Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Volksläufe Part II

First off let me say that my race preparation during the prior day of any race is not exactly commendable.  I was pretty good in setting everything out for the next morning, but as far as eating right, resting, hydrating, and getting a good night's sleep, those things never seem to happen. 

My Sunday plan was as follows:  go to church early, hang out with family and friends for a couple hours, go to Frankenmuth for the race expo, pick up my packet, have a nice spaghetti dinner, come home early, relax while drinking lots of water, and go to bed about 10pm.

However it went much more like this:  church at noon, family cook-out till 3:00 (but missed most of the food which wasn't cooked yet), rush back home to meet my friends at my place, watch Tigers game, fiance goes to Frankenmuth for fun and fireworks without me because my friends just want to sit and hang out, watch multiple episodes of "The Good Guys" with them on Netflix until about 10:30 (all the while drinking Labatts and eating pizza and wings from Wizeguys), clean up the man mess and finish laundry, wait until my fiance gets home, yadda yadda yadda, go to sleep at 2:30am.

I tried my best to get a little water in before I went to bed, but that's just not the way to prep for races.  I really am taking a lot of them lightly these days.  I don't have this overwhelming sensation that I'm biting off more than I can chew, and it's to the point where any distance I run just doesn't scare me anymore.  Of course this can all flip around with a tight muscle before the start, but so far I haven't had too many barriers stop me from running at least what I consider a respectable race.  Even this past week after the Solstice Run I didn't run a bit until Saturday with Jason, where we both took it easy.  Of course work caused that on my end, a bit, but I should have forced myself out during the waning hours of the day for at least one weekday run.
Where most good trips to Frankenmuth start.  The big permanent "tent."

For the Volksläufe this year, I decided to step up with the big boys and girls (or is it little, because they're actually smaller) to run the 20K.  Last year we did the 5K, and we ate pancakes before and had a beer after, but my friend and I weren't so sure that would be the way to go with the extended distance.  We ended up splitting on that decision, and I got myself a stack of pancakes before the race.  Jason opted out of them.  I figured it was a good way to spit in the face of the long race and just tempt it to give me a big side cramp or possibly a nice spew halfway through.  Like I said, I'm getting bold and reckless when it comes to these races, which just makes me think more and more I need to get pimp-slapped by a marathon at some point.

After the pancakes we made our way to the start and wondered where everyone was, only to find out the 10K and 20K started a little west of the 5K, and realized we were getting really close to race time.  In fact we were lucky the 10K started at 8:00 and we were at 8:10, because we barely made it in time to see the 10Kers off and to get in some last minute stretching after the national anthem.  With the race actually on the 4th this year, there were a lot of folks dressed in red, white, and blue (myself included, but much more modestly). 

Where we were

Where we should have been

After the 10Kers vacated and I watched my coworker come running behind them, because he likely did exactly what we did, we lined up on the grass for the start.  It was hot and bright out, and I just realized I forgot to put on sunscreen, but at least I had my sunglasses this time.  The cannon went off for the race, and after the initial jump we all had, we began to run.  I immediately started sweating and, having never used my sunglasses in a run before, found out immediately that radiating body moisture and tinted glass don't work all that well together.  I needed some wipers on the inside, so for the time being it was goodbye to the dark realm and hello lots of squinting.

About 2 miles in a small plane went directly over the road we were on, only a bit above power line high, landing on the other side of the road at "Tiny" Zehnder Field Airport.  It was a nice little unintentional race touch to keep us all from being bored with the flat open roads we were on for the first half of the race.  That's all it was too, open roads near farm land without any shade or anything else.  You'll get that in a lot of the long races, though, and at least you can see (mostly smell, though) some animals here and there in the distance.  The water stations were set up nicely about every 3 km, and there were a lot of neighbors our with sprinkers and hoses going for us, so I didn't get into many situations where I was wanting for something too much. 

I just kept a nice pace on the front half, and didn't really even push to the point where I'd have to do a lot of mouth-breathing.  Before I knew it I was crossing a sign that said 9km/20km and a bunch of people dressed in Christmas attire, with decorations all over, and confetti coming down from above.  Of course I'm referring to the Bronners people (where it's always Christmas).  During that water stop I somehow managed to get a couple pieces of confetti in my mouth along with my water, and I ended up losing half the water trying to spit out the paper stuck to my tongue.  To the outside observer it may have looked like I was just puking water or something, but luckily I was not really around too many people.  Not that I'm ever all that grace-filled normally, but I'm glad nobody seemed to see that paper/water gulp and gag.  Needless to say I needed the 12km water stop pretty badly when it came around.

It was also about that time that we were hitting more country roads, and I noticed when turning down one that Jason was still there right behind me waiting to strike.  I was kind of surprised he hadn't passed me at this point, but I figured it would be coming.  I also was starting to recognize the route we were on as the Winterläufe route when we hit the bridge, so I knew there were hills to come, and I thought for sure he'd get me then.  Not that I was worried about it, I just figured it was inevitable because he'd beat me so badly before on the Crim and Martian.

I took the hills pretty nicely, though, and I even had the energy to go out of my way to high-five a giant inflatable Sparty with the woman next to me, who must work for MSU in some capacity from what she was saying about them giving her money.  We were going off course, though, and the race official kept waving us back in, but we continued to commit the running foul and went over to Sparty anyway.  About another mile and a half, there was a band playing the chicken dance, and I joined in on that too.  I was officially having too much fun out there.  Jason later said he was thinking "I'm just trying to keep the energy to run, and he's up there chicken dancing and goofing off."  Maybe I got in his head a bit with that, ha ha, because he never did pass me.  He never fell behind, either.  I pulled a small distance ahead early, just after the plane fly-over, and he stayed about that exact distance away the entire time.  I guess there were a few points during water stops where he said he got right behind me, but I pulled ahead because I've now learned to drink and run without stopping.

We finished pretty much back-to-back with late 2:07/early 2:08 times, and started drinking water like a couple of restocking camels.  There was a lot of great stuff there for us.  We had Gatorade, apples, bananas, popsicles, bagels, etc.  It was a nice setup.  At this point I just appreciate getting water right away, anymore, but all that was very impressive.  I had to have a Gatorade after the water, and an apple after that, and a popsicle after that (red,white, and blue bomb pops!  Love it!).

Gatorade.  Are you in it?

 After the initial settling down, we grabbed the camera and some money for a beer.  Jason grabbed a Frankenmuth Pilsner and I had a Frankenmuth Batch 69 (IPA) and sat down for a bit.  Pancakes, Running, and Beer, that's my Volksläufe tradition, and I'm going to keep it that way as long as they have them all.  Of course "tradition" right now is just something I've done twice and think I'll continue to do.  It's tradition the same way an expansion team has "tradition," so I'm not sure it counts for that much yet.  I don't know, I would think all those pancake flavored burps along the 12.4 miles would count for something.

How about you?  Any race traditions you have in general or traditions for a specific race?


  1. Well done guys! I have not heard about this race! I will have to mark it down so I can keep it on my radar for next year. I really want to run a race in Frakenmuth sometime. I love that Jason was evil eyeing you as you goofed off! LOL! Cheers to a well run race and awesome race day traditions!

  2. You have at least two chances a year (that I know of) to run there with the Winterläufe and the Volksläufe. They both have their charms. Winterläufe can be a little treacherous, though, with the hills and the ice and snow.


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