Saturday, October 30, 2010

10-30-10 Club Oly Tis the Season for a 5K at The Evergreen State College after the High School District Meet

Got here just in time to watch the Navigator Girls and Boys win their meets. Course is looking wet and muddy. Someone tells me that I should put on my extra long spikes. Too bad I have never tried spikes. I'll be fine in my Brooks Adrenaline GTS, the shoe that I do almost all of my training and racing in. My fairly new pair is going to get awful muddy though. There have been six different races on this course today, with hundreds of runners, finally I get to run in the open race. Thanks to Club Oly for sponsoring and organizing this event and for keeping the cost so low. Very light rain, cool but nice for running.

Start - Twenty four of us line up at the edge of a big field. More than half are High Schoolers who could not compete in the meet today for one reason or another. Most of the rest are Club Oly types, some of them I know to be much faster than me. Bill gives us the countdown and we are off. I am at full on sprint after a good warm up, but most of the runners are quickly pulling ahead of me. A large pack is already out of reach and we are just at the end of the field. Now we have to narrow down some and watch for turns and mud.

Mile 1- I have passed one kid and I am gaining on Rachel. I was amazed at how fast she went out and I slowly reel her in. Steep muddy uphill, little out and back section. Pass Rachel and there is no one directly ahead. Out to a loop that is new to the course this year. I had assumed that it just goes around a little area, but it is longer than I expected and has a steep and muddy uphill.

Mile 2- Completed one loop, now we repeat most of the course again, minus that big hill thankfully. No one close in front or directly behind me. Running as hard as I can, while still being careful to not slip in the mud or hit a bad bump.

Mile 3 - I feel pretty good and could keep going on for a while like this, but the end is near. Crank it up for the sprint to the finish. Cross the line. My tag is pulled and I am offered a bunch of Halloween candy. Nice little race. Got my speed work in for the week and I look forward to the next race in the series.


18th of 24


Saturday, October 23, 2010

10-23-10 Sammamish Trail Marathon

Inaugural race and I have never run here before. I arrive at Marymoor Park in plenty of time. It is still dark and although the sign for the race seems to be pointing towards another parking lot, I can see runners parking and getting ready off to the right. I pull in to a spot and can see a small registration area. People seem to be in a hurry and ready to run, yet I know I have ninety minutes to the start. Then I realize that the check in table says "Team in Training" and that this is a training run for that group. So back in the car and drive to the far parking lot where the race is happening for real.

This week I happened to look at a package of Fig Newtons and see that the serving size of two cookies is remarkably similar to a gel in terms of calories/carbohydrates, and salts. I have packed eight Newtons to carry along instead of four gels as an experiment. Although S!Caps have helped the nausea issue (and been wonderful for the fuzzy head feeling), I still get an upset stomach late in a race and I think that the gels are not helping any.

Since I ran the Defiance 50K just seven days ago and my last marathon was a PR attempt but became a death march at mile 16, I have decided to run conservatively today. M761 is here and feels the same way, so we will make ourselves run a slower pace for the first half, then pick it up later if we feel good. I'm shooting for 1:58-2:00 for the first half and if all goes well I will be very happy to beat four hours.

Race is a little pricey with a nice cotton shirt and no medal. Aid stations every five miles so I will carry my fuel belt. Great volunteers though and safe crossing at the few intersections. Forecast calls for rain. It was supposed to be raining already, but I can see the sun rising, however dark clouds loom not far away. No wind and will hit fifty degrees, so I wear shorts and a long sleeve "Brooks Running" shirt, leaving the jacket in the car. I hope the rain will hold off.

Race is sold out, but the marathon group seems small. Larger half marathon group was bussed out 13.1 miles and will run back here. We will run out and back, with the halfers charging towards us at some point.

Start - I start way in the back with four Kuhlmanns. One is qualifying for the Maniacs club today. Good instructions from the RD that I am half listening to. We start right on time. A quick right turn and a mile out and back on pavement before we get to the East Sammamish Trail.

Mile 2 - On the trail proper now. This is a flat course. No hills at all. Maybe a slight incline or decline here and there, but so gradual. The trail is essentially a well crushed gravel road, very smooth with no stones on the two tracks and easy running in the middle if needed.

Mile 8 - Smooth running. Halfers streaming towards us now. There was some light rain but it has stopped now and I am not very wet.

Mile 11 - Trail did not change much the whole way out. Long straight sections where you can see up ahead. Feeling great. Three Fig Newtons consumed and holding a nice steady pace. Now we go off the trail and onto sidewalk and civilization. Follow the orange ribbons and chalk makings into another park. More twists and turns here, on pavement. I get off course a little as I see orange cones ahead, but that is not the way to go and I am directed back to the right way.

Mile 13.1 - Aid station. As I leave I hit the lap button and see that my halfway split time is 1:59:15. That is right where I want to be, but does not leave much room for slowing down.

Mile 14 - Significant pace upgrade. We are going faster, but it feels fine. Not that fast.

Mile16.5 - Holding that faster pace and I feel great. Mile 16.5 is where I hit the wall in Bellingham and also had big problems last week. I feel way better than at either of those races.

Mile 19 - Relaxed and feeling good. Passing people now.

Mile 21 - Eat my fifth Fig Newton and it goes down well. This is going to be a great running day.

Mile 23 - Still holding that faster pace, but very suddenly I am out of energy. Just like that M761 builds a lead that I will never narrow. But I am in a great mood. I can handle the last three miles at low energy. I'll settle into a slower pace and try to not take any walk breaks and I should have no problem beating four hours. Ah, I remember my 3:57, 3:58, 3:58 and 3:59 marathons from last Spring, where I would have four hours in the bag and then run/walk as slowly as possible but still beat four. I know that if I do not look at my watch and just give it a good effort I should have a better finish time than that.

Mile 25 - Near the finish, but have that out and back to do. I can drop my fuel belt here and it sure feels great to do so. Grind out the last mile and am so pleased to cross in under 3:55 by my watch.

Shout out to "Kimpossible" on the PR and first sub 4 hour marathon.

3:54:45 (1:59/1:55 negative split)

27th place of 77 finishers

Race #213, Marathon or Ultra #55


Saturday, October 16, 2010

10-16-10 Defiance 50K

Point Defiance Park at the northern tip of Tacoma is a gem of a park. Miles of waterfront, and many acres of forest, with some trees that are hundreds of years old. There is a one way paved road that loops around the park. This "Five Mile Drive" is also most of the Sound to Narrows 12K course and part of the Tacoma Marathon. In addition there are miles of trails that criss cross the whole park and I have not run on them much. Today I will.

The course for this inaugural race is three loops of about 10.37 miles. Starting at Owens Beach, at sea level, we will run 3/4 of a mile on flat crushed gravel or pavement along the water on what I call the "promenade". Then we will climb a trail with wooden steps, more of a staircase than trail, up steeply to near the Five Mile Drive. More trail climbing, then lots of single track and some double track trail all around the park. There will be pink ribbons to mark the way as well as chalk arrows on the ground. So many turns and intersections, I hope it will be well marked. At mile 4 we will run along the edge of the cliff with water views. Mile 5 takes us past the replica of Fort Nisqually. Aid station here, then lots more trail of all kinds. Through the "Ewok" forest, a number of small log jumps, and up a steeper hill. Finally some nice smooth flat and gentle downhill for a long way. Then onto the paved road for a quarter mile or so and then a sharp turn and a scramble down the cliff side to the beach. This last bit of trail is so steep that they have placed a rope to hold on to as you negotiate the trail. Back to the promenade for a short sprint to the finish...or lap two......or lap three. Elevation gain and loss of about 1,300 feet per loop.

For our troubles we get a nice running vest and a big finishers mug. Its cold out and the sun is just rising, so I have my jacket, hat and gloves on. Parking is right at the finish area, so I can grab or drop stuff as needed after each loop. There is also a 15K and 30K and many participants. The shorter race runners should be able to run more quickly so I line up way in the back with M761.

Start - Off we go on the wide promenade. Nice and easy. First bottleneck is on the stairs. Have to walk up. Those doing the 50K wonder how tough these stairs will be on the third lap. Now it really skinnys down to a trail and we are often stuck behind slow runners. Already I have a pebble working its way down my heel and into my shoe and I have to pull over to deal with it. Somehow it slips in under my foot. It feels OK there so I just leave it, hoping that I will not have to take my shoes off later. Tempting to try to pass people and find some room to run, but I need to be patient and use their pace to keep me from going out too fast. When the trail widens, there is
a sorting of position and we can get past the really slow ones. Beautiful day for a trail run, dry, little mud. But this is more like a stampede, just too crowded. I don't let it bother me though, there will be plenty of alone time after the shorter races are done and runners get real spread out.

Mile 4 - On the edge of a steep drop off. At least ten people directly in front of me. I hear one person shout, and another really yell. I think some one must have fallen, but we soon realize that we are in a swarm of bees.
Runner in front of me is stung and slows down. I tell him to keep moving fast, we need to get out of there!! Many runners are stung, somehow I get lucky. By my third loop, volunteer Tony S. will have taken care of the nest that was in an old stump and marked the spot with ribbon, getting stung multiple times in the process. Thanks Tony!!

Mile 5-10 - I barely slow down at the aid station. The rest of lap one is uneventful. Still lots of runners. The roped trail down the cliff is an adventure. Grab a couple of pretzels at the start/finish area and make a quick bathroom break. I think that M761 has gone ahead of me, so I run faster to catch up, but she was actually behind me and she catches me. We continue on together, with much more room to run.

Loop 2- The uphills are getting harder. I'm OK till about mile 16. Then it really hits me. I have some stomach cramping, not too bad, but enough to slow me down. The steep uphill in the Ewok forest finishes me off. M 761 continues on ahead. I need to walk any uphills and I start taking walk breaks on some flat trail too. This is about where I hit the wall in my last marathon and it is disappointing. I knew that I would tire at some point today and I told myself that I would continue to work hard at that point for 30 minutes or so, then just relax and enjoy the day. So I keep pushing but it is tough! I am getting passed by runners, my legs are tired on any hills and I am barely half way done. Lots of walk breaks and I am finally at the cliff near the end of the loop. Help a runner who has taken a wrong turn, then I lead him a few steps down the wrong way before we realize the mistake. Back track and get on course. Then down the rope and to the finish area. I see Ron Frederick who had finished the 30K race. I sort of shake my head at him and say something about this third lap is going to be really bad.

Loop 3 - Flat section is fine, then up those awful steps. I almost have to take a rest break. It is tough going. I meet Maniac Thomas Tan. We have been leapfrogging some and will continue to do so for the whole rest of the race. The uphill trail is real tough. At about mile 23 I turn my ankle and almost fall, but recover OK and there is no pain. Finally on more level trail and something amazing happens. I find this low gear of running. Its not a shuffle, I am moving along, just slowly. Well much faster than walking, a nice steady slow pace that feels really good. I note that I have been racing for 3 hours and 53 minutes. I tell myself that if I can continue with this pace until I hit 4:00 hours, then I will be happy and I'll reward myself with a walk break. The next time I look at my watch it is at 4:07 and I still do not need to slow down. For the rest of loop three I am able to run with a renewed level of energy. Sure I walk up the steep bits and when I am running it is not fast,but I feel good and now I am passing people. Thomas is able to run faster than me, but he keeps taking walk breaks so it all evens out. I am really surprised at how good I feel. I do not know if I have ever gotten into a groove like this after being so exhausted earlier on. I have two ideas on what is happening, the reader can pick which they like or suggest something else. One thought is that although my stores of carbohydrate energy are low/gone, I am now effectively tapping my fat reserves. I have been training my body to do this for some time and it is great to see it paying off. The other idea is something about moonbeams infusing the forest floor with energy that can be transferred to fungi and to those on the trails who can access the hidden power. It sure seems that the longer I run and especially now that I am mostly alone, the stronger I feel. All I need to do is be careful to not fall or take a wrong turn and this will end up being a pretty good race. Ginger Gruber passes me at the aid station. She has been holding back and will run another marathon tomorrow.

Mile 29 to 31 - Sharp turn and I see a little uphill. I have been running with no breaks for so long, this would be a good place to walk a bit and gather some energy. I also know now that I will have no trouble beating my hoped for time of 6 hours. But I do not slow. I don't feel like it. I love to run and I would just rather be running than walking right now. I think that I have hit a point of transcendence. It is somewhat emotional, after so many tough races lately. This is pure pleasure and I feel like I could just keep on going forever. Soon enough I get to the road and I fly down to the turn, knowing that I will have to go slow to pick my way down the cliff. Thomas is behind me and I offer him to pass just before the rope as I have no intention of going fast and falling here and I don't want to slow him down. I know that I could run fast at the bottom and maybe sprint past him at the finish. He will not take the lead however, also wanting to go carefully at this point. So down the rope I go and onto the wide trail to the finish. Very happy and strong, with no aches or pains. M761 is there, she beat me by 20 minutes, and we both feel like we could go and do another loop. After that rough patch in the middle for me, I am so pleased with how this turned out. My finish time is not near a PR, but this was the toughest trail course I have done and my finish place suggests that I did run well today. Quick dip of the legs in the cold waters of Puget sound and I think that I shall recover well from the race.

33rd place of 97
race # 212, marathon or ultra #54, 50K #5

Saturday, October 2, 2010

10-2-10 Shuck and Run 5K

Shelton WA. Oysterfest weekend. 5K race start and finish at the High School. Race will be on open roads with good wide shoulders and little traffic. One long block we will go around. $15 day of race entrance fee. After a tough marathon six days ago and a not very good recovery week, I have serious doubts about how today will go. No pains or injuries, just have felt tired while running this week. Almost opted out for today but now that I am here I am glad that I did show up. Mile and a half warm up and I actually feel really good. A few more strides while waiting for the start. Nice cloudy weather.
Start - Line up in a good position and do not get swept away with the fast crowd. Pick off a few as we start on a gentle downhill.
Mile 1 - 7:10 mile, I am sure that I will slow down at some point, but this feels good.
Mile 2 - Passed a couple more runners. Now a series of very short but steepish hills, up and down. Just enough to throw off any rhythm I have going. Friendly High School aged runner catches me, says that he likes my pacing. I am gasping for air and my heart must be pounding but I am loving this moment. No pains, no negative thoughts, smooth form, running about as fast as I can. Thankful to be here, doing this. I am having a terrific run considering what I expected. I mention to my side kick that there are three runners packed in tight, about twenty yards ahead of us. They have been slowly coming back to me and one is the lead female. I do not think that I can catch them, but my new friend seems to not be working as hard. I say that if he can pass one, then he could pass all three and improve a lot in the final results. Eventually he makes a move.
Mile 3.1- Turn it on for the finish. I can't keep up with the pack in front, but no one passes me near the end either. Grab a cup of water, congratulate Ken from Olympia on his second place finish, then go back a ways to cheer for all the runners. After a while I see people walking in, so that must be about it. I do a little cool down run on the track and wait for results. Then wait some more. Chat with Ken and also Barbara from Elma. Took a long time, but finally results are ready and seem correct. I get a medal for first in my age group (out of four) but do not win any raffles. Later, looking at my race results for the year I am amazed to see that all four of my 5K races have been within eight seconds of each other. Today's was right in the middle.

12th place of 101
race #211, 31st race of 2010