Saturday, December 31, 2011

12-31-11 Yukon Do It Marathon

No I am not in Alaska.  Yukon Harbor is a part of Puget Sound, near Port Orchard where today's race is.  Second year for this race, but it is my first time here.  Assuming that I finish I will have 39 races for the year (40 is my record set last year), including 20 marathons or ultras (16 last year)  1,734.9 miles for the year, 21 new T-shirts, and I will pick up a new county for my Washington State Marathon County list (#13). My streak of 100 mile months is going strong into its 8th year.

The temperature is sub freezing.  Slipping on the ice in the parking lot.  Hat, gloves, 2 shirts and a jacket.  But I wear shorts as I expect it to warm up a little and it is not super cold.  I have little knowledge of the course other than it will be a double out and back this year and that it will start with a long downhill but the rest of the course should be flat.  The finish is at the bottom of the hill, so I will need to walk a ways uphill to get back to my car afterwards.

Start - We start just about on time and I am glad to get moving in this cold.  Flat, then gentle downhill with a little black ice to watch for.  Woman next to me slips but does not fall.  Flat again and now I can see a very steep downhill.  What is strange is that all the runners in front of me are veering off to either side of the road. The road is completely iced up and very steep.  We cling to the edge and skitter down on lawns next to the road.  On to the road that parallels the water.  Mile 1 takes ten minutes.

Mile 1-5 - This section is along the water.  I am disappointed to find that there is no scenic walkway, in fact there is no sidewalk.  So we run on the road, open to traffic, with little orange cones to keep us safe.  It is not entirely flat either, some nice little hills that are easy to manage, but were not expected.  More runners in the half but soon it is not very crowded.  Most of the time I will run alone and there really is not safe room for two abreast in many places.

Mile 6-8 - Short out and back, up and down a hill where cattle are lowing.  Then a turn off the main road and up a larger hill.  Around a corner, down a hill and there are two horses and two camels.  First camel sighting in a race for me.  Now on to Manchester State Park.  Down and up with two little lollipops that do not allow me to see who is directly behind me. I am afraid that these hills are going do me in when I come back for the second time.  Back past the camels and start heading back to the finish/turn around.  On the way back we are directed to skip the short out and back.

Mile 9-13.1 - I want to run the first half in 2:00 and hope for a negative split. So I have been keeping my pace around 9:10/mile even taking walk breaks when I find the average pace getting too fast.  But now I compare my GPS watch to the mile 10 mile marker and see that they are two tenths of a mile off and I will need to pick up the pace in order to match the markers.  No more walk breaks and I head out faster than I should.  Passing lots of halfers, now a few full marathoners coming back to me, but not very many.  I expect some people finishing the half to put on a big sprint but no one does and we all just cruise in to the finish area.  I am sent to a separate lane and head out for a repeat with 1:59 and something on the watch.

Mile 13.1 - 16 - Dodging halfers who are coming in to the finish.  Bob Martin (in boot) sighting.  Now volunteer Kimpossible sighting, she is skipping rope to keep warm and helping with traffic control.

Mile 17-21 - I start to tire.  Way to early.  I sort of knew that it was coming.  Big muscles in the legs have been tightening up and I almost fear cramps, which I never get.  I wonder if the cold temperatures have had an effect.  My right foot feels fine and will cause me no problems today. It will go on to be a very pain free race, but all up and down both legs are just not right.  And I am a little nauseous, probably from the cytomax that I am not used to.  I can not take walk breaks now if I want to hold a 9:10 pace.  I should try to eat something.  I had my two fig newtons and one Gu earlier.  I declined a Gu at the first aid station because I was still carrying my own, but now I see that no other aid stations have them.  Soon I find an unopened Gu packet on the road and I take it.  The hills do me in as I expected.  Lots of walking and a negative split is out the window.  At least with a small race like this I will not be passed by streaming hordes.  I do run for a bit with a Maniac from Ohio.  Nice diversion and it is so much easier to keep going when I am with someone.  But he stops at the aid station and I am alone again.  Catch a runner skipping the little out and back where there is no volunteer now.  When I point out his mistake he turns and goes up the hill on the proper course.

Mile 22-25 - A bit of a second wind.  I am able to run OK at times, though slowly.  Then some short walk breaks.  Maniac Jenny Apple passes me.  I do not care about finish time any more.  I mostly want to run hard just to get this race over with. 

Mile 25-26.2 - Older guy named Rich, I think, catches me but then I come back even to him and we run together.  He is running his 298th marathon and is great company for the last mile.  We settle in to a slow but steady pace and enjoy a nice conversation.  With about a third of a mile to go I realize that we are going more slowly than I need to, so I say goodbye and put on a last good effort to the finish.

Finish - 26.6 on the GPS.  Only a few people hanging around.  Fortunately one is Maniac Ginger and I am offered a ride back to my car.  That big hill would not have been a fun walk.  Not sure that I need to do this one again, but I have a year to decide.

24th place of 86 finishers
Race#259, Marathon or Ultra#77

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12/17/11 Pigtails Marathon

My 4th year in a row here.  The previous years I have run the 50K but today I will "just" run the marathon.  Carpool with Ron and Marilou and we arrive in plenty of time.  The swag is a pair of arm warmers, my first pair.  Weather is right about freezing but no wind or rain.  Should warm up as we run but I wear my jacket, hat and gloves at the start.

Start - Great to see so many friendly Maniacs.  This race always occurs on the first day of my two week vacation, so it is a fun way to start the holidays.  Same course as the past three years.  A little crowded on the dirt road for the short out and back but we get sorted out soon enough.  Pedro runs most of the first mile with me but I urge him to go on ahead so that I do not go out too fast.  My plan is to run a 1:59 first half and see if I can run the second half faster.

Mile 6 - First aid station and the end of the dirt trail.  Now it will be pavement and along a road for quite a ways.  I have been running with Maniac Kristoffer for a while and we will stay together for a few more miles.  We have had some very close finishes in marathons but today he is running the 50K.

Mile 10.2 - The sun is finally up on this almost shortest day of the year.  It is behind us, casting long shadows.  The sky is bright blue.  Pieces of ice are falling off trees onto the paved trail and bouncing around like shiny diamonds.  Just as I am noticing that, a bald eagle flies low overhead.

Mile 13.1 - Halfway.  1:59 just as planned and feeling OK.  Still somewhat cold.

Mile 13.7 - The turn around.  Now it is a straight shot back to the finish.  Slightly uphill and with just a little head wind at times.  Nice to be so familiar with the course now.

Mile 15 - This marks 1,666.5 miles for the year and ties my record mileage from a few years ago.

Mile 19 - For the first half I averaged 9:07/mile.  For the second half I am averaging 8:54 and plan to hold it steady at this pace as long as possible.  Getting a little tougher now.  A long, long straight stretch in to the sun.  Take a Powerbar gel and my stomach does not agree.

Mile 21 - Yay, back to the dirt and the aid station. 

Mile 23 - Hitting the wall pretty hard.  Well it was good to make it this far without too much struggle, but these last three miles will be tough.  My right foot aches a little, but each marathon it seems to get just a little better. 

Mile 24 - Have this low gear that seems to be working but all of a sudden I come to a full stop.  For some reason I look sharply to the left and see a bald eagle on a rock in the middle of the river, picking on a salmon carcass.  I have no idea what made me stop and look that way, but it was a very cool sight.  Back to my slow running and by the watch I know that I will not make 4 hours.  It was hard to motivate myself to keep up the pace, all by myself, another marathon planned in two weeks where I could try again.  I have worked very hard today and ran smart but just do not have the internal motivation to push it so much.

Mile 25 - Maniac Eric who I am just meeting for the first time catches up to me.  I wish him well as he passes by, but he decides to encourage me in to the finish.  At times I appreciate it and at other moments I wish that he would just go on ahead and leave me in my misery, and let me slow down.  He stays with me to the end and I probably finished at least a minute faster than I would have without him.  I appreciate that and as we turn the last curve and can see the finish, we both pick up the pace, but I do not even try to outrun him in a last minute sprint.  He deserves to finish ahead of me in the standings and I make sure that he does, not that I believe that I could have out run him anyway.

Mile 26.2 - GPS reads 26.31.  I generally feel good and enjoy chatting with fellow runners for a while.  Thanks to Pigtails for another well done event.  Next race planned is the Yukon Do It Marathon on 12/31.

31st of 89
Race#258, Marathon or ultra #76, Marathon#19 of 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

12/10/11 Tis the Season for a Cross Country 5K, race #3

Back to Pioneer Park for the third race in the series.  Martinho and I are the only male runners to have completed the first two races.  Winner of the series wins a free pair of shoes from South Sound Running.  Martinho beat me by a few steps in the second race, he has an amazing finishing kick.  In the first race he took a bit of a wrong turn and that has given me a 39 second lead on him coming in to today's race.  There are more runners here today including some real fast guys so I know that I will not win the race.  My strategy is to not go out too fast and keep Martinho close.  As long as I do not fall or lose a shoe in the mud I should win the series.

It is cold and dry today.  Not as foggy as when we ran here in October, but much colder.  There has been some river flooding and the two wet areas are now much wetter than last time.  The puddle/pond that was waist deep in 2010 is only knee deep this year.  But it is so cold that it has frozen over top.  The mud obstacle is not too bad because it is partially frozen.  The field is lumpy with half frozen bumps.  Not a PR course or day today.

Start - I had a good warm up and feel ready to run.  As we head out I get in just behind Martinho, Heather and Terra.  It is fun and good to know other runners who are right at your level of ability.  Across the field on the well marked course with flagging to go around and painted arrows to follow.

Mile 0.3 - On the far side of the field I pass my three buddies but do not go off so fast.  I know that they are right behind me.  The first mud obstacle is not too sloppy and I only get one foot a little wet.

Mile 1 - 7:44 which seems fine to me.  Some back and forth with a couple of the High School kids.  One kid ahead of me has on a red shirt like I do and is running smoothly.  We get to the big water trap and he goes splashing right through the middle of it.  I take a less aggressive approach along the edge, but still the water is deep enough to soak and then freeze my feet.  The kid and two other runners will finish the race with bleeding cuts from the sharp ice in this pond. 

Mile 1.5 - Feeling coming back to my feet.  I can run faster on this one section so I turn it on and pass 4 who are all bunched up.  I hope that will put some space between me and Martinho.  But now I am back on some bumpy grass and I keep turning my ankles a little bit and I am slowing some.  Gradually each of the kids get past me again.  Water hazard is not so bad the second time as I know what it will be like.

Mile 2 - Faster trail again.  Martinho is right behind me, but there is no way that he can run the last mile 40 seconds faster than me, so it looks like I will win the series.  Still I would like to beat him.  Through the mud trap without much difficulty and now on to the soccer fields.

Mile 2.5 - Across one field and now he catches me, making his move.  I fall back a little, then pick it up and run even with him.  He passes me again and gets a few feet ahead.  I notice that one of his shoes is untied.  I tell him that he should stop and tie his shoe.  Of course he will not stop.  I feel like I have a little burst left so I turn it on and pass him again.  I wonder if those at the finish line can see how closely we are battling this out.

Mile 3 - I am ahead of him at the final turn and run as best as I can.  But he puts on an amazing finishing kick.  He encourages me to run harder but there is no way I can beat him now.  Run hard and then ease in to the finish line.  He beats me by 5 seconds and won two of the three races in the series, but I will take home the shoes.  I am happy with my finish time today, but place wise I am farther down than usual.  Lots of fast runners, who thankfully did not show up to all three races in the series.

15th of 27 runners
Race#257, 5K#67


Monday, November 28, 2011

11/27/11 Seattle Marathon

My fourth time at the Seattle Marathon.  Looks like it will be the worst one yet as far as weather.  Rain and wind are predicted.  I am pleased to see that it is not raining as I begin the walk to the start line.  We stayed at BKs condo and it is about a mile and a half to the start line at the Seattle Center.  I take my time walking and pause to watch the early starters go by.  Hard to get a GPS signal with all the tall buildings.  Still trying to get a signal, I meander through a parking lot and along the street edge I find a $20 bill.  My lucky day, or was that it for luck for this day?  It starts to drizzle as I watch the half marathoners go by and then get ready for my race.

Start - Line up with Evil Triplet Ron and Maniac Jessica.  Some of my other usual running mates are running their 4th marathon in 4 days and will start farther back.  A couple of them will go on to pass me later in the race.  It is raining now and I have a trash bag over my jacket. Not too cold but it will be wet all day today.  Start right on time and I negotiate the crowds well.

Mile 4 - Into the I-90 express lanes bus tunnel.  Trash bag comes off and into my pocket. 

Mile 6 - Out of the tunnel, then on the long bridge over Lake Washington.  The wind is at our back and it is easy to keep pace.  I stop to tie my shoes and then head back across the lake, into the wind.  I catch up to two guys and draft them a little.  Soon I realize that one of them is Maniac Ken who I have run with at many races.  I feel like I should not draft on him so I ease up next to him.  We commiserate about the weather.  Although it is not hard to keep a steady pace, I know that this wind and rain are taking a toll and that I will probably be forced to slow down later.  Takao Suzuki is there to take a picture.  Thanks Takao.  Together Ken and I make it over the bridge and then I go ahead, expecting Ken to pass me later.

Mile 8.5 - Still running into the wind a little but not as bad.  Steady rain and some puddles to dodge.  A crow walks onto the course, picks up and empty gel pack and walks off to the side of the road.  Bob Dolphin sighting.

Mile 13.1 - I hit the halfway mark at 1:58 about a minute faster than I had planned. I take a little walk break just before the timing mat and then reset my watch.  Now I will try to go just a little faster to put a little time in the bank before the hills.  I feel pretty good and hope that the feeling stays for a while.

Mile 15 - Catch up to Maniac Jeff.  Run with him for a mile or so and then decide to go just a little faster.

Mile 19 - I forgot about that hill.  Tiring a little.  Right foot is aching some.  Doing OK though.  Less windy here, but still a steady rain.

Mile 20.5 - The left turn and instant steep hill.  Just like last year my calves start to tighten up.  Also my left quadricep which has never given me any trouble starts to present itself.  I am running but going at the same pace as two people who are walking.  At least it is a short hill, but next is a longer one that is less steep. 

Mile 22 - A little bit of foot pain, a little bit of overall leg tightening, a little bit of lightheadedness and a little bit of nausea. I find this low slow gear and I can trudge along.  I am able to pick up the pace any time I want, but then one of my symptoms tells me to slow down.  I am passing quite a few people who are hobbling with cramps of some kind and I wonder if this cold weather has something to do with it.  So I continue to pass walkers and limpers but many of the runners are passing me because I am going so slow.  I just do not have the willpower to tough it out today.  The 4 hour pace team passes me and when I realize that I will not make that time goal I really lose motivation.  But I am still having fun.  Joke with spectators and commiserate with fellow sufferers.  I will finish and it won't be a horrible finish time, but definitely an off day.  I wonder how much I can blame on the weather?  Maybe a 5 minute penalty and then my lack of determination will cost me another 5 minutes.

Mile 24.5 - So Happy to see the Space Needle in the distance, not so much farther to go.  But now crossing I-5 the wind has picked up again.  My hands start to get cold.  I put on my soggy gloves that I had taken off miles ago and that helps the chill.  Then the steep downhill and on to the finish.

Mile 26.2 - Finish and get my medal from Maniac Betsy.  Glad to have brought dry clothes to change into.  In the warm recovery area the chill soon goes away.  This was a tough one for me, but I managed to keep a happy attitude and enjoyed the time out there.

812th place of 2047
Marathon or Ultra #75
Seattle Marathon#4


Saturday, November 12, 2011

11/12/11 Club Oly Tis the Season for a 5K at Millersylvania State Park

My 4th time for this 5K on this wonderful trail through old growth forest.  Nice to have Jody join me for this run through the woods.  23 runners is about double who came last year and also double the number at the first event in the series.  The guy who won the first race in the series is not here, putting me in the top spot to win the series and get a free pair of shoes.  Martinho came in just behind me at Pioneer park and he is here today, so I can not let up.  Feeling good after the marathon of six days ago.  Nice two mile warm up.  It is cold but not windy or wet.  Some mud on the trail but not bad at all.

Start - After the usual long course description by Rich we finally get going.  I purposely start towards the back.  There is a group from Shelton here and two cross country runners from Adna.  Across the bumpy field and onto the trail.  I get moving well, but not quite as fast as I often do at these short races.  Pass a couple of people including Martinho.  Short out and back and I get to see the fast runners.  Then I turn around and get to see Jody.

Mile 1 - Turn onto a muddier trail with lots of curves, and bumps to watch for.  Stalk and then pass Heather.  I pass her and another person where the trail is still wide, but now we are approaching the narrow section where it would be very difficult to pass.  I can ease up just a little bit here and then make the turn back onto the field completing the first loop.

Mile 2 - Back down the road, then the trail.  I can hear breathing behind me.  I am afraid that it is either Bill or Martinho, the only two runners in this race that I would prefer to beat.  Don't look back.  Try some surges on the muddy trail, feel like I should be breaking away but I just can not leave them behind.  Quick peek back at a turn but I can not tell who it is.  Now at the narrow part.  I must trust my kick and hope that when the path opens up, and then the field, I will be able to out sprint him, whoever it is.  I make the turn down the road and let it fly as best I can.  Still ahead of him. 

Mile 3 - Now turn for the short bit on the field and immediately Martinho and Wade leave me in the dust.  Disappointing but also amazed at both of their finishing kicks. 

Mile 3.1 - 3.08 on the GPS.  Finish as best I can.  Happy with my time, eleven seconds faster than last year.  I learn that the series is based on cumulative time.  I beat Martinho by 43 seconds in the first race (because he took a wrong turn) and he beat me by about 7 seconds today (have to verify that when results are published.  That gives me about a 36 second lead for race number 3.  December 10th, back at Pioneer Park.  In the meantime I plan to run the Seattle Marathon on November 27.

10th of 23
Race #255, 5K #66

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

11/6/11 Bass Pro Shops Conservation Marathon

Jody suggested that I visit Caleb at College (Evangel University) and I suggested that I do so when there was a marathon in town too.  So here I am in Springfield Missouri.  Its going to be the 7th state in which I have run a marathon.  Bass Pro Shops is the world's largest sporting goods store.  My hotel is just across the street, but packet pick up is on the other side of the building and it is a long walk to get there.  Very nice long sleeve technical fabric shirt.  Just before bedtime I realize that I forgot my S!Caps electrolytes that I have taken in each of my last 50 or so marathons or ultras.  I'll try to drink more Poweraid and less plain water and hope for the best.  Would be great to beat 4 hours, but I am not going to stress about it.

Very windy and cool, but it is dry.  I will wear my jacket over a short sleeve shirt.  Tomorrow at this time it will be raining steady and I will be grateful for today's weather.  But this wind is strong and will probably slow me down.  Chat with a guy from Connecticut who I had sat next to on a bus some time ago at a previous race.  Other than that I do not know anybody here.  I line up with a Maniac, Tim from Wisconsin, and its nice to talk before the start.

Start - Frank Shorter says something.  Moment of prayer.  National Anthem by some country singers.  Start is delayed by five minutes.  The start is to be aired on the local news station at 7AM sharp but we get bumped to second story because of an earthquake in Oklahoma.  Soon enough we are off.  1,200 in the Half Marathon and 274 in the full.

Mile 1 - The Halfers split off and now there is plenty of room to run.  Nice to have the big festive start, but I prefer a smaller race.  This works out well.  Course is on roads, then a short bit on a paved trail, then all roads.  Not the roads I had driven on yesterday though.  I was not impressed with what I had seen of Springfield so far.  Just big busy roads with a tremendous number of fast food joints, and little city character.  But this course will show me much more of the town.  Mostly residential, but a pretty course.  Lots and lots of turns.  Well staffed with volunteers at almost every turn and road crossing.  Green arrows on the ground at each turn.

Miles 3 to 8 - Much hillier than I expected.  I feel good but not great.  Jacket comes off at mile 4.  I pass an older guy, later found out that he is 68.  We will go back and forth all race long.  He will draft off of me a few times when we are heading straight into the wind, but ask if I mind and I do not.  In the last mile he will pass me for good and beat me by less than a minute.

Mile 10 to 13 - More residential roads but flatter.  Some roads are open to traffic, maybe just in one direction.  The cars are not a problem, but I am not sure if it is OK for me to be running the tangents.  I will do so, but carefully.  Running is easier now, I am feeling very good, chatting a bit with two others.  Giant green mile markers can not be missed.  Well stocked aid stations with plenty of volunteers directly after each even mile marker.  A kid at the mile 12 aid station offers me a pack of peanut butter crackers.  Remembering my lack of salt intake, I take the pack and munch on two crackers over the next two miles. 

Mile 13.1 - Eight seconds faster than my planned 1:58.  In Victoria I ran a 1:59 first half and managed a negative split, so I decided to run a 1:58 first half today and see if I can still run a faster second half.  Now I set off just a little bit faster and leave the two other runners behind.

Mile 14 to 18 - Feeling great.  Still holding back and I have only increased my pace slightly, just hoping that it will last.  It is still early in this race.  Gradually passing people, but no one is passing me.  Looking forward to the mile markers, especially the even ones where I can walk through the aid station, get a drink, and also pour a little water on my head to help cool off.

Mile 18 - Marker is there, but where is the aid?  I start to fret and feel thirsty.  A couple more turns and there it is at about mile 18.5.

Mile 21 - Now I am starting to slow.  No nausea and my head feels OK, but I am tiring.  Slow the pace for a bit as I regroup.  Now make an effort to speed up a little and I am able to do so.  Get a bit of a second wind, then turn into the wind.

Mile 22 - Wind is as strong here as it has been all day.  Not nearly as bad as at Bellingham in September, but strong enough that I have a good excuse if my finish time is not what I had hoped for.

Mile 23 - Turn so the wind is crosswise and now the longest straight stretch of the course.  I like being able to look far ahead and see a traffic light that I can focus on.  Feel like walking, but I know that I won't beat 4 hours if I do.  Soon I am confident that I will beat 4 and I might even get another 3:56 if I can hold on.

Mile 25 - Bald Eagle.  It is the conservation marathon and there have been a few stuffed deer along the way.  The eagle is live and tethered to its keeper, so not quite as cool as the wild one that flew over my head at NODM two years ago.  The race has been getting more and more difficult, but gradually so.  No sudden wall, but eventually I realize that I am in tatters.  This close to the end I should be able to rally and run strong to the finish, but I really lose it at about mile 25.5.  Get passed by three or four people who I had just passed.

Mile 26 - Giant sign is sure welcoming.  I see 3:56 slip away but I am pleased with my performance today.  I will be 6th out of 20 in my age group and 71st overall which is a better position than usual.  I slog it in for a "sprint" to the finish, my named called by the announcer. 26.26 on the GPS.  Huge medal with an elk on it and a space blanket which is helpful in the cool wind and I am wet from dousing myself with water. Tons of post race food.  I take as much as I can carry on the long walk back to the hotel.  Soon I meet up with Caleb and we go off to explore the Fantastic Caverns.

71st of 274
Marathon or Ultra#74

Sunday, October 30, 2011

10/29/11 Club Oly Tis the Season for a 5K Cross Country Race at Pioneer Park

My third time on this course. Last year in December we had waist deep water and lots of mud, the year before I really took it easy to protect my injured heel.  Feeling good today, so I should have no trouble setting a personal course record.  Small turn out.  A couple of guys that I do not know and a few more women than men.  Cool and very foggy.

Start - Across the soccer field, a nice wide start and we are sorted out before the first turn.  Already one guy is way ahead of me and there is no way I will catch him.  The field is wet but in decent shape, not much mud getting kicked up.  Soon I am in third place.  Across the field I make a surge and pass Amy.  Based on recent marathon times and other races I should be fairly evenly matched with four runners here today.  Amy, Terra and Heather ran marathons this month in times that were a minute or two faster than mine.  Martino is here as well and he is always right up there with me.  Turn onto a trail and through the mud spot.  No standing water, just a little slippery.  Cherry guides us the way to go and I continue on the trail.  Flat but loose gravel, very hard to run as fast as I would like.  Try the grassy side of the trail but that is just too uneven.  Back onto the gravel.  I remember that I did the same thing last year.

Mile 1 - 7:11, Way too fast for this course.  I feel it in my legs and my breath.  Amy catches up to me and we run together for a bit.  I can not hold the pace though and she gradually gets out of reach.  Bill points the way at another intersection. Apparently I was just far enough ahead of the pack behind me that they did not see me make a turn.  Terra, Martino and Heather miss seeing Bill somehow and go off on the wrong trail for a bit.  They figure that it cost them 45 seconds to a minute before getting back on track.  That assures me third place and I will not have anyone getting close behind me to challenge me or give me inspiration to run faster.  The place with waist deep water is dry this year, runnable grass.

Mile 2- Second time on the loop through the woods.  My pace is fading, Amy getting farther ahead.  I feel good though, ankle feels fine.  Keep chugging along in good spirits.

Mile 2.75 - Back onto the field.  I can barely see Amy ahead, but lose her in the fog.  No one behind me.  Eventually I look back and see the pack coming out of the woods.

Mile 3 - Mile marker on the pathway that cuts to the right between the fields.  It looks like we are supposed to turn here as that would be about a tenth of a mile to the finish.  Plus now there are more soccer players on the field that we will have to run through.  Should I turn here?  Did Amy turn here?  I can not see her ahead with all the fog.  I continue straight and start to worry that I am going the wrong way.  If I am off and the pack takes the turn, I will end up in 6th or worse place.  O well, does it really matter?  I hit the turn at the end of the field and now head straight to the finish.  Oh good I am taking the right course and so are the others. (Although two runners will come the other way in a few minutes).  Cruise on in to the finish, beating last year's time by about 30 seconds.  As second overall male I get to pick one of the awards, a bag of candy and runner's fuel.  Great low key event.

3rd of 13
5K #65
Race #253

Monday, October 17, 2011

10/15/11 Defiance 50K

Second annual event and my second time here.  Same course as last year except it has been lengthened a little.  And the new part that was added includes a big climb dubbed "Achilles Hill".  Three loops and not super hard or technical trail but this the hardest 50K course that I have done.  Since I ran the Victoria Marathon six days ago and put in a solid effort with both mind and heart, I have different goals today.  Just finish and enjoy the race.  I will try to do well but not feel bad if I have a hard time.

Loop 1 - 1:46:09 - cool and cloudy but dry.  Trails are in great shape.  More places with crushed gravel but it is well packed and soft.  I try to keep the pace slower than 10 minutes per mile.  Great to see lots of Maniac friends.  First mile is flat, then stairs, then a few ups.  Miles 2-5 are mostly flat but twisty and narrow in places.  Aid station just past mile 5.  Miles 5-7 are the tough part with narrow twisty trails and a couple of steep hills.  I walk some and the pace slows but I feel fine, just saving energy.  Around mile 7 the trail gets much wider and very flat.  I remember how last year I was so tired on the third loop, but actually felt better when I got here and was able to run all the way to the end.  Today I pick up the pace a little and enjoy the scenery.  Eventually we go out onto the "5 mile drive" road.  The course goes about a third of a mile on this road.  There is a sign that says to turn right at hydrant #25.  I see hydrant 23, then 24.  As I approach hydrant 25 there is a large pack (ten or more) fast runners coming toward me on the road and turning at the hydrant.  Am I supposed to keep going down the road for a little out and back? Did they add a section to the race here?  There is a volunteer on a bike here and I ask her and she says to turn, but apparently she told many runners that if they were in the 50K they were supposed to go straight.  I don't know how far they went until they realized they had been misdirected.  Good thing that pack beat me to the turn because they are all much faster than me and I need to take it slowly and carefully in this section.  Very narrow trail with logs and some steep step downs.  Then the real fun part, about a twenty foot steep drop with a rope to hold onto.  Down to the level wide trail where one can sprint and pass people if they want for the final 100 meters or so.  I take my time but try to be quick through the aid station.

Loop 2 - 1:56:47 - M761 was one of the misdirected runners so I have caught up with her and we can run together for just a little bit.  She has gotten way faster than me lately, so it would be foolish to try to stay with her.  I run alone for a while and then catch up to Pedro.  I am tiring and taking some walk breaks.  With Pedro though we run together and I keep going at places were I might have walked if I were alone.  Pigtails passes me about halfway through this loop.  Then the hills and it gets very difficult.  Then the flat and I am running again, low on energy though and the ankle is bugging me a little.  In the middle of  the road near the end of the loop there is a raccoon who shuffles away as I approach.  Down "Nellies Narly Descent" and loop 2 is done.

Loop 3 - 2:14:51 - Uh oh, I am walking and I am on the flat and have not even reached the stairs yet.  I envy those who ran the 15K or 30K race and are done.  Walk up the stairs and shuffle along the trail.  Can not hold a 13/mile pace.  Walking and shuffling and out of energy.  Ankle a little worse.  I don't care when runners I do not know pass me and I should not care when runners I know pass me, but it does bug me a little.  Ron, Reed and then Kimpossible pass me.  I knew that Kim was back there and might get me.  She also ran a marathon six days ago and her time was two minutes faster than me, so we should be evenly matched today.  She will go on to beat me by three minutes today and I am fine with that.  Now at the aid station.  They have some coke and it looks appealing.  I drink two cups (about 8 ounces) and it goes down well.  My stomach has done great today and now I wish that I had eaten more during the race.  At 5:45AM I had a bagel with peanut butter and orange juice.  It is now about 1PM and since that time I have had a GU gel, a honeystinger gel  (cleaning out the cookie/gel jar at home) three oreos, a couple of pretzels and a mini milkyway. Plus gatorade and water and S!Caps.  At the end of the race my watch will calculate that I burned over 3,400 calories.  Should have eaten more, but it is nice to not have nausea.  I also take an ibuprofen for the ankle and it does seem to help.  The pain never got as bad as at Victoria or Bellingham and after the race I was able to walk around fine.  Rest week coming up and I am less concerned about the ankle than I had been. 

But now I am on the tough hilly part.  Chanterrelle mushroom sighting.  There is a place here where the uphill course almost touches the downhill course.  It would be easy to cross trails here and cut off "Achilles Hill".  The thought of cheating enters my mind, but it is not a temptation.  I would drop out of a race before I would cut it short, but in my zonked out state, barely holding a 15 minute mile it does come into my mind as an option.  I quickly dismiss the notion and make the best of "Achilles Hill".  When things are this hard it is best to have fun with it.  There are three of us working our way up the hill.  I almost stop to rest halfway, but keep walking and I cheer as I get to the top. Down the narrow trail and I look forward to the flat last couple miles.

Around mile seven I hear "Is that you Andy?" behind me and it is my pal Maniac Betsy.  Another friend who will pass me, or maybe not.  We are on the flats and wider trail now and I think that the sugar from the coke is kicking in.  A conscious effort to pick up the pace and I am able to do so.  We will see how long it lasts but for now I am going much faster and feeling good.  I start passing folks who passed me earlier this loop.  About mile 27, nice wide trail, running strong and easy and then I hit a root or a rock and start to stumble.  Try to stay upright but I think that I may hurt myself worse if I try to keep my balance.  Instead I tuck my shoulder in and execute a perfect roll.  As if I have been practicing falling.  I am proud of how gracefully I went down and how I rolled over twice.  Plus the trail everywhere has some roots, rocks or at least fir cones, but I managed to fall on the one spot that was completely clear of debris and flat.  Soft packed earth, not muddy, like a firm mattress.  Back on my feet real quick and feeling fine, I start running fast again.  Pass two runners and really looking forward to the road and end of this race.  I think that I can beat 6 hours and I will know for sure when I reach the paved road, if it would ever get here.

At last I reach the road and I am able to run well all the way to hydrant 25.  Turn and look back and one guy is flying toward me and Betsy is not far behind him.  I thought that I had left her in the dust with my solid running the last couple of miles, but she also picked it up really well.  Now I need to be careful at this tricky part of the trail.  Let the guy pass me and as I work my way down the rope, Betsy is right behind me.  Race Director Tony is there to take a picture.  Now on the flat and I sprint to the end.  I don't want Betsy to beat me and she does not, but the joke is one me.  The race is chip timed and she started farther back and her chip time is quicker than mine.  O well, it is really fun to have friends who are evenly matched and we can encourage each other and commiserate with each other.  Glad that I was able to finish strong and have an enjoyable day. 

61st of 112
Race #252
50K #8, Defiance 50K#2
Marathon or Ultra#73

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10/9/11 Victoria Marathon

I have been wanting to do this one for some years now.  Nice get away weekend with Jody.  Up early on Saturday to catch the Victoria Clipper from Seattle.  Arrive in Victoria by 11AM.  Relaxing way to travel and customs was a snap.  Only staying one night so we did not have much to carry.  Short walk anyway to the host hotel, the Fairmont Empress.  Expo was very crowded, but I won a raffle, a cool natural fiber bag from the Rain Coast Conservation Foundation.  Tried to hook up with Club Oly folks for dinner but most places were full, so we split up and Jody and I went to the Noodle Box which was more than sufficient.

Really good weather on race morning.  Cool and a little cloudy but the sun will come out later.  Very little wind.  8K started at 7:15 and goes in a different direction from the other races.  Half Marathon start at 7:30.  I watch the race go by at about the half mile mark.  Then I have plenty of time to get ready and be at the start line for the 8:45 Marathon start.  Strange that the full starts so late compared to the other races.  They have a 5 hour 30 minute cut off time and this is my only gripe about this race.  Those who will be slower than 5:30 must take the early start at 6:30 AM and if they finish faster than 5:30 their time will not count officially.  Jody should be in the 4:45 range but she has a head cold and will have a bad run today.  She will make it in at 5:12 and will be one of the very last runners of over 11,000 who compete today and will run alone for most of the race.  Checking results later I see that there were quite a number of early starters who did finish in the 5:10 to 5:20 range and I wish that Jody had had more company.  At least they had plenty of post race food and support along the course for all runners, and I suppose that the staggered starts keeps the finish area from getting too congested at any time.

Start - At 8:40 I am lined up with Maniac Guy and we are ready to roll.  Canadian National Anthem and then we are off right on time.  Course is marked in Kilometers but I have my GPS watch set to miles as usual.  I have decided to run the first half in 1:59, one minute slower that in Bellingham two weeks ago.  I fell apart there in the second half.  I do not know how much of that was due to the strong winds, but that poor second half hurt my confidence.  I also have this wonky ankle issue, not sure what will happen after some miles.  If all goes well I will run the second half faster than the first and get in under 4 hours.  I am not confident of the negative split, and I will be thrilled if it happens.  Absolutely not going for anything close to a PR until I have my confidence back and can run a few races without hitting the wall.

Kilometer 0.8 - Pass Jody, somehow she started ahead of me.  It is very crowded but moving along and will open up soon I hope.  Feel like I have to pee though, even though I went just before the start and I did not hyperhydrate.

Kilometer 3 - Having to pee is such a distraction.  I have been looking for alleys or bushes to use.  Finally I see the aid station and a row of SaniCans.  No line, I am in and out very quickly and can now think about other things.

Kilometer 4 - Female runner up ahead falls to the ground, I-Pod skitters on the road ahead.  She is up and running quickly and says that she is fine.

Kilometer 8 - Catch up to Deb and Heike from Olympia.  We run together through a park.  Loop and loop, I am confused about the course but just follow the crowd.  Sometimes have fast runners passing the other way, then the slower ones.  I feel like we did a circle within a circle and I have no idea how we got out of the loop but eventually we are back on the road.  My friends are planning to run a little slower so I go ahead but not too fast.

Kilometer 16 - Along the water and then through residential neighborhoods.  Constant up or down but nothing at all steep or long.  Bagpipe player in kilt adds a nice touch.  Back to the water.  Feeling good.  Good support at the aid stations and lots of friendly spectators, fellow runners and volunteers.  None of the runners seems too serious, it is a nice morning.  This is a long out and back section.  Some half marathoners (Michelle Barnes sighting), and early start marathoners coming toward me on the other side of the road.  Roads mostly closed to traffic, or with traffic patrol, I feel safe and free to concentrate on running.  Up and down but all of it gradual.  Lots of turns earlier, now a long but windy road along the water.  I am careful to run the tangents and that gives me something to concentrate on.  I can't believe how some runners take the long side of the curves and I wonder how much distance they are adding to their race.  Now the full marathon lead runner comes by.  He will go on the finish in 2:14. 

Kilometer 21 - The halfway mark is up ahead.  I can see the timing chip mat.  I have been good at my pacing and my watch reads 1:58.  I get closer and it still reads 1:58.  I start walking and just before hitting the mat I see my watch roll to 1:59.  Perfect.  Now I tell myself to not get carried away and go faster yet.  At Bellingham and at other races I have picked up the speed right after the halfway point.  Common folklore divides the race into two halves, mile 1-20 and 20-26.2.  I will keep going at this pace, maybe just a second or two per mile faster and keep holding back until at least mile 20.  Committed to running with discipline and restraint today. Ulrike sighting.

Kilometer 24 - Reach the turnaround, nice to be heading straight back to the finish with the race more than halfway done.  Pass Bob Dolphin (early starter).  Get to see Jody and others still heading out.

Kilometer 30 - Ankle bugs a little but not so bad.  Otherwise very comfortable.  I am in the mileage zone now where I could hit the wall.  Every step forward where I do not feel more tired is a blessing and gets me excited for a possible strong finish.  Starting to pass others who are slowing or who were early starters.

Kilometer 32 - Close to mile 20.  They do have mile markers every five miles.  I look ahead to that sign.  Soon I see it and I hit the lap button on the watch.  Now it is hold a nine minute mile and I will beat 4 hours.  Immediately turn a corner and there is an uphill.  I have to work to keep the pace under 9, but I am able to do so.  Now level and then downhill.  Ease into an average just under 8:50.  I decide to keep the speed slower than 8:45 as there is still a long way to go, but really try to stay under 9 if I can. 

Kilometer 36 - Back along the water.  Now a very long gradual uphill.  This is not part of the course that we ran out on, new territory for me.  Passing lots of people and in great spirits.  But I do wish that this hill will end soon.  It levels, twists out of sight, then goes up some more.  I remember from the elevation chart that a nice downhill begins around mile 24 and I just wish it would get here.  Start pouring water on my head at the aid stations, and drinking "GU Brew".  Between that drink and the Powerbar gels, of which I have had two, my stomach has done great with these new to me fuels.  Finally, the downhill.

Kilometer 40 - 2KM to go.  Try to rally some runners who are taking walk breaks.  I can sense the finish and although I can not go much faster, I am not slowing and I know that I will finish without any walk breaks.  Tell those around me that we will beat 4 hours easy, if we do not walk. 

Kilometer 41 - Level now and just a few turns to the finish.

Kilometer 41.2 - Marker says 1KM to go.  Not looking at the watch anymore, figure I will be done in 5 minutes or so.  Really enjoying the moment, but also would like to be done.

Kilometer 41.4 - Sign says 800M to go.  800 meters is twice around the track, that's easy.  One woman goes flying past me and I compliment her, but she says that she just hopped in and is pacing a friend.  The friend comes past, a bit slower.  Other than that, I have not been passed hardly at all in the last hour.

Kilometer 41.7 - Sign reads 500M to go.  Come on!!  That was way too long.  Well it is really almost over now.  More and more spectators, a turn or two and then the finish line up ahead.  Billy, Tammy and Rich cheering for me and cruise on in to the finish.  Very satisfied, thrilled and a little emotional.  Accomplished everything that I set out to do and had fun while doing it.

Final GPS reading = 26.34 miles

Awesome event that I hope to run again.

646th place of 1678 finishers
Race#251, Marathon or Ultra#72
9th time running a marathon in 3:56

Monday, September 26, 2011

9-25-11 Bellingham Bay Marathon

This continues to be my favorite marathon. Not that I always run well here, but I can not blame the RD for that.  Everything about this race is well done.  Some complained about the new $5 charge for day of race packet pick up, but with almost 3,000 participants they need to encourage folks to get their number the day before.  At least day of race pick up is still an option.  We are staying with Jody' parents and she is running the half marathon. My only complaint this year occurred at the Expo the day before the race.  A large projection on the wall was showing a video tour of the race.  I overheard two people who were watching comment on how we will be on the trail and have to run up the super steep California Street hill.  "Oh no", I had to correct them, "They are showing the video from last year. This is the Bellingham Bay Marathon where the course is radically changed every year"  I will miss the long dirt trail part and maybe even the big hill, but the fifth edition of the course, for the fifth running of this event, is really great.  Flatter and faster, though that does not concern me so much, but still very scenic.  About seven miles along the bay, ten miles of rural roads and farmland with a short out and back, then a merge with the large group of half marathoners who will be at their mile four, through residential streets and some park trails, down to the waterfront and back to the downtown finish.

Start - Loud wind gusts kept me up last night.  At 5:45AM as I boarded the shuttle bus it was raining pretty hard.  So although it is warm in the 60s, I will bring my Maniac jacket and a large trash bag to wear as a rain coat if needed.  The rain stops by 7AM but the wind persists. So nice to have the indoor area at the Lummi Reservation.  Warm welcome with drumming from the Lummi's is so cool, just like last year.  Great to see many Marathon Maniac friends.  Eventually we head out to the start line and the race starts right on time.

Mile 0.25 - Downhill but into the fierce wind.  A hat comes right off a woman in front of me and the wind is so strong that the hat just smashes into my chest and stays there.  I am able to hand it back to the runner.

Mile 0.5 - Left turn and now running along the bay.  Gulls in the air are facing us and making no progress as they hover in the wind.  Gusty wind is mostly slanted toward us but generally at our backs.  Feels great.  I settle in and make myself not go out too fast.  I really want to run a negative split and I will not try to PR.  Hope to run the first half in 1:58 and then go faster after that.

 Mile 8 - Rain is holding off, jacket is tied around my waist.  Away from the water now.  Feeling good.  In fact I need to rank my feelings on a scale of 1-10 and I give it an 8.  The sticker on my bib identifies me as a subject in a psychology research project.  A professor at WWU is collecting data on marathon runners and I thought it would be fun to participate.  I will learn the actual focus of the project later for now I am just to answer some questions.  I filled out an online survey a week before the race and I will fill out another survey later today. At three points in the race someone will run along side me and ask me three questions that I will answer on a score of 1-10.  How good do I feel?  How bad do I feel? How likely am I to run another marathon?  The last question may skew the results and there are a couple of other Maniacs doing the survey too.  I am already registered for six future marathons, so I will answer that with a 10 each time.  At mile 8 I feel good at an 8, and feel bad at a 2.  I think that I may have answered 7 for feeling good but I had just passed through an aid station.  Each aid station is staffed with these amazing kids who are so supportive and fun.  They give me a boost every time and are one of the things that I love about this race.  It truly stands out from other races.

Mile 10 - new section of course and I like it.  Very Skagity if you know what I mean.  Flat farmland.  But now we are turning into the wind.

Mile 11 - Strong wind in my face and a long straightaway.

Mile 12 - Short out and back section.  Grandma Lee sighting, she is going really fast. 

Mile 13.1 - Hit the mark just under 1:58, right where I want to be.  Now I will pick up the pace just a little.  Go about ten seconds per mile faster than I had been, nothing to dramatic.  But it is another long straight shot right into the wind.

Mile 15 - Near the edge of the road with a steep ditch.  Blast of wind knocks me closer to the edge and I have to twist my leg a little to keep from falling down the embankment.  A minute later the wind actually almost blows a contact lens out of my eye.  I get it back in place OK though.  Now my right ankle which has been giving me some trouble for a few weeks starts to flare up.  Discomfort bordering on mild pain off and on.    At this slightly faster pace I am passing some runners.  Very gradually picking them off and wondering if they will catch back up if/when I slow later on.

Mile 16 - Feel good=5, feel bad = 5, will race again = 10.

Mile 17 - Merge with the halfers.  Wonder if I will see Jody.  But they are going just a little faster than me.  Now I am swallowed up in a much larger race with almost 1,800 participants, compared to 443 in the full who are all spread out at this point.  As I am passed, if I care, I can look to the bib color and see what race the person is in, mostly it will be halfers though.

Mile 20 - Some stomach issues/nausea off and on.  Ankle a little worse and now I am just getting tired.  Pace is slowing.

Mile 22 - Really slowing now and it is just too difficult to keep going at any pace.  Disappointing.  I find a slower groove and stay with that along with some walk breaks, especially when the ankle hurts.  Major shift in focus now, from pacing and trying to have the fastest result, to just keeping up a happy spirit.  More jokes with the spectators and volunteers.

Mile 23 - Along the water and really into the wind again.  On the boardwalk over the water and the wind is so strong it almost stops us a couple of times.  Now up the hill and I am running but so slowly that I get passed by a walker.  Funny.

Mile 24 - Good =1, bad = 9, will I race again = 10.  I must love suffering.

Mile 25 - Tracy Marshall passes me with a smile.  I catch up to Maniac Christopher who I was with at the very start of the race.  He had passed me a while back but now we are struggling along at the same pace.  I decide to just stick with him and we run the final half mile together.

Mile 26.2 - Done.  Horrible second half but I take some solace when I check results and split times and see that many runners who finished around my time also had very bad second halfs.  Still a great race that I will come back to next year.

161 of 443
Race#250, Marathon or Ultra#71, Bellingham Bay Marathon#5

Monday, September 19, 2011

9/17/11 Tumwater High School Commemorative 5K Race

Part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Tumwater High School.  Race put on by coach Rich Brown and Club Oly.  $15 preregistered with my Club Oly discount.  Cotton T-Shirt.  Flat course on the streets, finishing on the track.  Unfortunately we have a fairly heavy rain coming down. It is a little breezy and feels cold.  It is a short race so I am in my shorts and singlet.Get in almost two miles of warm up and my legs feel ready, but my right hand is slightly numb. 
Small event.  The entire cross country team and the girl's volleyball team is running so it seems like mostly kids.  Hey now there is a surprise; my new arch nemesis is here!  In my previous two races Mark and I finished with no runners between us.  He beat me by a few seconds at the Run Like a Dog 5K and I beat him by a few steps at the Narrows 10 miler.  Nice that we get to talk a bit before the race.
Start - Just a few minutes late.  I would like to get going with this cold rain.  We are off soon enough.  Big group of High School runners charges forth.  I get boxed in a little but am not concerned, there will be plenty of time to sort out.
Mile 1 - 6:46.  Feeling great and am even with Mark.  But now it gets tougher and I slow some.  He gradually pulls away and soon I doubt that I will catch back up to him.  Turned into the wind, dodging some puddles and just not feeling my best.  I did run 57 miles last week which is a lot for me.  I have PRd at the half and 10 miles recently but it looks like that is not going to translate into a faster 5K time.  Losing steam but grinding along.
Mile 2 - 7:04 average pace.  Catch a HS runner who is barely breathing hard at all.  I mention that he does not seem to be working as hard as me and he says that Coach told them to take this as a tempo run, but most of his team seems to be racing it.  Now Mark is directly in front of me and it looks like he is not gaining any more distance.  It is early but I decide to really push it now and see if I can catch him.  I gain some ground but not enough. 
Mile 3.1 - For the third race in a row we will come in directly after one another.  Turn on to the track finish and sprint as best I can.  I managed to run the third mile faster than the second but my finish time is a little disappointing.  GPS reads 3.1.  Watch some finishers then jog a little with Tammy.  Raffles (but I do not win) and medals to the top in each age group.  I am second in my age group, behind Mark.  We do not know when we will face off again but I look forward to that day when it comes.  Thanks Rich, Erin, Billy, Shannon, Sabrina, Terra and others for putting this event on.  If only it had not been raining and if I could have run just a little faster, I would have enjoyed it even more.

13th of ??
Race #249, 5K#64

Saturday, September 3, 2011

9/3/11 Over The Narrows 10 Miler

Second annual event and my second time here. Last year I missed a PR by two seconds on this tough hilly course. My PR from 1997 stands at 1:16:20 and this will be my eighth time racing this distance. Feeling good and confident that if i have a good day I can beat that PR time. I know for sure that I could beat it on a flat course, but this is anything but flat. Very well organized and inexpensive event. This year they have us parking in a lot on the other side of the street and we have to walk about a quarter mile to packet pick up. Bright sunny day, I have plenty of time and it is not warm yet so the walking is no problem.

Start - Lots of people here. I find my running pals and line up near the front. Chip timed but no mat at the start, only at the finish. We start right on time and go screaming out of the parking lot. Now the one mile downhill. Going about 7:15/mile, hoping to bank some time for the return trip up. The road is open to traffic so we are given a narrow lane marked by cones on the edge of the road. Have to watch for bumps in the pavement. In the shade the sunglasses come off to see better, but there will be a lot of open sun where I will be glad that I have them.

Mile 2 - Turn and a steep uphill. I forgot about this part from last year. Now level and then downhill and on to the Narrows Bridge with its long downhill on this side

Mile 3.5 - One of those wonderful moments that I capture in my mind. Running strong with the Rogue Wave, amazing scenery. Way above the Puget Sound with a large boat going under the bridge. On shore there is a train winding down the tracks. Blue below and above, green trees on the hillside ahead. It is just so awesome to be here now and to be running strong and fast.

Mile 4 - And just like that every thing falls apart with the change in incline. Now it is real work to get up the far side of this bridge. The Rogue Wave glides up these hills so easy but I can not keep up. Working very hard now, I see Ginger heading back downhill very intent on her own race. Finally to the top and the turn around. We are not quite at 5 miles yet and this year we are turning around before crossing the road, I hope that the course has been adjusted to be an accurate ten miles.

Mile 5.5 - Sure was easier coming back down. Marthino and Kimpossible sightings. Now on the flat part of the bridge and well below PR pace. Get my rhythm back. I sense someone catching up to me. Now I feel someone grab the back of my singlet and tug on it a little. Ah, Maniac Pedro. I had expected to see him here. Running a smart race, he says hi and then goes on ahead. Now I am mostly alone. I can see runners ahead of me but we are mostly all spread out. Last week at the 5K race I ran side by side with a guy for the last two miles and it helped me keep up the pace. Looks like today it will be a solo effort on the uphills and I really do not know if I will get that PR.

Mile 6 - Now begins the crazy uphills. Steep up off the water. We should turn here, where we came on to the bridge, but no the volunteer has us going on straight. This is the course change to keep it an accurate distance. But it makes us go up and even steeper hill. I can see a guy in a green shirt up ahead and he is taking a walk break this hill is so steep. Maybe I will catch him, but no he starts running again. Brutal hill, finally a turn onto some flat.

Mile 7 - Bob Martin passes me. Now the steep downhill and my right foot is not happy. I have had a nagging issue in there for some time now. I think that the slapping downhills are not helpful for it. Well, soon enough I will be going back up.

Mile 8 - Turn and now it is flat and gradual uphill. I can not do the math very well to know if I will PR. Stop looking at the watch and just work hard.

Mile 9 - OK, reset the watch and realize that if I can get up this hill, this last mile in 8:11 I will match my best ever time. I am very unsure if I can do it, but know I will try my best. It is tough but not as brutal as I expected. My form is holding well and I attribute that to recent core strengthening work I have been doing. I am not going blazing fast, but I am not falling apart either.

Mile 9.5 - Guy with the green shirt is walking a little again and I am able to catch him. Just as I am even with him I realize that it is the same guy that I ran with, who beat me by one second, last week!! I really am focused on that PR so I blaze on and now I have the fear that he will catch me to keep me moving as fast as I can.

Mile 9.75 - Hear the finish line announcer say that Bob Martin has come in. I must be close as I crest the hill and enter the parking lot. Give it my all. Then ease up knowing I will get that PR. But now I can see the clock still in the 1:15:50s and I sprint hard to get in before it gets to 1:16:00. Awesome feeling to run so well. GPS read 10.04 miles. Run Like a Dog guy is only seconds behind me and he congratulates me. I want to talk with him, but Tony wants to take my picture (thanks for the photos today), and I can not find him after that. Its always fun to race with someone who is right about my level and recently I have a couple of people who are right with me.

I have time today to stay around for food and awards. I can definitely see myself coming back for this race every year.

1:15:56 PR

41st of 356 5th of 24 in age group

Race#248, Ten Miler#8


Saturday, August 27, 2011

8/27/11 Run Like a Dog 5K

Nice day for a local 5K that is run about five miles from my house. I contemplate running to the race and running home, but decide that I do not need so many miles. I am ahead of my mileage goal for August already and still a litle worn out from the 12 hour race that was two weeks ago. $25 day of race entry fee gets me a cool looking cotton T-shirt and a bag full of items for the dog. I could have also gotten a T-shirt for my dog, but opted out of that. I left the old dog at home today, since I would like to run faster than he can handle these days. It is partly cloudy and after a mile and half warm up I am sweating, but it is not very hot.

Start - My third time here and each time I have the same worry about the crowded start line and the large number of dogs. We run in the parking lot, make a very quick turn and then it narrows onto the paved Chehalis Western trail. It could be a tangle of leashes and mayhem if we are not all careful. I start near the front. It is very crowded but we negotiate the first couple of hundred feet and make it to the trail OK.

Mile 0.5 - Places are sorting out. I am passing people and being passed. Now only one dog in front of me. One guy blocks me in as I try to pass on the inside curve of the trail. Frustrating, I have to go around him the other way. Two people on bikes are trying to come the other way on the trail. Not a good time for that, but I get past them OK.

Mile 1 - 6:40. Much faster than I wanted to go. Now all I can do is see if I can hold it together. Turn onto the road and one guy tries to pass me. I stay with him and we run side by side.

Mile 2 - Still running with the guy. Every once in a while one of us gets a few steps ahead, but then the other of us catches up. Plenty of open room to run now. Its great to have someone right with me, I am sure that I would not be going as fast without the competition.

Mile 2.5 - Back onto the trail on this lollipop course. Some dog walkers still heading out and I have to watch for the dogs that are on long leashes. I am still well under 7/mile pace and still with the guy. I do not care if he beats me, I am happy enough with my own time. I will not beat my time here from 2 years ago, but it might be close. Up a little hill and he gets a few steps ahead of me for good. But no one else passes me at any point after the first mile.

Mile 3.1 - I turn it on for a good sprint to the finish. I feel like the race went very well, but I could have done better. Not at my best today, but fairly close. GPS reads 3.04 as does Marhtino's. Fun to run with him and see other friends there. I stay for the awards and raffles but do not win anything. I really like how so many non racers and casual runners come out for this with their dogs for a fun morning. The proceeds benefit the Humane Society which is a plus too.

21st place of 348 runners and walkers
Race# 247, 5K #62, Run Like a Dog #3

Monday, August 15, 2011

8/14/11 Transcendence 12 hour

Second annual event and my second time here. Since I ran my first 50 miler in March, my goal today is to go at least 51 miles and also beat my time from then (9:44). If that goes well I hope to continue at an easy pace and go for at least 11 hours, making the most of the event. Last year I quit at 33.5 miles (6:22) mostly because of the intense heat. Today it will be much cooler and very nice for running.

Start to 26.2 miles - You would think that with such a long race there would be much to write about. But this course is so dull, 1.52 miles per loop around Capitol Lake, every loop blends into each other. I go a little faster than I should but also am not wasting time at the aid stations. I try to stop for water after every two laps, then have food and some other liquids on every 4th lap, being careful not to linger. Planned walk breaks after each loop give my legs a rest and a chance to digest some. I reach the marathon mark in about 4:20. Faster than planned and I am feeling good.

Mile 26.2 to 31.1 (50K) - I need to have goals within the larger goal in order to stay motivated and on task. I soon realize that if I can keep up this pace I could set a PR for the 50K distance. My PR is 5:09. I start watching the clock more closely. Then it becomes something of a challenge. I pick it up and start telling people what I am trying to do. At about 30.5 I catch up to a woman who wants to help me and she starts pacing me to go quicker. Soon I realize that she is not in the ultra race, she is just running a few laps around the lake as it is open to the public. Now we are going at about 8:30/mile pace, way faster than I should go, but I hit my mark in 5:07. Not an official PR and my GPS is off from the official race distance, so I won't count it for my records but it was a fun challenge. Now I can slow down and start thinking about 50 miles.

Mile 31.1 to 50 - This is way too long of a distance to have as a leg of this race. I have a couple of rewards planned for reaching milestones. I told myself that after 6 hours I would grab my music player and use that diversion. I also have my camera and plan to run one loop with it. But I do neither. I don't feel like taking the time to do those things. Still trying to go fast through the aid stations. I do have some fun with food. For one lap I grab 4 grapes and eat one at each quarter of the loop. I also break into my Starbucks cold frappachino drink and experiment with that. Stomach handles it well and it sure hits the spot. In the end though it was the fellow runners who made this section more than tolerable. Running mostly alone, but I keep catching up to someone taking a walk break and I can walk with them for a stretch. Or someone catches me and we run together for a bit. Rose, Esther, Guy, Monte, Marie and pack, Marilou, Robert, Cyndie, Mike and others. Jody has stopped by twice and it was great to look forward to seeing her on the back side of the course. My energy level is good, but unfortunately I am getting some pains up and down my right leg. If I walk it goes away. I am able to run farther on the gravel path than the concrete but with both surfaces I eventually get some pain and go to a walk for a while. I have plenty of time to reach my goals so I am in no rush, I for sure do not want to injure myself. I adjusted my GPS to match the official distance and now I close in on 50 miles. The Rogue Wave catches up to me and it is fitting that she is there when I hit 50 miles and cross into new mileage territory. I hit the 50 mile mark in 9:32.

Mile 50 to 57.9 - Now I have 2.5 hours to just keep moving and add to my distance record. The pain comes more often and I am walking a lot. At the 10 hour mark the leader board is updated and I am pleased to see that I am in 10th place overall. 4th Masters runner but I will not be able to catch my buddy Ron who is two laps ahead of me. The posting does not say who has stopped running, so I need to keep going. There is quite a battle for the woman's first place. I know all three women who are close to being in the lead and as I see them I encourage each of them. Jesse and Matt continue to lap me and Jesse will end up with over 80 miles! I am doing loops in about 25 minutes now, being passed by a lot of people. I decide to not start any lap after 11:30 and when I reach the check in at 11:20 I know that I will do one more lap. 3/4 of the way through, Jill Hudson blazes past me and I wonder if I just lost 10th place. It turns out that she was still one lap behind me. Also three guys who I do not know had passed me since the 10 hour mark so really I am in 13th place. Now Kimpossible passes me and again I wonder if she is on the same lap. I do not want her to beat me, so I start running faster. I work very hard and am surprised at how fast and long I can keep running. Reach the finish in 11:42. Kimpossible was one lap behind me and now she sets off to do one more. If she can not get in under 12:00 that lap will not count. It is close but she makes it. Exciting finish. Finally I sit down, for the first time since 6AM. I am able to get out of my chair when I need to but I do not feel so good. Its going to be a rough recovery but I think I will be fine in a few days. I totalled 72.9 miles in the last 7 days and that is a new record for me.

Although the course is boring and the lake is disgusting (they really need to make a decision and either dredge it or revert it to an estuary) I prefer this kind of ultra. I can't get lost, probably wont fall and don't have to carry anything as I reach the aid station and my stash of goods every 1.5 miles. The loops let me see lots of friends. Plenty of volunteers and accurate results posted in a timely fashion. Hope to come back again next year.

57.9 miles (38 laps)
11 hours 42 minutes 23 seconds

13th place of 74
Race #246 Marathon or Ultra #70 Transcendence 12 hour #2

Sunday, August 7, 2011

8/6/11 Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon

My best half marathon time was here, three years ago (1:40:23). I missed the race in 2009 but ran a 1:41:44 here last year. A good half for me is anything under 1:43. I think that I am in decent shape for this year. My 1:42 at the tough Chelan course and my PR at the Sound to Narrows in June has given me enough confidence to at least try to go for a sub 1:40 and PR today. Its funny how a 1:39 sounds so much better than 1:40. Its like buying something for $3.99 thinking that is so much cheaper than $4.00. It has been 15 years since I started running halfs in the 1:40s and anything under that is always what the fast people do. To have just one finish under 1:40 in my running career would mean a lot, at least to me. I feel great, the weather is perfect, I know the course, there will even be two runners pacing 1:40. I will stick to the pacers and see if it is to be my day.

Start - Getting to the start is a snap. I have plenty of time to greet friends, be in a group photo with the Marathon Maniacs and do a very short warm up. Now lined up with Bullseye Bob one of the 1:40 pacers and ready to follow him all the way from Gig Harbor to Tacoma. Just before the start I see Maniac Ginger. We give each other the evil eye. Then we are off so fast. I do not see Ginger ahead of me, nor do I see her at the out and back at the half mile mark. So I assume that she is behind me, and throughout the race I think about that and expect her to breeze past me. But no, she is ahead and running a great race. If she is having a good day at all, I have no chance of catching her and today will be one of those days.

Mile 2 - The pace seems so fast. We need to average 7:39/mile but here we are going at 7:25. It is somewhat downhill with uphills to come. I will trust my pacers.

Mile 3 - On the Narrows Bridge going downhill. Amazing views. I am running comfortably hard and I have Bullseye Bob on my left, the Rogue Wave on my right and another friend, Paul H with me too. I love this moment. Paul spits out over the bridge and I feel like that is something I should do too, so I do. I can not be too chatty at this pace, but I am able to talk a little and stay relaxed. So far so good.

Mile 4 - Now the part of the course that I fear. The long uphill side of the bridge and more up after that. RW says that it is not as bad as it looks from here, and I know that I have done this before, its just where things get tough. Pacer Bullseye Bob starts to drop back and the other pacer MM1694 (Brad) who I have not met before is holding the same pace up this hill. Should I stay with Bob? He had said that we would ease up on the hill and make the time up later. He also is just getting better from having the flu and I think that he asked for a second pacer just in case he did not have the energy to run so fast today. I end up sort of splitting the difference. I just can not keep up with Brad or the Rogue Wave on this uphill, but I also leave Bob behind somewhere. I will not look back to see where he is. Paul is also behind now, but will finish right after me.

Mile 5.5 - Through the neighborhood with its turns and ups and downs. Seems like every little uphill I lose ground on pacer Brad and RW but reel them back in on the flats or downhills. This is a little frustrating because one thing I have been working on in training is hill repeats. Guess that I need to work them even harder. I claw my way back to them. Now with most of the uphills done the running gets easier and we are at 7:33 average pace, ahead of schedule. We are back on the paved trail along Highway 16, same route as the Tacoma Marathon. Feeling good.

Mile 6.5 - Our 1:40 pace group has fallen apart. RW is ahead. A couple others are hanging in off and on. I have been side by side with Brad for a while. I could go faster, but it is way too early to do that. Brad has to use the port-a-potty. I offer to hold the 1:40 sign and keep running as he goes and promises to catch up to me. How exciting! I am now the pacer. I feel a little surge of energy but vow to hold the pace at the 7:33 we have been running. I do catch up to the Rogue Wave and tap her with the sign just to freak her out and show her that I am now in charge. We remember that she had a similar experience at the Tacoma Marathon one year.

Mile 7 - I am glad to pass the sign back to Brad and let him keep track of pacing. RW must be feeling good, she is forging ahead and will leave us in the dust going on to her own PR. I think about trying to keep with her but decide that the PR and the sub 1:40 are my primary goals and that staying with Brad is the smart thing to do.

Mile 8 - Off the paved trail. Around and then into Cheney Stadium. Run around the warning track of this Minor League baseball stadium. See ourselves on the Jumbotron. I love this course. Exit, through the parking lot and back to the paved trail.

Mile 10 - Very steady 7:33 pace the whole way so far. A few small uphill sections and I feel like I am starting to struggle. Now the watch says 7:34 average. Focus on the Target Store logo in the distance. Encouraging words from Brad about how it is only a 5K to go. How fast can I run a 5K? 21:30 on a good day. "Well you only need to run a 24 something to reach your goal time" he says. He also says that I should pick myself up and get moving like Scott Jurek at Badwater.

Mile 10.5 - I hate this little hill out of the trail and onto the road. Steep little bugger. Brad is a little ahead, I just can not keep up. I am next to a woman who has been with me off and on for a long while. I say that we need to pump our arms to get up this thing. I often forget to do that. It really makes a difference. We both pump our way to the top. the whole hill is like 50 feet, but it is always so epic. Because now it is flat and then a huge downhill.

Mile 11 - Make the turn to the downhill and fly down the steep. I have also been off and on with a guy with a green shirt. We joke about how bad this must be for our bodies to go pounding down like this. Soon it is over and now it is flat and gentle downhill the rest of the way.

Mile 12 - Pacer Brad says that we did the last mile in 7:25. I still am not convinced that I will PR. I feel like I could fall apart at any moment and I am afraid to push harder.

Mile 12.5 - Now I know that I will make it. What a terrific feeling.

Mile 12.8 - Brad says that it is time to sprint but I don't. I am afraid that I won't be able to.

Mile 13- Now I go for it and I am surprised at how much speed I still have in me. I should have gone faster earlier and I fly into the finish area. So thrilled to see 1:38 on my watch and know that I could have been even a little faster if I had picked it up earlier.

Mile 13.1 - Fist pumping and just so happy. This is the same finish line as the Tacoma Marathon where I missed a PR by one second back in May. Those last miles had been torture, I cursed at the finish line and then barfed a minute later. Today it is all smiles and feeling great. I get a hat for being one of the top 100 finishers. Recover, check results at the computer station, have a slice of pizza and watch finishers come in. Whatever happens in my running career I will always have this sub 1:40 half. Now if only I could get ino the 1:20s where the fast runners are.....

Next race is the Transcendence 12 hour ultra on 8/14. I will be running a whole lot slower on that day, but hopefully getting a mileage record.

1:38:37 PR

76th place of 826

Race #245 Half Marathon#23