It’s Time: Rock N Roll DC 1/2 Marathon!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock N Roll DC as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

It’s race night eve! I’m relaxing at a hotel in the DC suburbs that I’m SO glad I booked to save hours of driving. After hitting up the expo earlier, I’m officially almost ready. I just need to find another way to attach my tag to my bag check bag, as I somehow lost mine….

Anyways – let’s look at how Friday’s preparations played out.

I started the day by SLEEPING IN because I took the day totally off! I planned on taking a 1/2 day to go to the expo, but I ended up taking the whole day to go to a job interview.

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When I finally headed south towards DC, I stopped in at Fleet Feet to recycle some old shoes. It will feel so good to have them out of my room. It took about an hour to drive down, get on the train, and arrive at the Armory, which is next to the RFK stadium. I had to wait outside in a security line for about 10 minutes (BRR), but I know that will be nothing compared to tomorrow.

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My trusty SmarTrip card

Bib pickup was quick and easy once I got in – I had to get a pic for insta before starting my shopping!

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I spent a little over an hour browsing the expo. I stopped by the Balega booth to chat with Dan, their rep for the area – he is the greatest! I also was thrilled to get KT Taped (and found a solution for my occasional toe pain), try Krave Jerky (I bought two bags – so g00d), and to stop at the HOKA booth! I talked to the reps I worked with at Fleet Feet and walked away with a pair of the new Arahi’s at a great price.

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I easily made it to my hotel, where I have gotten my Flat Sam ready for tomorrow. The windchill will be around 12 degrees when I arrive to the mall, which is going to make my 2-3 pre-race miles downright cold.

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Als0: hand held bottle with a space blanket folded up for before the race, throw-away fleece, and undergarments of course!

It wouldn’t be a race if there weren’t some goals. Realistically, this race was a last-minute add-on and I’m super excited just to be here. I know it’s not going to be a PR day, between the cold, the killer hill at mile 5, and the fact that I’m working towards a marathon and this isn’t my goal race.

Goal C: 2:20

Goal B: 2:15 (I set a goal this year to become consistent at running this time)

Goal A: HAVE FUN.

My plan is to run 11:00-11:30/mi for the first five miles (90:30 or 120:30 intervals) as this is around my goal marathon pace. When the hill hits and I can finally see it, I honestly may just walk it to conserve energy. If I’m feeling good and not too cold by the time I hit the top, I’m giving myself the permission to GO. I know it won’t be a PR, but being well aware that I am capable of strong negative splits, I know a strong second half of the race is in me.

If I decide it’s a day to hold back and truly run as a “long run” (probably a smarter decision), I’ll be more likely to race on Sunday at my next race!

What’s the coldest race you’ve ever run? THIS ONE. Although the last race was pretty cold as well.

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Up Next: Rock and Roll DC!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock and Roll DC as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
As I’ve shared in my last few weekly recaps, I’m running the Rock and Roll DC half marathon in just a week and a half! This race has been on my wish list ever since I started running. I’m so excited that it’s finally happening for me! Lets look  at the 5 reasons why I’m excited for this race:
1. Washington, DC is one of my favorite places. There are simply so many beautiful places. I’m looking forward to that the course is vastly different than the Marine Corps Marathon, and I’ll get to explore new areas of the city.
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2. The expo! – It sounds silly, but I’m excited for the expo for a couple of reasons. I hope to meet up with some other Bib Rave Pro’s, but I also am excited to hit up the Hoka booth! They have two new shoes, the Arahi and the Graviota, that I’m dying to try on. As far as I know, local stores aren’t selling them yet. My first pair of Hokas now have over 300 miles on them (and the second pair has almost 150), so it’s time to start looking for a new pair 😉
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One of the first runs in my Hoka One One Clifton’s this summer – love at first run.
3. It’ll be my 13th half marathon – there’s just something that sticks out to be about the 13th 13.1. It also falls at a great time in my marathon training. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll run for time or use the race as a training run.
4. A short getaway – I’m taking a half (or maybe a whole day) to go to the expo on Friday, and I got a hotel near the metro. No, the race isn’t all that far from me. But a night away to relax is just what I’ve been needing. This race falls after a busy two weeks at work so it will be a nice reward.
5. A HUGE race – This is likely going to be the second biggest race I’ve run. I like the idea of running with a lot of people, as having someone to pass always pushes me a little harder. This is also putting me out of my comfort zone. The logistics of Rock and Roll races have scared me in the past, and I’m excited to finally tackle that fear. My friend, Ava, is running too and I hope to see her!
If you want to run with me – it’s not too late! Online registration is open through 3/4/17. Save $15 off the half or marathon distances with the code BIBRAVE15 (which is also good for any RNR race, half or full distance with the exception of Carlsbad, which is good for the two distances.)
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Have you run any Rock and Roll races? In 2017 I have this one and Philly on my list!

Half at the Hamptons 2016: Training Recap + Race Prep

On Sunday I finally ran my first half marathon of the year, the Half at the Hamptons! I had been really looking forward to this race as it was my first half marathon (in 2010). I was ready to go back fully in love with running and properly trained.

Half at the Hamptons 2016Training Recap + Race Prep

The training plan: I set up my own training plan, borrowing a basic framework from Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan. I added in a speed work/tempo day that alternated each week and had 4 scheduled runs a week. I know my body runs great at 3 runs a week, but I wanted to challenge myself more to make those gains.

Everything was great for the whole month of January, then it wasn’t. I don’t know what it was – the increase in yoga (did I maybe pull/strain something?), or increasing my intervals to 800’s from 400’s (very new to me), but something started feeling wrong in my right quad and increasing ITB pain. After an awful long run the first week of February, the leg kept feeling worse and worse.

Three weeks before the race I took a really easy week. It honestly didn’t change much with the quad pain that eventually spread to my hip, and my ITB pain has gone through ebbs and flows since high school (even when I did marching band). The quad bothered me when sitting at work all day, but once I started to run it didn’t hurt at all. I cut out the speed work to keep my leg from getting worse while I monitored it. My longest long run for the race ended up being 9 miles. The last three weeks I ran easy, knowing if the pain got worse while running I’d stop and make a Dr.’s appointment.

I ran a total of 132.55 miles while training for this race. I wish it had been at least 150, but I was smart and listened to my body so I could make that start/finish line.

While it wasn’t the perfect build-up, I’m still proud of that first month – sticking to the training plan I made and having a month of fantastic runs.


 

The weather for race day was a high of about 40 degrees. In New Hampshire there can be a warm 40, and a cold 40, especially by the ocean. I had no idea what to pack. On Friday I set out my Flat Sam and packed up, but also brought two other shirts and a vest with me.

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Since the race was on Sunday and it was about 2.5 hours from where I live, I left Saturday and spent the night with my uncle in nearby Newcastle, New Hampshire. My mom was coming for the race too, and we spent the afternoon shopping and seeing Eddie the Eagle at the nicest movie theater ever.

When I got to my uncle’s he had beer ready for me as we got ready to go to dinner at the fanciest place I’ve ever been (I didn’t even dare to take my phone out to take a picture, can’t find any online). After a dinner of chicken and potatoes (HOLY DELICIOUS), citrus sorbet and prosecco, I was in bed and ready for the morning ahead of me!

2016 Racing!

I am so so excited to go into next year in great shape after a good 6-7 weeks (so far) of building my base back up and running consistently. Part of this is because I’m looking forward to some “serious” (as in every weekend I can) racing when I move to Maryland. I’ve had my wish list of 2016 races written for at least a month, and I think it’s finally time to share what I’ve got so far! Bold races are defintes, italics are most likely, regular-type races are on my wish list if I’m able to/with my job/etc.

3/6: Half at the Hamptons, Hampton Beach, NH. I’m going back to where it all started, 6 years laterThis lines up perfectly with being the day before my really really really super duper important speech language pathology praxis exam. I’ll be fired up from all the stress, I’m sure.

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4/17: Great Bay Half Marathon, Newmarket, NH. Dependent on if some family is around to provide me with a place to stay 🙂 (also, 1ish week before the biggest presentation of my life…once again – fired up)

6/4: Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon, Annapolis, MD. *I was thrilled last week to find out that I was selected to be an ambassador! I will have a coupon code for you all soon for any 2016 Zooma race of your choice!*

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9/3: Charles St 12 (miler), Baltimore, MD. Seeking revenge for the awful race that I had in 2014!

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Pain train + WOW my legs used to be skinny! –> The 2014 12 miler took me longer than any 13.1 since then. It was AWFUL.

9/18: Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, Philadelphia, PA

10/1-2: Crawlin Crab Half Marathon and 5K (Shell Yeah! Challenge), Virginia Beach, VA

10/15: Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon (and maybe 5K), Baltimore, MD. I asked for registration for Christmas so hopefully this one will be a 100% definite soon.

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Worst race (time wise) of 2015, but the best in almost every other way.

10/16: Runner’s World Running Festival Half Marathon, Bethlehem, PA** I’m strangely considering a double weekend, I’m not sure if I’m crazy enough to actually do it**

10/25: Marine Corps 10K, Washington, DC. I’m not ready for a marathon yet, but I’ve got to take place in this weekend.

11/22: Philadelphia Half Marathon, Philadelphia, PA **Fall goal race**

love seeing 7 halfs that I know I want to do. I am a little nuts and would love to do 10 half marathons in 2015, but I know I have to be reasonable with myself. Not only am I moving, but I don’t know when I will have a job, and if that job will include working weekends. There also aren’t many halfs in the Baltimore/DC area in the summer, for good reasons.  At this point I’m most excited to see what I can do with more consistent races as well as bigger races. There will likely be some 5Ks thrown in, but I’m not planning those super far ahead.

I’m hoping that having so many half marathons lined up will keep me away from the Marathon. I know I want to run one, for sure. After my late summer injury during marathon training, I’m not even close to being ready emotionally to sign up for another one just yet, which I’ll go into more details about soon. I’m thinking in 2017….because 26 miles in my 26th year would be cool, I think.

Another lofty race is a potential snowshoe race in January, but we’ll see how good I get on snowshoes by then.

Do you already have any plans for next year? Is there a race that you do every year? The Baltimore Half will be an every year thing for me, I’m sure!

 

Baltimore Half Marathon – Race Recap

First of all I want to thank my family and friends (including Rebecca!) for donating to my run for Kennedy Krieger! I was able to raise $250 for a cause that I support so strongly!

Not even a week ago, I hopped in my car to drive 500+ miles south to Baltimore. I’d begun training for a marathon, got hurt and took a month off running, and did a short, low-mileage half-marathon “training plan”. I’d been dreaming of running the Baltimore half-marathon one day, and the time had finally come.

Pre-Cap (?)

I had a great time the Thursday before the race. I stopped by Kennedy Krieger to pick up my charity bag and then after driving through the hood  and getting lost I finally made it downtown. After grabbing a drink with a friend we went to the expo! This was my first ever race “expo”. It was super overwhelming but I sort of loved it. THERE WAS SO MUCH STUFF! However, I didn’t love how it was organized; making you to walk from one end to another, through all the crowds to get your bib and shirt. It made sense in a way, but I ended up feeling super disorganized. I went through once with my friend Ben, and again with Beth. All in all, I liked the expo, loved all the shopping, and was happy I only spent about $70. I could have done a lot more damage!

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Finish line set-up!

I spent the day before the race relaxing – spending time with friends while watching too much Friends. I ate lots of spaghetti, had a couple glasses of wine and of course set out my “Flat Sam.” I was feeling really good going into Saturday morning.

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Race Morning

On Saturday we (Beth, her Aunt, and I) were up bright and early to drive to the lightrail. I had just an english muffin for breakfast, which I later learned was not nearly enough. We were downtown by 8:45 with an hour for stretching, bathroom stops, and pondering what we were about to do. It was chilly, so I was super thankful that Beth’s Aunt gave us clothes she was going to donate to use for throw-aways.

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Beautiful, but chilly morning!

I was so ready when the gun went off at 9:45. About 10 minutes later we crossed the start and I knew I wanted a PR. I knew to take it easy the first few miles for the hills. I tried to go out a bit more conservative, while staying on pace for what my current PR is (2:15). 5 miles later I regretted it. I regretted everything.

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It didn’t take too long for my too-fast start to catch up with me. The hills were killer. I expected them, I knew I should have gone out easier, but they were harder and more frequent than I expected. By mile 4, my quads were on fire and my right hip was really bothering me. It wasn’t bad to the point of needing to stop and walk outside of my prescribed 4:1 ratio, but it definitely nagged me for the rest of the race. I eventually re-evaluated my goal to simply finish under 2:20 (spoiler alert -didn’t happen).

That smile and wave don't match how my quads were feeling.
That smile and wave don’t match how my quads were feeling.

It was around mile 7 that I got awful hunger pains and a splitting headache. I wasn’t able to stomach my second gu at 90 minutes and taking some peanut M&Ms from someone ended up in me almost puking on the person in front of me. I also thought for some odd reason that the course flattened in the second half. Nope, nope, and nope. I have never felt so physically awful during a race. If the hip pain wasn’t enough, my stomach felt absolutely horrendous. I spent most of my 1:00 walk breaks trying not to keel over.

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As expected, once the stomach ache and head ache hit, my legs were already shot from the hills and weren’t coming back for me. While my pace slowed and my goals fell further from reach, my spirits stayed surprisingly high. I took an extra walk break when I needed it at mile 12, and was able to finish the last 1.1 miles at a decent-enough pace for how I was feeling.

"I won't puke. I won't puke."
“I won’t puke. I won’t puke.”

As awful as I felt, the last half mile was incredible. The people of Baltimore lined the streets, I could see Camden yards, and I could hear the finish music. This was the moment I’d been dreaming of, running through the stadium. I forgot how awful I felt and while I didn’t have a kick left in me, I finished with all I had. Hearing my name over the loud speaker was incredible, and I was so proud when people yelled “Go Kennedy Krieger!”.

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I finished with my slowest time of the year, 10 minutes slower than my PR. It sucked, really sucked. I wanted a PR to bad, and I ruined it with going out too fast and not eating enough. However, I’m not mad. While this race didn’t go as planned, it was perfect in many ways. 

  •  I finished feeling sick, but also feeling healthy. Sure, I had aches and pains, but no part of me felt injured. After going through my injury this summer, that was my main priority.
  • There was never a point where I hated running. Typically during a half, I get to mile 10 and hate my life. While I hated how I felt, I never once wanted to stop running. I was determined to finish, especially for the Kennedy Krieger Athletes and all who had supported my fundraising.
  • It was a welcome reminder that you can’t always PR, and that this course isn’t necessarily for PRing.
  • I finished way off from my goal and with my second slowest half marathon time, but the second I finished I was ready to sign up for another half. Heck, I was ready to sign up for the 2016 Baltimore Half right then and there (I didn’t, I don’t even know if I could. HA!)
  • I love large races! I loved always running with people instead of being nearly alone half the time. Loved. It.

This race was such a learning experience for me. It was my first race where I experienced major fueling problems. It was also my first large race. I learned how strong my mentality can be even when my body is rebelling. I ran the streets of the city I love with people who also love it, as I had dreamed of since I was a freshman in college. While the race didn’t go as planned, I’ll be back next year, happy as can be (and hopefully with more food in my stomach).

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Harpoon Octoberfest Race Recap

On Sunday I made the drive down to Windsor, Vermont for the Harpoon Octoberfest Race (3.6 miles) at the Harpoon Brewery. I’d been wanting to go there for a long time, and I figured this was my perfect opportunity since I had a long weekend from school. I signed up just a week beforehand and was really excited to test out my race strategy/outfit before the Baltimore Half Marathon.

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My friend Sam and I pulled off the interstate at 10ish and immediately ran into some traffic getting into the brewery. Thankfully we were parked by 10:20 and by 10:35 I had my bib, beer wristband, and beer tickets. There were so many people in festive outfits which totally made me in the mood for this Octoberfest run. I loved being in my element and getting to share it with a friend from school. After a quick stretch I placed myself about 3/4 of the way back in the start corral and waited for the gun my garmin to fail to connect to the satellites.

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SO HAPPY to be at brewery #20 (#13 in Vermont).

I was so socked in for the first mile to mile and a half. There were over 1,100 racers and I was right in the middle of all of them. The worst was about .25 miles in, as we went through a steep, narrow uphill out of the brewery. Thankfully I was able to run to the side so I wasn’t stuck walking behind everyone before my walk interval began! I hated only having my watch read the time. I reached the 1 mile marker in 10:33. Much slower than I wanted, but it could have been worse for all the weaving and slowing down I had to do. There were also three good hills in the first mile.

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Mile 2 was really good, as there were two good downhills in the section. I finally started feeling good and had more room. My running pace was faster and I hit the 2 mile marker (next to a german band) with a 9:22 mile 2. Then came an awful uphill that I was so happy to make it up running but died at the top. Then another hill. It was brutal. My third mile was 10:40 and I was mad! 

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Finally I could hear the music from the brewery and I stepped it up. I knew I wanted to finish the 3.6 mile race in under 36:00. I gave it all I had and before I knew it, I was at a steep downhill going back down into the brewery. I started passing everyone in front of me and finished with my watch reading 35:40. Yeah, I was a little happy to run the last .6 miles at an 8:30 pace for an average pace of 9:45 and 637th place.

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My favorite part of this race? The beer mug! We were given it filled with water (perfect), and got to fill it with beer during the Octoberfest festival that followed. It’s my new favorite cup. But honestly, I finished this race loving everything. I was on a runner’s high through Monday night. Plus, after I was done running Sam and I had a great time having a few beers, listening to the “oompah music” and people/dog watching.

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Race Strategy: 

While my garmin never connected to the satellites I still ran with it to keep to my 4:1 run:walk intervals. Sure, I probably could have done this race straight out, but my main goal for this race was to get a feel for what this weekend’s half marathon will be like. I plan on doing intervals, as that’s how I’ve been training to come back from my leg injury. I wanted to know what it felt like to do the intervals during a race. To be honest it completely sucked at first. It sucks to be passed, especially while walking just 4 minutes into the race. But it was also very nice to pass people, as the walking made me able to push the pace in my running segments. I was also happy to run all the hills, as I’ll be facing quite a few in Baltimore.

Race Details:  11 am start (LOVE). $40 reg, which came with two beer tickets, a food ticket, and the souvenir glass. T-shirts were available for $25. Instant results were available for the field of 1,136 (big for Vermont!). Octoberfest followed where you could drink and eat all day! There were fun bands and activities like “keg bowling”. We didn’t stay too long but I loved what we saw. Top runners won nice steins/glasses and cases of Harpoon beer. Free race pictures are available as well. I can’t wait to see mine when they are finally available!

While I plan to be in Maryland this time next year, I would totally travel back to Vermont for this race. The course was challenging but manageable, everyone was having a great time, and the Octoberfest festival was a blast. I wish we could have stayed longer but there’s no way I could have stayed then driven home :P. This race definitely made me feel confident about where I’m at. I can’t believe I’ll be running half marathon #6 is just 3 days away!

Race Recap: Wildman Biathlon (Part 1)

Like I shared last week, I was heading home to New Hampshire to participate in the Wildman Biathlon with my Uncle Denis. I was happy to get Friday off from work and was able to head home Thursday night. It was a last minute shift change, so I set out my outfits quickly, packed up, and hit the road after getting dinner with a friend!

Flat Sam.
Flat Sam.

On Friday evening my mom and I went to pick up the race packets, and she found out where she would be volunteering the next day. While we did that my uncle drove the bike course to “feel the hills” for the next morning. We had a not-so-typical pre-race meal of pizza, because whenever he comes home he has to have it. It hit the spot, but I was a bit nervous about not having pasta the night before a race.

I was up at 5:45 the next morning for a breakfast of a banana, a slice of cold pizza (a must), and a Red Bull (I was hardly awake). We were told to be at the race for 7:30, and got there around 7:20. It was a small race this year, with only 50 individual athletes and 13 teams (14, but 1 DNF’d) so the start area was pretty calm. I definitely waited a little too long to go to the port-a-pot and was really rushed at the start!

See me in the skirt? Taken from the Wildman's facebook page.
See me in the skirt? Taken from the Wildman’s facebook page.

Let me start with going into the 10K, I knew I would come in close to last, if not last, especially when I saw how small the field was. The Wildman is a competitive race and I know that I’m not a “fast” runner. I knew that all I could do was my best, and hopefully there would be someone slower than me in the field…When I took off on the out-and-back course, I waved goodbye to my family, knowing that I would have to fight alone for 6.2 miles.

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The course was relatively flat with a few short, steep hills. There were no spectators after the start aside from the 4 water stations. Very quickly I found myself alone with two older men, one ahead of me and one behind me. I don’t know when, but at some point the one behind me must have dropped out. I ran straight through the first 4 miles, then really focused on trying to catch the person ahead of me. Around mile 4 I started doing 4:1 intervals, hoping I would be able to gain some speed with some little walking breaks. I did speed up a little in the last mile, but not enough.

I fought to pass the man ahead of me, but he ended up winning the battle. He was 80 years old and I give him major props for doing the race as a solo entrant. I wish I can be in that kind of shape when I’m 80! So yes, I came in last for the 10k portion, however, this was my second fastest 10K time, and the fastest in a year. It was only about 20 seconds off my fastest time. There’s not many races where you can run a 10:08 avg. pace and still come in last. It stunk, but it didn’t hurt my spirits. It couldn’t – I had another leg to run!

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Right as I crossed the timing mat, my uncle took off on his 22.3 mile bike. My grandma and I hopped in the car and passed him on his first loop of the course. I had just enough time to go home and change and have some solid food (goldfish!). Just as my grandma and I were heading out to the mountain, my uncle passed by at the end of my street (about mile 15) as he was reaching his 45 minute mark. He was killing it! Once we got to the mountain we just had to wait for him. He finished in 1:26 and then I was off on my journey up the mountain!

Denis coming in on the bike.
Denis coming in on the bike.

Since this is getting long, I’ll be back tomorrow with my trek up the mountain and our final results!

Have you ever come in last in a race? Someone has to be the one…and it was me.