I know this is late, but it's been a really busy summer! But, here it is:
My 4 Star June…or... A Tale of Four Marathons
I had really wanted to run Newport last year, but Boston took precedence. My buddy Mariposai was signed up for Newport too, but family responsibilities overruled. We had both wanted to run a marathon together in 2010, but alas, it was not to be.
So we decided Newport 2011 would be it. This would be a goal race for me (possibly PR, and definitely improve my Boston 2012 qualifying time), so I trained carefully for it and combined lots of miles with a lot of cross training. That always seems to be the key for me to get in marathon shape without injury. With the butterfly lady making the arrangements and doing the driving, (with substantial help from her DH and his fam), it was up to me to carve out the time and buy the plane ticket (ouch).
In the meantime, my DH had lost his mind and came up with a plan to have us spend as much time together as we could for a month, so ergo, let’s combine work and personal trips as much as possible to make a marathon a week a reality. This would allow us to have some real one-on-one time together, as well as move me up to 4 stars (!! his idea!) in the Marathon Maniac asylum. (I’d been “stuck” at 2 stars for years!!) . Our 22nd anniversary would coincide with the fourth marathon, so… this seemed like a really good plan.
I flew in to Portland, and was whisked away by Marposai and her DH and on to Newport, OR for the packet pickup.
Mariposai and her DH on the Newport shore:
The Oregon Coast is beautiful!
We met up with a few others, such as Winejunky and the Canadian, Rasmussenmp and Runrwife (Sue) for dinner at Rogue Brewery, and then on to MIL’s home in Florence to get ready for Saturday’s run. Got up early for the almost hour drive to Newport and caught the bus to the start. We got there in plenty of time, and had a nice warm up, saw the Rasmussens and lined up for the start.
Since Nancy was working on a time goal, I made her come up to the front. (I hate starting back in the crowd!). After giving the butterfly lady a big hug at the start, it was time to run. We’d agreed to run our own races. She was hoping for a sub-4, and I was playing with the idea of a 3:30 PR for this run. I ran most of the first 5 miles with Rasmussenmp, who’d said earlier his goal was to run 7:45’s the whole way (!!). That sounded too fast for me, but the early miles felt good, even with the hills. Then came time to say goodbye to Mike after the 4th mile, and wished him a good race. The next few miles felt easy, and most were sub-8 even as I tried to slow down, thinking of those last few uphill miles to the finish. Met Mike again just past the halfway point, and he said the heat was getting to him. I was glad the last few weeks of my training in Fairbanks had been in the mid-to-upper 70’s, as the heat wasn’t getting to me much at all.
Started getting foot cramps about mile 17. *#@**%!! Should have been drinking the sports drink they offered, or beer, but nuts, all they had was day old oysters…NOT. Anyway, it was probably too late. Met Winejunky around mile 20 and he asked where Mike was. Behind me, I answered, and working hard. He asked if I needed help reaching my goal, and I said, no, what would happen would happen.
I didn’t want to feel bad for walking if my foot needed stretching, so I said he should wait for Mike and help him finish. Can’t help but feel if I took up WineJunky’s offer, he’d have helped me get in under 3:30, rats.
I got to the last hill feeling pretty good, and ran the last half mile hard down to the wire and I was so excited to see that I’d actually crossed the line before 3:31…. Final time was 3:30:49, a new PR and 1st in the 50-54 age group!
As I was finishing I heard “Go Erika!!!!!!” from the sideline but didn’t recognize the voice. Later, I’d meet Woods Lady, and as soon as I saw her I recognized her, even without ever having seen her before. Isn’t that amazing? (Well I think so… )
Sunday morning, Mariposai and her DH drove me to the Portland airport where I met DH, and we boarded a flight to Phoenix to spend the next few days at his conference in Scottsdale. I ran every day in the heat, or I should say HEAT, and everything felt good after Newport. (Heh, made me wonder if I should’ve pushed harder!) We left Thursday for Flagstaff and I ran just under 4 miles that day, peaking at 7,300 feet elevation. DH took me out to the most scenic part of the interurban trail and it was great for running. The next day we drove up to the Grand Canyon, and hiked on the South Kaibab Trail, at around 7,200 ft elevation.
Looking back up the South Kaibab Trail
The Grand Canyon is so much more stunning in real life than any picture.
All this in preparation for the highest elevation I’d ever been in (without being in a plane!). We crossed the Painted Desert on our way to New Mexico, peeked up Monument Valley and went to 4 corners monument on Friday (really, this is sooo cool!!!), passed Ship Rock (omg), then on to our garden cottage in Jemez Springs, NM.
Our garden cottage:
Saturday morning, June 11, had us heading up to the start of the Run the Caldera Marathon, in the heart of the Valles Caldera Preserve. An absolutely beautiful volcanic valley full of elk, horses, gorgeous rocky vistas and views for as far as you can see. This run started around 8,200 feet, and peaked in the first half at a little more than 9,700 feet. This run was done for fun, and I carried a camera and stopped several times just to admire the view. It really is a gorgeous course.
Mile 6 (a lot of walking already):
Somewhere around the halfway point:
Mile 21 is a really mean place to put a big hill:
More of Mile 21:
I could go on... but there were also beautiful views from the other side of the Caldera (after the race):
(Elk grazing in the fields)
We were concerned about smoke from the wildfires in Eastern AZ, but it really wasn’t a problem. My “goal” time was around 5 hours to 5:30, but I finished in 4:43:53, and I was really pleased with that time. On Sunday we drove back to Phoenix, via Los Alamos, Albuquerque, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Sitgreaves and Tonto National Forests.
Wow, wow and wow. What scenic country. We put over 1400 miles on our rental car in three and a half days! Then back home to Fairbanks on Monday morning.
The following Friday (June 17), DH and I drove down to Anchorage. Left a little later than planned, but still had a nice drive just before solstice weekend. We made it to Anchorage in time for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants before heading to our hotel and getting ready for the Mayor’s Marathon the next day. I’d arranged for a friend to pick up my bib and chip, and it was waiting for me at the hotel when we checked in.
Mayors Marathon is the biggest marathon in Alaska, and it’s the most popular “Alaska destination marathon” people travel to Alaska for (and, cross Alaska off their states list). I really wish many would consider skipping this one and come to Fairbanks for the Equinox Marathon!
Mayors offers a race experience similar to what runners would expect in “the lower 48” so I guess I can see its attraction. It’s a good run, done mostly on bikepaths with one particularly icky (IMO) section on what they call the “tank trail.” This is a gravel road from just after mile 6 to just before mile 15. I have gravel roads at home, but this is a hard pack dirt road with sharp rocks all over it, with a couple of more clear spots where tires had traveled. This section really beat up my feet, and I remember thinking “this is why I won’t do this race again!” more than a couple times. I saw several maniacs on this course! This race finishes with a steep uphill stretch in the last mile, then down to finish at high school track. Final time was 3:41:18, not bad considering the amount of walking my poor feet demanded in the last 5 miles. DH found me after the finish (after I chowed down on a couple pieces of Great Harvest Cinnamon chip bread… ) then we went to a friends’ house to soak my feet in their lake before heading back to Fairbanks (370 miles) in the car.
Got into town just in time to change clothes and head to the start of the Midnight Sun Run, the biggest 10k race in the state with a start time of 10 pm. I didn’t know how I’d do, having run a marathon in the morning and spending so much time in the car, so lined up a few rows farther back than usual. I needn’t have worried though, because I felt good throughout and finished in 46:00 flat, for first in age group. Kind of cool to get a daily mileage PR of 32.4 miles with the marathon and the 10k. Sunday morning I slept in!!!
The next week, I had to go to Portland on Wednesday for meetings with a new vendor on Thursday. DH came down on Thursday, and on Friday, our 22nd anniversary, we headed up to Bend, OR, following a less-traveled route through some beautiful country, and some recently burned forests (within the last 12 years) that were stunning to see. We’d rented an apartment in a residential section of Bend, and found dinner that night in the “Old Mill District,” a “newer” shopping area outside of Bend with lots of shops and restaurants.
Saturday morning (June 25) we headed up to the start of the Pacific Crest Marathon for last minute packet pickup at the Sunriver Resort, OR. It was really chilly at the start, about 38°, but felt good enough for just a singlet and shorts. Finish temp would be low 70’s. Gave DH my jacket and a kiss for good luck, and we were off. This course is two loops around the resort, and the highlights were seeing a doe and fawn cross my path just after mile 16, and seeing a deer in a field a little later (I’d never seen a fawn before!). DH met me a couple times on this course, with S caps and water (yay!) and I didn’t have any cramping problems on this course at all and felt great at the end.
Part of the course... a lot of it was like this, very nice!
View from the course:
We got up the next morning, drove back to Portland and headed for home. I’d run 4 marathons in 4 weeks, and felt great. I don’t think I pushed too hard on any of these, and maybe should’ve pushed a little harder on the first one to get that strong 3:30 I wanted. But it’s ok, it’s still a good PR over my last marathon PR (3:32) so I’m happy with it. It was great to see so many friends, meet Winejunky and the Canadian, and have so much one-on-one time with DH. The Mayor’s Marathon/Midnight Sun Run 10k thing is something a lot of folks around here talk about, but not many actually do it so I’m glad I did. This was a fun month of marathons and experiences I won’t forget. I’m so glad I was blessed with the opportunity to do this; it’s not easy making all this happen from Alaska!
PRs from June, 2011:
Marathon PR of 3:30:49 (Newport)
Elevation PR ~9,700 ft (Run the Caldera Marathon)
Distance in a Day PR: 32.4 miles (June 18)
Races in a Month PR: 4 marathons, a 10k and a mile race (on June 30)
Your DH sounds like a 4 star guy. What a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing.
You are Amazing. The 4 marathons is unbelievable. But what I find mind-boggling is running a 10K PR after having run a Marathon earlier that same day. I usually can't mange to walk fast! A very nice trip for you Two. Glad you got to do it.
"Some are the strong, silent type. You can't put your finger on exactly what it is they bring to the table until you run without them and then you realize that their steadiness fills a hole that leaks energy in their absence." - Kristin Armstrong
WOW! What a wonderful experience and great accomplishment... Congratulations... Thanks for sharing it
ps. I think that Grand Canyon photo looks kind of familiar...
Courage ! Do one brave thing today...then run like hell.
WOW is right! You are amazing Erica! I loved your report with pictures ..... so worth waiting for! How great to have your DH's support and working in a nice scenic vacation too.
"My sunshine doesn't come from the skies,It comes from the love in my dog's eyes."
Very KEWL report!!!
And you can quote me as saying I was mis-quoted. Groucho Marx
What an unbelievable accomplishment. And let me add that from looking at your pictures, I'm not sure you belong in the 50-54 AG! All of that running is really making you look like a 20-something! Nice report, Erika - and congratulations!
Fantastic report! That is an awsome accomplishment. Thanks for sharing it with us!
wow, Erika!!! 4 star general now.
Great report and what a great month. Very impressive series of marathons, and amazing you held up so well and continued to feel so good. Very cool your DH was so supportive too. The pics are great. That is a LOT of travel though.
I'm off for a nap now. Reading this has tuckered me out!
That's one crazy month of running. The fact that you were able to to do it--and perform so well--really speaks to your fitness level. Impressive!
And those pics are just beautiful.
Thanks for sharing your amazing and victorious adventure. Hats off to you. I really enjoyed getting to meet you and sharing. Bravo, Erika!
ahhh, the report worth waiting for! This is wonderful Erika! I'm so glad that with all your planning and preparation on behalf of both you and Peter, all of these races, plus some getaway time for you two, came to fruition! I love all the scenic pics from your vacation and even though I've never seen that area in person, I'm sure the photos (as amazing as they are) just don't do justice for what it really looks like in person.
congratulations on all those PR's! It's not only amazing to run that much in one month, but then to continually knock out PR's from beginning to end, it simply mind-boggling. Your hard work and training really paid off. nicely done!
Wow, what a month. Great RR, complete with PRs, hardware, Master Meetups, supportive DH, gorgeous scenery, and terrific running. As I understand it, you are now at the 4-star level for life. Congratulations. I have good friends (a couple who do marathons together) who just achieved Ruthenium status, and even they would be impressed. A busy summer indeed.
This was a RR that was worth waiting for! And with pictures, too - the best kind of report. I'm curious why you kept your plans a secret, though. Afraid you'd jinx it? I know you're not bashful... And you know we'd all be supportive.
I hammered down the trail, passing rocks and trees like they were standing still.
Congratulations on being in such fantastic shape; on superb planning; on making time to hang with RA friends; on excellent execution in all the races; on having such a supportive DH; on your PRs; on your AG victories; on your wonderful RR with terrific photos; and on your 22nd wedding anniversary! (I'm exhausted...)