Saturday, June 25, 2011

6/25/11 Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon

Third annual event and my third time here. See previous posts for course description. The trip to the expo on Thursday, the 3:30AM wake up today, and the associated costs have me thinking that I will take next year off. There are so many other races that I could do in June. It is fun to be part of this massive event though, despite the hassles. Today is special in that when I finish I will have completed 19 marathons or ultras within 365 days earning me Iridium (4 star) status in the Marathon Maniacs. I mapped this out quite some time ago and almost had it in April but had to skip a race then. I think that the 16 long races I did in 2010 was more manageable and I plan to stick to something closer to that for the near future. This will be my third marathon in four weeks plus the Sound to Narrows race. I had a very good run in Vancouver six days ago and I have not ever raced marathons six days apart. So I expect to be a little slower than usual, hopefully not crashing too bad. Must hold back in the early miles!! If I could break 4 hours that would be awesome but is not mandatory for me to consider the day a success.

Get to the start line in plenty of time for the 7AM start. I wander around the "Athletes Village" for a while. 20,000 runners, most doing the half, but I do not see anyone that I know. Find a few MMs. There is supposed to be a group photo of the 143 MMs who are here, at 6:20AM. At a normal race that would give plenty of time. I was going to join the photo but it is getting so crowded I can hardly walk anywhere, I still need to use the bathroom, and my corral is really far away. So I work my way up to corral 7 and get there in good time. Chat with Marie for a bit and then line up with Betsy and Ashley. Betsy beat me by a few minutes here last year, passing me late in the race, and she hopes to run a similar time, so we will run together some I am sure. Cloudy and not too warm, a little humid.

Start - Wave starts make it relatively easy to get up to pace. First mile is a little slow. No need to dodge around everybody, its good in that it makes me hold back.

Mile 3 - Ashley goes on ahead. She is more comfortable at 8:45 pace and I refuse to go faster than 8:50 in the first half.

Mile 4 - Betsy gets ahead at an aid station where I walk through. I'll keep her in my sights for a long while.

Mile 10 - Runner ahead of me has his bib on his back. That is not so unusual, but what is memorable is that his number is the same one that I had at this race last year. (5050 in honor of my 50th) I can not quite catch up to him.

Mile 11 - On the I-90 bridge on Lake Washington. I see an osprey. Then I watch it set up for a dive. It plummets straight down, but then pulls up short of the water and starts hovering again.

Mile 12 - In the long tunnel. Warmer. I start to tire. Also my right foot aches a little.

Mile 13.1 - 1:57, good job of holding back. Tiring. Aching foot is a little worse. Awesome view of Safeco Field.

Mile 15 - On to the Alaska Way viaduct. Foot is better, manageable discomfort.

Mile 17 - Finally reel Betsy in as she is tiring. I feel better than I did a few miles back. Good enough energy, beat up legs.

Mile 18.5 - Kid with a sign that reads "Release the Kraken". Too funny. Finally hit the turn around and can head back towards the finish.

Mile 21 - Whoa, tiring fast now. Pretty sure that I will not beat 4. I am able to keep running though. Legs are sore and shot. I am over 50 miles for the week. I can run on shot legs, but it just is not all that fun. Still keeping a good attitude. Through another tunnel with very slanty camber and back up onto the viaduct. Figured out that I can make the spectators on the bridge tops above us cheer if I just put my arms in the air.

Mile 25 - Last out and back, now up the final hill. At 3:50 and the 4 hour mark is just out of reach. Level ground. Make the turn to the off ramp at 3:56. If I can run down the ramp in two minutes and then hit the last two turns in another two doesn't look that far from up here.

Mile 26 - Well it was farther than I thought it would be. I did push hard the last bit, but I will not beat 4. I gave the whole race a good effort and I am happy with the results.


68th Marathon or Ultra


1,000th place of 3,520


Sunday, June 19, 2011

6/19/11 Vancouver USA Marathon

Inaugural event. 7AM start with the larger half marathon starting at 8:30. I wait for a while, sitting in a plush chair in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel, reading the complimentary Sunday newspaper. Eventually make my way outside to find the gear check, start line and see if any friends are around. Just before the start I am chatting with Steve Walters and Larry Macon. I realize that my recent accomplishments ( this being my tenth marathon or ultra of 2011) are nothing compared to these guys. Steve ran 52 marathons in the past 52 weeks. Larry Macon is in the Guinness Book of World Records for his 107 marathons last year. Yesterday Larry ran Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota.

I have had some discomfort in my right foot since running two shorter/faster paced races last weekend. I took and extra day off this week and it feels OK now but I am a little apprehensive about it. My last marathon was two weeks ago where I went out too fast and paid for it in the second half. I will not try to PR (3:48) today. Instead I will really focus on holding back and hope to have a faster second half than first (negative split). If I can beat 4 hours and be fresh enough to run the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon in six days I will call it a success.

It is cloudy with a little mist that lets up just before the start. Big event for this small city. I have not previewed the course but it has been billed as flat and scenic, along the Columbia River. Announcer asks how many are from out of state and I almost put my hand up. I think that this will be my tenth Washington State county to have run a marathon in.

Start - Smooth start on the wide street. Quick left turn, then a right and just as we are getting some running room there is another left turn and we are herded onto the sidewalk. I am not quite up to speed and will have to pass some people, but I am in no hurry. At least everyone is running and there is room to pass on the sidewalk. Up and over a bridge.

Mile 2 - Running for a bit with Maniac Georgina from Olympia. Some people on the sidewalk, some on the side of the road. Eventually we are all on the road, that is open to traffic, but there are not many cars. A long straight flat road. Himalayan Blackberry, Teasel and Poison Hemlock along the road's edge at the Port of Vancouver. Not quite the scenery I was hoping for. My foot aches just a little bit but will not get worse. It is a pleasant enough run but not all that special.

Mile 6 - I Can see the lead runners coming back on the other side of the road. Then we turn into a park for a lollipop section so I do not get to see all of the runners. This park is called Frenchman's Bar, and we do get to run along the mighty Columbia River for a little bit. The paved path in the park is all curvy and at one point I can see lines of runners going in five different directions. Soon I am snaking through the park and then heading back to town.

Mile 10 - Running comfortably at a pace almost 30 seconds per mile slower that I did two weeks ago in Port Angeles. Definitely feel like I am holding back. Listening to people talk but not actively socializing. A little wind in the face on this long straight section but not too bad. Still cloudy and I am not warm or cold.

Mile 13.1 - Just under 1:57. One thing I know is that I feel way better than I did at this point two weeks ago. Hopefully I can just keep going at this pace for many more miles.

Mile 14 - Small hill and bridge back into town. I chug up the hill and ease back on the downhill. Passing a few runners and feeling good.

Mile 15 - More spectators here in town. One man is walking down the road in front of me. As I pass him I see a group of three also walking and more up ahead. Oh, this is the tail end of the half marathon participants. They are at mile 2 of their race. Our races have merged and I will have to pass many walkers and slow runners of the half marathon.

Mile 17 - More sidewalks and then open roads with orange cones. At times the walkers are four abreast and I really have to go out of my way to get around them. Generally it is not so bad though. I am holding pace and feeling good and I am sure that is helping my mood.

Mile 19 - The elevation chart of the course showed the biggest uphill occurring here just before mile 20. So I know that it is coming and that it is only about 150 feet up. After that it will be downhill and flat until a small hill very close to the finish. Here is the hill. I remember to pump my arms and it really helps. I am passing tons of people both halfers and full runners. "Use your arms, use your arms" I say. One woman responds with "And use your glutes, use your glutes". The hill has two sections to it and for me on this day it was no challenge. Steep section of downhill where I have to use my brakes...too bad, I hate wasting energy like that.

Mile 21 - Just before mile 21, we have gone downhill and into a parking lot. As we reach the end of the parking lot/road there are two signs, one for the half and one for the full. A volunteer is directing halfers to follow the sign on the sidewalk and to curve back around. He tells me to take the full route which stays on the road but also curves around a tighter corner than the halfers are taking. That will be nice to split off from the halfers for a while. But after two seconds I see that my route would loop back to the hill that everyone is coming down and I know that is not the way back. Most everybody is on the sidewalk and I have no idea where to go. I stop and ask the halfers where I am supposed to go. No one knows. It does not seem right but I go up on to the walkway and down a small incline with all the halfers. Whew, what a relief to see the mile 21 marker for the full marathon. I know that I am on course. We do not split races here and I have no idea why the signs and the volunteer was directing us to do so. Now along the river but due to flooding on the paved trail the course has been altered and it is more sidewalk and roads.

Mile 23 - Still feeling good. Very pleased. I have been able to down my fig newtons and a gel. I don't want to, but I take another gel here. It is rough on the stomach but I get most of it down. I have passed enough halfers now that I have caught up with those who are running the event. Can't tell who is in the full and struggling and who is in the half as I pass. Very few runners are passing me and this is a much more enjoyable way to finish a race.

Mile 24 - Angie Vlatch cheering for me. That was a nice surprise. Still on pace for a negative split. I know that I will beat 4 hours.

Mile 25.2 - Last uphill and it happens. I hit the wall in dramatic fashion. It's funny and I even comment to a runner who passes me. "Wow, I just hit the wall" My legs have felt a little beat up for a long way now, but I had plenty of energy to keep moving at pace. Now I am suddenly drained. If that is going to happen, I am glad that it is mile 25 and not 18. With the uphill and my lack of energy I see the negative split slip away. I keep running, just slower and long for the end of this hill and the finish line.

Mile 26 - Almost there. Try to pick up the pace. Mile 13 of the half. Tenth of a mile to go. Two more turns before the finish and that last tenth seems so long. Finally done and pleased with how it went.

I perform some calculations from the results page. I estimate that I passed 618 half marathon participants during the last 11 miles of my race. That is about one person every ten seconds. I also passed quite a few full marathoners so the numbers are higher than that. I was not out to break any records today so the passing and dodging did not bother me, but I think that it should be considered as they plan for next year. I hope to run this one again.


207th place of 798
Race #240, Marathon or Ultra#67


Sunday, June 12, 2011

6/12/11 Evergreen Classic 5K

A little stiff from yesterday's hard race but could not resist a small local event. Some discomfort in my right foot that I hope will go away as I loosen up. Smaller turn out than last year. Sunny but not too warm.

Start - Line up just behind Craig. Tell him that I will let him take the lead for now :). Smooth start on time. Foot feels fine and soon I am going too fast.

Mile 0.5 - Through and around two parking lots. Catch Ruhamma who started even faster than me. Sharp turns then a straight section where I can see ahead and all of the runners in front of me. I am in 11th place. Not so far behind one runner, but she is not getting any closer.

Mile 1.5 - Slowing down some and now a steepish uphill that really slows me. Shaded back country road. Do I hear footsteps behind me? Quick look back at a turn tells me that no one is close.

Mile 2.5 - Back to campus and I am able to pick up the pace a little.

Mile 3.1 - Hard to run so fast, but the race is over so quickly. I end with the same overall pace that I had for yesterday's 7.5 mile race. Ran all alone for the last 2.5 miles. Good effort this weekend, and I feel a little beat up. Will take extra rest this week as I think about the Vancouver USA Marathon to be held in seven days.

Win a one hour massage at the race raffles, which I am happy to give to Jody. Quick look at the results board before I leave. It has me in 11th place which I believe is correct, but my time is not right. The person in 10th place is listed with the time that I know I finished in, and my time is listed as almost a minute later than what I know I ran, probably what the 12th place person finished in. I hope they fix that, but it does not really matter.

22:42 (watch time and I am sure this is correct)
11th of 50
Race #239, 5K#61, Evergreen Classic#2

Saturday, June 11, 2011

6/11/11 Sound to Narrows 12K

Two days after the Capital City Marathon in May, I discovered a non painful lump on the top of my foot. I figured that it was swelling from the race and would subside, but it did not. Then the recent issue of Runner's World magazine was all about cancer and had pictures of runners in prosthetics and what not. Yesterday I decided to get it checked out. I called to make an appointment with my doctor and I was lucky to be able to get an appointment that afternoon. Good thing I did not have to wait over the weekend, because after making the call my nerves shot up and I was severely stressed out. I had been sure that it was nothing to worry about, but now that I was going to the doctor, I was frightened. Well, worry no more. Its just a "ganglion cyst" and no treatment is needed. What a relief. So I arrive at Vassault park with an extra dose of gratitude to be able to run. My streak of running at least 100 miles each calendar month is now in its 79th month. I count that as such a blessing.

Marathon 6 days ago and a couple of hard runs this week will put me at 47.5 miles for the week at the end of this race. I did not race here last year, but two years ago I ran a PR for this distance. This is my sixth year here off and on since 2002. Every year I have been a little faster, but I expect that to end this year. I feel good but the tired legs will surely slow me down and I am fine with that.

Such a large event, I wonder why all these people do not come out for more races. See lots of friends and I am very calm before the start of my wave. Tammy took the green wave again this year, so I will start five minutes later and try to pass her. Fun to have a goal like that to keep me going. Its cloudy and mid fifties. Nice for running.

Start - Move up close to the front of this large wave. A little weaving around people but not too bad as we get up to pace. Now it opens up some and I find a comfortable pace. Pick it up some and go blazing down the long hill. Run with Paul H some but he moves on ahead.

Mile 1.5 - Into the park and Kachunga! Oh the whole race is not downhill? Oh I won't be able to maintain a 6:52 mile? Now up and down on the Five Mile Drive through Point Defiance Park. Same as the Tacoma Marathon but at the faster pace it is a whole different beast. I swear some of the hills are steeper than they were a month ago.

Mile 2 - 14:20, ten seconds slower than two years ago.

Mile 2.5 - Catching up to a guy with amazing bulging calf muscles. I think about asking if I can borrow his legs but he has ear buds in. As I pass him I can hear his breathing is very labored. I figure that he has been to the gym for weight lifting a lot, but does not have the lungs for this kind of pace and distance. My legs and lungs are suffering equally, so I guess that my training is on target.

Mile 3.5 - Have had Paul in my sights since he went ahead and now I am gaining on him. He is close but there is a pack of about ten runners between us. Probably a bad idea but I surge and move around them and catch Paul. We run together for just a few steps before I move ahead. He will finish right behind me.

Mile 4.5 - I am not running a steady pace at all. Fly down the hills, slow on the uphill. Surge past runners (hey Sabrina!) and then settle in with someone for a while.

Mile 5 - There is Tammy, so another surge to reel her in and tap her on the arm. She is running great, but I caught goal done. Now what about that PR? With 2.5 miles to go I have about 20 minutes to make my best time. Highly unlikely with all the uphill to come.

Mile 6 - Out of the park, down the too steep hill then up the way too steep hill. Average pace is at 7:32. I remember that in my log book I recorded a pace of 7:30 two years ago. There is no way I will make that, especially with the long uphill to go. But I will easily beat one hour and I am running happy. Leap frogging with a woman, encouraging those who are able to run strong up the hill, thank the volunteers. Judy Fisher sighting. I can see the traffic light far away at the top of the hill.

Mile 7 - Hill flattens and then gets steeper. But wait!! Actually don't wait, keep running!! I am at 52:59 and it can't be more than three minutes to the top of the hill. After that we turn and go downhill, then onto the grass and the finish. That last bit can not be more than a minute, so I just might get that PR (and extra point in the Brooks race series). Crest the hill and realize that I will get that PR no problem. Cruise on in and then sprint to the finish on the grass. Nice kick left too. Wow that was unexpected. Back home I check my log book and recalculate my 2009 pace. I had written 7:30 but in fact it was a 7:34 pace. Today I ran a 7:33 per mile.

56:34 (official time is showing 56:18 but I don't believe it)
212th place of 2472
Race# 238 Sound to Narrows#6

Sunday, June 5, 2011

6-5-11 North Olympic Discovery Marathon

3rd year in a row at this terrific event. Been feeling good and rested and I have no excuse to not try to run fast, so I will go for it today. The problem with "going for it" is that if things do not go as planned for some reason I will pay for it greatly later in the race. Won't know unless I try. One factor that has come up in just the last day is the weather. After a long cold and wet Spring, we finally had a warm day yesterday and today will also be warm. It is not super hot, but I am not heat acclimated and I am sure that it will cause some slowing.

On the first shuttle bus and get to the start in plenty of time. Get to talk with old Maniac friends and meet some new ones. Russ from Guerrilla Running is here to run his first ever marathon. He beats me in the shorter distances but I wonder if my marathon experience will give me an edge today. As usual I am not really competing against anyone, just myself, and I hope that all of us have a good day.

Start - Race is sold out, but only has 339 runners so the crowd is very manageable. The much larger half starts at the same time, but 13.1 miles down the paved trail, so we will not see them at all. A couple of Maniac friends took the 2 hour early start and it will be fun to see if/when I catch up to them. It is very sunny and comfortable in my singlet. It will warm up as soon as I start running. Place myself closer to the front than I should and we are off.

Mile 2 - That first mile is uphill and into the sun and I am plenty warm now. First aid station I drink and pour some water on my head to cool off. That is a bad sign that I am so warm already. I will pour water on my head at every aid station today.

Mile 5 - Big loop in Sequim is done. I am comfortable at 8:25/mile pace and not letting myself go any faster. This is much faster than my PR pace and probably a bad idea. I have been doing my long training runs at about this pace, planning to race a little slower than that. 14 miles at 8:25 last weekend was no problem. I will walk through the aid stations today and that will slow my average pace to a more reasonable level soon enough. I do feel good and like I am holding back some.

Mile 9- Too much sun. Downtown Sequim, then on the paved trail and finally into the shade. Magnificent view of Hurricane Ridge and the Olympic Mountains. Wooden Bridge over the Dungeness river.

Mile 12 - Back into the sun and uh oh, starting to tire. I'm at 8:30 pace but so hot and it has become much more work to hold the pace. Now it is 8:31.

Mile 13.1 - This is going to be an ugly second half. I can not hold 8:30 and I know that the hard part of the course is the hilly miles 16-20. Time to rethink my strategy. I hit the lap button on my watch and monitor my new pace. Settle into a comfortable 9:00/mile before I really crash and I am able to hold this. I will not PR, that is a given. So why am I here anyway? Oh, yeah, I like to run and do races. It is fun. Whatever pace I can run, I can choose to enjoy the time that I am here. For the second half of the race I will thank the volunteers and spectators, I will think of funny comments such as "which way to Port Angeles?, is this the finish line?, are you my relay exchange partner?...", I will hand slap as many little kids as I can and instead of running just behind someone I will catch them and just run next to them for as long as the pace feels right. No long conversations with other runners, but a few hellos, yes it is hot, and pace off each other. I'll see my time at mile 21 and go for a sub 4 hour finish if that is possible, but if not, I will still finish in one piece. A couple of times the heat really gets me and I feel like I should slow, for medical reasons.

Mile 18.5 - Oh that awful hill after a sharp turn. This is where I fell apart last year. I have to walk up it.

Mile 19 - Catch up to Russ. He is struggling but will finish. Its a tough day for everyone. But lots of great aid stations and support. One aid station is themed after the Survivor TV show. One of their buzzwords is "Outlast" and as I see that on a poster and can't help but say to a volunteer that at my current pace I just may be out last. Gets a chuckle and I move on.

Mile 20 - Insanely steep down and up out of the last creek bed. Now I know that all the uphills are done and a nice long downhill is here. Only place on the trail where we are close to Highway 101. As I run down the hill I raise my arms and get a couple of honk responses from vehicles just like I had intended. Finally look at my watch and switch the screen back to overall pace. 8:55 per mile which means that a sub 4 hours is still very possible, but I will have to work for it.

Mile 22 - Tiring and want to walk. Its a shaded area and I had just passed an aid station where two cups of water went on my head. Here is a woman who has brought a garden sprinkler across her yard to the trail. She asks if I want to get wet and although I don't really need it right now, I figure it can't hurt. I say "Ok, a little and angle away from her" and wow she blasts me all up and down and gets my back too. My shorts are thoroughly soaked and heavy.

Mile 23 - Back into the sun for the final bit along the water. Been back and forth with red shirt guy. I have watched his black hat get increasingly encrusted with white salt. He has minimalist shoes on and now he is taking them off due to cramping. He will put his shoes on and pass me, then take them off and I will pass him a couple of more times. The gravel half mile slows him down quite a bit as well. He is nice company and we run together some. When he stops to put his shoes on one more time I pass him for good.

Mile 25 - Really going slow and I have taken short walk breaks off and on. I have been doing 10 minute miles for the last five miles and will have to keep that up to beat four hours. It will be close. It has been more of a gradual slow down due to heat that a hard hitting of the wall. I am out of energy for sure but I can not say exactly when it happened. Pretty optimistic of beating 4 and I predict a 3:58.

Mile 26 - Final "sprint" to the end. Looking for Jody, finally see her. Jennifer Seward sighting. Pathetic kick to the end, I just do not have anything left. Happy to barely beat 4 hours. More happy that I had a fun time and kept a good attitude despite not being near my best today.

I really like this event, but there are other options for this weekend and I think that I will try something else next year. Don't need to decide that right now. I do need to see how I recover as I hope to run the Sound to Narrows 12K on Saturday. I am not registered for it yet. And I have full marathons on June 19 and 25. I will not set out so fast on either of those races.


89th place of 339 finishers

3rd NODM, 66th Marathon or Ultra, 237th race