Sunday, May 17, 2009

5/17/09 Capital City Marathon

Three special things about today's race. First is that it is the hometown race, and I have many friends running the full or the half. Really too many people to try to mention them all. We had 31 people at our house on Friday night for pasta and strategizing. When I combine my local running buddies with my Maniac friends I see friendly familiar faces everywhere I look. The second reason that today is special is that one of those local runners, going for her first marathon, is Jody. Jody has been doing long runs with Nicky and Nicky is running her first marathon too. Nicky is one of the two angels who offered me aid at my dizzy episode over a year ago. So great that we are now friends. The third special thing is just my own goals for today. I have decided to run the whole race with Jody and Nicky and encourage them and celebrate with them. This will mean running closer to 5 hours than 4 hours. About a week ago I decided to not taper at all, to turn this race into a long training run for my next marathon (NODM) where I can try to be faster than usual. Instead of resting, I piled on the miles last week. I ran double workouts on Wednesday and Thursday and had a chance to beat my all time miles in a week, but had a total meltdown on Friday afternoon. I am still lingering with a head cold, and on Friday I thought I might be getting really sick again. I definitely hit a breakdown point on Friday and was not sure that I would even start today. But two days rest has me feeling better. If I finish today I will have 58 miles for the week and that is a lot for me, especially considering I ran the Tacoma marathon just the week before.

We picked up our numbers and timing chip last night. Number 33 for my 33rd marathon or ultra. Jody wants some fan support so we have the kids and her Mom meeting us at the start. They will drive around and cheer for her at various locations. Also Saki, Billy and Tammy....and I really should not try to list people today, I know I am going to leave someone out. We get to the start in plenty of time. But then Jody decides to go back to the car to get some water and I do not see her for a while. Everyone is moving to the start area and I go with the crowd. I have lost both Nicky and Jody before the race even started but I am sure they will turn up soon enough. Help a stranger with her Garmin, then Paul and I see that it is 6:58 and we are going to start very soon. Aha there is Jody and right away we are off. I am in my singlet and worried about the heat. Sunny and going to warm up for sure.

Mile 0.5 - Bob Dolphin sighting

Mile 1 - 9:55. Only thing I am going to insist on today is that they go no faster than 10 minutes per mile. So we slow down a bit and settle right in at 10:00

Mile 3 - Meet Maniac Marie. She is trying some run 3 minutes then walk one minute routine. It has us repeatedly leapfrogging. Since the crowd has thinned out this is not a problem and it is nice to put a face to a name and continue to meet new club members at every marathon I do. Lots of yellow shirts here today.

Mile 6 - I can see Maniac Betsy and Maniac Mike up ahead. Would be nice for them to meet Jody but they both get going a little faster and get out of reach. Right achilles tendon is bugging me. That is a new one.

Mile 9 - Meet a new Maniac father/daughter combo. Nice distraction on that long uphill. I can feel a little tiredness in my legs. The achilles is about the same.

Mile 11 - Happy horses

Mile 12 - We have been slowing ever so slightly. Now Nicky seems tired and wants to walk. Potty stop ahead and both ladies take a quick break. Nicky seems better and we continue on. Warming up but not excessively hot. We like the shade and the gentle breeze now and then.

Mile 14 - Woodard Bay - sea level; then the steepest uphill with some walking.

Mile 14-19 - Long straight fairly level section. Mostly open sunshine. Cows, a donkey, "farm dogs" and an emu. I am really pleased that Jody and Nicky are still running. We are even starting to pass a couple of runners who are struggling, walking, limping.

Mile 20 - Jody is tiring now, Nicky seems to have perked up. Short walk breaks. I try to not set the pace. My achilles is worse, but runnable. At every CCM I have run they have handed out wet sponges. Welcome on a day like today.

Mile 21 - Nice crowd of spectators sitting on lawn chairs in the shade at a turn on the course. I see an empty chair, run ahead and plop down to rest. This gets some good laughs and a smile from Jody. But they are getting away too fast and I need to hop up and sprint a little to catch them.

Mile 22 - Jody struggling down Legion hill, how will the next 1.5 mile uphill treat her? Jared joins us and he and I find it strange to be among people who are suffering so much, barely able to jog up the hill. Jody says that she loves the encouragement of her family and friends who came to cheer for her today, and that I am a good Sherpa. Lots of short walk breaks gets us up the longest hill and it looks like we will beat 5 hours. Hot.

Mile 23.5 - The two cutest little girls ever are offering "free water" from a table in their driveway. I have to stop, take a cup and thank them. And the water is much colder and better than the warmish stuff at the aid stations.

Mile 24 - Cups of cold beer. I will take anything cold at this point and the beer tastes really good. At this pace I have had no upset stomach and I ate a granola bar a while back there. My achilles hurts and I am worried about it, but everything else is fine. Unique perspective being in the race, running along for almost 5 hours and certainly getting a great workout, but not nearly struggling like everyone around me. I have to remind myself of what they are going through, what mile 24 was like the first twenty or so times I ran it. Jody and Nicky are both doing great, keeping up a great attitude and have been a pleasure to run with.

Mile 25 - Capitol Blvd. All down hill. Billy in a skirt to run a half mile or so with us. Then Tammy, Sabrina and Jennifer join us for the final leg. They keep saying what a great job Jody and Nicky are doing and right when I am about to say "hey what about me?", Tammy says "and Andy too".

Mile 26.2 - We did it. A little emotional for Jody. Walk off to get our water bottle. Jody gets the last one, I guess that we really do not need two. No medal this year. Just a piece of paper into which you can slip your souvenir disposable timing chip, that is "suitable for framing". Running jacket is pretty nice, matches the pants from last year. We eat. Fun to see Jody experience how delicious oranges are at the finish. I opt for a slice of pizza (only for full marathoners). After some socializing and recovering we hobble off to the car. The question that many are asking remains unanswered, will she do this again?


2:17/2:37 split (ouch)

33rd marathon or ultra

6th Capital City Marathon, 9th Cap City race of any distance


Sunday, May 3, 2009

5/3/09 Tacoma City Marathon

Sometimes I have a great experience doing something for the first time. I go back to the event or activity a second time, expecting it to be awesome again, but often the second time is a bit of a let down. I know that I suffered a lot at Tacoma last year, but I also thought the course was spectacular, the race well organized and a whole lot of fun. Getting ready to race today I can not help but compare to last year. I am suffering with a fairly bad head cold or sinus infection and hope it does not significantly zap me. That I can not control and I am OK with the probability that I will be slow. My most important goal then is to keep smiling and enjoy the day. Sun is rising and although I am shivering at the start line, It is going to warm up and be a nice day for running. Wonderful to see the sun after heavy rain last night and more rain coming later today.

Start - Pacers arrive by limo, a reverend lifts up prayers for us who choose to join his circle, and a nice rendition of the National Anthem (with screaming seagull joining in near the end) are the preliminary events. RW and I line up with the 3:45 pacer, Steve. Same as last year. I plan to run with them only until Ruston, then ease back to the 3:50 group a much more realistic yet ambitious goal. Not the smartest strategy, but this way I get to run some with a friend. Today is more of a social event than a quest for some specific time goal.
Mile 1 - 8:18 - seems fast but we are going gently downhill. This is a tough course to be a pacer on with all the hills. Steve plans to bank a little time and that works for me.

Mile 2 - Course is different than last year. Not a major change, but I was expecting a turn that did not happen. Our little pack is close together and I would prefer some space ahead of me. These old Tacoma roads have potholes and cracks and other tripping hazards. I would hate to take a tumble or see anyone fall. Small adjustment gives me some space. I remember feeling sort of blue here last year, just not motivated and not getting into the groove. Today I feel fine and am enjoying the start of this day.

Mile 6 - Down to Ruston Way. Now we will have a three mile flat section, except the big curvy bridge we go up and down. I am thankful for my sunglasses. The over shirt comes off as I am warming up.

Mile 9 - Say goodbye to RW and purposely ease off the pace. I assume that the 3:50 pacer is not far behind me and I will soon join them while I am still able to keep up. Its somewhat humid out and my sunglasses are fogging up. I wipe them dry but do not put them on as I am entering the Ruston Tunnel. So short compared to the last tunnel I ran through.

Mile 10 - This has got to be the hardest hill on the course. It is short but very steep. Nice spectator encouragement, then we turn into Point Defiance Park.

Mile 11 - Fellow runner comments on how fortunate we are to live and run here. Towering old growth trees provide shade on a sunny spring day.

Mile 12 - This is the hardest hill on the course. It is about a mile long gradual twisting turning up up up through the forest.

Mile 13 - Maniac Matt catches me and we talk a bit. He is running well for someone with a possible broken rib. I should not complain about having the sniffles.

Mile 15 - Out of the park, down and up the big dip. Marci Martin sighting. New course variation takes us over to Vassault street so this will mimic the Sound to Narrows race almost entirely. Look for the traffic light at the top of the hill. Focus on the light, that is what we all do at StN. This is the toughest hill on the course by far.

Mile 16 - Top of the hill. How to celebrate? I know, I will use a precious tissue and blow my nose. Thick dark green snot spattered with red blood. Bloody nose would be cool if I kept running and it dripped all over. Nose is OK though and my head feels clearer. 3:50 pacer finally caught me. I have been running conservatively and not looking at the watch, expecting them to pick me up some time ago.

Mile 17 - Holding with Kurt, the 3:50 pacer.
Mile 18 - Short section turning through a neighborhood. 3:50 is getting away. I am tired. Not the usual tired. Legs are fine for this stage in the race. I am not light headed, like I was last year before I learned about S!Caps. I just feel like I have a cold, which I do, and it is dragging me down.

Mile 20 - Bridge over Highway 16. I remember getting almost dizzy here last year and it is nice to be able to run across this with no symptoms. Now the "trail" that parallels the highway. This was a horrible spot last year. Tough today, but not in a negative way. Maniac B sighting. Bright sunshine. I can see a good half mile ahead, all uphill, 3:50 still in site not too far off. Top of hill. One lone volunteer yelling most enthusiastically. Her car doors are open and she is blaring music. Bob Dylan - Tangled up in Blue. Very nice. Some more music and more spectators would be good here.

Mile 21 - Walking breaks have started. Leapfrogging a red shirted Maniac. Once I start walking without making the decision to do so. It just happened. Keeping the breaks short and moving along as best I can. Not too disappointed and not beating myself up over it.

Mile 24 - Finally that grand downhill. Before I make the turn I look back and see the 4:00 pacer disturbingly close. If I keep up what I have been doing I will be passed by him very soon. Hope this hill helps. Steep downhill. If my legs ever give way here this will be considered the worst hill of the course. It is a little too steep to fly and I maintain control.

Mile 24.5 - Another downhill, this one nice and gradual and long. Running with a young yellow shirted maniac. Both of us would like to beat 4:00. It seems doable and I think I have a chance of besting last years 3:58:10. But we need to keep moving and THIS IS HARD!! Difficult but enjoyable. Tough but fun. This is what keeps bringing me back to the marathon. See what I am capable of, challenge myself and somehow keep smiling. If I thought I was going to collapse or something I would walk or stop for a while, its not that important. But suffering and struggling are not necessarily bad things.

Mile 25 - Thank you Tacoma police for help at all the street crossings. Guy who looks like a street bum asks how far we are running. I tell him. He swears. I agree with him.

Mile 26.2 - Slightly different finish from last year. I like it. We duck in just under 4 and are satisfied. 30 seconds slower than last year, but I have a good excuse. Not as emotionally up and down as last year (S!Caps help the mind too and keep me from saying some stupid things) but I think that I had more fun today and enjoyed the beautiful course more than last year. I plan to come back for sure!!

Big shout out to the Rogue Wave for having such a good run today. I am happy for you and glad that I did not try to keep up.

104 of 271
Marathon 31, marathon or ultra 32, Tacoma Marathon #2

Saturday, May 2, 2009

5/2/09 YMCA/Public Agency Challenge 2 Miles

My sixth consecutive year doing one of these races. With a marathon planned for tomorrow I select the two mile race over the 8K. Jared has been running some and I encourage him to join me. Maybe I will hold back and run with him. Tacoma is my priority this weekend, but I do like this race. Lots of state agency folks get out of their cubicles for this one. I am not usually motivated by ribbons and trophies but they do have very nice awards here and with all the fast runners doing the 8K or resting for other races, I usually place pretty well. Jared and I arrive in plenty of time to register. It is drizzling so we go back and sit in the car till closer to start time. I am suffering with a head cold, but it feels a little better today. In the past I have run with "stuffiness" with little problem, but I wonder how it will affect my race today and tomorrow.
Start - Eventually we make our way down Capitol Blvd for the start line. We watch the 8K start and then line up for our race. Uphill a half a mile, then flat to the turn around. Downhill finish, turning left onto the road that takes us to the winged victory statue at the Capitol building. Here at the start there are a few kids eager to get going, toes to the start line. Also I see Brad Hooper who should win. Jared and I are right behind the front row, but there really is not anyone in front of me. I might as well toe the line and know that my watch time will be the same as my official time. Jared does not seem to care if I run with him or not, so I guess I will just do my own thing.
Mile 0.25 - Breathing a little hard. Uphill climb. I did not warm up much at all, saving precious miles for tomorrow. How fast should I be going? Gonna play this one by feel.
Mile 0.5 - Hill is leveling off. Passing the kids and a few others.
Mile 1.1 - Heading back now, looking for Jared. There he is, doing fine. We hand slap and I refocus on the task.
Mile 1.6 - Not going to catch the kid in front of me unless he fades big time. I do not need to be running as hard as I am. Slow down a little to protect my foot/stride on the downhill. Not going to go all out today but I am going much faster than planned.
Mile 1.8 - The sound of footsteps behind me. Someone trying to catch me. Since I had slowed some I feel the ability to speed up and decide to not let anyone pass. We have made the turn to the statue and I can see the finish line ahead. Pick up the pace and get the job done.
Mile 2 - Strong finish but no gasping for air or feeling like I am going to vomit. I head directly back to watch Jared make his final kicks. He comes in strong. We get some snacks and watch the slower two milers and faster 8K runners finish up. Cheer for some friends. Now it is raining a little harder so we go to the car to dry off before the award ceremony. We each take first in our age groups and get identical trophies.

7th of 49 1st in age group
6th YMCA/Public Agency Challenge race