Sunday, June 29, 2008

6/29/08 Seafair Marathon

With fresh legs and S!Caps electrolyte replacement that has worked amazingly in trial runs I have high expectations for Seafair. But then more and more people mention the hills. I don't mind the gradual inclines, but Bob Martin says that there are "steep little buggers" in there that you have to slow for. Then the weather forcast started looking bad. Saturday was hot and the forcast for today is mid 60s at the start and 85 by finish. All hopes of a PR go out the window and my main goal is to stay out of the medical tent. Mandatory packet pick up on Saturday took the better part of the day from me.

Start - Rise at 3:30 to make it to Bellevue by 5AM. Start is not till 7AM but we have to ride buses to the start line at Husky Stadium in Seattle. The organizers really played up how special it will be to run the 520 bridge over Lake Washington. Logistically though it makes for a tougher race. I board the second bus to leave, apparently about 400 runners who arrived after 6AM missed the race entirely as they were shut out of a shuttle ride. About 5,000 registered, most doing the half. The half and full will start at the same time, another not ideal situation with so many participants. I find a bench and sit. Meet a few Maniacs including #2. Head to the start line only to hear that we will be delayed 15 minutes so that more busses can get here. Meanwhile it is getting warmer. Finally we are off.

Mile 1 - Faster half marathoners are racing around me, one cuts right in front of me. Elbow to elbow with a mass of humanity. They should have had a more spread out start area with pacing signs. People are going all different speeds. I go with the flow and conserve energy, I am in no rush here.

Mile 2.5 - On the bridge. It does not live up to its hype. I am hot and looking for the aid station. Wow that is a bad sign. First station is overwhelmed but has some cups out.

Mile 4 - Hot. I think about Marci Martin back there. I could just walk and wait for her and jog in with her in five hours something, but I'll keep moving for now.

Mile 5 - Second water stop is in worse shape. I have to wait for someone to fill up my little dixie cup and I only take one. It was so hot I wanted to dump on my head, but I felt bad for those behind me. I am carrying my fuel belt with one water and one gatorade and I wonder if that is all I will have to get me through. Now there is an ambulance and a man on a stretcher is being wheeled right in front of us. We have to stop to let them pass. He appears to be OK and talking. That was a sober reminder that today is not a race day. Seriously just jog it in and have fun.

Mile 7 - Steep little bugger, except it is long too. Some shade is nice. I offer to switch bibs with any half marathoners around me, but no one takes my offer. I am just under a 9/mile pace overall.

Mile 11 - There is Steve Yee with a camera. I pull over, stop and hang my tongue out for a photo.

Mile 13.1 - I am off my planned pace, but not too much. Nice shaded stretch I start to feel better. I am passing folks. As I pass Manics I slow and have a little conversation.

Mile 15 - Steep bugger past the garbage dump. I am feeling a little nauseated, glad to get past the smell. I pop another S!Cap.

Mile 17 - Costco parking lot, how scenic. Now the steepest little bugger of all. Have to walk sideways to get up it.

Mile 18 - At least my head is clear. These hills would have had me fainting for sure without the electrolytes. On the downhills I am doing well and picking up the pace. Still passing folks and not getting passed much myself.

Mile 21 - Back down to lake level and the "fun" sets in. No more shade. Roads open to busy traffic with just a row of orange cones to keep us on the side. I am going to see orange traffic cones in my sleep tonight. Getting warmer.

Mile 23 - I've been taking some walking breaks. Not out of energy, just feel like I am in an oven. I have poured so much water on my head. The aid stations have gotten better, larger cups and plenty of water. I have been sprayed with hoses at least 5 times. My shoes and socks are all soggy and starting to rub. But now it gets worse. Long uphill. All of a sudden I feel like I am reaching into an oven. The heat is radiating off the road. In a few steps I recognize that this could get seriously bad for my health very quickly. My pace has been far better than I expected but now is not the time to go for speed. I start walking. As I look up the hill I see that everyone in front of me is walking too. There is no shade on the road, but a few small patches under nice little trees in a lawn. If I could get a super sized coke with lots of ice, I could just sit under that tree for a half hour or so, maybe take a little nap. Then I could jog in to the finish. But I keep moving.

Mile 24 - Top of the hill. There is a spectator and he has some bags at his feet. One bag is plastic and it looks like it has ice in it !! "Is that ice?" yes "Could I please have a cube?" sure "Thank you so much, I love you" The ice cube is actually two big round ones stuck together. It won't all fit in my mouth. I break it in half, suck on one and rub the other one on my neck and shoulders. So nice. Rub my wrists with ice, then put the cube on my head, under my white mesh hat. I have been soaking my hat all day, but it has mostly been warmish water dripping off it. Now some cool drops come out and drip on my knees with each step, I am running again. The ice in my mouth is getting so small, I want to cry. The cubes are gone in less than a half mile, but were my favorite companions on this race.

Mile 25 - More up, then down. Shade. Passed by the 4 hour pace team. Two pacers, no one else with them. I have not been looking at the watch, I did not think I had a shot at sub 4. I let them go however.
Mile 26.2 - Half marathon walkers merged with us for the last two tenths of a mile. I have to dodge large groups as I sprint to the finish. My name is announced, I cross the line. I get my medal and turn in my chip but there is not much volunteer attention at the end. Many races, there is a volunteer to look you in the eye and make sure you are OK. Here there are some cups of warm water and orange slices unattended. I walk off to find a cold drink. End up walking all the way to my car, then into the mall to find a Macdonald's where I could buy a supersize coke with lots of ice. This year I ran Yakima and Tacoma and thought "I will definately do this again next year". Today I am thinking "nice to check Seafair off my list, but no great desire to run it again"


Legs - A

Energy - A- (no wall)

Stomache - B+

Fuzzyheadedness - A

Heat acclimation - C


177th place of 533 marathon #21


Saturday, June 21, 2008

6/21/08 Swede Days 5K

Back to Rochester for my third running of the Swede Days 5K. Well organized event by Thurston County Parks and Recreation. Rich Brown is doing the timing, but I do not try to bribe him. Warm and a little muggy but not too bad. I introduce myself to Ron Burford who has been beating me for years in my age group. He is significantly faster than me, so there is no competition there. I do two miles easy to warm up, followed by some strides and am all set to go five minutes before race time.

Start - I am ready but the sheriff is not. We have to wait for the lead vehicle and road closures. At least Margaret, the race director, lets us know what is going on and says that we can do some strides if needed. This gives me a chance to talk more with Ron. It also lets the sun come out and I think the temperature raised 5 degrees while we were standing there. After a 10 minute delay, we are off.

Mile 0.5 - On a 6:45 pace but almost gasping for air. Very slight downhill, things feel good overall.

Mile 1 - 6:52. I am even with a woman runner and we run side by side for a short bit. There is a corner coming up and I do not want to take the outside too far. I decide to slow a bit and cut in right behind her. Then I change my mind, I feel like I can push a little faster so I turn on the speed and get a few steps ahead of her before the turn. I fully expect her to catch up after the corner, but I do not see her again.

Mile 1.5 - Pass another guy, then catch a younger runner and stay even with him. No one has passed me.

Mile 2 - Grunting a few words with the kid. We are feeding off each other and I am glad for his presence. I am still at 6:54 pace by the watch, not slowing much. I realize that my right achilles tendon that had bothered me a little this week is doing just fine. Good of me to take a rest day yesterday. In fact, nothing hurts and I am so blessed and grateful to be out here doing this.

Mile 2.25 - We turn a corner and I can no longer see Ron, or anybody else up ahead. The road forks just ahead and I think we are supposed to go to the right, but I am not entirely sure. I say something about this to the kid who is still with me, but just ahead I now see a cone and we know that is the way to go.

Mile 2.8 - Hanging on for the finish. Very small dip in the road and the minor uphill is just enough to throw off my stride. Takes a few seconds to get back in the groove. The kid starts sprinting as fast as I did last week and leaves me behind.

Mile 3.1 - Cross the line in the exact same time as last year. I am very fine with that. Cheer on the finishers after me. Then a one mile cool down jog. They are awarding the one mile runners their ribbons. I am so sweaty I decide to go to the car and change my wet yellow singlet that I wore in honor of Swede Day for a T-shirt. I get back to the ceremony and they are asking all those who wore yellow and blue to come forward for a picture. Well I don't need to be in that, but then they start giving out big bags of Swedish Fish and/or ball caps to everyone up there. Darn it!! Next up is the raffles and I quickly win a two pack of very nice socks which more than makes up for not getting the Swedish Fish. Results are not ready yet and I have to make an airport run later in the morning, so I leave rural Rochester for another year.

21:13 13th place of 98 runners

Race #138 5K #44 Swede Days 5K #3


Saturday, June 14, 2008

6/14/08 Sound to Narrows 12K

Four weeks since my last race, but plenty of training miles in the bank. As I was looking forward to the summer racing season I realized that if I do all of the races that I have penciled in the calendar, I will have 8 races in 8 weeks at 8 different distances. Sound to Narrows will start it off with the uncommon 12K distance. My goals are to finish strong and I feel like I have a realistic chance at a PR. This is the only 12K course I have done, each time I have run it I have gotten a little faster. Two friends mention the low turn out, but it still seems like a massive number of people to me. Where are all these people at the other races? Cool and mostly cloudy. Yellow wave.
Start - What to do about that downhill start? I want time in the bank, but is it possible to go out too fast, making the transition to uphill more difficult? I decide to go slower than usual, but move along. I had a one mile warm up with no strides, so I need to ease into the race.
Mile 1.25 - That was one long downhill. I am at 7:20 pace which seems just about right. The turn into the park with the sudden steep rise puts a quick end to all the fun.
Mile 2.5 - Bout of negativity. Bad thoughts in my head. Thoughts of walking, thoughts of not racing again. I have beaten this devil before, it is just my brain not appreciating what I am doing to its body. Early in the race though, not a good sign. The trick is to slow the pacve ever so slightly and get into a comfortable fast groove. The groove is just hard to find with all the ups and downs.
Mile 3.5 - This was easier here a few weeks ago as mile 12 of the marathon. Keep the average pace at 7:30 and if I can be at that speed out of the park, I should be in good shape to PR. I am feeling ever so slightly wobbly however. When I see the mass of runners just ahead of me, all bobbing up and down it makes me feel unbalanced. Looking at the ground does not help much. I try to focus on symmetry and it seems to help.
Mile 4 - Form a pack of four, all of us wearing Tacoma City Marathon T-shirts. As soon as the pack forms it breaks up. Anther kid in a black shirt keeps playing leapfrog with me. Othwise I am passing more runners than pass me. Cut off by a guy at the water station and almost crash into him. Lots of dodging around.
Mile 6 - Out of the park with a 7:33 average pace. Big dip does not impress as much, now that I have run it 5 times. Still leapfrogging the black T-shirt kid. Passing a few green bibbers.
Mile 6.5 - Right turn onto Vassault street, with one mile of uphill to go. I decide that I can ease up a bit, at least not stress it, and when the watch hits 7:40 average, I'll give it my all.
Mile 6.75 - Hill is not so bad, I am passing more than being passed, finally pass black T-shirt boy for good.
Mile 7 - Watch still says 7:35 overall pace. I am concerned that my GPS mileage may be off, I should not trust the watch completely, but 15 seconds per mile faster than PR by the watch, has got to get me in on time. Relax and have fun.
Mile 7.4 - Top of the hill, left turn and quick right onto the grass of the finish line. Always feel better at the top of the hill and I pick up the pace. Now a quick descision, should I just cruise in and end it easy, or see how much kick I have left? I decide on the latter and turn on the power. Blistering fast by my standards, I pass 5 runners in the last 50 yards and finish in a fury of speed. That was too much energy to end a race with, but since I took over a minute off my PR, I'll just say that I ran well today.
Finish - Jog back to watch Billy finish and almost miss him, wait for Tammy and almost miss her. Too many people for my taste. Lost in the crowd at the finish area, although I do see a few more friends.
57:21 PR

306th of 2164 runners and walkers, 42nd of 143 in age group
race#137 Sound to Narrows #4