Sunday, November 30, 2008

11/30/08 Seattle Marathon

Weather is the wild card for this race, with its late November date. Long range forecast had called for sun, but yesterday it was changed to cloudy with a chance of showers. This morning there is a one word description of the weather - fog. Fog is good in that it means no wind. This fog is so thick that it is almost drizzle. Roads are wet. Jody is running the half marathon which for reasons I can not understand will start 45 minutes before the full marathon. Therefore I am not stressed to get there early. We went to a concert last night then stayed at BKs condo so it was a quick trip to the start line. Multiple trips to the porta potties as I watch the marathon walkers, half marathon runners, and half marathon walkers take their separate start times from outside the Experience Music Project and the Seattle Center. One last potty stop ( I am abnormally hydrated today) and then it is our turn.
Start - Look for RW among the crowd. It is easier to find her dad and know that she will be close. This is at least the 8th race in 2008 where the three of us have lined up together at the start. There she is with nice new Maniac gear. I should stash that cookie I am carrying in her back pocket, but don't think of it at the time. Soon we are off, just we three and 2,109 of our closest friends.
Mile 0.5 - 5th avenue. So crowded. Try really hard to not slam into the monorail supports as we weave around the slower runners. No need to rush though, this pace is not too bad.
Mile 2 - Onto the I-90 express lane. It is fun to be here but it is all concrete and somewhat slanty. At least the walkers are in another lane as we pass many of them.
Mile 4 - Into the tunnel. Mile long, dry, well lit. Strange clanking noise the whole way. Getting stuffy but I have been in worse tunnels
Mile 5 - Bridge to Mercer Island. Lots of fog, no view. I feel like RW should be going a little faster than me. Our pace is not too fast but is a little on the quick side. It is probably better to let her go now rather than have me suffer more later. Tempting to just stay with her as long as possible, but I have done that before and paid the price. Also I am not feeling so good, just a little off. So I say good bye and wish her well.
Mile 6 - Maniac Eric catches up. He is running a triple today (third marathon in three days) and we talk for a minute before he goes on ahead. Amazing. Fast runners are coming the other way from the turn around. Great to see so many familiar faces. Soon I am at the turnaround myself and heading back to Seattle.
Mile 7 - Easy to see each of the mile markers. They are large and taped to a Porta Potty. Pace is fine but I do not feel smooth. Something is wrong but I am not sure what.
Mile 8 - On to Lake Washington Blvd. Very flat long section ahead. I have to pee.
Mile 8.5 - On my 151st race and 27th marathon I make my first ever bathroom break. I see someone come out of a porta potty and there is no line, so I duck in for quick relief. Soon I am back on the road and much more comfortable.
Mile 11 - I have not been running well since mile 6. How to describe it? Pace is OK, but just a little hard to maintain. Usually I am well rested before a race and the early miles are so smooth, easy and pleasurable. Now I am just plodding along, not feeling very strong. My mood is OK, but not that happy. I should be having more fun but I am tired and getting really worried about how the later miles will play out.
Mile 13 - Doing a large loop around Seward Park. I can see the halfway marker ahead. I am at 1:53 and would like to be closer to 1:55 to 1:56 at the half. I should walk a bit like I did at the Light at the End of the Tunnel marathon, use some of that time in the bank right now, before I really need it. At least my split time will not be as bad this way if I walk a little now. Whoa there is a good sized pack passing me and chatting and I see that it is the 4 hours pacers. I want to be around 3:55, I can not have the 4 hour team passing me here. I thought I was ahead of schedule, they really are. Now there are significant hills to come, so maybe they are going fast prior to that. I never did work out a plan for pacing this interesting course.
Mile 14 - I "lapped" my watch at the half and sped up to be ahead of the pacers. I am starting to feel better, more of a groove
Mile 17 - Well this is going much better. I am still running the same pace, but somehow it is much easier.
Mile 18 - Larry Macon sighting. Introduce myself to the man who is running at least 100 marathons this year.
Mile 19 - Up a little hill, then back down to the water. Other people seem talkative and that is fine. Having nice short conversations and passing lots of people. Hey this is mile 19, this is really good. But torture lies up ahead.
Mile 20.5 - Left turn onto Galen street. Super steep hills are one thing, but at mile 20.5? This is a monster steep but fairly short hill leading to a longer, less steep hill. You can not run fast up this hill, there is no way. A shuffle does get me passing the walkers, Oh, hello calf muscles. Long time no feel. Wow you are making yourselves known just now. Top of the steep hill and the feeling passes.
Mile 21 - Nice to see this mile marker. I can run 10 minute miles and still beat 4 hours. It is getting difficult but no wall yet. Mood is much improved.
Mile 22 - That which is difficult can still be done. That which is difficult can still be fun.
Mile 23 - Judy Fisher sighting. Meet Maniac Coconut Boy. Pigtails!! Pigtails is on the third day of her triple, and I think she ran a 50K yesterday. Saw her at the start and told her that I should be able to beat her. Guess I was wrong. But that is fine. My problem with Pigtails is when she passes me in meltdown stage, because I did not pace properly. I am running a little slower than earlier on, but I am not at the wall and I am feeling good. I probably could stay with her for a little while, but there is too much distance to go and I need to stick to my plan. Nice hills in the arboretum, reminds me of the Sound to Narrows course. Interesting to run this course after not being here for three years and only then running it once. It seems very familiar.
Mile 24 - Another little uphill, but it is difficult. Meet Maniac Michelle and use her to keep from walking. If I can keep running it will make four marathons in a row with no walk break meltdowns. I used to do that so regularly, but in my 12th marathon of 2008 I am gaining some confidence.
Mile 25 - Lovely downhill, except it is so steep
Mile 25.5 - Last water stop, staffed by Maniac Betsy. Aid stations were plentiful and well staffed. Good course organization.
Mile 25.7 - Spectator tells me to keep pumping. I start pumping my arms like mad and it makes me go faster. Entire left leg decides to quiver, that was weird. Keep on running.
Mile 26.1 - Into the stadium and across the field. Pick up the pace for the finish
Mile 26.2 - Done!! See RW who beat me by about 6 minutes. Shuffle off to the recovery area. Pick up a banana and it is really warm, that is just odd. Find Jody and we head home. Right foot starts hurting as usual. Ice and ibuprofen seem to help. Two toes are bleeding but I am not sure why. If I could just get that foot fully fixed I would have a much easier time with recovery. Not sure if I will do this race next year. I like the big time race, but the slanty concrete is tough and many of the paved roads need lots of patching. Challenging and scenic though. But who knows about the weather for next year?
702 of 2109 runners (walkers timed separately)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

11-15-08 Club Oly - Tis the Season for a 5K Cross County Series Race Number Two - 3 Mile Race

This race has almost as good a name as the Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Scranton Merideth Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For The Cure. I have a T-shirt from that event and thought about wearing it today, but since I have not worn it yet I was afraid that what happened to Andy Bernard in that race could happen to me. So I donned regular running clothes and headed to Millersylvania State Park for my 150th race. I have raced out of Millersylvania too many times, but I have not raced on the trails. This will be my first cross country race. The Light at the End of the Tunnel would be considered a trail run, but this race will have more closed canopy, leaves and sticks on the ground, sudden turns and MUD than I have ever experienced in a race. Still it is great for a beginning trail runner like myself, since I probably will not get lost, the trails here are flat, and it is a short race so hypothermia will not set in.
This race is free for Club Oly members so I finally paid my dues and became official. I am now a member of Club Oly, Fort Steilacoom Running Club and Marathon Maniacs. The race is two loops with a slight variation on the second loop. Rich explains the course to a couple of us and since we had time it seemed like a good idea to run one loop as a warm up. Matt, Amber and I head off to scope out the trail. Amber is a gazelle and both Matt and Amber are significantly faster than me so it is nice to run an easy warm up with them. Lots of leaves on the trail and one section with some MUD followed by a shin deep puddle about 15 feet long. We pick our way around the puddle and discuss whether to run through it during the race.
The fog has lifted and it is a sunny cold morning. I knew this would be a small race but as we line up at the start I count a total of 8 runners including myself. I know four of them. Three I do not know are on the Evergreen State College cross country team. Unless one of them is slower than I suspect I am pretty much garunteed to finish in 6th place. That is fine, I am just out to have a good work out and fun time.
Start - Across a bumpy field and onto a dirt trail. Quick left turn onto a dirt road. I glance at my watch. 23 seconds into it and my prediction is holding. Five runners already out of reach, Barb and Ruhama behind me. Maybe one of those top five will fade, but I doubt it. Three minutes into the race and I make a turn onto a trail. The leaders are nowhere in site. With all the turns and deep forest I will not see them till it is all over.
Mile 0.75 - Running hard and struggling a little for air. I have no idea what my pace is and I really do not care. I am not at my 5K peak and you can not compare trail pace to road pace. I have a new attitude these days. Just grateful and happy to be running. For my next couple of races I really have no time goal. My foot problem has kept me from being able to do serious training but I am getting the mileage in. Sometime next week I will celebrate my 100th mile for the month, and will have completed at least 100 miles in each month for the past 4 years. It is a beautiful fall day and I am running alone in the woods. After all this rain the moss and lichens are bright and happy. Lots of leaves to cushion the trail. So many shades of green. Tall douglas firs and smaller hemlocks. "Alright Andy, 7:07 mile 1". I am fairly shocked to see Race Director Craig standing there with his stopwatch. I know he is fast but how did he get out here? That was unexpected and very nice. Guess I am not all alone after all. And it holds that the best races are put on by runners themselves. What a nice event this is. Oh and my pace sure seems great. Jody has the GPS for her long run this morning, so I don't really know how fast I am going. I think that 7:07 is faster than my real pace, but maybe not.
Mile 1.1 - Three nice little MUD sections. Then the big puddle. I stay to the side, only slowing a little bit.
Mile 1.3 - On to another trail. This one is a single deep rut with slightly bumpy grass on either side. During my warm up lap I ran on the grass, but now I find myself in the rut. I decide to move to the grass but turn my ankle and alost fall as soon as I hit that surface. Back into the rut I go.
Mile 1.5 - Loop one is done. Rich is there to cheer and tell me to be careful on the bumpy grass. This is not going to be a 5K, unless I suddenly got a whole lot faster. Looks more like a three mile race. That is fine.
Mile 2.5 - Almost done with the second loop. I have been thinking about that big puddle. I really need to run through it just to add to the experience. I will, no I won't, yes I will, no I won't. Here it is and in I go. But I am afraid of what lies beneath the leaves. It could be horrible shoe sucking MUD. I move over to the side. I am being a wimp, I need to get back in there or else I will regret it. No regrets. HTFU. In I go for the last four steps. Water splashing up my legs, even hitting my arms. Now on dry land. Why did I do that? It was fun though. Now my shoes are twice as heavy, my feet are sliding around in the shoes and I am slowing. Oh who cares, I am almost done.
Mile 2.8 - Turn onto the dirt road and pick up the pace. No problem with energy today, I could keep going a whole lot farther. But here is the turn to the field and the finish line.
Mile 3 - Craig hands me a "participant" ribbon and says that it was three miles, not a 5K. I think it was even shorter than that, but it is fine, lets call it three. I loved running in the woods and really enjoyed this little race. I do another lap as a cool down and see Amber running the other way. I wonder if she thinks that I am still racing. By the time I get back, everyone is done and getting ready to leave. Craig offers me a loaf of pumkin bread and I change out of my soggy shoes before heading home.
6th place of 8 runners. Last place male, but first in my age group :)
150th race, 24th race of 2008 (new record for most races in a year)