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