Sunday, September 7, 2008

9/7/08 Skagit Flats Marathon

They say that flat = fast, but I say that flat = boring. And with no variation to the leg muscles flat may not be the fastest. Lots of folks PR here though and this is my last chance for a decent marathon time this year. I'll give it a good shot and see what happens, still pleased with my PR from three weeks ago so this is not do or die. After my Spring marathons I felt like one marathon every three weeks would be ideal. I'm ready for a good long run by then, might as well make it a race. Body check - toenail turned black after the Tunnel Marathon but it stayed on and is not a concern. Big concern is the plantar faciitis flare up. I have been icing every day and the inflammation comes down, but any run sets me back a few days. Since it affected my "training" (I have not figured out how to train with marathons three weeks apart) and has been very discouraging. I am sure that a trip to the foot doctor is in order soon. Oh but lets just go ahead and race feels pretty good with two days rest. It is cool and sunny at the start but will warm up soon, no clouds at all.
Start - Find my friends and meet a few new ones. Nice rendition of the National Anthem.
Mile 0.6 - Under Interstate 5. I joke that on the way back this is where we should start sprinting. Boy how that joke would come back to haunt me.
Mile 1 - Mile marker says one, but my watch says 1.1. Is my watch off or is the sign in the wrong place? Hard to know how to pace oneself. Still we are carefully and leasurely passing slower runners.
Mile 3 - Warming up now. Going a little faster than PR pace, but not excessively so.
Mile 5 - Little dog is running with us, running ahead of us, running circles around us. This goes on for at least a quarter of a mile and then I hope he headed home.
Mile 6.5 - Half marathoners turn around and the crowd thins out, but there are still plenty of runners near me.
Mile 7 - Marker is way off.
Mile 8 - Here comes the head wind. Maybe not as bad as last year, but it is blowing. It is taking energy away from me with every gust. Pace is still on the fast side but I have doubts as to how long I will hold it.
Mile 11 - Farmland is nice but the scenery is just not doing it for me. At least there are interesting and varied odors to keep me occupied.
Mile 12 - Out and back course is good for seeing friends. I won't try to list them all, but I must have said hi to twenty or more, some much faster, some a little slower than me.
Mile 13.1 - Turn around and the wind is at my back. Still getting warmer, but the wind boost has me going a little faster.
Mile 15 - What is that saying about the frog and the boiling water? With every mile my foot discomfort has increased ever so slightly. It is bugging me now for sure. If I started a run with that level of discomfort (I won't call it pain yet) I probably would not continue. But here it has just been creeping up on me and I mostly wonder how it will be tomorrow.
Mile 17 - Oh, I have not mentioned that since the start I have been running step by step with RW. Such pleasant company. Enough talk to while away the miles, but also long sections of comfortable silence, just pacing along. Today would have been significantly less enjoyable without her. But I am slowing and she is still strong so we part company.
Mile 18 - Let the leapfrogging begin. I seem to have about a dozen new friends who are passing me, then get passed by me. Water stops and short walking breaks mix up the order.
Mile 19 - Maybe a marathon every three weeks is not ideal. Its hot but I think that my legs and energy level should be somewhat better. Head is clear though and stomach is OK, I am very grateful for that.
Mile 20 - Lost my gear. Downshift to a lower one, closer to a ten minute mile. PR went out the window some time ago. Hot, thirsty, foots almost hurts.
Mile 21 - "" (song by Metallica) Only words I can remember from that song. Cascade mountains loom in the distance, good thing we do not have to run all that way.
Mile 22 - I remember these lone trees from last year. So little shade. I could run this race much faster if there were more trees.
Mile 23 - Run to the hills. Lots of leapfrogging and getting passed by a good number of smart runners. I should have gone out slower.
Mile 24 - I can see cars zooming on I-5 in the distance. I know that we have to go back under there. Run to the highway.
Mile 25 - If that marker is right I should be able to break four hours. It is good to have that four hour mark as a back up goal. Otherwise I might just walk it in. It is so hard to know how much energy to parcel out throughout the race. I'm sure I could have run faster at any point today, but I would risk a major crash and possible heat stroke. If I had some important goal like a BQ I would have run the last miles more agressively, what difference does a few minutes make today? But still I am here racing, this will go on my "permanent record", do I need to give it my best every time? I need to work through that one.
Mile 25.5 - Under the bridge. I was supposed to sprint here. I still think I can beat four and I will turn on the steam closer to the end. One more walk break just to set me up for the finish.
Mile 25.6 - Pigtails!! That is so funny I let out a laugh. I forgot about her back there (she did a 50K yesterday) As she passes me she offers words of encouragement and I decide to give chase. It is amazing how much the mental state plays into the end of a race. I went from a dehydrated shuffle to feeling like I was finishing a 10K. I pass her, she passes me. I don't think I have ever finished a marathon so close to someone I know. I really do not care if she beats me, but hey it is a race. I imagine the results page and I guess I would rather see my name above hers. I kick it in and pass her just a few steps from the finish. If she had passed me at mile 25 I would have let her go, but the timing was so perfect I got to kick it in at the right time. Thanks for being there Pigtails. It was the highlight of my day.
Mile 26.2 - Feel good except my foot. Gets way worse when I take my shoe off. Hobble to the shower (cold water only). Then sit in the bleachers for a while and watch the runners come in, while soaking my foot in an ice bath. So pleased with my idea to bring a small cooler with ice and two cans of pop. Drink my pop, ice my foot and enjoy the moment. Watch a runner finish his 50th state!!
85th place of 189
Race #145
Marathon#23, Skagit Flats Marathon#2
*** (would have been ** if not for RW)
Thursday update - I limped out of the finish area moving very slowly with considerable foot pain, but lots of icing really helped. On Monday morning my foot felt freakishly better, borderline miraculous. I ran/walked 3 easy miles as my normal day after workout. Tuesday I still had that small nagging discomfort, about the same level as just before the race. I have been fighting this flare up for two months now and worried about missing races. I called Dr Hess and got an appointment for Wednesday morning. He used an ultrasound instrument to measure the thickness of my plantar fascia. Normal is 0.3 (mm?), my left foot as reference was 0.4 and my right foot was 0.8. I got an injection of something that was not cortisone, but would have the same effect. Just like six years ago I had instant relief. Good thing I did not try to self treat for two years like I did back then. The appointment took about ten minutes. I will go back next week to get remeasured and perhaps have another shot as it often takes two doses to get rid of all the inflammation. I am also getting a new pair of orthodics just for kicks, I still have my plaster molds from last time. Doc said that he is seeing lots of runners with PF in the right foot, due to slanty roads, and encouraged me to do more trail running. Hmm....beautiful September in the Pacific Northwest, two more weeks till I have teaching duties for Fall Quarter, doctor wants me to run more trails. I think I can handle that. Same day, 3PM I ran 3 easy miles on the backyard trail. Today I drove to Mount Rainier and ran 7 miles. Brutally sensational effort up the Kautz Creek trail. Tough tough going, and really slow, but not foot problems. Next race is Bellingham Marathon 9/28.

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