Saturday, April 11, 2009

4/11/09 Easter Marathon

My fourth year in a row running this race. This year it is being held in Elma out of Vance Creek Park. I have run shorter distances here and know the course to be flat and out on country roads. Today will be a double out and back. I don't mind that. With so few runners in the marathon it will gives us a chance to see each other a few more times. I am also concerned about the weather. Supposed to shower and it is awful cloudy. I don't want to wear my rain jacket. This way I can towel off and grab it at the 13.1 mile mark if needed. Since I ran Yakima just last week I am not concerned about time goals. Actually I don't seem to be too concerned about anything. Getting ready, gathering my stuff this morning and driving to the race was about like going to work on any given day. I guess I have the routine down and since I have no great expectations for this race I am totally calm. Parking and registration are a snap and soon I am lining up with eight others who will take the early start. I decide to go off at a 9min/mile pace and see what happens. I will not dig deep today and I will just enjoy the run.

Start - Good to see Evil Triplet Jim, Maniac Jim and Maniac Lesa. Good to meet Maniac Sue and new Maniac Keith down from BC. Only two people here that I do not recognize. Bob Green marks our numbers as early starts and off we go.

Mile 1 - Running with Jim, Jim and Lesa. I could stay with these guys all race and it would be fun. Here I am in elite company. For those who think that what I do is a bit much: one Jim is running his 293rd marathon, the other Jim is running his 177th and Lesa is running her 72nd and is in the middle of completing 13 in 12 weeks. Nice chatting, but just a little slower than I planned so I move on ahead.

Mile 2 - Keith and one other guy are way ahead. I knew he was fast and did not expect to be near him. Maniac Sue and another woman are ahead of me and extending their lead. Sue's times are usually a little slower than mine so I think that I will catch up to her later.

Mile 3 - Road kill rough-skinned newt. I feel sorry for the little guy. It is drizzling. My rain hat and Maniac jacket keep me dry enough.

Mile 4 - Hmmm. Chalk mark for mile 4 on the road but my watch says 4.1. If the road mark is correct than I have not gone as far as my watch indicates and my pace is off. I need to go a little faster to match my pace to the official mile markers. Light rain. Farm country. Cows being fed come jogging to the farmer and start up a big mooing.

Mile 5 - Rut Ro. Watch says 5.3 miles. I am starting to question the road markers. Time is 46 minutes. Too fast if I am at mile 5.3 and too slow if I am at mile 5. Gosh those two women are little black specs in the distance. I may never catch up to them.

Mile 6.55?? - This is the turn around so I am calling it 6.55, but that was a short mile and a half. In fact my watch now says only 6.4 miles. By both accounts I am now running faster than planned. Aid stations are now set up so I do not need to rely on my own water bottle. Rain has let up.

Mile 7 - Small stone works its way down the back of my shoe and nestles under my foot. Would hate to have to stop for a stone. But now I really can not feel it so maybe I will not have to deal with it.

Mile 10 - An hour after we started there was the start of the half marathon, ten miler, 10K, 5K , one mile and the regular start for the marathon (although most runners seem to take the early start). These runners doing all these races are now running toward me at all different speeds. Hard to tell who is doing what race. Very little traffic on the road so I have been crossing now and then to get the inner curve. Runners are on both sides of the road. One cow is munching hay by the fence and there is some hay spilled on my side. I am tempted to stop and see if he will eat out of my hand. But I keep moving.

Mile 13.1?? - A little loop through the parking area and right past my car. No need to stop. Tap the watch to set a new lap and note that the distance reads 12.8. Also I am at 1:53 about the same time as I was at last week. I think we have a short course here and it will be interesting to see what the GPS reads for the second loop.

Mile 15 - Starting to tire. Not sure what pace I should be running. The two women in black were about a quarter mile ahead of me, but now appear to be closer. Looking ahead at a long straight stretch. I decide to pick up the pace and chase them down, without going too fast.

Mile 16.5 - Caught them. Nice to have some company. Shelly from Oregon has a much faster PR than either Sue or I. They have run together the whole way and seem to be out for a fun run. I remind them that one of them could be the overall female winner, but neither one seems very competitive.

Mile 18?? - Its the mile 5 or 5.3 aid station. I sped up a little prior to the stop and then had a quick drink and moved on. Now I am ahead of the women and going at my own pace, whatever that is.

Mile 20ish - The dreaded wall. All of a sudden this is much harder. Muscles tighten, energy feels low. This did not happen last week. I am in good spirits though and I am doing the math to see about getting in under four hours. Looks like I could do 11 minute miles from here and get there. That would be really great. As long as I do not take walk breaks.

Mile 22 - Pace is now at about 9:40/mile. Still running.

Mile 23 - Several vultures circling overhead and swooping lower. Do they know how tired I am? Still running.

Mile 24 - I need to cross the road. I can not hear any vehicles behind me. I should look back but it is hard to turn the neck and keep running. Actually if I got hit and killed here I would be all done running. OK, maybe I don't want to be killed, but if I got clipped a little, maybe knocked to the ground, then no one would expect me to keep running. I could just walk it in. Oh I better look back. No cars, but Sue and Shelly are not far behind. If I melt down any more they are going to pass me.

Mile 25 - Still running and feeling a little stronger. Not going to be passed. Going to beat four hours easy.

Mile 25.5 (road marker for the one mile race) - Turn into the wind (not that strong) and long straight shot to the park. Keep moving, nothing dramatic, and cruise in to the finish.

Mile 26.2 - Mile 25.54 by my watch, mile 25.7 by Jim's watch. At least I did not PR or I would feel a little guilty. Pigtails would run another half a mile, but I am not doing that. If I had gone another half mile I think I still would have beat four so I am pleased. I'll call my time what my watch said rather than the two minutes faster the officials recorded. Sue and Shelly cross the line together. Try to eat. Socialize for a while. Watch the start of the triathlon. Wait for the regular start marathoners to come in so that I can know my place.


5th of 15 runners

31st marathon or ultra, 4th Easter marathon


Saturday, April 4, 2009

4/4/09 Yakima River Canyon Marathon

For many of my recent and upcoming marathons I have sacrificed a "fast" time for a "good" (fun) time. Sometimes I will run with a friend who is a little slower, sometimes I will run for a while with a friend who is a little faster (causing me to crash later in the race), sometimes the weather or the course is a factor and sometimes I am running on tired legs having raced the weekend before. I would not trade any of that, I love running with my friends and I especially like a challenging course. Here at Yakima none of this applies today. Today is all about the numbers and trying to run my best. For the first time in ages I have written out projected split times and will carry that paper with me just in case my GPS watch is not accurate to the mile markers. Two weeks ago I raced 20 miles at an 8:29 pace. My goal today is to run the first 20 miles at an 8:40 pace (I know I can do this) and then see what I have left for the end. If I can hold that pace I will PR (3:48 is my PR, an 8:40 pace gets me in at 3:47). One little issue though is how miserably I faltered here last year. There is that mile long up hill at mile 22. Last year I was at about an 8:35 pace at mile 20, yet finished in 3:57, running the last 6.2 miles at 10:32. Therefore my goals are to PR (don't really expect to do this) or run a sub 3:50, or run a sub 3:57 (beat last year's time) or beat 4 hours. But I also want to enjoy the day and scenery. This is one quality race and I am thankful to be here. And big thanks to Jody for coming out again and picking me up at the finish.

Start - Cold but no wind and brilliant sunshine. Also about 100 maniacs here for a reunion race so lots of yellow and red shirts. Having run this last year lets me relax a little, knowing where to pick up my number and exactly where the start line is to be found. I find my place smack in the middle and soon we are off.

Mile 1 - Glad that I am wearing sunglasses. It is really bright out. The road is narrow and I am crowded in a big bunch. Hit mile one at 8:55 which is fine. I'll pick up the pace ever so slightly.

Mile 2 - 8:41 pace. I am still packed in a crowd. Six runners elbow to elbow in front of me. I am on their heels and don't like it, but I am at my goal pace. It would take effort to get around them, and then all I would be is running faster than I had planned. I ease up a bit to give myself some room and stay behind them for now.

Mile 4 - First aid station broke up the pack and I am free to run as I please, but still a lot of runners all around me. Lenore Dolphin sighting.

Mile 5 - Into the canyon. 8:40 average pace.

Mile 7 - Hunger pang. I could not each much breakfast, I hope I don't get too hungry this morning. I am confident that I have enough stored energy to get me to the end.

Mile 10 - 1:26 - right on schedule

Mile 13.1 - 1:53:34, four seconds slower than planned. Really pleased that I could do that without walking or speeding up to adjust the pace. So far so good.

Mile 14 - Significant uphill, and the pace slows but I will make it up on the way down. Beautiful day in the canyon. Cool in the shade, warm in the sun. Outer shirt comes off and ties around my waist. Camber of the road is horrible in places and not good for the ankles. I am reminded of some training runs recently in a neighborhood with slanty driveways. I would alternate running on the sidewalk and the road running either up or down each driveway, putting pressure on my ankles, telling myself that I was training them for Yakima. I have been looking forward to this race for a long time and it sure is great to be here.

Mile 15 - Big downhill, no problem getting the pace back to 8:40

Mile 18 - Shoe insert lying in the middle of the road. Then as I throw my empty cup in the box at the aid station I see another insert. Did some fast runner actually take off their shoes, remove the inserts and keep running?

Mile 19 - Still on pace, but it is not as easy as I had hoped for. I could speed up I guess, but just maintaining is more work now.

Mile 20 - 2:53:35 - twenty seconds slower than planned, but not bad at all. I am also one minute slower that last year. If I have the same finish as last year I will struggle to beat 4 and it will be a miserable next hour. As I hit the lap button on my watch I feel like the past three hours, the past two days, the past two weeks and even the whole past year have been preface to this moment. Lets see what I can do.

Mile 21.75 - The past 1.75 miles was flat and I maintained about an 8:50 pace. But now is the hill. The hill that takes the runner all the way up to a higher elevation than the start line. The hill that is over a mile long. This is really really hard. I have had a great attitude all along, telling my usual dumb jokes, but now it time for quiet digging in. I keep at it, letting the pace slow, but there is no way I am going to walk. I pass walkers and I very slowly pass a couple of runners. No one is passing me here. Volunteers cheering for me are very much appreciated as is the music from a boom box and the inspirational signs. Average pace for the almost three miles since twenty is creeping over 9:30, but the top of the hill is in sight.

Mile 23 - All down hill from here!! And a little flat stretch too. With the same effort I am now moving much faster. Average pace is dropping rapidly and I feel like I am flying down to the finish.....

Mile 24.5 - ......except that three miles is still a long way, especially at this stage, even if it is mostly downhill. My legs are so beat up and tired I just can not maintain this pace.

Mile 25 - Last year I was taking walk breaks even here, but not today. I know that I will run the whole race, but I see the PR slipping away. Legs just can not turn over fast enough. Feeling nausea and just plain ready to be done. Maybe 3:50? Don't know, don't really care, it will still be a good and fast time as long as I keep pushing a little longer. Guy in red shirt passes me and a tell him to break 3:50 for me. He says that is the plan.

Mile 26.1 - There is Jody with camera. There is the finish clock. This will be my second fastest marathon to date. Someone trying to pass me, I race ahead and beat her to the line with what little kick I have left.

Mile 26.2 - I ran the last 6.2 miles a full 8 minutes faster than I did last year, beating that time by over 7 minutes. Really happy with how it went, my even pacing, the beautiful day, incredible course, quality race and fellow runners.

3:50:32 Marathon#29, Marathon or ultra #30, Yakima Marathon #2
113th of 437