Saturday, March 26, 2011

3/26/11 Dizzy Daze Marathon

"Easy" week in my quest for a 4th Maniac Star. Pac Rim, Dizzy Daze, Yakima and Mt. Si will give me 4 marathons or ultras in 4 weeks. Also it will be 19 marathons or ultras within 365 days another way to earn 4 stars. I ran 50 miles at Pac Rim last week. My cough/cold gradually got better but is still bugging me. Some chest congestion, but not enough to stop me from running. Dizzy Daze is a real low key event. Small enough that the RDs allow folks to start pretty much whenever they want. Most marathoners will start at 7AM. There is a half marathon, full marathon, 50K and 100K. The Rogue Wave is attempting her first 100K. I beat her to the 50 mile mark by running Pac Rim, but it looks like that bragging will be short lived. She will start at 6AM. I will sleep in a bit, make the easy drive to Green Lake in Seattle and start running when she gets to the start/finish of the lake loop. Its a 3.2 mile loop that I will run 8 times, plus two little loops around a parking lot to get the exact 26.2 miles. Rogue Wave has to do 19 loops plus a two mile out and back. Showers are forecast but it is dry when I arrive a little after 7AM. I had expected to start after 8AM, but I got up here so fast. Only a few minutes after pinning my number on, RW comes through finishing her second loop. Many ultra runners use pacers to help them get through the second half of a race, to offer support and encouragement and a brain that is at least halfway working. Because RW was only six miles into her race, she did not need my support at all. But we like running together and ran seven loops together. My first time at Green Lake. Small race with mostly Maniacs. With the long loops there was little passing of others, but I will hang around after and enjoy the food and company. Not much to say about the run. The course has more to see than Capitol Lake or Lake Sacajawea, every loop I would notice something new. A mini golf course, a famous running store, two ducks trying to cross the road and almost getting hit by a car before flying away, Jennifer Seward, at least a dozen guys with metal detectors. Bill Herzog joined us for one loop. Our pace slowed from 9:40/mile to 10:25/mile as RW would take walk breaks and stop for adjustments at the aid station. I would walk on ahead after the aid station and let her catch up before trotting along. Ending the 7th loop (22.4 miles) I saw that my time was almost 4 hours. I decided to strike out alone and to see how fast I could run the last loop. Starting to drizzle. My marathon PR pace is 8:40/mile. I wanted to run the last loop in 8:30 and get in under 4 hours 30 minutes. Can I run that fast after already covering so many miles? Yes! The first two miles were fast and relatively easy. I held 8:22 pace, then it slipped to 8:28 in the last mile but I felt like I had really good energy the whole way. The loop seemed to go by so fast. Next thing I new I was circling the parking lot two times and running back to the finish. Well that took it out of me. Terrific bout of coughing, but it only lasted a few minutes. Raining harder now. Change clothes, eat pizza. Great support from Matt and Betsy. Nice event. Nice key chain medal. I hope that I did not blow my chance at a fast Yakima time, I'll try to really rest up this week and finally get over that cold. I stay long enough to see RW hit mile 40. She is in the capable hands of her brother and will go on to run the 100K (62 miles) in 11:25. After Pac Rim (9 hours 44 minutes) and the Mountain Marathon (6 hours 19 minutes) this race went by so quickly. Perhaps the easiest marathon that I have done. 4:28:50 15th place of 39 Race#232 Race#12 of 2011 Marathon or Ultra#62 *****

Saturday, March 19, 2011

3-19-11 Pacific Rim 24 hour

No I do not plan to run for 24 hours. Some people are though. My goal is to get to 50 miles in a decent time and then stop. The race is in Longview WA at Lake Sacajawea Park. It is a one mile loop around part of the lake. Flat with a couple of bumps getting up to the two bridges. Crushed gravel and some concrete sidewalk. At mile 25 I will have to take off my shoe to get a rock out, so I recommend gaiters for this one. Although 50 times around this loop sounds boring, it sure is convenient. I don't have to carry anything. Restroom every half mile. Just make sure that as I enter the start/finish area, the lap counter gets my number on the sheet. Jody and I will keep our own tally marks at our little station, sharing a table with M30 and MLaura. And as the day progresses, the course never gets too boring. Lots of people walking dogs, little kids learning to bike ride, families walking along the trail. Not so crowded, but I have to keep both eyes open.

Start - Long intro from the RD gets us starting about 7 minutes late, but it is a nice atmosphere and smaller event than I expected. It is cool and I have my jacket on. Once I get running it warms up to very nice weather. A little warm on the sunny side of the lake and a little cool with headwind on the shaded side. No rain, just big clouds with sun breaks.

Mile 1-10 - I have had a cough/cold for a couple of days. The last two nights were miserable with coughing and I was still coughing up until I started running. Now I am barely coughing at all. Problem is that I just do not feel very strong. By mile 10 I am running out of steam despite going at a very conservative pace.

Mile 10-19 - Getting worse. Not sure at all that I can reach my goals. Maybe I will really slow down and just finish 50K so the race can count for Maniac stats. Going alone. Everyone takes so many walk breaks and stops for who knows how long at the aid station, I am never with anyone for more than a few minutes. Still great to see my Maniac pals and meet some new ones.

Mile 19-25 - I know that I will be in bad shape soon. I invite Jody to run a few laps with me before I get into jogging/shuffling/walking. Maybe we can get into some kind of steady pace. In fact we do and it is great to have her with me till mile 25. I know that I will make the 50K mark now. Despite not feeling well, my spirits are fine and I am enjoying the day.

Mile 26-33 - Hit the marathon mark at about 4:30. Plenty of time in the bank if I want to keep going at a slower pace. Round and round. 50K in 5:29. That earns me the right to put the race on my Maniac page, and gets me Cowlitz County for my county collection. Also I have earned the race swag, a pair of Pac Rim pants. I don't think of stopping just yet though. But by the end of mile 33 I have hit a second wall. Wow, I am really out of it, low on energy. For a while now I have had trouble holding my head up. This happens sometimes late in the marathon, I realize that I am staring at the road/trail in front of my feet. I try to correct, but soon am back looking down. I hope that no pedestrians are coming toward me and not paying attention. Neck and shoulders hurt eventually and I know that this is bad form so I keep fighting to keep my head straight. Nearing the aid station I share my misery with a more experienced ultra runner. She says that I really need to eat something. I am sure that she is right, I have had a few fig newtons and pretzels but little else. Oh there were some really tasty salty baked potato pieces a few miles back. Hopefully there will be more of them out now, otherwise I don't know what to eat. I check in at the mile 33 mark and see that they have just set out hot pizza slices! I grab a slice and walk toward our chairs. Pass Maniac Heidi at her spot and she encourages me to at least get to my all time distance record of 34 miles before I sit down and perhaps drop out. I consider that as I walk the 50 feet to our little camp, but then I am just overwhelmed with exhaustion. I did not want to sit for fear of tightening up and not being able to move again, but I really need to rest and get some food in me. So I sit and Heidi gives me an incredulous look as she passes by. I force down half a slice of pizza and sit for less that five minutes. I can at least walk two more laps and get my distance record. I get on my feet, start walking and ease into a jog without too much trouble.

Mile 33-37 - Within a half mile I am feeling much better. Running long stretches and feeling like I have energy. That short break with food was just the thing I needed. Blow through mile 35, my all time distance for a day. Next up will be mile 40, tying my all time weekly mileage of 65 miles in 7 days.

Mile 38-45 - Cross that bridge and think, hey I only have to do this twelve more times. Is it too early to start counting down? Getting tired again. See three young women ahead, one a Brooks runner, who are having way too much fun. I join their little group for the distraction. They are going a little slower than I want to, but I am fine with passing the next couple of miles with them. At some point we do get separated and I go on mostly alone again. Now seriously thinking about making it to 50 miles and beating 10 hours. Looks like I can do 15 minute miles and reach that goal. I am able to do each mile a little faster than that putting a little time in the bank each loop.

Mile 44-48 - Jody joins me for a lap, sits out a lap, then joins me for one more. She has been so helpful and supportive, so glad that she came along. Last two laps I will do alone. Getting colder and the sun will be setting soon. I can't believe that some people will go on to run another 50 miles or more.

Mile 48-50 - I know that I will finish 50 and that I will beat 10 hours meeting all of my goals so the last two loops are a celebration. After 49 I go to our spot and sit in the chair telling Jody that I can not go on. She knows that I am joking, so I get up and get moving. Now feeling emotional. I tell Maniac Scott that this is my last lap and of course he encourages me to do one more. That would put me ahead in the standings of others who quit at 50. But I like the round number. I might like to do another 50 some time and then I could go for the PR. Not going to think about that just yet. Thankful that I have had little in the way of aches or pains. Right foot was tender for a while but not too bad. Lower back hurt some a while back, then I could feel it in my abs. Then there is the neck/head issue. But these will all be fine in a few days. Find energy to run fast the last bit and then I am done. Thank the lap checker woman who was tracking me just about the whole day and did such a great job. Get my pants from Wild Man Willet and head on home as many folks keep going round and round.

50 Miles - New distance record by 16 miles
9:44:46 - longest time running by over three hours
75 miles in 7 days - Highest weekly mileage by ten miles
Other results pending
Marathon or ultra #61

Saturday, March 5, 2011

3/5/11 Mountain Marathon

First time event put on by the Guerrilla Running Club. Designed to be a very tough trail marathon in the Capitol Forest just south of Olympia. Elevation ranges from 500 to 2,000 feet up there and many times when we are having rain in town, it is snowing up in the hills. Last week we had snow in the lowlands and then days of cold rain, meaning tons of snow on the higher elevations. In fact when Craig went to mark the course the day before the race he found that the upper trail was impassable. He devised an alternate route that will be a double out and back and promises to be tough. This lowers the chance of getting lost, but also takes some of the adventure out of the race. Plus we will have some crowding on the trail with the larger half marathon starting 30 minutes behind us.

Start - Rock Candy Mountain trail head. It is sunny but cold with black ice on the parking lot. Great swag including a truckers hat and shirt. Dog tag medal if I finish. Line up with some Marathon Maniac friends and after a brief speech by the director of the state Department of Natural Resources the race starts on time. We run about 100 yards and there is the first aid station. That was funny, but makes sense based on the new course. We will hit this spot five times during the race, the new course having 4 out and backs leaving from this fork in the road.

Mile 1.5 - At the fork we turn and start up a steep hill. I'll call this section the "lower snow road". It is a logging road with 5-7 inches of snow. Some tire tracks. When it gets real steep we all slow down. Aid station at mile 1. That is as far as any vehicles could get. The footing is worse now. Some of the snow is hard and turns the ankles a little, some is soft and squishy, never quite sure when and how my feet will hit the ground.

Mile 1.5 to Mile 2.5 - Single track trail, switchbacking uphill steeply. Less snow in the forest, but now we have puddles. The puddles are often covered under the snow and very hard to judge. Lots of ankle turning here. Nothing painful, just slipping and stretching foot and ankle muscles that usually do not get stretched. Pass two volunteers who are hiking up with water and cups to make a small aid station.

Mile 2.5 to Mile 4 - "Upper snow road" more snow here. About 8 inches I would guess. Following in tracks is difficult on the feet. Making my own route on the untouched snow (post holing) is easier. Well it gives more consistent footing, but I know that I will not be able to run like that for very long. Eventually our road is more of a trail. It is generally flat and filled with packed snow. I can almost get in a groove, but then every so often there are big puddles lurking below. M761 is the first to go down with a splash.

Mile 4 to Mile 5.5 - Mile 4 is an abrupt turn around on the narrow trail. It took about an hour to get here, doing 16 minute miles. For a while I had three runners right behind me. I let them pass here and plan to stay with them on the way back down. But each of them is better able to handle these conditions. This is getting frustrating. The big muscles in my legs are fine, my breathing is fine, I should be able to run faster. But with most steps I slide sideways and lose my forward motion. I fear the large rocks or deep holes that could lie beneath the snow. I also know that I am working hard and I have such a long way to go. I really should not waste my energy slogging through this mess and risk falling. Sadly I see my friends pull away and more runners passing me. Every so often I slip to the side and pull on some ankle muscles a little bit. If this gets worse I will have to drop out so as to not really injure myself. For now I will monitor it as I run.

Mile 5.5 to Mile 6.5 - Downhill on the single track trail. Now with 150 half marathoners coming up. Trail us muddier now. Jenny Seward sighting. She asks if I am having fun and I say "no". That is so unlike me. Gets me thinking about why and how to turn my attitude around. Get passed but stay with a female runner. She is also a little discouraged at not being able to move quickly, wondering if we are in close to last place. Then she slips into a puddle and I reach out with one hand to steady her on her elbow. Now we are both about to fall over so with the other hand I grab the nearest branch. We manage to stay upright but the branch that I took hold of was a devils club (Oplopanax horridus). Tomorrow I will be picking nine tiny thorns out of my thumb.

Mile 6.5 to Mile 8 - Lower snow road. Downhill. Slushy and impossible to get into a groove. At mile 8 I see the aid station. Flying uphill toward me is the front runner, Jesse Stevick. He is already five miles ahead of me. A little silly looking with his truckers hat on, he comments to me that they are serving cupcakes at the aid station. Amazing athlete. People cheer for me as I enter the aid area and everyone is so encouraging. My mood is improving and only gets better after that.

Mile 8 to Mile 10.5 - Dirt road out and back - Originally I figured that I would run fast on the roads and just be more careful on the trails. At the start we were told that one road had snow, the other one just some mud. Now is my chance to get into a rhythm and maybe even catch up to some people. But no, this road is uphill, then a long steep uphill, then more uphill. Have to take some walk breaks. My feet have dried out though. I do catch a Maniac friend. We run together for a while, neither of us is having the funnest time. He will go on to drop out at about mile 15.

Mile 10.5 to Mile 13 - Back down the dirt road. Lots of halfers coming up and it is easier to cross paths and say hi on the wide road. I try to tell Jenny that I am doing better. Dave, Betsy and Ruhama sightings. Still taking some walk breaks now and then, realizing that I have to do this whole thing again.

Mile 13 to mile 14.5 - Repeating the course now. Lower snow road is slushier. Thank the awesome volunteers. Oh my, I have not been eating or taking any electrolyte other than in my drink. Pop an S!Cap and eat a fig newton. My supply of Gatorade is gone so I switch to the Nuun that is offered to me.

Mile 14.5 to Mile 15.5 - Single track trail. Much muddier now. Just go through some of the puddles. Feet get so cold but it actually feels nice. The water drains away soon enough and I don't think that I am getting any blisters.

Mile 15.5 to Mile 17 - Upper snow road - a super short stride seems to work OK here. It is safer and I move at a steady pace. Lots of baby steps. Getting darker, almost like the day is ending. Just clouds and now a sprinkle of rain. Feet are wet and a little cold, but not too bad.

Mile 17 to Mile 18.5 - At the turn around I was surprised to see a couple of runners close to me. Two are right behind me and two are ahead of me. They are walking and I am able to pass them. Now there is no one else coming up the the trail. I am very close to being in last place!! I intend to keep entering races as long as they will let me and I know that someday I will come in last. Might as well be today and get that over with. One of the guys who was walking catches up to me and we consider whether we might finish last. Then we see one lone guy coming up the trail. He must be a half hour behind us, so we are relieved.

Mile 18.5 to Mile 19.5 - Downhill on the sloppy muddy snowy trail. Pick my way over the fallen tree. Slip and slide down the trail but do not fall.

Mile 19.5 to Mile 21 - On the lower snow road. Linger a bit at the aid station, filling my empty bottles. Trek down wears on me and I am glad to see the bottom of this hill.

Mile 21 to Mile 23.5- On the dirt road and I have hit the wall. Oh well, I have run out of energy plenty of times at mile 21 of marathons. Footing will be OK, I know that I will finish. Just have to shuffle/tough out the last miles. Except that at mile 21 of a marathon I have never had to climb a 500ft hill. Lots of walk breaks and encouraging those coming back get me through. At the turn around aid station I joke that I think they have moved it a half mile back since the last time I was there.

Mile 23.5 to Mile 26.2 - Screaming downhill, expect that now my right ankle is really bugging me. I could run hard and probably cut five to ten minutes off of my finish, but I really do not want to risk further injury. So every time I feel it nag, I take a nice long walk break. This also restores my energy levels. When I do get to the bottom I am able to run strong the last bit to the finish. Thanks to those who waited around for me. This was a crazy crazy event. Not sure that I will do it again, but maybe I should not decide that right now. It was great to try the tough trails and I am glad that I did it, but technical trail running is not my strong suit and I still fear that falling and breaking a bone. Maybe I will volunteer next year. It sure was fun to be a part of.

6:19:11 (slowest marathon by 85 minutes, and that one was pacing Jody)

36th of 42 finishers

Race #230

Marathon or ultra#60