Thursday, February 7, 2013

Surf City Loopfest and Pikermi - One Big Happy

I remember how it felt the first time I flew across the country to meet internet strangers. It was kind of scary, exciting, strange. Of course it turned out to be a fabulous time. Incredibly fun and surreal and amazing to realize that it was possible to meet "famous" people from the internet and bond instantly like old friends.

This amazingness from Marshall 2010 was repeated in Philly 2011, and several times in 2012. Always the same, but gradually changing from meeting strangers to meeting friends.

So for the first Loopfest of 2013, it turned out that I had already met every single loopster attending. So (for me) it was just friends getting together for a race weekend, who happened to have met on the internet. I liked it.

We had nine out of town guests, and seven stayed at my house, so Chez Bangle was Loopfest Central! Add in seven local loopsters and we had a good party going!

On Friday people were arriving and we gathered for dinner at the home of IMustBeBananas. She and her family had put together a tableful of fabulous food, and we tried our best to put a dent into it.

Saturday started out bright and early with a shake-out run at 8:00. I wanted to show people where I run, so we did about 3 miles that caught part of my woodchip trail as well as a mile along the beach. We also went out on the pier, and then under it and ran in the sand. Some uncoordinated types managed to get their shoes wet in the waves. But it was a blast to share my trails with these visiting celebrities. And we avoided getting ticketed for bringing my dog on the beach.

First time in the Pacific!

We returned home to find AtomBuddy cooking us breakfast. Delicious pumpkin pancakes and lots of bacon!

Then we all headed down to the expo. It's a big one. Lots of food giveaways to snack on. I fell into a timeshare condo pitch accidentally - what the hell are they doing here? But we got away and wandered the beach and took some awesome JB photos.

Then it was back to my place for more food, drinks, boggle, and loop love.

Abby's husband Clark won the prize for most beers tasted. What was it, ten? The night before his first pikermi? Well, it was vacation.

Then it was a fruitless effort for a good night's sleep before race day.

Part 2 - Race Day:

Throughout my long racing career, it has always been about me. Each race, I went out and did my best. Set my own goals, ran hard, recorded everything, tried to beat PRs. Sure, in high school I ran as part of a team, but I generally was running to do my best every race. Otherwise, what's the point?

Well, maybe I'm growing up or something, but I have turned a little more philanthropic lately. Last year I volunteered for the first time. And at Surf City I chose to NOT run as hard as I could, in favor of being a pacer for PegLeg, Of course, being in sad shape after some downtime made the decision easier, since I could not come close to a PR if I tried. But I was also excited to help Peg get to her goal of a sub-2 Pikermi, after she missed out at Marshall and was forced to pull out of another one.

As Loopfest got closer, both Mild Sauce and Atom Buddy joined in the fun, so the 3 of us would be our own little sub-2 pacing group to get Peg to the promised land. I've also been coaching Peg and felt pretty good about her chances to not just break 2, but go sub-9 pace and run closer to 1:55.

Race day was a bit of a zoo with 20,000 runners, so we just got to our corral about ten minutes before the start. Miscommunication led to AB being in the corral behind us, but we were able to relay messages through sideline loopsters JB and Alice, so he knew he would have to run a little faster to catch us mid-race. Which was good for his workout plan.

My pacing plan was to go out close to 9 minute pace, and be at or below 9 by mile 3. Mile 4 had a hill, but then I hoped we could go sub-9 from mile 5 on and as long as Peg could hang. Peg gave her Garmin to Mild Sauce, so was dependent on whatever we told her.

So, off we went, on a beautiful, mostly sunny So Cal morning. Temps in the mid 50's. I had my camera in my waist pack, but I only took one shot during the race. This was mile 2, chasing ponytails on Pacific Coast Highway.

We started out a little over 9 as we moved through the crowd, but the adrenaline was flowing and soon we were sub-9 and finished mile 1 in 8:49. Sauce and I were working together to keep the pace a little slower. Miles 2 and 3 were steady at 8:53 and 8:54. Banking time under 9. I joked we were doing the Bank and Bonk strategy. Little did I know...

Mile 4 was the only decent hill on the course. Peg started complaining about every little rise for a while, but I tried to stay professional and not call her a whiner. Sauce was there for that. Mile 4 was 9:05, but mile 5 was mostly down and was 8:46. Looking good! It was fun for me because this is my easy training pace, but not too slow to be annoying. I didn't really feel like going faster. I guess I had bought in to the plan. However just because it felt easy for me, I couldn't really "feel" how hard it was for Peg. This was her race pace after all.

Mile 6 we were still moving good, with a downhill 8:42, but during mile 7 Peg started to hurt. It was getting warmer in the sun. She slowed to eat her beans and drink her water and we started to give it back. 7 was 8:57 and 8 was 9:10.

At about this time, AB caught up with us. He was happy and excited to see us, and was used to running sub 8:30's, so I had to restrain him and get him back to our pace. But it was a nice little boost to become a group of 4. Peg now had 3 people urging her forward, and she was needing it, because her body was tiring. She started to get really nauseous, and had to take a few short walk breaks when she thought she was about to hurl. But she always got back going within 5-10 steps. Mile 9 was 9:00.

Mile 10 had a little hill, the sun was getting warm and in our face, and the finish seemed a long way off. Peg was in trouble, but she kept on going. Sauce, AB and I tried to think of ways to motivate her - going through our long histories of racing and trying every trick in the book. When she was running, the pace was good, but she stopped to walk about every 1/2 mile or so with the nausea. Mile 10 was 9:24, and mile 11 was 9:45!

I start doing the math. She needed about 9:30 pace the rest of the way to go sub-2. If she just keeps moving she's got it. She showed some flashes of picking it up. But also had to stop to walk off the puke sensations. Mile 12 was 9:30.

Now with a mile to go, we really started heavy coaching. ALMOST THERE! NO MORE WALKING! YOU CAN DO IT! She showed tons of guts and kept plugging, although she took one last walk break with only 1/2 mile to go. As mile 13 approached it looked like we had it. Mile 13: 9:28.

Still struggling. I asked AB and MS to get behind her for finish photos. Suddenly, she was gone, kicking into a new gear. Saucy was screaming in her ear to get her butt moving, and she raced the last 200 yards like crazy! AB and I could not even keep up! And we got these fabulous photos!

Last .16 on my Garmin at 8:08 pace. Official time: 1:59:37!!!!!

Then the tears, the hugs, the joy, the cramps, the pain, the endorphins, the medals, and finally, the beer garden. Happiest Place on Earth. We all found each other and shared stories, drank, and took pictures. Look at this big, happy family!

Seriously, that hour in the beer tent was so much fun. Exhausted happy (stinky) people. Then some of us walked to the ocean for a saltwater ice bath, and then the long slow walk down the beach to the car.

Eventually we got cleaned up and headed over to Alice's for another party. More tons of food and drink, football and karaoke! A lot of us were tired, so it didn't hit the heights of craziness like last year, but it was great time with good friends, many of whom can really sing!

Now it's over, and the usual loopfest hangover has kicked in. But I know it won't be long until we all meet again. That's what families do.


  1. Loved reading this; you have a very wonderful 'family' and love how much you all connect. Great job on the pacing duties and no doubt you'll all get to meet again soon for another big date. I hear it's a ultra this time!! :)