Monday, February 20, 2012

2/18/12 Woolley Trail Marathon

Sitting in the car with Jody, wondering if this is such a good idea.  It is very dark and the wind lashed rain is splattering heavily.  Good thing we brought trash bags to wear over our jackets just in case.  About ten minutes before the 7AM race start the grey skies start to lighten and the rain begins to die down. It is barely a drizzle when we set out for a long out and back course.

Jody is running the half marathon and I will do the full.  Although it is a trail run, it is a very flat and wide trail that will be easy to keep a steady pace on.  My last couple of marathons have not gone so well, with me hitting the wall and floundering for too many miles at the end.  Today I want to go out slower and try to have a strong finish.  More about having a negative split than trying to beat 4 hours.  Oh and I just learned that I will be running the Boston Marathon this year, so all other races until then become much less important and will be used as training runs to get me to Boston in reasonable shape and with no injuries.  I will not run through any pain in the coming weeks.  With this long out and back course and having Jody here it makes for a good plan to run the first 6.55 miles with her.  Then she will turn around and I can pick up the pace if I feel like it.

Start to mile 6.55 ( 1:05:42) - Half, Full and 50K start at the same time.  With only about 100 total (and some taking an hour early start when the weather was the most miserable), we spread out quickly.  It is very gusty at times both in our face and at our backs.  Run with Maniac Deb for a couple of minutes, then Maniac Jeff.  But mostly it is just Jody and I.  We enjoy the farm animals and odors. Tiny pebble gets into my shoe and will roll around in there for the next 4 hours.   First aid station at mile 4ish.  Now a section of trail that has been recently flooded out but it is not hard to navigate.  Jody has no trouble maintaining a 10 minute mile and we get to the aid station/half turn around at 1:05.  Jody will maintain that pace on the way back and be very pleased with her race as she should be.

Mile 6.55 to 13.1 (1:00:32) - I leave the aid station and head out a little faster.  Nice view of the Skagit River.  More farmland.  A dog chases me for a bit but is not very threatening.  Early starters and fast runners heading back toward me, but there is plenty of room on the trail to let them go by.  I am running by myself and maintaining a steady pace.  Now the rain starts to pick up.  I make it to the Marathon turn around and thank Betsy and Matt for staffing it.  I am glad that I am running and staying warm enough, rather than standing around in this cold wet and I really appreciate all of the volunteers.  It was 39 degrees at the start and will be 41 by finish time.

Mile 13.1 to 19.65 (59:56) - Heading back and feeling fine.  Very gradually catch up to and pass three runners.  I know that I am running an even pace and I do not want to look at my watch so often but I am curious as to how far I have gone, there being no mile markers.  I make up a little game. On this long straight trail I can often see far ahead.  I estimate the distance to some landmark far ahead. "That big tree looks like it is a half mile away", although I am pretty sure it is father than that.  I reach it and see that a bridge looks to be over a quarter of a mile ahead, but I add a quarter mile to the tally.  When my tally reaches 4.5 miles from the turn around I finally look at my GPS watch and am pleased to see that I have gone 5.3 miles.  Just a mile to that piece of trail along the river and then the half turn around aid station.  Just before the aid station I stop to tie my shoe which seems loose.  Two of the runners I had passed zoom on by me.

Mile 19.65 to 26.2 (1:01:33) - I fill my gatorade bottle and take a few steps on this last leg of the race but realize that I tied my shoe way too tight.  I have to stop to loosen it up. But now I am running again. Somewhere past mile 20 I realize that this will be a good one today.  Although my two shirts, hat and rain jacket are saturated with pounds of rain water and although I am carrying my fuel belt adding more weight, I feel like I am running normally and with restraint.  No nausea either.  I have had no gels, just a couple of fig newtons, but less fuel than usual.  Hopefully I will not crash due to lack of energy but right now I feel great.  This time in the marathon, miles 18-24 get so exciting with each step that I do not tire.  Of course it is always great fun to cross the finish line, or to pass people, or to run past scenery; but this feeling that is so rare, to be strong into the 20s is one of the best.   What I need to do now is to just hold the pace and not fret about the miles.  There is still a long way to go and I could use a diversion.  Gradually I catch back up to the guy and instead of passing him, I run with him, making small talk.  I don't want to be the guy that talks your ear off so I just make a few comments and ask a few questions and he talks a bit.  The diversion works great for me and before I know it we are at the aid station with just over 4 miles to go.  Now I am back on my own.  Two of the 50K runners blow by me.  I walk for a few steps at one road crossing just to take a drink but other than that I will not take any walk breaks.  At about mile 24.5 it starts to get difficult.  Well there is not much farther to go, I can tough this out.  I think that I have a chance to beat 2 hours for the second half and I can see the finish line in the distance with 3 minutes to get there.  But it is so far away.  I just can not get there in time.  But I do finish with a strong negative split and no pains so I am very happy.  Nice finishers coin too.  I would have liked to stay around for some food camaraderie and watch other finishers come in, but as soon as I stop running, the shivering starts.  I get a quick change of clothes and warm up soon enough, but for the next hour I will be hit with the shivers every once in a while.  Sopping wet and muddy, but what do you expect for February?  Nice low key event that I would like to run again.

14th of 40
Race #263 Marathon or Ultra#79

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2/5/12 Geoduck Gallop Half Marathon

Lets see how the legs hold up after running a 5K race yesterday.  Cold and sunny at The Evergreen State College.  Should warm up as we get running.  Small crowd, new race director.  Course has been changed a bit or so I am told.  Last year it was short, hopefully that has been fixed.  There is a map but I can not make much sense of it, I get all turned around and confused on these back roads around the school.  Although open to traffic, the roads are very quiet and there will be no problem with traffic.  Volunteers at all the turns and chalk arrows on the ground, so I should not take a wrong turn.

Start - We start about ten minutes late.  I have done a half mile half hearted warm up.  Relaxed and ready for whatever may happen.  10K and Half Marathon start at the same time and we go out smoothly.  I find myself running with Terry Fritz (no relation) and Bob Martin, who I beat yesterday.  I know that I am going a little faster than I should, but Bob soon goes out even faster and ever so gradually the distance between us grows.  Terry is just getting warmed up and soon leave me too.

Mile 1 - Catch up to Christie and we run together off and on for a couple of miles.

Mile 4 - Christie is pulling ahead now and I will see her ahead of me for most of the race but will not be able to catch back up.  Meanwhile my legs are already feeling tired.  Sort of beat up.  Now we go down that too steep hill and up the too steep hill out of the gulch.  The hill really takes it out of me and I will not recover my normal running at any point after this.

Mile 8 - We have been doing a big loop for the second time.  Now I am back at that hill, down and up.  If the first time up the hill took the wind out of my sails, the second time makes it all even worse.  I manage to run the whole way up, but one guy catches up to me on the uphill.  We are both struggling pretty good at this point.  This is the only person who has or will pass me since about mile 3.  We run together off and on for about 2 miles but then he pulls away for good.

Mile 11 - Now at the turn around of the out and back section, although the back part is on a paved trail parallel to the road we came down.  No runners around to motivate me but I keep running as best I can.  It is a very different kind of tired in this race.  I have plenty of energy, but my legs just feel tired and beat up.  Too much fast pounding on the pavement between yesterday and today.

Finish - A long straightaway back to TESC, then a few quick turns and I can see the finish line.  Before the race I thought that I would be happy with anything under 1:46. As I sprint to the finish it looks like I will be 1:43 and maybe under that.  But the course is a little short again this year, 12.8 miles on the GPS.  I get in just under 1:43 and am very satisfied with that time.  But it was a lot more tough work to get there than I expected.  Not racing next weekend and I am looking forward to a little rest and recovery.

Results Pending
3rd place in age group ribbon

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2/4/12 Frienship Run 5K

9th annual event and my 5th year doing this race.  Last year I ran it in 22:37 and had two issues with this race that I otherwise enjoy very much.  First problem was getting all boxed in with the crowded start that narrows down and slower runners starting in front. The other issue was being stopped by a policeman at a road crossing with just a quarter mile to go, so he could let a few cars through.  Both problems were fixed this year.  There were numerous announcements at the start about letting faster runners be in front and I was able to position myself just behind the front row.  At the one road crossing, the cop was replaced with a volunteer and there was no traffic when I passed by, so I did not have to stop.

I ran a 50K last weekend, but recovery went very well.  Way better than usual.  By Wednesday I felt totally fine and I pushed a hard workout on Thursday.  For the first time in many months I feel like I have zero injuries or problem areas.  I have not done any real speed work lately but I am confident of beating last year's finish time.

1.6 mile warm up in the cold but sunny weather.  Just a couple of icy spots on the paved trail.  About 30 degrees at race start.  No wind.

Start - Much better for me than last year.  I positioned myself well and there is little crowding from the get go.  That does make me go out faster that I should however.  Pass Bob Martin at about the half mile mark.  He has beaten me in every race now for many years.  But he is only a couple of weeks out of wearing a boot due to a stress fracture and is just getting his speed back.  This may be my only chance to beat him ever and I will wonder and worry that he will pass me for the rest of the race today.  Everything is going very nicely until the steep uphill to the overpass.  Just like that it becomes a struggle.

Mile 1 - 7:11  Now more paved trail.  Keep up with a guy who is just ahead of me but I just can not catch him.  I'll be 5-20 feet behind him until the last quarter mile and it makes me move faster trying to keep up with him.  No dead zones today for me, where the motivation sags due to lack of competition.

Mile 2 - 14:20 (7:10 overall pace)  Heading back on the road now with a long slight gradual uphill.  Then back on to the trail and overpass.  Sidewalk back to the finish.  I get passed by two runners including one guy pushing a baby jogger.  I don't not feel too bad about it though as my pace is still good, they just really saved something for the end.  Dave blows by me on the final uphill but I run well to the finish line.

Mile 3.1 - Finish  (3.08 on the GPS).  Lots of baked goods and coffee inside at the school.  I win a raffle (5 passes to a rock climbing gym) and a ribbon for second in my age group.  We all got stainless steel water bottles instead of T-shirts this year. Really fun time today.  Now its rest up for tomorrow's race.

19th place out of 223
2nd in age group
Friendship 5K#5