Saturday, May 21, 2011

5-21-11 YMCA Spring Run/Public Agency Challenge 8K

8th year in a row here. I've done the 2 mile race a couple of times, they used to have a 10K, but today I am back to the 8K distance. The course has been fixed since the last time I ran it three years ago and should be much closer to the correct distance although not certified. The race was moved to the week after Capital City races and it seems like a much smaller event than in previous years. The races have a little fewer than usual, but the walk and the Public Agency competition seems much smaller. I only recognize two other runners; ten year old Dylan Miller and Martinho, a Club Oly runner who is about 19 years older than me, but beat me in the full marathon by 4 minutes just six days ago. I have felt great all week but have not run fast in a long time and expect the effects of the previous marathon to show up during the race. So no pressure today and I tell Dylan not to worry about me, I am sure that he will beat me. Its cloudy with a little drizzle that stops just before the race begins. Great running conditions. Day of race registration is easy and costs $21 with the no T-shirt option. I have enough T-shirts!!

Start - Only a few fast guys want to line up at the front and with a nice wide road and small contingent of runners I am able to place myself just behind the start line in this non chip timed event. We start right on time. I had a short but good warm up and am able to run fast from the start. Heading downhill helps too. Flying down to the lake at 6:30/mile pace. Now on level ground and slowing but still going faster than planned. I hope for a 36:30 finish time, which will calculate to be my fastest "age graded V-Dot" result of the year and boost me up in the standings of the Brooks ID program Race Series. Just by running this race I get one point.

Mile 1 - Catch one guy and we actually talk a little bit. At this pace it is hard to have much of a conversation and I need to focus on what I am doing. But we both are relaxed and settling in for the rest of the race. Eventually he speeds up and I can not keep up.

Mile 3 - Have been gradually gaining on Dylan. I am going much faster than I expected and he is not having the best day. I am able to pass him. Martinho is behind me somewhere. Would be unexpected and cool to beat them both. We shall see, but here comes the uphill.

Mile 3.5 - Tough grind up the hill and my pace is slowing for sure. But so is everyone else.

Mile 4 - Back to flat and soon the long downhill on Capitol Blvd. Passing lots of 8K walkers who started earlier. Have to dodge around some of them who are walking four abreast. Reel in one more runner and put on a big surge to pass him and break away from him. I think it was a little risky to pick up the pace like that, to an all out sprint that I know I can not maintain, but I did it anyway. Now I do slow some, but still feel good and the downhill is here.

Finish - Hold pace and finish strong. No one to work with in the last bit. Just kept passing walkers. Very pleased with my time.

12th place of 101
Race # 236

Sunday, May 15, 2011

5-15-11 Capital City Marathon

Seventh consecutive CCM full marathon. It took about ten days for me to feel recovered from the Tacoma Marathon of two weeks ago. I suspect that there are still lingering issues that will show up in later in today's race. No chance of a PR. At the start line I know that today will be remembered for two things. One is the heavy rain that is falling and will continue to come down the entire race. The other is that this is my debut as a race pacer.

I agreed to help with Club Oly's effort to provide pacers. I picked the 3:55 time and I only have to run the first half at this pace (1:57:30). Rich Brown will meet me halfway and take over pacing duties. Most of the club members are pacing one half of the marathon and are not registered runners. Matt and I will pace the first half (he at 3:45 time) and then finish as best we can. Neither of us were confident in running the whole way at that pace. My best time ever on this course is 3:54 and last year I ran 3:58 so it will be interesting to see if I can hold on with Rich. Before the start I get a Pacer bib and a Mylar balloon to tie around my sleeve. I did not think that 3:55 was a popular time to go for but as we line up, a couple of runners introduce themselves and say that they will try to run with me. It is raining so hard that for the first time ever I am sporting the trash bag jacket. Brooks shirt under Club Oly shirt under Marathon Maniac Jacket under trash bag. I am sure that the trash bag will come off but it never happens. It rained the whole race and I never felt too warm. I thought about taking it off but it seemed like a hassle so I just never did.

Start - Line up with the 3:55 group. O wait, they are lining up with me. I am supposed to pace based on gun time. I usually start my watch when I cross the start line so I forget to start it with the gun. A few seconds in I remember to start the watch and just a few seconds more I cross the mat. Should not make much of a difference. Now it is just run fairly even 8:58 pace until my relief shows up. Not a whole lot of work but just a little added stress. And I hate stress on race morning. I like to get there early and keep things very simple. Yesterday I learned that my reliever was injured and could not run. I was asked to pace the whole thing but I just could not agree to that. Fortunately Rich Brown was secured for the second half and I know that he will be there and do great. I have had mixed feeling about being a pacer because I really like to do my own thing on race day. But I also did want to try this and they are giving me a free entry for next year. Well I am here now and off we go.

Mile 1 - 8:58 Ha!!

Mile 3 - It was a very good smooth start. No crowding. Looking ahead there are plenty of runners but they are all spread out as we near Priest Point Park. I can sense people behind me though and I do a quick look back. Whoa!! I am leading a pack of about 20 runners. A spectator even comments on our nice pack. It makes me feel significant. Throughout the first half I would chat with runners and be thanked for the job I was doing. Running with a pacer sure does make it easier to stay on task. I am doing the work of looking at the watch and continually adjusting the pace, hopefully not making any sudden changes.

Mile 10 - We made it down the big hill putting a little time in the bank. On the long uphill I stayed the course and some of my group passed on ahead as I got the average time back where it should be. This is the second race in a row where I wished that I could see the seconds tick by on my watch. After the one hour mark they do not show and that usually is not a problem. The GPS reading is a little off from the mile markers too so I have to do some math and estimating now. Looks like I am about 30 seconds ahead of schedule.

Mile 12 - There is Rich and my job is done. Its funny when someone asks him how fast he can run and he gives a vague answer. So he asks what his marathon PR is and gets the answer 2:21. I told you guys that you were in good hands. Kimpossible drops back but about 5 guys are right with us.

Mile 14 - Start to not feel so great. Slight stiffening in the legs. Becoming more work like. With the task of pacing done I have lost a great amount of motivation. Just keep moving along. I actually pull ahead of the pace group for a couple of miles, but they are not far behind.

Mile 18 - 3:55 catches me. I stay right behind them for a while and ever so gradually fall farther back. Not as many spectators this year due to the rain, but great volunteers as always. Thanks Heidi, Linda, JKam and others.

Mile 22.5 - Very slowly losing my pace. Not a typical hitting of the wall. I am passing people who are struggling more. Sort of fun to see someone ahead that I recognize and very gradually catch up to them. First Angie, then Rikki, Melinda and Jeff. Melinda and Jeff will go on to find great strength at the end and finish ahead of me. In the mean time I am slogging up the great Eastside Hill. New goal is to not take any walk breaks. If I start walking I run the strong possibility of not beating 4 hours, but if I can keep running I am confident of making that time goal. So slow up Eastside, then the turn and further climbing up Fir Street.

Mile 24 - On flat ground now but the running did not get any easier. Tired and tight but otherwise OK and I am pretty sure that I can finish up with no walking. Then I hear surprise encouragement from behind. It is two of my friends who are pacing the 4 hour time. Look at the watch and calculate. No, I do not need to hurry up and stay with them as they pass me. They have gotten a couple minutes ahead of schedule. It would be nice to run with them to the finish, but I do not think that I could keep up at that pace for very long. I wish they would slow down as I am sure that they are going too fast. I stick to my own grind that I know will get me there.

Mile 25 to 26.2 - Finally heading downhill. Its been a tough one, but no real pains. Fun to see friends and family waiting for me to cross the line. I finish about 15 seconds faster than last year and I will take that. The rain and the residual soreness from Tacoma made this not the funnest time that a marathon can be. I started shivering with cold as soon as I stopped running and had to put on dry clothes right away. I still was cold and did not stick around like I usually do after this race. Pacing was somewhat rewarding but I am not sure how I feel about it. Perhaps if I was asked to do it again I would choose the 4:15 time and pace the whole way. Next year I could run Tacoma for speed, pace this race as a good training run, and then be ready for speed again in June. For now though I am somewhat apprehensive about this coming June. I am registered for three quality marathons and I am afraid that I will be very worn down and not able to run them all with good times. I'll figure out some kind of plan. In the mean time I really need to rest, recover and dry out. I may do the Public Agency Challenge 8K in 6 days, but I will wait till the last minute to decide on that.

129th place of 355
marathon or ultra #65
Capital City Marathon #8

Sunday, May 1, 2011

5-1-11 Tacoma Marathon

Previous times here are 3:57, 3:58 and 3:58. I ran 3:56 at Yakima four weeks ago and then had to not race at Mt Si due to being sick. Looking forward to a good run today. And we sure have awesome weather. Bright sun. Cool at the start but it will warm up. No wind. The plan is to run with Kurt, the 3:50 pacer as long as I can. Hopefully I will not crash too bad, and just maybe I'll feel good and be able to go ahead of him at some point. My PR is 3:48:01, so I would have to leave him with enough time to knock off two minutes.....but I am just speculating and hoping. Most likely I'll sneak in under 4 hours and I'll be fine with that. But I have been doing some specific training and maybe it will pay off today.

Start - Meet my Maniac friends and line up near Kurt. Start and finish are now at the same location, the course has been altered slightly but retains all the great hills. Feeling good and relaxed.

Mile 1- Kurt likes to go out a little ahead of pace to bank some time before the hills. Plus there is a hill right here at the start. So it feels like work from the beginning.

Mile 2 - Flatter. Warming up. Getting in the groove. A little crowded behind the pacer so I move just in front. M761 follows and we run together for a little bit. Unicorn sighting.

Mile 3 - Getting ahead of the pace group. I let M761 go on ahead and I settle back. She will go on to run a 3:38 so I am glad that I did not try to keep up and I am happy for her. Soon I am running with her brother, who will also pull ahead to run his own terrific race. I really need to stay with 3:50, because we are going faster than that (still banking time) and I know that 3:50 is a stretch for me. I have only ever run sub 3:50 two previous times.

Mile 8 - Beautiful day down on Ruston Way. Nice pack of Maniacs and two first time marathoners. Running comfortably. With Lesa Overfield who is running her 100th marathon today. Last weekend I ran 16 miles at 8:30/mile pace without trouble, so this 8:35 pace is fine.

Mile 9 - Traditional loon call in the Ruston tunnel. Now the steepest uphill of the course. I have gone just ahead of 3:50 pacer. The hill is fine. Into Point Defiance Park and as I pass Judy Fisher I tell her that it looks like I am going ahead of my pace group, but they will probably catch me.

Mile 13.1 - That is such a long uphill in the park. Nice and cool in the shade these five miles. Hit the half at 1:53 which would give me a 3:46 if I can maintain. Doubt it but I feel good at the half and have been drinking well and downing some fuel.

Mile 17 - Out of the park. Down then up then a long gradual uphill that goes forever. Getting tired of these up hills. Pace slowed a little but I'm doing OK. Always interesting to see if/when I will run out of energy and really slow down. All I can do is keep taking nutrients and run within myself. I think that the course is a little different here, winding through some neighborhoods. Two guys have been running near me for a while and they are yapping away. Constant talk that I will not get sucked in to. It nice to have a little diversion. Plus this course is so interesting, the miles are sliding by.

Mile 19 - A little more tired. Need some downhills and there they are. Bad patch gets better. I think that I can keep going at this pace, but for how much longer?

Mile 20 - On to the paved trail that parallels Highway 16. Pass Guy Yogi. This is a little sad for me. For years he has been faster than me and always a few minutes out of reach. Today he is slower than usual and I am faster than usual, at least at this point. It just does not seem right to be passing him. But I do. Little do I know that he will stay right on me and finish just behind me. Being careful to not get carried away just yet. Really though it is only about 4 miles until the long downhill to the end. If I can hold on for four more miles....

Mile 23 - Chugging along at the same pace. Cheney Stadium, Target (I focus on the bulls eye for a half mile) and the golf course. I am now confident of beating 3:50. There is a chance that I could get under 3:48. I am still afraid to pick it up for fear of crashing. Coming off the trail there is a bit of a hill and my legs stiffen up considerably. First real discomfort. Woman is walking the hill and I moan that I want to walk but I will not as I shuffle past her. Make the turn onto the road and she starts running. We run together off and on to the finish.

Mile 24 - Oh the downhill is not for a little longer. I can see an aid station in the distance but I am really thirsty so I veer to the other side of the road and get a cup from a homeowner who has set up her own table. Perfect. I like this neighborhood. Boom box playing and people dancing and cheering. Now on to the real aid station where I get more water for my head and Gatorade to drink. Very helpful volunteer, as have all the volunteers been.

Mile 24.5 - Finally the turn downhill. Terry Fritz (the fast Fritz) is cheering. This hill is just a little too steep. Down to the bottom OK though and now turn onto the nice gradual downhill. A PR still looks possible. It is going to be very close. Running with that woman still. We love this finish. I am running faster for sure. When to sprint/give it my all? Still a half mile to go. I do not go all out quite yet.

Mile 26 - Merge with half marathon walkers but there is plenty of room to run. Watch at 3:46 something...I can not see the seconds. Go all out. Did not know that I had that much speed/energy left. The quest for the PR took a lot of the enjoyment away from the last miles. If I was under 3:50 but not near 3:48:01 I would have run happy and easier and been very pleased. Instead I worked so hard, crossed the finish line and let out a swear as I saw 3:48 on the watch. Watch time 3:48:05. I'll find out my official chip time in a few minutes and it will be 3:48:02, one second off my PR. Honestly some frustration, but really I should be pleased and I am. Terrific day all around. Just after getting my chip off, M761 and bro call me over where they are sitting. I share my frustration, then start to cough. Fortunately I turn away and walk over to a secluded area as my cough turns into a puke. Three or four retchings and then I feel surprising well. Not sick although I pass on the post race pizza. Feeling fine and so happy with the day. Now I have to plan when and where to try to PR. Couple of options coming up soon.

77th place of 342
9 minutes faster than last year
Marathon or Ultra #64, Tacoma Marathon #4 Race# 234