Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tri Cities Marathon 10/26/08

I am doing three marathons this weekend. OK, two of them are driving marathons to get out to Richland WA. After watching and cheering for the Ghostmuster races (Billy 5k PR and I am officially afraid to race him in a short distance and Jody sixth race in 6 weeks setting a 10K PR and Tammy hoping to do the 10K in under 50 minutes and crossing the line just as the clock changed to 50:00) I hit the road for the four hour drive to eastern WA. I wonder if I can beat four hours. I start my clock and don't stop it until getting to the hotel in 3 hours 49 minutes. That would be one minute slower than my PR. Other than the drive, this is a very easy race logistically. 8AM start right here at the Shilo inn. Finish is here too and all runners get late check out so I can shower and relax a little before heading home. When I leave my room in the morning I am surprised to see them setting up the finish line about 50 yards from my room and maybe 25 yards from my parked car. That is my blue civic in the photo I took after the race.

Start - It is cold but the sun is rising and looking bright. I have gloves and a long sleeve shirt over my maniac singlet. There is a small rustle of wind, but not much. The course is mostly very flat and from what I have read the real wild card is the wind. It can be nasty, but does not look bad for today. After a very nice National Anthem we all walk over to the start area and I find a place in the middle. At 7:58 I am just having a little conversation with some Maniacs and without any warning everyone starts running. Abrupt and unexpected, but we came here to run so off we go.

Mile 1 - Yes it is going to be a very flat course but I have wondered a bit about how to get up to the freeway for the river crossings. Now we are climbing a hill that would be very steep except we get three switchbacks to do it in. It is a sight to see all the runners zigging and zagging up the hill. When I reach the top I look down and really do not see many others. I feel like I am way back. But I am on pace (actually a little fast) and I need to stick to my plan. There are about 200 marathoners and 50 relay teams, so I expect to do some running alone and get passed by fresh legs every so often.

Mile 1.5 - Over the Columbia River on the I182 bridge. Beautiful sunny morning.

Mile 3- Residential road. I ditch my gloves on an empty boat trailer, hoping to remember to pick them up on the way back.

Mile 4 - Off the road and onto a nice paved trail. We will race mostly on these park trails right along the river. I am giving this course an A+ and I have hardly seen it yet. It is broken up into long straight sections that I prefer. Later there will be an out and back part where I should get to see many familiar faces. My last couple of marathons have been with good friends. Today I am alone and in control of my own race.

Mile 6 - Either I am getting older or these race volunteers are getting younger. This aid station is staffed by a three year old. She is not even holding the cups but has about 6 of them at her feet. I want to take one and thank her but I am afraid to bend over that low and fast so instead I accept a cup of gatorade from a 7 year old. There are two bright suns in our eyes, the real sun and the reflection of the sun off the water. I am thankful for my sunglasses.

Mile 6.5 - I have been following a young guy in a green shirt. I don't feel particularly chatty but I decide to move up and just run next to him. It is easy to run two or even three abreast as long as no one is coming toward us. We do not say a word for about a mile. Finally I break the silence and say "having fun yet?". He starts talking and is a nice diversion. First marathon for him though he did an ultra a few months ago. I do not tell him but my new goal is to beat him. Hopefully I am running smarter than a first timer.

Mile 8 - Up a smaller hill and onto the Blue Bridge. Green shirt guy starts sprinting and is soon far ahead of me.

Mile 8.5 - High above the Columbia River. I sort of need to spit so I do my best and arc it over the fence and it is a clean shot to the water. I am so pleased that I do it again.

Mile 9 - Off the bridge and a right turn into Columbia Park. Uh oh here is the wind. Fairly strong and in my face.

Mile 10 - I tell the aid station child that I am "feeling winded". My pace remains steady but I know it is taking a toll. One prolific marathoner has coined the term "wind penalty" or "heat penalty" or "hill penalty". I like that idea as a way to factor in weather or course variations that could slow down an otherwise good time. I will determine the wind factor for this race as best I can after it is done.

Mile 11 - Seeing some familiar faces coming towards me.

Mile 12 - Now I am heading back and see more runners. I still feel like I am pretty far back in this race. But my pace is fine for me and now I have the wind at my back

Mile 14 - Catch and pass green shirt guy. I am running with a local. I ask the question that I already know the answer to. "When we cross back and have that long 7 mile section on the other side, is the wind going to be in our faces again?" "Yes it is" he says. "So even though I am running well right now I should just give up any hope of a PR then?" "Absolutely" he says.

Mile 15.5 - Up and onto the Cable Bridge. Third time over the river and third different bridge. Green shirt guy comes zooming past and gains a big lead again. Later I learn that his "strategy" was to run the bridge hills aggressively. Hmmm.

Mile 16.5 - On the other side now and turn into the wind. We will go straight now for about 7 miles. I had a crummy week last week. I should clarify that I am terrifically blessed with health, family, friends and career and my crummy week was probably about the same as many peoples good weeks. I did have some stress and sadness from a variety of sources and at times this week I was thinking about how this would be the tough part of the course. Sometimes in the late stages of a marathon I get a little emotional. This week I pictured myself using the physical suffering of this section to pound out the bad feelings. I'll leave any lingering bad feelings on the road right here. I'll be running by myself any way at this point. Just me and the pavement.

Mile 16.51 - "Hey are you the guy from the Elma race" I hear. It takes me just a second or two to recognize soon to be maniac Lee. Two weeks ago I went to Jody's triathlon in Elma just to be a spectator. There was a marathon that had started 3 hours earlier from when we got there. I was due for an easy run, not a race, and I wanted to see some of the runners. So while Jody and her friend were getting ready I headed down the road. First I found "evil triplet" Ron who had started early and I jogged with him back to the finish. Then I ran out a mile or so and saw the overall winner coming towards me. I encouraged him and ran with him. He had never won a marathon before and even though there was no one in sight he kept looking back. I got him close to the finish and made sure that some triathletes cheered for him because there were zero spectators at this little race. Then I jogged back a mile and saw the lead woman. Now here was someone struggling like I do at the end of the race. I tried to encourage her and I ran with her but I felt like maybe I was being a bother instead of a help. She thanked me though afterwords. Now here she is again. Lee thanks me again for Elma and we have a nice conversation as we plow along at a good pace.

Mile 18 - Just running along at a steady pace with Lee. It has been nice, but she has to duck into the bathroom, so I will run alone. I pass green shirt guy for good. Here is Maniac Ken. He is running watchless, which is something I would like to try. We run together for two miles. My pace is slowing but it has been a nice stretch and the wind is not that bad. I was expecting this segment to be a "trail of tears" in stead it was "happy trails". Tumbleweed sighting.

Mile 21 - Slowing a bit more. Running now with blue shirt guy who I have been back and forth with for the whole race. We make a right turn into a strong wind and I am just behind him. I draft him for a minute, then I see that we are a little ways from another turn. I decide to be generous and kind and so I pass him quickly and get right in front of him, so he can draft me. I think he appreciated it. A little while later he has to make a rest stop.

Mile 23 - Up a little hill, hand slap Maniac Jill, and back onto the residential street. Oh there are my gloves. I do not feel like picking them up. I hope whoever finds them will use them.

Mile 23.5 - Old geezer at his mailbox. As I approach he asks "How long is this race?" "26.2 miles" I reply. "Some of you are not going to make it." Wow, way to be encouraging old man. I am past him before I can think of a good comeback.

Mile 24 - Up the switchback to the final bridge. I take the shortest ever walk break, and then keep moving. I look down and see soon to be maniac Lee right on my heels and looking pretty good. I hope she catches me.

Mile 25 - Good run over the last crossing. I think I can make this without any meltdown walk breaks. Lee has caught up and we are running together. Last water stop.

Mile 25.25 - Lee lets out a quiet four letter word and grinds to a walk. I know she will be running again shortly.

Mile 25.5 - For a good three miles I have been ever so slowly catching up to a runner with bright red arm warmers. That can only be Maniac Ben who I talked with before the start. He is one of 14 maniacs who are running the second half of a double (2 marathons in two days) today. He is usually much faster than me and I was curious to see how he would do. Perhaps next year I will run both of these Columbia River races. Now I see that Ben is walking. I wonder if I can catch him. He is about 50 yards ahead of me and starts running again. I yell to him and he stops and looks back. I wave him on with a laugh. Bad idea for the predator to yell to the prey. He is too far ahead and the end is near.

Mile 26.2 - Cross the line in good shape but get somewhat nauseated for a few minutes afterword. Happy to have gotten under four hours and to have not degenerated into walking (third marathon in a row with no walking meltdowns). I estimate a 3-5 minute wind penalty. It could have been worse. Pace chart from the watch shows some erratic running toward the end but looks steady compared to many races. The spikes every two miles are when I slowed at each water station. Hit the shower, rest a little bit, then hop in the car for a long ride home.

Marathon #26

Saturday, October 18, 2008

10/18/08 Free to Breathe 5K

What to do this weekend? I have a marathon next week and I usually run 12 miles or so a little faster than that pace one week out. So I was going to do that, but I miss the Roman Meal Glove Run 5K which has gone the way of the passenger pigeon and next week I really should not run my favorite 5K, the Ghostmuster, because it is the day before a marathon that I would like to do well at. So no Fall 5K for me. Until I looked at the race calendar and saw a new one in Tacoma. Free to Breathe Lung Cancer 5K on Saturday morning. My last 4 races have been marathons and I have done zero speed work since July because of my foot. But the foot has been doing better and I was considering some speed sessions soon. My finish time will be slower than it has been for a while, but I feel like running with a herd today, and I might as well go for quantity of races, rather than quality.

I invite my very good friend, the sloth, to join me and to my happy surprise she decides to do it. She was a fast runner in her early youth but has not been quite so athletic lately. She is going to walk the course and that is way better than all the other folks who are sleeping in this morning. Jody is also going to run and we leave the house in plenty of time.

Since this is a first time event I am concerned about logistics and we are not preregistered. As long as the course is accurately measured, marked and timed I won't fret the other potential snafus. As we walk to the registration are I see the mile 3 marker, the same mile marker from the Tacoma Marathon. Then I see Tony and I know that all of my concerns are for naught. Of course Bob and Marci are next to us at the sign in table. Lots of the regular Tacoma gang and many walkers. I do a two mile warm up and finish with some strides that feel very good.

Start - It is a skinny start line and we will be running on the sidewalk, but everyone lines up well with walkers in the back. It is a beautiful Fall day with no wind. The course is out and back along Ruston Way. Completely flat with great views of the water. Last night I had this plan to make this a specific work out (7:30 mile 1, 7:15 mile 2, 7:00 mile 3). I should be around a 7:15 pace and that plan would have me finish strong. Race start is announced and I try to remember that plan. No idea what I wanted to do. O well, just run fast. I am relaxed.

Mile 0.2 - Passing a little guy. I always want to tell them to not go out so fast, it is a long race for them. They need to learn how to pace. I look at my watch: 6:46 average pace. I snort and realize I need to heed my own advice.

Mile 0.5 - Dodge a kid on a tricycle.

Mile 0.6 - Pet a giant dog on the head. Pedestrians making full use of the sidewalk as we run by. Man jogging toward us. I want to tell him he is going the wrong way.

Mile 0.75 - Seal in the water

Mile 1.0 - GPS reads 1.00 7:09 pace

Mile 1.3 - With out and back we get to see everybody. I am not as friendly as I would be at a marathon since I am near sprint speed. I do pick up the pace for a stretch just to lose the guy with slapping feet who is on my tail.

Mile 1.7 - Running into the sun. Now my sunglasses not only make me look cool, they are serving a purpose. There is Jody looking strong and not far behind. She is hoping to break 27 minutes.

Mile 2 - Perfectly executed hand slap with the sloth. Looks like she is having a good time with her Dad.

Mile 2.2 - My air supply is low and I am almost gasping. I think that I sped up more than I should have, trying to look fast for the sloth. Settle down a bit but still moving well. The legs are fine, I am just out of breath. Funny on the "free to breathe" race.

Mile 2.9 - Strollered!! I am actually speeding up for the finish and this guy passes me with a double stroller. Only person to pass me since mile 0.5

Mile 3.1 - I see the clock cross over to 22 minutes and soon I am over the line. 7:09 pace and I knew I would be in this range, but it is a little disappointing to verify that I have lost some speed. All of my 5Ks for the last year have been under 7:00 pace. Man behind me says that I have great pacing and that he tried to get me but just could not keep up at the end. By the time I recover and walk back to the finish, the clock is at about 26 minutes. I remember that Jody wants to beat 27 although she has not done that in two years. I tell Bob that and the next thing we see is Jody coming home in 26:36. Good for her. We celebrate, then I run back down the course to cool down and find the sloth. She is about 0.75 miles from the finish, so we walk it in together. My right plantar is acting up a little but I think it will be OK. Maybe I will just stick to slow marathons, but these little short races are fun and do not take all day or weekend. One nice thing about walking in is that there is no wait for the awards ceremony. Too bad they only go one deep in ten year increments, so most of us get nothing. Nothing except a beautiful morning exercise with a friendly herd, raising money for a worthy cause. I would do this one again.


21st of 155 runners and walkers


Sunday, October 5, 2008

10/5/08 Portland Marathon

Members of Club Oly (Olymia WA) have been training long and hard for this one. I ran some of their long runs this summer when I was available and got to know some great people. I had planned to drive down with Bill and stay with family but at the last minute Jody and Tammy decided to come and Jody suggested that we get a hotel. Jody and Tammy will run the 5 mile race. All of the normal hotels close to the start were full, but the Hotel Modera had a suite available and is only four blocks from the start. The Modera is different, its got style and that style is something modern/trendy/chic/European. The best description I can come up with is that Dieter from Sprockets probably stays here. So the four of us had a nice Saturday. Lunch, then the expo to get our numbers. Bill and I took the bus tour of the course, then the four of us went to a pasta place for dinner.
My goals today are in a broad range. Having run Bellingham seven days ago I have limited expectations. My worst time ever is 4:24 and it is good to have that as a goal to beat if I have a real bad day. I would really like to beat 4:06, last weeks time. Sub 4 hours would be fantastic. I will be running with a group that wants to get in under 4 so I will pace with them, there is no way that I could PR or do much better than 4 as long as I stick to the plan and stay on pace. I doubt that I will be much good after mile 18, but I am fine with that. All I have to do is finish and I get my third Maniac star, for completing 12 marathons in 12 months.
Bill and I leave our hotel at 6AM and walk to the Hilton hotel/race headquarters to meet others from Club Oly. I learn that the public restrooms on the second floor have no line and are somewhat nicer than the port-a-potties lining the start area. We find the other four hour hopefuls: Bill running his 4th marathon with a previous PR of 4:14, Debbie so close to 4 on her first two marathons, Mark who had knee surgery in July but has been running well (students of my blog will remember Mark from October 30, 2004 where he heat me by a millisecond in a 5K), Dave who is running his first marathon and showed very good potential to be fast but had some first timer injuries and has been training conservatively recently, Shannon with a taped ankle, and me the idiot who ran a marathon last week thus blowing any chance of a speedy time.
Start - We work our way to the start and struggle through the crowds to get behind the 4 hour pace team. We are so crammed in there that we can not get within 30 yards of them. This will have to do. There are about 9,200 runners and many brought spectators to the start. Way too crowded and I am ready to get going, but relaxed. Temp is nice, but it might sprinkle. We are in the second wave and when our wave starts it takes us over a minute to get to the start line. We have our new disposable chips on that everyone except me put on properly, so it does not matter when we cross the start.
Mile 0.5 - The drums. I always get emotional here. Got to love the drums as we go down the narrow street in the semi dawn.
Mile 1 - 10:30. That is not bad considering the crowd. We can pick up the pace later. At least we are all together. Some people are throwing away really nice clothes. I want to stop for that beanie hat, but I would cause a major crash of people if I stop right now.
Mile 2 - I step into a small pothole and twist my ankle almost falling to the ground. I think that the two strangers next to me would have caught me if I had started to fall, they are so close. I keep running and everything seems fine. What a scare though, that could have been awful, for me and the herd I am with.
Mile 4 - Bill and I start crusing down the long hill at a faster pace. Debbie and Mark warn us to hold back and we do so. Most of my gang is very focused on the pace and I need to stay near them and let them be in charge. I am just along for the ride here. Not feeling very talkative either, but it is nice to be with the gang.
Mile 5 - The five mile race started a while ago and we could see the runners coming the other way. As we approach the side street from which they are coming I take one last look and then see Tammy!! I yell to her and she sees us!! That was unexpected and fun. Jody ran well and Tammy ran so fast that she was awarded with a plaque for 9th place in her age group.
Mile 6 - Starting to drizzle
Mile 7 - Out and back section. Fun to see the fast Maniacs
Mile 10 - There it is, quadricep soreness. I remember and expected this from my first back to back weekends in May. Hopefully the quads will stay strong enough to hold the knee cap in place and not cause knee pain. I can run on tired and sore legs as long as there is no pain.
Mile 11 - The four hour Red Lizard pacer is a little ways in front with a group of about 150 runners packed in all aroung him. Behind that pack is some running room and that is where we are. I think this is a great place to be. Keep that guy with the red lizard sign in sight and stay out of that pack. No need to look at the watch, though of course I do. We are spot on a nine minute mile.
Mile 12 - I make a deliberate small surge to meet the back of the pack. I assume that the others are right behind me. We have not been talking much anyway and I guess that I do not want to be in a position of trying to encourage anyone who may start to slow. Some people like to have someone "run them in at the end" and offer encouragement, but not me. I love to be cheered by spectators who I can run past, but I do not need anyone all fresh running circles around me trying to get me in with words while I am wilting. Lizard pace man is in front of us and we all have watches. I feel like we are on our own to see if each of us can hold the pace and reach their goal. I am not going to slow for anyone, and besides I am expecting to hit the wall or have knee pain any time now. Later I would find out that Mark got violently ill just behind us here and ended up vomiting five times before continuing on and finishing just under five hours. I give him great credit and guts points for finishing that race. Had I been with him when he got sick I would have stopped at least until I was sure he was OK.
Mile 13.1 - Just under 1:59 for the first half. We are all where we should be but will have to maintain that exact pace to beat 4.
Mile 14 - Light rain and some puddles forming. Some one steps in a puddle and the water splashes onto my shoe and down into my socks. Starting to remind me of winter running in Olympia. First marathon in a long time where I have not been hot at this point. I am more worried about getting wet and chilled. Good thing it is not too windy.
Mile 15 - Nice thing about this race is all the live entertainment. The course has long sections of industrial ugliness, but with so many High School cheerleaders and various musical groups, as well as fans, aid stations and balloons marking the miles, there is always something to distract and entertain. Now I approach a band that is playing "Walk Like an Egyptian". Of course I think of Charlie. She is probably still all snug in bed on this rainy early morning.
Mile 16 - Up the hill to the bridge. No one in the pack is talking and I think that a little conversation would be a nice distraction. Bill is just off to the side and Maniac Rodger is up ahead. I talk a bit with a woman who understands my purpose for the chat and we get ourselves up the hill with little trouble.
Mile 17 - High above the Willamette River on the Saint Johns bridge. Would be nice if it was not raining.
Mile 18 - 2:44 right on pace. Should hit 19 at 2:53. Billy is doing fine but along with the others has been mostly behind me.
Mile 19 - 2:53. Should hit mile 20 at 3:02
Mile 20 - 3:02. I am really pleased with how this is going. Our pack is smaller and I am just behind the pacer. Dave is with me but I have not seen the others.
Mile 22 - Love that long downhill. At each aid station I have slowed to take a drink, then caught right back up with the pacer and had no trouble speeding to catch him, then settling into a nice pace with him. Woman with ruby red hair next to the pacer with the red lizard sign. Keep that red right in front of me.
Mile 24 - Dave had made a move ahead but now we have caught him. I so hope he can hold on and finish strong. Band is playing a jazzy tune that sounds like Phish. Phish!! I just learned two days ago that the second best band ever is getting back together. That joy should carry me for a mile at least, not that I am feeling like walking. Hey I just may be able to run this whole thing. Crossing the steel bridge. The rain had let up but it is coming down hard now. It is dripping of the top of the bridge and we have to run through some showers.
Mile 24.5 - Pacer Steve tells us to get in front of him and that he will chase us to the finish. I started about a minute behind him chip time wise, so I am in great shape. Dave moves ahead and looks strong.
Mile 25.5 - Band is playing some sleepy mellow tune. It would be nice if I were inside drinking coffee and looking at the rain. I am running next to a young woman and she agrees that something a bit more uptempo would be nice to push us on.
Mile 26 - Turn to the finish line. Jody is yelling for me. I hear her but do not see her.
Mile 26.2 - Cross the line in good shape. By far the easiest marathon I have run. Never even considered walking. 1:59/1:59 split. So pleased and surprised with my time. Work my way through the recovery area, grabbing some food and drink. I've got my medal and space blanket. I cram a few cookies and a drink into my pocket. Now I get my pin, rose, cedar tree and shirt. Then it is off to the reunion area. It is so crowded, trying to make my way through the masses. I am overwhellmed with my performance and I want to see Jody and I feel like crying. If I see her across the people I am going to do my Rocky impersonation. Fight my way to her and yell "yo Adrianne...I love you". But alas I do not find her and I figure it is easier to just meet at the hotel. I also want to find Bill but they had us keep moving through the finish area. Hotel is the best option. Plus I can shower and then dry off and warm up. Jody finds me a block from the hotel and I get a great hug. Bill arrives in a little while and I learn that he and the others finished a few minutes after four hours. I hope that they had a good experience. For me, I am looking forward to racing again in three weeks.

25th marathon, 3rd Portland marathon