Tag Archives: Marathon Expectations

Expectations for the Garmin Oz Marathon

The cables for the cable cars at the cable car museum in San Francisco.

The Cable Car Museum in San Francisco.

I’m on the road in California right now, heading to Kansas tomorrow to run the Garmin Oz Marathon on Saturday.  As per usual, I’m undertrained and planning on taking the race as slow and easy as the 15 minute per mile pace time limit allows (about a 6:30 total time limit).  But this time I’m also coming off more than a week of travel to California, where I went to a reunion and then enjoyed the sunshine and the free Cable Car Museum in San Francisco.  Needless to say, I did not get much sleep during the reunion, did not do any running, and have eaten a lot of “I’m-on-vacation-so-it-doesn’t-count” food (cheese-stuffed burritos and paninis on campus!  steak tacos and steak-steak two nights in a row!  two different kinds of peanut butter chocolate caramel fudge from Pier 39!), so I’m not feeling like a runner, let alone a marathoner right now.  But maybe an elaborate costume will help?


Because I’m a crazy person, I decided at the last minute to change my costume from the Tin Man to the Wicked Witch.  Why?  Because although I had visions of wearing shiny silver lame while running in the search of a heart, I realized that I would probably pass out from the heat before making it 26 miles dressed like a baked potato.  So, I thought maybe I’d just wear grey, but without the shine I don’t think it would read very well.


My sister mentioned going as the witch, and I realized that’s who I should have been going as all along.  Why?  Because even without Wicked the book/musical, she’s the best character.  All she wanted was her dead sister’s shoes.  Dorothy, besides being super twee and annoying, literally murdered the witch’s sister and then stole her shoes with the help of Glinda, who, after first taunting the witch, callously remarked that the witch must only want the shoes because “their magic must be very powerful.”  Yes, that must be why I want my grandmother’s hand-crocheted afghan – for its powerful magic.  Jeeze, Glinda, you are a monster.


Now, just because the Wicked Witch of the West is the best character doesn’t mean I necessarily want her on the medal or shirt.  But, since she is the theme this year, I might as well embrace it and go ugly.  Not sure if or how I’ll do the green face makeup yet, especially since the forecast is calling for highs in the mid to upper 70s that day and I expect to sweat my usual buckets, but I’m hoping the witch hat fits over my running hat with all the Gu’s tucked inside and gives me extra shade to boot.


Since this will be my 23rd marathon, I wasn’t particularly nervous about the distance until I watched this (8-minute long!) fly-over of the course.  Never has 26.2 miles felt so far before…  (And here’s a map of the course with the new start/finish at the Embassy Suites Hotel.)


At least I’ll have a full day before the race to explore Olathe and/or Kansas City (so hot right now, just profiled in the WSJ), so I might check out the trampoline place or watch a movie at the fancy IMAX dine-in theater, or just do my favorite activity of wandering the aisles of Target.  I was interested in touring the Shatto Milk Company but it’s north of Kansas City and over an hour drive from Olathe, so I’ll probably skip the cows this time.


Finally, I’ll pull back the curtain, as it were, on a little blog drama, and probably thereby break all the etiquette rules of blogging, but since I have no ads and make no money on this blog (yet… ever?), being very open/honest is one of the few perks.  Back in January I had a brief correspondence going with the Manager of Sports and Events of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce.  He saw my post about the Garmin medal unveiling and he liked it (despite it being negative?  Or did he not notice?), and said they were interested in comping my admission to the race in exchange for a blog post.  I was very excited, told him my annual site traffic, and asked for details.  He first gave me a list of topic ideas for content, then said they’d want to review anything before I posted it (both my “expectations” post and my race recap itself), and then said my eligibility for a free entry depended on that post’s traffic.  I was not thrilled with any sort of content managing or pre-approval of my posts (especially for a small reward like a single free entry), and before it got too complicated I told him again my average post’s traffic (spoiler alert, it’s not that high).  After telling him my stats I never heard back from him (not even to say “thanks but no thanks”).  So, no filter, baby!  I can pan this race as much as I want!  Well, I would have done that anyway, but now I can really nit-pick anything wrong with it.  (I am, of course, joking – I will be as biased or as unbiased as I am on this or any race.  Freedom of the uncompensated press!)


Do you go to your reunions?  Do you let yourself slack off on vacation or do you try to stick to your schedule?  Who’s your favorite character from the Wizard of Oz?  Did you notice my various Wizard of Oz-themed puns?  Share in the comments!

Expectations for the Little Rock Marathon

I hope this is the last time I ever have to say this, but I’m really not ready for this marathon.  I’ve run a total of 11 (eleven!) miles since the Mississippi Blues Marathon 2 months ago.  Eeeeshh.  I’ve gone to the occasional rowing and spin class (thank you, Class Pass!), but I’m also coming off a bout of the flu that knocked me out for a little over a week (I got the shot but still got sick).  So, yeah, I’m pretty psyched that this race has a cut-off time of 8 hours so I can walk the whole thing, if it comes down to it.

So many pace teams!

So many pace groups!

I was supposed to run Little Rock two years ago but my flight got cancelled and the only other flight would have gotten me into Little Rock very late after the packet pickup was over.  It was a blessing in disguise because that year they had a storm and “re-routed” the course for some people – there was confusion as to whether the race was actually cancelled or not, and it also depended where you were on the course, but I know I would have gotten pulled off, probably around mile 18, and I would have been so pissed.


This year, I’m flying in a day early and running the 5K on Saturday before the marathon on Sunday.  Ostensibly this was to avoid another travel snafu but probably it’s more because I wanted an additional medal.


So, my expectations regarding the race(s) are pretty limited.  I have no expectation on my time, and I don’t even have a good guess as to how long it will take me.  (6 hours?  6 and a half?  More?)  I think the course has some rolling hills plus one long hill from mile 18 to 19, so I’ll probably be walking all of that.  The weather looks pretty good – clear and 50 to 70 degrees.  I splurged on the VIP tent for pre- and post-race, so I hope that’ll be worth the $25.  They’ve teased the medal (click here for a photo) and while it’s large, it’s mostly cut-out (they said to reduce weight) and not that cute… But this is the year of ugly medals, so at least it’s got that going for it.


I’m looking forward to a big expo and seeing Little Rock for the first time – there seems to be an abundance of tasty restaurants, but I also packed this most delicious bread.  It’s the milkshake of breads in that it’s delicious, melts in your mouth, and is calorically dense but nutritionally devoid.


Or like the cotton candy of breads... either way, delicious.

Or it’s like the cotton candy of breads… either way, delicious.

See you in Little Rock!


Have you ever visited Little Rock?  Are you surprised to learn this is only the 14th Little Rock Marathon?  Do you think the Bachelor producers made Ben tell that second woman he loved her?  Have you ever tried that delicious pull bread?  Share in the comments!

Expectations for the MS Blues Marathon

The Mississippi Blues Marathon Route (courtesy MSBluesMarathon.com)

The Mississippi Blues Marathon Route (courtesy MSBluesMarathon.com)

Despite having run 3 marathons in the past 3 months, I’m pretty relaxed about this 4th marathon in as many months, mostly because the time cutoff is 7 hours, which means I can walk a lot.


However, in writing this post I discovered a note to myself saying the marathon is “hilly!” so my anxiety about this race just ticked up a bit, and my expectations of walking ticked up a lot.  I’ve also only run three (3!!!) times in the last month, the longest being 6 miles.  Definitely hoping to coast on my prior marathons and it won’t be pretty…


Speaking of not pretty, I was really excited for the medal, which has always been a super cool huge guitar, sometimes with a swinging pick, but they unveiled the design for this year, and I am disappoint.

Ugh, and the shirt is white.  :P

Ugh, and the shirt is white. 😛

I mean, seriously, look how amazing the medals are from prior years, and compare it to this year’s.

So cool and huge!

So cool and huge and sparkly!

I don’t want some dude playing my guitar, even if it is BB King.  And it’s not even BB King, it’s his legless torso with a pained, ghostly rictus.  It’s a weird, ugly medal that will grimace at me until I replace it with another Mississippi marathon medal (which will be never).  (I originally said “stare” at me, but his eyes are closed in sad resignation at this unappealing homage.)

I mean *really*

I mean *really*

Despite gas being only $1.90 a gallon (!!!) in downtown Jackson, I’m skipping the rental car since the hotel, expo, start, and finish are all within a few blocks of each other (and the rental car, with taxes, fees, and parking, will end up costing about as much as a taxi to and from the airport, but with a taxi I won’t have to worry about driving, navigating, or refueling before the return).


Forecast varies with a 30 to 80% chance of thunderstorms, so that’s not great, but temps will be in the 50s to mid 60s, which is ok.  I’ll be doing my anti-rain dance on Friday as I eat the first of potentially many fried chicken sandwiches, as there’s a Chick-fil-A directly across from the hotel.  Since I didn’t grow up eating Chick-fil-A and we only recently got a single location in NYC, it’s a “novelty” fast food restaurant for me, and thus anything eaten there doesn’t count.


Have you ever run the Mississippi Blues Marathon?  Do you hate this year’s medal?  Do you love Chick-fil-A?  Share in the comments!

Chicago marathon handbook and costume

Expectations for the Chicago Marathon

Chicago marathon handbook and costume

My Chicago Marathon handbook with some of my costume…

My Race Participant booklet arrived in the mail, and I’m increasingly nervous/excited for Chicago this Sunday!


In mid-September, before the Blerch half, I spent too many hours reading other blogger recaps of the Chicago Marathon.  Besides noticing that almost all running bloggers are women, here are my expectations for Chicago:


  • The expo is huge but well-organized (and there is little to no chance I leave without buying something).
  • It sounds like a lot of people take public transport or even cabs to the start, so I will look into that option (although sounds like catching a cab at the finish is very difficult).
  • The weather can range anywhere from upper 40s to 90s – and this Sunday’s forecast is 50/50 on rain, temps ranging from 49 to 58.
  • Garmins will not work well for at least the first several miles due to all the tall buildings.
  • Congestion on the course is not so bad (although most were running around 4:00, so who knows what it’s like in the back of the pack where I will be).
  • The marathon route offers a good tour of the city.
  • There are nice, long fluid stations with almost a a full city block of Gatorade followed by a full block of water (the perfect arrangement).
  • There are lots and lots of spectators and they are very loud.  This will be an interesting change for me since most of my recent marathons have been relatively small and/or with sparse crowd support.  I’ve decided not to wear headphones and almost want to bring earplugs (sometimes noisemakers can be too loud), but I probably won’t.
  • The flat course causes cramping (something I’ve been anticipating since even considering Chicago, so I’ve been trying to train more on the flats than usual but still am probably going to suffer some new malady from the repetitive flats).
  • The slight hill at mile 26 seems shocking in comparison to the rest of the flat course.
  • I expect to finish in about 6 hours, give or take a little (hopefully take).  I will be walking a lot, but not quite as much as in Hatfield McCoy (crossing fingers!).
  • You get a fun box of packaged food at the finish (like at Disney).  You also get one free beer!
  • The finish party area is a long walk from the finish line (like .8 miles).
  • Kinda ugly medal but last year’s shirt looked good.
  • I won’t make it out of Chicago without eating deep dish at least once.


Check out Runner’s World Magazine’s Chicago Marathon Coverage for more info and tips, including a nice video overview of the course (caution: video will automatically start playing).  I had to do a separate Google search to determine if “360 Chicago” (formerly John Hancock Observatory) is actually different than “SkyDeck Chicago” (aka Willis (formerly Sears) Tower) and not just a different “experience” at the same location.  It is, in fact, a different building and view.  I might try to do one of those on Saturday, and/or the Art Institute.  Luckily I already have tickets to Second City for Friday night, so I’ll be doing at least one iconic Chicago attraction, besides the pizza.


What are your expectations for Chicago?  Have any advice about Chicago, running or otherwise?  Do you think that the woman on the cover of the 2014 Participant Guide knows she’s on the cover of the 2014 Participant Guide, and do you think she’s super psyched or embarrassed?  Are you excited The Walking Dead is also premiering this Sunday?  Share in the comments!

No airports nearby Hatfield McCoy marathon

Hatfield McCoy Miniseries Review & Expectations for the Race

No airports nearby Hatfield McCoy marathon

This informs everything.  (From Hatfield McCoy Marathon’s FAQ.)

I just finished watching the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries starring Kevin Costner (the guy from Waterworld), Bill Paxton (the guy from Twister), and a bunch of other people who look familiar but I couldn’t place until IMDB (Johanna Mason from The Hunger Games, Sam from The Big Chill, Col. Jim Faith from MacGruber).  I wasted 4.5 hours of my life (it felt like much longer) so that you won’t have to.


MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD so if you feel like watching it (available streaming on Netflix) instead of reading my charming review, skip the next 5 paragraphs and go straight to “expectations.”  I don’t know if the miniseries is historically accurate, and there seems to be debate about what actually happened, but I do know this miniseries is boring and makes everyone involved look like terrible people.


The miniseries starts out mildly interesting, with a Hatfield and a McCoy fighting side-by-side in the Civil War (for the south, of course).  But within a few minutes Kevin Costner Devil Hatfield (his real name) deserts his troop in the middle of the night, and thus begins the story of the Hatfields looking like the absolute worst.  Now, both families come off looking terrible, but the fact that the Hatfields look so bad compared to the idiot McCoys should tell you just how bad the Hatfields come off.  I think that within the first 30 minutes various Hatfields (1) kill a slew of Yankees & then desert the army, (2) murder unarmed Yankee prisoners, (3) murder a McCoy sleeping in a cabin, (4) steal a pig from the McCoys, and (5) generally lie if not commit outright fraud, all before the McCoys even bother escalating the feud into something to actually get worked up about (e.g. murder).


Then there’s a stupid love story of a (hot) Hatfield boy impregnating loving a McCoy girl.  Despite repeatedly confessing his love for her and even getting shot & kidnapped by her brothers (separate events, oddly enough) and then saved from certain death because of the acts of the McCoy girl, the Hatfield boy ultimately won’t stand up for her in front of his father and thus becomes a certified douchebag.  Later he marries a different McCoy girl cuz lol why not yolo.  This is where the miniseries really gets really dull and confusing and I started only half-watching.  Little did I know that the stupid love story was the most entertaining part.  It gets super boring with lots of murders and stuff, back and forth, I can’t even care.  And when I can’t care that three young men get tied to trees and shot in cold blood, there’s clearly something wrong with the storytelling.


The third and final episode features a big shootout, but it’s all so stupid that I think that even if I had followed it closely it would have made about as much sense.  After the big battle there’s some pointless trial and everyone gets life in prison except the mentally challenged boy who gets death by hanging, because of course he does.  By the end I don’t even know who was killing who and I didn’t care.  I guess that was the point (to show how a feud benefits nobody), but it was all so stupid it was just a big waste of time.  If you need to watch a stupid miniseries to know not to start a blood feud with another family, then you shouldn’t have a Netflix account.


The show portrays both families as so stupid that I was seriously embarrassed for America as I watched this.  If this is what the world thinks of us, well, I’m going to start wearing a maple leaf when I travel.  It also seemed like literally everyone in the town was either a Hatfield or a McCoy, and except for that one pair of star-crossed lovers, the families did not “intermingle” if you know what I mean.  The amount of inbreeding that must have happened makes what Adam and Eve’s kids must’ve done look downright kosher.  The best thing about this show is that there were a lot of good-looking actors in it.  Either inbreeding creates really gorgeous people, or this was not historically accurate casting.


For the Hatfield McCoy Marathon, all the runners randomly get assigned to either the “Hatfield” team or the “McCoy” team, and whichever team has the lowest average time “wins” that year’s race.  I definitely feel more sympathetic to the McCoys (as a Yankee lawyer who doesn’t steal pigs or murder), but since I know I’ll have a terrible finishing time (if I finish at all), I also won’t mind being on the Hatfield team, just to bring them down as a McCoy mole.  The saddest thing is that it will take me much longer to finish the race than it took to watch the entire miniseries, and yet it might be easier to run 26 miles than watch that junk again.



hatfield mccoy marathon course elevation

No total elevation change given, but it’s safe to say “a lot.”

I have a lot of expectations for this weekend’s Hatfield McCoy Marathon.  Many are from reading other recaps about past HMMs, some are from the race’s own website, and some stem from my own unrelenting injuries and lack of fitness.  Let’s get started.


  • It will be a tough course.  It’s a small group of runners (meaning I will be alone for most of the race), it’s rural (so not a lot of spectators), and hilly (mile 6-7 is up “Blackberry Mountain” and features about 500 feet in elevation gain, or roughly a 9.5% grade for an entire mile).  Many bloggers commented that because much of the course is on the edge of the road, it’s sloped enough to aggravate your IT band.  This is great news, since I’ve already developed every other runner injury (runner’s knee, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis), so why not throw an IT band injury on there?  There’s also a couple miles near the end that are on a dirt road that might be pretty muddy due to all the rain this week.  The Weather Channel lists this as one of the top 15 toughest marathons in the world.  I hope that, as usual, the Weather Channel is wrong.
  • It will be hot.  Highs are forecasted to be in the mid-80s, and there are thunderstorms in the area all week, so it’ll be humid, too.  Plus, I will be wearing what amounts to almost a full-body compression suit because of my injuries, so I won’t exactly be dressed for a hot day.  Luckily, there will be water stops every mile, and I anticipate dumping a lot of water over my head.
  • It will be my slowest marathon ever, if I can even finish.  I am not in shape to run 26.2 miles.  I’m not in shape because I’m injured, and I can’t escape my injuries without getting in shape.  I’m stuck in a pretty bad Catch-22 right now, so until Yossarian comes to save me, I’m just going to hobble along.  This is my first serious DNF possibility, which will be a bummer, but I’m trying not to dwell on that too much until it happens.  My shin splints and knees feel (not great but) ok, but my plantar fasciitis is acting up enough that I finally booked an appointment with a doctor, but that’s not until later this month.  While I’ve definitely been undertrained in the past, I’ve never been this out-of-shape combined with injury combined with extra weight, so the only reason there’s even a possibility that I finish is that there’s no time limit.  (Shotgun to my head, I’d guess I’ll either DNF or finish in 6:15 to 6:30.)
  • It’s a great race.  Everyone raves about this race.  Everyone.  I can’t seem to find a bad review of it.  I don’t know if that’s because it only attracts the kind of people who find running 26 hilly miles in 85-degree humid conditions fun, or if they put moonshine in the water cups, or if people are just worried that if they say anything negative the Hatfields will set fire to their homes while they’re sleeping (true story), but it seems universally loved.
  • There will be a lot of 50-staters and Maniacs.  It’s officially a 50 States Marathon Club reunion race (my first!) and there’s a long list of people going, plus it’s a popular race with Marathon Maniacs, so basically everyone running will be dressed in red/white/blue or yellow singlets and be much, much faster than me.
  • There’s a Hatfield McCoy skit (with costumes!) at the pasta dinner.  The expo/free (for marathoners) pasta dinner/show all takes place at a local high school, and runners rave about the whole experience.  I’m pretty excited for it.  There also a free post-race meal for runners.  Two free meals?  Amazing.
  • There is a literal shotgun start to the race.  And no chip timing.  And a semi truck waiting at the top of Blackberry Mountain.  And the “world’s smallest” horses.  And costumed volunteers.  And potentially an opportunity for an airboat ride after the race (separate from the marathon, but still!).
  • A medal and moonshine jar await me at the finish.  If I can make it…


Did you ever watch the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries?  Would you rather run a marathon or have to watch that miniseries?  Have you ever gotten a DNF in a race?  Share in the comments!