Race Review: Frog Hill Half Marathon

The Ultimate Training Run – The Frog Hill Half Marathon & 10K

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This is a slightly smaller local race held in the city of Waynesville, Missouri which is located fairly central in the state of Missouri just north of Highway 44 and about an hour South-Eash of Lake of the Ozarks. I estimate about 200 people participated this past October 3rd, 2015. There are two races to choose from, a 10K and an extremely challenging half marathon.

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OVERALL –
This is a well-run race with chip-timing and medals given to all finishers of either the 10K or half marathon.

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T-SHIRT/SWAG –
This race is sponsored by the Team 413 Gracerunner Ministries and the 413 refers to a verse in the bible, Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That verse, along with http://www.Team413.org was printed on the back of the green t-shirt and a fun looking frog with the race name was on the front. The t-shirt sizes ran from small, medium, large and extra-large. The rest of the SWAG bag contains papers on various upcoming races in the area and a nice brochure about the historic city of Waynesville, MO which was founded back in 1843.

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AID STATIONS –
There are an adequate number of theme based aid stations throughout the out and back course which feature water and Gatoraid. The end of the race was the best. In addition to bottles of water & Gatorade underneath a nearby pavillion were free grilled hot dogs, chips, soda and more Gatorade.

COURSE SCENERY –
This race offers a variety of running surfaces which each have their own unique scenery. There’s about 20% asphalt & paved road which starts at the school parking lot then onto nice section of downhill roadway which may lull the newbie Frog Hill runner into thinking they could be getting a PR with this race. That road then turns onto a fairly short stretch of running through the a section of the towns quant downtown before turning off onto the majority of the running surface which consist of a mixture crushed gravel and a dirt road. The race director had commented that there hadn’t been rain in a while so the trail type portion of the run may be harder than normal but I found no problems with the surface other than it was very dry and the few times cars drove by they would kick up clouds of dust. There’s a nice mixture of trees, rock formations and views of the Roubidoux Creek along this majority portion of the run. The run ends at a point about a mile and a half from the start at a local park which conveniently is hosting the Waynesville Frog Festival so there is plenty to do and see after the run as well.

Half Marathon Course Route

Half Marathon Course Route

EXPO QUALITY –
Packet pickup for this race may be done the night before the race at a local VFW or from about 7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. the day of the race. I believe final registration was also available on race day as well for an additional $10 fee but the already low price of $45 was available online all the way until the night before the race, which is when I finally got around do signing up.
I picked up my race packet on race day and was pleasantly surprised to see complementary donuts, chocolate donuts and coffee available for all the racers. There was also a costumed frog walking around and available to all who wanted pictures.
The pickup was inside East Elementary School which provided some nice relief from the slightly chilly weather outside until the race started.
This race used tri-athlete style ankle timers which contestants were instructed to put on their left ankle. I’ve never used this type of timing system before but put it on over my sock and never noticed it was there.

ELEVATION DIFFICULTY –
This may be the part I love and hate the most about this run. Just before the 10K turnabout is an aid station where people were dressed up as ghouls, goblins & monsters which ….if you continue past this turnabout point – be forewarned because how those people look is going to be how you feel if you continue ….just beyond that aid station is Superior Hill and you must be MORE superior to conquor and continue! This is no small hill and for me, only the Pikes Peak Ascent in Colorado had a greater incline. This incline in Waynesville, MO goes on for MILES – well, maybe “just” a mile but it’s up and up and up …..I thought there was an end to it that I could see so I tried running up the hill but the hill didn’t stop …so I tried speed walking and the hill still didn’t stop ….it’s formidable to say the least.

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This hill could make the Frog Hill Half Marathon the ultimate training run because there is NO WAY I would have pushed myself up this many hills of this magnitude on my own. My quads were lit up and on fire after Superior Hill and there’s still 7 or 8 miles miles to go AFTER you’ve fried your quads on that hill.

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PARKING/ACCESS –
Parking was very adequate at the Elementary school parking lot.

RACE MANAGEMENT –
A runner by the name of Melissa Martinez is the current race director and did a superior job. She is very caring and responsive to the needs of the runners.

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Week 16 Recap and Colorado Memories

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Back in August of 2007, I competed in the Pikes Peak Ascent in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  I think it was January of that year when I started training for the event but, I was a classic example of too much, too soon.  I trained on a super incline treadmill at the gym which was capable of inclining to 30 degrees.  I the span of about 10 days I increased my training on that treadmill from 30 minutes to 60 minutes to 2 hours….

That was too much too soon.  I blew out my piriformis muscle to such a degree that, at times, it was difficult to stand without that muscle “catching” and looking back, was most likely irritating my sciatic nerve.  Whatever the reason, I was completely knocked out of any kind of training for many months.  I had a great job with excellent insurance so, in addition to chiropractic adjustments I was also able to avail myself of physical therapy and a weekly massage for over two months.  I really liked those weekly massages!

And …I really want to go back to Colorado!  The point in bringing up Colorado is to contrast the massive overtraining and subsequent injury I did for that event and the much smarter training I’m doing now.  Still, it’s hard to stop musing over the two weeks I spent in Colorado back in 2007, especially looking over all the pictures I took back then.

My first day in Colorado was nothing short of amazing and a day I would gladly live over.  I landed in Colorado Springs early that morning, got my rental car and checked into the first of two different places I would be staying during my time in Colorado.  During my first week, I stayed at the Eagle Motel which was about a mile from the Cog Train or base of the mountain, my second week was spent just down the street from the Cog train at an extremely elegant bed & breakfast called Victoria’s Keep.  Below are pictures from my view at the first place I stayed and a picture of Victoria’s Keep.

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I think my entire week’s stay at the Eagle Motel cost less than a single night at that bed & breakfast.

Here’s what’s kind of freaky about Colorado.  On the same day I took that sunny picture of Victoria’s Keep I drove to the top of Pikes Peak (which I did about 10 times) to help acclimate myself to the lower oxygen concentrations but, there was a freak snow storm at the top of the mountain that day and the park rangers ended up closing the mountain so we all had to drive back down.  Below are pics from later that day, at the top of the mountain and a view out my windshield as I was driving back down the mountain.

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Of course – once I got back to the bottom of the mountain the sky was all sunny again.  Pretty cool environment 🙂

Within minutes after checking into my first hotel, I headed off to the mountain!  I stopped at the Cog Train depot and bought a one way ticket DOWN the mountain then headed up the mountain to Barr Camp which is located about 7 miles up the mountain.  I bought some M&M’s and a drink at the Barr Camp store, took some extra trash with me from the store (because there is no trash service at the middle of the mountain) then shot laterally across the mountain to hook up with the Cog Train on it’s way back down from the top of the mountain.

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Anyway, after Barr Camp, I shot over 1.5 miles to meet up with the Cog Train on the way back down and met a great couple from Denver who were visiting the Peak area for a few days.  We all ended up going to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, had steak that evening at the Stagecoach Inn and partied it up at pretty much every local pub in the area.  After that couple left, I had moved to the Victoria’s Keep B&B where I met up with the 180 Energy Running Team from Anheuser Busch and spent the rest of the vacation with them.

There’s so many pictures I’d love to share from the zoo, to the mountain, 180, Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, and a host of other places & people but, my Internet connection here seems to be a little quirky today so I’ll have to save that for another time.

I did run across some videos I took while on the mountain and, in particular, from my first hike up to Barr Camp then over to the Cog Train.  Per those videos I learned it was 2 miles to the Cog Train from my hotel, then 7.5 miles up to Barr Camp then another 1.5 miles across the mountain to hook up with the train.  Also, due to the busy time of the year, I had to purchase a round trip train ticket to ensure I would have a spot when the train headed back down the mountain.

All I can say is …I want MORE!  🙂   More please.  More of the same.  More of the really good times.

When I look back over those pictures a really cool part of it is that in less than two weeks after Colorado, I have another folder for the time I spent at Virginia Beach and that trip pretty much rocked as well.

Even though I was injured while training for the Pikes Peak Ascent, I still went and had a great time but it took me a little over 9 hours on race day to get to the top of the mountain and, that is quite a story in itself.  The cutoff is 6 hours to make it to the top.  Race officials tried turning me back at Barr Camp on the day of the race because my pace was a little bit off of what was needed to make it to the top in 6 hours but, they said they wouldn’t stop me if I continued, so I pressed on.  At A-Frame, another stop about 1/2 way between Barr Camp and the summit everyone in the race was being turned back due to not making the necessary pace.  A-Frame is about 10,000 ft up and about 3 miles or so from the summit.

I just didn’t want to turn back so I tore off my racing bib and my racing bracelet and pretended I was just a hiker so I could get past the race officials at the A-Frame checkpoint.

The plus side of things was that I could continue on my journey to the top of the mountain.  The down side was that I had to give up a few things like the remaining water stops along the way to the top since they had already closed down.  I also had to give up my ride back down to the base of the mountain but figured …well, I just figured I’d be OK and could end up meeting someone who would give me a ride back down which, is exactly what ended up happening.

I did get lost and ended up in part of the tundra where grass grows about an inch or so every 100 years and there were stories circulating of a Bear spotted in the vicinity of Barr Camp.

Anyway ….this is a good program I’m on now.

Week 16 –
I sort of skirted around my first few legitimate long runs.  I did my 7 mile long run a few weeks back at the Lake of the Ozarks but my 8 mile long run the following week was substituted with the 34 mile Tour de Donut.  The 10 mile run the following week was substituted with the Biggest Loser 10k at Six Flags but, there was no getting around things this past weekend and my original plans were to meet with some group called the Walking Ramblers who were going to do a five mile loop around Babler State Park and I figured I could do that loop twice like some of them were going to do then tack on an extra mile at the end to make my full 11 miles of training for that day.

I had to work late the night before and didn’t have it in me to get up as early as was necessary to get to the park by 7 a.m. (it was about an hour away) but, I did eventually make it to the prescribed starting destination and headed off on my 11 mile journey.
Miles 2 to 4 were all uphill and from my Sports Tracker, I could tell there was an elevation gain of about 350 feet for those two miles.

My 7 mile jaunt at the Ozarks was hilly as well and I was able to compare the two runs.  My average pace at the Ozarks was 17:41 and my average pace for my 11 mile hilly run was 15:50!

I could really tell I was much, much stronger at Babler State Park for my 11 mile run.

One of the things at Babler Park that reminded me of Colorado was a cemetery I came upon during the first part of my run.

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The first picture is a grave of someone who died in 1895 and the gravestone to the right is off a little guy who lived less than 3 years and died in 1865.

In between those two times is a lady by the name of G. Inestine B Roberts who was born in 1869.  Talk about feisty – this lady was all of 5 feet tall and weighed 89 pounds.  This lady made 14 Ascents to the top of Pikes Peak and about 9.4 miles from the trailhead of Pikes Peak is a memorial to this amazing lady who died on the mountain during her way back down from her 14th Ascent.

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I came up on this lady’s memorial during my 9 hour trek to the top of the mountain during my own personal first ascent.  After I gave up all the safety and security of being watched after from the Pikes Peak race officials, I was in pure survival mode while in pursuit of the summit.  Death is kind of an option one needs to be aware of while hiking up to the top of Pikes Peak on their own.

I vividly remember stopping at Inestine’s memorial and placing my hand on her memorial and praying a bit for safe passage to the top of the mountain.

Anyway – Week 16 was a very, very good week and a very solid week of training.  I can tell I’m getting stronger.   Many years ago, I first had a notion of training by running a half marathon distance every weekend because that distance seemed to profoundly affect me in a very positive way.

I suppose I wasn’t too smart back then because I never built up my training miles to adequately complete that distance every weekend but – from this point on, from my 11 mile training run forward and for about the next 14 weeks, that is exactly what I’ll be doing for my long runs – i.e., completing a half marathon distance or better every weekend.

I’m perceiving these efforts as being in the realm of life changing.  I felt fantastic after the 11 miles.  Some basic sore feet and fatigued leg muscles but nothing to incapacitate me as has been the case in times gone by when I’ve completed similar distances.

I liked the fact that I didn’t need a crowd of spectators in order to finish this distance as is the case when running a half marathon.

Sort of like, pure internal strength.

Even 9.75 miles into the run I was still able to pick up and jog.

I better save the rest of my life’s ponderings for later.  This is Week 17, Day 1 and I still have a 4 mile run to get in before the night is over.

Somehow, someway, I’ve improved and gotten stronger.  That last 10k I did had me out and very sore for 2 days which is why I did my three preceding runs before my long run last week on three consecutive days – Tue, Wed & Thur and those were runs of 4, 5 and 4 miles respectively.  But, I had no problems with any of those runs and the 11 miles I just did was easier than the 6.2 miles I did the week before.

 

 

 

Falling Short

I’ve talked with many ex-smokers who have said that even though they quit, that craving never goes away.  I think of this because most of my marathon thoughts have to do with the first one I ever ran which was back in 1994.  I didn’t train and basically walked my 2nd marathon in 2004 so there wasn’t much in the way of opportunities to form many indelible memories.

1994 is entirely different …memories of the training, memories of the run.  Maybe it was back in ’94 when I became addicted and even though I’ve been an ex-runner more of a runner over the last 20 years, just like the ex-smoker – that craving from running never goes away.  There is a local park with a 1.5 mile track and markers every 0.1 miles.  I remember the first time being able to run completely around that track without stopping.  It was also at that track, after deviating off the path for a while then coming back that I ran my first hour non-stop.  I remember wanting to know what it was like to run at a 4 min/mile pace like Roger Banister so, I figured that was 15mph and was actually able to bury that speed …for 0.2 miles anyway.  For me, that pace was just shy of an all out sprint and took place about two weeks before my first marathon.  I remember one of my last long runs.  I went out the night before with a can of white spray paint and a car full of water bottles.  The run started at the water tower of a local mall and ended at a VFW post & campsite with a lake about 15 miles away.  I drove that course and stopped my car every mile, then got out and spray painted the mile number on the road and left a couple of bottles of water next to the number.  I remember at mile 13 one of the water bottles had tipped over and emptied out.  It was rough looking forward to water only to find none.  My car was waiting at the parking lot of the VFW post and a kind elderly couple who lived at the site gave us some water and a bite to eat.  

The run itself was great up until the 20 mile marker, up to that point it was pure running.  Whatever family lived around the 20 mile marker had tables set up out front with food, it was the first time I stopped running and grabbed some food to eat – I think I stopped, not positive about that part, I am positive I ate food and very shortly thereafter my legs stopped working.  It’s like they seized up and wouldn’t function properly.  I was afraid I might be out of the race but, I found if I squatted down then stood back up that was enough to get my legs moving again, at least for a block or two then I would have to squat down, stand up and continue jogging.  That went on for most of the remaining 10k of the race.

I’m guessing my pace was somewhere between 10 and 11 minutes per mile.  

I’d like to beat all that.  It’s what I think about.  I know I mentioned things I need to do for karate, masons, getting my chiropractic license but, the one thing that seems to dominate my mind more than anything is being able to run longer and faster. I want to be able to hit those milestones I did 20 years ago.  I want to run around that track at the park non-stop.  I want to run for an hour non-stop again.  I want to best that 4 minute per mile pace, even if it is just for 0.2 miles.  Ever since high school, I’ve wanted to run a quarter mile in under a minute.  I think, if I was on a regular track then I may have been capable of doing it that day I toyed with that 4min/mile pace.  My best mile time in high school was 6:04 so I would love to break that 6 minute mark.  I was a lineman on the football team back then so, it was the fastest time of the linemen but beating that 6 minute mark was something that was needed to get an extra star on our helmet.  

Some thoughts in my head are positive about the training and my ability to be able to complete the upcoming marathon while other thoughts lend themselves to doubt.  I like that I still have over 6 months to train for the event but, when I look at the numbers – only 186 days away – 185 days away in about 15 minutes and realize how much farther I have to go then I wonder….

I like that my pace at Nashville was 14:41 because it looks like it’s within striking distance of that 10 min/mile pace.  I know when I’m actually running that my pace is better than 6 mph but, I can’t keep it up that long – that time is still being measured in minutes…. 

There is a race in three weeks, May 17th I’m looking into.  They have a half marathon with a 3 hour time limit but, I’m not really cut out for accomplishing anything overly noble in those half marathon runs and was thinking of tackling a 10k while still adhering to my 5 minute interval program but, maybe pushing it a little bit and maybe doubling the amount of time i was running in Nashville.  Maybe 1.5 or 2 minutes of running every 5 minutes.  I have times of 1:29:33 and 1:30:19 for the 10k splits in the Lincoln Presidential and Nashville CMM runs respectively.  Maybe I could take 8 minutes off those times?  

It’s almost funny or, perhaps ironic, that I mentioned needing to do more and be better with Karate and the Masons in my last post because, I never made it to my weekly Masonic meeting last night and didn’t make it to karate tonight.  It reminds me a bit of what we learned in school about nerves dying.  Just before a nerve finally dies it sends out one last burst of impulse, kind of a last ditch effort type thing.  If a person’s optic nerve was dying about the same time as the rest of the body then that last burst might account for the white light that people have reported seeing before they died.   (then somehow being brought back to life so they could recount the story)

I’ve noticed this phenomenon before though.  When I’m doing well, I want to do better.  But then upon trying or wanting to do more and specifically after writing it down, it seems …more often than not, that’s when I’ll fall apart a little bit on those very things I said I wanted.  

Idk – (that’s “I don’t know” for you non-texting type people out there)  Today, I was just exhausted.  I added a few more lawns to be cut today than I originally had on my schedule so, from 9:02 this morning until 4:10 this afternoon I was cutting grass and except for one quick stop at a local gas station to use the restroom and my drive time from one job to another, that’s pretty much what I did all day – cut lawns.  According to my fitbit that I wear on my wrist I covered over 12 miles today and today was an OFF day for training.  I’m just currently exhausted and at 7:30, instead of being at karate, I found myself in bed only to wake 3 hours later dying of thirst.  Since waking I’ve had 1/2 dozen strawberries, 1 orange and 3 bottles of water in addition to writing a few pages here.  

Falling Short – this was an initial thought I had and maybe stems a little bit from that saying about “shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars”

I’m thinking the moon would be what I’m shooting for, that marathon run on November 1st down in Wynne, Arkansas but, the stars would be things like running that 1.5 mile path non-stop – being able to run fast – running for an hour non-stop and I do have a half marathon I’ll be doing with my brother about two weeks prior to my marathon attempt.  He mainly runs for fitness and doesn’t do too many organized events but we keep each other abreast of our training and I know he’ll knock out 3 or 4 miles at around a 9:17 pace and he’s already picked out a training program so he should do *very* well in his third ever half marathon.  It’s the St Louis Rock n Roll Half Marathon, I think on Sunday, Oct 19th – two weeks before my marathon run.  But, if I can run that half in 2:25 or less then I will also qualify for the Pikes Peak Ascent (wave 2, i think) in 2015.  Gotta finish that Ascent in 6 hours or it’s like you never existed.  And, finishing that event in 6 hours or less is the only way to get a finishers jacket.  I want one of those jackets.  It’s kind of like getting one of those Boston Athletic Association jackets that you might see one or two people wearing at any big event.  

I guess the moral of this story is that I can’t be afraid of failing or falling short of my goal because there is so much sweet fruit to be had along the way.  I can not use the possibility of failing be any type of excuse for not trying.  I didn’t even like writing that last sentence.

If I take my training seriously then I may be entitled to serious results.  I spent a great deal of time during my drive down to Tennessee thinking about the whole concept of being serious and thereby taking responsibility for the results we obtain in life.  That’s a whole other blog I was thinking about writing.  

Anyway, so far so good with the current training.  I remember back in the Summer of ’94 I took a running class offered at a local university which met 3 days per week, Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6 a.m.  I ended up entering my first 10k that Summer and a few months later completed that first marathon of mine.  So, I know it’s possible to complete a marathon with less than 26 weeks of training but that was 20 years ago also and I have a more vintage body to do this with.  

Currently, I am in week 4 of the 26 week program which means 30 minutes of walking/running tomorrow.  AND – that training program officially starts next Monday 🙂

Castlerock & Nashville, TN!

ImageCastlerock State Park is located around the Southwest corner of St Louis county.  What’s amazing about this place is that it’s only about a mile from civilization but, once you’re there and hike up the canyon you can see for miles but don’t see a speck of civilization, just nature, green and the Meramec River.  I thought I was close to the park when I finished up my last job and since I procrastinated so much that morning with my running figured I would head over to the park to knock out my training for the day.  The hike was much tougher than I was used to.  According to my Sports-Tracker, the initial part of the hike takes you from an altitude of about 325 feet to 550 ft and just walking that part caught me out of breath and reconsidering my thoughts at a 2nd attempt at the Pikes Peak Ascent which I had attempted (and completed) back in 2008.  The thing about Pikes Peak is if you don’t finish in 6 hours then it’s like you were never there.  It took me 9 hours but, I finished it, even gave up getting a ride back down to complete it but, that’s another story I’d like to write about sometime.

I knocked out my five, 5-minute intervals of running & walking and when I was done w/ those intervals and back on flat ground I added a bonus minute of jogging.  Today was pretty decent, I got to a local park before heading to work and did the same 25 minutes of total training.  This park (Long Acre Park) has markers every 1/10th of a mile and during the third five minute interval I decided to get a time from mile marker 0.9 to 1.0 and did so in 53 seconds.  

Tomorrow I head up to Nashville, TN for the Country Music Marathon (CMM) aka one of the Rock n Roll (RnR) series events.  I also signed up for the St Louis Rock n Roll half marathon on October 19th of this year so I’m eligible for one of the RnR Heavy Metals which you can get by running multiple RnR events in a single year.  Below is the medal for the CMM and the bonus medal once two RnR events are completed.  
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I think I like the Rock Encore medal better 😉  Right now my thoughts are to do 5 minute intervals of running & walking to get through the CMM on Saturday.  I did that method in the Lewis & Clark half marathon a number of years ago (maybe 8?) and wound up with a time of 2:40ish.  I don’t think I’m in as good of shape currently so I’ll be shooting to beat the time I got earlier this month on April 5th of 3:20.  

I have pondered my procrastination from yesterday and lack of enthusiasm today.  I initially conceded that I just didn’t feel like doing the training which, I suppose may happen from time to time but, there might be some recovery issues as well.  When I got home from work today I took a nap and crashed for 4 hours!  

I’d like to get to Nashville at a decent time tomorrow.  There is a seminar at the Expo on Marathon Mentality at 3 p.m. that I’d like to see.  I’ve been toying with the idea of heading over to Memphis Saturday after the race and maybe spending a night there but, my main interest would be a little west of Memphis to check out Wynne, Arkansas – the place my marathon will be held on November 1st, 191 days from today 🙂

I did notice my fitbit blogged today on my behalf.  Noticing that I was able to link fitbit to wordpress is initially what got blogging on wordpress in my head.  I’d always considered wordpress.com to be a bit more professional than say, blogspot, where I kept my previous blog as a chiropractic student.  I switched the fitbit update to weekly so anyone following this blog wouldn’t have to be bothered by daily updates of how far I walked 😉