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