Sunday, December 21, 2014

12/20/14 Pigtails Flat Ass Marathon

5AM, dark, rain pounding on the roof. I don't really want to get out of bed. 7AM, dark, rain splattering on the roof of my car. I don't really want to go get my race number.  But I do.  Back to the car to get organized and wait for daylight and the 8AM start.  My sixth time here so I know the routine, and I have described the course previously.

Start - Yay, the rain has either stopped or is very light.  Mostly Maniacs here and I know many of them as usual.  We set out on the rougher trail, dodging a few puddles.  I stay near the back as this is a good way to hold my pace early.

Mile 0.5 - MM111 sighting, playing the human traffic cone, at the turn around.  Thanks volunteers! RD Van (pigtails), Jill, and others.  Back to the start line, watching my footing and happy to see myself at about a 10:20 mile.

Mile 1.5 - Past the finish line and onto the real trail.  Plenty of room now to run how I feel.  In fact we are already getting spread out.  Some super fast runners here, and some slower ones too. I am not with anyone and free to run as I please.  Lately I have enjoyed starting slower and being able to hold on better in the last miles.  I should not go faster than 9:30/mile, but I feel good and soon that is my pace.

Mile 2.5 - Catch up to Rikki.  I have not run with her much but now we do.  We chat and it is a nice time.  This takes us all the way to the first aid station.

Mile 6 - After the aid station I can see that Rikki is all warmed up and ready to go a little faster than I should.  We are with Dean now and I let the two of them go on ahead.  For the rest of the race I will see Rikki's pink fluorescent Defiance vest, get smaller and smaller as she gets farther ahead, then come back towards me, off and on.  That vest is one bright spot I can focus on, on this drab day.  Raining a little bit more now.

Mile 8 - The long "lame" section.  River crossings are done.  Now it is paved and along route 169.  With the rain, the cars are so much noisier.  I am running fine and gradually catching up to "Crockpot".  I am going a little faster than I should, so I make the tactical decision to catch her and then stay with her for a while and see how that goes.  We end up spending the next ten miles together.  Its a really good time.  I don't know her well, but have followed her running career for a few years now.  She has about double the number of marathons as I do and her finish times are close to mine.  Today we click off the miles in a clock steady pace.  Surprise, new this year,  a staffed aid station.  I will not have to carry this second small water bottle the whole way.

Mile 13 - MM#1 Prez sighting

Mile 13.6 - The turn around.  2:08 on the watch.

Mile 15 - A little heavier rain.  Some headwind, but not too bad.  Half drowned worms trying to cross the paved trail.

Mile 18 - I am fast through the aid station and leave Crockpot behind.  She is doing the 50K so I was going to leave her soon anyway.  Pass Rikki and Dean too.

Mile 20 - Now the heavy rain.  I have been slowing a little.  Mostly from walking a little more as I try to consume gels, S!Caps, and drink enough water.  Tiring a bit, but not so bad.  I do now walk to put on my stylish trash bag.  Not sure I need it.  It is warmer and not as windy as my last marathon, where I really did have to be careful about hypothermia.  Crockpot, Rikki and Dean pass me as I gear up.  Rikki is taking more walk breaks than I am, but when she runs, she is faster than me, so we stay close but not often together.  Push on to the last aid station.

Mile 21.3 - Aid station. Thanks Betsy and Matt!!  3:27 on my watch.  I remember that last year I finished in 4:27, so all I need to do is run the last five miles in an hour to beat last year's time.  That should be easy, if I do not hit the wall.  It is good to finally have a goal for this race.

Mile 23 - Mostly behind Rikki and Dean.  I would like to catch and stay with them.  I see them walking the bridges and I gain on them, but then I get tired legs and just want to walk the bridges myself.  Happy that I  am able to run for long sections, though my pace has really slowed.  I know that if I just don't walk too much I will beat 4:27.  Every mile closer to the finish and I am sure that my goal is too easy.  It is good to have something to push for as it is a real mental game now.  I do the math and maybe I can beat 4:20?

Mile 25.5 - No mile markers so I am going off my GPS and I can't remember if the course is a little long or not.  I think that I have passed all the landmarks and there is not much farther to go.  Tired, but able to trudge along, I finally catch Rikki and Dean.  I feel a little cheap passing them.  For so many miles I followed them, hoping to stay even and just cross the finish line together.  I pictured myself being a gentleman and slowing at the very end so Rikki could place ahead of me.  But now I cruise past them, don't look back and don't let up the pace.  Getting under 4:20 would be really awesome today and I still have a chance.

Mile 26 - I think this is the last bend in the trail.  Then I can see, through the trees, a car crossing the bridge that is past the finish line, so I know that I am very close.  Make the slight turn and I can see the finish.  I watch as the clock ticks past 4:20.

Mile 26.2 - 26.15 on the GPS.  Happy to be done and seven minutes faster than last year.  No pains, but both calf muscles start cramping a little after I stop running.  I really want to watch the others come in, but now I start shivering.  Put on dry clothes.  Get some of Betsy's famous soup and a slice of pizza.  I am still cold though and don't want to get these clothes wet, so I head home soon after finishing.

This race ends the year on a good note.  I have work to do to get back under 4 hours and every marathon continues to be an adventure so I hope to keep on running them.

4:20:37
19th of 74
Race#343
Marathon or ultra#119
Pigtails Flat Ass #5
*****

Saturday, December 6, 2014

12/6/14 Saint Martins Jingle Bell Run 5K




My second time here.  Last year was super cold, this year it will be wet with light rain and a few puddles, but not too bad.  Last year I came in 39th of 577 but so many of those were walkers.  This year they are having a "Competitive 5K - under 30 minute finish time" at 9AM, with the 5K fun run and 1.55 mile walk starting at 9:45AM.  I remember that last year I lapped a few walkers and had to negotiate my way around them, so I guess this will be better.

Pricey but a nice long sleeve T-shirt, chip timing and warm staging area in the gym.  8:35 I head out to warm up.  Things feel good.  I had a very good recovery from the marathon that was 8 days ago.  I have not done a 5K in over three months, so I expect to be a little slow.  I am not concerned with my finish time, just want to have a good solid run and speed effort.

Start - Crowded like last year.  I am near the front though and it is a smooth start.  Road widens and we are free to run our own pace.  Catch Mike Henderson and will go back and forth with him the whole way.  Erick Lindburgh is just ahead, but he will stay that way, good for him.

Mile 1.55 - End of first loop.  I joke that I did not know that we had to run it again and somebody laughs.  Too hard to breathe though for much talking.  Legs are good but I have a little side stitch and and breathing so hard, that is my limiting factor.  To be expected, my not being in 5K shape.

Mile 2 - Back and forth with a bunch of people, I am being passed more than I am passing people though.  Kali Walker sighting.  I run faster on the pavement, and then am careful on the grass and trail.  Mike catches me for good this time.  I follow him through the short but very nice conifer needle lined trail.  I just can not catch my breath enough to pick up the pace.  On to the pavement and the finish.  Through the line of cheerleaders and done.

Mile 3.1 - (3.09 on the GPS).  I do not even think about a cool down run.  I start breathing better and walk back to the course before the finish.  Cheer on other runners.  Soon the clock is reading 30 minutes and the last stragglers are coming through.  It is all over so soon.  I go inside for a cookie and to check results on the laptops.  Now I really should go jog a mile, but I am wet and a little cold and just don't feel like it.

Slower than last year, but I am pleased with my run. 


23:18 (7:30 per mile pace)
62nd of 204 competitive runners
5th of 15 in age group (40-49)
Race#342
5K#88
Saint Martins Jingle Bell Run 5K #2
*****

Monday, December 1, 2014

11/28/14 Grandpa's Wishbone Marathon


It has been seven weeks since my last race!  I rested after Defiance, which was my fourth marathon in a seven week span.  I was registered for and very much looking forward to running the Turn Back the Clock half marathon on November 2nd, but had to take a sick day.  My first time getting a flu shot and I just happened to run a 102 degree fever two weeks later. Quick trip to Hawaii for Saki and Jake's wedding and the next thing I know November is almost over.

There are four options for Marathons near Seattle on Thanksgiving weekend and some runners do all four.  I have done the big Sunday Seattle race a couple of times, but it is pricy and logistically difficult with a required trip the day before for number pick up.  Thursday is out.  Friday (Grandpa's Wishbone) is the clear choice for this year.  It is south of Seattle, a $20 donation to a food bank and an awesome alternative to the Black Friday madness.  I have been wanting to run this for some years now, hoping to try some of RD Bill's huckleberry pancakes.  Unfortunately this forest trail race has been moved to the Green River paved trail due to logging in Bill's woods the past two years.  It does make it easier for me to get to, and I should know the course to some degree.

The course will be a double out and back, overlapping the Green River Marathon course, but starting in the middle of that route.  It is so easy to get to.  Right off I-5 and a Park and Ride lot directly across from the start/finish.  I get my number and have an hour to eat, relax and prepare to run.

It is warmish and dry, but supposed to rain all day and then get cold.  I wear my Maniac jacket and stuff a trash bag in my pocket just in case.  Small event, with a half and a 50K.  The course is listed as 27 miles.  I had a great 16 mile training run two weeks ago, and then a miserable 8.5 miler in the rain that I cut short last weekend.  Those are my recent long runs.  Bellingham on 9/28 went great at a 9:45 pace, so I decide to run 10:00 per mile today and see how it goes.  Main objective is to finish in good spirits and maintain/build on my endurance.

Great to see Maniac friends as always.  I know about 25% of the runners here today. Ten minute delay for the start. Bill gives some announcement about directions and I will regret not having listened more carefully.  Right at the start I realize that I have a very casual attitude about the course.  I will just follow the crowd and I feel confident that we will do fine.  Bill said something about going around the construction........

Start - I start near the back and off we go down the sidewalk on Interurban Avenue.  About a half mile and then left onto the Green River Trail.  We are going "upstream", the opposite direction of the one way Green River Marathon.  The river itself is brown and near flood stage.  We have had a lot of rain lately.  Chalk mile marker says 1 mile, but GPS says 0.9 and that marker could be from something else.  Our race has orange painted arrows to point the way.




Mile 1 - Maniac Suzie catches up to me to say hi.  She is doing all four races this weekend and will not plan to be as fast as me today.  We catch Monte and she drops back with him. I settle in behind Mike and Gary.  Listen to them talk about Cascade Crest and other races.  Mike, Gary, Suzie and Monte all have many more marathon finishes that me.

Mile 3 - Holding my 10:00 pace, sometimes dipping under a little.  Meet Maniac Karey, finally someone with a mere 18 marathon finishes.

Mile 4 - Aid station.  The only one on the course.  Fill my bottle and keep moving.  Now a fun part of the course.  Running along the river.  There is a bridge crossing ahead and runners are turning left after the bridge, so we can see and wave to runners who are a half mile ahead of us.  There is Sabrina.  I cross the bridge and see some orange arrows pointing left.  This is the detour section because of work on the trail.  I am running comfortably at the back of a small pack.  They are all chatting and everything is fine......until we reach the end of the trail, a major road and no arrows to mark the way.

Mile 5 - Dead stop.  What to do.  Don't panic.  More people coming behind us.  No sign of anyone ahead of us.  Lots of people cutting off the trail and running through the industrial/office park.  Someone says that we went past the detour and we can just parallel the runners going through the parking lot.  I get going, staying on the sidewalk of the busy road, but looking for runners going through the office park.  Then a small road to the left and I take that.  Now I am with Hope Fox and her husband Cliff, making decisions as we run.  He sees some arrows on this sidewalk and we think that we are OK.  Now I see fast runners on the trail, that is up an embankment.  Through some dirt and past a bulldozer, this is clearly not the way we were supposed to go, but it gets us back on the trail along the river.  Funny to look back and see 20 people had followed us.  Steve Walters running fast towards us and I am sure that we just continue on here to the turn around.  We should have turned right at the bridge and stayed on the trail.  Curious to see how much mileage that added to the course.  Maybe not much.  Early starter is coming toward me and I confirm that the turn around is ahead, though he says it is not marked.  "Just look for the three totem poles", that is where you turn around.  Ah the joys of a free race.  No complaints here.  Worse case I would just run until my GPS said 6.75 mile or so and then turn around.  In fact we reach the park with the totem poles right at GPS reading 6.75, so it all worked out OK.  A little worried about Pedro,  Sabrina and Andy Lin who were ahead of me, but I did not see at the turn around.

Mile 8 - I have decided to stay along the river for the return trip.  Somehow I am in front of about 20 people, with no one in site ahead of me.  I will just stay on this trail and it will take me to the bridge and then I will be back on track.  Past the bulldozer where I rejoined the trail on the way out.  I have to go through a barricade that states the trail is closed and under construction but it looks pretty much done.  The trail splits and off the to right there are some runners coming up.  I stay along the river and after about a tenth of a mile I realize that I am on a loop that will bring me back to that other trail.  Tamara is yelling to me.  At this point it is easier and shorter to just keep going and rejoin the main trail after a detour.  I do so, but my mistake puts me behind that whole crowd.  I have been going just slightly faster than most of them so it takes me a while to re pass them.  Mike says that he has taken that long route before.

Mile 11.5 - Holding pace.  Feeling fine.  I take a Power Aid gel and it immediately causes me stomach grief.  I have three different species of gels and some Gu chomps.  Still don't know when or why something will be fine, or cause trouble.  Taking S!Caps every 6 miles or so, but I am barely sweating.  It might have rained just a little earlier, but all of a sudden the skies open up and it starts dumping.  Hopefully it won't last long, but it is coming down hard.  I pull out the trash bag, poke a hole for my head and slip it on.

Mile 13.4 - At the turn around.  It has been pouring for the past 20 minutes.  Serious rain.  I consider dropping out at the half and some runners will.  But I am relatively OK with the jacket and trash bag and it is not too cold yet.  This rain is going to make it memorable for sure.

Mile 16 - More and more puddles.  The shoes are heavy now.  And getting windier and a little colder.  I can not swing my arms, encased inside the bag.  I am wet enough inside the trash bag that my hands are sticking to it, so it is difficult to make any adjustments.  I have to walk a bit, just to drink or eat something.  But my legs feel pretty good.  At the aid station I suggest that they watch for hypothermic runners.  This is a real possibility with the wind and rain.  It will drop to 42 degrees by the finish.  A short section of the paved trail has a smooth dirt trail along side of it.  I ran the dirt on the first out and back, but now it is all one long puddle.  Sometimes if I am not paying careful attention, I end up slogging through a deeper puddle and really soaking my feet.


Mile 18 - Across the bridge and turn right, staying with the river.  Steve, Mark, Pedro and other fast runners.  Ah, there is Sabrina.  She will go on to be first female but at this point she is struggling, wanting an aid station.  She will make it there and get gloves and a jacket.  It is crazy windy and sideways rain on this exposed section.

Mile 20 - Happy to reach the turn around.  By myself.  Not concerned about pace anymore, just survival.  It is not raining as hard, but it is still heavy and windy.  I will take the weather penalty on my time and not let that bother me.  The next two miles, after the turn around are the worst.  Wind more directly at me.  This has got to be zapping my energy, but I am pleased that I am still running OK.  If I do have to walk I really better keep at it, or risk cooling off and start shivering.

Mile 22.5 - Thank the aid station volunteers.  I do like the course for the distance between landmarks.  Now four miles to go.  I run nice and steady for a mile before having to stop to use the bathroom and drink and eat something.  Back to running and feeling good.  No aches or pains.  Heavy shoes though and still dealing with this trash bag, that I am so glad I have on.

Mile 24.5 - Pass early starters Jane, Cindy and Larry Macon.  Still feeling good, I keep on running.  What a great and rare feeling to be running strong at this point in the race.  My finish times are not what they used to be, but I feel like I have been running smarter of late, and definitely doing well in the later miles.  The one mile mark is now a blur of chalk but I know that I have less than a mile to go.  Then on to the sidewalk and a long straight way to the finish tent.




Finish - Mile 27? - 26.5 on the GPS.  I feel like I could keep going and joke about doing the 50K, but I am happy to be done.  Patty records my time and I can tell Ray that Jane is very soon to finish.  I want the pancakes, but first I will take some hot cider to my car and change in to dry clothes.  Dried off, car running and drinking the cider, now I start shivering.  I don't know how else to treat it and it passes in a few minutes.  Go back for pancakes and they are terrific!  But now I get cold and shivery again and decide to head home.  Nice wooden finishers medal.

I really had a good day here and would come back for sure.  I miss the big Seattle race though so I might have to do that one next year.  We shall see.


4:34:50  (very happy with that finish time considering the weather)
Results pending
Race#341
Marathon or Ultra#118
*****

Monday, October 13, 2014

10/12/14 Defiance 50K

4th time here for this 5th annual event.  Three loops means that I will have completed the course 12 times after today.  I should not take any wrong turns and I should know how to approach the course.  Last year was my slowest time at 6:26.  Splits were not good, so this year I will run the first loop slower. 

Looking like great weather.  Dry and a nice temperature.  Warmish for a Fall run.  Lots of hugs and kind words about my brother, from my Maniac family.  It really means a lot.  Not so emotional today though, I will just run long and have a good time.

Yellow vest this year and I look forward to the new mug.  It is my go to mug at work and I replace it every year with my new Defiance one.

Yes, the Rogue Wave is here and she is a little out of shape so we are evenly matched.  We will start off together.




Loop 1 - (2:02) - Huge for a trail race with the 15K and 30K runners.  We start out at a good spot though and only pass when it is easy to do so.  Trails in great shape.  I wanted to run about 11:30 per mile, but we are doing 12s and that feels faster than it should.  I am worried that it is going to be a bad day.  RW ducks off for a minute and right then I pass a woman with a cool Maniac shirt with stars on the back.  We talk, I find out that she is from Portland, so I ask if she knows Amanda Fritz.  She not only knows of her, but really knows her.  Fun to chat for a bit and then I move ahead.  RW catches back up.  Walk the uphills, try to keep drinking and eating, but I am not counting calories like maybe I should.  Ravens calling in the Ewok forest.  Now the long flat terrific trail that bores me and I think is the worst part of the course.  I guess because there are no landmarks, it all looks the same for a long way.  Runnable but tiresome.  Out to the road, then the fun steep descent with ropes to hold on to.  My slowest ever first loop, which was the plan, but not feeling like I held back very much.  Perhaps 4 marathons and a ten mile race in seven weeks was a bit much.

Loop 2 - (2:06) - The dreaded second loop.  I usually come apart here.  Today is not so bad.  Ravens calling in the Ewok forest again.  When I get to the last flat 4 miles, I know that I have 40 or more minutes to go.  It helps to realize that the distance is that long and I have a decent run here.  Towards the end I can sense someone coming on strong.  It is the race winner, Mike Lyons, lapping me.  I cheer for him, amazing talent.  On to the road and the roped cliff is a little tougher.  At the finish, lots of people are done with their shorter races and I do not feel like running a third loop.  Better not linger here, I head out after filling up the water bottle and grabbing some snacks.

Loop 3 - (2:17) - Somewhere I lost RW but she is back with me now.  We run together for a bit.  I expect her to take off ahead, knowing how tired I feel, but she is also flagging.  Still one of my favorite people to run with.  We have run out of conversation, but that is fine.  And although it is great to have someone at your pace, if at any time one of us wants to move ahead, we do so.  She gets a little ahead now, but then I catch up and pass her for good.  She will finish about 2 minutes behind me.  A mile before the mid loop aid station I start to really struggle.  Some nausea, tired legs.  Walk breaks.  Mama and baby deer just off the trail.  Refuel at the aid station and head out for the last half.  Mostly alone.  Ravens are now making very strong and strange vocalizations.  Much louder.  This section is now renamed the Ravenwood.  Walk up the Achilles Hill and it is not so bad.  Look back and no one behind me.  Down a long way, then up and finally out to the last flat bit.  I look back and a woman is coming on strong.  I should just stop here and let her go by, but the trail is wide so she can pass whenever, and I might as well push it for 50 feet or so until she catches me.  I set off running at a faster pace and somehow manage to keep it up.  I have found some kind of groove, powered by the fact that I can hear this person ten feet behind me.  Make her earn it I am thinking.  A half mile turns into a mile or more of this.  I am amazed at how long I can keep it up.  Finally I say something to her, like "You know that as soon as you pass me I am going to start walking"  She says "No! Keep running, I am feeding off you" or something like that.  We go on like this for another mile.  Not super fast, but perhaps my best running ever at mile 27-28.  Finally I fall apart and she gets by me.  Those two miles were way faster than they would have been, had I been alone.  Pass two more runners and I am well ahead of them before the ropes.  But I pick my way so carefully in the last section that they get right behind me before I am all the way down.  On the promenade, I can run again and finish strong, not letting then catch me.  My split time for this loop is slower, but not as bad as in previous years.  And if I remember right, only two people passed me in the second half of this loop, and I passed two people. 

There is a differential between chip and my watch time, which I started when I crossed the mat.  I think that the chips were not recorded at the start. Either way I barely beat last year's time, which I find better than being slower.

I am prepared with a towel and dry shoes for the post race tradition of soaking the legs in Puget Sound.  Slice of pizza and call it a day.  It is a hard race, but logistically easy and remains one of my favorites.  Now a little break from marathons, with a half in three weeks and the next marathon in about six weeks.  Hopefully I will get some meaningful training in.


6:25:11 by my watch, 6:26:05 chip time.
47th place of 83
Race #340, marathon or ultra#117, Defiance 50K #4
*****

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9/28/14 Bellingham Bay Marathon

Keeping the legacy going, for my 8th year here at this 8th annual event.  For a few days before though I did not know if I would make it, and instead of the usual fun time and celebration of fitness this may be more of a therapy run.  My brother was killed in a car accident on Wednesday when a minor crash on one side of the highway sent a vehicle across the median grass and straight into my brother's car going the other way.  Killed instantly, a great man who will always be missed.  When I heard that the service was set for Saturday it meant that there was a chance that I could still race on Sunday if I wanted to.  Everyone was supportive, especially Jody.  So on Saturday we drove two hours south to Portland.  Attended the service and made plans to see family again on Monday.  Then the five hour drive north to Bellingham to get to my Father in Law's home by 11PM.  Short fitful sleep and then it is time to get to the shuttle bus.

This race is still growing, 372 will finish the full, but over 2,700 in all events.  Fortunately they still allow day of race packet pickup.  I found my usual parking spot and had my number soon thereafter.  On to the bus for a long ride in the dark.  Sit with a few friends in the tribal community center.  This year the tribe welcomes us with a larger group and they are dressed beautifully.

Not feeling so good.  Really tired.  Deb says that I don't look so good and that makes me wonder if I am getting sick.  I splash water on my face and then head outside a little earlier than I need to.  I have no idea how this is going to go, don't care about my time and don't expect to do well.  I really want to start slowly and at least have a chance at not melting down too early.  It is very foggy and we worry that it will burn off and warm up.  No chance of rain, and no wind.  Great running conditions.

Start - There are Deb and Margaret.  Now I get a wave of emotion.  Why right now?  Margaret gives me a hug and says "because running is in your soul"  Wow that makes sense!  Thanks for that! And then we are off, starting very close to the back.

Mile 1 - 10 minutes exactly and this feels like the right pace.

Mile 2 - Move ahead from Deb and Margaret.   Quick pee break.  

Mile 4 - Meet Maniac Krystal.  Very gradually passing folks.  No hurry.  If the pace drops to 9:50 I slow down, walk through the aid stations, let the average get back to 10:00.

Mile 7 - Having fun with the volunteers.  Love these enthusiastic kids!  Every year they are the best.  I start shouting out for the Bellingham Rangers and they like that.  Run side by side with a woman and neither of us says a word for quite a while.  I like her pace.  We just run and don't talk.  Finally something gets us chatting and it is very nice.  Just when I tire of the fog and the course along the water, we turn and enter the more open area.  "Leg 1 is done"

Mile 9 - Passed that awesome Father/Daughter who I met a few weeks ago in Tacoma.  So inspiring.  I got a little choked up when I recognized them.  But they are fading and I move ahead.  Now it is on to the long boardwalk along a wetland.  And I have to pee again.  I mention this to the person next to me and she says that she has to too.  There is no place to hide here, but when we get off the boardwalk finally, lo and behold, there is a port-a potty.  I tell her to go first and she does and I realize that I can just duck behind a building here, so I am back running very soon.

Mile 10 - Turn into farm country.  Very gradually catching people.  Another turn and a strong smell of manure.  Not unpleasant to me but I can't help but comment on it.  Woman next to me says "Oh I though that was you....just joking"  It was funny.

Mile 11- Is this the third or fourth year they have had this version of the course?  Either way I only come here once a year but I am feeling like I know very well what is to come.  More flat farmland and no wind this year.  The short out and back section.  I love a little out and back to see who is around.  Should be able to see Mount Baker, but for the fog.  Amy HW sighting!! So surprising we are past each other before it sinks in.  Makes me smile though.

Mile 12.5 - Another potty break?  What is going on?  At least they are quick.  And I must not be dehydrated.

Mile 13.1 timing mat - 2:12:37, lets call it 2:13.  10/mile on the GPS which is reading 13.28 miles.  My goal now is to just maintain this as long as I can and pick it up after mile 22 if I feel good.

Mile 14 - Run for a while with a nice guy doing his first marathon.  Only stranger that I will tell about losing my brother.  And he tells me that he is running in honor of his Father-in Law who recently succumbed to cancer but had been big into marathoning. Really nice mile, then he lets me go ahead.  Another aid station (every two miles) and another boost from the kids.

Mile 16 - Long uphill and I feel great.  Passing some walkers and slower runners.  Get the average pace down to 9:55 but make myself not go any faster.  I am not usually so disciplined.  I know that the merge is coming and I ask a guy I am with whether he has done this before.  I also let it slip that I have a streak of 8 going on.  He has run this, is looking forward to the merge and says that we should have picked an easier distance for streaking......he has 17 years in a row at the Vancouver Marathon.

Mile 16.5 - The Halfers are streaming down the hill and we turn to travel together.  Some are walking, many are 2-3 abreast and most are going more slowly than me.  But it is OK.  Instead of weaving around I am able to maintain my pace and pass people when I can.  Enough room on the road for all of us.

Mile 18 - Lots of runners and lots of spectators.  One sign says "Run now, wine later".  I am still feeling really good.  At 9:56/mile average and it has never felt too slow, but I still have no trouble holding it.  No pains, stomach is fine.  Only thing bugging me is my quads.  They have been feeling more and more sore.  I am regretting running that 10 miler last weekend.  But it is not so bad yet.

Mile 19 - We make a turn and I see a sign that says "cookies ahead".  I have to go to the other side of the road and there is a table set up.  A little girl has fresh baked, still warm chocolate chip cookies, each one in a little baggie.  I take one and thank her.  Start running again, take a bite and it is so good and I get all choked up.  Almost sob, then in a few seconds I am better.  Now another little kid holding a sign.  I can't figure out what it is at first so I stop.  Still not sure but I think it was all footprints done with paint.  Abstract and beautiful.  I tell her that I love her sign and I run on.  Now I start to realize that I may be in the best place in the world right now.  People of all ages out on the closed streets on a beautiful day (fog is lifting) helping and encouraging each other.  Wonderful.  We need more of this.

Mile 20 - On to more of a major road and we are asked to stay on the sidewalk.  Meet a first time marathoner and just after we introduce each other and I am hoping to pace her to a strong finish, she falls back.

Mile 22 - Passing on the sidewalk is not great but it helps me with my patience.  Finally we get the road again.  Now a steep uphill and I catch up to Mike.  I give him a push on the back to help him up the hill, then I move ahead.  This late in the race I am really getting excited to see if I can finish strong.  With each mile marker, I celebrate with a Gu Chomp and enjoy the fact that I have not slowed yet.  Pass by the finish area and see runners heading in to beat 3:45.  But I still have the two miles on the gravel, the steep hill and then two miles on the road before I am done.

Mile 23 - Gravel path is good.  Oh but some medics are tending to a halfer on the ground.  I can see that she is talking, I think she will be fine, but it makes me sad.  I look at the person next to me and ask how she is feeling.  Then we pass another runner down and getting attention from medics.  It is very rare for me to see that in a race.

Mile 24 - Made it to the waterfront.  The boardwalk over the water.  I see ships and think of Steve.  Now the turn and the last steep hill.  It is shorter and easier than I remember.  I am running strong up a steep hill at mile 24!!  Aid station, the first bit of water poured on my head and a celebratory Gu Chomp.

Mile 26 -Still passing people and no one has passed me since I can remember.  Looks like I can't beat 4:20 but I will still have a strong negative split.  Cruise on in to the finish.

Mile 26.2 - Done and feeling good.  A little faster than the past two years.  And not too emotional.  The weather is so nice that I stay for almost an hour cheering runners on at the finish line.  Another great Bellingham Bay Marathon is complete and I love this race more and more.

The chip split times tell the story: at the half I was in 273rd place.  At 19.6 miles I was in 224th place.  I finished in 200th place.  I might be able to figure out how many halfers I passed in the last 7 miles but that will take some calculating.

For the best finish time I should have gone out a little faster today.  I used to have a good idea of what my finish time should be, now it seems to be random.  Much more fun to err on the conservative side and get that rare negative split.


200th place of 372
Race # 339
Marathon # 116 
Bellingham Bay Marathon #8
******

Saturday, September 20, 2014

9/20/14 Cooks Hill Challenge 10 Miler

Back to Centralia for my second time here.  Over 120 in the 5K but far less to take on the 10 miles and the hills.

Easy parking and day of race registration.  It feels like Autumn, and the wind is blowing a bit.  It will be mostly sunny and feel just a little warm later in the race.  Terrific scenic course......if you like hills.

Start - Hard to judge the competition.  Then we start and it is clear that there are some fast guys here.  One takes off super fast, two more are close behind him.  I positioned well and we have the whole road so it is easy to find my pace.  Except that I go out quicker than I should.  Watch says 7:40 per mile, which I know will never hold.  I should slow but I don't.  Until the first little hill.

Mile 2 - A guy and then a woman pass me.  But I pass one guy and then catch another who is walking up the steep first real hill.  I encourage him to get running again and he soon does.  But from here on out I will be running alone with no one very close.  On the long views I can see the two who passed me get gradually smaller.  I never sense anyone behind me.

Mile 3 - Joppish road and the long gradual downhill.  I pick up the pace but do not feel strong today.  The first hill was tough!  Now my legs feel tired.  I have doubts about being able to hold on to this pace.  Enjoy the downhill while I can.

Mile 5 - Holding steady on the flats, working hard and not feeling well in my legs.  Tired and this is too hard. And now is the big hill.   Look back and see that I have a decent lead on those behind me.  No chance of passing the guy ahead.  So I give it a good effort up the hill but not my best stuff.  Pump those arms and try to save something for the next 4 miles.

Mile 7 - Flat and now the steep downhill.  Try to not slap too much.  Focus on form and running about as fast as I can.

Mile 8 - Tiring now.  I can feel that I am going slower.  Have to really focus to keep it going.  Worried that I will be passed keeps me running as best I can.

Mile 9 - Merge with the 5K walkers and have to work around those who are walking in groups.  Not exactly flying past them.  Legs feeling somewhat battered, not firing quite right.  Won't beat last years time.  Have to hurry to beat 1:23

Mile 10 - Here is that mile marker with another 0.1 to the finish line.  Cross OK and glad to be done. 10.11 on the GPS.

Finish - Congratulate the winners.  Cheer on those coming in.  One guy was close behind me, then a big gap.  We all talk about the challenging course.  It is hard to remember a year ago, but today seemed more difficult and less fun than last year.  Two minutes slower than last year, but then I had competition with me most of the way.   The race itself is a nice little event that I hope to run again.



1:22:50
5th place out of 39
Race #338
Cooks Hill Challenge #2
****

Monday, September 8, 2014

9/6/14 GOAT Marathon

First time event, just west of Port Angeles.  The Adventure Route of the Olympic Discovery Trail is a new trail being built on state lands.   Race website says that it is a tough course but the elevation profile does not look so bad for a trail race.  Just under 4,000 feet of gain for the whole course.  Longest climb is about 1,000 feet but spread out over some miles.  Elevation profiles can be so decieving though, I really won't know until I get out there.  There is a 7 hour cut off time.







I had so much been looking forward to this event.  Especially fun to do a trail run that I have not done before.  But after this last week I have serious concerns about what will happen.

Monday I ran the Sporty Divas Bad Azz marathon and it went horribly wrong.  My slowest marathon on a paved surface and that was not for lack of trying.  Fast first half with Tammy and then a complete meltdown.  Worst split ever.  I don't think I have ever been that dehydrated before.  I shuffled in at 5:18 and felt so bad the last two hours. 

Tuesday - Rest day, but a 2 mile hike with Jody and my legs feel OK.  Hopefully the slow time at Sporty Divas saved my legs some.  I never planned to be fast at the GOAT, this is more of a fun scenic run, but I don't want to drag the whole way.

Wednesday - At yoga I notice that my right foot is slightly swollen.  I have had minor pain on the side of my left foot for a while now and it flared up a little on Monday, but the right foot has had no problems. It does not even hurt now, just a little swollen.  Ice.

Thursday - Swelling gone but now it hurts a little.  High in the foot, low in the ankle.  Went for a three mile easy run and stopped to walk it out a couple of times.  Not serious pain but something to watch.

Friday - Drive to Port Angeles.  Walk from my hotel to the race packet pick up and I can feel the right foot with each step.  Not bad enough for me to drop out, but I am thinking about my options here.  I could drop to the half, but I don't want to.  At the race there will be aid stations every 4 or 5 miles so worse case if I am in pain or get dehydrated again I am sure that I can make it to a station and drop out there.  I don't feel nervous or bummed out, it is what it is.  Hopefully all will go well.  If it doesn't, that is the price I pay for racing so close together.

Saturday - Roll out of bed and the foot feels great.  Noticeable that there is no discomfort.  Leave PA at 6:30 to get to the Joyce Grange by 7AM.  Shuttles leave at 8 so I have plenty of time.  Going to be a hot day so I carry my small water bottle and my fuel belt.  Been hydrating and with the aid stations much more often than on Monday I am sure to not get as dehydrated.

I have been studying a map of the course.  It looks confusing in places, with intersecting logging roads.  I hope that it will be well marked.  One runner assures me that it is a new well marked trail with plenty of signage.  I hope he is right.


The shuttle consists of 3 vans and the drive is only about 10 miles.  Small group with a larger half starting later at a different location.  Fun to see a few fellow Maniacs.  Jason, Susan, Nancy, Will, Suzanne.

Start - As usual no one wants to line up in front.  The very start looks wide but we know that it will soon be single track.  My goal is only to finish and I do not want all these guys having to pass me, so I also move toward the back for the start. We start a few minutes late and with the sun up it is already feeling warm.






Mile 0.25 - Well this is going poorly to start.  I remember now that I hate that fuel belt.  I need to tighten it up, but the velcro is not long enough.  So it jostles up and down and I think it is going to rip apart and fall to the ground.  Plus I brought my phone and it is secure in my lower front pocket but is swinging wildly with each step.  If I put it in a regular pocket I am afraid that it might fall out.  I move it around and it settles in there.  Throughout the race it will flare up and I will have to make an adjustment that lasts for a while.  In the meantime I start drinking from the two bottles in the fuel belt.  When they are each about half full, the belt is much more manageable.  It moves on its own to where the bottles are in front and that really helps them stay in place.  OK now I can focus on the race.

Mile 2 - Lovely forested trail.  A few runners have stepped aside to let my larger pack through, now we are marching along just fine.  Uphill but gradual.  Soon I see that there are 4 women in front of me and I like their pace.  They are all talking and everyone seems relaxed.  One has "run happy" socks/calf sleeves.  The woman who is just in front of me has helped build this trail.  I stay far enough back to not crowd in on her, but close enough that we can talk a little.  She sees that one hole has developed and plans to come back to fix it.  Trail is in great shape.  Hard packed dirt, few rocks, no roots.  No mud, it has been so dry.



Mile 3.5 - We enter the first clear cut (this is a working forest) and have an amazing view up the Elwha valley. I want to stop and take a picture but I just passed some people and I do not want to repass them.  I like my position here, but I also want to enjoy the view.  Fortunately Jason ahead of me did stop for a photo and let me use his here:



Mile 5 -  Gentle climbing.  Switchbacking.  Big trees.  Almost trip once but I recover quickly and do not fall.  Walking the steeper uphills but keeping up with my four leading ladies.  Metal trail mile markers and we started right at zero.  My GPS is already way off though.  It will read over a mile short by the time we reach metal mile marker 24.

Mile 7 - Steeper uphill.  Wider trail and I pass one person.  Long steep way but I feel good. Check the altimeter ap on my phone.  820 feet.  Another 800 feet to the highest  point of the course.

Mile 7.5 - Second aid station.  Only water and Nuun again.  I will have plenty of fluids but I might get hungry by the time this is over.  I do have two gels (provided with my race number) and some Gu chomps, so I will not starve.

Mile 9 - After more gentle uphills, we are now on a gorgeous gentle down-slope.  No rocks.  I am way ahead of schedule but feel great and still feel like I am holding back.  Two women drop back and now it is just me and run happy sock woman.  Her name is Alecia and it is fun to talk about races and find out that we have done some of the same ones.  We see the only piece of litter on the whole trail.....a cigarette pack.  Doubt it was a runner who dropped it.

This course is so well marked.  Many red arrows on the trail.  When we cross a logging road there are ribbons on both sides of the trail, across the road making it clear where to go.  At one crossing we have to go about 50 feet on the road but there are volunteers there to direct us, even though it is also clearly marked.  This gives me the confidence to strike out on my own.  At some point I pass the run happy socks.




Mile 12 - False Ginger sighting.  I have been gradually catching up to her and seeing her on the upside of the switchbacks as we near the high point of the course.  She has earbuds in and does not hear me ask to pass her.  I have to wait for a wide section of trail to make my move.  I like having all of my senses when I race.  Later I will hear a raven call and that in itself is worth all of the effort.

Mile 16 - Still running!! Aid station has pretzels and orange slices.  Out into a clear cut and a view across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to Canada (Vancouver Island).  Have to stop for a photo here and to salute my favorite Canadians, Dixie and Tracy. Warm in the sun.




Mile 17 - Back into the dark forest.  Still terrific trails. It dawns on me that if I can keep this up I have a reasonable chance of beating my time form Monday!  I never expected to do that.  If I had to walk it on in from here I would still be happy about it, but really I feel great and am running fine.  Sometimes I find myself going faster than I should and I hold the pace back.  Wonderful to be doing that at mile 17. 


Mile 20 - Above photo and some of the others provided by the race organizers.  Aid station here with lots of food.  Stuff some pretzels in my pocket, fill up fluids and drink a lot.  Also eat a golf ball sized salty "seed and nut ball".  It tastes good but either that or the different fluids and the pounding of the trail finally gets to my stomach.  I will battle a little upset stomach the rest of the way, but really not so bad.  I have enough water that I can pour some on my head to cool down and still have enough to drink.

Mile 21.5 - Run Happy socks catches me, good for her.  First person to pass me since mile 7.  We exit the trail and negotiate the only rocky section of a poor dirt road.  I walk this bit and as it gets easier I still walk a little as she picks it up on the nice downhill.  Then on to the real, driveable dirt road that will take us to the finish.


Mile 23 - Alternating long sections of sunshine and heat, with some shade.  Taking walk breaks now but when I do run I am pleased with how far I am able to go.  Hot. More water on the head.  Great to fill up at the last aid station.  I thought this road would be mostly downhill but it has more ups and flats.  Pretty sure that I will beat Monday's time.  Generally thrilled with how this has gone. Never even came close to turning an ankle.  Right foot is fine.  No pains anywhere.  Hot and tired but this has gone way beyond my expectations.  Run walk conservatively so as to not blow up.

Mile 25.5 or so - Only 24.4 on my watch so I don't know how far it is to go for sure.  Reach a T in the road and a guy in a chair says that it is only about 800 feet to the finish.  Had I known that I might have tried to beat 5 hours.  Sprint on in to the finish line at Lake Crescent.



Finish - 5:03:45 on the watch but a 5:05:15 official time.  Runner ahead of me was recorded at 5:03:42 so they might have the times off.  The GPS miles can be off but my clock should be correct.  Either way I smashed Monday's time.  Hope to come back next year and beat 5 hours, and have a towel and sandals in my drop bag so I can cool off in the lake.



Hang around for a while at the finish and as soon as I am ready they announce a van is leaving for the parking lot.  Short drive and nice to chat with Suzanne.  Trails >>>>> roads, at least this week.


5:05:15
15th place of 35
Race#337
Marathon or ultra#115
*****