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