Race Report: Mackinac Island Trail 1/2 Marathon

This was my third time running this course. The first was my first ever 1/2 marathon in 1997. The second with Tim "sightseeing". The third time both Tim and I landed third place in our age groups.

If I had to describe my performance in just a few words (you would all be relieved...) I would say I raced with reckless abandonment and it was really, really, fun. I was chasing a few things. I wanted to break into the 1:30's this season. Meaning 1:39:59. I also knew despite there being some crazy fast runners in Michigan, the field isn't nearly as deep as racing in Southern California. I thought I had a shot at finishing well in my age and overall and I wanted to make the most of it.

This race was so fun. After taking the ferry to Mackinac Island, we walked a mile or so to Mission Point resort. We did this comfortably thanks to umbrellas and winter jackets over our racing kits. My racing kit that day consisted of a hat, thin gloves, arm warmers, shortsleeve shirt, a waterproof cycling jacket, and tights. We had over an hour once we got to the start. Luckily, Mission Point Resort had a wonderful conference room we could stretch and stay warm. Tim and I really weren't interested in running outside to "warm up". So we did what any smart athlete would do and walked down stairs to the fitness room and hopped on the treadmills. I can't believe none of the other racers thought of this. Now this resort supports its racers, I thought. Coincidentally, I saw the treadmill unplugged and outside after the race. Hmm, maybe we started something.

We headed out to the race start and standing in the huddle of people I managed to stay somewhat warm. There were no corrals and I ended up near the front. I ended up going out a little bit fast. Oops, but whatever. It's not like I was going out to fast in an event that lasts all day! The first and last 2 miles of the course were the only flat miles on the course. They paralleled the shoreline and were very windy. I knew I needed to move it on those miles as they were flat and on pavement, unlike the rest of the course.
I got sandwiched in a pack of guys running 10sec/mile too fast for me. However, when I would back off 10 seconds/mile my pace would quickly fall to 20 sec/mile slower as I lost the draft. I ended up just hoofing it a little bit during the first two miles. At mile 2 the course turned and headed through the woods on trails. It was an undulating up. Short steep up and downs and I tried not to off myself in the process. At mile 5, I launched an attack on something. I am not sure what. My mind played a trick on me and told me to run really fast. I should get my work done here because it would be flat for the next 3 miles then downhill. I hummed "Just Dance" by Lady Ga Ga and ran to its beat. It was all I could do not to let my head bop.
I thought maybe I still can beat my Carlsbad time. It turned out I had forgotten that the course continue to roll like a roller coaster for those miles. I charged up and down the hills like mad. I sort of ran out of steam around miles 9. The landlord came to collect the rent and I was forced to pay up.

I told myself to keep charging. The next two miles were downhill and would be easy. Hardy har har! Running down steep terrain on a wet trail takes a lot of energy. Maybe I should have respected that when I was executing my "techno" running. It was so much fun though.
I told myself to keep charging anyway as I'd be done shortly. I told myself it would be easy street at mile 11, when I hit the pavement. It would have been easy at mile 11 if I knocked over a tourist and stole their bike. I knew I wasn't going to break 1:40, but I understood the courses were very different. Actually, I was o.k. with it if I ran my Carlsbad average pace for the last two miles. It was a dig getting through the wind on pace but I did it.

I was 2 1/2 minutes off my PR and so was Tim. People say the course is usually three minutes slower than average 1/2 marathon course. By using Jenny Math, math that always favors me, I come out 1/2 minute ahead. Yippee.
After collecting our awards winner plaques we headed to the boat dock. On the way to the dock we congratulated ourselves for being fast. Ironically, we weren't fast enough to make the boat. It literally pulled away as we walked down the dock. Guess we aren't speed demons after all. We had an hour wait before the next boat. I know this doesn't sound like a big deal but look what was waiting for us at home!
Victory Dessert.

Courtesy of Mom, although my Dad likes to pretend he made it. He probably did pick the apples in the pie though. Sparky runs all the time and all he gets is a cup of kibble so Tim and I must be kind of a big deal. When we visit the U.P. we have it good!


I'm always looking for the "Epic" adventure. It's not too tough for me to find. I would call the short run Tim and I shared today epic. Today is one of those days most people can guiltlessly not leave the couch. I think that made me enjoy the run all the more. I thought I was running fast. It seemed so effortless. I turned around to run home and took note of the 30 -35 mph wind gusts my Mom had been warning us about. Only I could be so blissfully lost in my own delusions to not notice a tailwind like that. It was only a short run and then we returned home to the fire.
Tim is Sparky's new best friend. Maybe because Tim throw's the ball for Sparky to fetch for hours on end. I admit it I am soft. After a run in the wind and rain it's time for a shower and cup of tea.

Tomorrow is our race,. The Mackinac Island Half Marathon/Trail Run. The photo below shows what the island is supposed to look like. Unfortunately the wind will have blown all the leaves off the trees. The local news states 100% chance of rain, unless it snows. I guess that wouldn't be 100% chance of rain then. Personally, I am hoping for snow. It'll make for better memories.

This would be a view of the island on a nice day this time of year. It's not going to look that serene and docile tomorrow. I bet it will be epic though. By the way, there is no dropping out half way and hitching a ride bike as there ain't no cars on this island.

California Dreaming

I love life in the Upper Peninsula and visiting family. However, weather like this might leave one California dreaming just a little bit.

Tim is just a little bit chilly in that photo. I'm sure he is trying to figure out who to call to turn me in for spousal abuse.
I am not sure if I was smiling or wincing, trying to feel my toes. That was the nicest day of the week. Note the grayness of the sky. I must admit the post ride mocha from the Roast and Toast made it all worth while.

After coffee we came home to home made apple pie and a warm fire. Not sure what kind of Iron man triathlete I am when my main motivation for running is the opportunity to sit by the fire and read blogs after.

Wear Out. Don't Rust Out

My attitude is now not just to win, but to go, fight, and win. This week is a vacation to the U.P. for a visit with my parents/training camp. We are going to cap off our visit Saturday with the Mackinac Island Trail 1/2 Marathon. Tim was super excited about vacation as he works 80 hours a week.
Sunday was the first day of vacation. We "enjoyed" our long runs in La Jolla. Tim ran the first half of his run solo, then joined me for the second half. He needs to run at a faster pace than I run if he wants to qualify for Boston. Although, I brag about dropping boys, truth be told I couldn't qualify for Boston as a 30-34 year old male. I might fuss about him needing to do his long runs without me slowing him down but they do have their benefits. The beauty of it is when I get home breaky is waiting. Thanks Tim.
I'm sure you all are wondering what I was doing during the first hour of Tim's run. I am sure you would all like to hear that I was saving the world, cleaning the house, or at least reading blogs. Truth is I was sleeping soundly. I tried to get up. I meant to wake up, but I just didn't. I guess I needed the sleep. I heard somewhere that sleep is the magical place where you convert all of the miles you have logged into speed, fitness, muscular and performance gains. It also helps elevate and balance your mood, making one more pleasant for others to be around. Interestingly I think I was asleep until mile 7 or so.
After the run I arrived home to a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Tim and I hung out/ recovered from the mornings work outs and then took "Sweet Thunder" into the cycle spa. It was a good time to get Sweet Thunder in shape for the rest of the season. I don't know what kind of trouble Sweet Thunder and Princess would get into if left together unattended for a week. Sweet Thunder was originally afraid to stay at the cycle spa alone. She quickly changed her tune when she saw her sister bike "Speed Racer" . I just hope if those two bikes go out for a late night rendezvous up Cabrillo they get themselves back into the shop/spa for their scheduled maintenaces. I also warned Sweet Thunder that Speed Racer was racing this weekend and she should not be tempting her to ride. I explained to Sweet Thunder just because her race wasn't for another 4 weeks didn't mean she should be trying to temp all the other bikes into riding.They might have a different training program and different goals. Sweet Thunder doesn't mean to derail other bikes from their programs. She just gets excited and likes company.
After the trip to Moment Cycle Sport, Tim and I discussed what to do with the rest of the day. I knew I wanted to get in the ocean and swim. Tim sort of wanted to swim but I could tell he was super psyched to mtn. bike. He had that delighted twinkle in his eye when he mentioned it. I told him to go mtn biking with his friend and I could swim alone. No problem.
I was a little suprised after riding to the cove, swimming to the shores and back,showering and riding home that Tim wasn't done mtn biking. The swim was delightful. As I swam back the sun was just setting. The seals were very noisy and rambunctious but none came near me. I feel very good swimming in the ocean. Smooth, rhythmic, and efficient. This is not something I can say for racing or the pool. Finally, I have figured out why. Obviously there is a pod of dolphins that have adopted me. They swim just far enough in front of me that I can't see them. They create a draft for me. They are my fairy god -dolphins.
Anyway I was home for a while making and dinner when I got a phone call from Tim. He mentioned he got a little scratched up and was going to Thorton (hospital) to clean it out properly. I'm sure Tim was a joy of a patient as Doctor's and Nurses are the worst patients ever. Tim's phone call did not pass the sniff test. I knew it was worse then he was letting on. Tim wouldn't go to Thorton ER while on vacation and he didn't send a text pic of the little scrape. If it was a little scrape he would have sent the pic. 4 stitches and a few hours later Tim came home. Later he sent me the picture.

Just a little scrape.
Monday morning. I awoke bright and early and headed to masters. It was sort of surreal because for the first time in I don't know how long I didn't wince with when the alarm went off. Wow. I cruised down to Coggan and began warming up before the set was even written on the board . I didn't waste and energy thinking about how cold my arms were. I just powered through the workout and got it done. I finished the work out and quickly grabbed my gear bag. I was rewarded with a sharp sting in my hand. I looked down to find a bee hanging by its stinger to my hand. I didn't really think twice about it. I shook off the bee and yanked out the stinger. I hit the shower and pedaled home.
I arrived home just in time help Tim with his dressing change. Big, tall, tough Tim was a bit woozy in dealing with his own wound. Fit, healthy guys in their 20's-30's are typically the ones that pass out when they have medical procedures. Luckily, I conivnced Tim to sit down and sip some water while I attempted to change the dressing. My hand was starting to swell and become clumsy but I did my best to fake it's function to ensure my husband did not pass out. We managed to get it together and get to the airport on time. The combination of Tim's helmet hanging from his backpack and his bandaged arm created quite the conversation.
Tim was in a lot of pain and refusing to take an analgesic. I was getting itchier by the minute. I figured we couldn't both be uncomfortable for the plane ride as we might take it out on each other. I bought some benadryl and figured it would knock me out for the flight. I would be all better when I woke up. The benadryl did knock me out. I did not however make the swelling better and I awoke to a hand that looked like it belonged to cast member of "The Biggest Loser." Oh boy, it was going to be a long day of traveling. Imagine my parents suprise when they fetched Tim and I from the airport. Tim's arm wrapped and looking broken, my arm swollen and looking broken. My mom mentioned the poster that once hung where she worked. It had a picture of an old truck and said "Wear Out, Don't Rust Out." She said it reminded her of Tim and I. What can I say? Trouble just finds me.
In order to post the picture of Tim above I had to post this picture. Me icing my hand, sedated with bena"drool". My mom wanted me to put on my Team Fatty jersey and pose my hand by a plate of cookie crumbs but I just couldn't get up for it. I was too busy pleading my case that my legs were just fine and I could run as soon as the bena"drool" cleared.

And we did run. How could we deny our mascot Sparky a good run? I wish I could run as fast as Sparky but he has 4 legs and I only have 2. I think where he really gets his advantage is his 20 hour/day sleep routine.
Tim and I are a little banged up but don't worry we'll fight back, then we will "WIN."
Sparky: Fastest dog on earth


5 weeks left until Ironman Arizona.
Not sure when I'll have the opportunity to race in Ironman again.
Husband says I always say that.
My goal is to WIN!
Not win, as in beating everybody else.
That's not it.
I just want to go as fast as I can.
That would be to win.

Bike Wars

I warmed up on Princess this morning. Granted she was annoyed as it was 0400 and I was insulting her by riding on a trainer. I yawned a few times and she was not impressed. The race started at 6:30 so I needed all systems to be a go early.

Sweet Thunder was excited when she got home. She forgets how slow she goes up hills and thinks her max speed is her average speed. I don't want to dissapoint her so I haven't explained to her the difference yet. Princess was grumpy from waking up early and a bit bent out of shape she didn't get to race. Sweet Thunder was bubbling about the fun course when Princess said " Yes, but how long did you have to wait while she was swimming?

I can't ever catch a break from that one!

Podium Girls

Today was race day, here in San Diego and in Kona. For those of you who don't know, Ironman Kona is like the Olympics of triathlon. Actually it's better than the Olympics, it's like Christmas for a 5 year old. Well, it's like Christmas for a 5 year if you are at home watching the race (on one laptop while blogging on another). I don't think it's like Christmas for the racers until the race is over:) I am proud of my friends racing today. It's fabulous. They get to do all the work and I get to share the excitement.Moment Cycle Sport hosted an Olympic Distance Triathlon. This is approximately a 1500 m swim, 40 K bike, and 10 K run. Despite completing a whole host of races, Ironman twice, I had never done an Olympic Distance. I'm told if you are not on the edge of pain and suffering you are not working hard enough. I went watchless today and just tried to push it a bit. I only had time for my Garmin or my socks in T2 so I chose socks over the Garmin. I didn't have time to put on both. I guess it worked out ok as I ended up in second in my age group. Stacy was first. She could probably have run an extra mile and still beat me but nobody else will ever know. Oops, I just spilled the beans.

Podium Princesses
Age 30-34

I really did enjoy the race, once the swim was over. The swim coarse was fine but I felt discombobulated. Everybody in my heat was swimming away from me as I splashed about. I exited the water a little bit down mentally and a lot down chronologically. My bike, Sweet Thunder, was ready to go and she picked me up. As soon as I hopped on, she began to move quickly. Her sister bike, Speed Racer, was racing and she wanted to catch up. They like to ride together. She really had fun on the climbs and descents. She is used to riding in East County. She has a lot of room to move around and the roads are smooth as silk. She just wanted to gallop all out. I kept good hold of her reigns so she wouldn't get tangled with other riders and make sure she didn't draft. She seemed to make up some time and without taking too much out of me so that was good.
I will say there are some great girls out there. Of those I know, they are really impressive, a multi-talented bunch. I wish I was motivated to race more aggressively and try to beat them. I'm not though. I'll have to settle for just being inspired by them and happy to play among them. That's what's so great about the "Idropboys" mentality. I see other women as my teammates in dropping boys. Not to pick on men but you sometimes do such funny things when we chick you.
Got to go. There are couple girls at Ironman beating the male pros. It's too exciting too miss.

Friendly Foes

I thought the guys at Moments would be very upset with my Carbo Pro antics but they fixed up Sweet Thunder and hooked me up with a new water bottle. One they swore wouldn't leak. Their interventions were very helpful. I know they were very busy getting ready for the weekends race "The San Diego Classic"

What shocked me is the fact that my bikes seem to have engaged in some sort of a cat fight. As I prepared Sweet Thunder for her trip to the cycle spa my road bike started acting up. Princess really dug in her claws. She is uppity, even to me. She said "Isn't today Wednesday? You know you could skip the club time trial and hit the Swami's ride or Wednesday World's. I told Princess I couldn't keep up with the Swami's and would get dropped. Princess flicked her handle bars to the side and said "it's not my fault you don't pedal faster". Can you believe that! Who talks to their master like that? I guess Princess is just jealous. She hasn't done Great Western plus Laguna. I tried to remind her of all the fun rides she has done, The Death Ride and a few weeks in New Zealand, a 1000 mile month when she was my only bike. She sniffled that I could at least try to pedal faster.

It's a good thing my time trial bike doesn't have kind of attitude because I don't think I could take it from both bikes. Sweet Thunder, although she is every bit as fancy as Princess, never seems to complain. Usually she doesn't even realize Princess is picking on her. It goes right over her aero bars. She just rides as far and as fast as she can without complaint. Her one flaw is that she would let me ride her until she is a bloody pulp. She's a little disappointed I didn't take her out to east county this week. I explained she needed to save a little energy for Saturday. I promised her there would be more Great Western Loop next week. She seemed to tolerate it o.k, but I know she's a little down. She asked if I could get off work tomorrow and ride her but the answer is no.

When I came home from work today I noticed the whole container of Carbo Pro was resting on Sweet Thunder's frame. I just can't trust those bikes when I am at work. Maybe it is the lack of exercise that makes them act out. I am not sure if Sweet Thunder was trying to fuel herself for the next workout or if Princess tried to dump the Carbo Pro on Sweet Thunder. What will those bikes think of next.

In Trouble Now

A few blogs ago I shared with you my rides in east county. You were probably wondering how I fueled myself to complete those rides. There are precious few support stations. Also, we tend to turn up our nose at the thought of stopping. Well it was liquid calories. Who has time to chew when faced with thousands of feet of elevation? Maltodextran was the culprit to be exact. Carbo Pro is the brand name. Yes, I could use Sustained Energy or Perpetuem, but those are sticky too. In my opinion, they taste more gross. Plus, they make my stomach blow up and hurt by hour 4. the Great Western Loop plus the Laguna Loop takes 6h30min on a decent day. That leaves 2.5 hours of tummy trouble, so I chose the Carbo Pro.

The upside to this is I was able to complete my rides with race like nutrition. The downside is so that my water bottles leaked and sticky solution got all over my bike. I knew my husband would view this a sin against bike. He would say I should have just added an additional hour of riding and headed into Julian for pie. So I didn't tell him, I didn't want to disappoint him. I cleaned the bike the best I could. I polished the frame until it shined. Unfortunately the brakes and derailleur were victims of maltodextran too. Hey, at least I didn't drown the bike in high fructose corn syrup. The brakes actually sort of congealed and lost a bit of spring, so when you release the brake it doesn't spring back all the way. I thought I was just riding recovery pace the last week or so but I guess it was brake aided.
Tonight, Tim attempted to prep my time trial bike (Sweet Thunder) for Saturday's race. He couldn't adjust the brakes or derailleur for my race wheels. As in parts would not move. Now, I am in big trouble. He said out loud all the damage I had done to Sweet Thunder and she heard him. I've been charged with bike abuse, negligence, and assault with a deadly weapon (that would be the Carbo Pro). I'm worried cycle services might take my bike away. I wrote my bike a note of apology.

Poor bike, it was custom built just for me by a couple Canadians and I mistreated it. It wasn't a bike built in a factory for any random rider. Sweet Thunder, was born because I dreamt of her. She was the in leau of a new car bike. The guys at Moment Cycle Sport spent a lot of time ( and probably lost a bit of money ) making sure she was really special. You are probably wondering why I feel so guilty. I was at least riding my bike. Something not all bike master's do which is a bigger sin against bike.

See the story gets worse. After that big ride I was tired. I didn't have much time and I had to attend a function with Tim. I put myself first. I showered and waited until the next day to clean the bike. I did my hair, put on a dress, high heels even wore some makeup. While I sipped a Merlot, my bike rotted from Carbo Pro.

Well all I can do is take Sweet Thunder to the urgent care (Moment Cycle Sport) and ask for some help. I tried to tell her it a cycle spa but she worries when she goes in there she'll be down for a few days. I tell her it's ok and there are lots of other nice bikes for her to visit with but she gets very upset and rubs her brakes against the rims. Poor bike, I think I her aero bars are hanging with sadness, sickness, and shame. I hear her pedals scratching the wall, asking for attention.

My road bike isn't helping either. She is all clean and snide. Her name is Princess and for good reason. She is bragging that she has never been treated that way. Bragging she gets to ride into Julian for pie. Bragging that she is not slopped on. In fact, she has proudly rested in a wrack for all to admire at Pannikin in Encinitas while her master had coffee. In fact, she snuggled up next to a Serotta. She fondly remembers riding all the way to San Clemente just to have lunch. Poor Sweet Thunder, she was crushed. I hope she can rally back and make it to the club TT tomorrow night.

Hot Rock Yoga

This weekend warranted a trip to Sedona for one of Tim's best friend's wedding. As usual I had a lot on my plate. Oh how would I juggle all my fun? The weekend consisted of a visit with the in-laws while attending Tim's friend's wedding, celebrating our one year anniversary (yes Tim has tolerated me for a whole year), and exploring every nook, cranny, and slot canyon Sedona had to offer. I was pretty sure I could keep up with my Ironman training. You see being a member of the Neuschwander family is pretty much Ironman training. I did worry I wouldn't uphold my weekly yoga session. ( I try to go at least once a week....doesn't sound like much but the weeks go by so quickly) I swear it prevents mental and physical injury, breakdown, and psychosis The teachers say it will lengthen the bones and regulate the thyroid;) Anyway I really couldn't see how I would fit in a session of hot yoga.

Saturday we headed out to run Soldiers pass. It was breathtaking, in part because it was beautiful and in part because it was at 5,000 ft. 5,000 ft might sound soft but you see I have to keep up with tall Tim and he has more hemoglobin than me because he is a boy. Plus he was very excited to run in such a cool place he was leaping up the hills.

I was having a wonderful time and soon we were at the summit of the trail. It would be a good day of running to log in the books but the yoga entry would be blank. What to do? I tricked my husband and father in law into scrambling up on top of a huge boulder and participating in my very own impromptu yoga class. Hah.....some people do have it all. Hot yoga and a long run on a Saturday morning. I thought I was very smart hosting hot rock yoga, however the students were real flunkies.

I demonstrate a simple yoga pose

Bruce puts forth a good effort but is a bit off balance.

Tim is a total yoga flunky.
Look at him wearing his Iphone in yoga class.

What a poser!
He's wearing a shirt from Ironman Canada.
He hasn't even done Ironman Canada!