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400 Miles

Center Field at Wrigley Field

400 is NOT JUST a Number

400 can mean a lot of different things to many people and situations. In New York, it may mean the NY 400, which is the New York State Route 400 in Erie County. Kentucky thinks of the number 400 as the 400 Mile Sale that spreads through the state. Cub fans think of 400 as the Center Field marker amongst the ivy covered wall. Maybe it is just the number between 399 and 401.

Mile Marker 400

Mile Marker 400

To me the number 400 is another milestone. On Saturday, 6 miles into my 10 mile run, I hit the 400 mile mark for running in 2010! WOOT HOOT AND YIPPEE EYE YEAH!!!!! How sweet is that?

Not only did I reach another goal, but I did it semi-naked.. Yes, I said semi-naked. I always run with my Garmin GPS 205 and my iPod. As I got ready for my run, in front of Road Runner Sports, on went my iPod and a flip of the switch… NOTHING! Turned it on and off a couple times, still NOTHING! That’s it I’m going home and back to bed! Well… I am already up and ready to run, so I decided to stay and tough it out semi-naked.

Flat Irons

The Flatirons

It was a beautiful Colorado morning, with clear blue skies and cooler temperatures. We started at 6:30am, so that helped with the milder temps. Off I went, music free. After about a mile or so, I really started noticing more that I had in the past. Heading West on the Big Dry Creek Trail to Standley Lake was a very familiar run. This run, was different. Birds, crickets,  and toads OH MY! What glorious sounds I was hearing! Is this what running semi-naked is like?! THIS IS GREAT! My run actually felt shorter than a normal 10 mile run, I think is was because I was looking around more to find the sounds I was hearing.

After getting to Standley Lake, I ran along the edge for a while just to hear the water hit the beach. Ah, that with the smell of campfires was perfect. There were a few water skiers out on the lake too. I hit mile 5, so it was time to turn around and head back to the store.

One mile East of the lake is when I hit 400 miles and did a little dance! Not sure if any humans saw me, but I know the hawk in the tree gave me a head tilt. I think he approved, once I told him what the jig was for. That is the great thing about running. Satisfaction can come in the many ways, whether it is a PR (Personal Record), finishing a marathon, hitting milestones, etc. Once back at the store, I celebrated once again by eating a BIG CHOCOLATE DONUT!

400 is not just a number. It is another milestone met, with many more to come.

Run Happy!

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Leadville 100 Trail Run

Leadville 10,152 FT

Leadville Elevation

Wednesday, I got a call from Emily, a personal trainer at Life Time Fitness, to see if I would be interested in pacing a runner at the Leadville 100 Trail Run on Saturday. I jumped on the opportunity right away without hesitation! WOW! Leadville! I had paced marathons and half marathons in the past, but had never done a trail run before.  This trail run would be like no other, it would climb to 12,580 on Hope Pass.

Life Time Fitness

Title Sponsor was Life Time Fitness

Our weather had been less than co-operative over the days leading up to the race. The Leadville area, along with the rest of Colorado, experienced large amounts of rain and mud. I wondered how the route would be on race day. Saturday arrived, what a great day for a race! The weather was BEAUTIFUL!!! The car was packed up and I was ready to head East for a great adventure.

At about 3pm, I arrived in Leadville. Found the Start/Finish line, so I got out and checked it out. It was pretty much a ghost town since the race had started at 4am and all where on their way.

After a bit of exploring, I headed to my pacing start, Twin Lakes. When I arrived, the highway was lined with cars on BOTH sides of the road, and every possible spot off the highway was packed with cars! OMG how am I EVER going to find anyone in this?! Pulled into the parking lot and did find a grassy area to park. I got out, and walked around a bit to get the lay of the land. Found where the runners enter the parking lot, which from there they continue up a side road and into the Check Point. Life Time Fitness had a tent set up next to the Check Point, and the only people in it, at the moment, were those seeking shade.  I did run into Kathy, a Life Time Member from Parker, then later Katie, from my location.

Profile

Leadville 100 Trail Run Elevation Profile

This is an out and back course. The runners would go 50 miles then turn around and head back. The portion I would be pacing with my runner was the 60-70mile markers (miles 40 to 30 on the elevation profile). They would just be getting back from climbing over Hope Pass TWICE (the large spike on the profile)! YOWZA!!!!

While I waited for the 7pm to 8pm mark to roll around, I ate a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some string cheese, carrots and then drank Gatorade & Water. I tried to take a short nap in my car, but I was too amped up.  Finally around 6pm I decided to change into my running gear. Doing this in the front seat of a car is quite the challenge.

Now I am ready to go! Grabbed all of my stuff and headed to the Life Time Fitness tent to meet Emily, Phoenix & Katie. We cheered on the runners that were continuing on their way – which was STRAIGHT UP A STEEP HILL! I said “Ummmmm… I’m NOT going up that… hee hee, just kidding”. Some kids were playing on this hill and getting in the way of the runners, so Phoenix went over and had them move out of the way. Of course one of them fell and got hurt, a kid that is, not a runner.

At the tent, we had a wipe-off board crew members could write on to request a pacer for their runner.  Katie took one of the runners from the list when they arrived and was off. Shortly after Katie left, Emily took off with Kamil, another Life Time Fitness member who was running the race. Several times two women came over to the tent to check on pacer statuses.  I told them to keep checking, because pacers were coming in and may keep going.

I had been pre-arranged to pace Kathy, a Life Time Fitness member from Minnesota, so I was anxiously awaiting her arrival. Most of the early evening I had scoured the area for her crew, but it was next to impossible to find the right people if they were not at their vehicles with their runner’s number listed on it. So I decided to hang at the Life Time tent. Time goes by, and finally Kathy arrives, but with another pacer! I introduced myself and said, “Do you have another pacer? Do you not need me any longer?” Kathy said, “Yes, I’m fine”. GREAT! I thought to myself, NOW WHAT?! So, I went and found the women that kept checking on pacers, and asked if they still needed one.  They were a mom and daughter looking for a pacer for the husband/dad. They said “YES!” and I told them, “well I’m your pacer”. Cheers of joy errupted!

Petzl Headlamp

Trusty Petzl Headlamp

Terry, my new runner, was set to arrive at about 8:30pm, which was about 30 minutes away. The sun was starting to set, and by the time Terry arrived it was dark. Headlamps were now our new best friends. I helped Terry’s wife & daughter get him ready for our leg of the race.  He changed shoes and socks, they were soaking wet from the several creeks he had to run through. Long shirts were pulled out and he ate as much food as he could tolerate. After about a 10 minute rest he was ready to go.

The first part of this next leg was straight UP! We scrambled up the side of this mountain and made it to more of a single-track trail. Several race officials were coming back from hanging green glow sticks from sporadic trees to help mark the trail. These came in real handy a few times when it was hard to tell which way to go.  Terry had me go in front of him, so that I could guide him in the right direction and warn him of the many roots and boulders along the trail. We got to know each other a little bit and talked a lot about different races we had run.

As the miles wore on the terrain varied. We had to hike up the inclines, then we would run along the semi-flat portions and the downhill runs. Those darn hills were INSANE! I could hear my heart beating in my head – OH YA, my heart rate was HIGH! I didn’t need a heart rate monitor to tell me that!.  Every once in a while we would have to pull over as far as we could on the single-track to let other runners bye.  I took these opportunities to let my heart slow down a bit. These were short breaks, but they helped.  The first creek we came across, my right foot slipped off the rock and SPLASHED right in the FREEZING cold water – NICE! At one point Terry said, “Did you ever think you would be hiking and running in the middle of the night?!” That got a good laugh out of both of us. Laughing was good, for it made you forget that your legs were starting to feel like rubber… DANG! How do these people do 100 miles, when I’m dying 7 miles into only 10 miles?! Ok, they have trained for it, I have not. The altitude was brutal, if it was not for that I think I would of been fine.

There were about 2 miles left to the check point, where Terry and I would part ways.  We had pulled to the side of the trail to let some runners by. I looked up and he was gone! Well, he must of slipped in between the passing pack, so I continued on.  More runners went by and I still can’t see Terry. GREAT I’VE LOST MY RUNNER!!!! I just kept running along and made it to the checkpoint.  I checked at the table to see if he checked in, I said “I lost my runner”. Luckily he had JUST checked in, so they said he was probably in the food tent. Looked around and didn’t see him, then he came up behind me. I apologized for losing him. He said, no problem, I had gotten him through the toughest part and he was very grateful to me. We went and got some food, well he did anyways, I had one potato chip.

Phoenix was suppose to meet me at this check-point. Unfortunately, we found out that cars were not allowed there and I had 4.5 more miles to go! OH CRAP! Terry said, well I know this was as far as you were going to take me, so did I just want to pace myself and he would go on. I said sure, and wished him luck.  So I decided to rest a little, then continue on. Well, that all changed in a matter of minutes… I sat down to rest and started to feel really weird. Then all of the sudden, I thought UH OH! Got up from the chair and ran around to a tree and lost everything I had in me (sorry gross). After that fun time, I felt really dizzy, so I went over to an aid person and told them what happened. Altitude sickness was the likely culprit – we were at almost 11,000 feet.  They took me to the medical tent, put me on a cot by the heater and covered me up in a huge heavy blanket. I could not stop shivering. They brought me chicken noodle soup and some water. I was in the tent with 3 other runners. Two were injured (one an ankle the other a foot), and the third was delirious and suffering from altitude sickness.

After about 30 minutes they told me and the two injured runners that someone would be here shortly to drive us back to Leadville. It ended up being one of the runner’s crew that drove us down. The only problem, was that my car was at Twin Lakes, which was about 20 miles from Leadville.  I kept trying to get a hold of Emily, but no answer, and I didn’t have Phoenix’s number. It was a long slow bumpy ride down the trail to the main road.  I had them drop me off at the finish line, figured I could find someone that was going to Twin Lakes. They were off to Denver to DIA, so they could fly back to Arizona.

It is now around 1am. I watched a few runners finish, one of which was the FIRST woman of the race to finish!!! WOOT!!! Shivering again I went into the food tent to warm up by the heater and get some soup. I asked if anyone was going to Twin Lakes, no luck. Several more finishers came in.  A couple of them had raced their hearts out to finish before 2am so they could hit last call at the local bar! I talked to the main medical guy and told him I was trying to get to Twin Lakes, that I couldn’t get a hold of any of my crew. He pondered it and said he would see what he could do. About an hour later, he came back and said I think I have a ride for you in about 20 minutes. I told him I loved him – LOL!

Search and Rescue was my ride.  She asked me if I was allergic to dogs, and I said nope, I have two and love them. So along came her Border Collie – oh what a sweet girl she was! I thanked her up and down for the ride. We talked about how she got into Search and Rescue – her husband was also in the business and was running the mobile command center for the race. Got to my car and she made sure it started before she left.

Ah… home sweet home for the night, my car! I stripped down, dried off and put on warm dry clothes. I had gotten the seats in my car all read to sleep on – the front folds down to the back seat, which also folds back to make a bed.  I crawled into my down bag and continued to shiver… 3am, and I was cold and couldn’t sleep. At some point I did fall asleep, for my phone woke me up at 5am when Emily texted me to say she was still pacing her runner – OMG I bet she is going the whole 40 miles to the finish with Kamil! I rested for about another 30 minutes, and turned the car on to blare the heater to try and warm back up. Ok, lets just get up and head back to Leadville for some coffee and watch the finishers.

Barefoot Ted

Barefoot Ted Finishes in 27:16:32.5

6am and I’m back at Leadville.  The local coffee shop just opened, so I got a coffee and a ham/cheese croissant – YUMMY! Walked over to the finish area, and the runners slowly came in. Made some new friends that were waiting for their runners to come in. At about 7am, it was time to break out the sunglasses and cheer on more finishers. This was great! These people had just finished running 100 miles! Then I heard some great news! Barefoot Ted, from Seattle, was nearing the finish line – SWEET!!! Yes, this man runs races barefoot. For trail runs he uses special sandals, like those you read about in Chris McDougall’s book Born to Run.

Born to Run

Born to Run by Chris McDougall

When Ted got near the finish line, I recognized his pacer… it was Chris McDougall! OMG! I was soooooo excited!!! Two great men, that I admired, were right here and finishing together. They looked GREAT! Hard to believe they had just completed 100 miles. Only 10 of it kicked my ass.

I had texted Emily when I got to Leadville to see if she had finished yet. After Ted finished I got her answer, NO. WOW she is going to come into the finish with Kamil – that is AWESOME!!! So I decided to walk to the top of last hill the runners come up before heading down to the finish.

Ted and Chris

Barefoot Ted and Chris McDougall

It was probably about a mile to the top, so it was a nice walk to loosen back up after standing around for so long. The sun was now shining down on us and I was getting warm, which really felt good. Got to the top of the hill and watched runners walking up on the other side. The sighs of relieve were big when they reached the top and saw the finish was down the hill.

Emily and Kamil

Emily and Kamil Finish in 28:54:18.3!

I didn’t see Emily yet, so started to head back to the finish. About 100 yards from the finish I spotted Phoenix.  We met up and he said Emily had called and she was close. So back up towards the hill we went. Now I had a cow bell, and we both shook them as each runner went by. As we got to the top of the hill, we spotted Emily and Kamil. They were spent! I so did not blame them.  Emily said that around 5am, they pulled over to the side of the trail and took a 15 minute nap. They decided that once they were down the hill and closer to the red carpet, that they would run in the rest of the way. Phoenix and I ran them both in, ringing our cow bells the whole way.That was AWESOME! Kamil’s Dad had found us, he was Kamil’s crew. We got them checked in and to the food tent.  The runners are weighed at the start and finish of the race. Some were immediately taken to the medical tent. It was a variety of delirious runners to those that look like they could keep running.

The Life Time crew was going to head to breakfast, but I opted to head back home to beat the I-70 Sunday traffic. This was such an incredible experience. Would I ever run an entire ultramarathon? HELL NO! Would I ever pace one again? Mmmmm maybe, but I would have to train better for it, like running in higher altitude. For now, I think I’ll just stick with Half Marathons, like the Boulder Half in September and the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October.

Terry, my runner, finished the Leadville 100 Trail Run in 29:17:06.5 – so proud of him! WAY TO GO TERRY!

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Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon 2010

On June 26, 2010, I ran the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. It took 6 months of training, 345 running miles, one toe nail, a little blood, some tears and a huge amount of desire and determination to complete the race.  I am not a fast runner, by any means, but I finish.  The challenge for me is the thrill of the race. Endorphins kick in and you just GO!

Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

This was my fourth

marathon. The other three marathons were as follows:

  1. North Olympic Discovery Marathon 2006 (Port Angeles, WA)
  2. Chicago Marathon 2006 (my favorite one by far)
  3. Eugene Marathon 2007 (Eugene, OR)

People thought I was nuts to go on vacation to run a marathon. Actually, most people just thought I was plain crazy. These comments were, of course, from my non-running friends and family. I would get asked “will some body be chasing you?!” or “how far is that marathon?!”. I would just laugh and educate these couch potatoes.

How did I come to decide to run the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon when I live in Colorado? Yes, there are much closer races to home, but this one was special.  Back in October 2009, I went to the Denver Marathon & Half Marathon race expo to pick up my packet for the Half Marathon. The Denver Marathon was going to be joining the Rock ‘n’ Roll series in 2010, so they had a variety of booths set up for the various Rock ‘n’ Roll races.  One booth was for Seattle and you could enter to win a free entry into a Rock ‘n’ Roll race of your choice. I moved to Colorado in 2007 from Seattle, so of course Seattle was my FIRST choice on the entry. I ran the race and time went by. About 2 months later, I received an email that I had won a free entry to the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon from the Denver Marathon! I FLEW out of my chair at work and ran up and down the halls jumping up and down with joy!

There was absolutely NO question that I would indeed sign up and run the full marathon!

Deep Snow

Colorado Snow Storm

Training started Christmas weekend. My plan was all laid out and ready to go. Living in Colorado, weather can be an issue in the winter. A Summer marathon, means training in all different types of weather. I had everything from ice, hail, rain, snow, overcast, sunny, hot and cold. The first 6 mile run of my training was on icy sidewalks. Yes, right after mile one…BOOM down I went. It seemed to not fail, that on the weekends, we would get a snow storm and I was forced to run my long run on a treadmill at Life Time Fitness. I did not want to risk any more falls. My longest treadmill run during this training was 15 miles. Luckily, I am a TV and sports junkie, so the row of TVs on the wall at Life Time Fitness made these mile go by quickly.

In March I joined running group with Road Runner Sports. I had not been in a running group since leaving Seattle in 2007. To gain a larger participation base, I helped the leader with ideas to get the group more exposure. I created a Google Groups page, this is how we all communication with one another for long runs, races, training plans etc. It is a GREAT group of people. We run every Saturday morning at 8am (and added a 6:30am group to beat the summer heat), and on Wednesdays at 6pm. This group really helped me get more out of my training.

Seattle Sights

Seattle Sights

Finally after all of the training, my trip to Seattle was here.  I left Tuesday after work and stayed until the following Wednesday.  This way I had time before and after the marathon to have fun and relax. It was great to go back and act like a tourist. I took in the Cubs vs Mariners game after I hit the race expo. Those are my dream World Series teams! The Cubs ended up winning in 13 innings!

The day before the marathon, I made sure to take it easy and drink lots of fluids.  I was staying with my friend Matt, so we stayed in and got pizza for dinner and watched a movie.  All of my race day items were laid out. I built a mini-Kristen to make sure I had everything. This is a ritual of mine and a lot of runners. You lay out your entire outfit for the race, this includes shirt, shorts, socks, shoes, race bib, timing chip, iPod, and any nutrition you plan to carry during the race.  Also packed was clothing for after the race. This all goes into the “bag check” bag that you load on UPS trucks before the start of the race. At the end you find your bag waiting patiently for you. We made it an early night since we had to leave the house at 4:30am.

Race morning, I got up as soon as my alarm went off. Got dressed & made my pre-race oatmeal with protein powder.  I put it in a paper cup so I could eat it on the way to the shuttle buses.  This was a point to point race.  So we all loaded shuttle buses at the finish of the race (near Qwest Field and Safeco Field) and were bused South to Tukwilla for the start.  Matt was kind enough to get up early and drop me off at the buses.

We loaded the bus and were on our way… unfortunately, our driver had NEVER been to Seattle in his life AND was not given a map to the start! Yes, he got us lost! Luckily, another runner when up to the front of the bus and directed him to where we needed to go.  This is why you get to races early, to plan for the unexpected. We clapped and thanked our driver when we arrived safely. It was an hour and a half until the race was to start.  I walked around to scope everything out, then found a spot to sit and eat the rest of my breakfast.  I brought another paper cup, a small carton of milk & Cheerios – YUMMY! After cereal I had a banana along with a bagel the race provided. In my scoping adventure, I had found a row of Port-a-Potties that did not have a line, so I took the opportunity to use it before the line began!

Seattle RocknRoll Marathon Start

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Start

This race was also to start in waves. I was in wave number 27, so at 7am I entered my coral and waited for us to make our way to the start.  While waiting, I made friends with a girl from Chicago, Monica, and we are now Facebook friends! It took 45 minutes for our wave to hit the start line! AND WE WERE OFF!!!

After training at the mile high altitude of Colorado, this Sea-Level running was AWESOME!!! I was NEVER out of breath in the entire race! WOW what a difference that made.

This was quite a hilly course, with many out and back spurs. Our first spur was once we hit the I-90 floating bridge.  Here the half-marathon headed west and the full-marathon headed east across the bridge. So of course this was an uphill battle. Being out on the bridge also brought the wind. At least once we turned around on the bridge, it was downhill until we headed up to the tunnel. At the tunnel is where the half and full marathoners met up again. There was a band in the tunnel and MAN that was LOUD!!! Once out of the tunnel, we headed towards downtown Seattle and worked our way to the Columbia street on-ramp to the Viaduct. Here was another half and full split.  The half went South and full went North.  We were on the lower level of the Viaduct and headed through the Battery Street Tunnel. Here again we encountered a long gradual hill up and over the Aurora Bridge. At the turn around it was downhill back across the bridge and through the tunnel. This brought us to the top level of the Viaduct with great views of Puget Sound, the waterfront, Mount Rainier and the stadiums.

Mile 22 is where it all changed… Approaching the off-ramp from the Viaduct, that goes down to the stadiums where the finish was, I noticed we were not turning, but kept on going forward instead. WHAT?! I can hear the finish line and smell victory! No! we still had another hill to go down, up, down and up before we got to come back and take that exit. So yes, it was another spur of an out and back.  At this point my feet were really starting to hurt and my big right toe was in agonizing pain. I swore I was running on bloody stumps for feet and kept looking down at my shoes half expecting them to be turning red… they didn’t. I had to start walking, and run just spurts. The pain was becoming too much. Made it to the top of the hill and turn around and thought, OK you are on the home stretch!

I finally made it to that off-ramp which was all downhill! Fans lined the remaining of the route. Got to the bottom of the ramp and waved my arms up and down for people to cheer more!  I knew all I had left was a turn through a parking lot and then the finish line was right around the corner!  Looking down at my watch, I saw it was at 5 hours and 58 minutes… I am NOT going to go over 6 hours! So I hauled ass, as fast as I possibly could, with my bloody stumps for feet to the finish line. It felt like I was running faster than the Road Runner. There it was! The Finish Line!!! As I crossed I raised my arms, screamed out a YES and jumped in the air!!! My watch read 6 hours and 15 seconds! Not my best finish, but I was happy!

Crossing Finish Line

Kristen Crossing the Finish Line!

They put my finisher medal around my neck, and I could not get the smile off my face! I had just finished my 4th marathon!!!

Marathon Finisher Medal

Marathon Finisher Medal

I worked my way through the finishing chute to the food. Got my water, banana, orange slices and bagel. Next stop would be the UPS trucks to get my bag. Now it was time to sit, eat, and get my shoes off. I was so afraid to see what my socks were going to look like. Ever so gingerly I took my shoes off, and my socks were still white. Slipped on my slides and put the shoes away.  Rested for a bit while I ate and got a hold of my friend Matt on the phone to see where he wanted to meet. Several streets downtown were still closed, so we agreed I would just head towards Pike Place Market and we would eventually run into each other. OMG, getting back up from that chair and trying to walk was another story. I hobbled along for a while, then finally got my feet back under me. Had to go quite a few blocks through Pioneer Square. About 2 blocks from Pike Place Market, Matt came driving up and I hopped in.

Marathon Finisher

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Finisher!

Back to his house in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle we went. Still afraid to take off my socks, I got ready to take a shower. Peeled my socks off and not a single blister in sight! Guess the pain was just friction.

My big toe still hurt like heck, and I had blue nail polish on so I could not see what was happening.  I figured it was bruised from all the up and down running, and just from running the marathon period. Got all cleaned up and we headed to a friend’s for a BBQ.

Of course it was a house full of non-runners, so they all made fun of me hobbling around after being in a seated position for any amount of time. That was the BEST BBQ I ever tasted. Ok, Ok, I guess I may of been a little hungry. I probably could of eaten a heal and thought it was delicious.

It took about 2-3 days to comfortably walk and go up or down stairs. Keeping active after the marathon really helped get the legs working again. All-in-all it was a TERRIFIC way to spend my vacation. Not only did I get to run a marathon, I got to see old friends and have a great time. Playing tourist was awesome! Pike Place Market, Mariners game, Storm WNBA game, Pride Parade, BBQs, old High School friends, IKEA and much much more. Thank-you Seattle for a everything!

Ended up having to go to the doctor after I got back to Colorado for my toe. It was still hurting like a son-of-a-gun the Friday after my race (almost a week). I got the nail polish off and saw the bruising. A lot of pressure had built up causing the pain. My doctor laid me down and drilled a hole in the nail to relieve the pressure. YOWCH!!! I think the entire doctors office heard me scream when she got through the nail. There was no numbing before hand, it was just drill and relieve! She put me on antibiotics bandaged me up and sent me on my way. I will probably lose the nail, but at least some of the pain was relieved. One month later, the nail is still intact, but still badly bruised. Only time will tell.

What’s next? I will be running several half marathons this summer leading up to the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October. A special medal will be mailed to me after that race that says 39.3. If you complete two Rock ‘n’ Roll events in one year, you get a special medal with that mileage (26.2 for the marathon and 13.1 for the half marathon = 39.3). I can’t wait!

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