Saturday, December 19, 2009

12/19/09 Pigtails Flat Ass 50K

Last year we had a frigid cold day between snow storms. Running on 1-3 inches of snow and ice and it being my first 50K I decided to run very conservatively. Picking up the pace in the last miles I did work hard for the 5 hour 36 minute finish time, but mostly I remember it being a fun though long run. Fast forward one year. I missed running three marathons this fall, for three different reasons. I am so happy that I can be here today. This is a mostly Marathon Maniac event and it is terrific to be out with my running family. Again this year I really do not care about finish time. Except that it is always nice to run a PR. Since this is only my second 50K, all I need to do is run a 5:35 (which should be easy) and I will have my fun social run as well as a PR.

New course this year starts and finishes farther upstream on the Cedar River Trail. I do not know how much farther upstream we are from last year, but I am hoping that most if not all of the race will be in the forest, on the nice trail surface. 98 runners in the marathon or ultra makes it a much bigger event than last year, so I should have more company out there. About 45 degrees and drizzle at the start.

Start - Race Director Van (Pigtails) Phan gives a quick briefing. The course will be well marked and we will not take any wrong turns. One mental challenge is that at mile 22, while heading back to the finish line, those doing the 50K will need to take a side trail out 2.5 miles and then back. The race is casual enough that anyone wanting to change distances (drop from the ultra to the marathon) can decide to at that moment. So at mile 22 the choice is to run another 4 miles, or run another 9 miles. Hopefully I won't wimp out, but it is an option to drop down if I am in pain. I'm amazed at how good my plantar feels but suspect that it could flare up with this long distance. M761 has the same goals as me, so we will run together and I so enjoy having that company. Off we go down the "pipeline" trail.

Mile 0.5 - Before entering the main trail we are doing a half mile out on back on the other trail that is more of a dirt road. A few puddles and some gravel, but good enough footing in this early morning light. By the time we get to mile one, we are spread out enough to cross the river and enter the real trail in an orderly fashion.

Mile 5 - First aid station. We are running smoothly and taking walk breaks every two miles or so. Still going way faster than we need to. Oh I recognize this as part of last years course, we are that far downstream already. Still drizzling.

Mile 6 - On to the paved trail.

Mile 13.7 - Happy to see the turn around. Last year the whole paved section was under a little snow and it felt more like a trail through a winter wonderland. Now it is still drizzling. The trail is separated from a busy road by a 20 foot or so greenbelt, so we are plenty safe, however the noise of the cars zooming by is really bugging me. The wet road is causing the cars to be much louder than normal. I look forward to getting back onto the dirt trail and forest.

Mile 16 - Bob Dolphin sighting.

Mile 19 - Still drizzling. Taking walk breaks a little more frequently. For the slow pace and the walk breaks I should not be this tired. Energy wise I feel OK, it more that my legs feel a little beat up. It just should not be this hard at this point in the race. M761 feels the same way. After the race many others reported a similar feeling. I'm sure that the weather was a factor, but I also wonder how having to run so far on pavement, after a nice long start on the trail could affect a person's stride.

Mile 22 - Back to the aid station. I don't linger at all but instead walk up the steep but short hill and continue on this spur trail. Through an underpass and a tunnel that has good resonance for my loon call. Still drizzling.

Mile 24.5 - Welcome sight to see the turn around here. Now we are heading back to the finish for sure. Overall pace is lagging, but I am still very much in reach of that PR. Seems like the majority of runners are doing the marathon, few ultra runners to greet on the out and back.

Mile 26.2 - 4 hours 30 minutes. For the effort and how tired I feel, that is a very slow marathon time. I just need to finish the last five miles in an hour an five minutes. That should be easy as long as we do not walk the whole way. Still drizzling. At least there is no wind.

Mile 27 - Down the hill. Snap a quick picture. Fill up at the aid station and continue on. My right leg starts acting up. Some discomfort all up and down the back side of it. I had wanted to run two miles to a landmark, then walk again but we decide to walk a little more often. The hardest part is starting up again after walking. The body just resists. I'd rather keep running at a slow shuffle than stop and start, but the legs really need some walking breaks. Its still drizzling of course, my stomach is a little off and I'm getting a tad lightheaded now and then, but mostly it is the legs that are holding me back. Oh I would like to get out of these wet clothes. It is going to be very nice to put on something dry.

Mile 29 - Doing math in my head. I will get that PR

Mile 30.5 - No great desire to sprint to the finish. Actually I want to just barely beat 5:36, so that next time I can PR again without a mighty struggle. The 50K is just not a race that I am going to take competitively. I think they make good training runs for the marathon, and I like this distance, but more out of a sense of adventure and nature expedition than to prove my running ability. I am very satisfied with this effort. So we shuffle on to the finish, hoping it will be just around the next bend.

Mile 31.1 - Done. 5:33:11. PR Way harder than I expected. But I did it. And I so enjoyed being able to run long and participate in a race, with all my Maniac friends.

5:33:11 50K PR
Results pending
Race #180, Marathon or Ultra #41, Pigtails Flat Ass 50K #2

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Club Oly Tis the Season for a 5K at Pioneer Park Tumwater 12/12/09

About a week after my last race I had a severe and unexpected flare up of plantar faciitis in my right foot. It happened on an off day after an easy run day and I do not have a definitive explanation for why it happened. I could not walk without a limp for four days. I had to take a full week off of running. Dedicated icing and gentle stretching brought the internal inflammation down and I gradually got back into running. I was disappointed to not be able to race over Thanksgiving weekend, but I am running again and I have a fresh and profound sense of gratitude and joy to be able to run. One week from today is the Pigtails 50K race with so many of my Marathon Maniac pals. Having had three "did not starts" in marathons in the past two months (for three different reasons) my main goal is to not injure myself today so that I can make the start line next week. It seems to be the speed work or short races that cause "microtears" in my plantar, so as long as I take it easy I should be fine.
I arrive at Pioneer Park nice and early. My first time racing here, a new location for the final race in this series. The course is just over a mile, so we will do three laps to make it a 5K. I am early enough and want to get some miles in, so I run three loops prior to the start. I bring the camera along during the warm up. As you can see the weather is freezing fog. The trail is flat but mostly somewhat loose and large gravel. Not the best footing. On the side of the gravel is packed dirt, but in places it is very bumpy. Lots of opportunities to twist and ankle, another good reason to take it slow. Billy and Tammy join me for part of the warm up and I snap their picture coming out of the one forested very bumpy section.

Start - I line up in the back and when we start I am amazed at how fast some runners are going and how quickly we spread out. Ruhama and I are together in the back. I'd be happy just running with her, but I am afraid that this pace may be a little quick for her and I would be more comfortable going just a little faster. Tammy is next person ahead so I catch up to her. I like this pace and settle in with Tammy.

Mile 1.4 - On our second lap. I like this pace. We pass one runner. Tammy is looking at the ground in front of her, a wise choice with all these bumps, but she misses the sharp turn away from the river and starts down the path to where the river has eroded the old trail. About five more steps and she will tumble into the river. I shout and grab her to safety. That was funny.

Mile 1.7 - I thought this could happen and here it is. Jesse Stevick is lapping us. Its one thing to be super fast on the roads, I just don't know how anyone can run so fast on this uneven surface with all these twists and turns. Just a moment later Rich Brown laps us too.

Mile 2.6 - Still with Tammy. We are holding a steady 8:25 pace. Through the twisty woods, then the final straight way to the finish line.

Mile 3.1 - I want to push Tammy to finish strong and I want her to pass me at the end. She seems to want to finish exactly together. I slow a bit, then she slows and we end up crossing at about the same time. I think she was a half step ahead of me.

A couple of us do one more lap as a cool down. That makes seven laps for me this morning. Foot feels great, so I should be good to go much longer next week. Congrats to Bill for running a speedy time, I'm not so sure I could have kept up with him if I had given a full effort. And big congrats to Ruhama for winning the shoes again this year. She may not be the fastest runner, but she makes it out to every race of the series, earning enough points to be the overall winner, while having a fun time.

Results Pending
Race #179, 5K#49

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Club Oly Tis the Season for a 5K - 3 mile race at Millersylvania State Park 11/14/09

I very much enjoyed this little race last year and vowed to run it again. I particularly enjoyed the cool forest trails and natural setting. I remember thinking that I would like to try some barefoot running and if ever there was a race to run barefoot this would be it. In the Summer I started some barefoot running on grass, mostly to strengthen the muscles in my feet that don't get worked on as they are trapped in my clunky running shoes with orthodic inserts. Being careful to not over do it and get injured, I gradually built up some strength and adjusted to a completely different foot strike. Along the way I discovered that I love the feeling of the earth beneath my feet and that I can run just as fast without shoes as with, as long as I am on soft ground and not in pain from stones or pavement. A few weeks ago I picked up a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers, which offer some protection from sharp stones but are essentially the same as running barefoot. I have built up to 1.5 miles on them and I hesitated to race a full 3 miles, but at the last minute decide to go for it. No time goal and if it becomes painful I will just walk it in, or switch shoes for the second lap. This morning is the coldest day of the year so far, just sub freezing. I jog about a mile in regular shoes and take some photos of the course, then join Bill for another warm up lap. A few minutes before the start I switch to the Vibrams and my feet start getting cold right away. Debbie, Lynn and Sabrina show up to watch and help with the race, so I give my camera to Lynn who was able to get some good shots of the race....thanks Lynn!!

Start - Three more runners than last year. I either know or introduce myself to all eleven of us. Karen Steen is going to run with her dog. Race Directors Craig and Rich have marked the course which will be a little different from last year. They are explaining the route and I really should be paying attention but somehow my mind wanders and I am not really listening.

Mile 0.3 - Down the "road" which has the most gravel of the course. I've tucked in behind Bill and am in a group of five. Casual atmosphere, I do not look at my watch to check pace. Angie asks about my marathoning and then another runner asks what my favorite marathon is. That is a question that I could go on and on about. I mutter out a few races but decide to not ramble on. In fact my feet are adjusting to the Vibrams, I am warming up and feel like I could go faster. I make a move speeding up just as we enter the second type of trail.

Mile 0.8 - I really like the feel of this trail. Softer and no stones. The big puddle from last year is merely a patch of mud. Ohh it feels lovely squishing around my feet. "Its a treat to beat your feet on the Millersylvania Mud". I pass one runner and the others seem to fading away behind me.

Mile 1.3 - Third type of trail, no picture of this one. Dry and very narrow track with uneven grass on either side. I run on the grass and my foot goes in a hole hyper extending my right leg. Scary but a minor issue as I continue on and feel OK. On to the grass to finish the first lap.

Mile 1.9 - Feet feeling the stones on the gravel road more that they did on the first go round. Trip up on a small branch. A number of very minor ankle turns and slips that would not have happened in regular shoes. I wonder if I will regret this. First look at watch. 7:42/mile pace.

Mile 2.2 - Back onto the softer trail and although I have to watch for roots and branches and general unevenness of the trail I simply love this part. I can speed up some, enjoy the squishy mud, and I just relish racing on the trail.
Mile 2.7 - Did fine on the narrow track this time. Course takes a right turn on this second lap and I can not help but look back to make sure no one is close behind. In fact no one is and as I go down the gravel road I slow a bit due to lack of competition. Soon enough it is time to make a sharp left and enter the field and final section to the finish.

Mile 3.0 - I look at my watch and realize that I can beat 23 minutes if I push it. The "crowd" is cheering and I crank it up a notch to the finish. Craig hands me a pumpkin pie. I change shoes and put on warm clothes and watch the others come in.

This race has a number of wonderful things: simple day of race registration (free for Club Oly members), two experienced race directors, accurate timing, small group of mostly Club Oly members and a fast beautiful trail. My calf muscles tightened up after the race, but the feet feel fine and I will race in my Vibrams again sometime.

5th place of 11
race #178

Sunday, November 1, 2009

11-1-09 Turn Back the Clock 10K

With budget cuts to the county Parks and Recreation department we lost my favorite Fall short race, the Ghostmuster. Thankfully the city of Lacey has stepped into the race directing game and has this offering. Jody and I chose the 10K and registered the morning of. Start and finish at Rainier Vista Park. The course is flat and heads to the Chehalis Western (paved) trail. Turning left we will run south and exit the trail in order to circle Horizons Elementary School, site of the Run for Luck (another race that may be no more). About half of this course is very familiar racing territory and the whole thing is flat and should be fast. Cold and foggy.

Start - One mile warm up, then some strides. Greet lots of local friends. Feeling good and ready to go. I have something of a training plan for the coming months and just 5 days ago I did a tempo run at 7:30 pace for 4.5 miles. I want to extend the length of that pace, so today I will just try to hold a 7:30 for the full 6.2 miles. It should be doable and not too difficult. No chance of a PR (7:09 pace) so I will run at this tempo speed and if I feel good pick it up in the last mile. Mile 1 - My neighbors Maureen and Kent are calling out mile times. I am at 7:28 and running smoothly. Another neighbor, Lauri directs us onto the trail and points the way.

Mile 3 - Pass a couple of people, run for quite a while next to a guy about my age. Not a talking pace, we exchange a few words. Finally I move ahead. Lots of wet leaves on the ground, but no slipping.

Mile 4.8 - Heading back now. We have merged with the 5K runners who started 15 minutes earlier, so I have to pick my way around the slower ones. Someone says that there is a mile to go. That is true for the 5K, but we get directed onto a side street where we make a half mile loop. Then it is back to the main road for the straight shot to the park.

Mile 6 - I am at 7:26 overall pace. Very pleased with the running today. Time to see what I have left and sprint to the finish. I can hear footsteps behind me and catching up. That sound and the cheers of some friends propel me forward and I cross the line without getting passed. Former Ghostmuster RD is volunteering at the finish and comments on my 2002 Ghostmuster shirt. As a replacement race for the Ghostmuster I am very pleased with Turn Back the Clock. Well organized, lots of helpers, accurate timing, nice age group awards, plenty of food and good sized turn out. Do not have to wait long for the awards ceremony and it was generally a very nice time.


18th place of 96 runners

24th 10K, race #177


Saturday, October 10, 2009

10/10/09 Columbus Day Marathon

Bob Green race at Elma. I saw that M1353 was planning to run, but had not done one of these "holiday" races before, and I was able to contact her and warn/advise her about what to expect. I thought that there would be at least five of us at the 9:30 start time, but Monte and Jim opted to start off on their own at 7:30. So three of us (M1813, M1353 and myself) start together on a cool but very nice day for running. Three others would start at 10:30, along with just a few doing the half, ten miles, 10K or 5K.
Mile 5 - The three of us running together holding a steady 9/mile. Chatting away.
Mile 6.4 - Here is the turnaround, it is the double out and back course. The turn around is at the exact same spot as at the Easter Marathon, well short of the 6.55miles where it should be. I think about going out a little farther but I know that the other runners (at least the 10:30 starters) won't do it. 25.8 miles is close enough to 26.2 and would make up for some of the marathons that have been long? Really I do not think so and in fact I vow to not run this course again, unless he gets the mileage correct.
Mile 8 - M1813 starts to lag. M1353 and I continue at our steady pace.
Mile 10 - The chatting stops, we are together but have stopped talking. Runners coming at us, who started at 10:30. Can't tell who is doing what race. I hope that fast guy is only doing the half. With such a small field there is the potential for me to be overall winner.
Mile 12.8 - Turn around back at the park.
Mile 14 - We have slowed down some since the turn around. M1353 is lagging just a bit. She is on her 4th marathon or ultra in 4 weeks and ran a 100 mile race just two weeks ago. Her normal times are a little faster than mine, but given what she has done recently I think that I should be able to beat her. I decide to get my pace back to 9/mile and the distance between us grows.
Mile 16 - Bill Herzog pulls along in his truck, then pulls over to join me for the last ten miles. So great to have his company. Too bad I am starting to tire somewhat. I don't feel horrible, but not great either.
Mile 21 - Still holding pace. One of the late starters (M989) is coming at me and a quick calculation tells me that there is no way my time will be faster than his. Nothing I can do about that. M1353 is gaining but I am not slowing much. Bill encourages me to drink and to gag down that third GU. I am not going to go all out today, but I would like to run the whole way with no walk breaks.
Mile 24.5 - Aid station. I don't want to litter so I drink from the cup at the table and put it in the trash bag, and there is M1353 passing me by. Bill and I continue running, but M1353 has really picked up the pace and I have no chance of catching her. Plug along to the finish, able to run the whole way.
Mile 25.8 - Hang around the finish area recovering and waiting to see who comes in next. M989 rolls in easily taking first place. He has a PR and is most unhappy about the course being short. The others finish later. Highlights today were pleasant running with M1352, M1813 and then Bill. Also the decent weather and the horses, cows and red tail hawk. Low light was the race distance. I just can not do this one again unless I know that the course will be accurate. I do have a number of races planned for days that are the same as these holiday races, so I probably won't be back to a Bob Green race for some time.

3rd place of 8
Marathon or ultra #40

Sunday, September 27, 2009

9/27/09 Bellingham Bay Marathon

Third running of this event. Third course variation. Third location for packet pick up on the day prior. Beautiful sunny cold morning. 258 in the full marathon, just over 1,000 running the half. Races start at the same time and follow the same course for the first eleven miles.

Mile 1-7 Easy running in the neighborhood. Blazing sunshine in my eyes (even with sunglasses on) on some roads. Short new trail section. Nice running with some Maniac friends to keep the pace even and enjoy the time.

Mile 8-11 - Along the waterfront. I like the wooden boardwalk. Hill out of the waterfront and I feel my legs tire a bit for the first time.

Mile 12-16 - Through a different hillier neighborhood. Last year we did this section after the long trail. I think that I will like getting this done first better. All along catching folks I do not know, having pleasant short conversations for a about a mile, then moving on. It has thinned out with all the halfers off the course now.

Mile 16-23 - Gravel and dirt trail. I really like this part. California hill is as steep as ever. Harder to run down it than up. Tiring but hanging in there. Temperature is perfect. Kid volunteers are great. Not just at the aid stations but at all the road/trail crossings. Full of enthusiasm for the runners.

Mile 22.5 - Looking at a zig zag uphill and not wanting to go up. No runners close by, but two spectators encourage me. I get an idea to be funny and I come to a complete stop and say "I quit. I can't go on". The spectators looked shocked and don't know what to say. "Just kidding" I say and start up again. It was good for laughs.

Mile 25 - Clock looks good, no PR but under 4 hours for sure. I could ease up and do fine. But I read the back of the T-shirt of a guy in front of me. It says "Never stop challenging yourself" I like that, and it means that I should keep trying my best. I run beside the guy and tell him that his shirt inspired me. We stay together and run comfortably hard to the finish.

Mile 26.1 - Jody and Bill are cheering on one side of the road. On the other side I hear someone yell that is was great that I did not quit. That makes me laugh and we accelerate to the line.

75th of 258
Race #175, Marathon or Ultra#39, Bellingham Bay Marathon#3

Sunday, September 13, 2009

9/13/09 Skagit Flats Marathon

Last year I dwelt on the negatives about this race (boring course, flat out and back, too hot and sunny) but today I am thinking about the positives. Although it is 120 miles from home, it is an easy drive and just off the freeway. No problem parking at the High School. Easy day of race packet pickup. I like out and back because I can see so many Maniac friends. Finish on a track with bleachers providing a good recovery and spectating area. Shower facilities available too. Logistically this is a terrific race. Unfortunately the weather is shaping up to be sunny and hot yet again.
Start - I do not have plans to run with anyone in particular. I am also completing my third marathon in three weeks and do not feel the need to run conservatively like I did last week, but also have no idea how the recent races will affect me today. I will just set my own pace and hope to do well. I would like to get in under 4 hours. I'll go out just a little faster than that, just in case I am feeling great, and want to go for a PR, though with the heat and recent races this is unlikely. What I do want to do is focus on my form. With all of these long straight and totally flat miles I can set and hold my pace. I decide that I will try to concentrate on one element of form (elbows straight, head steady, slight lean forward, navel to spine......) along each straightaway and change to thinking of another element after the turn. White cap and sunglasses. Find some friends and then we go off.
Mile 1 - Crowded with all the halfers too. Started a tad fast but find my pace and stick to it.
Mile 3 - Aid station. I am sweating already. Tempted to pour a little water on my head, but it is too early for that.
Mile 5 - Thinking about holding my head steady. I zone in on a yellow cap in front of me that I am gradually catching up to. Soon I recognize the hat and the runner. Nice to run with Ron, Una and Herb for a few minutes. Halfers are coming back and I see three Marathon Maniacs who are doing the Half Fanatics thing today.
Mile 6.5 - Half turnaround. Happy that the runner with me (18 years old) is continuing on. Pleasant conversation, then she slows some and I move ahead. Try to think about form, but then catch up to someone and run with them for a mile or two. This would become the theme of the race till mile 22. Run for a while with someone I do not know, but enjoy a little conversation. Try to not talk too much, especially with the two who are trying to BQ. With each runner though they can not hold the pace and I slide ahead.
Mile 13.1 - Halfway in 1:56
Mile 16 - Bob Dolphin Sighting
Mile 19 - Starting to be a grind. Not so much fun anymore. Pavement seems old in places, some uneven surfaces. I wish that I could adequately describe the blazing sunshine. I have been pouring water on my head and the slow drip through the hat is nice. I have run in hotter situations though and I am ever so gradually passing runners. Diligent with the S!Caps, Gu and hydration. Aid stations staffed by High School athletes and I like most of their enthusiasm. One guy offers me a branch of blueberries he just plucked from the field. I take one berry. Pass a runner who is scraping her feet on the ground with each step.
Mile 22 - I almost always speed up a little prior to the aid station, then walk through to make sure I get what I need and this gives my legs a change of pace. Leaving the aid station here I can not help but make a wailing cry like a baby because I do not want to start up running again. A woman behind me must have recognized my cry, because she asks if it is me, then I recognize Maniac Susan who I met a few months ago. If it was nice to have some company from strangers along the way earlier, this is wonderful. We run together and encourage each other. My spirits are lifted, although the body is tiring. I am starting to slow, but not dramatically. I'd like to walk, but we look at sights ahead, telephone pole or corner, and commit to running that far. I did a horrible job of concentrating on form, with all of the out and back folks to wave to and run with, now it is too late to think about anything but persevering onward.
Mile 24.5 - Small patch of shade and without any conscious decision I find myself walking. This lasts about two seconds and I break into a shuffle, then get back on pace. Odd moment. I am pleased with how this is going, my best Skagit race as far a even pacing.
Mile 25 - Susan gets ahead and I am fine with that, but she is staying 30-40 feet in front of me. Every few minutes I yell to her to keep running. That is the thing about the marathon. The idea that we are competing with each other never entered my mind. I am happy for her that she is having a good run and she is encouraging me to keep going.
Mile 25.5 - I can tell that the end is near and I have a little kick left. I pass Susan and a couple of others. At the last aid station I dumped three cups of water on my head and now I feel that my shoes are soaked. I also had water roll down my back and front so I am pretty much drenched all over between sweat and water.
Mile 26.2 - The friendly volunteer most excellently removes my tag and I walk off to shower and recover while watching others finish. Pleased with my time (one second slower than two years ago, but two minutes faster than last year) and a much more enjoyable final hour than previously here. Not my favorite race, but I hope to do it again.

76th of 225
Race #174, Marathon #37, Marathon or Ultra #38

Sunday, September 6, 2009

9/6/09 Michelles Grande-Ass Marathon

The Portland Marathon makes a big deal about all the turns on their course and puts the full directions on the T-shirts. That race has nothing on this one:

1) Start in front of Meridian Place Shopping Center Starbucks. Run North to 43rd Ave SE
2) Turn Right on 43rd Ave SE to four way stop at 5th St SE
3) Turn Left on 5th St SE. Continue North. @31st Ave SE road will veer right and eventually turn into 7th St SE. Continue to 23rd Ave. SE.
4) Turn Right on 23rd Ave. SE crossing at the intersection when it is safe. Run East to 17th St. SE
5) Turn Left to 17th St. SE. and run to 19th Ave. SE
6) Turn Right on 19th Ave. SE and run East to 21st St. SE
7) Turn Left on 21st St. SE and get ready to run down a very steep hill into the Puyallup valley. This road is closed to cars so you will need to go around two yellow gates at the top of this hill. Run to end of 21st St. SE to East Pioneer, which is a busy thoroughfare.
8) Turn Right on East Pioneer and run to 134th Ave. E.
9) Turn Left on 134th Ave. E (Pioneer way will curve to the right at 134th).
10) Run along farming road to the end of 134th Ave E at which point you will come to a dead end. Run around the yellow gate and down under the overpass. Trail will be very sandy under the overpass.
11) Turn left when you get to other side of overpass and run up the small hill towards the restaurant.
12) Turn 180 degrees and head up Main Ave (The road you just crossed under)
13) Main Ave. turns to Traffic Ave. Stay on it to Maple St.
14) Turn Right on Maple St. and run to Bonney Ave.
15) Turn Left on Bonney Ave. to Main St.
16) Turn Right on Main St. and run to Valley Ave E. Cross to STARBUCKS!
17) Turn Right on Valley Ave. E and run to Elm St.
18) Turn Right on Elm St.
19) Elm St. curves left and turns into E Valley Hwy E.
20) Run short distance on E. Valley Hwy E. to Puyallup St. E.
21) Turn Left on Puyallup St. E., cross tracks and run to Tacoma Ave.
22) Turn Right on Tacoma Ave. Road curves to left. Run over bridge crossing river.
23) After crossing river run to trail entrance on left just before 142nd Ave E
24) Run on paved trail that follows along the river until it comes up to 142nd Ave. E.
25) Turn Left on 142nd Ave. E. and cross river to Fryar Ave.
26) Turn Right on Fryar Ave. and run to West Main St.
27) Turn Right on West Main St., West Main St. curves left and turns into Hunt Ave.
28) Turn left onto Hunt Ave. (West Main becomes Hunt Ave at turn) run to State St.
29) Turn Right on State St. and run under large overpass. Run to trail on right.
30) Turn Right on paved trail and loop around the beautiful Sumner sewage treatment plant.
31) Trail will take you back to E. Main St.
32) Turn Right on E. Main St. and cross river.
33) Turn Right doing a 180-degree turn back down to the trail after crossing bridge.
34) Turn Left on Trail and run along river for about 2 miles. Run under Hwy 512 overpass to 2nd Ave. NE
35) Turn Right on 2nd Ave. NE and run to 5th St. NE.
36) Turn Right on 5th St. NE and run to trailhead on left. Trail is just past 8th Ave. NE and just before the bridge that crosses the river. If you cross the river you are off course.
37) Stay on trail along the river heading west. Run under the overpass for N Meridian and watch for arrows on trail (about 100 yards) indicating a left turn into the back parking lot of Fred Meyers.
38) Follow the arrows painted on the parking lot around Fred Meyers to the River Road Starbucks Aid Station.
39) Go East on River Road from Starbucks to N. Meridian.
40) Turn Left on N. Meridian and run across bridge passing over Puyallup River.
41) Turn Left on N Levee Rd. just after crossing the Puyallup River. Levee Rd. has no shoulder so use caution on this road. Use sidewalk when available. Run about 2 miles to 70th Ave East.
42) Turn Right on 70th Ave. East and run one mile to Valley Ave. E.

43) Turn Left on Valley Ave. E., this road winds gently about a mile and then turns right and becomes 54th Ave E.

44) Turn Right on 54th Ave. E. and run over I-5 being careful in the busy intersections. Run to Pacific Hwy E.

45) Turn Left on Pacific Hwy E. and run about 1 mile to Fife Starbucks Aid Station on left

46) Leave Fife Starbucks on Pacific Hwy E. heading West and run to bridge crossing Puyallup River. Pacific Hwy E. changes to Ells St. over bridge and then to Puyallup Ave. as you cross E. Portland Ave., Run one block past E. Portland Ave. to E. L St.

47) Turn Left on E. L St. (East L Street) and run up the hill to E. 29th St.

48) Turn Right on E 29th St. (more up hill). E29th St. veers left and becomes Upper Park St., run skirting edge of McKinley Park follow arrows to McKinley Way.

49) Turn Right down McKinley Way (becomes E. D St.) past Tacoma Dome on your right to East Dock St. Careful crossing the intersections on this stretch. Run to E. Dock Street.

50) Turn Left on E Dock Street (near Mile 23), run under overpass for Hwy 509 follow arrows leading to sidewalks / stairs through Museum of Glass. Run over Museum of Glass Bridge crossing Hwy 705 follow arrows to Pacific Ave. Cross Pacific Ave.

51) Turn Right after crossing Pacific Ave. and go to Downtown Tacoma Starbucks Aid Station.

52) Continue North on Pacific to just past S17th St. where you will cross Pacific Ave. Watch for light rail cars before crossing / use crosswalks then run down Hood Ave. on right beside the Tacoma Art Museum. Follow arrows on Hood Ave. across small bridge and down to Dock St.

53) Turn Right on Dock St. and run just under a mile to the end of Dock Street. Dock St. curves to the left becoming S4th St. up a short hill to S Schuster Pkwy. Use crosswalk to cross S Schuster Pkwy and run over to sidewalk.

54) Turn Right and run on sidewalk along S Schuster Pkwy. Run about a mile till you see an overpass and stay left on sidewalk. You do NOT want to go over the overpass. The road on left is N 30th St. Run up the sidewalk along N 30th St. to the top of the hill and you will see the FINISH @ Old Town Tacoma Starbucks!

If anyone read all that they would have found that we start and end at a Starbucks and have four Starbucks aid stations/checkpoints along the way. That is where the Grande part comes in. The race is in the "fat ass" style which refers to no frills and low cost events put on as much for fun as competition. Michelle is Michelle Barnes a "coffee drinker with a running habit". Her husband Eric is the race director, course marshal, van driver and everything else. A couple of dedicated volunteers to help along the way and we have the makings of a nice little marathon.

Arrive at 5:30 for the 6AM start. I know about half of the participants and the other half are also friendly Marathon Maniacs. Its early but that will allow us to beat a lot of traffic. Much of this race will be on busy roads, open to traffic. Just before the start, RD Eric gives a briefing and I learn that he will transport drop bags to the finish. I wish I had known, I am sure that it is going to rain and to have a towel and dry shirt at the finish would be really nice. It is two minutes to the start, but I have time; I dash into the parking lot and grab some gear out of my trunk. Toss the bag with the others and get to the start line about three seconds before he says to go.
Mile 0.5 – It is still dark. I can see that no one is really taking the lead and we are all bunched up and owning the roads. I think it will be fun to take the lead for a second so I zoom up and take the front spot. Just for a moment, then it is back to the middle of the pack. Not raining so I take my jacket off and it starts to sprinkle right away. Jacket goes back on.
Mile 2 – Settling into a nice easy pace. I am surprised when I look at my watch and see how slow we are going, about a 10 minute mile. It feels faster than that and I have no urge to go any faster. We come to a very steep and long downhill. M761 remembers having to run up this hill, while on the High School team, until legs were quivering. It is a tremendous hill and I am glad that we are going down. My toenail that was bruised last week seems fine, but the top of my other foot, which mysteriously started hurting midweek, does not like the downhill.
Mile 3 – Nice farmland, more rural than I expected and what I know is coming. Running with M1040, M971, M761 and M678
Mile 5 – A little confusion as some runners ahead of us are telling us to go a different way, but they are not doing so themselves. Eventually I realize that they are from the early start group for slower runners. These folks started at 4:30AM and were completing a five mile loop that I was just starting. Sure enough the course markers indicate the way we should go and we were saved from making a wrong turn.
Mile 6.6 – Starbucks aid station. Water at a table outside the store. Water added to my fuel belt dilutes the Gatorade. We stop for a few minutes. I really want to stay with my little pack and do not feel rushed at all. I am a little surprised to see that the average pace has risen to 10:45/mile by the time we get back running.
Mile 7.5 – One runner is way ahead and as I keep her in my sights, M761 points out that we are supposed to turn here. That runner would come back and catch up to us eventually. I am consulting the directions (in a ziplock bag) often and we all are looking for course markers. Generally they are very well placed with just the occasional slow down or stop for a quick group decision on where to go. This feels like a Club Oly long run, or maybe a very low key version of the Amazing Race.
Mile 10 – Nice long section on a paved trail along the Puyallup River. So many people fishing for salmon. I remember my days as an avid fisherman. It was quite the hobby some years ago, but as the running picked up I found I only have time for one hobby. Fishing also became a little boring, the whole “been there, done that” feeling. I wondered if I would get bored with marathoning, but each race is so different and I never quite know what is going to happen on race day. I see some kids carrying limits of fish and I realize that I am much happier to be running here now.
Mile 13.4 – River Road Starbucks. M761 is still getting back in shape and will drop out here. My little pack is down to two out of the aid station. I still would like to stay with someone, to help navigate. Keep the pace at a very easy 10:40.
Mile 15 – No shoulder on this busy road. Look back once in a while to make sure I am not getting too far ahead of M678.
Mile 16 – Green mile marker gives confidence that I am still on the right road. See someone land a fish. Amazed at how many people are fishing this reach of the river.
Mile 18.5 – More confident of the course as I go up over I-5 (river of traffic) and turn left on Pacific Ave in Fife. There is the Poodle Dog Restaurant with its gigantic sign that reads “Good Food”. Starbucks will be somewhere here but I don’t know which side of the road. There is MacDonalds, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Taco Time. I will never eat at any of those places, not with the Poodle Dog so close by. Again it is significant to race where I sometimes drive. I will never drive this way again and not think of this moment. Finally I see Starbucks.
Mile 19.1 – M678 catches up and I explain that I would like to take the last miles at a faster pace. He figured that so off I go.
Mile 20 – Set the lap function on the watch and go off at 8:40/mile. Minor adjustments to stride to keep top of foot from hurting, but energy level is great. Zip along Pac Ave into looming dark clouds ahead.
Mile 21.5 – Turn onto East L street. At once the rain starts and it is heavy. Thankful for my jacket with hood. Also the road is a major hill. Long and steep. I would not be able to run a nine minute mile here on fresh legs. I feel fine and I can not be discouraged that I am not able to maintain a quicker pace. Right turn on 29th and the hill continues even steeper. And the rain is heavier, really dumping now. The hill is so steep that I find myself pushing on my thigh as I climb up. The skin is cold from the rain, but the leg is very warm inside, weird sensation. OK, top of the hill and around Mckinley Park.
Mile 22.5 – For the first time in about three hours I see another runner up ahead. Slowly catch up to him and we run past the Tacoma Dome and through the Glass Museum grounds together. Up the steps at the Glass Museum. Steps are short and I try to take them two at a time, but that is not happening.
Mile 23.7 – UW Tacoma Starbucks. Quick stop here, passing some of the early starters, then move on feeling strong. Pass two more runners and can see four more up ahead. Nice to have some company.
Mile 25 – Still dumping rain. Hours ago I was dodging puddles to stay on the dry ground. Now it does not matter, I am soaked. Shoes are heavy and slogging. I do avoid the cars splashing by on Schuster Parkway.

Mile 26 - Uphill. Starting to tire. Drenching rain continues. Running with M932 and M11. Not going to be able to pass them. Don't have much urge to do so any way, I am happy to just try to keep up. Wish this was 26.2 not 26.6. Almost there anyway.

Mile 26.5 - Up into Old Town. The finish should be right ahead. The two ahead of me are gaining somewhat, wish I knew exactly how far to go. They cross an intersection and as I get there I see a car approaching. With the heavy rain and having been running for so long, I play it safe and stop. The car stops ahead of the stop sign, totally blocking my crosswalk. Again I take the safer option to wait a bit, then go out behind the car as it pulls forward. Now I can see that it is less than a block to the end so I jog it in.

So happy to have a dry towel and shirt. Recovery goes well as I did not have much of an all out effort today. Grande Carmel Macchiato really hits the spot as we wait for enough runners to make a van load and get a ride back to the start. I had a fun time and a good run. My finish time is horrible for a road marathon, but I did run the last 7.5 miles much faster than the first 19. I think this was a good strategy for the middle marathon of three weeks in a row. We shall find out next week, when I try to get back under four hours.


12th place of 38 finishers

Race # 173, Marathon or ultra#37


Sunday, August 30, 2009

8/29/09 Redmond Watershed Preserve Marathon

Lots of terrific racing planned for the coming weeks, possibly doing five marathons in the next six weeks, starting today. Each race is different from the others and today is something new for me. My first real trail race. The Light at the End of the Tunnel was a trail but it was all gentle downhill and on more of a dirt road than trail. I do not know what to expect for today. It has been nine weeks since my last marathon, with only two longish runs since then (18 milers). So my goal today is just to have fun and not get lost. Finish time does not matter....or so I try to tell myself.

Easy drive to the Redmond Watershed Park. Small race put on by Northwest Trail Runs. Low cost and no frills. No shirt and no medal. Three times around a complicated loop of 8.7 miles, with an aid station at the start of each loop. I could send a water bottle out to the far end of the loop, but with my water/fuel belt I am sure I can run a loop without running out of fluids.

Just prior to the start we get a briefing from the race director. There is a 5 mile and 10 mile race also happening and they will use some but not all of the same course as the marathon. He goes on about following pink ribbons if you are a marathoner. Follow the pink at turns, the orange and white ribbons are for the 5 and 10 mile races, don't follow those.....unless you see only orange and white, then you should turn there....huh? And there will be "confidence ribbons" hanging from trees after turns so that you know you did make the proper turn. There will be a short out and back or loop to start, then a longer out section followed by a double loop....turn left the first time you take this loop, then turn at the second left when you complete the loop again....huh? You will do this double loop every time you do one of the larger loops that we do three times? Still with me? Too bad I do not have a map to follow. We will start two minutes before the other races start.

Loop 1 - 1 hour 26 minutes

I meet a couple of maniac folk just before the race and we talk about staying together so as not to get lost. As we start though there is only room for two across with no room to pass and I am just thrown into the thick of the pack. I can't take a wrong turn here unless everyone does so I just trot along. Left turn and down a steepish very rocky track. I had forgotten about another important goal; do not trip. Soon we turn off into the woods, then loop back to the uphill. A couple of faster runners did it as an out and back and I am surprised to see people who were ahead of me now passing me. This would become a theme all day long. I would continually be surprised at finding myself ahead or behind someone.

Mile 1 - On to a better trail for footing and I pass a few runners. Difficult to get into any kind of groove. Lots of up and down and sudden turns. I finally settle into a pace about 9:30/mile, slower than I would be on the roads, but it seems right for this trail.

Mile 2.5 - Ouch!! Bee sting on my right side. See a small swarm on the side of the trail. Fortunately just one sting and the pain goes away in a few minutes.

Mile 3 - Open area, alder regrowth. I am running at the back of a pack of seven runners. I have found my pace, feeling warmed up and running relaxed. I could pass these guys but I think I will just settle in here for a while.

Mile 4 - Older second growth Douglas fir. Lots of sword fern but little under story diversity. Baseball-size rocks on the trail. More level than the previous ups and downs but still lots of turns and small dips.

Mile 6 - Quick crossing of a residential street, then a short way to a turn around. Still hanging with my pack. This is great, they are going at a nice pace and I do not have to think about the course, just follow along behind them.

Mile 7 - Back through the bees and the guy in front of me gets stung. Immediately the two in front of the pack declare that we are off course, we never should have returned past the bees this way. Two others know the trail system here and say that if we continue on we can connect with the proper trail and it will be faster than turning back. This will add at least a half mile extra to this first loop. So much for just hanging with the pack, I should have carefully watched what we were doing. There is comfort in being with six other wayward souls however. We head on and up and up some more and I know that the pace is quickening. The leaders just want to get back on track and maybe they have sped up without even realizing it. If I was on course I would let them go, we really are cruising too fast right now, but I can not let them slip away or I may be lost forever! Finally they seem convinced that we are on course....I have no clue where we are but stay with them. We arrive back at the start and my GPS which reads short on trails, is reading 9.2 miles. At least a half mile extra.

Loop 2 - 1 hour 24 minutes

Our pack split up at the aid station. Some are ahead of me, some behind. I am behind one runner now. Little first mile loop, then the long out.

Mile 2.5 - I know that the bees are coming and we try to run fast past the spot. My companion gets stung once, I manage to avoid them.

Mile 3 - I pass the other runner and strike out on my own. There are some people coming the other way every now and then, but I can see no one in front of me. Lets see if I can follow the trail markers.

Mile 5 - Starting to tire a little. Two hikers (not part of the race) are staring and pointing at a tree. I have to slow and ask them what they are looking at. "Caterpillars" one replies. That is cool, but not worth stopping for. Dark in the woods, bright sun and warmth in the clearings.

Mile 6 - Longer out and back, on my way back I see M111, which makes no sense. He should be well ahead of me. And I should be even farther back with my wrong turn. Maybe my little group was not the only one to get off course.

Mile 7 - Larry Macon and Takao Suzuki sighting. This is very confusing. They are slower than me, but not so slow to still be on their first loop. I ask and they say they are on their second loop. In a moment it all becomes clear; I am now on my second loop of my second loop, they are on the first loop of the second loop. There is a large overlap on the course and suddenly this course is making sense. Maybe I will really understand it by the third time. I finish loop two, tired but confident that I can do this.

Loop 3 - 1 hour 45 minutes

Rocky, gravelly up and down is wearing on me. Warm in the open sun.

Mile 2 - All alone. Walking on the uphills. Round a bend and see a small downy woodpecker in the middle of the trail pecking furiously at the ground. I get to within three feet of it and it flies up onto a tree at the edge of the trail. Now it is at eye level, no more than three feet in front of me. This is worth stopping for. Beautiful bird, unafraid of me. I break contact before it does and shuffle off.

Mile 2.5 - Saved a little energy for the bees nest. I run through and do not see anything. During the first two laps I had no trouble holding a 9:30 pace, now for this lap I can not get the average under 12 minutes per mile. Fading fast and hurting. Well no really bad pains, just tired and overall achy. Try to relax and take energy from the scenery. Toes hurt from the rocks. Bottoms of feet are worn from rocks. Legs are OK, but not lively. Abs hurt and this is unusual. Walking breaks help and I will finish this thing, but it has become much more difficult.

Mile 4 - Walk and jog, keep the pace under 12:30. I can't believe that no one is passing me. If this were a big city race runners would be streaming past me and it would be so discouraging. What happened to my pack from the start and the other runners who were not so far behind?

Mile 6 - Almost at the turn around on the loop. I sense a runner behind me and approaching fast. He catches me right at the turn around and I see that it is Maniac Kurt. He looks in good form and I do not mind at all being passed by a runner of his talents. I would have expected him to be far ahead of me by this point anyway. No one else on the out and back, but I do start to see a woman up ahead going just a little slower than me. I lose sight of her on the many turns but gradually catch up. I am also very thirsty and my water is almost gone. I take a small swig and ration the rest. When I hit that junction at mile 7, where others dropped extra fluids, I will drink that last of my water. Hot in the blazing sun in the clearing.

Mile 7 - Catch M374, introduce myself, and learn that she is also finishing the race soon. We run and chat together. Amazing how much easier the last mile goes with a little company. No problem running the trails and walking up the steeper hills. Pleasant conversation and before I know it we are crossing the finish line. Nice to have alone time running today and good company at times. Tough last loop, but I kept in good spirits and very much enjoyed the day. I would run this one again. No mud, but a lot of dust, as evidenced by my dirt tan after the race.


Marathon or ultra#36

11th place of 34 finishers


Saturday, August 22, 2009

8/22/09 Run Like a Dog 5K

Earlier this year I did not think I would be running any short races. The faster pace was causing my plantar faciitis to flare up. That problem has been resolved and I am so happy to be running strong with no injuries. I have not done any speed work or short races since July 4, so I don't have expectations of a fast time today. Just running for the fun and to get in that faster workout. A good sized group of pals is training for the Portland Marathon and they have a twenty mile long run today starting at 6AM. I don't want to miss that fun so I join them for the first five miles, then head off to South Bay good and warmed up.

I left the old dog at home this time so I could run faster. Looks like this race has doubled in size since I ran it two years ago. A few familiar faces, but mostly people I do not know and lots of dogs. "A big dog party". I run a few strides to get my speed up and I feel very good. It is misting and cool, perfect running conditions.

Start - I do not feel especially competitive so I line up behind some runners, but ahead of the dogs. Knowing there are many dogs behind me, I think I will pretend that they are chasing me; that is good for getting the adrenaline flowing. Off we go. Through the parking lot, sharp left turn, across the street, then skinny down onto the Chehalis Western Trail. Paved trail that I run on often. It is about one car lane wide and we are fairly crowded together. I pass a few runners but will not struggle through the crowd. Things will open up eventually.

Mile 1 - 6:40 pace - faster than I should be going but it feels fine. Focus on form. Let the hips carry the legs. Keep breathing deeply. Just thinking about form and breathe makes me run faster. I am able to surge a little. Turn off the trail and onto a country road. Runners stringing out now. Pass a couple more, then it is a ways to see the next guy.

Mile 2 - Breathe has gotten ragged. Slight uphill has me slowing down. Average pace is at 6:50. Legs feel great, breathing is difficult. I hope I can hold on to a sub 7/mile pace. Looping back to the trail, there are some slow dogs still coming at me and I have to dodge a few of them.

Mile 2.8 - Almost catch a kid in front of me but he puts on a burst and I can not keep up. Starting to feel nauseous. Will be glad for this to be over. Average pace at 6:55. Should be around 21:30 minutes which is fine. Turn on the power as best I can, cross the street, through the parking lot and am shocked to see the clock at 20:45 as I cross the line.

Mile 3.00 or Mile 3.1? - GPS reads 3.00 and I had been pacing off of that, not looking at overall time. Course is supposed to be a 5K (3.11 miles) and if it was, then I had an unexpectedly fast time. Either way I am pleased with the run. Fun time and good cause (Humane Society). Race is cheap, close to home and I got a nice goody bag of stuff for me and the dog. Over a minute faster than I ran the same course two years ago and also over a minute faster than my last 5K.


16th of 282

2nd fastest 5K out of 48 run so far

Race #171


Saturday, July 18, 2009

7/18/09 ChelanMan Half Marathon

Standing at the start line. I can feel the sun at my back, rising over the hills, warming my legs, perhaps I will start perspiring soon. I would love to get racing now; the problem is that I am standing at the start of the half ironman triathlon, waiting for Dan to get his race going. My race will not start for another hour and a half, after the last triathlete from the Olympic distance race has finished swimming and left the area on their bike. It will be considerably warmer by the time my race starts. This event, in the desert at Lake Chelan, has multiple triathlons over two days. On Saturday they also have a 10K and half marathon, smaller events for those of us who do not swim or bike competitively.

It is fun to watch the swimmers and then see them zoom off on their bikes. I have plenty of time to find the start line and do a little warm up. About a quarter of a mile from the start, away from the crowds at the park I meet a guy (Tony) also warming up. I mention how hot it is and he tells me that he is from Florida, working in Chelan this Summer so the heat does not bother him. I get to the start, meet M1670 and then find out that we will be delayed about ten minutes as they wait for the last bikes to exit the area. Finally we are ready to race and we start off down a little hill, under brilliant sunshine and HEAT.

Mile 0.25 - Past Lakeshore Park and up the steep hill out of the parking lot. Right turn, I am in a crowd and almost trip on the pavement edge. Now a long downhill and a chance to sort out my pace. I know that with the heat there is no way I can run my fastest. I need to start out slower than usual for a half, but I really do not know how slow to go. My PR pace, and on a cool day I should be close to that is 7:40/mile. I decide on 8/mile today and if I need to slow I will, if I feel strong later in the race of course I will pick it up. Its always nice to be passing folks at the end rather than the one being passed, so even if I err and go slower than I can handle today, I'll still have a fun time.

Mile 1 - Scenic run along the lake, simple out and back. Except that we are on a road open to traffic, coming up behind us. Triathlete bikers coming towards us on the opposite side of the road. In a nice small pack, two younger guys right in front, seemingly very relaxed. I am next to a guy and I mention the heat and how I am not sure what pace I should be going, but that I do not want to get out too fast and pay later. He tells me that he is from Phoenix. Maybe I am the only one not so heat acclimated here.

Mile 3 - Aid stations are adequate but not the best. Heed ( I do not care for that drink) and water. Just a couple of kid volunteers and I missed the first station because it was too crowded, here the kids seem to wait until I am right there before taking a cup off the table, I could have just gotten it myself, but I appreciate any fluids at this moment. Here is the 10K turnaround and many of the runners leave us. Much smaller group going for the whole 13.1 mile race.

Mile 3.3 - Significant hill that I was not expecting. Long climb up, then back down. Sun is at my back, I am warm but not super heated. With the loss of the 10K racers, the crowd has thinned out but there are a few folks just ahead of me that I can focus on. Occasional house with homeowner and hose wanting to douse me. I want to keep the feet dry for now and will let them cool me off on the way back. Loose dog about to run into the road, I yell at him to go home and he does turn back to the driveway. I see Bill and then Dan on their bikes.

Mile 6.5 - Another uphill takes me to the turn around spot. Here, well above the lake, there is a rock cliff on the other side of the road. This location seems to trap the heat. I can feel the heat off the road and off the rocks. As I make the turn around and now face the sun, it seems even warmer. Legs have felt a little heavy today, but other than the heat I am cruising along, holding pace. I take advantage of the downhill and open it up a bit.

Mile 7.5 - Pass Tony. Look for the next runner ahead and try to slowly catch them. Most races I am trying to reach some goal time. Today my effort will be in trying to pass folks and get a decent placement rather than time. On the long uphill, but it is gradual and not nearly as bad as I suspected it would be when I was running down it on the way out.

Mile 10 - I instantly lose sight of any half marathoners in front of me as I am confronted with a sea of Olympic distance triathletes at their 10K turnaround. My somewhat lonely and spread out long run has become a mega event. All of them are going slower than me, but not by much. I wonder where Bill is. For sure I will see him approaching the turn around soon. Or maybe he is just ahead and I can catch him and finish together? In fact he is ahead but will finish ten minutes ahead of me. I let the hosers douse me and some kid with a super soaker gets me good. I am thirsty and my mouth is particularly dry. Must be the desert air. I should have taken an S!Cap as I can feel the fluids sloshing in my belly. Best way to cool now is to pour water on my head.

Mile 12 - Right on pace. I did good to pick that pace for today. Comfortably hard the whole way, but no wall or meltdown. Final hill to make it a good challenge at the end, then zoom down to the finish area.

Mile 13.1 - With chip timing the results are posted quickly and soon is the awards ceremony. I get a nice glass for finishing third (of seven) in my age group. The next day they have changed the results to bump the top three masters finishers out of age groups and have me listed as first in my group. Either way I get a glass and a medal. I'll give the race three stars, but it was a five star weekend. Getaway with Jody, cheering on good friends; there is much more I could say, but here I write about my race experiences only. I now have a record of 170 races. Next planned event is a trail marathon on August 29.


21st of 123


Saturday, July 4, 2009

7/4/09 Dollars for Scholars 5K

My Independence Day tradition has been to leave our Hood Canal cabin early in the morning and run the four mile race in Steilacoom. I have run that race eight times so it was a difficult choice to try another race on this day. The inaugural Dollars for Scholars 5K in Tumwater is being put on by some excellent local runners, supported by the Chamber of Commerce, supports a good cause and has some of my Club Oly runners/friends participating. For these reasons and that it is a shorter drive, I have decided to give this race a try. Capitol Blvd. and Israel Road are marked with traffic cones about every 15 feet, as the city prepares for the parade that starts at 11AM. Some people are setting up chairs, claiming the good spots already.

The race is supposed to start at City Hall, but the directions say to park at New Market High School on a different street. I soon find that there is a walkway between the two streets, so I can park and register at the High School, but it is a short walk to the start on Israel Road. Day of race registration is a snap. As I walk out the door though I realize that I have no idea where the course will take me. I saw a few chalk arrows turning onto Israel Road, but do not know the route I will be taking. Soon I find Bill and we decide to run a two mile warm up. He seems to know where the course takes us. Eventually I realize that the traffic cones are set up for this race. Running in the bright sun with orange cones gives me a flashback to Seafair marathon of 2008. Bill and I warm up easy on this soon to be hot day and we figure out the course to be a sort of figure eight. It is flat as can be and runs the last mile up Capitol Blvd. then right onto Israel Road. I like running in new places, but to race on a road that I often drive is extra special. I already know that for years from now whenever I drive here, which I do at least once a month, I will be reminded of this race. I hope I can make it a happy memory.

We return to the start area with fifteen minutes to spare. Meet some other runners. Happy to see Dan Muse here and running. Except that Dan is my age and faster than me. This looks to be a small event, maybe 50-75 total, and I should be able to claim an age group award. But Dan will be ahead of me. At least Phil is directing and not running. I do a few short strides before the start. Weather is the same as last week, brilliant sunshine and getting warm.

Start - A military honor guard leads us in the Pledge of Allegiance. I am lined up in front. I notice that Amber is directly behind me. I offer to switch places as she is super fast, but she declines saying that she is going to start easy. Phil blows the start horn, I start my watch and after two steps realize that Amber is already in front of me. I try to contain myself and not go off sprinting. I see that my watch is reading 6:40/mile, which is too fast so I pull back a touch. Soon we are making the first turn. My legs feel fine but the breathing is a little out of control. Not quite gasping yet, I am able to focus on the breathe and keep moving.
Mile 1 - We are fairly well sorted out now. Aid station as we cross Capitol Blvd and I take a cup, drink some and put a little on my head. Thank the volunteers. Thank the cops. Four of us are fairly close together and I feel like I should be able to pass them. Left turn with a long straightaway ahead. Take deeper breathes and try to relax. I think I can see Ben from the running store ahead.......way ahead. I gradually pass three of the four, then I get passed.
Mile 2 - Back to Capitol and the run up the parade route. Spectators in their chairs offer some support. I ask a group where the finish line I get away one finally yells that it is really close. Thank the cop at the intersection, thank the cop at the next intersection. This is wonderful for a little 5K, to be on the main street, cones marking every step and helpful cops blocking traffic for us. Pace is holding at 7:00/mile. I have slowed just a bit from the first mile, but I am well ahead of my predicted/hoped for pace (7:15/mile would have been fine).
Mile 2.5 - Legs feel good and I am relaxed and happy. Should be able to cruise on in to a decent finish time. Nobody close ahead of me and I don't hear any footsteps behind me. Tough to run my fastest if I am not chasing or being chased. Turn onto Israel and they have set up a legitimate finish chute with clock. Now I can see that I just might break 22 minutes if I keep running hard.
Mile 3.1 - Keep up the pace. Love having Craig and Rich cheer and yell my name as I approach. Cross the line in 21:54 and I am very pleased with that. I am handed a water bottle and I stagger off to the side wondering if I am going to be sick. Remember my friends behind me, so I turn back and see Bill cross the line. He has gotten much faster and really has a chance of beating me one of these days. He recovers and we cheer Tammy in. Then watch the remaining runners finish.
At the awards table I see a nice medal for age group winners and ribbons for 2nd and third. Plaques to the overall winners. Dan ends up winning overall Masters Male. This bumps him out of his age group count and puts me in first place. Bill takes second and someone else gets third. Tammy wins her age group since Amber was the female Masters winner. Some really nice raffle prizes are given away (note to self - Chamber of Commerce sponsored races should in theory have good raffles) but I do not win anything. Pleased with my medal and a solid race performance I head back to Hood Canal to soak my legs.

Next up - July 18 half marathon in Chelan

8th overall of 67 runners and walkers

Saturday, June 27, 2009

6/27/09 Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon

4AM - Ugh. This is way to early to get out of bed.

4:05AM - Semi dressed I hear a rumbling on the street. Ten, twenty, thirty school buses rolling down First Ave. The magnitude of this race hit me yesterday as we walked to the expo and saw stacks of pallets of bottles of water. The buses confirm that this is a major operation. The race sold out weeks ago with 25,000 participants in the full and half. Starting at the same time. 7AM in Tukwilla. Shuttles leaving two points in Seattle for the start from 4-6AM. After last year's Seafair fiasco (which I managed to avoid with my always get there early attitude) I had to convince Jody to take no chances and be out the door by 4:30. She was a great sport about it. We are staying at Betty Kay's condo above the Pike Place Market - thanks BK!

4:30AM - Right on schedule we leave the condo and walk the half mile to the Westin hotel. Board a school bus and arrive in Tukwilla just after 5AM

5:15AM - I've had a good breakfast, even ate an extra bagel offered at the "starting village". More people arriving every minute. Rarely do I see a familiar face, mostly I think "who are all these people taking over my little group of regular runners?" It is chilly sitting on the sidewalk. Jody sees that a deli is open and although it looks crowded inside I reluctantly follow her in. Ah, the warmth. After just a few minutes we grab empty chairs. Now we are sitting with back support in a cozy warm spot. Very nice.

6:15AM - Say goodbye to Jody as I will use the bathroom, then check in my gear (extra shirt) with UPS who will deliver it to the finish in one of their many brown trucks. Sun is up now and it is going to be a cloudless day. This being an inaugural event with so many runners and the weather warming I have brought my fuel belt with 20 oz of Gatorade. At the last minute I decide that the organization seems so well prepared and I am going to be much closer to the front than the back, there is no way they are going to run out of fluids. I empty the Gatorade and put the belt into my gear check bag. Cell phone will have to bounce around in my pocket but should not bug me much. I have the phone to find Jody at the finish but also to snap some photos on the way. Originally this was meant to be a fun run. I was sure that it would be so crowded at the start and the course could be somewhat hilly. I was going to run with a friend and not worry about pace, just enjoy the music and the the atmosphere. But then my friend could not run, and in fact I have been running well. If I can get out of the first couple of miles at a decent pace I will roll along like usual then see what I have for the finish. Definitely want to beat 4 hours, anything under 3:53 would be swell.

6:45AM - Walking along the outside of the corrals. Jody is in #13. I look for her but do not see her. Hey I better get moving, it is easy to walk ahead on this side of the road, but I still have a sea of humans to get in front of.

6:50AM - I do make it to corral #6. A year ago when I registered on the first day (for $40) I predicted my finish time would be 3:49 and that put me up here in a low corral. I had been thinking of dropping back some, but this seems fine now. I have a great view behind me of a whole lot of people. Do not recognize anyone near me though.

7AM - Start - Very smooth. So far I have been impressed with the race organization. I walk right up to the start line and then am able to run with some elbow room.

Mile 0.6 - The first band and I suddenly miss my running friend. The moment passes with the music and I am back focused on the road
Mile 1 - 8:50 - Tremendous start. Portland needs to have a wave/corral start. This race has three times as many runners and here I was able to easily position myself well to get right into my pace. A few idiots are zig zagging and cutting me off, but its not bad at all.

Mile 3 - Hand slap a couple of cheerleaders.

Mile 4 - Been going gently uphill for some time. Now we turn off MLK way. Down a steep hill, then another turn. I hear someone fall about 20 feet behind me and see the look of concern on the spectators. I look back, see the guy get up and keep going. Note to self - keep being wary of these road surfaces. Lots of cracks and holes to trip on.

Mile 5 - Spectator says "Welcome to Seward Park". I see that there has been a sudden and significant change in neighborhoods. We are in the "nice" part of town now. Also I am now on familiar ground, having run here in the November Seattle Marathons. Long flat sections with some curves. Keep taking the tangents and there is plenty of room to do so without cutting anyone off.

Mile 7 - High five a big blue duck. Take my first Gu gel. Realize that I have developed a habit of seeking out the youngest kid at every aid station for the past couple of races. I especially like to find a 4 or 5 year old and thank them profusely, as if they are saving my life, which in fact they probably are. Hope it makes them feel important and helpful. I am going to stick to my plan of S!Caps every hour and Gu at miles 7,14 and 21. I feel a slight pull in my right achilles tendon. Same at what happened at this point in Cap City. Worry that it could progressively get worse. I could stop and calf stretch right now, it is early enough in the race that a stretch might do me good. But the discomfort is minor, more a worry that it will get worse. Continue to monitor and change the stride a little to compensate.

Mile 9 - We split off from the half marathoners with the usual jokes about changing our minds and running the half at the last second. But no, everyone with a yellow bib stays right. Up a very steep, but short hill to get on I-90. I had been worried about a bottleneck here, but there is plenty of room. The hill is steep and I consider walking, but the legs feel fine and it is not that difficult.

Mile 9.5 - Heading east on I-90, thankful for my sunglasses. Here come fast runners heading back from the turn around. These guys are about two miles ahead of me already. This is a very enjoyable time, getting a quick look and wave to the fast ones that I know. Just too many to try to name, but it seems like all the regulars are here. Oh, Steve Yee (M1) is slowing down to take my picture. You don't have to do that!! But wow it sure came out great.

Mile 10.4 - Turn around and head back to town. Can not help but think of the stormy weather we get for the November race and how spectacular it is today. Warming up a little, but a great day for running.

Mile 11.3 - We rejoin the half runners who are at mile 9.3 and enter the bus tunnel. Long dark tunnel. Oh I could take off my sunglasses and it will not be so dark. Very creepy spacey "music" up ahead. First I thought that it was strange city tunnel sounds, now I realize it is music and I can see a stage. A band is playing a standard version of Dancin in the Streets, but their sound is echoing off the tunnel walls. Grateful Dead played that song a lot and sometimes jammed to it, but as I pass and the music descends into chaos bouncing off the walls, this is trippier than a 1966 acid test. Even the photo I take in the tunnel looks like a Keith Krisa Dead concert shot. It is getting humid in here and I am thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Mile 13 - Big curve on the highway ramp looking at Safeco Field. The half runners I have been with since the merge are two miles behind me and running at a slower pace. I have to do some passing to keep my pace going, but there is enough room. The GPS has been off from the mile markers for some time and I lost signal in the tunnel so I really can not trust the average pace read out. I am pretty sure that I am cruising along at 8:40 or so and I actually feel better than I did at mile 7.

Mile 15 - Split off from the halfers again and now uphill onto the Alaska Way Viaduct. I don't think that I have ever driven here let alone run on it, so it is fun new territory. We are on the lower level and the shade is nice. Pass a runner from North Carolina and I have to tell her about the earthquake danger and that this whole highway is coming down someday soon.

Mile 16 - Through another tunnel that I did not know existed. Now a long straight stretch on highway 99, most of it uphill.

Mile 17 - Still going uphill. Bright sunshine and warmth. Slowly catch up to M30 and M276. Every time I run with Manics for a bit, even if I am meeting them for the first time, they always are so pleasant and relaxed. We wave and yell to our fast friends coming back from the turn around. I give a double high five to some giant chipmunk or camel I really do not know what it is or what it is advertising. Pace has slowed just a bit as we are still going uphill and it is getting near late in the race. But I do not care. I would be happy to run all the way in with these two Maniacs. It has been a good and fun time.

Mile 18 - At the aid station I got ahead of M30 and M276 and I will miss their company, but I am ready to strike out on my own again and keep the pace constant.

Mile 18.5 - Turn around and now have a long downhill. This side of the road has some shade too.

Mile 20.5 - Slap hands with the North Thurston High School cheerleaders, my local High School. The track where I ran my only ever sub six minute mile. All of a sudden something tugs at my left foot. Strangest sensation and downright scary. Is my timing chip coming off is all I can wonder as I look down, then hear a clanging noise and realize I have been lassoed by a thin metal loop. Some rim part of a tire? As I lift my foot it rolls across the road clattering the whole way. Slightly embarrassed and freaked out, but not damaged at all I continue on.

Mile 21 - Down my third Gu. Not so easy to get down, but not so bad. Better nutrition was my only real change between this and NODM where I ran out of energy in the last miles. Maniac Val convinced me to take in more calories while running and it seems like it is paying off today. I am feeling really good. Should be a good finish but I know that the slowing can come on so fast. At least I made it this far.

Mile 22 - Back in the tunnel. With a guy who is trying to "get this little vixen to Boston" All she needs to do is run 8:30 pace to the finish and she will have her 3:45 to qualify. That sounds like a great plan to me and I stay with them, letting the guy do the pacing. I let them know that a 3:45 would have me only be 25 minutes shy of a BQ. I started ahead of them so my chip time will be a couple of minutes above theirs if we do finish together. The vixen says nothing to either of us, totally focused on her quest. I encourage her a little but keep my distance and do not distract her.

Mile 23 - Maniac Eric is back with me. I am still relaxed and feeling well. For the first time today I think that a PR (3:48:10) could be possible, although I expect a slow down at any point. We are running on the upper level of the viaduct now and getting real close to the stadium. Too bad we have to go past it on one more out and back. I let Eric know that a PR is a possibility for me in the hopes that he will encourage me onward. Oh no, now I see that on the way back, at the mile 25 mark there is a fairly significant uphill. I am convinced that I will slow there and I really doubt I will PR today. But at this point I feel surprisingly good. Eric hints that we could take advantage of this downhill now and put some time in the bank for the later uphill. I pick up the pace accordingly. I also stick to Eric's back. He is running the pace that I need to be at, so I'll just not let him get away.

Mile 24 - Hit the lap button on the watch. Hit the gas pedal and the legs respond!! I am moving faster than at any point in the race. Course turn around, splash a little water on my face but do not drink. If I walk through any aid station, like I usually do, it could be all over.

Mile 25 - This hill is not so bad!! This must be the last aid station. I am warm. One, two three cups of water splash on top of my head, good drenching down my back. Feel much cooler. Can not tell the exact time, no seconds on my digital readout. But I need to run the last 1.2 miles in about 9 minutes in order to PR.

Mile 25.8 - Passing runners, but not that many. Big turn and downhill to the Quest Events Center. Lots of spectators. Watch says 3:45 oh no 3:46. Stop looking at the watch and run hard.

Mile 26.1 - Finish line straight ahead. It better be right at those balloons. Watch at 3:47:?? Being so close to a PR, I really want this now. Sprint across the line.

Mile 26.2 - MM1 is one step in front of me. I have to stop my watch, reset the run then open the memory in order to find the finish time to the second. 3:48:07. A best ever time by three seconds. My chip time reads 3:48:04 so I will go with that one. There were two mats at the start and the finish, perhaps I did not stop or start my watch on the correct ones. Anyway I am thrilled. To be able to run for fun, relaxed, in a well managed mega event, with great weather and set a best ever time is more than one could hope for.

11:30 AM - After recovering and celebrating with small clusters of Maniacs (Eric said that we look like a swarm of bees) I find Jody who ran a good half and we walk the mile back to the condo. From the door to the building I can see runners still moving on the viaduct and snap one last photo.

3PM - Back home, on the phone with Bill and he wants to know how I managed to do so well. I thought the course was fairly easy, many hills but none were steep. Better nutrition and during the race refueling were a big factor. Also running relaxed, not stressing about time was a benefit. This was my 6th marathon in three months and I believe that my brain is better able to comprehend that distance now. I am much more at ease at the start line and I know that I can get through what will come later in the race. Also I started attending yoga classes about six weeks ago and love it. More than just flexibility and strength improvement there is some other benefit that I can not put into words just yet, but yoga seems to me to be an excellent counter balance to running.

I took advantage of the special deal at the race expo and signed up for the 2010 race for $50. Can't wait to run it again.

3:48:04 PR

788th of 5,602

Marathon 34, Marathon or ultra 35