00 am. 

Friday & Saturday are mostly about the marathon so I will leave those details for the race recap post but in those two days we did get to Fremont Street.  On Friday it was during the day and Saturday we went at night so we could see the lights.

 I love this guy so much!
 
 One of the best places we ate the whole trip:  Mickie Finnz
The street tacos were really good and not too expensive.
 
 Entering Downtown Vegas (not the same as the Strip)
 
 Fremont Street at night was cool!
 
Possibly Mitch's favorite attraction - A giant preying mantis that shoots fire to music (in this case Funky Cole Medina)

Sunday was ROUGH.  I've never been so beat up after a race - even walking on flat ground was difficult.  But not being the type of people to sit around when visiting a new city, we headed out to see Hoover Dam.  Our stay at the STRAT was done anyway so we booked a room in Henderson and got out of the city.

 Boulder City is on the way and if I had to live in Nevada, I would pick here.  What a beautiful city and who could resist the opportunity to bump in to aliens.  We stopped at the local brewery where the beer was good and the service sucked.
 
 Hoover Dam is an amazing feat of engineering (yes that's my finger... don't judge)
 
 Equally as impressive as the dam is the Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (view from the dam)
 
If you pour water over the dam the wind will blow it back at you!
 
 
Our evening in Henderson was blissfully relaxing.  We had dinner at a little Mediterranean grill and then walked over to Boulder Station Casino.  This is the only place we put more than a couple of dollars in a machine.  We put in a $20, played for about 45 minutes and cashed out at $30.  We're not big risk takers.
 
Our last full day we headed back to Las Vegas because I booked a room next to the airport to insure an easy departure.  We liked Fremont Street so much that we went back and wandered around.  I finally made it to Banger Brewing, suggested to me by one of our friendly Billings Area Trail Runners, Jessica.
 
 The beer and the service were good and the happy hour prices were reasonable.
 
Mitch was hoping that Nellis Airforce Base would have a display area that we could visit but they don't allow any civilians on base.  Instead we parked the car out by the Vegas Motor Speedway and watched as several jets took off.  We eventually moved to a street at the end of the runway but we were asked to leave by a couple of soldiers who didn't have a sense of humor.  As we headed back in to town we saw the Thunderbirds practicing and coming in for a landing at the base.
 
 Our last big meal was at Hash House a Go Go - This chicken pot pie was the "small" version.  I can't imagine what the full size plate looked like.  This was so much food and I don't think I got through half.  The food was delicious, not super expensive and the service was good too.  By this point, I'd given up ordering beer with my meals because it cost almost as much as the food.
 
 We took one more opportunity to visit the Strip, but spent most of the time exploring Caesar's Palace.  This place is incredible.  So much you can't see from the Strip... like an indoor walking mall.  The artwork and statues were amazing.
 
 With our hotel being right next to the airport, we asked for a room that overlooked the runway.  They put us in a huge, handicap accessible room with a perfect view of the runway and the city.  Mitch was in heaven watching the planes take off and land right outside our window!
 
 
I let my anxiety about large airport security get the best of me and we ended up wandering the Las Vegas airport for 3 hours.  It was the dirtiest airport I've ever been to and everything was unreasonably expensive.  I never thought I would think Denver Airport food was cheap.... but I do now.
 
To sum it all up, Vegas was a fascinating place to visit but overall way too overpriced.  I ate too much, drank very little and walked 41 miles NOT counting the marathon.
 
What's next?  We're heading to Helena in two weeks to run Don't Fence Me In 30K on Mother's Day weekend.  Everything else we have planned this season will be on trails and for that I am thrilled.
 
Don't forget to check back on Sunday for a recap of the Revel Mt. Charleston Marathon.