Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Follow-up Race Report from Anna

I thought you might like to know that Anna Kaschner, who wrote the inspiring story of running post kidney transplant in a previous blog post, just completed the Great Turtle Half Marathon on Mackinac Island. She wrote a really great race report over on her Embody blog, if you'd like to check it out, click on the picture below:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Reminder: Road I.D. Giveaway Ends Oct. 31st

Hello Everyone,
Just a quick reminder that our Road I.D. Giveaway ends Oct. 31st. If you have not entered yet, do it now!! Also, if you have not read my review of the Road I.D. Wrist Elite, be sure to do it. I guarantee you will want one!!

To enter the contest, just click on the link below to go to the Road I.D. site. Decide which of the I.D.s would be right for you. Then leave a comment here on this post or on the Facebook page saying “I need a Road I.D….” and the type of I.D. you like best.  The contest will end on midnight October 31, with the winner selected by random drawing on November 1st.  Good luck!!

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Guest Race Report: Detroit Marathon

See Rick Run!
I am on a little hiatus from racing right now. Fortunately I happen to have some wonderful friends and blog readers who are out running and racing and achieving milestones. One of these, a fellow Playmakers teammate, Rick Rogacki, ran his first marathon this past weekend at Detroit and agreed to do a race report for the blog. 

He apologized because it was on the long side, but I would not cut a word because as I read it I got to relive all the excitement and ups and downs of that first marathon experience, which was a real treat. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks, Rick!!

My First Marathon
As the title says, the Detroit Marathon was my first marathon.  A little background about me. I started “running” a couple of years ago.  I am not sure you can call it running.  I would sign up for a race to force myself to get out of the house and do something healthy.  My wife had been on me for years to exercise because in 2005 I had a mild stroke.  So I thought if I signed up for a race I would have to get out and train.  Well, that didn’t work out too well.  I would sign up but run a race without truly training.  Let me tell you, that didn’t work. 

Last year, I ran some of the fun runs that Playmakers had, and during one in late August, I was minding my own business, huffing and puffing around Lake Lansing and came up to 2 women, Cass and Ramona, that little did I know would change my life, not just running life.  It appeared that one was faster than the other and she wanted to run faster.  I told her I would run with her friend.  She and I talked as we ran and had a great time.  At the end we ran as hard as we could to get past the finish line.  I told her we had to finish strong. 

Rick and Ramona at the Autumn Classic

After the fun run was the Autumn Classic.  I ran that race and sat alone after eating my soup while seeing others have a group of people congratulating them on completing the race.  That group had red shirts on with Playmakers across the chest.  I ran a few more races to finish out the year, and the last one was the Scrooge Scramble in Lansing.  I ran into Cass and Ramona again at the race and their friend Tim.  We all finished somewhat together (well Cass finished long before Tim, Ramona and I did).  We struck up a conversation, remembering we had run together at the fun run in August.  They were heading to breakfast and invited me.  This is what I had been looking for, camaraderie after a race.    As we ate breakfast we talked about signing up for the Playmakers running group. 

The four of us did sign up for the group.  Being the newbie in the group, planning goal races was not in my thought process.  As it turned out, the three of them had signed up for running the Bayshore Full.  They were encouraging me to sign up for at least the half.  I did in fact sign up for the half at Bayshore.  A funny thing happened as we started on a training program for that race; I was enjoying their company.  I told them even though I was running the half I would run their training miles.  I was more than prepared for that half.  After our experience up in Traverse City, all of the good and bad, excitement got the better of me and I signed up for the Detroit Marathon before we left Traverse City.  No turning back now.

Fast forward to October 20, 2012. After training the last half of 2012 for a marathon, I now had two sessions of marathon training under my belt, and I was on my way to Detroit. 

We had picked up a couple of other people to ride down with.  The five of us left Okemos at 10 the day before the race and headed to the expo.  It was a cool ride because of the excitement of what we were going to do the next morning.  We discussed all of our goals for the race, who else was running, and how many carbs we had eaten in the days leading up.  During the car ride I was pretty nervous; in fact I was nervous pretty much all day. 

We arrived at the expo and the plan was to head to packet pickup because of possible lines.  We stopped at the licensed apparel booth because several of the coaches were working the booth.  I had to purchase my 26.2 apparel and souvenirs before they ran out.  I bought an outer shirt, coffee mug, pint glass, and hat.  I was asked about the sticker, but said I had to earn that before buying it.  Go figure, I spend over $100 before the race but had to earn a $3 sticker for the car.  We headed back to the packet pickup after the buying spree by a few of us and completed that task within 10 minutes.  The rest of the expo was very similar to a golf show to me, businesses selling their products and advertising their races. 

It was time to check into hotels.  As we left the expo we also realized we were getting hungry, but dinner was still a couple of hours away.  After Geoff checked into his hotel we walked to Comerica Park and looked in the stadium, seeing guys working out getting ready for the World Series.  We stopped for a snack and a beer.  BTW, for those of you saying beer is carb loading, the highest amount of carbs we found in a Google search was 20g.  There are more carbs in grape juice. 

After the snack we headed to our hotel where 4 of us were staying, Marriot at the Renaissance Center.  We got to the hotel and there were hundreds of people just like us excited about the marathon.  Team in Training was staying at the Marriot. Upon checking in we were handed key cards with the marathon logo on them.  I asked if we could keep them and was told yes they were a souvenir.   When we got to the hotel room we looked out the window and had an incredible view.  We could see the Ambassador Bridge, Cobo arena and the exit from the tunnel right out of our window.  You could have sat in the window and watched the marathon go by.

The View

We had an awesome dinner at Andiamo’s.  I will say that we can blame Geoff for slow times; he was the one that suggested we had dessert after dinner.  After dinner we decided to walk to the start line to see how far away it was.  Let’s just say too far to walk in the morning.  By this time the nervousness was gone.  I was very calm seeing the starting line. We got back to the hotel, and I was asleep by 10.  I had a restless night's sleep, not because of the race, but I couldn’t get comfortable with the temp in the room. 

Whew, if you have gotten this far, it is finally race day.  After waking up at 3:30 to find out I couldn’t have oatmeal because of a bad coffee maker, we headed to the people mover to get to the team pictures.  I won’t go into details about what we did after the pictures -- all racers do it before a race and it usually involves some long lines. 

We headed to the starting line from pictures, and there were a lot more people on the sidewalks than I had imagined.  It made it a little difficult to get into our starting corral.  It was during the walk on the sidewalk that the nerves kicked in a little.  Not sure why, my race doesn’t start until I hit the starting line.  We had signed up for a pacer the day before, but when we got to the corral he was in the corral behind where we were told to go.  Ok, not a big deal, we would let him catch us after getting started.  It took him a while.

Thirteen minutes after 7 we crossed the starting line, no turning back now.  The weather was perfect.  It was in the low 40’s and clear, with a slight wind out of the west.  The starting line is downtown Detroit on Fort St.  We quickly left the downtown area and got into some rundown buildings.  About ¾ of a mile in I had a rock in my shoe -- can’t do that for 26 miles.  Ok, rock out, it is time to get going.  We saw a couple of coaches encouraging us, and the bridge was starting to come into view.  Part of the challenge in the first ¾ of a mile is dodging all of the discarded clothes.  Good thing we didn’t trip on any.  

At just short of 2 miles in, we entered the plaza to the bridge.  Running up and over the bridge was a cool experience.  While we were running uphill it wasn’t so steep that it made it a tough run.  Sure we slowed down, but we made it up pretty easy.  By the time we got to the middle of the bridge and on the Canadian side, they were already cleaning up the discarded clothes.  It was much cleaner on the Canadian route than the Detroit route. 

The route took a turn to the north, and the street we ran down ran along the river.  The views from Canada back to Detroit were incredible!  It was a very enjoyable stretch to run.  While running, the 4:25 pacer passed us.  The funny thing was the 4:07 pacer passed us later.  Someone wasn’t pacing correctly.

We turned away from the river and headed to the entrance to the tunnel.  I didn’t know what to expect from running in the tunnel.  I was told it was hot and stinky.  I didn’t think it was too hot, but it did get warmer, and it wasn’t as stinky as I was lead to believe.  It was very cool.  In the middle of the tunnel there are flags of Canada and the United States; many people stopped and took pictures.  Running up the exit of the tunnel wasn’t too bad either.  By this point we were at mile 8. 

I should mention I was running with Cass, the reason I am saying “we.”  The plan for the race was to run the first half together and then evaluate how we were each doing to determine how we would run the second half of the race. 

Rick and Cass at CCRR

At mile 8 we did an inventory of each other, and we were still rolling along.  I mentioned to her I felt strong as an ox.  As it turns out it is a good thing we were doing that inventory.  We had each had at least 1 GU; I think I had two by then. 

At mile 10 we did another inventory, and we had a wobble.  Prior to the marathon, both Cass and I had some physical issues, she a hip and I strained my hamstring in a race 2 weeks prior, and yes there is a lesson in there.  I checked with her, and she was starting to experience some discomfort in the hip.  With having a hamstring issue, I was only able to run 2 miles in the two weeks leading up to the marathon.  As we got to 13 miles, the run hadn’t been as comfortable as my previous 13 mile runs.  There is a point in the race where the half marathoners split off from the marathoners.  Cass mentioned a coach had told her runners could turn off and complete the half and still get a medal.  It didn’t register until later she was considering it because of her hip. 

At this point, the goal pace was pretty out of reach.  We could have pressed, but I am not sure what would have happened had we pressed, but for me deciding I was very happy just finishing was an important hurdle.  We continued our quest to finish.  We had some other problems along the way at this point that caused us to slow also.  

At mile 16 we turned into Indian Village. There are some huge, beautiful homes in this area.  There was a 15 year old young man cleaning up cups after mile 17 that seemed to be having a riot.  He was taking pride in the fact there wasn’t a cup around him.  He picked them up as the cup hit the pavement.
Right after mile 18 there was a left turn. We ran 20 yards and then had to run the other direction around a cone, kind of a goofy exercise, when they could have made up 20 yards somewhere else without the turn around.  At mile 19 we turned left and started to cross the bridge to Belle Isle.  Now I have to admit, I had never been on Belle Isle, and I am not sure what I was thinking, but I thought the bridge was flat.  Guess what: it isn’t.  Other than the water stations, this was the first time we walked.  We walked up the bridge then ran down the other side.  Turning left on the island, there was mile 20.  The second half of the race awaited us. 

I was reminded that once we crossed mile 20 it was the furthest I had run.  I didn’t need that reminder.  Taking inventory again with each other, we were both feeling the effects of being on our feet for so long.  We were still able to run, but just not as fast.  To this point from the beginning our pace may have fallen 30 seconds a mile.  We were still a “we” at this point.  

We got to mile 21 and Cass started to have a noticeable limp.  The hip issue possibly had started to affect her ankle as well.  We walked again.  She was, at this point, encouraging me to run ahead.   I told her, “if I run ahead the only difference would be that I finish a little ahead.  I would still be walking too.  If I am going to walk, I might as well have company doing it. “ At this point in the inventory process I started to tear up because I knew for a fact I was going to finish this race.  I will mention too, I am kind of an emotional guy. 

It is at this point I use a quote from Ramona, “It is time we go get our medals.”  We headed back over the bridge, waved to a couple of Team P runners and headed for home.  We were still talking about me running ahead, even though I thought we had finished that conversation.  It was at this point I got more emotional and told Cass I wasn’t leaving her limping and that the only reason I was going to finish this race was because of her and Ramona.  In a text later to her I said, “There are more important things than a time for a race, the two of us getting to the finish was more important than my chip time.”  Well that ended that subject. 

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful, other than the aches I was feeling.  I was aching from the waist down.  Just after mile 25 they decided to stick a hill in there, and then just before mile 26 there was another hill.  Go figure. 

When we hit mile 26 and made the turn is when a ton of emotion swept over me.  I couldn’t see the finish very well because of the tears in my eyes.  As soon as we crossed the finish line, I started bawling and hugged Cass: We had done it!  Very near the finish were Ramona, Geoff and Amy to greet us with hugs and more tears, and Geoff gave me a small bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Lessons learned:
1.      No races two weeks before a goal race.  I think only running 2 miles in the two weeks leading up to the race affected my performance. 
2.      No walking a couple of miles the day before.  Best to stay off of feet as much as possible. 
3.      Put as much thought into the post-race plan as put into the pre-race and race plans.

1.      The course is much more difficult than what a website can explain.  This course is all concrete.  The only part that is blacktop is the bridge.  The concrete is much harder on the body. 
2.      My pre-race and race plans were solid.  I feel very confident going into another race with the plans I created and followed.
3.      There are more important things than a goal time; there are always other races to meet and exceed goals.
4.      There are just over 200 days to my next marathon, Bayshore.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Road I.D. Giveaway

Last week an incident happened here in Michigan that reinforced the idea from my previous posting about the importance of having identification when we run. A runner here in Lansing collapsed, apparently of a heart attack, while running on the MSU campus.  He did not have identification, and posts popped up on running groups on social network sites asking if any of us could help in identifying the man, who later died. He was identified as a professor in the chemistry department on campus, but that was several hours later. What a horrible tragedy, compounded by the complication of not being able to immediately identify the man or notify his family.

It is so important for us all to have identification with us, even when we are running in very familiar surroundings. I would like to help with this by offering a free Road I.D. to one of my lucky readers.  To enter the contest, just click on the link below to go to the Road I.D. site. Decide which of the I.D.s would be right for you. Then leave a comment here on this post or on the Facebook page saying “I need a Road I.D….” and the type of I.D. you like best.  The contest will end on midnight October 31, with the winner selected by random drawing on November 1st.  Good luck!!

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Inspirational Stories: Running after a Kidney Transplant

Anna and me at
The Legend Trail Runs
The running community is full of amazing stories and people who have overcome serious obstacles to become the runners that they are today. When we hear stories like this on television or in magazines we don't realize that there are equally incredible stories within the group of people that we see each week on the roads and trails. When the stories do come out, they are both surprising and inspirational. 

This week is an important milestone for one of my running friends. Her name is Anna, and she is not only a fellow runner but also a fellow blogger (check out her blog titled "Embody"at http://kaschner.typepad.com/blog/ ). If you saw Anna, you would just see an incredibly healthy looking and vibrant young woman. You would never guess what she had gone through to become the runner that she now is. This week is the third anniversary of her receiving a kidney transplant. I thought her story was inspirational and was absolutely ecstatic when she agreed to share it with us in a guest post. I hope you enjoy her story: 

I hated running as a kid. If I walked into my middle school gymnasium for P.E. and saw ten minutes’ time on the big clock used for basketball games, I knew I was in trouble. Ten minutes of running. Straight. Ugh. I was not an athletic kid, or an athletic young adult. In my 20’s I began practicing a vigorous style of yoga that seemed to suit my stubborn, unrelenting personality; an advanced yoga practice requires not only some athletic ability, but endurance and patience as well…but I still wouldn’t have called myself an “athlete.”  And running never crossed my mind.

I suppose even during my time as a hardcore yogi, I was setting myself up to become a motivated and dedicated runner. What drew me to yoga was its ability to help me cope and de-stress while moving my body, and it was nice to have a community of like-minded folks I could connect to. Running fills that space now, but the activity itself means less than its function as a tool to facilitate placing one foot in front of the other when even that seems impossible.

Three years ago, on October 9, 2009, I walked into St. Mary’s Hospital for a kidney transplant. I’d been diagnosed at 25 with an auto-immune disease of my kidneys, and within a year of that diagnosis I’d had to start dialysis to stay well. At first I continued to work, to go to school, and to teach and practice yoga. But I was getting sicker all the time, and eventually I quit my job and withdrew from my classes at MSU. I became reclusive and inconsolable. I spent 5 years on dialysis waiting for a new kidney, which is typical for a patient in Michigan. Many patients die every year waiting for an organ that matches them, which is why it is so important to register with the Gift of Life Foundation to donate your organs and tissues-- if it wasn’t for an anonymous donor, I would have never received my transplant and quite possibly died waiting.

Walking into the hospital that day was the single most terrifying thing I have ever done. I spent 11 days there in recovery, uncertain that my new transplant would be able to start working well enough to get me healthy again. There were a lot of tests, and I was in a lot of pain. I couldn’t keep food down and I was miserable. I couldn’t see much outside my hospital window, but I knew it was Fall and that I was missing my favorite season.

Anna, just out of anesthesia, with her mom

When I was able to return home, it took me months to get well, and I thrived on making tiny advances like being able to brush my own teeth for the first time, being able to get myself out of bed, and making it up a flight of stairs without having to crawl on my hands and knees. One big day I walked from my front steps down to the corner of our street and back on my own, a quarter of a block. This year I ran 2 half marathons and am getting ready for a third…it kind of puts things in perspective a little.

At Legend trail run
At first I didn’t think about my transplant much when I ran, other than how I hoped I was inspiring people with debilitating illnesses to get up and move. I wanted to be an example. Most of what I remember about my time in the hospital is a mish-mash of intense pain, discomfort, and fear, and at first I let those feelings dominate my recovery. I was always afraid that I would get sick again, or my new kidney would fail, so I proceeded cautiously into the world of physical fitness. I used running as a way to distract me from those memories, and I would blast my headphones and "check out." Then, somehow, I became an athlete.

In January of 2011, I joined Team Playmakers, a local running and walking club here in Lansing, Michigan. I met a lot of great people that helped me along as a newbie runner. I competed in my first sprint triathlon and twelve 5K races. I also ran my first 8K distance and swam my first mile in open water. 

In May of this year, I ran my first half marathon,  at Bayshore, and my second in early September (the Capital City River Run). I tried out trail running and am heading to beautiful Mackinaw Island next weekend to run my third and final half marathon for this year at the Mackinaw Great Turtle Half Marathon . Right after that, I’m heading to Chicago to run in a huge race called The Hot Chocolate Race, where everyone gets chocolate fondue at the end!

Finishing first half marathon at Bayshore  2012
Now I run music-free, and I don’t mind being inside my own head so much. I still use running to help me de-stress and cope with life, but I don’t feel like I’m fighting so hard anymore. I used to feel like everything, even running, was a matter of life and death. Now, if I’m running, I know it’s because I’m alive, at least for the moment. Life doesn’t come with guarantees, so I trust my body and its signals, and I’ve learned that while getting outside my comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable, it is also necessary to move forward.

Second Half Marathon: CCRR 2012

Every year when this early part of October comes around, I try to spend a bit more time paying attention to the things that I often take for granted. I breathe the fresh Fall air or hold a soft kitty, hearing their purr. On this day in 2009, I was fighting to get off an IV of morphine so I could go home, and I had months of a grueling recovery ahead of me. I try to remember that time at St. Mary’s, instead of forgetting, and I allow myself to accept the experience as a part of my story. It may be behind me, but it is still part of the path I am taking to move forward. Whatever way that path ends up going, I hope to do it running.

If that is not an amazing story, I do not know what is! As you are out there doing your training this fall, think of those people who may just be wishing and hoping that they can be out there doing that someday. Be inspired!! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Race Report: Blues Cruise 50k

Last weekend I ran the last 50k of the year for me. It was the Blues Cruise 50k in Leesport, PA. This race was the tenth one at marathon distance or longer for me for the year , and I was really feeling tired. If it had been any other race, I would have backed out, but I really wanted to do this one. It was on my calendar last year as a goal race, but my ruptured spleen kept me from going. There was no way I was going to miss it this year. It promised to be everything I love: small race, low key, beautiful course, good bling, and a race director who has a way with words (if you don’t believe me, just take a look at the application). I also had an ulterior motive. My dad lives just about 25 miles from the race, so it was a great way to get a visit in with family as well as pick up a new state for my collection.

As I headed for Pennsylvania on Thursday I got an 
unexpected treat. It was a perfect time for a drive across the state. The fall foliage was beautiful, with bright sun and blue sky. I had been born in PA and spent the first 12 years of my life there, but had not been back in about 20 years. I had forgotten how pretty it is there.  However, even as I was appreciating the beautiful weather, I was aware that the forecast for the race on Sunday was about ten degrees cooler, with showers expected. I checked weather.com every few hours, and it kept getting worse. I was preparing myself for a wet and muddy day.

The day before the race we drove up to check out the park so that I could find it in the morning. The race is at a place called Blue Marsh Lake. It is a huge lake with an equally huge trail system. The race circumnavigates the lake and is primarily on really nice single track trail, slightly wider gravel trail or horse trails, with just a few short sections of pavement to cross roads or navigate through the park to connect trail sections. The course is run in opposite directions around the lake in alternating years. The race director does a nice job describing the course on the site. It is mostly rolling hills, with only a few really technical sections, and almost all very runnable. It is a great course, but the continuous up and down does wear on the legs (especially legs that are as worn out as mine are at this point – but more on that later), which is exactly what the race director had said in the course description. To give you a better idea of what I mean, take a look at the course profile:

Yes, it is a little lumpy

The race was small enough that packet pickup was race morning. The race start time was 8:30, which was a pleasant change from the super-early races I had been to lately. When I got up race morning, the first thing I checked was the weather. It was indeed cloudy and cool (about 50 degrees), but thankfully there was no rain. As I got ready to go for this one, I tried something new in my pre-race preparation. I have always avoided solid food before a race because of potential stomach problems, but I had really been feeling a lack of energy early in my 50ks. For this race I decided to eat a piece of pita bread with peanut butter and honey. I washed that down with my usual pre-race two cups of coffee and headed for the race site.

I got there very early. The crew was just getting everything set up. The race is put on by the Pagoda Pacers, and they seemed like a really friendly bunch of people. It seemed like a lot of the people there knew each other well. I picked up my packet and spent most of the prerace time alternating between staying warm in the car and doing time in the porta-potty line. Thankfully the lines were short because I had an uncharacteristic three trips in the hour or so before the race. Obviously I had hydrated well the day before.

As 8:30 approached we headed over to the start. As we milled around waiting to go, I met two guys, both of whom were in their 60s. One was a veteran ultrarunner, wearing an old U.S. Postal cycling jersey, and the other a newbie to ultras out for his first 50k. They were chatting good-naturedly when the U.S. Postal guy noticed I was shivering. He grabbed me and attempted to keep me warm while the race director gave the pre-race announcements. I could only hear about half of what he said, but one thing that did come through loud and clear was “Oh, and by the way, just a heads-up that there is a fox hunt going on in the park today.” A fox hunt?? Really?? Do they use guns for that? Nobody else seemed concerned, but I was a little worried. I had a long reddish brown ponytail hanging out of the back of my hat. My hat was a bright yellow, though, so I was hoping for the best.

The race started as all ultras tend to with everyone shaking out the cobwebs and trying to get going. We ran a little ways across the grass and down the park roads before we came to the single track, which gave the field enough time to spread out. The weather was holding, and it was actually a really nice morning for running. The first ten miles went by smoothly. The trail was beautiful, and I was feeling good. The eating before the start seemed to really be working for me. I was holding steady at around a 10:30 average pace and was just happy with life.

No I didn't take this, but thought
couldn't resist adding it in.
Somewhere around this point, we got to the part with the fox hunt. We could hear the hounds howling and every once in a while a foxhound, which looks like a beagle only bigger, would come bouncing down the trail. At one spot, the trail crossed a horse trail, and I saw a horse and rider. I had been running with this guy from Ohio that I met and at one spot where the hounds sounded particularly close, I said to him, “Do you think we should be worried?” He said, “I don’t know, but maybe we should make some space between us and the redhead we saw at the last aid station.” That cracked me up, but a few minutes later that redhead passed us, so I guess she got the last laugh in that one.

So in general life was good, and I was having a great time until about mile 17. Once again, as in the race at Hell, my legs just decided to stop working. One minute I was running along feeling okay, and a minute later my legs were aching so bad that I felt like I needed not only to stop running, but to stop walking, just to get a handle on the pain. Miles 17 to 20 were absolutely horrid for me. My pace dropped from around 11:30 to around 14:00, as I was spending most of the time walking. 

Thankfully, just when I was feeling my worst, I ran into a trail angel, otherwise known as Tom from Baltimore. He stopped to talk and walk with me for a few minutes and gave me lots of encouragement. We stayed together for a little while, but then I encouraged him to go on. I felt bad holding him back. For the rest of the race, though, we did the leap frog thing. Sometimes (most of the time) he was ahead, sometimes we ran together, and sometimes I felt better and got ahead. One thing I know for sure is that I would not have done as well as I did during that rough time if I had not run into Tom. (Tom, if you managed to find the blog and are reading this, you have my deepest thanks!)
Tom and me at the finish
Just as had happened at Hell, though, somewhere right after the last aid station at mile 27, I started to feel better. It started to feel better to keep running than to walk, even on the uphills. The more I ran, the more I started to pick up speed. Then I started passing people I passed 11 people in the last three miles of the race, including 4 women. I had just been having a long conversation with Tom about how I was trying to adopt a more zen-like mindset and not be so competitive, but when I started passing people, I could not help it. The competitive juices kicked in, and I was feeling good. I was really happy to be able to finish strong and was actually able to have a finishing kick in the last quarter mile. If only I had felt that good earlier in the race… My time was 6:20, which put me 5th in the 50-59 age group out of 10 runners. It was also about average for my 50ks for the year. I believe that if I targeted this race, though, instead of running it on tired legs, I could run it at least 45 minutes faster. I think that will be my goal for next year.

At the finish, they were waiting to greet us with one of the main reasons I had entered the race: the bling. No, it was not another medal. It was a finisher’s jacket and a really nice one too. It was impressive and a nice change. (They also had given a really nice hat rather than a shirt to all entrants, but to get the jacket, you had to finish.)
Race Bling: Jacket and Hat
 For such a small race, the post race food was outstanding. There were homemade breads, like pumpkin raisin, as well as brats. I wish I could tell you more about the food, but I had to control myself because my dad was taking me out to dinner just two hours after the race, so I needed to restrain myself. It sure looked good, though, and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. The volunteers were so nice.

As I mentioned before, I will definitely be coming back to this race next year. Of all my trail races this year, this one is my favorite. It is a beautiful course and a well-run little race. If you are looking for a good fall 50k, you should definitely put this one on your short list. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Product Review: Road I.D. Wrist Elite (Interactive)

Have you ever noticed how good we tend to be at procrastinating on certain things?  We all tend to put off things that we know we should do but which have an unpleasant truth behind them, such as the possibility of something seriously bad happening, things like making a will or that appointment for a colonoscopy. That is how I have been with getting a Road I.D.  I have known for a long time that I really should have one, but it was just one of those things that I kept putting off.

That was in spite of the fact that there were some pretty clear indications that getting a Road I.D.  would be a good idea.  Even before my fall last summer and ruptured spleen, I had other cautionary stories that stressed the need for having some type of identification with me when I run. My daughter-in-law’s sister was hit by a car while running one morning.  She had no identification with her.  As she was in the hospital in a coma, law enforcement tried to identify her to notify family. They finally found her through visiting an apartment complex in the area, where someone knew there was a runner who lived there who was in the military. They checked her apartment and no one was home. They went to the base to see if anyone had not reported for duty. Through that piece of luck they were able to find someone to identify her.  

Then there was my own situation with the fall and ruptured spleen.  As I was walking on the trail, going into shock and bleeding internally, thankfully some hikers came by.  If I had collapsed on the trail, though, they might not have known who I was either.  I often run by myself, on roads and trails, and I often do not carry identification. Not smart, I know.  Every time I heard the Road I.D. ads during the Tour de France, I thought, “You know, you really should get one of these.”  Then fate stepped in. I was offered one to test for the blog. I jumped at the chance.

When I went to the Road I.D. site,www.RoadID.com, I read the story of the founding of the company and learned that the idea came from the same type of situation. The company founder, Edward Wimmer, a runner, had been knocked into a ditch by an SUV while training for his first marathon. He and his father Mike started the company in their basement a few months later. Their mission is “to save lives.”  

As I looked around the site I was surprised at the range of products available.  There are seven different types of IDs: three types of wrist IDs, ankle IDs, shoe IDs, and a dog tag type named in honor of Jim Fixx. They have even added a line of pet ID tags. They also have a range of reflective and lighted gear for runners and cyclists, as well as Road ID promotional items, such as cycling jerseys.  In case you are looking for a thoughtful gift for the runner or cyclist in your life, they also have Road ID gift cards. Prices on the items are very good, in my opinion. Most of the Road IDs are $19.99, with the slim being only $15.99, and the top of the line Wrist ID Elite, which I bought, topping out at $29.99. The Elite has an adjustable silicone band with a watch-style clasp that sets it apart from the other versions.

All of the different options come in a regular or interactive version. The regular version is just the basic engraved ID tag, which is in itself some solid peace of mind. The interactive version goes one step further.  It allows you to create an online “Emergency Response Profile” that includes important or relevant medical and contact information that you might want emergency responders to know, such as medical conditions, allergies, etc.  It is available to emergency responders either online or by telephone.  Rather than me trying to explain all the details, it is better just to watch the very informative video they have produced:

Initially I had some worries about security of having my information on my wrist like that. What if I lost the bracelet and someone accessed my information? After thinking about this for a while, though, I realized that there was actually less danger in that than carrying my purse around with me every day, which I do without even thinking. The site itself cautions you to treat the Road ID as you would any other type of ID and keep it secure. It also tells you what to do in the event that the ID is lost or stolen.  I also decided that the information I am putting in the profile is under my control and would mostly be medical and contact information that did not pose any real risk to my security. The potential benefits clearly outweighed the potential risks. I decided on the interactive version. The interactive version comes with a year of free monitoring. After that , the interactive service costs $9.99 per year.

The ordering process was easy. One nice feature is that a portion of all sales go to a charity of your choice. They have several to choose from, including Wounded Warrior, Livestrong, ASPCA, breast cancer, etc.  They also offer several colors for the band, but I went with basic black. The order confirmation arrived quickly, along with the tracking information for the shipment. 

When the ID arrived, inside the envelope was a separate pouch with a verification label, as well as a reminder to activate the ID at the MyRoadID.com site,which is where you go to set up the interactive profile. The set-up process is easy. The entire Road I.D. site is well designed and easy to navigate. As the video explained, the profile site has a series of questions, including things like vital statistics, blood type, allergies, medical conditions, medications, physician information, and insurance information, designed to help you give medical responders information that they may need to help you if you were unconscious. You supply as much or as little as you want to create the profile.  You are in control of the flow of information.  You can also edit the information whenever it is needed.

The Wrist I.D. Elite comes in a very nice little tin storage container. The band is adjustable so that you can get a customizable fit. The silicone band has little notches at the end that help you adjust the band. The directions are included, but the process involves trimming the ends of the silicone band until you get a good fit. The silicone band inserts into the clasp and with a clasp with teeth that holds it in place. This adjustment process allows you to get a really nice custom fit on the bracelet. You just trim the band, little by little, until you get a good fit.

I decided to wear the band on my right wrist, since my Garmin (which is kind of huge) is on my left wrist. I was already used to wearing my Endorphin Warrior training bracelet, so having a bracelet on that arm did not bother me. However, it may take someone not used to wearing something on that arm a day or so to get used to it. Once you do, you will not even notice it. It is lightweight and the good fit keeps it from sliding around.  

I thought the Wrist ID Elite looks pretty classy for a sport identification bracelet.  As I said, I had gone for the basic black. It looks very sleek with the silver plate.  

So, did I feel better wearing the Road I.D.?  Oddly enough, I did. I even wore it for my final Dances With Dirt Hell race. You can see it there in the picture with the buckle.

Cheap excuse to show off the buckle one more time :-)

Getting the Road I.D. is not a really big deal, but it is good to know that if I have an accident again, on the trails or on the roads, that medical responders would have information they needed if I could not speak for myself.  The price (about the same as one race entry or one cute running top) is well worth the peace of mind.