Saturday, June 26, 2010

6-26-10 Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon

Today is the grand finale of the Spring road marathon season. My 4th road marathon in 8 weeks. Previous times going back to Tacoma are 3:57, 3:58 and 3:58 so I am consistent, that is for sure. I would like to go out slower today than the last couple of races and hopefully finish strong. Anything under 4 hours would be great, but I am also celebrating my 50th marathon or ultra and my 200th race; I really just want to enjoy the day.

Up at 3AM. Leave the house by 3:30. Park at Safeco Field at 4:30. Ride the school bus with my friend Julie to the start, arriving just after 5:00. Hard part is over, now it is relax till the start, then run back to the city with 29,000 others. Full and half marathons start together with 36 corrals to stage us in. Same routine as last year so I know what I am doing. Still it takes about 20 minutes to get from the gear bag drop site to my starting area, with so many people around. It is cloudy and a little muggy, supposed to be warmer and sunny by late in the race.

I got bib#5050 in honor of my 50th and that puts me in corral 5, but I go to #6 to try to find M761. I have to enter the corral as the attendant is closing the gate on us and saying that no one else will be allowed in. This is after the National Anthem and really just a few seconds before the start. Just when I think I won't have my marathon pal to run with today, she comes sneaking in through Corral 7 and finds me right as we start moving.

Start - We walk forward a little then stop. It is a wave start and soon our group is let out. Smooth heading out. None of those crazy zigzagging people or walkers you get at Portland, the other giant race I do some years.

Mile 1 - 8:40. Under a giant balloon Rock and Roll guy. First band. Music will be the same as last year. Not as frequent as you might expect. Also, some bands you can not hear until you are right there and just as soon, the music fades away. Various High School cheerleaders are here again and I think I like them better than the bands. So encouraging and energizing.

Mile 4 - Hmm. Pace is at 8:35. The plan was to go closer to 9. At this point it feels right of course, I'll pay for it later. I will try to slow down at the water stations and not fight the uphills at all. Same course as last year, neighborhoods for now, soon we will drop down to Lake Washington.

Mile 8 - Salt packets at the aid station. That is a first. I am still taking S!Caps every 6 miles or so during a marathon and they are essentially sodium in a couple of different forms. Never thought to just take some table salt packets with me. Cheerleaders group has a costumed tiger mascot with them. I go to give it a high-5, but M761 says I should hug it. In the half a second it takes to reach it, I decide that it is my 50th celebration and if I want to hug a tiger I should do so. I think I surprised it, but it was fun and worth it.

Mile 9 - Uphill, then onto Interstate 90, out over Lake Washington. Its been a long time since I have run a course with an out and back section. It is a fun diversion to see the fast runners and to wave to fellow Maniacs. One person that I do not know well is "Double L" but I am very surprised to see her coming towards me. I know that she has yet to run sub four hours in about 150 races. If I am going too fast, then she really is. She just smiles as I tap my watch and give her a confused look. Osprey sighting.

Mile 10 - Turn around. Now a great view of Seattle and many runners both coming and going. Its still cloudy and a little cool, out over the lake the wind is sort of swirling around. Not very strong but now it seems to be mostly in my face. Most of the course is on concrete and I don't really know what effect that surface has on my legs, but I am already starting to feel somewhat beat up.

Mile 11 - Merge with the half runners and into the long tunnel.

Mile 13 - Out of the tunnel and past Safeco Field. I am having serious doubts about this race now. My legs are bugging me from the feet on up. The pace is still a little faster than I would like. I could/should slow down here, but I just don't want to.

Mile 15 - Alaska Way Viaduct. More concrete. Feel better though. At least I am able to hold pace

Mile 17.5 - Both M761 and I are feeling it in the legs and now having some low energy patches. In a moment of strength, on a downhill, I ease forward wanting to hold pace as long as possible
This is the second out and back section. I see a red-tailed hawk. Then I see "Double L" still far ahead of me. I tap the watch and smile. Looks like she has been training.

Mile 19 - Now heading back and just finishing a long gradual uphill section. Not surprised to find M761 has caught up to me.

Mile 20 - Taking my time through water stations now, extending the walk breaks.

Mile 22.5 - Made it through the second tunnel without walking. M761 now has the energy and moves forward as I maintain a slower running pace.

Mile 24 - Find myself grinding down to a walk every half mile or so. The walks are short and I get moving at my slow pace but I am being passed by many people at this point. Third out and back section and another "Double L" sighting. She will have a super PR for sure.

Mile 25 - Last uphill. Do some math and figure I can allow myself one more walk break and still beat 4 hours. One of these races I will not wear a watch just so I don't negotiate with it late in a race. It is not a coincidence that I have so many marathons finished between 3:56 and 3:59. Not really happy with the fact that I seem to be doing as little work as possible in order to get in under 4 hours. I'll have to work on that next time.

Mile 25.9 - Yes I have positioned myself well to just get under 4. Pick up the pace and enjoy the moment as I cross the line.

Mile 26.2 - Done. Immediate recovery goes well. Walk a bit. Put on warm clothes as it is colder than it was at the start, that Sun just never came out. Sit for a while, then a longish walk to the car.


917th of 4080
50th Marathon or ultra

200th race

20th race of 2010

5th race this month


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

6-15-10 Inna Gadda Da Vida Challenge

My second time here at this very low key fundraiser for the Lakes High School cross country team. This is my third short race in the past four days and I really should be careful to not injure myself. I do not know if I have ever run so many seven minute miles in such a short period of time, but I am feeling good and this will be one more speed effort before scaling back in the coming days. It is cool and cloudy with some wind. Can't beat the $5 entrance fee with the no t-shirt option.
Start - about 20 people, half kids. We all start at the same line on the track. Music starts and I go off pretty quick. I have done a two mile warm up and am ready to move along. Three runners are ahead of me.
Verse 1 - The three ahead of me are kids, I am gradually reeling one in. We run side by side for a bit and I feel comfortable, so I ease ahead.
Verse 2 - Male runner blazes past me. He was holding back at the start but now is on a tear.
Drum Solo - I pick up the pace and get under a seven minute per mile average. Lapping some and I get lapped by one.
Organ Solo - Lapped by another runner. Holding my pace and feeling good. Fun to hear this great old music.
Final verse - Its coming to and end now. I won't beat the distance I achieved three years ago, but actually I am fairly close. Race hard to make it to the halfway point on the track just as the 17 minute song comes to an end.
Finish - 9.5 laps, 2.44 miles on the GPS. Quick awards ceremony, then raffle of goodies donated by the local running stores. I will a pair of Brooks socks that I will definitely use. Nice time tonight on the track.

9.5 laps
4th of about 20
race #199

Sunday, June 13, 2010

6-13-10 Evergreen Classic 5K

I was pleased with yesterday's 5K time. Today I would like to just have a decent run and I won't mind if I slow down some. My first time at this Evergreen State College Event which is something of a fundraiser for the library and the cross country team. In February I raced here and found the organizers to be overwhelmed with day of race registrations. There was a late start, the facilities were not the best and the course had a few marking issues. Today seems to be much better. The Library is open for restroom use and thanks to Club Oly Running there are volunteers at just about every turn. Even Jody and Jared are helping out, so it will be fun to see familiar faces along the way. The sun is out but it may be a little cooler than yesterday. Also this course should be mostly shaded. More of a running crowd than yesterday, a few of the seriously fast folk are here.
I go about my warm up and it takes a while to loosen up. Eventually I start to feel good. One of my favorite feeling in all of running are the strides before a 5K. After at least a mile warm up, I walk a bit then head off at a fast pace. I can feel the power and know that I am moving fast, then I back down to a walk. I try to get four or five of these in with the last one just a minute or two before the start. Everything feels great and I am relaxed and ready to run. Judy Fisher sighting just before we start.
Start - Blast off at top speed, but I positioned myself behind the front row as I know that John Riak and Ulrike and a few others are much faster. Down a little hill. Big group in front of me, hopefully I can pick some of them off. Tammy points the way through an intersection and into a parking lot. One loop around the lot, then criss cross the course near the start, now Tammy is pointing us down a hill into another parking lot. Ahead I see Jody and Jared to make sure we turn right at the end of this lot. Now there is a gradual uphill. I can feel it in my legs. Funny because I did my warm up here and I did not notice the hill at that time. Yesterday's course was so flat I sort of forgot about hills on 5Ks. Off onto a paved trail that winds through the woods.
Mile 1 - 6:53 - Slower than yesterday, but fast enough. Nice downhill and there is Sabrina to make sure I do not go the wrong way. Now on a long straight road. I'm about 20 feet behind an older guy and I surge to catch him. He steps up the pace and I close the gap to about 10 feet but no more. I try again and am repelled again. I am working hard but feel OK. Every time I feel relaxed I try to surge a little more, pick up the pace as best I can. Now an uphill. Focus on the stride and on moving the arms. Just can't get past that older man.
Mile 2 - Right turn coming up. We have crested the hill. I try one more acceleration and am able to blow past him, just before the turn. Hmm my pace is faster than yesterday. Feel good, though I am borderline anaerobic and may want to vomit if I go any faster. There is Bill pointing us up a little hill, then Tammy at the top and I know I am close to the finish
Mile 3 - Shannon at the intersection with Jody and Jared cheering and making me keep running fast. Some kid trying to pass me on the right so I surge as best I can and fight him off. Make the turn and kick it in to the finish.

Very pleased with today's run. Eight seconds faster than yesterday and on a tougher course. Having competition right in front of me is great motivation to run faster. Good event too. Now I plan to go fast one more time, this Tuesday evening. Then I will be able to watch Jody and Bill do a triathlon on Saturday and still have the Rock and Roll Seattle be my 200th race.

17th of 122
1st of 5 in age group
Race #198
5K #53

Saturday, June 12, 2010

6-12-10 Run For Rett 5K

New race that is designed to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome
The race is a 5K around Capitol Lake in Olympia. Many runners are at the big Sound To Narrows race in Tacoma, but I am opting for a smaller event today. This is a first time event that I want to support, and I am hoping that it will be well organized. Beautiful sunny day, its warming up but terrific for a 5K with sunglasses. As I warm up I see that the course is well marked. A decent crowd is here and many are not pre registered, but there are enough volunteers to handle it. Twenty minutes before the start time there is no line at the registration table. Lots of families including kids with Rett. In fact as I look around I do not see any familiar fast runners other than Ron Frederick, who is just getting back into shape after some injury. At his best he is always ahead of me, but today he may be a little behind. Could make for a good race. Just before the start I see Ulrike and Linda, then a couple of fast guys that I do not know well. I have done a two mile warm up and am ready to race.
Mile 1 - 6:49. Way too fast. I flew out the gate and pushed hard on the crushed rock trail. Navigated some turns, over the wood bridge, through a parking lot and now heading south on the sidewalk along the lake. A few runners are way ahead and I will never catch. One guy, in black, is just a little ahead but I can not gain on him.
Mile 1.55 - At the turn around I realize that I am in sixth place overall, with Linda and Ulrike ahead of me of course. Ron is just behind me, not far back at all. The guy in black is gradually getting farther ahead, he is out of range but I will keep an eye on him in case he falters.
Mile 2 - I am slowing, but the fear of Ron keeps me moving. I don't hear any footsteps behind me though.
Mile 2.6 - The course continues around the lake, not turning into the parking lot the way we came. I can see across the lake to the balloon arch finish and it sure looks like it is more than a half mile away. I feel OK, just hard to keep up the pace. I really want to have a look back to see is anyone is close. I know that is a sign of weakness and it really will not help me at all so I fight the urge to look back. A few quick turns and then I am on the crushed rock path with the end getting very close. A male runner who came in second place and was way ahead of me tells me to relax, now I know that no one is right on my tail, also I would have heard their footsteps on the path. I ease up just a bit, but then I am nearing the finish. There are my friends from Guerrilla Timing cheering for me to finish strong. I pick it up and sprint across the line. Ron finishes next, a mere ten seconds behind me. My GPS watch shows the course to be accurate in length.
As a cool down I do a loop around the lake and encourage others who are finishing up. There are bagels and water at the finish and a nice atmosphere on this beautiful day. It was well organized and yet another race that I hope to run again.
6th place of 141 runners and walkers

Sunday, June 6, 2010

6/6/10 North Olympic Discovery Marathon

I have decided to go for it again and try to PR. I feel better rested than at Capitol City having an extra week between marathons and this course is easier than the Olympia course. I ran here last year and had a very decent race. So I will try to get in under 3:48, but who knows what will happen?

Out of the hotel room at 6AM and it is raining steady in Port Angeles. It does stop by the time the bus leaves for the start in Sequim. I am not prepared for rain, and showers are forecast, but it is not raining at the start and it is warm and humid out. Wind will not be an issue so I think I will be fine in my Maniac singlet.

This is a terrific race. Nice big room to wait in. There are plenty of well staffed aid stations with friendly volunteers. Its on the paved trail, but there are spectators at many locations. Great scenery once we get off the roads of Sequim. I like the shirt this year and the medal is nice too. But I have some running to do before I can collect that medal.

Start - Visit with friends. Relaxed and feeling good. There are some pacers here and just as the gun goes off I see that Maniac Jeff Bollman is pacing for 3:45. This is great. I do not have to rely so much on the watch. I can just get in behind him and make sure I do not pass him, otherwise I am definitely going too fast. If I can hang with 3:45 most of the way I can drop back a little at the end and still PR.

Mile 1 - 353 runners. A little crowded but it will sort out. Jeff is getting ahead but not much. There is this long gradual uphill and I know that I can make up time later, I should be going even slower than I am.

Mile 3 - Its a fast pace. Fly down a hill. Feeling good though.

Mile 5 - Big loop is done, now the main road. My least favorite part of the course, separated from traffic by cones, but it is well directed and safe. I am probably 20 seconds behind Jeff. Still somewhat crowded.

Mile 9 - Now we are on the paved trail. Enthusiastic spectators and volunteers at the aid station. The long wooden bridge over the Dungeness River. Now a bear sighting. Oh its not really a bear, just a giant shaggy dog standing alone on the trail. He ignores me as I run past. I do hear a raven calling in the woods and that is cool.

Mile 12 - Have been just behind two runners with East Side Running Club shirts on. I have been watching them chat away and appear to be running very comfortably. I catch up and we talk a little bit.

Mile 13.1 - 1:53 is right on pace but I know that miles 16-21 of this course are the toughest.

Mile 16 - Just like that it gets very hard. First some wind in my face on an exposed part of the trail, then a sharp decent to cross a creek. Too steep to run fast on the downhill and I real grind to get up. Jeff is gone.

Mile 17 - Work to catch a runner and stay even with him. We talk a bit but I am struggling. Early on in marathons I don't need or like much conversation, but at this stage it is great to be next to someone. Even if no words are exchanged there is something about running side by side. You can help pace each other and keep the pace from slowing. I just can not hold it though and I drop back.

Mile 18 - There is the steepest creek bed still to come, but this section is bad too, with steep little uphills. Maniac President Steve Yee passes me. He gets a few steps ahead and turns to take my picture. I stop for the camera but he tells me I am supposed to keep running. I am looking for any excuse to slow down. Steve moves on and next up is Maniac Robert Lopez. Robert won a 50K race yesterday and here he is gaining speed and finishing strong today. I guess that if I have to be passed here it might as well be by Maniac#1 and #111. I am struggling big time with energy to run but my spirits are fine. The course has very much thinned out and I am not being passed by many runners. In fact I am starting to pass walkers who began their race two hours before I did.

Mile 20 - The dreaded last creek bed. Its insane trying to get up out of it. Small drum circle is making music at the top of the hill that is more ominous than encouraging. Finally up the steep hill and a long downhill to come.

Mile 21 - Studying the watch now. I have faltered so badly that I am fairly confident that I will not beat four hours. I will need to keep running with no walk breaks and no dawdling at aid stations in order to reach that goal and although there are no more hills, there is still a long way to go. Bob Dolphin sighting. He is walking and I am temped to walk with him a bit. He is 80 years old and has 460 something marathons complete. In fact I could just walk the rest of the way with him, keep him company and I'm sure he would entertain me. I'll at least walk a bit and say hi but as I get real close behind him he starts back up running. I pass him, just a quick hello and keep moving on ahead.

Mile 22 - Now along the waterfront, nice that there is little wind. Very minor drizzle. I have been warm most of the race, but not super hot. I can see the finish area way off in the distance.

Mile 23 - Bald eagle flying low over the water away from shore, makes a turn around and is now heading towards me. If I speed up just a little it will fly directly overhead and in fact it does. Great diversion. The finish area is getting closer but still so far away, I doubt I will beat 4. I want to walk. But I keep running and start passing some runners as well as walkers. I catch the East Side Runners and speculate on our chances of getting in under 4 hours. I am sure that I can do it if I do not walk at all, and I still do not really think I will be able to do that.

Mile 24 - Still running, actually feeling better energy level. I have found some kind of groove and I just go along at this pace. It feels like a 9/mile. Turn onto the rocky path around the water treatment plant, that half mile section where you can hear the finish line, but have to go away from it for a bit. Young guy is walking and I encourage him to get moving again. I explain that it is all mental now and all he has to do is not take another walk break and he will beat 4. He is with me for a quarter mile, but then fades and I hear him say thank you.

Mile 25 - The last aid station. I run through this one, taking just a little fluid and feeling even stronger. My body senses the finish line and I am now sure that I will make my goal. Well not that 3:48 PR. but a secondary goal is always to get in under 4 hours.

Mile 26.2 - I finish in 3:58:34. That gives me 3 marathons in 5 weeks with finish times of 3:57, 3:58 and 3:58. The 3:57 was at Tacoma where I ran conservatively and had little difficulty. The next two races I went out much faster and paid the price. Finish times were amazingly close but I felt better and enjoyed myself most at Tacoma. Next marathon is in three weeks. That will be my 50th and right now I plan to run conservatively like at Tacoma, maybe go for a negative split, but for sure not worry about the finish time so much. In the mean time, if I can get in three more short races, I can have the Seattle Rock and Roll be my 50th marathon and 200th race.

106th of 353
Race #196, Marathon or ultra#49, NODM #2