Monday, September 10, 2012

9/8/12 Evergreen Dash Point Trail Marathon

My first time here.  Right foot is gradually getting better.  Racing last week and some easy runs this week did not affect it, so I will run this race today.  It is 4 loops, so if something starts hurting I can drop out easily enough.  I do not know these trails, but judging from some other trail races I expect to be in the 4:30 to 4:40 range.  But I will take it easy on the foot and maybe just beat 5 hours.  Consider it a training run for Bellingham on 9/30.  I usually run Skagit this weekend but this race is much closer to home, is half the cost and is on Saturday so I can go to church with the family tomorrow.  It has been very hot and may push 80 degrees today, but we should be in the shade for most of the race.

Marathon Maniacs before the start

151 in the 10K, 99 in the half marathon and 39 starters in the marathon.  The other races start 15 minutes after us and the 10K has a shorter loop, but mostly the same as us.

Loop 1- 6.55 miles (80 minutes 30 seconds) - Uh oh.  I start near the back so as to really go slow and protect the foot as it warms up.  I can feel a little nagging in there but not so bad.  The pace seems plenty fast though.  And soon we are climbing stairs.  And up and down and up and up some more.  And twisting and turning.  When it is flat, it is not flat for long and the single track trail keeps turning sharply.  No place to get running.  The only aid station (other than at the start/finish) is about 2 miles out.  It is after most of the ups and the second "half" is more runnable, but still very twisty.  I am finally able to get into a running groove.  With the trail so narrow I feel like I am going faster than I am.  I know that I am going faster than I should, but I feel fine and my overall pace for this first loop is just under 13 minutes per mile.  80 minutes for the first of 4 loops.  I am now thinking that getting in under 6 hours is going to be a challenge.  Also wondering if I am racing too much, something has zapped my running energy of late.  I will finish as best I can today and then take a break and reduce my mileage some.


Loop 2 - 6.55 to 13.1 miles (1:29) - Second time around the course. I have a better feel for where I am going, though the course is well marked.  Still being passed by speedy half marathoners.  I wish that the trail were wider so that I do not have to step off it and stop to let fast runners and recreational mountain bikers pass.  The first two miles up the hill really zap me.  There will be many more walk breaks now.  In fact I am feeling hot and tired and am slowing for sure.  Not having much fun.  As I finish this loop I consider dropping out.  This course is much tougher than I expected.  I think about a goal that I have, of reaching marathon #100 by the Tacoma Marathon in May.  If I drop now, I will just have to find another race to fit in.  I might as well keep going however long this takes.

Loop 3 (1:48) - So hard.  It takes forever to get to the aid station.  They are so supportive out there but again I am not so sure that I will see them for the last loop.  It is really warm now and I am going through fluids so quickly.  I am pouring some water from my bottle onto my head to cool down.  Now I find a runner laying down on the side of the trail.  He looks fine and when I ask if he is OK, he says that he is done.  Does that mean that he finished the race and came back up here to sit in the shade (3 miles from the finish)?  No, he just can not run anymore.  I tell him to walk on in to the finish.  A few minutes later Maniac Monte will find him and make him get up and walk it in.  Not much farther along I find another guy stopped and bent over vomiting.  Again he says that he is OK and I take him at his word, but now I have second thoughts.  Maniac Deb will find this guy in a few minutes and will give him the last of her water and walk him in to the finish, taking a DNF for herself.  Both of these guys were young and fit looking, but neither were carrying any fluids.  I myself was almost out of water by the time I passed the second guy.  I will be out of fluids with a mile to go in this loop, but will make it in to the aid station OK.

Loop 4 (1:58) - My slowest 26.2 mile marathon to date was the Mountain Marathon but it looks like today I will be even slower.  At least that race had long sections of straight trail or dirt road.  Today there was just no place get into a rhythm.  And now I am all out of energy.  Walking up the steps.  Now on a boardwalk bridge I start to get light headed. I have felt this before late in marathons and the S!Caps usually help.  I pop my third, should have taken it earlier.  Now I think about sitting down on these steps.  I could just sit here for a while and recover and then walk the half mile back to the finish and take a DNF.  Instead I keep moving, mostly walking.  Reach the little loop and I will admit that the thought, but not real temptation, to cheat does come to mind.  I consider it briefly but choose to complete the whole course.  Eventually Maniac Monte catches up to me and we run/jog/shuffle and swing our arms together for a mile.  Monte is one tough persistent marathoner and friendly guy.  I am usually quite a bit faster than him, but he sure is showing me how to get it done today.  He says to watch out because usually after him come the sweepers.  There was a 7.5 hour time limit listed for this race and I am sure that I can beat that.  But there was no cut off time given for the last loop and two very experienced Manics were dismayed when they were told that they would not be allowed to finish after completing the third loop. 

When Monte was behind me, but catching up, I was able to push on and keep moving fairly well.  Once I let him get ahead of me, I just could not keep up.  I saw this on the previous loop.  Heidi from Olympia was chasing me for a while and I seemed to run much better until she passed me.  Left by myself I tend to really slow down and walk for way too long. 

I make it to the aid station and am in the best spirits of anytime I have been there today.  Guzzle two cups of cola and fill both bottles with water.  Only 4.5 miles to go now. I stay way too long at the station but get moving and am able to get into a slow jog.  Now another runner is catching up.  I do not know her, but again I am able to push onward better with someone tailing me.  She follows for about two miles, walking when I do.  Eventually I pretty much make her pass me.  She said that she liked following me.  If the trail had been wider, it would have been nice to actually run with someone, and I am sure that I would have been faster.

Three miles to go and I can feel a blister on the side of my right foot, near the back.  I rarely have blister trouble and never in that spot.  If it was earlier in the race I would go change socks or something.  But I am almost done.  The blister slows me even more but there is nothing I can really do about it out here.  When I know that I have two miles to go I celebrate by pouring some water on my head and not conserving it any longer.  Drink up and keep moving.  Satisfaction as I cross the finish and some disbelief that it was so hard.  Call home to find that Jody was not worried about me and that it is fine that I will be about two hours later than I expected.   

In summary - My worst marathon time yet.  I will attribute it to a hot day, a vicious trail, a hurt foot, blister, some lightheadedness and a general sluggishness of late.  So glad that I did finish and really I would not have chosen to do anything else with my time today.  I do not feel a need to come back here again, but I won't rule it out either.

24th of 33 with at least 8 DNF or drop to the half
89th marathon or ultra
280th race

Monday, September 3, 2012

9/1/12 Over the Narrows 10 Miler

Third annual event and my third time here.  Almost did not race today as I am having a new foot problem.  I think that it is just some strained tendons, it hurts pretty bad when I flex the foot and have pressure on it as in a calf stretch.  Top to middle of foot pain. No swelling or bruising and of course it showed up after taking three full days off.  Two weeks ago I completed a very high mileage week of 84 miles, including two races.  I took it real easy the next week.  My legs were so tired that I could just not get out of first gear.  After that easy week I took three consecutive days off and really rested up.  The next day, while walking, I felt the pain in my foot and at times it was painful to walk.   More rest.  Wednesday I ran a little and found that if I alter my stride, run like a zombie, it does not hurt.  Another easy run on Thursday, painful at first then it loosened up and seemed OK.  Walking has been better, just every once in a while it flares up.

So I arrive today with tired legs and a bad foot.  I will do a little warm up and give it a go if it feels OK, but not worry about finish time.  Warm up goes well, it is easier to run than walk actually.  Club Oly runners Heather, Terra, Amy and their friend Jemma are here.  They plan to run easy and to stick together.  I do so much running alone, it sounds like fun to me to run with them today. 

Start - Just before the start I see my old friend Charlie who is running her first race.  Kimpossible is there to pace her.  They are lined up near the back and I am still with them when the race starts.  With almost 400 runners it takes a few moments to get from walking to running.  Soon we are jogging and I move ahead to catch up to the Club Oly runners.

Mile 0.5 - It takes about half a mile to catch them and it is still very crowded.  We have about three feet on the side of the road to run this downhill.  Any time I want to pass someone I really have to think about how I am going to get around them.  Good news is that the foot feels OK.  I am not running like a zombie, although I am aware of how I am flexing on each step.

Mile 2 - Down, steep up, more down on this tough course.  More room on the road and the crowd is thinning some.  Really fun to run at this easier pace and to be running with these friends. Over the Narrows on a cool, cloudy and great running day.  We try to be as goofy as possible for the photographer. 

Photo: find race day photos here:

Mile 4 - Lead runners coming toward us from the out and back.  Wave to Ginger, Martinho and Judy.  I know where I would be in that mix, and how I would be feeling, if I were running hard.  Instead it is so pleasant just to be out here and feeling good.  My legs feel very good.  At any moment I can put on a surge to pass someone and I feel strong.  I don't have to stay with this group, but I like their pace and I am enjoying the day.  Jemma is new to racing, maybe has not run this far before.  If she starts slowing a lot, I will go on ahead, but otherwise this is working for me.  At the turn around we have about a 9:05 overall pace going.  9/mile gets us in under 1 hour 30 minutes.  That would be nice, but a negative split will be very difficult on this course. Still chatting with Amy and Terra.  Fun times on the road.

Mile 8 -Up, down and then up.  Our pack still together.  Now Jemma takes the lead.  I had expected her to fade but she is looking strong.  Our pace has gotten quicker and we just may get in under 1:30.  Up the hill for the last mile.  Amy and I think that Jemma will slow but she does not.  We decide to catch back up to her.  The surge is easy and fun.  So happy that my legs feel good.  We have been passing people the whole way and now pass a few more to get even with Jemma.  Less than a half mile to go and Amy takes off.  I had threatened to run with her till the very end and then put on a quick sprint just to say that I beat her.  She is not going to let that happen and she moves ahead so quickly.  Our pack falls apart.  I sprint to the end and assume that I am well ahead of the others but Jemma puts on a great kick and finishes even with me.  Terra and Heather are close behind.

Finish - 10.03 miles on the GPS.  Negative split!  Watch Charlie and Kimpossible come in.  No awards for me and I need to get back home, so I do not stay longer than that.  Hope to come back next year.

Rested my foot for another two days and it seems to be getting even better.

125th of 384
Race #279
Over the Narrows 10 miler #3